Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where's the Next Mayor of Toronto?

So I decide to check out the Mayoral Debate because the theme this time is the Arts (and who will support it) but they sure don’t make it easy. First they advance the time by one hour at the last minute and then they do it in a space way too small to accommodate the “stakeholders”, a room at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I get there in time, line up with everybody outside and make my way in. They won’t let me in with my bottle of premium juice  - my first taste of Arthur’s juice, apparently the only one that has any fiber left in it. So I chug that down and follow the crowd right across to the back of the gallery only to be told that I need a ticket. I make my way back to the front of the building to the ticket distribution table only to be told there are no more tickets. Then a friend who’s working there says they’re running a live feed at the Ontario College of Art & Design right around the corner. Well, in for a dime, in for a dollar – four dollars, actually, because I’ve already paid for parking.

I make my way into the OCAD and there in the lobby is a whole group of (mostly) students sitting in front of a large flat-screen TV and the debate has apparently begun but it’s hard to tell because it’s stopping and starting like watching YouTube on a slow connection. People are starting to bale, but I hang in there and they finally get it stabilized. John Tory was supposed to be the moderator but I guess he couldn’t make it because he was replaced by an elderly gentleman with a great radio voice but quite laughable as a moderator. It was like listening to a radio DJ who keeps apologizing for their incompetence. I stay till the bitter end but I don’t feel any more enlightened about who would make the best mayor. The man most agree would make the worst mayor for the arts community, Rob Ford, is the most forthright of the bunch saying “No...if you want money for the arts get it from the private sector”. The only thing everybody agrees on is to re-institute the Mayor’s Arts Ball – a big-ticket event for wealthy patrons of the arts that was probably eliminated as part of the previous administration’s cutbacks.

I make my way out to the street to watch a mime who looked a bit like the statue of Liberty and some break dancers over to one side and then there was a ballet dancer doing her thang. A demented street person shouting at the top of of his lungs followed Rob Ford as he made his way to his car (to get to another debate in North York). Could we just ask Miller to hang in a little longer until a real leader surfaces?

Music on at the moment – The new Ronnie Earl album – dreamy.

Food on at the moment – Ontario strawberries and yogurt (even though I’ve got some fabulous Baskin & Robbins ice cream in the freezer – I’m a little congested and big recording session coming up so I don’t want to add any mucus to my lungs). Almost broke a nail opening the strawberry container. Nobody makes it easy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

On Public Transit

Today I thought I’d take the streetcar downtown and I figured on a busy Friday afternoon I would not have to wait too long. It seems every time I decide to take public transit I end up spending an inordinate amount of time waiting. Maybe it’s just me. Am I too impatient? Maybe this is the flip side of what my friends jokingly call my “car-Karma”. I have never wanted for wheels even though I’m hardly in the income bracket to rationalize having a car in downtown Toronto. Most of my cars have been hand-me-downs or outright gifts. When I’ve had to shell out $$$, it’s never been more than a thousand bucks (except for my first car, an MGB which cost me $1800 in 1966). I believe in car-karma and that’s why I’m always happy to give someone a lift, even if it’s not on my way. What goes around comes around in this case.

Anyway, this time I decide not to take the car downtown because I’m going to a press screening of a new movie about folksinger Ron Hynes then I want to see my buddy Victor Bateman who will be playing just up the street at the Rex. So I walk down to the corner where I will have two options to head downtown, whichever comes first. But neither comes for about 20 minutes. Finally there’s a bus that gets me down to Queen Street where I wait another 20 minutes and now I look at the time and I’ve got ten minutes to get to the movie! Never mind. I’m still close enough to home that I can walk back, which I decide to do, but first I stop in to a coffee shop and have a nice latte. As I’m sitting there I watch 3 streetcars in a row go buy. Now I’m back home bloging.

The Blues Campfires at Highway 61 BBQ have been providing some real musical highs lately. Considering we’re doing this on what is traditionally the quietest day of the week, during the quietest month of the year, it’s been gangbusters – I’m even getting complaints from some of my regulars that there’s no place to sit. And regretfully, there’s been a few times when some guys didn’t get to play, although anyone’s welcome to pull up a chair and join the circle. Last week as I ended the night with my ballad about Lenny Breau, one woman commented how she had been Lenny’s roommate many moons ago, and now she was here listening to her 13 year-old guitar-playing son playing along on the tune. Several other folks in the house had Lenny connections and stories were shared as we packed up. It’s been a bit of an old boys’ club lately and you’ll find a couple of guitar players reminiscing about playing with David Clayton Thomas back in the 60s. I don’t pay much attention to who’s in the house but I think I’ve been checked out by some players with serious credentials. They mostly sit at the bar and don’t join in – but probably wish they had. Some come back. The thing about this gig is that someone might be really knocked out by the quality of music that’s going down one night and next time I’m playing bass backing up an 11 year-old budding blues guitarist who’s just getting his feet wet. So it’s not a great showcase for Brian Blain, but I’m lovin’ it. Come on up and check it out. Every Tuesday, 7-10pm, 1620 Bayview (at Manor Rd)