- Worrying about the relationship of Toronto and nuclear weapons seems very 1980s. What's old is new again, as noted at NOW Toronto.
- Steve Munro points out that talk of a fare freeze on the TTC ignores the underlying economics. Who, and what, will pay for this?
- It's nice that the Little Free Pantry is being supported, as Global News observes, but what does it say about our city that this is a thing?
- Clifton Joseph notes the Toronto Caribbean Festival has never achieved its goals of emancipation. Cue Bakhtin ...
- Global News notes the new Drake music video promoting his OVO Fest store at Yorkdale. I should go.
- This U>long-form CBC article looking at Ken Pagan, the man who became infamous through his beer can toss, has insight.
- I like Christopher Hume's article describing changes of zoning around apartment highrises, to allow shops.
- John Lorinc's suggestion that taxes collected from foreign buyers be put towards social housing is provocative.
- Robert Zunke is the man, sometime construction worker, assembling shrines on the Leslie Street spit.
- Torontoist describes Blockobana, the queer black space at this year's Toronto Caribbean Festival.
- Spacing hosts Cheryl Thompson's article examining Toronto's Caribbean festival as a Bakhtinian organized chaos.
- VICE examines how social housing in Canada will be hard-hit by climate change, including rising temperatures.
- Torontoist shares a sponsored guide to attractions in the Ontario Greenbelt.
- Laura Howells at the Toronto Star notes that if garlic mustard has to be an invasive plant in the forests of Ontario, at least it helps that it is a tasty invader.
- Julien Gignac reports on the mystery of who the artist building shrines at Leslie Spit actually is.
- CBC reports on a straight Summerside couple who are painting rainbows around the Island's second city against hate.
- Maureen Coulter writes in The Guardian about Pride week in Charlottetown, the start coinciding with my visit. I can scarcely imagine.
- Katerina Georgieva notes the coming one-year anniversary of the arrival of the Abdulhey family from Syria on PEI.
- Was a U-Boat sunk off the Island coast, by Tignish, in 1943? Millicent McKay reports on the latest search.
- In The Globe and Mail, Ian Brown and Nam Phi Dang's photo essay tracking the adventures of a bus of Chinese tourists who went from Toronto to the Island and back is insightful and amusing.
- Alex Ballingall's account in the Toronto Star of his week-long trek along the Trans-Canada Trail from Niagara to Toronto is enlightening. Would I could do this ...
- Mark Milke in MacLean's argues that, regrettable excesses aside, Canadians should be proud of our British heritage.
- The Montreal Gazette's Brendan Kelly wonders why a supposedly Canadian music compilation does not include any French-language songs.
- In the Toronto Star, Emma Teitel points out that visibility, including corporate visibility, is hugely important in Pride.
- Bad Astronomer Phil Plait is skeptical that the Trump-era EPA will deal well with global warming.
- Discover's The Crux considers the challenge of developing safer explosives for fireworkers.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the (real) possibility of Earth-like worlds orbiting neutron stars.
- Language Log notes an odd use of katakana in Australia.
- The LRB Blog considers the possibly overrated import of George Osborne's move into the newspaper business.
- Marginal Revolution notes one observer's suggestion that China could sustain high-speed growth much longer than Japan.
- The NYR Daily shares Eleanor Davis' cartoon journal of her bike trip across America.
- Peter Rukavina does not like the odd way Prince Edward Island made its library card into a museum pass.
- Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes the odd galaxy MACS2129-1, young yet apparently no longer star-forming.
- Strange Company explores the strange death of 17th century New England woman Rebecca Cornell.
- Unicorn Booty looks at how early Playgirl tried to handle, quietly, its substantially gay readership.
- Window on Eurasia looks at one Russian proclaiming Russia needs to stop an imminent takeover by Muslims.
- NOW Toronto shares photos of the Pride Toronto parade.
- blogTO notes that, in a recent ranking, Toronto is one of the best cities in which to not be straight in the world.
- Bloomberg notes the importance of gay pride parades, as self-assertion and resistance, in the age of Trump.
- Kevin Ritchie's cover article for NOW Toronto looks at the successes and innovations of drag in the era of RuPaul's Drag Race.
- VICE looks at the extent to which gay life has been transformed by the culture of the app.
- If all it took for Germany to move towards same-sex marriage was to introduce Merkel to a nice couple ... well done. The Los Angeles Times reports.
