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  • Daily Xtra notes that, in the 1930s, the shops of Yonge and Dundas supported a queer community. The tours described sound interesting.

  • Torontoist's Tricia Wood arguesthat the proposed high speed rail route in southern Ontario is wasteful spending, reflecting a two-tier transit network.

  • Steve Munro crunches data on the Queen Street route to find that buses have an advantage over streetcars.

  • The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr notes that the TTC is planning to noticeably expand its express bus network.

  • NOW Toronto's Lisa Ferguson writes about potential NIMBYism in the opposition to new high-rises in High Park.

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Broken screen


The patterns displayed on this broken screen at 10 Dundas East caught my eye.
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CBC News' Mary Wiens reports on how the old Bank of Toronto building at 205 Yonge Street, south of Dundas, may yet be made into a boutique hotel combined with a museum. See also Peter Edwards' recent article for the Toronto Star.

The sign on the door of the grand old bank at 205 Yonge St. reads, "Don't sleep on the steps."

That kind of notice would not have done at all in 1905 when this building was erected as the Bank of Toronto on the city's most important avenue, a neo-classical temple serving both the city's growing wealth and traditional ideals of beauty.

The front doors have been locked for 15 years and the stunning white marble interior, with its black and gold detailing barred from public view.

But CBC Toronto has learned of negotiations underway this week that could see the building reopen as a combined museum and boutique hotel. The building's current owner, Irish businessman Thomas Farrell, has confirmed he is in the middle of negotiations with a prospective client to open and operate the building.

The building is designated as a heritage site with both the exterior and interior protected, which means finding the right tenant isn't easy.
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  • blogTO notes that Uniqlo will be giving away free thermal clothing tomorrow.

  • James Bow shares his column about the importance of truth.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly shares with us her mid-winter walk.

  • Centauri Dreams reports about cometary water.

  • Dangerous Minds shares German cinema lobby cards from the 1960s.

  • Language Hat talks about dropping apostrophes.

  • Language Log reports about lexical searches on Google.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the latest from Trump.

  • The NYRB Daily shares a review of an Iranian film on gender relations.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the ongoing gas price protests in Mexico.

  • Spacing links to some articles about affordable housing around the world.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Germany's abolition of a law forbidding insults to foreign heads of state.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that stable Russian population figures cover up a wholesale collapse in the numbers of ethnic Russians, and looks at the shortages of skilled workers faced by defense industries.

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blogTO's Phil Villeneuve shares the good news that HMV is committed to the survival of its Yonge and Dundas space for music, in the broadest sense.

The music industry in Toronto is ever-changing, but 2016 was a particularly difficult year for HMV.

The Eaton Centre location announced its imminent closure when its lease came up for renewal, which was the same story at the Bloor Street store. A company that was once ubiquitous in Toronto is now down to a handful of stores.

It leaves many wondering about the future of 333 Yonge St., the 4,000 square foot flagship store near Yonge and Dundas. It's been around for 30 years and can't help but feel like a bit of a vessel for movie merch and bargain bin pop cultural items.

Nick Williams, the president and CEO of of HMV Canada has a status update about the store and the main message is that it's not going anywhere.

"Every time we have to close a store or move a store we get lots of letters and emails from our core consumers who don’t like that change," he says. "The reality is the problem in some of our downtown markets, the rental markets are so prohibitive for retail in the malls.

"The big landlords and Cadillacs of this world command such high rent that we just get to the point where we can’t afford to pay them anymore. Our business model doesn’t allow us to."
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Will Koblensky's Torontoist post highlights a Ryerson University plan that sounds entrancing. Why, indeed, isolate a campus already deeply embedded in Yonge Street from the city?

Typical university campuses are often themed. Take U of T’s Hogwarts-like architecture, or York University’s city-unto-itself feel.

Ryerson University has the distinction of being among downtown’s crowded corridors without imposing a uniform streetscape connecting its many buildings.

That’s already begun to change. Some of the urban campus’s roads have become ambient-lit walkways, and sidewalks have turned into pedestrian boulevards connecting Ryerson’s expanding array of learning centres.

The car-free section of Gould Street just east of Yonge is the genesis of what Ryerson and the City of Toronto plan as a foot traffic-favoured part of town.

The design’s aim is to invite students and anyone in the area off the main street into what Ryerson calls a public realm.


There is much more at Torontoist.
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  • blogTO notes that Yonge and Dundas will soon be hosting a Zimbabwean meat pie restaurant.

  • Beyond the Beyond links to a report regretful of past optimisim about geopolitics.

  • Centauri Dreams considers extraterrestrial life and red dwarfs.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at rent in Puerto Rico's public housing system.

