by carl wilson

Surf City: Monday Notes of Note Omnibus Post

An urgent local note from the counter-gentrification West Queen West troops, who are holding a press conference at City Hall tomorrow (Tues) morning at 11:45: In response to the shocking news that the Queen West "Triangle" (on Queen between Lisgar and Northcote) developers got approval (and everything they asked for) from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) for 4 condo towers on the south side of Queen, despite active opposition from the City of Toronto and many neighbourhood associations, Active 18 is arranging a meeting to appeal this awful decision. Please attend if you can. Visit their website to learn more about the flouting of city-planning guidelines and the probable effects on artists and other lower-income people in the area.

Also on the urban-culture front, Timothy Comeau's marvellous magpie project GoodReads links in its latest edition to an Los Angeles Times piece about the "art party" issue in the L.A. scene. Timothy snappily connects it with the conversations about the nightclubbing-meets-participatory-aesthetics conundrum that have been going on in Toronto for several years, including my essay in the Coach House uTOpia 2 book.

In a similar spirit, I recommend to you the arts-talk-show series Pick 7, which continues tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 7 pm with a dialogue between theatre maker Erika Hennebury, interdisciplinary artist Laura Nanni and the audience. I haven't been able to get to any of these sessions before now but am going to try to make this one.

Throughout February, dancer Aimeé Dawn Robinson is curating A Month of Sundays, a series of dance and improvised music performances by Zoilus guitar hero Eric Chenaux, the charming creator-choreographer Ame Henderson, dancer Claudia Wittmann, composer Colin Clark, troubadoric duo Moth Ring (Janet Macpherson and Jason Benoit), dancer Barbara Lindenberg and composer Stephen Parkinson. Each show takes place consecutive Sundays in February at 1:30 pm at 96 Spadina (at Adelaide), Suite 802, Toronto. Find out more at the aforelinked series blog and, as Zoilus always says, keep holey the Sabbath Day.

The newish Canadian Association for Sound Ecology presents a scrumptious seeming early-spring wilderness-retreat opportunity under the title "The Soundscape in Our Landscape: "Sleep in a log cabin, enjoy the wilderness, participate in workshops/talks by R. Murray Schafer, Bernie Krause, Andrea Dancer, Kristi Allik & Robert Mulder and share your experiences with others about your own artist works and/or research/interest in the area of acoustic ecology." If it weren't right around book-deadline time I would certainly think of going. You have to register by Feb. 23.

New songs by Franklin Bruno's new band The Human Hearts (which is such a perfectly Brunoesque bandonym) at his new label Tight Ship Records. If you don't know Franklin Bruno's work, well, my dears...

Think good thoughts for Peli, whose father is unwell.

One of my favourite contemporary composers, Robert Ashley, has a new opera, as covered by Alex Ross (who delightfully calls Ashley "the world's mellowest rapper," which is kinda true the way Scott Walker plays the world's mellowest grindcore; but I'd compare him to David Byrne before I compared him to David Lynch) and the NY Times. I've been out of touch with Ashley's output for a brace of years and look forward to hearing the new work.

I dimly suspected someone would, but did not till now know that someone had, built a Blogville Best-Of List Aggregate Database. I cannot bring myself to analyze it, though - partly because it reinforces the exhaustion of the year-end hokeypokey, but also because whatever meaning is embedded in it is probably depressing.

On which note, Jason Gross groans at MTV's Rolling Stone magazine "reality" show. Can't disagree with Jason's take, but would it be impossibly pollyannaish of me to say that I have a creeping affection for even a flimsy phony show about a dead husk of a magazine that still celebrates the goal of becoming a good writer? Check out the website, where viewers/websurfers are actually doing the writing assignments along with the characters. I can't hate that. And even though the characters are going to become annoying, look, one of them is a Bay Area Filipina who publishes her own hip-hop zine (although she's muy obnoxious), another is a black lesbian shaved-headed New Yorker, and another, whom I just like ridiculously well so far, is Russell Mores, a sarcastic but sweet-dispositioned, ex-juvenile-delinquent who got his life together through a juvie-hall writing program. Again, can't hate on that, at least on the prison-reform tip. Though the Times' Virginia Heffernan is probably right that as the early favourite, he is set up for a fall. I'm peeved that the show omits to mention all their last names, which is reality-show convention but ridiculous when these are people who are going to live by their bylines. Which includes last names. And no doubt by the next episode they'll all be doing things that deflate my optimism entirely. (There's a moment in the first episode where Russell refers to his tendency to "self-sabotage" which is no doubt prophetic, though it was kind of endearing to hear the little echo of in-the-system-counselling-session language coming out of this otherwise well-guarded guy.) But just to watch Joe Levy say (and not even explain!) "you buried your lede" in little editorial confabs, I'll watch it as long as I can still stand it.

Or until it's pre-emptively cancelled. Because I might be the only one. PS: Jim Derogatis's inside-Jann-Wenner's-beltway commentary is amusing.

Of much more substance on the criticism-business front is this cogent post from former Dallas Morning News books editor Jerome Weeks on the plight of arts coverage in the modern daily newspaper. I've had conversations recently with, in particular, jazz musicians and listeners about what is happening to coverage of their field in Toronto newspapers, and Weeks captures some of the structural issues involved. His comments on the DMN's short-lived "GuideLive" section, especially, remind me about my own sadness over the removal of performing and visual arts coverage from The Globe and Mail's own Friday "7" tabloid, which now focuses just on film and video. I'm not blaming anyone in particular, certainly not the Globe: Newspaper editors do what they have to do, at a point where the whole business model is shaky, but it's difficult to imagine the future of professional criticism of non-pop forms in this climate.

But enough gloom: Wednesday is Art's Birthday!

| Posted by zoilus on Monday, January 15 at 6:06 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)



It probably was, to start with. But I don't think it entirely ended up that way.

Posted by zoilus on January 16, 2007 1:11 PM



it's difficult to imagine the future of professional criticism of non-pop forms in this climate.

Professional criticism was probably a bad idea to begin with.

Posted by KS on January 16, 2007 12:45 PM



If I had known there was a Rolling Stone reality show, I would already have been watching it!

The use of "you buried your lede" made me laugh, and immediately brought back memories of my journalism professor. He always told us that if we started a piece with a quote, it had better be something really, really shocking; the example he used was "'F*ck,' said the duchess." Nowadays, sadly, I'm not even sure that's a very interesting lede. "Yawn," said the reader.

Posted by Jamie on January 16, 2007 11:07 AM



It's been sad to watch "7" drop all the stuff I actually want to read. Although, reading John Doyle's curmudgeonly piece on sexiness today made me feel a little better about tv criticism (even if I almost never agree with his tastes!)

Sadder still (although even less surprising) to hear about the !@@*#^&@*$&^$@# OMB ruling. FIGHT FIGHT!

(oh, and deadline time for the book must be hellish for you but exciting for those your fans!)

Posted by andrew on January 15, 2007 7:58 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson