things a doin' where I do most of my stewin'

I hope you weren't getting used to somewhat relevant, thought-out blog posts.

Because my computer's acting silly again I'm trying to rid it of anything unnecessary so when I reformat there will be less to put back. With this in mind, here are some random photos with various words attached.

Let's start in my room.

As all of you must know by now, my bed is CONSTANTLY full of sexy babes.
This is just Toon and niXon snuggling. Sometimes they even let me in on the fun!

And by fun I of course mean moments of absolute terror.

What a dream puff!

With that in mind, sometimes I'm better off spending time alone, with a candle. Candles are great. This one was a gift I received at work. I gave a tour to the class and they appreciated it so much they candled me. Or they give one every year and I just won the candle lottery, either way, candle!
But candles can be dangerous. If you have one lit and say the wrong thing your room can EXPLODE! In my case the explosion resulted in most of my possessions being destroyed and a world of white descending on my being.
If this misfortune makes you sad dear reader, fear not! As luck would have it a small creature of indeterminate origins arrived to lead me on a magical journey.

He led me down a magical ladder.

Then along a magical tunnel.

So much magic going on.
And then POOF! I was in my room...woah.
Amazing. In homage to the journey, the poofs, the magic and the world more generally, I made a nice little display dealy. It was originally going to be for Battle Beasts, but I figured the pebbles looked nice instead.
I'm actually in the midst of a few new things for my room. Beyond the floor there's a bit of a reorganization and decorating spree going on. Even considering a real bed, but that might have to wait for financial stars to align. Anyone in the mood to buy or donate a bed to my cause, I'm looking for comfort and a complete lack of bed bugs.

Also, everyone should watch this space (and others) for a possible room warming party in the relatively near future.

A Serious Man

I was going to write a review for A Serious Man. It's a movie I just watched at the Bloor Cinema. It's on Bloor.

Here's a trailer.
Pretty good, huh? And it gives you a good feel for what went on in the moooovie.

I was going to write a review, but I don't know what that means so I'm going to say some things about whatever instead. SPOILER WARNING (just in case), and away we go.

For those that don't know the Bloor Cinema is a big ol' place with one screen and tonnes of seats, both a main level and balcony. They tend to show movies that have been out for a while, art house sort of things or sometimes they play the world's best commercials. You get the idea. This type of venue leads to a certain type of audience. In the case of A Serious Man an audience that laughs.

They laugh in a self-aggrandizing way. Does that make sense? They laugh to show the world their recognition of the cleverness they see before them, and in turn the cleverness that oozes through their own souls.

I know I said there was going to be less judging in my life and this seems a bad start. Oh well. I know this laugh because I've caught myself doing it in the past. These days I try to nod sagely rather than laugh, especially when watching a movie by the Coen brothers who layer so many clever, laughable moments into their work that someone laughing at every one might get...hmmm. Irritating?

Part of the reason I've decided to throw a little judgement on the bar-bee (q) is that I was eavesdropping post show and heard other people make similar comments. Therefore it's okay if I do it. They were confused that there was so much laughter during moments that while humorous did not deserve such belligerent joy.

The movie is one of nuance. Characters' sly mannerisms and tics move the film forward as much if not more than what was a fairly straightforward story, basically everything going wrong for the hero. Although, even as I type, a great deal of subtlety is springing to mind. Still, I feel those plot drivers were intentionally subtle (still important) to allow the performers' performances to carry the piece.

It was the kind of actoring that would likely benefit from repeated viewings. And also the sort of actoring that if given a loud guffaw at each perceived moment of greatness you end up missing a lot.

Right? Good so far.

I'll stop complaining now. If I don't want the movie experience I will stay home!

Because people like movie reviews to have structure I will now discuss the ending. The ending is one of those wha-oh and it's done deals, and a brief perusal of the interweb leads to me to realize there is a lot of possible meaning I might have missed. People are talking theology and Judaism alongside what it all might mean for the characters. I thought it was a pretty all right place to stop things. Sure 100% resolution might be nice, but then post film conversation would be relegated to more like-dislike realms.

