Archive for July, 2008

Introducing The Hub

hub.metblogs

If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

Wakestock Saturday = WETstock

tj_treflip.jpg  wake_slide.jpg Toronto Island’s weather turned ugly Saturday.  What originally appeared to be a cooler sunny day soon changed.  Much of the qualifying runs were laid out on the skateboard and wakeboard courses and then it happened.  A fierce afternoon thunderstorm started and many took shelter. The quick and the lucky scattered to pavilions around Toronto Island, others bolted straight to the ferry docks.  Some however were not so lucky.

Not everyone had the piece of mind not to hide under trees or lucky enough to be away from some of the metal fences.  At least two people were struck by lightening, one right across from the booth where Silverstein were signing autographs.  Thanks to the Emergency staff on hand as well as the Police and Fire boats dispatched to the island everyone was OK and the event was able to continue.

A few hours later you could hardly image how bad the weather had been moments before.  Barring the drenched pavement and grass of course.  Everyone had to make the most of it.

puddleparty.jpg tactics.jpg  wetwalk.jpg 

Classified dusted off the crowd and kicked things off on the main stage once the rain subsided.  Silverstein were awesome and powered through a shortened but intense set.  Hot Water Music were also a treat to see live.  The good weather whether held out into the early evening and RZA and GZA gave the masses a long awaited and stacked set, just fashionably late.

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So glad that the sun came back, even if the puddles were far from gone.  Wasn’t keen on mud sliding/diving, just thankful no puddles or muddy sinkholes claimed my footwear.  Tomorrow is another day.  Hoping WETstock ended Saturday and Wakestock continues where it left off…

Matt Bajcar Rips

The “Island of the Ams” skateboard competition was quite impressive at Wakestock Friday.  Things are sure to heat up for the finals Saturday as $5,000 is on the line.  A lot of Toronto locals have a shot at the top spot which is nice to see.  Lee Yankou, Chris Gibbons, and Brandon Del Bianco.  Of course Bajcar simply rips his own way contest or no contest.  He was killing it during the competition and alongside the Zoo York team during the demo.  Both Zoo York and Globe riders are in town and will also be doing a demos between Am contest heats this weekend.

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Matt Bajcar blasting over the flat bank at Wakestock 2008

More Yak on Moribund Toronto Subway Building

Heard on CFRB’s John Moore show that they’re talking again about beefing up transit along Eglinton Avenue, specifically if a subway is better than light rapid transit (LRT). Over a decade after Harris cost this province tens of millions of dollars shutting down subway construction west of Allen, along Eglinton, and almost a decade after Harris left office (if memory serves right), a couple of Councillors have raised their heads tentatively to broach this idea again. It must’ve been all those billions Jim Flaherty — a Harris brother-in-hate-Toronto arms — was waving around yesterday that’s got them showing courage.

But as far as I could tell the millions promised for the Spadina extension to York was exactly what the McGuinty government set aside before the last election, so all they’re doing is reminding us that they still have it banked for whenever it happens. I’m sorry to be such a jaded Torontonian, but ever since Lastman-Harris-Chretien stood on the banks of Lake Ontario promising us billions to revitalize the waterfront, we’ve endured many more such announcements by the Mayor-Premier-Prime Minister of the day, or parts thereof, promising millions or billions for TTC, waterfront, or take-your-pick-of-desperate-Toronto need, followed by nothing. I don’t know why optimists even try to get together a bid for big games like the Pan Am games because (a) the federal government hates Toronto and won’t lift a finger for it and (b) no senior government is going to invest in infrastructure in this city. All those billions China spent on Beijing, making it a games jewel, would never happen here under similar circumstances because the country doesn’t see Toronto as representing it to the world, even though it does, even during an ordinary tourist season.

