I don't live in Vancouver, so I'm not up to speed on the aftermath of what happened there the night the Canucks lost to the Bruins. Perhaps there have been more protests, lots of angry radio talk show chatter, even pending lawsuits concerning what at certain moments looked like a police riot.
Perhaps, in Vancouver, the riot story is much bigger than it is elsewhere, where it's just another "fans gone wild," reminiscient of a couple dozen other post-game wildings in a couple dozen other American cities. Honestly, I don't remember a Canadian version before, but I may be forgetting. Post-championship game mobs are not all that rare.
What's amazing, from a distance at least, is how this wondrous solitary random photograph has eclipsed the story that created it. The picture is everywhere. As it turns out, this couple wasn't oblivious to what's going on all around them, so taken up by their own mutual pleasures that the riot took second place to romancing. She fell--that's the story. In the rush the police put on the people in the streets, this young lady lost her footing when she was pushed and went down and was slightly trampled. As she explained what happened, she was upset and scared silly. Her boyfriend simply got down beside her for a moment, and happened, just once, to give her a comforting kiss. That's the moment the camera caught, and that's what we see.
But the story the camera created was a moment in time whose wondrous story transcends anything that happened that night Vancouver, or in Boston for that matter. My guess is that more human beings have seen this photograph than watched even a single moment of the game or series. This picture is a wonder.
I don't know that you'd call it art exactly; what it offers in transcendence is the result of sheer happenstance. Neither the camera nor the photographer planned it. In a very real sense, the picture is one grand lie, even though a camera can not make things up. What's there is what was, but what's there is not what it seems.
What's so undeniably attractive about the shot is what our minds and hearts and souls want it to be. The photo speaks to our imagination and whatever repository of belief is in us. That prone couple is what we want love to be--totally selfless in the ongoing, even dangerous rush of life. In the middle of conflict all around, these two young people are, darlingly, forever lost in each other.
Not true. The fact is, she was scared witless.
Like millions of others, I'd rather hear the other story, the one the camera has given us, despite the truth. I prefer the one that ably shows sweet abandonment, the one that glories in the radiant passion of human love. (I'm its victim myself--listen to me, trying to get it right.)
The picture the camera gave us is exactly the one we always want so badly to see.
I really don't want to know what happened. I just want to stare.