Archive for December, 2007

Falling onto the Tracks at Union…Almost

TheStar.com | News | Subway hits rough patch in customer satisfaction

While waiting for the Yonge subway last week, a reader said he watched “an elderly woman stumble on an uneven part of the platform and come unbelievably close to tumbling onto the tracks.”

Union and Yonge stations are the most dangerous ones on the line, I’d hazard a guess, because their platforms are way too small for the numbers of people that now crowd onto them. They were built decades ago for a smaller city, a smaller population. This city council likes to trumpet being green; but instead of practical solutions that will ensure greater safety and greater use of a technology or service that already reduces CO and CO2 emissions, they gallop after ideological ideas that just makes our lives more of a headache.

Apparently New York is one of the most green cities per capita. That’s because it has an extensive subway system as well as comprehensive bus service and wheelchair accessible buses. We don’t. After several cuts and fare hikes, our bus service is inadequate to our needs, even in spite of some reinstatements. Decades after New York bought and started using accessible buses, we’re just getting them, and many bus drivers still haven’t figured out how to press that down button so that users infirm and with strollers can get on. I have no idea if people in wheelchairs can get on. Our drivers have even forgotten how to use their vocal chords, so instead of spending the money on widening the platforms at Union and Yonge, something that was needed to be done yesterday, they’re spending it on vocal chord replacement technology. Not only does it signal the fact that we have bus drivers hostile to their customers and too lazy to aspire to doing a good job (unlike their predecessors), and not only does it signal the fact that clearly management has no control over the unionized workers (which really means customer complaints mean SFA), it also breaks the connection between driver and customers. No longer do we get to hear the cheery subway driver call out the stops, or the chatty bus driver add a little extra to stop announcements. Even listening to a clearly peeved driver is more interesting as one can fill the time by speculating what ticked him off. Now it’s the mechanical female voice. Oh well, at least we can hear her.

The TTC used to be a good system for this city. But when an elderly woman almost falls on the tracks, I think we can safely say it’s past its best before date.

One Two Punch

Thanks to Hamilton’s James Street North for giving me the head’s up on a great event. The Punchclock Collective are throwing a two shows back to back. Great artwork and two nights of amazing musicians and DJ’s. Best check the action Thursday and Friday.

TWO CONCERTS & ONE ART SHOW BY THE PEOPLE
Punchclock Collective – Showcase no.1
Keep Six gallery, 938 Bathurst st (block and a half north of Bloor)

Thursday Dec. 6th
viewing 6pm music 9:30pm

DJ Guvnor General (warm, soulfull sellections from Caribean and beyond)
the Youngest (sweet solo sounds)
Castlemusic (captivating with voice and guitar)
100 dollars (catalyst country, songs about something)
Final Fantasy (ethereal one man symphony – you know Toronto’s recent Polaris winner)

Friday Dec. 7th
viewing 12pm music 9:30pm

DJ Will Munro (punk, electro dance enabling)
LSdoubleDcup (psychadooolic day of pentacost)
the Blankett (reimagined past to build future)
Kids on TV ( queer dancefloor detonators)

sliding scale cover charge of $5 – $10 (No one turned away for lack of cash)

Yes Virginia, There Really is a Winter in Toronto

In honour of Environment Canada coming in 8th in Yahoo! Canada’s top searches for 2007, I shall blog about the weather.

It’s so cold here in Toronto, the weather forecasters are overestimating the temps by several degrees because they can hardly believe it’s winter in December. It’s so cold here in Hogtown, it’s bringing back memories, memories of snow from November to March, memories of cold so sharp your breath froze right in front of you, memories of a sun so bright it hurt to look at its reflection in the snow, memories of real winters with real white Christmases, memories of snow angels and snow forts, memories of red-tipped noses and cheeks glowing and hands warming around a mug of hot cocoa. It’s nostalgia time here in T.O. for people of a certain age and for a time when cold wusses didn’t live in the city, but snow fans who couldn’t wait to ski and skate and throw snowballs at glowering adults who promptly threw back, and for a time when the city plowed the streets so fast one could hardly believe there had been snow on them, except for the thin conga lines of tracks down the sidewalks. Yes, Torontonians, it’s winter time again.