As is, the ending has the ability to cause discussion and wikipedia research! What happens to the characters for starters? And from there we go on to all sorts of fun times about theology (did God send the tornado?) and whether the pathetic fallacy of the storm was a message to specific characters who had lost faith or just a general message that life can be shit so enjoy the good you got now, because tomorrow the good you got might be the good you had. Boy howdee!

Hell, there are even all sorts of aspects of the Jewish experience in America that I'm sure flew right over my head. Through the wonders of lobby eavesdropping, facilitated by a toque that just wouldn't sit evenly (cold out, don'tcha know?), I heard some guy talking about difficulties for certain American Jewish communities when it comes to dealing with varied levels of orthodoxy in the clergy. I wasn't listening closely enough to tell you anything beyond that, just saying there are interesting things a vague ending can hint at.

And in conclusion a two things. One - based on a brief skim of forums where movies are discussed I need to develop better analytic skills. It might just be a matter of sitting and thinking about things longer and harder before puking these words onto the internet, or maybe I need to go to movies with people so afterwards I can talk it out and other people can listen to me and my friends opining loudly on what we witnessed. Whatever the solution might be, right now I really feel like my reading of a lot of things (books, movies and on and on) takes place on a very surface level. Buried ideas and discussions elude me, and those are the deals I need to find and understand so I can more convincingly discuss and incorporate them in my own work (eventually).

And two - for me a movie is good or bad if I was immersed, didn't feel the need to check my watch or roll my eyes at obvious idiocy. In this case I enjoyed the film, didn't wonder how long things had been running, enjoyed the characters, watching them closely in an attempt to get more and at the end yelled, "Hey! You guys are alright, want to hang out some more?" They did not.

And that's saying a lot given the cringe inducing problems certain characters were presented with and a personal tendency to shy away from such things.

A Serious Man is a seriously good time. Take the missus!

If you are interested in some commentary and background far more deeply considered than anything I can give look at this interview from Salon, Here!


oh yeah, and my own stuff

my bedroom floor just after 8 on a Wednesday evening (Sweat as Communication)

I have seen
a bear bark white honey
and lost
in a fit of giggles
sage advice granted.

I've been told
I flop. Too
submerged to know, me
carrying on without me.

I remember
dowelling fanning out the fabric of existence
rotating from my fulcrum
ceaselessly, holding
colours of toys,
retro and for a wall
in my head.
Yellow? brown? orange? Blue?
I roll and chase the real I want.
Just pushing it away
just panicking.

a friend, down, now up,
or at least at the stairs' other end,
watching from the fan.
And I know everyone will be
all right.

Sweat as communication
returns to my brain
first, and mouth

I am searching
for sight in everything
even as revelation drifts away
and fades out.
Lost, but for a poem,
so something.

musings from the slightly north

Here I sit in Owen Sound, the land of milk and honey and cold freaking basements where the computer lives.

Sheesh. I'd better type fast.

Away from Toronto for a day and my brain starts to function on a different level, as the quiet of my house and its slower pace of life leaves me with time to contemplate the world in a different way. Thoughts that bubble just below the surface in Toronto, shunted aside by the distractions that accompany big city livin', here are allowed time to surface and percolate. Owen Sound, at least for me, gives time and space.

Time and space for doubt to re-emerge, in this instance.

Said doubt, however, is not a bad thing. Let me explain, won't you? It's the holidays, you have lots of time.

As mentioned previously I tend to get ahead of myself and a wee bit self-congratulatory for producing the tiniest something. On a mission to buy moustaches the other day Annie even noted my tendency to play fast and loose with the word genius...when describing my own work.


She's great for "calling it as she sees it" and forcing me to think about what I'm saying or doing.

