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  • blogTO shares Aidan Ferreira's stunning photos of the Toronto Islands flooded out. The damage, especially to the beaches, looks severe.

  • CTV News shares remarkable drone footage of the Toronto Islands.

  • The Toronto Sun reports on the plight of the water taxi operators, unable to earn their living this summer with trips to the Islands.

  • The Toronto Star's Fatima Syed notes that, to stay afloat, the Centreville Amusement Park will be selling its beautiful antique carousel.

  • Katharine Laidlaw's interviews in Toronto Life with Toronto Islanders tell the story of a very hard year.

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  • The National Park Service's LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study is an amazingly thorough survey of sites and stories of note.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Stephanie Chambers explores how the history of homophobia recorded in her newspaper's old articles.

  • Back2Stonewall shares rare archival footage of the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day parade, ancestor of Pride.

  • The New Yorker's Daniel Penny tells the story of Joseph Touchette, at 93 the oldest drag queen in Greenwich Village.

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  • Joe. My. God. has reposted a famous, fantastic contemporary New York Daily News article about the Stonewall Riots.

  • James Leahy's clips of Toronto Pride parades from 1988 through 1995 are great. h/t to Leahy and to Shawn Micallef of Spacing for sharing them.

  • Arnold Zwicky has collated some photos of Pride rainbows on Chicago and Dublin transit buses and on some boots.

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  • D-Brief considers if gas giant exoplanet Kelt-9b is actually evaporating.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper that considers where to find signs of prior indigenous civilizations in our solar system. (The Moon, Mars, and outer solar system look good.

  • Joe. My. God. reveals the Israeli nuclear option in the 1967 war.

  • Language Log shares a clip of a Nova Scotia Gaelic folktale about a man named Donald.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the ongoing deportations of Hispanic undocumented migrants from the United States.

  • The LRB Blog notes the brittle rhetoric of May and the Conservatives.

  • The NYRB Daily mourns the Trump Administration's plans for American education.

  • Savage Minds considers the world now in the context of the reign of the dangerous nonsense of Neil Postman.

  • Strange Maps shares a map documenting the spread of chess from India to Ireland in a millennium.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that the Russian government needs to do more to protect minority languages.

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  • D-Brief shares rare video of beaked whales on the move.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that someone has actually begun selling unauthorized action figures of Trump Administration figures like Bannon and Spencer.

  • Language Log looks at a linguistic feature of Emma Watson's quote, her ending it with a preposition.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen considers, originally for Bloomberg View, if Trump could be seen as a placebo for what ails America.

  • The New APPS Blog takes a Marxist angle on the issue of big data, from the perspective of (among other things) primitive accumulation.

  • The Search reports on the phenomenon of the Women's History Month Wikipedia edit-a-thon, aiming to literally increase the representation of notable women on Wikipedia.

  • Towleroad notes the six men who will be stars of a new Fire Island reality television show.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy finds some merit in Ben Carson's description of American slaves as immigrants.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Belarusians are beginning to mobilize against their government and suggests they are already making headway.

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The Grimes song "Kill V. Maim" is one I've been playing a lot this week, with its video set partly in Toronto's abandoned Lower Bay Station and a threateningly manic song with a chorus--"Are you going to the party?/Are you going to the show?"--inspired by Godfather's Al Pacino and by Harley Quinn.

Grimes, a.k.a. Claire Boucher, appears on the latest episode of the “Song Exploder” podcast, a must-listen for music fans who want to hear their fave artists talk about how they created their own songs. In it, Grimes breaks down her thrashing Art Angels cut “Kill V. Maim,” revealing the impetus of it was a friend who doubted her ability to be musically aggressive.

“He kept doing these cute little plucky things, and I was like ‘No, no, let’s make a hard song.’ He was like ‘No, no, you make cute music.’ I was so horrified,” Grimes recalls. “So I went home after that sort of wanting to prove that I could make something that’s going to be really aggressive that I would want to play during an action sequence in a movie.”

After that, she set out to make something that could soundtrack the trailer for a fictional crossover of The Godfather and Twilight. Add in a lot of kick drums, some cleverly buried samples of cheering crowds, and what Grimes calls a “scary, demon chorus” inspired by Harley Quinn, and you have “Kill V. Maim,” which she reveals is “probably my favorite song I’ve ever made.”
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This Thursday, a [MUSIC] day, also happens to be World AIDS Day. My song choice was inevitable.



