Friday, September 30, 2011

One sleep before the Sleepless Night

The excitement builds for the start of the 2011 edition of Nuit Blanche, it's opposite Les Rues Des Refuses and the roller derby version called Bout Blanche. A trifecta of cultural, artistic and sporting events that begins at 7pm Saturday night (the first day of October) and continues until sunrise on Sunday.
Pictures are from 2009 Nuit Blanche Fashion Exhibition at the Distillery District.

I plan to join my brother Joe Fresh on the journey of enlightenment beginning with some real woman, real hits and real heart of the Toronto Roller Derby up at their new location in the Bunker at Downsview Park. The double header fuels the rivalry of Toronto versus Hamilton  with doors open at 5pm and the bout beginning at 6pm. Later we head to the heart of the city where we will park and break out the bikes - it makes visiting multiple sites so much easier without the hassles of traffic or parking and more freedom than riding the better way.

Our first stop of the night will probably be Les Rues Des Refuses with some Renegade Rave and Roving Parade by the Rothko Institute and the Renegade Nuclear Physics Laboratory where hundreds of participants will gather beside the ROM waiting for the signal to head out on their music fueled journey through the city streets.

Later we will begin the wild ride which will bring us through some of the Nuit Blanche projects. It is probably impossible to visit all of the projects within the single night, mostly because the crowds will hamper your progress, so you have to pick and choose your targets. Early tours of the artwork will find sometimes overwhelming visitors so be prepared to wait in line or bail for less popular or larger works that can accommodate more people.

I tend to keep away from straight video installations as I search for bold, visual, energetic performances and materials. The unusual is something I prize. Parts of Bay Street, Yonge Street, Queen Street and Queens Park Crescent will be closed for the event and there are usually a few large scale exhibits at these locations.

If you are out and about on the long night and see me don't hesitate to say hi! Let the party begin Toronto.

Inflatable IMAX theatre for sale

Reports of a dead Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or Michelin Man lying in Milton turned out incorrect - it was an inflatable IMAX theatre in a parking lot off of Lawson Road in Milton between Boston Church Road and Esquesing Line. From what I could find out this installation is for the sole purpose of displaying and selling the inflatable theatres, not for going to cool IMAX movies. It is also supposed to come down within the next week or two.
The main market of these structures which are similar to those found for some golfing and tennis courts is said to be China. But the first one will be in New York.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Carlsberg beer give away on Bay Street

"That deserves a Carlsberg" and how right they were, so they gave me one. The Carlsberg crew were out on Bay and King Streets in Toronto passing out free cold Carlsberg beer to adults of legal drinking age. I enjoyed that delicious beer in the green bottle very responsibly. Thanks Carlsberg, Thursday, September 29, 2011 was a special day my friends.
For those that count, that is two beers that I have seen giving out samples on our fair city streets.

walk a mile in her shoes - Toronto 2011

The favourite footwear of men for this event was a bright red, high heel shoe. The occasion was the 2011 walk a mile in her shoes (Toronto) and they started putting on the shoes in Yonge-Dundas Square just before lunch. The September 29, 2011 walk is from noon to 2pm and the square was filled with booths will a shoe station where you could find a pair if needed, sign ups, a first aid station and various information booths.
Besides the men walking in her shoes, which is hard to believe because most are really big shoes, there were also plenty of supporters of both sexes that were there to walk or cheer on the participants. These thigh high boots, pictured above, were perfect for the rain.
Bright red shoes work well with the emergency task force police officer.

I like it when emergency response personnel join in – this year I did not see any firefighters but there were a few police forces represented. See the 2010 walk on my post here.

A colourful supporter from the Society of Energy Professionals.
Members of the RCMP in full regalia were on hand to walk a mile in their own shoes.

See more photos after the jump.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

It's an old office joke but it still is funny - working hard or hardly working? This sticker graffiti figure is using a large monkey wrench to work on a natural gas pipe coming out of a brick wall. Only the sticker is working as the building is empty and just a little dirty while a for 'lease' sign hangs outdoors. The building is on Adelaide Street West, just to the west of Simcoe Street.
Speaking of work here is a great quote from the movie 'Office Space',  Bob Porter: Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately. Peter Gibbons: I wouldn't say I've been 'missing' it, Bob.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Andrea Horwath NDP Bus

There is a big ol' bus running around Toronto, that bus is orange as the heart of the NDP, which is good because it is the campaign bus of Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. Oh yeah, that election is coming up very soon.

