Monthly Archives: September 2014

Men’s Clothing Store Poster On Bloor

This poster came down last week. It was on the south-facing wall of the new Holt Renfrew Men’s clothing store on Bloor Street. (In case you need to know, like for some trivia game, Holt Renfrew is ultimately owned by the Weston family.) For months, this guy’s been staring down at all the people passing on the sidewalk. Kinda makes you wonder what he was thinking. I have some theories, but your suggestions are welcome:

– Look at all these little people. I could crush them.

– I’m chafing. Wonder if anyone would notice if I stuck my hand in my pocket, shifted it a little to the right, and scratched.

– When I applied for the job, I thought they said I could be a poser, not a poster.

– Okay. Who’s the asshole who parked his van on the sidewalk … and right in front of my …

– If I look serious enough, people might not notice that I’m a total airhead.

– Nice bike. Wish I wasn’t stuck here on this wall.

Ad on Bloor Street

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Ravines In Toronto

I grew up in Willowdale near a ravine and a nameless creek that flowed into the Don River. I played in that ravine. Pheasants flew out of it and strutted through my back yard. Weird shit happened down there, too. A playmate broke his arm in the ravine. I remember, as a seven-year-old, watching a work crew cut up a wrecked VW beetle that lay in the water at the foot of a cliff. I assumed there had been a body, too, maybe the driver, or somebody murdered and stuffed in the trunk. Why else would there be a wrecked car in the creek? The cliff abutted one side of a cul-de-sac. One summer, a rabid skunk climbed out of the ravine and bit a boy who lived on the cul-de-sac. I heard that he died.

As an adult, I moved further into the city, near a different ravine with a different creek that also flows into the Don River. As long as I live in Toronto, I don’t think I’ll ever climb out of its ravines.

Milkman's Lane, which joins the Beltline Trail

Milkman’s Lane, which joins the Beltline Trail

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Poem: (M)ass Media Culture(?)

My cultural moment came and went.
Now the useless pendant chafes my neck,
brings to mind remaindered analytic books
whose theses chased the waddling ass
that lapped me on the straight-away.
I let it pass and listened to their twaddle.
The blubbering cheeks squidge on. Their route?
I couldn’t say. There was an instant,
back in the day, when I felt more a fan
in the mosh pit, drenched in foam spit spray,
than this living-room-Netflix-watching
after-the-fact yellow-crusted eye.
Whatever it was, it’s come and gone
while my remote-clicking finger twitches on.

Bremner Boulevard Toronto

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Kirk Newman’s Community

Standing on the southeast corner of Manulife’s Corporate headquarters in Toronto is a bronze sculpture called “Community”. It’s creator is Kirk Newman. The sculpture has 21 life-sized figures doing a variety of things, as you’d expect from people living in a community of diverse interests. I appreciate the fact that Newman recognizes photography as one of those interests. The photographer is using a long lens which he points up towards a tree that stands behind the sculpture.

Kirk Newman's Community

Kirk Newman's Community (detail)

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Shop Window – Holy Merchandise

4 June about 3 o’clock someone came to store and stolen holy merchandise. He run away very fast but he put the bicycle on the road I have experience 3 time this year (same man) I forgive again I want to return bicycle but he did not come back I report police station / Police man bring the bicycle
Holy Merchandise

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Graveyard Kitsch

After writing a piece about Barthes’ principles of studium and punctum and how I read them in light of Milan Kundera’s meditation on kitsch, I went for a bit of a photowalk through Toronto’s St. James Cemetery. I like walking through cemeteries. I find the experience calming. But walking with a camera, I find myself framing monuments in the viewfinder and discovering kitsch everywhere I look. Funerary kitsch. Monumental kitsch. Kitsch springing from the ground and declaring itself like a neon sign at an all-night burger joint. Perhaps it declares itself most kitschily with plastic flowers.

Plastic flowers at grave site

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Barthes’ Studium and Punctum

Camera Lucida, by Roland BarthesIn his Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes introduces the notions of studium and punctum to help us think about photographs. While far from the last word on photography in this post-structuralist postmodern world of ours, and (as Geoff Dyer cautions in his forward) while far from the last word even in Barthes’ own thinking, nevertheless the studium/punctum delimiters together form a useful point of departure when examining a contemporary photograph and asking: is this worth my attention?

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It’s Nae to Scottish Independence

The ballots have been counted and it’s confirmed: Scotland won’t be leaving the UK any time soon. With that in mind, I thought I’d conclude my Scottish-themed series of posts with photos from London. But with a (backhanded) note of consolation for those who voted “Yes”. Scroll through the rest of the images and you’ll see what I’m getting at.

Big Ben

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Graves in Scotland

Well, today’s the day! Scotland votes on the independence question. The fact that my final post in this Scotland series is on graveyards should not be taken as a subtle commentary on the Scottish referendum. I merely thought it fitting that the last in the series should relate to death. I could just as easily have ended with a post on Scottish sunsets, only I’ve never seen a Scottish sunset and am not sure there is even such a thing. Maybe another time. For now, let’s begin with this grave from St. Machlan’s Churchyard in Campsie Glen. It’s kind of a resurrection image – life from death and all that.

Ferns growing out of headstone

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Museums in Scotland

In Scotland, just about every church and castle counts as a museum. For this post, I highlight museums that aren’t churches or castles. Here are photos from four secular museums in Glasgow and all of them are free. For more info on Scotland’s museums, click here. The first isn’t really a museum; it’s the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow. I’ve included it here because interspersed amongst the plants are Victorian sculptures.

Victorian Sculpture

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