Monday, 21 January 2013

Culture & Recreation -Tour of the Neighbourhood Edition

Usual weekend run of books, food, exercise and people watching. Yes Virginia, there is life in the core.

(note to certain people; remember you can always double click the photos to see the slide show; you know who you are)

101 Ways To Kill Your Boss was not on the shelves so went with the autobiography of Bigfoot. Me Own Words and the follow up, Me Write Book by Graham Roumieu.  I am awaiting I Not Dead.  Very funny stuff.

From chapter One-Feelings:
Stop, Smell Rose  (accompanied by photo of hiker on trail)

Where you go Man on road?

Why you run when me want talk?
You manners bad 
So me learn you good
Tear off legs so no more run

Love is Sad (accompanied by photo of man on ATV)

Man on funny car
Me love!
Want for big foot wife
One day me catch
Try make baby but you head collapse like sock full of eggs
Me cry
Birds cry too
Me sad

Pulitzer worthy, no?  Also back on Alan Bennett~ Smut(two short stories). So with this and
the Big Foot books should be able to get on with Resolution #3: finish reading all the books in the house.  Thomas Hardy, Anthony Trollope, Lynn Truss, Brothers Grimm, Virginia Woolf, Adam Gopnik, Lawrence Stern(The Life of Tristram Shandy) and I recommend the movie Tristram Shandy-A Cock & Bull Story with Steve Coogan and, finally, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People which came to me gratis from the good people at General Mills cereals.  Perhaps if I read the book, I’ll become a more effective reader in the process.  I have great tomes on the shelves:  Gardening, Wine, Opera.  They’ve been consulted over the years  but never fully read.
The resolutions are working out well in fact.  I like Lorraine Sommerfield’s recent column on New Year Revolutions.  You buy yourself what you need for Xmas and have other people tell you what your resolution ought to be.  It’s a bold move.
Success so far with #1~stay out of Indigo; there simply isn’t time to read everything you want and it only reminds you that you could easily settle into a life of reading, travel, cooking and gardening; #2~start the day one half hour earlier-not to work but to remove yourself from the traffic buildup, to give yourself time to come down from all the bad driving out there, get the kettle filled and avoid walking into a beehive of activity where the take-out coffee and colognes have already filled the space; allow time for yourself in the early AM; and #5 ~learn (ie. get a better grip on) things through the blog:  proper names for things, better menu planning, history/facts, taking a better picture, spelling and grammar (I have never spent so much time looking for spelling errors).  No home should be without Fowler's Modern English Usage. I apologize if there have been any undue notifications in Inboxes; I only update spelling/grammatical/factual errors and no one should be getting notifications. 
Here’s a shot of the Birks’ Bldg clock now residing in the Farmers’ Market. 

I think it must have been very tempting to put the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse instead of the jousting knights given the state of the nation here in Hamilton. Passed what’s left of Ivor Wynne on the way in-just the North stand remaining and the hole in the ground that was the Board of Education Building. I don’t think we’re ready for a eulogy just yet.  A grocery store is going in beside the market and stall holders are a little nervous.  Stopped for some international cuisine.  Pheasant Night is approaching and I was looking for inspiration.  Thinking of scallops a la Elizabeth David to start, roast bird with chestnut sauce, the chocolate pots again (because who can say no to dark chocolate, cream, sugar, butter and brandy?) and a French cheese to finish.  We’ll see how ambitious I am in a week’s time. Lots of people in the market, library and the mall.
I set off for Gore Park.  (#4 coming along nicely~I even bought new shoes). The core is by no means dead.  I was taking pictures and was asked what my interest here was by a passerby.  I explained my distress with absentee landlords and why we can’t seem to get them to open a can of paint.   This man feels, “They’d rather spend millions than a few thousand in maintenance."  He felt it was about keeping family business going.  New-build contracts are more prized than maintenance. 

Here's a nicely done reno and there's no reason its neighbour couldn't be refurbished.

Hope something positive comes of this one.

We commiserated for a few moments and he went on his way.  You hear the maintenance cost thing a lot in the course of a week.  Remember people, read your Maintenance Manual.  There’s a reason you have to change filters and lubricate bearings. Wondering why your equipment has failed?  It is not a manufacturing defect. 

Thought for the day:  The lowest bid is not necessarily the best bid.  Remember it’s tax payers money.  Learn to tell the difference between apples and oranges.  