Is the poem I wrote this week the best thing ever? No.
Do I have the right to be pleased by a clever turn of phrase and take joy from it? Yes.

Even if I think I'm using genius ironically, on some level there's a whole lot of ego rumbling, telling me I don't need to work hard. That no matter how long it takes me to make one thing, when that one thing is done my inborn brilliance will be revealed and lauded by one and all.

That's dumb. And a dangerous trap to fall into.

So! A harder working me, rife with humility is what is needed from here on out (until the end of time). Confidence is fine, but thinking everything I do is a paragon of awesome risks stopping me before I start. Why work more, try harder, and push onto bigger and better if I'm already sainted? Reminding myself, even if it's forcibly, that there is always much to be done can only help me in the long run.
(This isn't a new year's resolution, just a resolution that happens to have come at this time of year. Sometimes having a fixed date in mind for a change can help, but I figure why wait if you already know what needs to happen?)

Hurray for self doubt!

Good doubt can also emerge when you're reading an entire book of poems by someone who's quite good. There's this guy, Leonard Cohen, maybe you've heard of him. Anyway, I've been reading Book of Longing, his latest, and it's reinforcing how important consistent work truly is. I mean, you don't get 200 plus pages of poetry with an hour's writing, every once in a while when you're in the mood.

Beyond that, the poems are pretty neat too.

With so many poems in a book there's bound to be a lot of variety (not all of them are equally fun or golden), but the ones I'm enjoying the most are what I would call spare. Simple, clear writing, without need for overt cleverness, provides more than enough for an enjoyable poem. You could end the interaction there and walk away happy, but the truly great thing is that such simple writing can leave you thinking that there's something more. I feel a hidden depth of meaning that such simple words shouldn't be able to hold, but they do.


Here's one, the last poem I read before shutting off the lights last night.

The Moon

The moon is outside.
I saw the great uncomplicated thing
when I went to take a leak just now.
I should have looked at it longer.
I am a poor lover of the moon.
I see it all at once and that's it
for me and the moon.

Pretty good, huh? Can you tell where his writing ended and mine began? Probably.

Oh Leonard. He really is interested in the mundane and essential acts of humanity. Eating, sex, poo and pee. He sees a lot of beauty there and those themes emerge again and again throughout his work. Also, he apparently really likes to go down on ladies. Good for him!


what's the deal with publishing poetry?

I know I tend to get ahead of myself sometimes, cart before horse and all that jazz.

This is definitely one of those times.


What are the rules around publishing poetry and prose on a blog? Sometimes, when you enter a contest or submit a piece to a magazine the regulations state it must be unpublished material. Does my blog count as a something?

According to the CBC Literary Awards it does.

Uggh. So that means that I can't post my poems on here if I want to submit them to something like the CBC LAs. Of course that's just one contest, but such regulations are of concern to me.

Why? Let's introspect, shall we.

Reason 1 - Up until now my creative output has been an inconsequential, unenviable mess, so when I actually do finish something it takes on far more significance than it should. Each finished piece is a symbol, something to signify ALL the potential I'm convinced rattles around in my brain.

Reason 2 - Stemming from 1, if I consider each finished piece a master-work I'm instantly convinced of its dearness and value. Something of great worth of course needs to be cherished and only launched into the world at an appropriate moment, an instant where all eyes are watching and all mouths are ready to shout its praises.

Those moments don't come around too often. In fact, if one thought for about three seconds they would realize that such convoluted logic sound more like excuse making. A way to avoid ever finding out if what I'm doing is actually good, and so...

Reason 3 - This reason is a bit of a mess, bear with me, but we can generally say the third reason I am writing this inane post is confidence.

a - As mentioned above, if I talk about publishing something or submitting something it takes attention away from the act of publishing or submitting (or the lack of action) and my untalented deceit is never revealed!

b - Stemming from 2 is another facet of confidence; FEAR! On some level I'm afraid that I won't be able to rally my creative forces ever again. This one can be overcome, simply by doing something. Then doing something new. Then following that second something with another, and a fourth, and a thirty-second (after a 29th) and so on.