  • pollotenchegg maps economic change in Ukraine.

  • Savage Minds calls for a decolonization of anthropology.

  • Towleroad notes that the roommates of a gay Syrian refugee murdered in Istanbul are also receiving threats.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy wonders what liberals will think of American Jews' religious freedom when the majority of practising Jews are Orthodox.

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  • CBC notes the baffling decision of New Brunswick to create a minister of Celtic Affairs.

  • CNET notes the underperformance of the Blackberry Priv in the American market.

  • Gawker reports from the scene of Mongolia's only gay bar.

  • The Inter Press Service looks at urban poverty in Buenos Aires.

  • The National Post reports the origins of a Bangladeshi Islamist terrorist in the Canadian city of Windsor.

  • The New Yorker reports on how Republicans profess upset by Trump's anti-Hispanic statemens yet support his candidacy.

  • NOW Toronto notes the return of the Sam the Record Man sign this summer.

  • Open Democracy makes the claim that underdevelopment in Brazil, and South America, stems from the political fragmentation of rivers.

  • Universe Today describes how one photographer takes photos of the night sky from cities.
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Fatima Syed's Torontoist article makes the proper case for not expelling the buskers from Yonge and Dundas.

Imagine, for a minute, Yonge and Dundas without any buskers. No jazz bands playing Maroon 5 outside the Cineplex. No Spiderman jumping from one lamp pole to the next. No chalk drawings on the pavement. No gold statue mime standing still to hip hop music.

The streets would be less alive without this art, and one of Toronto’s busiest and most animated intersections would look and feel a whole lot more grey.

Buskers, in all of their weird, talented, and sometimes annoying glory, are a defining characteristic of any major urban centre, and provide an expression of the city’s character. Losing them would mean losing part of who we are as a city.

Yet, on April 28, Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) tried to make those entertainers disappear from her ward when she tabled a motion to implement a moratorium on busking at two corners of Yonge and Dundas. City Council rejected the proposal in a 15-15 tie.

The outcome was welcomed by many Torontonians. Busking doesn’t just enrich the urban landscape—it also provides a platform for the arts. Had Wong-Tam’s motion passed, street performers would lose a major source of income, as Yonge and Dundas is one of the busiest public spaces in the city.
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  • blogTO shared photos of the 420 celebrations at Yonge-Dundas Square.

  • Crooked Timber wonders if financial institutions don't prepare for their ends because they don't believe they will end.

  • Maximos' Blog shares a video sampler for the blogger's new book.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer considers talk of reforming investment tribunals.

  • Torontoist reports on a lovely public art project downtown centered on stamps.

  • Towleroad reports on the stringent nature of sharia law in Indonesia's province of Aceh.

  • The Financial Times' The World notes Gove's ludicrous suggestion that the United Kingdom might enjoy the position of Albania vis-a-vis the European Union.

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  • blogTO lets us know about planned subway closures and reports about Sam the Record Man's sign.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks bravely about her recent failures.

  • Centauri Dreams speculates about the future.

  • Crooked Timber examines the strength of the labor movement within the Democratic Party even if it wanes in the United States at large.

  • D-Brief notes a Chinese mechanical chameleon.

  • Language Hat shares Winnie the Pooh in multiple languages of the North Caucasus.

  • Steve Munro notes the collapse in Union-Pearson Express ridership.

  • The Planetary Society Blog updates us on Curiosity.

  • Progressive Download's John Farrell notes a simulation suggesting black holes could be gateways after all.

  • Torontoist uses a photo of mine to illustrate an article on the LCBO.

  • Towleroad recommends Key West.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Amazon Web Services' support in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

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The above is a rendering of the Sam the Record Man sign, planned to be posted--as described by the Toronto Star's Jennifer Pagliaro--in Yonge and Dundas Square, south of its former location.

Years after Sam the Record Man’s neon vinyl was dismantled and stored out of view, the sign’s keepers at Ryerson University are now starting the process of restoring it in earnest.

This week, the university issued a request for interested qualified companies to bid on installing the sign on top of a city-owned building facing Yonge-Dundas Square.

A Ryerson spokesperson said it’s too soon to estimate when the sign will be up, but that the university is “committed” to restoring it. Companies that respond will be asked about a timeline, Michael Forbes said in an email. Ryerson will be paying all the costs.

[. . .]

The following year, council backed a proposal to put the sign atop the roof of the Toronto Public Health building at 277 Victoria St. — around the corner from the old record store site and facing Yonge-Dundas Square, a spot city staff called a “culturally appropriate and relevant location for the Sam signage.”

When that plan was debated at council, there was concern the building on Victoria St. could also soon be up for sale.

