Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Toronto - You can't get there from here

These past few days have all-too-well illustrated that the Indian meaning for 'Toronto' must have been 'You can't get there from here'.

On the weekend, the Gardiner was closed. Traffic crawled all the more slowly than usual along city streets. Instead of the City re-jigging traffic signals at the bottom of the DVP in light of closure, vehicles forced to exit on Lakeshore were allowed into our fair city about 3-4 for each traffic light sequence.

Toronto sure likes to give visitors the big middle finger on both hands. It's hardly surprising that no-one sypathizes with our city's financial problems. They can surely see that these are of own making.

[Streetcars did their short-turning and bunching tricks - not news but I thought I'd mention it.]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Concert review - Tafelmusik and Italy over the ages

The recent Tafelmusik programme - "House of the Devil" - covering Italian Baroque from the early days until the transition to the Classical period was one of its best this year. I especially enjoyed the simple early pieces.

(and yes, there is more to Italian Baroque than Vivaldi, Monteverdi and Corelli.)

The programme did include a Vivaldi horn concerto - but was predominately focussed on less well-known composers. Highlights included:

Biagio Marini - Sonata in ecco for 3 violins and continuo

Giovanni Bertoli - Sonata for dulcian and continuo (The dulcian is an obscure wind instrument)

Tomaso Albinoni - Concerto for two oboes

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Miller continues tradition of small-mindedness

I've never been big on street festivals. However, I know that the Celebrate Toronto street party held in mid-summer was very popular.

Now Emporer - er rather Mayor David Miller is kiboshing the whole thing. The $$$ will instead go to one of his favourites - something with a French title called "Nuit Blanche". The imperial thumb has been pointed downward for Celebrate Toronto - and up for Nuit Blanche.

I guess Nuit Blanche brings in more of Miller's upper class friends and Harvard classmates (reason enough to shelve it:-) - whereas Celebrate Toronto brings in too many of the unwashed suburbanites.

This is just more evidence that Toronto isn't growing up despite the City of Toronto Act. If the mayor isn't big enough to accept that one of his predecessors cam up with a good idea, we have no business running our own show.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Movie Review - "300"

I finally gave into curiousity and went to see "300". I enjoyed the movie - and I'll accord it the rate or 'worth seeing'.

Some have written - and correctly so - that "300" completely omits that the the Spartan's held sway by force over the Helots with whom they shared region of Lacedaemonia and thereabouts. Then again, everyone had slaves. The Athenians used slave labour to mine the silver mines that paid for its naval might. We should hence overlook this - as the film is about the awakening in man of the spirit of freedom, free will and independance from tyrants. It doesn't mean that it was immediately perfect. There's no reason to judge those Spartan's on the basis that they had what amounted to slaves.

The film does a good job in explaining the Spartan's hoplite phalanx-based method of conducting warfare. On the other hand, I remember reading that Spartan's fought barefoot - whereas other Greeks generally wore sandals in battle. It seemend that all the Greeks were shod in sandals in the battle scenes. Some of the Spartans wore a beardbut no moustache - but more had a full set of hair on the upper lip, or were clean shaven.

The film is purposely dark and somewhat grainy. It seems perpetually to be dusk. War is a dark subject - so perhaps the producers thought that even one ray of sun would break the mood.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The last days of a legion hall

Since visuals increase reader interest, awareness - I've decided to add some pictures. Here is the partly demolished legion hall near my home - on a dreadfully drear long weekend day.
The building has long been an eyesore - boarded windows and a front that was blind to the street. Posted by Picasa

The tracks vanish

Posted by Picasa
There's a track in there somewhere. The TTC's Harbourfront line west of Bathurst is out of commission. Barely 15 year old, and the tracks are in such bad shape as to require suspension of service. This citizen took this photo yesterday. There was a bus running back and forth - easily handling the ridership. The riders I saw getting on were very happy to see the bus.
hmm - would have been nice if the TTC had put up signs or any type of notice.
This is the basic technology that the TTC plans to use in its proposed 'LRT' lines (See posts and Transit City).
To me, it's not LRT to encase all of the lines in concrete. More to the point, it's not smart. Let's run LRT where the rails can be ballasted in gravel - which allows for easier ongoing maintenance.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Perpetual Change - Townhomes replace the Legion

This week 'they' finally started putting the wrecking ball to the Legion Hall at the major intersection near my house. Although I'm sure that the venue has meant a great deal to many over the years, it's time to see it go. In it's place will be the usual spacious townhouses - narrow and tall, with parking underneath - and perhaps a deck on the roof.

These can be attractive places for young professionals to live. This having been said, the first 'batch' - on the busy corner - have been slow to move. These residences aren't suitable for retired couples - too many stairs - or families with children.

The direction of perpetual change is that residential areas are becoming more residential - especially the attractive neighbourhoods. Marginal commercial properties are being moved to the residential column of the zoning ledger. The city's bizarre tax structure is an accellerant helping fuel this trend.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

LRT - Eglinton and the 6 dwarves

A reader has brought it to my attention that the LRT popularity poll on the Transit City propaganda site shows that over 80% of those replying would prefer the proposed Eglinton line:

Here are the results as of this afternoon:

Eglinton - 11049 votes - 83.6 %
Sheppard East - 670 - 5.1%
Scarborough Malvern - 377 - 2.9%
Waterfront West - 363 - 2.7%
Don Mills - 329 - 2.5%
Etobicoke Finch West - 245 - 1.9%
Jane - 186 - 1.4%

Transit pundit Steve Munro prognosticates that the underground part of the Eglinton line would be the last to be built. The line would be built starting at the extremities - hmm perhaps this proposal should be called Transfer City instead of Transit City. It seems that potential riders have other ideas.