To be a creative individual you need to create all the time. Do, do, do, do and do. Not think, suggest and maybe next week. Take artistry seriously. As Canadian poet David W. McFadden ( a fella I've mentioned before) said, "From Grade 11 till now I've been writing poems every day, or thinking about it a lot on the occasional day I'd miss. To me an artist had to work every day, it had to be his entire life, or he was a fake."

A fake eh? Sounds familiar. So all I need to do is write a poem a day for the next 40 years? Well, maybe I should just take the meaning of his words and apply them personally.

And reason number...I don't even know. Am I onto italicized sub-sub-headings by this stage? My next point doesn't necessarily follow from the others, I just want to include it somehow, so...

Reason 3bi - I've mentioned this before, but thinking in terms of a best sellers and smash hits is wrong-headed. Chasing the latest trend and not being true to personal creative instincts results in shallow, unformed pieces. Mere shadows of what other original people were doing weeks, months and years before.

Stick with what you love and find hilarious, however, and at the end of the day you get something that you at least find enjoyable. If it finds fans in other like-minded souls that's great, but if it doesn't, who cares?

And so I struggle. Wanting to create something that receives recognition, worrying that personal notions of grandeur might be pin-pricked and deflated (not necessarily a bad thing), and simply wanting to create and push things out there regardless of the venue. Maybe even get to a point where I'm comfortable enough with myself that I know there will be other poems after this one and that I'll have another short story idea.

And I think I'm getting there, becoming more willing to release things into the world. Able to set aside all the above mentioned concerns. And if it does turn out I have created the greatest thing ever I'm sure it will take care of itself.

What set all this off?

I'm working on a poem entitled my bedroom floor on a Wednesday just after 8 in the evening (or sweat as communication). With a name like that how can it NOT be the greatest thing ever?

I was actually thinking about not posting it on here, but after writing everything I've just written I don't think that's possible.

Now you all have something to look forward to!

The Last Goodbye at Summerhill

I'm busy so you get this bit of lovely. Found with a description via Torontoist.


Jane and Shoreham - catching the eye and understanding why

There's a building I pass whenever I take transit to work.

I get off the Jane bus and walk to BCPV along Shoreham, passing the building as the morning sun reveals its form. The view from Shoreham is the one that caught my eye.
The view is messy. A mix of geometry, the building's squares and rectangles stacked and also popped out, providing angles and a home for shadows.

The Shoreham side with its blocked appearance and open balconies is messy.

Bikes and boxes are visible from the road. People's lives in outdoor closets.

Over Shoreham, a pedestrian overpass provides an elevated, mid-road perspective on things. And a peak at the back of the Jane Street section.
To walk across a daily bridge to school feels magical to me. Even if it is reinforced concrete above four lanes of traffic, being up high brings a sense of vision, perspective and power. Or it does to the 5 year old I imagine myself to have been.

Sharp edges and jagged turns lose sway as Shoreham turns into Jane. One of the building's curved outdoor stairwells signals a corner.

On Jane the towers break up the building's neatly balconied sections, and allow experiments in perspective to occur.

Moving north, each tower signals a section and each section loses a floor.
The building recedes. It stretches into the distance, presenting length where there is none. One end to the other becomes a distance to the eyes that the feet disagree with. The northerly sections stagger back as building and road do not parallel one another. The recession to a point must be maintained.
I haven't looked at that cluster of structures at the north end. I have never been inside. An interesting building just the same. Something more than the same old rectangle. It might be part of the Edgeley Village Shoreham complex, but I can't say for sure.

The perspective games were only revealed to me as I wrote the post and looked at the pictures. To that point I just knew the building had caught my attention, but after this little analysis I feel I have somewhat of a better grasp on why.


subways and Fort York

Twitter is something else, eh guys?

