Deep Blue Sea

January 20, 2011

A halted police procession during Sgt Ryan Russell's funeral.

This past Tuesday, at 11:30 am, quite by chance I found myself on University Ave. walking into a sea of blue. Literally, thousands of officers from uniformed, to mounties (a bit of red), to everything in between were marching south down the avenue from Queen’s Park. This was the day of Sgt. Ryan Russell’s funeral and despite an abundance of press about this tragic event, I didn’t know what I was walking into. I often avoid reading the newspaper, especially the front page, (sad but true) so I hadn’t heard University Ave would be closed for a few hours for to the funeral set for 2pm. I decided to stand by for awhile to pay my respects. It was a melancholy moment. Many people stood along the quiet sidelines. All you could hear was the swish of jacketed, swaying arms and the foot fall of the officers’ boots as they marched toward the Metro Convention Convention Centre, until suddenly they stopped, parted and formed lines along either side of the road.

I couldn’t help recalling this past June, during the G20 Summit, when I stood only a block away on a once again closed University Ave. Although the two events couldn’t be more different form each other, it was be difficult not to compare. I wondered if the city hadn’t gone too far on this Tuesday, with all the road closures and traffic related diversions due to the event. But, I’m glad Sgt Russell’s funeral played out the way it did. I wasn’t able to stay for the entire process but felt moved by the presence of so many people, civilians and officer, coming together to pay their respects both to Sgt Russell and, symbolically, to the men and women who put their safety on the line for us daily. The Toronto police force has had some pretty bad press over the last year, and rightly so. But it’s important to remember that the force is more than just a poorly chosen event and that dedicated officers like Sgt Russell are giving it their all in helping make Toronto a safe place to live.

For additional reading about the funeral click here and here.

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Ebb and Flow

January 13, 2011

Welcome to Kew Beach

Point of entry.

Ebb and Flow...

Making a splash on a snowy day.

No Life Guard on Duty. Although, some days I could sure use one.

Snow fence #1.

Snow Fence #2. Not quite as steady.

Leuty Lifeguard Stand.

Life ain't always a picnic but it sure can be pretty.

Last Saturday, I woke up to see a grand pile of snow had fallen and decided, right there and then, to head down to (where else?) the beach. From that point forward my day took a turn. Everything I attempted to do failed in someway – even trying to get down to the lake shore. The buses couldn’t make it up the snowy, unplowed hill (really?!) forcing me to trudge my way through the freshly fallen snow toward my destination. Yes, I grumbled to myself for most of the way until I realized, due to the detour, I was entering the beach for an area I hadn’t been before: a rather lovely and secluded area (see the Point of Entry shot above) not far from where I was headed. I decided to take this as a sign as if saying – if I open myself up to it, those road blocks and reroutes in life might lead me to a place I’ve never seen or thought of before. On those days when I drop everything I try to grasp on to (we all have those days, don’t we?) I often wonder what the blaze is going on?

At the end of it, though, I was happy to see at least a few shots turned out from my stroll along the boardwalk. I guess I hadn’t dropped everything but it took me a few days to notice.

Although, at times, it can seem like a strain, I have to admit I prefer to look up.

Last week, during my date-for-one I took myself  to the Evergreen Brickworks. I had a great time strolling the through the paths and laneways with my camera, taking a few shots but deciding, once I got back home, that I need to go back soon in order to practice snapping in low light. It was quite overcast that day but I could still appreciate all the different textures of the place, the access to the outdoors with an area to warm up and (very important) washrooms not on-site. It might seem like a bit of an effort getting there for someone, like me, who doesn’t drive but the FREE shuttle bus service from the Broadview or Davisville subway stations makes using the it’s-too-difficult-to-get-there excuse a bit lame. I was drawn to The Works by an exhibit (which I’m sad to say ended in December 31) presented by no. 9. Four video installations mounted at the end of four long, dark, brick-walled tunnels – a surprisingly perfect venue for these interesting works. One of the many ways I hope to improve my blog this year is to actually check stuff out and let you know about it before it’s too late to see it for yourself. It is stuff like this exhibit you may have missed (sorry… ) and the Brickworks in general (not too late to stop by) that makes my heart beat with excitement over what this city has to offer. Not to say Toronto doesn’t have room for improvement but I’ll hit that topic on another day.

Here are a few more shots (I’ve already posted a couple over the last few of days) of what I saw that day. Kind of dark, I know – but still…

Don’t be afraid to grab your camera, your skates and/or a friend for your very own look-see.

Of course, now, this song has implanted itself in my head. Shake it down, down.

