The Failure of Provocative Penguin

To paraphrase the opening line from one of my favourite books, “To be born again, first you have to die.” In this, the inaugural issue of Provocative Penguin, we celebrate the life and death of Provocative Penguin…early bird. In many ways our initial foray into organizing a blog-style, culturally focused, community-run website featuring original content was a huge success. We managed to bring together a diverse group of writers, artists, comedians, and musicians to contribute to the project. We threw a wildly successfulparty, influenced the outcome of an election, brought the public’s attention to awesome bands, and shone a light on the underbelly of Canadianmedia. We entertained our readers with incomparably trivial trivia, gave modern context and re-defined old words, and ensured that everyone knew how to have fun every weekend. And we did all of this without having the slightest clue what we were doing, which brings us to the focus of this edition…Failure.

Beginning this month, Provocative Penguin will adopt a new format. Rather than the ad-hoc smattering of articles, devoid of a coherent theme or purpose, we shall publish a polished, magazine-style issue each month. We will keep providing our readers with a weekly dose of awesome local events, as well as a sardonic review of the nation’s mass media publications, but starting now the bulk of our content will be presented in a new beautifully designed and highly original front page. We will feature newartists each month, and endeavour to provide a kaleidoscope of original thought around a central theme.

All of these improvements flow from the many failures we’ve faced over the past year or so while working tirelessly on the early bird version of Provocative Penguin. In 2011, I learned the hard way that devoting twenty hours to condensing a weekend of debauchery at NXNE into one long stream of consciousness doesn’t mean anyone will read it; in fact the warning label inside a pack of cigarettes attracted more readers. This year we did a much better job.

Our ingenious idea of merging comedy, music, and a live art battle for last year’s Provocative Party was, for the most part, successful; however the blindfolded painting competition can only be classified as a #Fail. I promise you that our next soiree will include some creative surprises, but there will be no risk of getting paint on your new shoes.

A brilliantly conceived idea to promote a day devoid of the ubiquitous technological lifelines on which we so desperately rely, Leave Your Phone at Home Day, failed to convince anyone to unplug for a night out. In fact, I clearly remember a phone call from our web developer that night asking where we should meet for drinks; a call that I answered despite having helped give birth to the idea. The most committed among us did manage to leave their phones at home, but then refused to leave their house for fear of missing an important tweet or status update notification. Perhaps next year we should promote something within the realm of possibility.

In this issue, our founder and chief editor has taken a second stab at his failed attempt to capture the essence of the hipster generation, and their failure to achieve the individuality for which they so desperately strive. We examine the disappointment faced by so many of today’s post secondary graduates, as they enter the ‘adult world’ and are confronted with the harsh reality that everything they’ve been working towards counts for next to nothing. And we’ll take a closer look at the regret felt by those that failed to make the ‘right’ choice at the ballot box, and voted for PP’s most reviled politician.

The point is, without failure we never improve. We wear our successes like badges of honour, and our failures just as proudly, like battle scars – hard earned proof that we’ve lived and learned.




About Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito is one of Canada's premier thinkers. He graces the pages of Provocative Penguin with his unique and rare form of genius. His keen eye for talented artists, insight into political affairs, and cunning linguistic skills pale only in comparison to his chiselled good looks. Some say he is a God. Here at Provocative Penguin, we just call him Danny. You can read Danny’s other posts on PP [here]