Anyway, it’s not like the plans for Spadina, Eglinton, or even Queen Street subway expansion are new. They’ve been studied and planned to death. Yet today’s leaders are loathe to use the technology proven to move masses of people swiftly, without being hindered or slowed down by car traffic, because it’s the most expensive to build. It’s a good thing our city planners back in the 1940s and ’50s had more guts, else we’d have an LRT down Yonge Street and along Bloor-Danforth instead of what are today overloaded subways. Now, OK, I know that we haven’t yet reached the massive crowds of London in rush hour — where getting on a train means committing to not being able to move even a mm, anywhere in the car — however, during the day and on Sundays Toronto trains are fuller than they should be from a user’s point of view. I attribute this directly to the fact that our leaders, starting in the rich 1980s (remember, the era when people flaunted their wealth), stopped building subways here in Toronto, while they continued in Montreal, and that voters rejected a leader who put subway planning in her platform in favour of a do-nothing so that, in the words of one editor, we could give him a second chance (to do nothing). And so instead of having a line parallel to Bloor-Danforth, we have none, neither along Queen — which planners say is the one place a subway would pay for itself — nor along Eglinton. And so people take buses, subways, streetcars down to Bloor-Danforth or up to it, thus causing needless overcrowding on that line, while the Yonge-Bloor interchange has become a nightmare.

While debate continues about whether Eglinton should have a subway or an LRT, and the federal government waves around money already committed to one subway and makes no announcement about any other subways, England is set to spend 32 fuckin’ BILLION bucks on a crosstown subway line in London, this in a city that has never stopped building subway lines, even getting them built by badgering developers into funding them if they want to build towers. It’s not like the British like London any more than Canadians like Toronto; it’s that they understand that they must move people as quickly as possible there, as efficiently as possible if that city is to continue to generate wealth for the country. It’s too bad Ontarians and Canadians forget that piece of wisdom.

The Cheque Is Still In The Mail

It was good to see the Federal and Ontario Government were all smiles about finally giving Ontario some Infrastructure funding.  Approximately 3.1 million under the Building Canada Fund from the Feds, and almost 3 million from the gas tax.   Ontario will match the Building Canada Fund amount (3.1M) for a total of 9.3 million towards Ontario Infrastructure.

A great start.  Remember that some of these funds were already fought for by Mayor Miller and Premier Dalton McGuinty and promised by the PM Harper.  I tend to agree with Christopher Hume’s Toronto Star article that Infrastructure spending is still paltry and almost too late.  It was no surprise to see us lose Olympic bids when our current transit routes and highways are so strained.

We cry for the benefits of our Infrastructure but have much work to do to earn them.  The sad thing is partisan squabbling between the Feds and the Province have already delayed any real progress on this issue.  Instead of focusing on investing in Canada the Conservatives have been focusing most of their attention on abstract issues like Democratic Reform.  Not exactly what will strengthen the Canadian economy and make us competitive in global markets.

Some feel that Canadians are ready for an election but all candidates, including the reigning Conservatives, need to work harder and TOGETHER at all levels. A contrast to current partisan power games.  Infrastructure, whether it’s a TTC Subway station, improved internet/cell phone network,  bike lanes or highways provide real benefits to taxpayers.  Plans for the Waterfront, TTC’s LRT and subway expansion are steps in the right direction.  Hopefully politicians put more money where the mouths are moving.  The cheques are still in the mail.

Wakestock 2008 – Kicks off TODAY!!!

Wakeboarding, skateboarding, music and motorcross hit the Toronto Islands as Wakestock kicks off today and runs until Sunday.  The threat of rain appears to be subsiding and it will take more that that to dampen the excitement.

Wu Tang’s RZA and GZA are among the acts due to play!  MetricSilversteinDillinger Escape Plan and Hot Water Music are also on the bill.  Punk, Alternative, Hardcore and Hip Hop are well represented.  If that isn’t enough there are several afterparties.  Saturday’s Sound Academy is sure to be hectic with a Bud Light Bikini contest and DJ sets by K-OS and Lil Jaz.

Let the games begin…

Wakestock
Action Sports and Music Festival
July 24 – 27
Toronto Island 

Rob Piontek – Remembered and Celebrated

Rob Piontek was an accomplished skater who was tragically killed by a hit and run driver while walking home last August.  Thursday afternoon marks the Grand Opening of the Skateboard Park built in his honour.  Great to see the city building more and more parks for youth.

