Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Hee Haw Extravaganza

Yay America... now everyone can have their very own hip 'Next-Generation' Technology Park. A sure boon to unredeemable dumps everywhere.

Expect full-scale ideological hullabaloo to ensue.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Summer Piety or Hazy Brazen?: The Nature of the Summer Dress.

With spring comes renewal. The landscape silently regains its green texture and we weary stacked urbanites sleepily migrate from our sealed cocoons to vigorously take over the streets. Whether club kids, dog walkers or patio gnomes, we all unite in our mission to stretch our legs and take in some outdoor air. It’s been the cycle of centuries – and one I am happy to see arrive. After endless nights of frozen tundra and fleeting dreams of warmer climes, I without exception take flight before the patio chairs are dusted off in April… and rarely leave until last call in late October. It’s just the way things are. For a marvellous period, my regular employment becomes subservient to a life as patio philosophiser and general man about town.

Until last week, I believed my intentions pure and innocent this year. However, two weeks immersed in the subtle delights of the ‘Concrete Beach’ and environs has reminded me of the grand prize of the season – the glorious Summer Dress. Wholesome yet risqué, this pinnacle of summer fashion combines the assumingly contradictory notions of elegance and temperance. Subsequently, it takes an especially pious-brazen type to model effectively. A big thank you to culturally-isolated Western is in order for providing the sample necessary to judge effectively the three types of enthusiasts:

1. The Traditionalist – This group is interested solely in wearable contentment. Unconcerned with endorsement or sanction, the traditionalist appreciates the supreme comfort and ease that made this the staple of their mother and grandmother’s generation.

2. The Post-Modernist (The Shameless Promoter) – Concerned with the notion that appearance makes reality indistinguishable, this heathen type is akin to the used car salesman of the fashion world - do whatever is necessary to sell your clunker to a sceptical public. While not necessarily a lemon, the unabashed nature of character ensures the compulsory need to add frivolous individualistic bells and whistles, wholly unaware that the summer dress is most effective in its purest form.

3. The Existential Ethicist – This type provides the perfect mix of the retention of authenticity and flare for promotion gleaned exclusively from life’s experiences. Essence precedes existence after all. While acknowledging the elegant simplicity of function, they are also keenly aware of the form. For the betterment of all involved, this type is resigned to their fate and restricts themselves to what is under their own control.

And so you have it, pretentious psychobabble at its best… complete with homage to the summer dress, its purveyors, models and admirers. Thank you for making summer that extra bit special. I salute you.

I’m off to the Black Bull.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Book Speak

With moving comes sporadic internet access and abbreviated time for response - hence my tardy reply to a most interesting challenge dangled on the front page of the London Fog.

Number of Books I Own: Approximately 2,000 with another 200 or so on 'loan' throughout the world. While the majority are on shelves back in the Townships, many of my favourites endure my transient lifestyle.

Last Book I Bought: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black. As a lover of history, I always enjoy a new attempt at an old topic. Hopefully his writing is better than his attempts at obstruction.

Last book I Read: The Rivers North of the Future, The Testament of Ivan Illich by David Cayley. The author of Deschooling Society and Disabling Professions reflects on his life's work and offers a new treatise to explain the evolution of modern society. The book is an offshoot of a 5 part discussion on Ideas. A more in-depth post is to follow as time permits.

The Five:

1. Walden Pond. Thoreau's Masterpiece. From rugged individualism to societal duty, it has it all. I carry it wherever I go and still ask the question... What would Thoreau do?

2. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. As an urban planner, this book is still the shit. The secret of its importance lies in the overt hatred of planners and professional planning in general. Her advocacy for the importance of public participation over the technocratic tendencies of my chosen profession remain as powerful today as when it was written in 1961.

3. Beyond Forgot: Rediscovering the Prairies by Mike Abbey. This is the Canadian version of Bill Bryson's Lost Continent or In a Sunburned Country. While not a stunning literary gem, its intelligent insight into the Prairie experience led to a month of aimless wandering about Saskatchewan - taking pictures of imploding grain elevators no less.

4. Reformation: Europe's House Divided by Diarmaid MacCulloch. This is far and away the definitive text on the period. If one ever wants to fully understand the powerful role of this period and the hold it still maintains on modern culture, this book is a must.

5. The Last Spike by Pierre Berton. I've always been a sucker for Canadian history and this remains my guilty pleasure. In true Berton style, the epic nature of the text and character detailing invokes a cliffhanger fiction feel. From scandal to heroes, this tale of nation-building provides the perfect means to put the whole drive up the Dempster into perspective.


I've never been a fan of the tag, but if I must, I will suggest two:

The learned folk o'er at the Eponym; and
the Cookstown which is need of print.