Friday, May 27, 2011

Wet T.O. 

image via Daily Dose of Imagery

We're stuck in the second week of another block of what has been a wet, cold two months in Toronto. I think I'm a better person because of this rain. I do. I know I can combat the elements on my bike or on the run. Still, it's very hard to give a shit about anything in a climate like this. I've noticed that if the sun shines for even a few minutes, people emerge from everywhere just to take advantage of it. I don't know how people in places like Portland, Seattle or Vancouver cope? Well, sitting in a basement drawing smoke from a bong might be one way. I think about London (dreary) and Paris (romantic) and I don't know why there's such a difference? When the weather sucks in Toronto, everything sucks. You can't just duck into the subway, because it's closed for maintenance, or stop at the art gallery because the AGO is across town. The city is usually at its most ugly in February or March when melting snow recedes to reveal garbage but March is still going strong, two months later.

If anyone from St. John's to Vancouver has any recommendations on how to stay optimistic under off-white skies then now would be the time to mention them.



GOB demonstrates the basic principle of urban cycling rain gear.

This is pretty much how I feel about my new rain gear git up. Rainlegs + gaiters = one dry ride. All hail, Rainlegs.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Take a Seat and a Breath 

Gustav Arthur (1902-2000) and Josephine Cooper
Scientists calculate death statistics from sitting while at their desks.

All this talk that sitting too much is killing you or is bad for you or was the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire or whatever is pretty much bullshit. There. I call bullshit. Maybe sitting too much can wreck havoc on your back or more strangely cause a sort of waking apnea (a slowness of breathing to the point where you stop entirely and momentarily). Maybe it doesn’t help you metabolize or worsens circulation in your lower extremities, but death? I highly doubt any coroner will ever declare death by sitting (minus those unfortunate folks who suffered strokes after very long immobile periods on trans-Atlantic flights). A New York Times blog post claims you increase your chance of a heart or stroke by 65% if you sit more than 22 hours a week. This insane graphic seems to say your chance of DEATH increases by 40% and that people who sit more than 9.3 hours a day, will die 15 YEARS earlier than those of us who don’t sit that much.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hipster City

“Hipster City Cycle is a pixel-art bike race adventure set on the iconic streets of Philadelphia. Your mission is to liberate hipster Binky McKee from the shackles of employment, and help him achieve his humble dream of becoming a penniless cycling legend. Customize your fixie, and take to the streets as you daringly weave through downtown traffic, challenge rival cyclists, chow down on a few cheesesteaks, and track stand your way to city-wide fame.”
This iPhone/iPad game, Hipster City Cycle looks like a fantastical mash-up of all things "hipsterdom". iPhones + Fixies + mobile games + throw-back pixel graphics. Is this real? Does it only exist in Brooklyn? Nope. It's set in Philly. It seems like something that would only exist in Portlandia or in the mind of a guy wearing a tuque in summer.

The store description only adds to the idea this thing is a parody, but it isn't. Get yours today for just $1.99.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blame it on the Rain 

Bill Cunningham taking pics on the streets on NYC on his Schwinn

I've been out and about a lot this week and one of the things I did was catch Bill Cunningham New York. It's a great little documentary about The New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham and his column On the Street that he's done for the last forty odd years. As a subject he's great. Sort of classic American gentleman, somewhere between George Plimpton, Jimmy Stewart or Fred Astaire. One of the great things about Cunningham is that he rides all over New York on a simple 3-speed upright Schwinn. At one point in the film he says it's his 29th — 28 others have been stolen (apparently Toronto is North America's bike theft capital but it looks pretty easy to steal a bike in New York).

It also brought to mind my own biking as of late. This week especially. I've been biking everywhere. Basically, the TTC is slow and unreliable and biking is fast and cheap. Despite having pimped up my Bianchi touring bike with leather handlebar covers and the fact I still love tearing around town on it, it's just not a great commuter bike. I'm considering getting a real commuter (as I define it) — the latest entry in the field is the Canadian brand Miele Bikes.

The Miele Corsica.

I still have to go take a look at the competition which has been made a little more difficult since there's finally a local provider of the Public bikes. Worse still is the rain. It's been crazy wet in Toronto in the last 6 weeks. Steady down pours mean you get wet all the time. There's hardly any point taking a street car. You'd get just as wet walking to the stop. I've been carrying an emergency poncho with me but I just can't bring myself to wear it in public. I'm considering buying... ugh, rain gear. I'm tired of arriving at work or home or anywhere and being soaked. I think this is really the last step to cyclist dorkdom. Donning Alpine or rain forest rated rain gear. Bill Cunningham gave up years ago and just wears a cheap $5 poncho that he mends with duct tape. Well, Bill, I might just agree with you. After all, he's our mother's age (yes, he's 82 and he still rides every day). It's the poncho or Rainlegs. On the dork scale they are probably equal. Like the old saying goes, if you want to drive, you have to kill; if you want to ride, you're going to get wet.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

I don't necessarily listen to this kind of music all the time but when you see a funk and soul band live, it's always a party. That's what it was last night at the Sound Academy. At the last hour, a friend and me picked up some tickets to catch SJDK. Sharon Jones (read this portrait from the New Yorker) is a genuine white hot grease fire of pure entertainment, and the Dap kings are one tight, tight outfit. I've never seen any of those famous bands like George Clinton, James Brown or The Band so I'll have to settle for the endlessly entertaining and highly professional Dap Kings.


Monday, May 09, 2011

Seen in April 

Neve Campbell is the bee's knees in Altman's The Company and does all her own stunts. Still dull though. Image via Reverse Shot

It was a mixed month of concert and dance films. After watching Black Swan and The Company, I planned on watching the ultimate dance flick, The Red Shoes but… dance films are daunting, because they are very dull. I understand how people who don't enjoy sports feel if forced to watch a game they don't care about (I can't stand golf or NASCAR) and that's how these movies feel to me. Sure there are some amazing sequences that look almost like stunts but dance films remind me of what I don't like about "Dance" as an art form. It's just too self-important. I can watch the final of the world cup and think, "that was fun, but really it's just a game." Whereas for people who love dance, a pas de deux is never just people dancing. Black Swan and The Company are populated by those who would give anything "for their art", even if their art isn't that interesting.

Why are they so dour anyway? Shouldn't dancing around in very little clothing be fun? On that point, dance films are also full of extremely fit people (though I think the sexiness of a woman with 5% body fat is debatable). Maybe I just need to see some Fred & Ginger action.

It was also a month of watching movies in new ways (DVD, illegal download, Netflix streaming and an iTunes rental), which it turns out are all just new ways to be disappointed.
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Sunday, May 01, 2011

55 Hours Later 

See more photos at the Boston Globe"

On a wet Friday morning, while two billion people watched two privileged fops marry at Westminster Abbey, I was getting my blood pressure taken (125/75 - a little on the high side for me), being weighed, measured, poked and occasionally prodded. Then, to cheers of millions, I laid down and don't even remember being asked to count backward.
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