Mark's Fashion Show in Yonge-Dundas Square

Wow, I recently bought my two last construction boots from Mark’s Work Wearhouse and today (Tuesday, September 27, 2011) I watched a runway show for the new Mark’s ‘clothes that work’ fashion line at Yonge-Dundas Square. Lisa Rogers, host of CityLine, joined the event as announcer and the models first came out in their Mark’s underwear, pulling suitcases behind them. 
As they finished their catwalks they joined back up on the stage, opened their suitcases and put on their next layer of fashion.
Lisa Rogers hosts the fashion show.

See more photos after the jump.

Welcome to We Day

You know something special is in the air when the usual one way pedestrian traffic out of Union Station during the morning rush hour is countered by steady streams of youths heading south towards the Air Canada Centre (ACC). The crowds of young people were directed to the ACC by youths holding signs pointing in the right direction. We Day is an initiative of Free the Children where “Youth leading global change is the movement of our time”. This years event is being held on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 and is expected to bring 18,000 youths to the ACC.” You can check out their website at WeDay.com.
Canadian singer and Free the Children Ambassador Nelly Furtado will perform with the Kenyan Boys choir and will make an announcement to donate money she received for a private concert which will “impact and empower thousands of girls around the world”. Watch We Day live via webcast: http://www.muchmusic.com/weday.
Young'ns gather around the Much Music building waiting for the party.

Much Music will also have a live music event starting at tonite at 5pm at their Queen Street West location to continue the celebration of youth and their efforts to change the world for the better. “When Joe Jonas and Nina Dobrev leave the We Day stage on Tuesday, September 27 they’ll be heading straight to MuchMusic for New.Music.Live.! Joining them on our stage at 5 pm ET will be fellow We Day participants Shawn Desman, the Kenyan Boys Choir and Free The Children co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Art in the Alley

Nuit Blanche tends to have some out of the world art installations - the kind where you have to find the message in the project and determine if it resembles some type of possible art. I was at Yonge-Dundas Square I noticed some people bringing large paintings into Okeefe Lane where it looked like they were putting the canvas into the dumpsters. My Blanche senses went into overtime and I thought - hey, installation construction underway.
But then they pulled the art out of the dumpster and stacked them in front of the green garbage bins. I then checked the Nuit Blanche website and could find nothing scheduled for this location. I don't think that it is part of the all night art thing because there wasn't any humongous crowd gathered around the paintings beside the garbage. They also wouldn't need several days to set up this installation and the garbage would probably be emptied before Saturday and then where would they be? An art installation without art is, well cancel that thought because it could be still art with just the dumpsters.

Nuit Blanche 2011 setup at Toronto City Hall

With the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011 coming this weekend you can see various complex projects being put together in the week leading up to the all night art event. At Nathan Phillips Square in the shadow of Toronto City Hall I see several sets of scaffolding being assembled around the square.
Checking the Nuit Blanche website it looks like this could be Flightpath Toronto Installation by Usman Haque - London, UK and Natalie Jeremijenko - New York, USA.
From the Haque website "Inspired by the birds of Nathan Phillips Square, Flightpath Toronto is a participatory spectacle inviting the public to rediscover the possibilities and wonder of urban flight. For Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011, the square hosts an urban flightschool, an interactive visual airscape, and fly-lines that enable hundreds of people, enwinged, to re-imagine the city and the way we move through it.

By exploring the square through the eyes of its primary inhabitants, urban birds, can we reinvent our relationship to the city we build together? By reclaiming airspace as public space, can we consider other forms of transit, rediscover the 'sport' in 'transport', and excite imaginative possibilities for our urban infrastructure? Are we game to experience, through flight, a city that is fluid and three-dimensional?

Flightpath Toronto's swarms of flying people experiment with an urban-scale participatory proposition: one that demonstrates the pleasures of emissionless urban mobility and creates a shared memory of a possible future.

Flightpath Toronto is a collaboration between Usman Haque, architect/artist and Natalie Jeremijenko, engineer/artist, uniting his expertise in participatory urban spectacle with her expertise in bird flight and urban natural systems."

See more progress after the jump.

Canadian Tire Driver Scott Steckly 2011 NCTS Champion

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (NCTS) finished the season with a race at Kawartha Speedway (the Kawartha 200) and Canadian Tire Driver Scott Steckly and his #22 car finished second in the race and captured the 2011 NCTS Championship Title. This is Scott's second NCTS Title, his previous title was in 2008, and in this race he came in only 0.358 seconds after race winner DJ Kennington. In the photo above Scott climbs out of the 22 car and is given a checkered flag as the 2011 Champion at the September 24th race (Joe got some great shots of the race and the celebrations).
Knowing he is the champion, Scott enjoys a good burn out on the track at Kawartha.