Wilson Blanchard owns a lot of buildings in the core and they have deemed a series of units unsound (above) and not worth any effort to restore. The plan is to tear down three buildings circa 1840’s and replace them with a high rise residential/retail/commercial mix. Another high rise is not what is needed here. We’ve all seen what happened in Toronto. The Lister Block was declared structurally unsound and it rose from the ashes. I’ve seen the inside before renovation and I joined the chorus. No one wanted it restored. After all it had sat vacant, slowly crumbling for decades. The newly renovated Lister opened for business in 2011. The team retained the fa├žade and have done a fine job with the building.

I think Blanchard is finding it a daunting proposal to renovate but it can be done.  Need to hook him up with Liuna.  Think he's finding the depth of the building a bit much.  He has done a nice job with the Piggott Bldg  (above).  Some nice stained glass in the foyer.


The South portion of King used to serve as the bus terminal for many routes.  The terminal was moved a block away and the master plan calls for pedestrianization of the South side.  People watching and coffee sipping.  It is within range of many shops and restaurants.  This plan is still in its infancy and it faces a few challenges. Gore Park is remodelled on what seems to be an annual base.  First grass and paths and fountains, then concrete, then back to the original design.  Gore houses the fountain, War Memorial, Queen Victoria’s and Sir John A’s statues.  

Vrancor also owns a fair bit of downtown property.  Bit of controversy here because the projects are taking forever to complete.  Starting to resemble downtown TO.  Work continues on the former Federal building & Homewood Suites.  There have been some rather nice loft and school conversions.

Residents are needed in the core but do we have to tear everything down and build highrises? Look at the South side of Main. Apartment blocks took over from Victorian rowhouses. We have lost old City Hall, the Birks Bldg, and most recently the Board of Education building. 

A recent piece in the local paper called for the removal of “zombies” from the park.  You cannot sanitize the city  by allowing only certain classes to populate it.  There must be space for everyone.  "If you build it theory" but where do the other people go?  All city departments have to be on the same page when it comes to reviving the core.

Heading down Gore to the Royal Connaught-currently serving as a movie set.  The weekend Spec states that we may have finally found another developer.  Let's hope so.  This is not easy on the eyes.

There are some fine building with lots of detailing you don't get on a modern building.

Got as far as Victoria Ave. and St. Christopher's Church. 

Doubled back  via Wellington and then King William.  This would make a great pedestrian only zone.  The Lister Block at one end and Theatre Aquarius at the other.

Hamilton's answer to Greenwich Village...

Hess Village by day...


George Street...

Note to self-one street at a time next visit.

After three hours, it was time to defrost with a cappuccino.  Working my way through a polenta tube.  It looks so unappealing but with the right ingredients, you can elevate it to new heights.  Pored over the Elizabeth David and honed the menu.  A little Nina Simone and Billie Holiday on the stereo.  Verve's Jazz Essentials is an excellent intro to Nina Simone.  Hockey back on; all seems to have been forgiven.  I abstained.  Finished off the evening with La Vie En Rose-french film on the life of Edith Piaf.  Two hours and half a box of tissues later, I was emotionally drained.

With practically no sleep from the wind storm that was still raging and having spent yesterday in a cold wind tunnel, decided against the hike to Davis and Stoney Creeks.  Friday AM would have been the best time for pictures but I felt duty bound to actually start work on time. Laboured under the delusion that Thursday was Friday.  Bit of a disappointment when I finally consulted the newspaper mid morning.

Went into Spring cleaning mode.  Morley was filled with anxiety over her own clutter and took refuge at the neighbour's minimalistic home.  I felt inspired to tackle my own piles of paperwork.  Coming along nicely (#10-check).

Finished off the day labouring over the Stratford, Shaw and Soulpepper theatre guides.  Prices have gone up and Stratford's pricing goes up again after Jan 31 so book now if you're planning a trip.  Tommy is on this year and it has its own pricing system with top tickets going for $175.  Bit of a push for a family to spend the day on those kind of dollars.  Musical pricing is sufficient and even this can run you $135.

Want to see everything; have to make some decisions.  Note that it's back to just The Stratford Festival this year.  They've ditched the great man even though they're putting on four of his plays.  (Off to the printers for new letter head and envelopes.) 

It's (-15C) and snowing again but I've ordered my tickets and I'm in warm weather mode.