I just sit here and everyone else finds links for me. It's great. I don't even know I want to find something until it appears. When it does I just have to write about it.

This go round we're talking architecture and public transit to start. We'll see where we end up.

Designboom had a neat post the other day detailing the best subway architecture going. I will now commence moving some of their pictures over here, then adding my own limited commentary. This post is basically me giggling uncontrollably at neat things and wanting to share said giggles more fully than a simple link would allow.
Holy Stockholm Batman! The entire system is stuffed with artwork, and they have some great design features, including the hacked out of stone feel in a lot of stations.

I'm always a fan of mashing the hyper-future into unfinished and naturally riotous spaces. The notion bears a connection to my aesthetic appreciation for classical architecture and the modern; having a sleek, electric tram silently snaking through a centuries old city-centre or a new windmill silhouetted in the skyline beside an ancient, stone belfry.

Nice lights Munich.
The joys of building a system starting in 1972 and being able to incorporate what other cities have already learned.
This one reminds me of St. Clair West station in Toronto, which reminds me of a lot of Metro stations in Montreal (not that I've visited them particularly intensively). Both in the colours and in the high ceilings. I love how that mirrored ceiling makes the space last forever.

Tempo from St. Clair West station. It's nice, but not all encompassing like the above example. I understand that making the station itself into the art (or at least part of the art on display) can be more expensive and difficult, but with bigger risks come bigger rewards (sometimes).
I like the clean lines in this Bilbao station. Apparently the whole system and all its stations were designed byFoster + Partners.

Or this epilepsy inducing little number in Shanghai. Because this transit system is so short it's more about the sound and light display you experience than actually moving.

Check out the amazing texture on the wall in Prague.

And the opulence you can find in Moscow.
Just because I like the future combined with nature, doesn't mean having a straight-up future future future is now look is bad, like they have at Drassanes Station in Barcelona.
So what to take from all this?

Basically we need to be bold. I'm aware of economic restrictions, but you HAVE to be willing to spend money. Something like a subway station can't be changed after the fact terribly easily, so you have to get it right the first time (I don't mean get it right in the sense that a perfect solution can be found, but instead that we need to remember this is building the city for the next 40, 60, 100 years and to change a design to save $200 000 now might result in pain and bother for years to come). Spend the money and after the basic architecture requirements are met, turn it over to the artists, or even better have the artists and architects working together from the beginning.

As people move through a transit system everyday, their existence is at least partially defined by the spaces that they pass through. If you make those spaces big, bold and inspiring the people get something positive from it. Prioritize these spaces and invest in them.

If the people hate the art I'm willing to bet they're going to complain, and THAT's good too! Complaint leads to more discussion and more discussion leads to more change. Nothing about art or architecture is static and the next big project will be influenced by the last.

The key thing to remember - and probably also the most difficult thing to wrap your head around given the brief time-spans most people and governments operate on - is that each one of these projects is building towards an unseen city of the future. The infrastructure and groundwork we lay now is what will support the layers of urban citizenship that will arrive in forms unseen tomorrow. And in an even more perfect world the groundwork we lay now should also appreciate some of that which was built in the past. The city exists in time as much as it does space.

It's tough. Even the best conjecture lacks absolute certainty. The people trying to envision what is to come and build accordingly are going to receive all sorts of complaints around cost and style. Only years later will people be able to see the brilliance and foresight in what they built (think of the under-bridge subway line on the Bloor Viaduct. If that hadn't been a possible add-on in the original bridge design the entire subway system in Toronto would be vastly different, or at least have cost way more). And of course, some of the ideas won't pan out, giving all the naysayers something to point to.

Toronto did get a mention in the above article, Museum Station's redesign was considered cool enough for a comment.
And I agree. They did a good thing here. It is a retrofit but imagine the fun they could have had if designing this station from scratch, trying to capture the same themes and images. Oh boy!


