Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Old Time Revival 

One of the first things I noticed about Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show was when introducing or promoting musical guests he always held a 12" vinyl "LP" cardboard sleeve. I knew that many new bands did limited vinyl pressings as promotional items or as limited editions, but I assumed many of those sleeves Mr. Fallon held were props created, wisely, for the television audience. Far more visible and evocative, the 12" sleeve has an undeniable presence. What I didn't realize was just how big vinyl was. I'm sure the Times were keenly aware when curating their video feed to include a nostalgic 90s Festival followed immediately with a video piece about the revival of vinyl as a media. I've never actually owned a turntable and only have a couple of dozen albums that I keep as penance or something. I only ever used my parents' Dual turntable. As an adult, I have only ever had a cassette or CD player before having no player at all. It's funny how cloaked in religion the talk of vinyl records is: "you have to believe in it", it's a "revival", records "restore your faith". I've always questioned the quality of vinyl records. Certainly digital recordings have their flaws but the only times I've been "fooled" into wondering if the music or sound I was hearing was live or not was much more about the audio system that delivered the sound as opposed to the platform source of the information and was probably digital (think of films or video games connected to a quality sound system). Using more data-like terminology seems to remove the nuance of the language around audio recordings describing them as warm or tinny etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a digital only kind of fellow. I really prefer 70mm film projection over the absurdly cheap looking high frame rate video Peter Jackson prefers. And I don't think it's an age thing - “I like it because I'm use to it” argument. I firmly believe it's a brain thing. I don't like brussels sprouts because they taste like a mouthful of nickels. That is a genetic thing. It is how I perceive many green vegetables - they have an unlikable metallic taste. Similarly, I find high frame rate digital video looks like old video camera footage. The warmth that vinyl lovers profess sounds an awful lot like dirt and fuzziness to me. All that being said, I'm glad vinyl is getting a bounce whatever the reason because it means a return to those big ol' cardboard sleeves.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Frequency Versus Intensity 

Image from page 82 of "Applied anatomy and kinesiology; the mechanism of muscular movement" (1919)

“Exercise more often” is the single most important thing I would say to someone who doesn’t exercise. It doesn’t have to be hard. Even if it is very brief, just start. Just do. Otherwise, you won’t, then you won’t again. Then again. Before you know it, the one thing you haven’t done is exercise. That’s what it is like for me. I go through two weeks of “crushing it old skool style" - running up hills, biking hard, swimming in cold water. Then something would happen and I’d miss a day or two. No worries. I’ll go tomorrow. Or the next day. Then I found I was starting from scratch all over again. I always thought it seemed to take three weeks to get into the habit of exercise and then another three weeks to notice any changes in waistline, energy etc. The thing was though, looking back at my exercise data (I track a lot of things), I don’t think I ever gave it six weeks to take.
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Friday, September 11, 2015


Taking the plunge from Monocle on Vimeo.

Labour Day isn’t the end of summer, but the beginning of its dismantling. In Toronto, all of the public pools close up for the season despite two more weeks of summer (a recent heat alert should be all the evidence you need). I’ve dreamt of Toronto having (another) Lakeshore pool for years. You could argue that Toronto has enough pools and outdoor pools are expensive to maintain especially when only open from July 1st to September 7-ish. In the 15 years I’ve been in Toronto there have been perhaps only 2 or 3 years when it wasn’t warm enough to swim from June until the end of September but that’s beside the point. Only the bravest Torontonians swim in the lake but we all suffer from the heat and humidity. To me, the two new lakeside parks, HTO and Sugar Beach are ridiculously separated from the water – you can look, but you can’t touch. There’s a real possibility of doing something in between these two concepts from London and Berlin. A pool that juts out into Lake Ontario from Sugar Beach could be naturally filtered like King’s Cross Pond and perhaps even be fed from Sherbourne Common and yet have the urban feel and “adultness” of the Haubentacher. It could be open early and late and tie in with the Distillery district. Or it could be paired with a skating rink for winter activity that felt like you weren’t just near the Lake but on it. Recent projects that were smaller in scale have flirted closely to this idea but never saw the bigger whole. Sherbourne Common filters stormwater run-off to create what can only be called a heat sink ode to concrete while across the road a lovely but small wind swept ice rink stands like a lonely igloo on a tundra of brown grass. If you had combined these ideas - the storm water run-off filtration, the skating rink and the faux beaches of Sugar Beach and HTO into one community pool - a pool for play and cooling off and not for laps or water slides, it would connect us to the water without the “perils” or liability of the wild part of the lake (or without needing any Blue Flag system). The facility could also have a public marina for kayakers, canoeists, paddle boarders or dragon boats. Toronto has never lacked for imagination but has always lacked in conviction, courage and will power. The existence of such projects in New York, London and Berlin just emphasis that we’re still a kid at the table.

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