A shot of Dana Claxton's Waterspeek.

My shadow imposed on Dana's plea for fluidity.

So many interesting things to see.

Project Warmth

November 16, 2010

My morning walk just before sunrise.

I thought I would mention a fabulous cause I friend of mine started here in Toronto a few years ago called, Project Warmth. Project Warmth is “a Toronto-based grassroots initiative, that aims to help families in need by creating beautiful gift packages of gently-used children’s items.These lovely gift packages are then sent out to women in need just before the holiday season, a time that can leave those struggling to make ends meet feel the strain that much more. Click HERE to see a list of ideas if you’d like to lend a hand by making a donation or volunteering your time. Once again I’ve left this until the eleventh hour as the donation deadline is…  this Saturday, November 20th. Ugh, I apologize for leaving things so late. Rest assured the word pronto will be one I hope to use more often in the new year. But, please don’t let my tardiness stop or delay you. Take a a few minutes, now, to roam around your closets, or, shelves, or make a quick stop to the drugstore to purchase some reasonably priced products for baby or mom and let the giving begin. Check out Project Warmth’s website for drop off details or information on how to volunteer on November 26, 27, 28 or 30th.

What better way to kick off the holidays then by making some extra space on your shelves while spreading some kindness to someone in need. I can feel the warmth already.

Here comes the sun getting ready to warm things up a little.

 

Cloudy

October 14, 2010

 

Nathan Philips Square, Toronto, during Nuit Blanche

 

This shot is one of my first attempts at night photography, with my Rebel T1i, without using a flash. It’s a wee but blurry but, in this case, I don’t really mind it.

Word of the day.

Hopscotch \ HOP-skoch \  , verb;  1. To journey quickly and directly from one usually far place to another. noun: 1. A children’s game in which a player tosses or kicks an object into one of several numbered sections of a diagram marked on the ground. verb: 1. To move or pass through something, as a geographical area or a field of endeavor, making many brief stops.

I played hopscotch in the sunshine on my driveway, when I was a child, and afterward I’d lay my back on the cool concrete while unraveling the mysteries in the clouds.

31) Blanche-ing…

October 5, 2010

In my french class yesterday a few people weighed in on how they felt about this year’s Nuit Blanche. Although the air and vibe in the ‘hood I was twirling in was cool that night, I have to say the responsive temp felt by my fellow classmates read more as lukewarm to tepid. I heard comments (in french of course) along the lines of, ” I was not impressed”, a shrug and “It was all right, however, the food in the area was great!” to “Why are kid so young wandering around DRUNK without their parents?” The streets were definitely jammed up but to me this spelled success since, I believe, one of Nuit Blanche’s mandates is to get people out of the house and “onto the city’s streets for an all-night exploration and celebration of contemporary art.” Generally speaking, some (not all!!!) of the contemporary art on display during Nuit Blanche can leave one feeling a bit empty. Or at least that is the way I have felt while viewing some of the NB’s city-wide exhibits. From my misty recollection, I believe I have wandered around les rues en ville pour Nuit Blanche, twice before. Last year’s highlight took place at Koerner Concert Hall where Bill performed along with numerous other musicians in a John Cage inspired musical swirl. But, other than that, it was a bit of a letdown. This year, however, I managed to enjoy most of what I saw. Read Murry (from The Toronto Star) Whyte’s take of the evening, here, I agree with most of what he said but keep in mind my NB experience was pretty much limited to some of Zone C. Kudos to Christof Migone who was the curator for the area. I had more hits than misses on Saturday night which from previuos experience is pretty amazing.

*for some reason I cannot “un-bold” the first half of this post without rewriting everything which clearly is not going to happen.

Erik Saitie's Vexation

The Endless Place

Arrivals/Departures

Later Than Night at the Drive-In

By the way, I was home by midnight, since I had to work the next day – argh. But, maybe that’s not a bad thing (the home by midnight part, not working on Sunday). Here are the exhibits I saw before I jumped on the all-night subway home.

List 31 – My Nuit Blanche in order of appearance:

*note: after spending way too much time linking all of these to their corresponding link at the Nuit Blanche website, I now realize it links them all to the same page. You’ll have to find the name in Zone C if you want to get more info. Sorry…

The Next Community

Erik Satie’s Vexations (1893) (My favourite.)