At the request of Councillor Josh Matlow, council voted that any future sale of the site would include an agreement to preserve and maintain the sign there.


Below is my photo of the sign in question, in situ at Yonge and Gould.

Sam the Record Man
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  • blogTO looks back to see when Yonge and Dundas was cool.

  • James Bow is decidedly unimpressed about Toronto's ever-shifting plans for mass transit.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the opposition of Pope Francis to Italy's civil unions bill.

  • Language Log notes Hong Kong's mixture of Cantonese and English, and shares a bit of pop music.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw wonders if Australia has peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, if its originality ended then.

  • Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Science Blog shares XKCD's charting of the spaces for undiscovered but possible planets in our solar system.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes that the Ukrainian population is continuing to decline.

  • Spacing Toronto examines the history of the Toronto Coach Terminal.

  • Transit Toronto suggests that current mass transit plans evoke Transit City, the difference being that Transit City would be substantially done by now.

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In January of this year, I noted--with photos--a bus shelter on the southwest corner of Yonge and Dundas where a homeless man, exposed to the chill of winter, had died of exposure. This evening after work, I went there to take a picture of the same shelter, for--as May Warren of the Toronto Star noted--it was newsworthy again.

Shelter, Yonge and Dundas #toronto #yongeanddundas #shelter #homeless


One freezing morning last winter, as Torontonians hurried past him at one of the country’s busiest intersections, a homeless man dressed in only a T-shirt, jeans and a hospital bracelet was found dead in a bus shelter at Yonge and Dundas Sts.

Passing by that same shelter this month, street nurse and advocate for the homeless Cathy Crowe was shocked to see it decked with ads for winter coats and boots, with the words “Share the warmth.”

“The wording was particularly offensive,” she said. “It was just too ironic for words.

“The circumstances in the city are that the warmth isn’t shared. We don’t have enough shelter beds; people are sleeping outside.”

After Crowe complained to the city and Astral Out-of-Home which supplies the shelter and sells advertising space, the offending phrasing was removed Tuesday.
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  • blogTO shares photos of Yonge and Dundas in the grimy 1970s.

  • The Big Picture shares photos from a Tibetan Buddhist assembly.

  • Crooked Timber shares a photo of Bristol's floating bridge.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on an estimate of the number of extraterrestrial technological civilizations.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes an atlas of drought in Europe.

  • Geocurrents examines the fallacy of environmental determinism.

  • Joe. My. God. notes how open travel between the European Union and Ukraine has been endangered by the failure to protect gay employment.

  • Language Hat links to an essay by a feminist talking about what it is like to live in a language environment, that of Hebrew, where everything is gendered.

  • Language Log engages with fax usage in Japan and notes rare characters in Taiwan.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the plight of the dying steel town, all the worse because it was evitable.

  • Marginal Revolution has a bizarre defense of Ben Carson.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog and Window on Eurasia report on a rectification of the Russian-Chinese frontier.

  • Window on Eurasia is critical of village values in Russia, and notes the return of ISIS fighters to Azerbaijan.

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Pachi in the rain #toronto #yongeanddundas #pachi #panamgames


Pachi the Porcupine, official mascot of the Pan Am and Parapan Games, remained poised at Yonge and Dundas. The mascot's genesis was described, if perhaps harshly, by Torontoist's Will Sloan.

Who the hell is PACHI? This is the question that your humble correspondent asked when he first saw the smiling porcupine’s effigy atop a bus stop at Yonge and Dundas. “Meet PACHI!” said an accompanying sign, which explained that he was this year’s Pan Am mascot and encouraged us to tweet selfies at #HostCity. It’s also a question you may have asked if you’ve seen him at the many parades, community centres, and ribfests he’s visited in our fair province these past few months.

[. . .]

PACHI was birthed by a group of Grade 8 students from a school in Markham, who entered their design into the TORONTO 2015 Mascot Creation Challenge as part of their phys-ed class. However, like Poochie, the ill-fated third wheel of The Itchy and Scratchy Show, he seems as if he were created out of pie charts and focus groups by a team of marketing gurus. Like a Canadian cinematic blockbuster of the Passchendaele or Men with Brooms variety, PACHI feels like an attempt to create a facsimile of an American product (in this case, a loveable anthropomorphized animal).


CBC's take is more neutral.
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I passed by the former site of the World's Biggest Bookstore in the course of my travels Saturday. Very little was left, apart from some walls on the eastern end and the vast lot itself, filled with rubble.

On the site of the World's Biggest Bookstore (1)

On the site of the World's Biggest Bookstore (2)

On the site of the World's Biggest Bookstore (3)

On the site of the World's Biggest Bookstore (4)

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