I blogged Annie Lennox's cover of the Cole Porter song "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" back in January 2009. This cover, taken from the 1990 AIDS fundraising album Red Hot + Blue, is perhaps her most beautiful song. The sound of her full voice against the sparse piano and Paris cafe accordion sends chills down my spine. She evokes love and loss--of the epidemic, of the human condition in general--so superbly here she could make me cry.
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Today, the news feeds remind us, marks the 25th anniversary of the death, of HIV/AIDS, Freddie Mercury. He was an inimitable talent, the vocals of one of his final songs, 1991's "The Show Must Go On" proving this for posterity.



Mercury sings such potent lyrics so well.

Whatever happens, I'll leave it all to chance
Another heartache - another failed romance, on and on
Does anybody know what we are living for?
I guess I'm learning
I must be warmer now
I'll soon be turning, round the corner now
Outside the dawn is breaking
But inside in the dark I'm aching to be free!


We are all the poorer for his absence from the world.
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In writing my new Thursday [MUSIC] posts, I find myself revisiting songs I'd touch on before. The Pet Shop Boys' 1988 single "It's Alright" is one I had written about back in January 2009.

What is necessarily wrong with that? Songs can remain the same, but interpretations can change. There are some undeniable core continuities between me now and me in 2009, say, but I don't think about things in quite the same way.



Generations will come and go
but there’s one thing for sure
Music is our life’s foundation
and shall succeed all the nations to come
I hope it’s gonna be alright
'cause the music plays forever
(For it goes on and on and on and on…)
I hope it’s gonna be alright
(On and on and on…)
‘Cause the music plays forever
(For it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on)


A song that expresses hope for the future, and expresses it in the hope of music’s eternal power in the face of all the ills of the world, is always worth listening to again.
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Last night, I went to the Choir! Choir! Choir! celebration of the life and music of Leonard Cohen, held last night at 9 o'clock in the man-made amphitheatre that is Christie Pit.

Assembled for Cohen #toronto #christiepit #leonardcohen #choirchoirchoir


Assembled for Cohen, 2 #toronto #christiepit #leonardcohen #choirchoirchoir


Assembled for Cohen, 3 #toronto #christiepit #leonardcohen #choirchoirchoir


Assembled for Cohen, 4 #toronto #christiepit #leonardcohen #choirchoirchoir


Assembled for Cohen, 4 #toronto #christiepit #leonardcohen #choirchoirchoir


Break #toronto #christiepit #leonardcohen #choirchoirchoir


The sound on my recording of "Suzanne" is not the best, but I think you might be able to get something of the power of the event, of the hundreds upon hundreds of people gathered together.



I liked the Toronto Star report of the event by Alicja Siekierska.

The outpouring of love for Leonard Cohen continued in Toronto on Wednesday, as hundreds of mourners gathered in Christie Pitts Park to sing some of the legendary singer-poet’s greatest hits.

Led by Choir Choir Choir, they began with “Bird on a Wire,” belted “Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodby”e and, of course, performed an emotional rendition of Cohen’s best known song “Hallelujah.”

It was an emotional evening for many, but despite the sombre goodbye, it was a joyful event truly celebrating the work and life of Cohen.

“I want everyone in Montreal to hear us from here,” Choir Choir Choir co-founder Daveed Goldman exclaimed to the crowd, just before launching a boisterous version of “So Long Marianne.”

Clad in warm clothing, gatherers young and old began tricking in an hour before the event started. By 9 p.m., the hill in the park was packed, flickering candles lighting up singing faces.
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Erasure's 1988 international breakthrough hit "A Little Respect" has been a much-appreciated earworm for the past week or so.



It's a great pop song, Andy Bell's brilliant vocals contrasting what the acoustic guitar and synthesizer of Vince Clarke, all produced with the glorious sheen of Stephen Hague. It's an ever-listenable plaintive plea by a man to his lover, begging to know what it would take to make things work.

I try to discover
A little something to make me sweeter
Oh baby refrain from breaking my heart
I'm so in love with you
I'll be forever blue
That you give me no reason
Why you're making me work so hard


Bell's status as an out star plays a role here: "What religion or reason/Could drive a man to forsake his lover?" What indeed.

I've recently discovered that a remixed version in 2010, the "HMI Redux" version being a digital release to raise funds for the Hedrick-Martin Institute and the True Colors Fund, featuring a choir from said institute's youth choir providing backing vocals and youth in the video.

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  • blogTO recommends some Toronto-related Vine clips.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a SETI study of Boyajian's Star.

  • Crooked Timber criticizes one author's take in the politics of science fiction.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the auroras of hot Jupiters.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper finding that atmospheric methane did not warm the early Earth.

  • Joe. My. God. reports on how a Scottish hotel owner's homophobic statements led to his inn's delisting.

  • Language Log links to a linguist trying to preserve dying languages.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes issue with Nate Silver's polling and prediction methods.

