Why I love Toronto

I was raised to hate Toronto; I had no idea why, but this is the collective opinion of western Canadians.   They suck and they know it.  After living on both sides of the country, in Vancouver, in Peterborough and in all places between I find my self a resident of the centre of the universe.  For the first time I’m getting a real sense of why Torontonions might have a sense of entitlement, its one great city.  I think the thing I like most about this place are its neighbourhoods – which means we’re paying homage to toronto’s brilliant city planners in the early days of the golden horseshoe.  I like how some if not all of Toronto’s neighbourhoods don’t even feel like they’re a part of the same city.  I live in Parkdale right next to Little Portugal and Roncesvale – I never get the sense of the wider city in my community. Unlike Vancouver I never get the feeling that I could get swallowed up  by the whole, as I take my dog out for her morning walk people say good morning from their porches, over their newspapers and morning coffees, Its like the almost microscopic town I grew up in.   

First impressions are everything

Hi There,  I know what your thinking, you don’t need advice more than that, you don’t need advice from a blog, right?, right.  I mean who does he think he is? Seth Godin?  Well let me tell you. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks…no scratch that, months looking for a job, it’s frustrating, it sucks but it’s lead me to one inescapable conclusion.  First Impressions are everything.  You’ve heard this before, but your first impression is in all likelihood the only thing that the person meeting is going to remember, everyone is different, whether it’s a firm handshake and a smile or your standing on a table putting peanut butter into your hair in an effort to make your self into a human sandwich, your first impression is probably going to be the only thing that anyone remembers, (especially with the peanut butter.)  As a rule I like to remind my self that my greeting whatever it may be is the thing that the person I just met is going to remember as they walk back to the other side of the room.  Sometimes you’re freaked out, you don’t know what to tell this person you’ve been staring at (in a non creepy way) for the last hour and you’ve thought about it in like 15 different ways: It might be just easier to say, Hi! I’m Philip.   

The Quest for the perfect cup

I’ve been in Vancouver for about 18 months and I still have yet to find a perfect cup, what does it take? actually quite a lot.  I’m not looking for the usual espresso with badly foamed milk no, in a city that is practically famous for its ardor for java I can’t be entirely remiss for thinking that it should be easy to find a nice cappucino but apparently this is is more difficult than one might have thought.  So far I’ve tracked down a few that make the grade but still the bad far out number the good, and who can fathom why? what makes a perfect cup? a nicely poured shot with the creama formed on the surface but not burned, the milk steamed but not frothy so that it blends into the espresso not hanging out at the surface like so much sludge.  The perfect cappucino should taste strongly of espresso and should be blended beautifully a perfect synthesis of flavor and art.  The winner right now is Bump ‘n Grind (located at Commercial and Venables) which presents a cappucino with which I can find very little to complain about the flavor of rich espresso meets hot milk in a fusion which is pretty perfect.  There are others such as Kafka’s in the Mount Pleasant or Elysium on 41st but thats only three surely to god there are more somewhere.  Vancouver has a reputation as a coffee city and yet it is puzzling that there are few good espresso houses.

where i’m at.

Its been a long time since I’ve updated this blog.  Leading me to conclude a number of things 1. I don’t have any readers.  2. I’m really really not very committed blogger and 3. I can’t really be all that good at this.  In response I think perhaps I should just do this for myself so that I can look back and capture my own mindset at a given time.  Right now I’m mostly finished my term at BCIT and I’m intellectually and mentally exhausted  from the kind of psychotic school work and social difference that I guess I was never fully conscious of when I was doing my undergrad.  I’m right on the edge of being done another bout of school and I’m not really sure how I feel about it unlike a lot of my burned out colleagues I find myself thirsty for more, not ready to dive into the ocean of nine to fives and kind of feeling like I could stay in school forever, just go back and do it again.  I’d love to go back to trent but at this point I could really go anywhere.  For me post secondary education gave me a reason to think for a living to read and write and feel.

why we write

I’ve been thinking about this for a while – we write not really for our audience just like we broadcast not really for others.  Writing espeically creative writing is a sort of self indulgence.  It makes me happy so I do it.  I write radio drama and radio copy because its the only place in the radio world where I can be creative as I want and incorporate alll the clever banter and eccentricity that I want.  But important there is that I am writing for me, my audience is not important because I’m writing for me.  A similar conversation with an old colleague lead him to remark that radio was essentially a very vain occupation – you think other

Whither the olympics?

