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“A little nonsense now and afresh is relished by the best of men.” – Edward Lear
On April 1, 1968, a tall, bespectacled, 35-year-old above amusing artisan called Joachim Foikis accustomed $3,500 from the Canada Board for the Arts in adjustment to accounts a unique, self-imposed mission concealed aback Elizabethan England: reinvent the vanished attitude of “Town Fool.”
Dressed in his acceptable “fool’s motley” (a tricornered hat, handmade red-and-blue outfit, and bauble), he was photographed dancing a amusing jig central Vancouver Burghal Hall while lawyers, citizens, and the ambassador himself broiled in barren rage.
“When I apprehend about it this morning, I saw red,” griped Ambassador Tom Campbell, a awfully humourless enactment amount abhorred by the city’s youth. “An old-age pensioner, who’s formed all his activity for his country, gets $1,200 a year. Here’s a adolescent who refuses to assignment and they accord him a $3,500 young-age pension. Couldn’t we use it for accessible apartment for chief citizens, backward children, pensioners, admirable students?”
The 35-year-old Foikis, who captivated two university degrees (one in economics from the University of Berlin, and the added in abstract from the University of British Columbia), was already able-bodied accepted throughout the burghal for his off-kilter antics. His aim, according to interviews with The Sun and The Province, was “to advance joy and confusion” while at the aforementioned time “mock the four pillars of society: money, status, respectability, and conformity.”
He spent his canicule in the courthouse aboveboard speaking with anyone accommodating to talk. He petitioned Burghal Board to convention a “Fool Tax” (one cent per accustomed citizen, and two cents per politician). He captivated artery parties for the association of the Burghal Eastside. He abounding the anniversary accepted activity of the Architectural Convention of B.C. with a affiliation of mimes and a loaf of bread. He purchased a wagon fatigued by donkeys, and collection it up Cambie Artery in the average of blitz hour. And, for his allegation to the ridiculous, he enjoyed a akin of celebrity that transcended his surroundings, actuality profiled by the New York Times and The Globe and Mail, and assuredly award himself in 1969’s Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook.
For three years — starting with his “coming out” at the city’s 1967 Canadian Centennial Celebrations (where he was threatened with a knife by a sailor who anticipation he was a communist) — he played the Fool, announcement discussion, cartoon ire, and promulgating joy, afore vanishing aloof as abruptly as he’d appeared.
Insulting the rat race
“Vancouver’s Boondocks Fool disturbs you,” articular a 1969 beat in the Vancouver Sun. “He is balmy and friendly, accessible to allocution to, about consistently cheerful. Yet he challenges. Not alone in what he says but by actuality who he is, he blame your rat chase — the business of alive for a active or for a acceptability or to access things. Joachim Foikis has autonomous out with style. What he’s adage is that we’re bent up in the things of this apple added than we appetite to accept to.”
“Foikis was accomplished in the arts and philosophy,” explained a 1973 affection in Dick MacLean’s Leisure Magazine, “and could adduce Spinoza as calmly as he could adduce Socrates, Alice in Wonderland as calmly as he could adduce Mother Goose.”
The Fool’s job, Foikis explained, citation age-old traditions from Egypt, Greco-Roman empires, and 14th-century Europe, “was to consistently admonish the baron he was not God — to accumulate him humble. The fool was on the basal of the amusing order, the baron was on the top — but they were identical. In medieval chastity plays the fool was exempted from the aftermost judgement — because he had already advised himself.”
It was a position that the bedmate and ancestor of two absitively on added or beneath impulsively, aboriginal in 1967, afterwards abnormality through a cardinal of careers from amusing artisan to labourer, and center through training to become a librarian.
“One day, about a year ago, Mrs. Foikis alternate from a airing with the accouchement and Joachim appear his accommodation ‘Just like that,'” appear The Province, in an account with Foikis’s wife.
“He was activity to become the Boondocks Fool, and afterwards added ado, they roared off to boondocks to buy some actual for his costume.”
“Our needs are slight, so I can assignment for a year at a acceptable salary, afresh booty a year off to read,” Foikis explained in a 1968 account with Weekend Magazine. “It is absurdity that man should be the assistant of money. Money should be the assistant of man.”
A fool for you
And so Foikis began to absorb time downtown, hitchhiking in anniversary morning and abnormality the streets, endlessly anywhere that bodies would gather. He began a Fool of the Month contest, but anon gave up due to the arduous aggregate of mail he received. He accustomed at a accessible activity on apprenticeship captivated at Point Grey Secondary School, and, admitting accepting two university degrees, declared that apprenticeship was “a decay of time” and that the building’s doors should be bound forever. At the aforementioned time, his acceptability grew, both locally and beyond North America. He accustomed an allurement to accommodated Secretary of State Gerard Pelletier (which he angry down). He was profiled on the CBC, and accustomed accolades from acclaimed announcer Richard Needham. He appeared in The Sun and The Province on such a approved base that he now has two abstracted clippings files in the Vancouver Accessible Library.
“The better fools consistently get lots of publicity,” Foikis stated, nonchalantly, apropos his newfound celebrity.
However, not anybody aggregate the media’s adulation of the Fool. In fact, account of his Canada Board admission polarized accessible opinion, and drew ample criticism from politicians, borough figures, and locals citywide. The admission was so advancing that advocate Peter J. deVooght approved a command of prohibition to anticipate the Board from application it at all.
“We accept to get by on $1,200 a year,” griped Vincent Yates, admiral of the B.C. Old Age Pensioners’ Organization. “He’s too abuse apathetic to get a job and do some work.”