  • The LRB Blog notes the background behind Wallonia's near-veto of Canada-EU free trade.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at how economic issues do not correlate with support for Trump.

  • The Planetary Society Weblog shares photos of the Schiaparelli crash site.

  • pollotenchegg notes the degree to which economic activity in Ukraine is centralized in Kyiv.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a poll suggesting conservative views are unwelcome at Yale.

  • Both Window on Eurasia and the Russian Demographics Blog note a projection that Chinese will soon become the second-largest nationality in Russia.

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Via blogTO's Amy Grief shares some Toronto transit humour.

In YouTuber sweetsingin's latest video, he introduces Toronto to the Prestissimo card, "which automatically adjusts your transit fare in Toronto based on poor-quality service."

With this newly imagined card, riders would a reduced fair (or even money back) if their train/bus/streetcar was late or lacked basic amenities, like air conditioning on a hot day.

"What if we gave a damn, and actually tried to get you to the places you need to go, quickly, reliably, and affordably?" asks the video.




I laugh, and yet.
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Floria Sigismondi's Pneuma is so much easier to appreciate away from peak viewing at Nuit Blanche, when the crowds on Nathan Phillips Square are so much less. It's a haunting dreamscape.



From Pneuma, 1 #toronto #torontocityhall #nathanphilipssquare #nuitblanche #floriasigismondi #pneuma


From Pneuma, 2 #toronto #torontocityhall #nathanphilipssquare #nuitblanche #floriasigismondi #pneuma


From Pneuma, 3 #toronto #torontocityhall #nathanphilipssquare #nuitblanche #floriasigismondi #pneuma


The soundtrack is Boards of Canada's haunting 2013 single "Reach for the Dead".

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Some days ago, my cousin shared Dazed Digital's clip of queer rapper Mykki Blanko's recitation of artist and activist Zoe Leonard's 1992 poem "I Want A Dyke For President".

I want a dyke for president. I want a person with aids for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia. I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to aids, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying. I want a president with no airconditioning, a president who has stood on line at the clinic, at the dmv, at the welfare office and has been unemployed and layed off and sexually harrassed and gay-bashed and deported. I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape. I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them. I want a black woman for president. I want someone with bad teeth and an attitude, someone who has eaten that nasty hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy. I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.
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The Toronto Star's Jackie Hong reports.



Ontario is updating its unofficial anthem, A Place To Stand, A Place to Grow, for its 150th birthday celebrations in 2017.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was on hand in Ottawa this morning for a live performance of the updated version of the song — with its familiar “Ontairy-airy-airy-o” theme — by Toronto-based band Ginger Ale & The Monowhales.

The updated song mostly sticks to the original lyrics, save for the hook — “Ontairy-airy-airy-o” now sounds more like “Ontairy-oh-oh-oh” and is repeated a few more times — and half of the second verse is now in French. As well, gone are the jazzy drum beat, orchestra and choir — the band used only acoustic guitars, a cajon and two singers for the performance.

Wynne says she was 13 years old when she first heard A Place To Stand, which she calls a “joyous” song that conveys the clear message that anything is possible.

The song was originally written for a short film of the same name that was screened at the Ontario Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal for the country’s — and province’s — 100th birthday. Vancouver-born composer Dolores Claman and her then-husband, Richard Morris, were hired to write the music and lyrics for the film; the song sold 50,000 copies. The film, which later toured movie theatres in the United States and Europe, would be seen by 100 million people, be nominated for two Academy Awards, and win an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Subject.
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blogTO notes this non-story.



How far would you go to catch 'em all in Toronto? Well, one man is heading straight to court. Yes, Mark Correia, the guy who was filmed playing Pokemon Go on the subway tracks is now facing a $425 fine and a charge under the TTC's bylaws. He's slated to appear in court on September 16.

Correia wasn't actually on the tracks chasing Pokemon. Instead, he was creating an online video, which aimed to poke fun at the great lengths players go to become Poke Masters.
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It has been a hard and unsettling year, and for many this all began with the death of David Bowie, Listening to "Lazarus", it's still hard to believe he's gone, and sad to know we'll be absent his living presence.
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Over on Facebook, David got me caught up in a meme. His link to Massive Attack's excellent "Teardrop" came with a challenge to his readers, to select and share music as an antidote to the grimness that pervades these times. All we had to do to take part was to Like the post, David then giving us a letter for a musician, band or artist. I got F.

Some scans of a directory of music groups brought me to Frankie Goes to Hollywood. What better song of theirs is to pick but "Relax"?



What better song is there to pick in these dark times but one devoted to pleasure?

It's worth noting that the music video I remember seeing on MuchMusic back in the day is much tamer than their original video.

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