Revenge of the Non-Spenders

TheStar.com | GTA | Council’s big spenders

It’s tit for tat time at Toronto City Council. If the big spenders hadn’t persecuted Councillors Rob Ford and Doug Holyday for being prudent with taxpayer’s money, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti would still be comfortably and privately spending our tax dollars as his very own luxe-living and buying-votes allowance.

But the two non-spenders have finally given the media something to make a story out of by formally requesting the city auditor to do random audits of 4 councillors once every 3 months. It’s too bad the media didn’t start investigating high-spending Councillors in detail before the last election (see video on this page).

Physical Goods vs The Digital Download

radio.jpg

The debate rages over the viability of hard goods in the age of digital downloads. Radiohead have always been very vocal about social and consumer issues despite their involvement with a major record labels. They started work on their 7th album, their first album after their stint with EMI, back in 2005 and released it as a digital download back in October this year.

Radiohead’s site for the album allows fans a choice to buy the album in physical form or as a download for a Pay-What-You-Can price. The physical version is a deluxe edition in both vinyl and CD (for 40 GBP – that’s British Pounds – about $80). Most people I assume went with FREE though there are some that will pay for the album (either pay something for the download while the superfan would get the digital version right away and wait for the 2 CD + 2 Vinyl in the mail).

The results are mixed thus far. The ComScore study found that some people WOULD pay something, even for the digital download. (not much less than what you pay at a local store or iTunes for an album). Some charts refuse to list the album and sales siting that people can get it free so there are “no sales” to count. Despite that the album has had worldwide airplay on the radio. Rolling Stone gave it rave reviews too. Perhaps the “real money” will be made on tour as Radiohead tend to pack in the house when they tour. I’m assuming that Radiohead have “enough money” already and that their “experiment” will yield decent results. Decent enough to actually threaten the current model of artist gets $1 or less per album sold (hence some of the most vocal criticism from the UK Pop Charts and the like that depend on label payola…) The real winners I suppose are fans whether they compensate the band for their efforts or not.

Now would a concert ticket be just as nice a present as an album? A download better than a physical CD? The battle rages on…

Oh if you decided to get a hard copy of IN RAINBOWS by Radiohead I they will be shipping by land and sea from the UK today. A digital download in minutes and seconds vs. months…

We Have SNOW!

OK, perhaps a bit over excited about the re-emergence of seasonal weather. Shovel season is sort of here, which is a mixed blessing. Exercise vs. Annoyance. Yes December is looking like DECEMBER but it will get nasty today. The snow wont last long so the “scrooge” contingent wins.

Our yo-yo above and below freezing is going to mean crazy conditions. Freezing rain in the forecast so it wont be a fun night tonight. Trust me freezing rain is far worse than snow but as things sit right now we are in for a lot more rain.

Council Wants Its Parking Lot

Toronto City Councillors seem to be on a roll of bright ideas which in the light of the media become very dim indeed.

The latest, to fund vending carts, recently faded away ignobly. But now they’ve come up with a variation on their failed parking lot idea from the west end. This time, it’s in the east end. An old Speedy Auto Glass outlet, now no more, will become a 19-spot parking lot to serve the area near Coxwell and Danforth. Apparently, this is to stimulate this area into becoming Bloor West Village 2. Aside from the fact that the Danforth between Broadview and Pape attracts all from far and near and so is pretty much Bloor West Village 2 and whereas the area near Coxwell and Danforth serves the local community as opposed to tourists and thus shoppers don’t need cars to shop, how are 19 additional spots near a subway station going to generate the huge increase in traffic needed to turn this into a go-to destination? And when water mains are bursting and rats are flourishing and basic municipal services are soon to be charged for and taxes are being bribed into being, where on earth does Council think it’s going to get $1.4 million? Apparently it’s a long-term investment thing. I don’t see it. When you’re falling down the dark debt hole fast, you do what New Zealand did, tighten the belt hard and reduce the budget down to core spending only.

The thing that really gets me though is that for a Council that likes to hold aloft its lamp of greenness as a beacon for others to follow, they do seem awfully obsessed with parking lots. Building them, that is.

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