I Cried For You

The Endless Pace (Variation for 60 Dancers)

1850

Church Intent

Endgame (Coulrophobia)

Auto Lamp

Arrivals/Departures

The Big O

_scape with 6 and 7

And from Zone B (west)

Later Than Night at the Drive-In

List 31b – If I can give a few words of advice for those interested in next years all-night art crawl it would be this:

  • Consult the Nuit Blanche website or find a map or brochure and plan ahead. There’s nothing more annoying than wandering about aimlessly when there are over 100 exhibits and several “zones” to negotiate.
  • Give up any illusion of seeing all of them.
  • Two or three hours is a good limit if you want to keep things fresh(ish). In my opinion that goes for gallery hopping in general. After two hours the brain (or is it just mine?) starts to vibrate.
  • Dress for it. Layers people.
  • Bring you camera.
  • Don’t be afraid to go it alone. I was on a solo-crawl and I enjoyed it. You can visit whatever you fancy (or not)  and can stay as long as you want to without worrying what the other person. Don’t get me wrong, going with a pal can be fun, as well, but one is not such a lonely number when you are surround my hundreds of strangers.
  • If you’re employed at the kind of place where a Sunday shift is a possibility… book the day off.
  • Remember, as in most areas of life, what moves a person varies so it is always best to check things out for yourself and make you own assessment about it.


Nuit Blanche 2010

October 3, 2010

Nuit Blanche 2010, Toronto (@ Yonge and Front).

I checked out a bit of Nuit Blanche last night after work and have to say this year’s showings worked best for me when I compare it to NB events of the last few years. I’ll post more on that tomorrow since I need to catch the 9:18 bus if I want to make it to work on time. Yes, it is Sunday and no, life is not always fair. Nobody said it would be, at least nobody I know. Anyway… One thing I will mention is the most important aspect of the last night’s blanching (new word): my ability to fossick* the night-portrait feature on my camera which I tried for the first time and whose setting I look forward to swinging the dail to again in the near and dark future. I have not yet explored the various settings on my not-so-new camera and I’m happy to report the night-portrait setting was a pleasant and welcome surprise.

*Word of the day.

Fossick \ FOS-ik \  , verb; 1. To search for any object by which to make gain. 2. Mining. To undermine anothers’ digging; search for waste gold in relinquished workings, washing places, etc. 3. To hunt; seek; ferret out.

By the way, I missed the bus. I guess I better fossick out another mode of transport to get me where I need to be on time.

I’m a Schleppa Too!

August 27, 2010

The August Break - Day 27

Standing on a brick walkway behind the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto. I didn’t have time to investigate what the names symbolized since I was on my lunch break and had about three minutes to make it back even though I was about ten minutes away. There are quite a few of names. I’ll have go back and see who these people were, or are, and get back to you.

Word of the day.

I felt thrilled when I saw today’s word since it happens to be one of my all-time favourites. In the musical Gypsy, a stripper sings some advise to the soon to be hottest sensation, Gypsy Lee Rose, in the song “You Gotta Get a Gimmick”. The lyrics include these lines:

Once I was a Schleppa, Now I’m Miss Mazzeppa, With my revolution in dance.
You gotta have a gimmick If you wanna have a chance!

You gotta love Sondheim.

And, that’s pretty good advice if you ask me.

Schelp – \ SHLEP  \  , verb; 1. To move slowly, awkwardly, or tediously. 2. To carry; lug.

I stuffed random items in my knapsack, then hoisted it on my shoulder so I could schelp my sorry ass to work and make in on time.

And on that note…

August 25, 2010

The August Break - Day 24

Boats in waiting at Harbourfront.

The August Break - Day 25

Reflecting on Front St.

But if you're in a pinch, let a smile be your umbrella.

The August Break – Day 19

I know this looks eerily similar to yesterday’s photo but HTO park is west of Sugar Beach at Queen’s Quay just east of Spadina Ave.

I definitely have a few things to say about both beach fronts but that will have to come on another day. Stay tuned…

*

Word(s) of the day.

I missed a couple and am including them here:

Tare – \ TAIR \  noun. –  1. The weight of the wrapping or container that holds an object. 2. The weight of a container or wrapper that is deducted from the gross weight to obtain net weight. 3. The weight of a vehicle without cargo, passengers, etc. 4. Any of various climbing plants, generally with edible seeds.

Piquant – \ PEE-kuhnt \ adj. –  1. Agreeably stimulating, interesting, or attractive. 2. Agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor. 3. Of an interestingly provocative or lively character.

Ruction – \ RUHK-shuhn \ noun – 1. A disturbance, quarrel, or row.

The magnitude of their ruction seemed disproportionate to the apparent crime: his gift to her bearing more tare than sentiment, deflating her piquant interest in him while inflaming her rage over being misunderstood.