Canadian Tire driver Scott Steckly is presented with the NCTS National Champion trophy.
Scott and his Championship team with the 2011 trophy.

Scott is one of those racers that is a pleasure to meet as he is really nice. Sometimes that might hinder his chances in winning but as you can see the two time NCTS Champion can still put the pedal to the metal and capture the top spot in the yearly points total. Thanks to Canadian Tire's Stephanie Bonk I was able to ask Series Champion Scott Steckly some questions about his stock car racing.
Scott, his family and team are surrounded by media after the race.

1. Does he like to travel during the season (ie what about out of province) and where is his favourite race track? Scott: Since we are so busy racing throughout the summer we don't get too much time to travel. Usually we get a couple weekends off and we can take some short trips with the kids. My favourite track is the Riverside Speedway in Nova Scotia.

2. Which does he like night time or day time races? Scott: I prefer racing at night. For one it is cooler in the car, but I also think it is better for the fans. They get to see the brake rotors glowing, flames coming from the exhaust and sparks flying from cars when contact is made. (note: One of my favourite shots that I took of Scott racing was where he was leading JR Fitzpatrick and the brakes were glowing a deep red - see the photo on my post here, James.)

3. Does he think being nice hinders him in racing? Scott: No not really, I just race my competitors they way I want them to race me and I believe that helps. When rivalries start it usually ends up with some dnf's and there’s no room for those in a 12 race series.

4. Road or Ovals? Scott: I prefer ovals because I started my career racing on ovals.

5. How long does he hope to continue racing? Scott: I plan on racing as long as I am having fun and I’m competitive.

This is Canadian Tires fifth year of sponsoring the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and I was wondering what their intentions were going forward with the Canada wide stock car racing series.
What are Canadian Tire’s future plans in regards to the NASCAR Canadian series?
Canadian Tire Corporation: Part of our strategy to further our position as Canada’s automotive authority includes being a major player in Motorsport in Canada. We are thrilled with the performance of our driver Scott Steckly in the 2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, and we are looking forward to the upcoming season.
The 22 car at the Honda Indy Toronto.

The top five racers at the NCTS Kawartha 200 were as follows.
1. (10) D.J. Kennington, St. Thomas, Ont., Dodge, 253 laps, 42.984 mph.
2. (4) Scott Steckly, Milverton, Ont., Dodge, 253.
3. (2) J.R. Fitzpatrick, Ayr, Ont., Chevrolet, 253.
4. (7) Kerry Micks, Mt. Albert, Ont., Ford, 253.
5. (8) Mark Dilley, Barrie, Ont., Dodge, 253.

Canadian Tire Driver Scott Steckly Reigns Supreme as NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Champion - see the entire press release after the jump.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Empress Cruise in Toronto

'Long live the fun!' Sweet. It was a beautiful day to be on the water boating around Toronto Harbour in the Empress of Canada cruise ship. We went with friends and it was very enjoyable, great views, food was nice and if you wanted to dance you can go to the top of the ship and boogie. I was taking pictures with my cell phone so it doesn't do justice to the great view of the skyline and the lights reflected on the water.
The view of Toronto's skyline from Polson Street as the sun sets.

The dock is at 11 Polson Street (head down Cherry Street and turn right onto Polson Street and go right to the end) and the parking lot is right there. I was worried about getting a spot because of the Cirque Du Soleil's Totem at Cherry Street and the Polson Pier concert but they had plenty of space available.
The Empress bow looking towards the City.