I’ve got a problem with patriotism.  It’s not that I hate my country or myself or even other countries and I think the concept of organized sport is a good one in that it enables communities and creates unity.  My problem with the Olympics is not with the athletes, its not even the sports themselves and I’m not going to bore you dear reader with another prolonged diatribe about why I think dressage and other bourgois activities ought to be ousted from the ‘sanctity’ of the games themselves.  My problem is with Countries and more broadly with the relationship that exists between sport and Nationalism – though I’m not going to even attempt to unpack that in this entry because this is neither the time nor the place to go through it.  What concerns me is the mythology of the Olympics and the idea that sport is somehow sacred.  This concept that sport is sacred pervades every inch of the Olympic media, it creates the notion that the only way a nation can be taken seriously or even recognized as a ‘real’ country is if it has success in sports,  we are willing to look past reprehensible ethical records, environmental destruction, a staggering health system, a wheezing education system for success at the Olympics.  For the host country the games provide an opportunity to metaphorically stroke itself while millions drool in rapt fascination, no one ever bothers to ask what that country had to sacrifice to pay for the games or who that government had to step on to get the hundreds of facilities ready or who in the end pays for the games before and after they occur.  What is a country willing to sacrifice in order to save face in front of the world, In 2004 Greece sacrificed the perilous stability of  its economy to host the summer games, 1976 Montreal created a fiscal debt which would literally plague the city and the province of Quebec for literally four decades, so then you have ask was it really worth it? I mean What the fuck did the residents of Quebec actually get out of the olympics in Montreal.  Not a whole hell of a lot; a crumbling stadium and variety of venues built on the cheep by the kind of neo-conservitive planning agents who don’t think in terms of future eyesores but rather in terms of ‘glory.’  In short the Olympics have become pissing contest where countries compete not for the betterment of sport but rather a pissing contest of money, my only remaining questing is can we afford it?

off the Top Shelf

This is a phrase that is tossed about often to refer to things which are of a superior quality though what does it actually imply? To me the top shelf is a place where all the things I don’t need very often go to collect dust – if something is high quality and therefore of extraordinary use you would put it on the bottom shelf so that it could be accessed quickly and often.  Similarly in large box store retail situations products placed on the top shelves are out of reach or in storage if something is in high demand they are put in the middle where everyone can get it.  I always would rather buy something from the middle shelves that is fresh and new rather than the discarded dust from the top shelf.  

Cafe watching

I’m sitting near the back of a cafe, watching as the day slips past, people entering; collecting coffee,  muffins a news paper and finding their place at a table or back out the door again.  laptops open coffee drinkers stare at open screens pondering the next questions like “why the fuck do I always need a wifi password in a place with free wifi? is it because they are trying to guilt me into buying more coffee or approaching the counter to ask for one of  those stupid slips of paper.  You have to wonder about the people who hang around in one of these places do they want you to see them sipping that americano? or do you think they are actually reading that copy of swann’s way or do they just want all those women at the bar to think they are quite intimate with marcel proust? At this point I could insert at fair narcesistic diatribe about how materialisitic they all are but that seems silly because likely if your reading this you already know that.  I can look around at their fountain pens, driving caps and leather briefcases and slowly feel myself shrinking into the corner okay so I can’t find a job and no one seems to want to hire me or make me employed but no matter.  I just keep writing.     

Another Day Another Post

So I’m posting again to share another couple of my thoughts – I like weird things which could I guess explain something about me but I’ll carry on anyway.  I was listening to a story about someone slaying a  dragon though not in a slightly weird game of thrones kind of way more of a completely out to lunch alterntive reality story that would make a great drama.   I usually do this while doing other tasks – I’m a multitasker I guess.

Reading The News

You cannot invent the news or indeed create the news your job as a radio journalist is merely to present the news which has already happened.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this and about the role of the news journalist.  and so I thought this might be a reasonable forum to present some of those thoughts and more broadly my feeling about my place in all of this.

In order to understand where I’m coming from you should probably know some things about me, I’m entering my second year in the radio program at BCIT in the program the emphasis is placed upon story telling and on 1 to 1 communication that I should tell any story as though I’m talking to my best friend.  On air we are told to move away from things which are current or newsy and tell more human stories – concerts you went to, things you did, your pets are funny and on and on.  It occurs to me that this isn’t the role the news should ever take or that radio should ever take.  One of the key advantages of radio as a news medium is its immediacy that is its ability to respond instantly to anything which is going on around it.  So I’ve created this blog to give my self an outlet to vent my frustrations to keep writing.

In large way this behavior of simply telling cute stories rather than the news is endemic of the entire broadcast industry that we have shifted away from being the reporters of news and towards the creators of fine entertainment we tell cute stories rather than what is actually going on around us.  It is this epidemic which is destroying the respectability of our profession, gone are days of Walter Cronkyte and Edward R Murrow challenging the McCarthyist purges and the Vietnam War gone are the days when the news mattered . And in my program from my colleagues this is the sense that I get that is that news doesn’t matter that it signals to our listeners that now is a good time to take a piss.     We have somewhere along the way misplaced our responsability to our listeners choosing instead to glorify our corporate masters who gleefully pull the chain.

I came to study radio because I felt that if I was going to do this properly I should probably get some real training but now it has become unclear to me what I am actually training for,  is it to write stories that matter or is it rather to read the dictations of someone else?