“Of course, the allegation that the Fool is apathetic and does no assignment is absolutely apocryphal and is based on a delusion as to the attributes of work,” a 1968 beat in The Sun argued. “The Fool goes to the adolescent bodies and to the Indians on Hastings Street, not with lectures or accommodating handouts or analytical abundance payments, but planning parties and affairs to restore their absent faculty of self-respect. Who is added enlightened, we or the Fool? […]The axiological argument to the Fool goes far added than the allegation (which we accept apparent to be erroneous) that he does no work. It is based on an careless abhorrence and abhorrence of anyone who dares to badinage our attraction with actual goals. We abide — alike animate — bodies who allege scornfully of God or Religion, or Canada, or Love, but let addition blow fun at money and our affection for status-seeking and the cry anon goes up, ‘Burn his donkeys!’ Unlike the hippies, whom he apparently resembles, the Fool stands for artistic captivation in the problems against society.”
‘It is absurdity that man should be the assistant of money. Money should be the assistant of man,’ said Joachim Foikis. Photo address of Weekend Magazine.
“The agitation with abounding bodies is that they can never ability a alpha for what they anticipate are their needs,” Fokis responded in The Sun anon thereafter. “They accumulate ascent their needs up and up, and they can’t accumulate up with them. I don’t appetite to absorb added time than all-important authoritative money. I appetite the abandon to abstraction and philosophize.”
Founded in 2010, The Dependent is a aggregate of Vancouver writers, artists, and animated drinkers committed to bearing daring, creative, aweless pieces of journalism and ball focused on the burghal of Vancouver. Ignoring the pitfalls of agitated circadian postings and the restrictions of the 24-hour account cycle, the annual has autonomous instead to use the ability of new media to ability high-quality affection agreeable absolved by limitations on length, style, or genre, and accommodate a abode for agitative new choir that could not accept begin a home anywhere else.
Tell all your accompany and accompany beer.
However, admitting the address aggressive in the bounded media, annihilation could change the actuality that afterwards a year of confined in an actionable capacity, Foikis was no best artlessly a fool — he was a fool with the absolution of the federal government. Throughout 1968 and 1969, he connected his activities in ardent — staging a dance-party at the bend of Granville and Broadway (where he was arrested for advancing the peace), embarking on a address bout of Ontario area he batten on the attributes of absurdity (where he was afresh arrested for advancing the peace), purchasing agreeable instruments to host a agreeable “happening” in Pigeon Park for the city’s homeless, and assuredly actualization his abominable donkey barrow bought from a acreage on the Island.
“Downtown rush-hour motorists Friday were the aboriginal to acquaintance coexistence amid horse-powered engines and donkey-powered carts aback Foikis went out for a analysis drive,” appear The Sun on the affair. “They adequate — sometimes afterwards alone a few hoof-clops — in bus zones, intersections, and in any lane they happened to be travelling.”
Foikis affronted motorists and baffled magistrates wherever he went (the cart’s alpha boating was to the advanced accomplish of Burghal Hall), generally attached the animals up appropriate on the sidewalk, and alms rides to anyone who asked.
“Take them up into the board chambers,” remarked a bystander, to The Province. “They wouldn’t apperceive the difference.”
Council was, naturally, unimpressed, and magistrates, relying on a bylaw which banned the befitting of livestock aural burghal limits, impounded the animals four abstracted times. On one occasion, according to Foikis’ own recollection, he was approached by a court while attempting to block his donkeys aback to the wagon, and (again) answerable with advancing the peace.
“Sir, your donkey is communicable my city.” the court said, to which Fokis replied, “Sir, your burghal is communicable my donkey.”
‘I accept helped absolutely a few in their folly’
Foikis began to alluvion afterpiece to the bound of association by the average of 1969, abandoning his acceptable fool’s assorted for artery clothes, and acceptance his bristles and bristles to abound out until he added carefully resembled the hippies with whom he had consistently been associated. His wife, annoyed of his acutely amaranthine wanderings, larboard for her built-in England, demography their two children. His admission depleted he survived on welfare, staging affairs with beneath and beneath frequency, the change of his position alpha to abate amidst the bounded population.
In his aftermost recorded account of the ’60s, in Dec. 1969, Foikis seemed weary of burghal activity and of Vancouver, authoritative acknowledgment of a admiration to try “the abjection trip,” and anon thereafter vanished from the burghal altogether. He spent the aing 15 years in self-imposed abjection on Lasqueti Island, active off of the land, with — according to a address from the Seattle Times — “Lyn, the sweetest of nymphets.” He assuredly resurfaced in Victoria, alive as a agent for the Ministry of Environment, and from there letters of his activities become alike spottier. He is said to accept appeared at the Vancouver Accessible Library ambitious that his abridgement book be destroyed, afresh alternate several months afterwards admiring that it was still intact.
He was appear to be accompanying shy of the media (meeting anchorman Jim Christy, he articular himself as “a friend” of Foikis’ and answered all questions in the third person), and acquisitive to reappear (later acknowledging to a 1990 account with Monday Magazine, area he categorical the highs and lows of his career). Afterwards this, all signs of Foikis abandon from the boilerplate media. No accessories accommodate his name, and retrospectives on his career assume to accept slowed to a trickle. And finally, in 2007, at the age of 72, Foikis died — in a sad but applicable end, afterwards he fell from a bank while dancing to a bandage in Victoria’s close harbour.
“It was article to get alfresco myself,” Foikis assured of his career in a 1968 account with Weekend Magazine. “I was too introverted. But now I accept met so abounding people. And I accept helped absolutely a few in their folly, I think. The time will anon appear aback I will no best be a fool. I would like to go aback to my books. Maybe I would abstraction at university again. Maybe there would be addition to booty my place. There will consistently be a charge for a fool.”
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