One more thing, non-subway, before I go.

Toronto is designing a new Fort York Visitor Centre. You can see the design proposals on Spacing Toronto. They're pretty neat and while I haven't passed judgement on any one, I recommend having a look at 4 first because its aerial view gives you a better idea of what's going on spatially.

This project interestingly connects to the previous post on the Gardiner Expressway. Fort York used to be right beside the lake. It's not anymore due to fill dumping and land extension, and is now wedged between the city and the Gardiner Expressway and the proposed visitor centre is actually going to exist at least in part beneath the elevated road.

As I said above, all these discussions on aesthetics are ongoing, with each piece adding to and elaborating previous physical opinions. Installing a fantastically designed visitor centre underneath the Gardiner brings together multiple eras, revealing both distinct moments of design (history, culture, society and everything) and how a moment in design-time lasts. Even after fashions change.

Just as a city's people move about and interact to provide its ever-changing social nature, a city's built aspects are not static. Each new piece of architecture reinterprets what is already there or was there before. Complete erasure (burying the Gardiner for instance) is not always feasible not necessarily desirable.

Given the Gardiner's decades-long role in Toronto and the lessons it has taught around prioritizing cars above people and neighbourhoods, re-interpreting it with more people friendly additions is a better way to go. As long as everything that gets built, no matter how avant-garde, remembers the person is the city's most important unit, it's difficult to really go wrong.

From pretty picture of train stations, to 200 year old forts and an expressway often called an eyesore, it's like a never-ending magical acid trip up in here.

Everything is WOW!!!

It sure is. Inessa Annie Frantowski is celebrating her birthday on Monday (Dec. 14) with an amazing show at The Comedy Bar. I'm going to be there because it is an AMAZING line up.


Also, it's all for a good cause.

Don't believe me? Read the list of acts below (and everything else Inessa wrote and I subsequently copied from the event's facebook page).

Hello friends!
In celebration of my birthday this year, I am throwing a huge show/party!
THE most amazing line-up:
NIKKI PAYNE! (Comedy NOW, Comedy Inc, The Nikki Payne Funtime show, Last Comic Standing)
SANDRA BATTAGLINI (Canadian Comedy Award Winner)
WINSTON SPEAR (Comedy NOW, Comedy Inc, Last Comic Standing)
SARA HENNESSEY (Video on Trial, Laugh Sabbath)
JET FIGHTER PILOTS (Real Jet Fighter Pilots)
HANDSOME BALD MEN (They are!) (Tal Zimerman, Chris Locke)
BOB N CRAIG (Canadian Comedy Award winners)
and our very special guest SCOTT THOMPSON (KIDS IN THE HALL!!!!)
LAURA BARRETT (The Hidden Cameras) and AJAY MEHRA (King Kaboom)
LUKE LALONDE (The Born Ruffians)
HENRY FLETCHER (Henri Faberge and the Adorables)
ANDREW SCOTT (Meligrove Band, The Bicycles, Sebastian Grainger and the Mountains)
LITTLE TV WONDER (featuring members of THE BICYCLES) - doing T.V. theme songs!
Plus, a dance by KEN (Gravity Wave) and KATE (lovely!)
A new "Kiss me Gordon" video by: Bob, Craig and Viv!
and...a debut performance from JAMIE FRANTOWSKI!!!
Girls...control yourselves. He is my brother!

Here's the best part:
All proceeds go to a terrific organization, THIRD WORLD AWARENESS.
I had the privilege of going to Haiti with this group in 2003, and I know first hand, what terrific work they are doing.
My goal is to raise $1000, so please spread the word any way you can!
Let it all hang out for once!

This party fully promotes:
- laughs
- being silly
- cleavage
- food eating
- drinking all kinds of beverages
- bright colours
- dancing
- going nuts
- partial nudity
- this just in: Farts! Farts are also permitted at this event!


Gardiner Expressway park? Sure!

