Equatorial rain..

Equitorial Rain

There is a phrase I grew up with. Just as I grew up in a nature like this. A phrase every person older than myself who had cause to weigh in. By way of war, or famine, or drought, or pestilence. The phrase they seemed to admire the most.

“The task at hand was completed to everyone’s satisfaction, with a great economy of means”

It would be printed like that in the more conservative papers. But it would still show up ib newsreels and announcers on all manner of radio and black and white TV.

They wouldn’t say anything. But they would look up and gaze. And smile. A little more relaxed for someone who had a lot to say.

You don’t see that alot anymore. It’s too bad. I miss it.

Kodachrome..

There was an era of fond memories for me that I experience in Kodachrome. There was no better rival to this day, the way it captured that golden hour light.

Better Homes & Gardens was always on the prowl for opportunities to get their photographers out there. They had geniuses, just like at Life. Geniuses who wanted to work. Their garden and architectual photography through the fifties and sixties have been my constant companions.

There is just something about light that is so hard to put your finger on.

wishful wednesday – Tshinanu

Listening to the radio is an experience that has been with me since I was a child.

For me, good radio has and always will be, the original and best blogging platform. That’s when it’s presented in competent hands. And while most of the world’s great broadcasters have  squandered and pissed away their culture and heritage; the national francophone radio station in Québec has been at the top of my list for over 10 years now, and always close for the last 30.

Like most of the important cultural fabric in our daily lives, radio in Québec is always under constant threat of assimilation and negation, which is what leads me to this post today.

Tshinanu, it’s who we are – all of us. And while this song has rattled around my head for a very long time, I never really connected to it beyond the music. Re-hearing it this week made me want to look at the visuals and it was only then that I began to really understand. It’s all of us.

picture tuesday – let’s face it

The last couple of weeks have given me an opportunity to look at some of the bigger questions in life and think about how I would like to address them.  And while it has the potential of being a dark subject, I’m not sure I can sum it up any better than Ted Forbes does in this video. Harsh as it sounds at first, I think he manages to hit the nail squarely on the head…

 

friends of distinction

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We don’t turn on the radio very often any more. In fact, recently I’ve encountered quite a few people who’ve never turned on a radio ..Much less heard a song like this one.

It’s a shame actually. For a brief period, popular music managed to cut across all sorts of boundaries and brought some needed fun into an ugly world.  We could do with more of this right now, but I don’t hear much music in public. It’s gone from stores, homes, buses and street along with the celebration of life it can be.

For a short time, hits like this were commonplace before music became an industry. And what’s gone missing is the genuine verve, sophistication and audacity of this music.

You might want to get outside, kick off your shoes and turn this one up ..jes sayin’.

 

 

 

picture tuesday – crossing the line

 

 

 

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The Gardiner Expressway

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Harbourfront

 

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Harbourfront

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Harbourfront

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Harbourfront

In order to reach the foot of the city you have to find a way to mentally cross the Gardiner. And as a result, once across that line, you can rest firmly in a land of make-believe.

The downtown waterfront has been a place of dreams for as long as I can remember. The gritty socialist paintings of the 30’s. The smell of malt and sour mash and life. Boats and trains beckoning to faraway places. Goods flowing in and work being done. There was a visceral commitment to human progress and development. An unplanned vitality and exuberance even if it was ratty around the edges.

But there were other nascent dreams in the wings -mostly about how to accommodate more cars. And for quite some time, unless your average visionary was thinking about this idea, they weren’t a visionary they were a nuisance.

Somehow we were coerced into believing that a city of lively public thoroughfares was a city crammed full of cars.

Human industry, capital and street level commerce were discarded for a singular dream. Office space, condominiums and cars. What on earth could we otherwise need?

A rich and complex life gave way to a corporate shanty-town unable to reconcile itself with life on the street. Its absence replaced by carefully constructed dioramas. Public window-dressing dumped into every proposal with a promise of creating a glimpse of what real city life once was like.

No one foresaw or even cared where this was going. The sad result if you look around, is a tragic wasteland of half-baked ideas. A testament to complete inattention. A total lack of cohesive planning and the resulting desperate attempts to patch it up.

Meanwhile a little west of this district, Toronto has a rich and impressive history of waterfront development. The parks to the east are an inspiration as are the Islands, both places worth visiting for. The fantastic model of University Avenue. The original approaches to the CNE. They all could have set the score.

I don’t quite know what to say. Inspired planning is central to civic life. It’s not an individual project, it’s cohesive and human in scale. It creates space and room for things to flourish. Places where we don’t have to be reminded to walk with care, but instead can head out for a stroll.

 

 

foto friday – anticlimactic-modern

cn-east

Over the next couple of weeks I will be featuring a series of pictures taken in the Soco area of Toronto. Toronto is a difficult city from many points of view. I lived there for a decade while I was developing my photographic skills and a great deal of my time was spent walking about the city day and night trying to understand what I was looking at, and seeing if I could capture it on film.

When I was young I eagerly waited to see the architectural rendering of a new project pasted above the hoardings. These bravely painted utopic scenes rendered with care and detail seemed to triumph over even the best works of socialist realism. They all promised tranquillity possibility and purpose. They were the giant calling cards of progress and provided compelling visual reinforcement that our proposed way of life would always be on the right side of history.

Once a project is complete and everyone moved in, the hoardings down and the surrounding traffic back to normal, no one sees that view again. Instead, it is added to this weird amalgamation of hyperbolic promotional material and media hype we carry around in our heads. Confronted with the real thing ‘in situ’ we only see the take away points. Connecting the dots is for dummies.

The area I walked through was once part of the Toronto harbour that was gradually filled in during the last half of the 1800’s and the first 20 years of the new century. The new land was necessary for railway lines that were rapidly replacing marine traffic. Industry and transport met at the foot of the city in a powerful testament to its importance and growth but when the economy faltered and then shifted mid-century, it was quickly and physically cut off by an ugly raised expressway so that it could languish and die out of sight.

Once dead, it has been the site of fevered reinvention as a cultural waterfront experience, an arts and entertainment district, a green transportation corridor, a transportation hub and a tourist destination.  Once relieved of its ‘stigma’ of railway and industrial heritage it has become a crushing hotspot of speculation and hype and the the development of vast tracts of very private and very expensive condominiums.

 

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