You have to book ahead because it is a popular attraction and we decided on the Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:00pm trip. The cruise lets passengers on board at 8pm and you line up early to get a seat because not everyone was guaranteed a seat (on our cruise everyone that wanted seats got one), it was first come first served for tables, dinner and desert. Looking online I thought that the earlier you got in line you would receive coloured tickets that would determine the order that you ate - not true. It was also not supposed to be a dinner cruise, rather it would be an appetizer buffet. So this is what really happened (FAQs and information follows based on my experience, check with Empress if you want confirmation or additional details) for our cruise.
1. Drive to the Polson Street parking lot at the end of the street and pay your parking fee (ours was $20).
2. Get there early to make sure you get a table. We were at least a half hour early and we were in the middle of the pack. The lineup starts at the gangplank in the far northwest corner of the parking lot, right beside the helicopter landing pad.
3. They grab your coupons and/or tickets and tell you that your tickets for dinner and drinks will be provided as you are going into the ship.
4. Save a table, seating is tight and tables are on the first and second floor - the dance floor is up top on the third floor.
5. Once you save a table head to the dinner line where you present your dinner coupon and the put together the plate right there with your food. We had chicken, pasta, salad and a roll and everyone in our party liked dinner. It is first come, first served and I think they had two stations, one on the first and one on the second floor. They have bars on all three levels, the one on the first floor closes soon after dinner is over as everyone seems to head up to the next two floors - especially to the dance floor.
6. Your cruise ticket comes with two beverage tickets - beer, wine and mixed drinks are one ticket, non-alcoholic drinks are half a ticket. Fancy coffees and liqueurs were $7 each.
7. Later, after dinner has been put away, they bring out a desert table on the second floor. You can get one of  such tasty offerings as brownies, nanaimo bars, etc along with coffee.
8. You could smoke on the open bow of the boat after it leaves the dock.
9. The ship cruises along the inner harbour heading west from the dock passing by ferry docks, Rogers Centre, Harbourfront, Ontario Place and the Island Airport before heading out of the harbour and into Lake Ontario. You circle around the south side of the Toronto Islands before coming back into the harbour from the Cherry Beach side. Total time from loading to returning is about 3.5 hours. The view from the water is great so bring your camera to get some great shots.
10. Their season runs from April 1st to December 31st and you can contact them at (416) 260-5665.
11. We got our tickets through a tenant/community appreciation event. We spent about $40 for the 'city lights cruisess' coupon book which included 8 tickets to the cruise. You had to pay a $14 departure fee, two drink minimum ahead of time, fuel surcharges and taxes so each person cost just under $40. At this price it is very affordable and reasonable to take a cruise and enjoy the dinner and dancing.

See more pictures after the jump.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Harbourfront Centre: Natrel Pool Canoe

The Natrel Pond at Harbourfront Centre is a cute little pool of water where people lineup to go for canoe rides during the busy summer season.
Colourful poles dot the docks at the Centre and are reflected in the water. 
Even in the rain plenty of people want to get out in the red canoes, huddling under umbrellas so they don't get wet.
It is fun to see so many first time rowers try to keep their balance in the canoes. These kids were playing beside the fountain, rocking back and forth while the spray shoots in the air. Finally they rocked a little to far to one side and the canoe tipped over and out they went. Luckily the water was only about a foot and a half deep and they had life jackets on to be extra safe.

Spiderman, spiderman

I had posted some photos of dew covered cobwebs found on the Toronto Islands, now I follow that up with some big old spiders, sitting in their webs waiting for dinner to drop by. I think these bad boys are big enough to eat people.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Distillery District Egg Beater

There is not too much art in the bricky and Historic Distillery District that is understated or that flies under the radar. It is an atmosphere of I am art - hear me roar, from the large spider to the giant egg beater ('Still Dancing' pictured above in Trinity Square which "is a 36 foot tall sculpture constructed in aluminum, steel and structural cast resins. It is the creation of internationally renowned artist, Dennis Oppenheim. ).  
The scary monster named Koilos, above, sits "Crouching in Distillery Lane, is Koilos, a fourteen foot tall sculpture constructed of hand cut sheet metal. Sculptor Michael Christian explains that Koilos, sits with its legs ready to move, pounce or play."

You can see additional posts of the Distillery District sculptures here: FEEL, the District, putting the egg beater together and Freaky Sculptures.

The Victorian Industrial revival setting is a place to be for wandering and watching, or even for taking pictures of large, happy wedding parties. There are lots of event held throughout the year so you should always take a chance and drop by - I saw an art festival there which featured works from westrockartmetal.com among many others.
The place is so hep cat cool that I thought these cones against the old building were not merely traffic cones but were instead a heart wrenching art installation that speaks out against the clash of traffic and the safety that rules and lines provide to humanity, with a hint of sexuality in the male/female tangle of rough plastic.

Big screw on the streets of Toronto

It looked like a countersunk wood screw running around outside the Eaton Centre on Queen Street West. You can trust the frisky crowd from Queen Street West to be so out in the open with their screws. I tried like heck to see a giant robertson screwdriver crunching everything in its path along the roadway as it homed in on the screw but no, just the big screw hanging out on the sidewalk (I would have loved to nail that baby, oh man I shouldn't post when hammered!).
Up close I was disappointed to find out that it was just a screw costume. They were promoting a website called 'How screwed are you dot ca' with a message to lower student post secondary education fees, create full time jobs and cancel planned corporate tax cuts.

With the Ontario General Election fast approaching on October 6, 2011 it is a chance for you to help determine the brand and size of screw that Ontario will get.

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