- Laurel Gregory of Global News looks at research into children who have been out throughout their school years. I can scarcely imagine.
- Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait notes that the Curiosity rover is detectable from Mars orbit.
- blogTO shares some of the vintage 1980s photos of gritty Toronto in a new book by Avard Woolaver.
- The Big Picture shares photos of tea from its homeland in China.
- Imageo shares stunning photos of Jupiter originally taken by the Juno probe.
- Language Hat links to the new online version of the Australian National Dictionary.
- The LRB Blog shares an appalling story of a British university that wants to hire an academic to develop a course for 10 pounds an hour.
- The NYR Daily looks at the films of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.
- Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel examines the Pillars of Creation of the Eagle Nebula. How long will they last?
- Torontoist shares photos from the Toronto Pride parade.
- John Scalzi at Whatever talks about being a late convert to the joys of Harry Potter.
- Window on Eurasia reports on Stalin's desire to drain the Caspian Sea, the better to exploit offshore oil and irrigate Kazakhstan.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly photoblogs about her trip to Berlin.
- Dead Things reports on a recent study that unraveled the evolutionary history of the domestic cat.
- James Nicoll notes that his niece and nephew will each be performing theatre in Toronto.
- Language Hat has an interesting link to interviews of coders as if they were translators.
- Marginal Revolution looks at Chinese video game competitions and Chinese tours to Soviet revolutionary sites.
- Steve Munro shares photos of the old Kitchener trolleybus.
- Roads and Kingdoms shares the story of the Ramadan drummer of Coney Island.
- Savage Minds shares an essay arguing that photographers should get their subjects' consent and receive renumeration.
- Torontoist shares photos of the Trans March.
I spent yesterday evening down with a friend taking in Pride Toronto down at Church and Wellesley, wandering up and down the streets dense with people and vendors and venturing over into
Barbara Hall Park and the AIDS Memorial. It was a lovely evening, made all the more so by a late evening sky coloured in rainbow pastels.
Barbara Hall Park and the AIDS Memorial. It was a lovely evening, made all the more so by a late evening sky coloured in rainbow pastels.
The Globe and Mail's Robert Everett-Green writes about how the conjunction of two anniversaries, Montréal's 375th and Canada's 150th, is set to give Montrealers a memorable year.
On May 18, 1642, a few dozen religious fanatics from France arrived at an island in the St. Lawrence River, held a celebratory mass and declared themselves home. Their goal was to build the New Jerusalem and convert the heathen.
Ville-Marie could have vanished like most utopian settlements, but it became Montreal. Many current residents may have little idea of the town’s original purpose, but lots of Montrealers have reason to be glad the missionaries didn’t reach their destination, say, a year earlier. If they had, Montreal would have lost a convenient overlap between significant anniversaries for their city and the country.
Canada 150 is also Montreal 375, as anyone who lives here can’t fail to know. In public discourse, the two fêtes are like paired runners in a three-legged race: One can’t appear without the other.
The convenience of this is that everyone in town, including federalists and sovereigntists, can feel festive without having to be specific about why. Also, since national celebrations inevitably bring on capital projects, Montreal can count on a double payout for every commemorative jackpot.
Each of the past two significant birthdays for country and city have yielded significant new building projects. For the 1992 celebrations, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts built a new pavilion, the Pointe-à-Callière museum of archeology and history opened its doors near the Old Port and the Musée d’art contemporain moved to its current site at Place des Arts. The McCord Museum had a major expansion, the historic Bonsecours Market reopened and the Montreal Biodome was installed in the former Olympic velodrome. Nineteen sixty-seven, of course, was the year of Expo, the ne plus ultra of overlapping anniversary projects. Expo helped provide the spark for the construction of the Montreal Metro and much else. Most importantly, for a few weeks in the summer, it made Montreal the undisputed centre of Canada, whatever Ottawa and Toronto might think. It also stoked the fever dreams of then-mayor Jean Drapeau, who imagined putting on some kind of international jamboree every five years, continuing with a failed Olympic bid for 1972 – disastrously realized, from a financial point of view, four year later.
The Globe and Mail's Ingrid Peritz describes controversy in Montréal over the cost of celebrating the 375th anniversary of the city's founding. I'm for the idea: Why not celebrate an anniversary of some note? Everyone loves a party.
Montrealers do not need much of an excuse to party, but some are wondering why they are supposed to celebrate when their city turns 375 this year.