Oh man.

A park, over a highway. How great is that?

The problem (the only one of course!) in Toronto is the Gardiner, an elevated expressway roughly parallel to the waterfront. It snakes along the base of the city and the argument has always been it cuts off the city from its lake.
What to do?

Toronto's been working on some ideas: keep it up (with repairs), improve the existing expressway, build a new elevated roadway or take it down, but only east of Jarvis and so on.

Unfortunately, you can't just straight knock it down because you still need to get all those people (errr cars) into the city.

Makes sense.
This particular idea is courtesy of Quadrangle Architects and on first blush it sounds like a goody.

Les Klein (of Quadrangle) says a surface road would cut-off the waterfront even more fully and I agree. Also, I'm assuming burying the thing à la Boston's Big Dig would be too costly and problematic, so that's out.

In a perfect world public transit gets so dirty good that no one wants or needs to drive into the core anymore, but that's not going to happen, so it seems we're left with a big concrete snake, standing guard. Protecting the city from lake monsters.

Lake Monsters!

But there's so much to consider beyond the Gardiner's monster fighting ability.

First off, the concrete snake isn't a standalone anymore, as its condo buddies show up in increasing numbers. The city is increasingly surrounding the road, encroaching on its carness, hiding it and pulling it into a more lived urban fabric that stretches ever lakeward. The growth and use of the island airport and The Wavedeck also fall into this lake grab, something that has been taking place all while people bickered about the city ignoring its waterfront.

So, if it's going to stand there - hidden or not - we might as well make it look awesome and a park up top with fences and walls to keep people safe and exhaust free does that. Not to mention the green goodness the space promises to provide. And imagine the views! I would expect there to be plenty of points to look up towards the city or out to the harbour, island and the lake beyond.
Between the condo towers of course...I'm not saying I'm a mega fan of the condos or necessarily everything about an increasingly busy island airport. Just that I like what they represent in terms of density and urban life.
Oh heck! We should totally add a glass floor (similar to the one up The Tower) just so park users could moon motorists stuck beneath in traffic jams.

And, AND! as an example of poured concrete modernist architecture the Gardiner Expressway is slowly losing its eyesore tag (at least to my mind). Such style was a popular deal in the '60s and 70's and as retro-chic continues its unstoppable cyclical march it's starting to enter a cool phase again. This is to say nothing of the other aesthetic gifts a giant chunk of concrete can provide, acting as a versatile canvas for art of all sorts.

A couple years back the talk was of a river of light.
Just recently, the underside of the Gardiner became the setting for Watertable, art that marked the old Lake Ontario shoreline with an LED display.
I particularly like this project as it reminds us of urban space's vital connection to the, hrrrm, natural world. I'm hesitant to even make the division because a city without the rest of the world is dead dead dead, no matter how much we pretend to pull back and exist independently. But that amorphous, organic city is something to be considered elsewhere (in the first chapter of this book for instance).
As an aside Toronto as a whole is being recognized for some green initiatives at the current Copenhagen summit. I've posted the city's video, apparently playing in Denmark on a loop, at the bottom.

As if we needed any more support for the idea, someone else has already done it, therefore it must be good. The High Line in New York is a park built onto a disused railway viaduct. The city gets more green space and overall quality of life goes up as the park has become a place for art and interaction; so much more than just a place to stroll! (and for those looking for more staid markers of well-being, there are more people in the area for shopping and to drive up property values). Similarly, Paris has its Promenade Plantée.

I think a Gardiner park is a great idea and given that no matter what the greeners might hope, we're stuck with a car culture for the time being and still need to live with it as best we can. That doesn't mean we need to be subservient though. More scramble intersections that let the pedestrians take the road and more projects like this where pedestrians are allowed to move under, over and around a main thoroughfare.

Eventually it has to enter a person's mind I am as important as these cars, and in time, I am more important than these cars.

