Cheers & Jeers

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Cheers: to first-time flag flying.

The provincial government decided to fly the rainbow-coloured Gay Pride flag at Confederation Hill Friday for the first time. It’s a nod to gay athletes attending the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and a protest against that country’s new law banning the public “promotion” of homosexuality. The law is widely seen as an oppressive crackdown on the Russian gay community. Municipalities around the province have already taken the initiative to fly the flag. Suddenly, things seem a little more colourful around here.

Cheers: to depth. That is all that can be said of the musical talent in this province. Parachute in on almost any concert or production these days and you’ll encounter amazing young singers and players that seem to spring out of the woodwork. A good example: Atlantic Light Theatre’s debut production of “Les Miserables” at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre this past weekend. Headlined by well-known musical theatre export Jonathan Munro, the show dripped with passion and professionalism, including live musicians, Impressionistic sets and impeccable sound and lighting. You wouldn’t find much better on Broadway.

Jeers: to artistic fraud. Call it Milli Vanilli, but in a more classical vein. Mamoru Samuragochi has become a musical icon in his native Japan, where his masterful compositions have been turned into best-selling albums. His first symphony, “Hiroshima,” was an instant success. All this he achieved while dealing with almost total deafness, an affliction which earned him the moniker “digital-age Beethoven.” Except he’s apparently not deaf, nor did he write most of the music for which he’s credited. The real composer, Takashi Niigaki, came forward last week after Samuragochi revealed he did not write a sonatina slated to be used during a figure-skating competition at the Olympic Games. Niigaki said Samuragochi paid him for his music, and threatened suicide if he ever went public. The ghost writer also said he’s had ordinary verbal conversations with his supposedly deaf co-hort. Oh, what a tangled web we weave …

Cheers: to Good Samaritans. Hats off to two St. John’s cabbies last week who came to the aid of a senior citizen who stumbled and fell on a very cold day while out for his daily constitutional. The taxi drivers, waiting for fares outside a local hotel, rushed to help the man, who had cuts to his face and was bleeding badly. They called him an ambulance to the Health Sciences Centre, where he was treated and released the same day. In a society sometimes so caught up in the pursuit of the almighty buck, it’s nice to know there are everyday heroes out there.

Organizations: Olympic Games, Atlantic Light Theatre, Health Sciences Centre

Geographic location: Sochi, Russia, Japan Hiroshima

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