Come out and celebrate the life of a great person at your new favourite park.

rob_park.jpg

Rob Piontek Memorial Skatepark – GRAND OPENING
Courtice Community Complex
2950 Courtice Road
Thursday July 24th
@ 12:30pm – BBQ and Skateboard Session
(Call Alcatraz Skateshop for more details at 905 697-1744)     

Dave Nolan as seen by Harry Gils (larger than life)

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I saw this massive skateboard pic of Dave Nolan near Yonge and Dundas.  While the shop posting this massive ad doesn’t even sell skateboards at least it’s by a Toronto photographer (Harry Gils) and is shot here in Toronto.

CHUM FM Off the Air

Well, this is a rare one. The CN Tower’s radio transmitter went kaput all of a sudden at lunchtime. (It must’ve been the heat.) Radio stations have backup transmitters offsite in case of an anticipated-but-not-expected event like this, and they all kicked in but one. CHUM FM’s backup transmitter refused to work.

I first knew something had gone awry when I was one moment listening to a song, then suddenly static, buzzing, and then nothing. Google is useless for finding out about breaking news like this; unfortunately, so were CTV and Citytv online news, at the time I searched anyway. I eventually got through to the source, and as I learnt when speaking to DJ John Woodlock, that “nothing” is because CHUM’s backup transmitter did kick in, but for some reason is not receiving the signal to broadcast out to the world. Their engineers are working on it feverishly. Meanwhile Woodlock is broadcasting to an audience of, um, one, cause he did get a winner in the contest. Lucky person — they obviously can listen online. Me, not even the online player works! There’s probably a heavy demand for the online player, and so some of us are going to get the “busy” signal. Stay tuned!

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Update: CHUM FM back on the air, seemingly for good, just before 13:04.

Freedom for this Anonymous Blogger Means Coming Out of the Closet

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpStiGD0CLI[/youtube]

[Play in high quality if you can. It’s MUCH better.]

When I started my personal blog back in 2005, I was falling down the rabbit hole of frustration and turmoil. I had to find an outlet and I had to both practice my writing and discover if I could even write regularly again; but my lawyer was troubled by my idea. We agreed that I could blog if I kept it anonymous and if I didn’t blog on a whole bunch of topics he listed for me. As the movies say, anything you write will be used against you in a court of law. Well, that’s a bit of a twist on the old line, but it’s certainly true.

I thought at the time that this would be a temporary thing, that my made-up user name would soon be supplanted by my real name.

Ha!

As I blogged and practiced writing and joined Toronto Metblogs, the insurance companies dragged their heels, counter-sued my ex-spouse, and sent me to more medicals. As I returned to photography and an angel came into my life to help me finish my book interrupted, I waited for the mediation to happen, the mediation that was booked almost a year away. I think I also went for a repeat medical. As I published my book and created a website for it under my real name, we went to mediation. What a total waste of time. Time wastage continued as I watched the months crawl by towards my pre-trial in June. My lawyer had informed me nothing was going to happen between mediation and pre-trial as the insurance companies would just wait as is their wont. Finally the day came. The day went. No change. And then at last, the companies started negotiating in earnest with my lawyer, we struck a deal, I recovered from the shock of how the state, insurers, and judges shaft car crash claimants with the legal system’s blessing, and then I waited some more.

Today, it is done. Eight years, seven months, and three days after a couple of dickhead drivers smashed so hard into the back of the car in which I was a passenger that they pushed us into the car in front of us, causing me neck, shoulder, and closed head injuries, all the legal actions are over, and I can come out into the open.

Only thing is, it’s too weird. From finding it strange to write under a made-up name here  on Metblogs, to share my photographs under another made-up name, to getting used to being called Points or Pointsy (my Flickr handle), it is now utter strange to go back, to put my real identity on all my online activities, to amalgamate my blogs and websites under one moniker.

The next many days, I’ll be rejigging my Metblogs profile and making changes on my personal blog, as  I tie both into my website. And in the future, you can be pretty sure I’ll be writing about life as a car crash claimant, the hell of losing yourself through a closed head injury, the weirdness of growing a new personality and new hobby(ies?) out of that personality, and the legal system. I can now also talk about health care, insurance companies, and all sorts of interesting topics (Chinese curse: you lead an interesting life). But first I need to recover from this anti-climactic moment, anti-climactic because after the many times I thought we were finishing up only to find out not, that when it finally happened, I was too worn out to feel much excitement.

But I’m free! And to meditate on that is to touch excitement.

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