The birthday falls awkwardly between a semiseptcentennial (350 years) and a quadricentennial (400 years). The anniversary does not even have a formal name.
Then there’s the cost of the presents, including $39.5-million to illuminate the majestic Jacques Cartier Bridge. At least this gift is scheduled to arrive on time. Others are not expected until Montreal turns 376 or 377.
To boosters, however, staging a full year of celebrations – and spending millions doing it – is a way to lift the city’s spirits.
“It’s true, 375 isn’t a significant number,” admits Alain Gignac, general manager of the Society for the Celebration of Montreal’s 375th Anniversary. “But why not celebrate? We were starting to get used to a kind of gloominess. … We thought, why not mark the moment, give Montreal a little energy and pride, and a sense of belonging to Montrealers so that they can get into the party.”
CBC News' Taylor Simmons notes that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa.
Zakiya Tafari remembers celebrating his first Kwanzaa over 20 years ago.
"I was introduced to it at a very young age and just found it to be really empowering," he said.
"There are some guiding principles that really help individuals know who we are as individual black people, what are some of the great things that our ancestry came from and what we need to be doing to move that message forward."
He sees that continuation in his 12-year-old daughter. This year, she bought a new dashiki, a colourful African garment, to wear during their Kwanzaa celebration.
"It's really cool to see a kid who grew-up in a different generation from me, who's very much a modern kid ... but she still respects some of her African ancestry and is proud to embrace it."
The centrepiece of Kwanzaa, according to Tafari, is spending time with each other.
The Toronto Star's Azzura Lalani notes the expected huge throngs of shoppers even now crowding Yorkdale.
Toronto shoppers arrived early, armed with game plans and strategies to snag the best Boxing Day deals at the Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
Visitors at Yorkdale were up 50 per cent more on Boxing Day morning compared to last year, said general manager Claire Santamaria. She expects about 120,000 people will visit the mall by the end of the day. A normal Saturday sees about 75,000.
“Boxing Day is our busiest shopping day of the year and it also has our longest hours,” said Santamaria. “The increase in traffic is really pushed by the fact that we have extra shopping hours in the day.”
At the Eaton Centre, where some stores opened as early as 7 a.m., crowds didn’t pick up until later in the morning.
“I think that the pre-Christmas sales in the week leading up were almost the same — there’s maybe an additional 10 per cent off,” said Lisa Madokoro, 30, who bought a dress she’d been eyeing at Club Monaco that was half price.
The Toronto Star shares Shawn Micallef's timely article about humble overlooked Christmas trees. This does matter, perhaps particularly tonight, when my Instagram feed is still fresh with photos of the great showy trees of the Eaton Centre and City Hall. Less showy things also matter.
The hardest-working Christmas tree in Toronto is in Cumberland Terrace at Yonge and Bloor Sts. It stands resolute in a back hallway of this near-forgotten 1970s mall, tucked in behind the shiny Bloor shops, a place slated for demolition and redevelopment.
Each year somebody pulls out the stubby artificial tree from storage and sets it up with care on the disco-era brown tiles, decorating it with white and gold ornaments. As holiday trees go it’s understated, without a star or angel, just an electric cord running out of the top. There’s a certain nobility to it among surroundings that are no longer in style (though for those of us who hold a candle for these sorts of accidentally retro places, the tree is an added bonus).
I like to think it’s a memorial tree for the Potter’s Field that used to be here, Yorkville’s non-sectarian cemetery for the poor. Though closed in 1855, after which the 6,685 bodies were moved to the Toronto Necropolis and Mount Pleasant Cemetery, this was their first resting spot and these unnamed, dispossessed early Torontonians deserve a nice tree of their own.
All over the city trees like this, sometimes humble, sometimes spectacularly grand, decorate the most everyday, ordinary, unremarkable and usually ignored places. All are gestures of joy and light, secular or sacred, depending on who’s doing the viewing. Building lobbies, corridors and concourses get the treatment too; the Scrooges won’t notice but the holiday decorations are the one time of year when often anonymous architectural spaces get a lot of attention.
The building lobbies of office towers have the most elaborate decoration schemes, the handiwork of interior design teams who do this kind of thing for a living. More interesting perhaps are the ones that are obviously done by non-professionals, those found in apartment building lobbies and businesses without big decor budgets. The ornaments may not have the sentimental value found on domestic trees, but these still have a quirky human touch the big corporate decorations don’t.