The world isn't going to change overnight, but through these acts and architectures - realized demonstrations in urban space that people are the prime unit - we will start to see change. People, allowed to feel and live their importance, subsequently have an easier time of moving past autocentric paradigms. The change happens, but it does so organically.

Theory is given life and people believe, but only if we can build those spaces so the imagination can take hold.

(This is a little west end of the Gardiner Expressway centric due to personal geographic experience...methinks I just found my first springtime bike trip/urban hike)

Toronto's green leadership video currently being shown at the climate summit in Copenhagen.

Feral Houses

Now here's another cool thing.

As I'm sure you all know Detroit has had a bit of a demographic shift in the past few decades, meaning a shit-ton of people have left. Fortunately they were kind enough to leave their city behind. Parts of it are rotten and festering, but the urban decay has also become a focus or urban explorers and artists' more extreme, large-scale projects.

What better way to bring attention to demographic decline and housing loss than painting melting houses Tiggerific Orange?
The city has even become a centre for slow food and urban farming!

But what caught my eye recently was the feral houses pictured on Sweet Juniper.

Look at these beauties.
You can really see how thinned out the city has become. Fields where before there were fields. Or forests?
As Sweet Juniper points out gardens planted for aesthetics now frame houses in green, speaking to words like consume and swallow.
I've been talking with the plants. Their plan is to grow. Stab mortar with roots, pressure windows and invite wood back to earth. I like deconstruction sites where the foreman is nature.
These houses were obviously for the wealthy at some point. Gone. Fled. Fearful and in the suburbs.

Where do the poor people go who aren't sub-urban-knights? Where have all those people gone who lost their homes in the sub-prime mortgage debacles of the past few years? Are they all living with friends? Camping in the forests of national parks? Of Detroit? Filling up flea bag hotels where they pay by the month?

The pictures are instructive. I sometimes have a hard time getting my head around the notion that progress can be stopped, humanity might have to shrink back and try again somewhere else.

I know it has happened time and again; ancient ruins and lost cities, even North American ghost towns, all speak to the reality. Rivers change course, soil becomes infertile and saline, ore veins are bled dry. Or the industrial-capitalist system loses track of how to work in a certain place at a certain time for a certain group of people and once those that can get are gone the rest are left to their fate - be it barbarians or trees.

Cities decline, leave, end.

I know these things happen. But on a deeper level the concept of hundreds of thousands of urban citizens leaving and abandoning continues to astonish and exist just beyond real comprehensibility for me. An intangible, only coherent through numbers and words.

Individual stories - job loss and watching helplessly as a neighbourhood falls apart - I can understand those. But translating that into a coherent narrative that encompasses downtown blight and sprawling suburban growth is a trickier proposition.

How to solve a problem that in its size alone defies real comprehension? I dunno, but I think a bunch of people working at a comprehensible scale on a whack of projects can add up to something. Eventually. Don't forget about the trees when contemplating the forest and all that.


Kerry Skarbakka

Busy busy busy.

Working 5 days a week leads to tired. It also encourages me to enjoy my weekends more, fully, shall we say. Too many 4 AMs.

In the meantime, here's another cool set of photos, this time by Kerry Skarbakka. Again, I found them in The Guardian, I wish all newspapers were this awesome!

Inspired by the helplessness he felt after 9/11 he started taking some pictures featuring him in moments of peril. I'll let the pics do the talking for themselves.
Apparently he doesn't want to be a sacrifice for art so safety is a factor, but there is an element of risk. Yeah...I can see that.
Tasteful Nudes is happening tonight. Promises to be a great show.
Not related to these pics, just thought I'd mention it.

I'll have more exciting things to say (I think) sometime in the near future. What can you look forward to?

Architectural commentary!
Urban planning!
Jokes I play on children at my workplace!
The marking of undergraduate papers and the inexorable decline of the current notion of post-secondary education!

Oh man, I am jealous of you. So much to look forward to! But for now, I nap.