Archive for February 2015
Prince Edward Island Peter Rukavina has a <ugreat, funny photo post describing how he saved the roof of his Charlottetown home from the recent record snowfall.
It snowed. And snowed. And snowed. Over a metre of snow over a couple of weeks. So that by last weekend our back yard looked like this:
Back yard + Snow
That’s a 5 foot fence, to give you a sense of the how deep the snow is.
And that’s a tree, not a bush.
And so we ended up with a lot of snow on our roof.
And with my eye off the ball, paying attention to the snow on the ground, not the snow on the roof, we started to get ice dams forming along the gutters.
By Friday afternoon we started to fear that the ice dams would result in water getting into our house, and so it was time for evasive action.
Catherine made a round of calls to teams of shovelers that we’d used before, but we were not alone in our plight and they all replied with “maybe we can get to you by Monday.”
So it was up to me.
Feeble old me. Action.
Torontoist’s Kaitlyn Kochany reacts to the Fabricland in Honest Ed’s, erected in the basement and set to last along with the store. It’s a nice essay about a changing neighbourhood and a homey topic.
Toronto’s newest Fabricland—and at 16,000 square feet, also its largest—is located in the basement of Honest Ed’s, at the corner of Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street. Go past the kitchen supplies and the jumble of tiny gold Buddhas, and head downstairs to where the Polish cookies used to be. Now, there are rows of buttons, neon thread, and pink urethane cushions available for sale. If you’ve been inside any other Fabricland, you know what to expect: the lighting is fluorescent, the music is canned, and the fabric is plentiful.
There are fabrics for clothings, for home decor, for handicrafts, for finishing touches. There are gossamer tulles and heavy brocades. There are fun furs and feather boas, a million different buttons, and the same depressed-looking knitting section that every Fabricland store offers. There are some surprises, like a quilting cotton printed with a map of the Canadian rail corridors and sleek examples of public transit (which gives the impression that Calgary might have a bullet train!), and a huge roll of zebra-print fleece. The salespeople are friendly. The clientele is mostly women, mostly middle-aged. There are no windows.
There’s a certain brio inherent in opening a store with a limited lifespan: this Fabricland will close at the end of next year, when Honest Ed’s vacates the corner block it has dominated for 67 years, and a new condo development moves in. We’re used to thinking of pop-up stores as being in service of the new and the hip, but this particular short-term tenant is trend-proof. The pattern books suggest items like blousy jackets that would look at home on the set of The Cosby Show, and wide-legged pants particular to the late-1990s raver style. Leafing through one of those books is like hopping into a time machine you have to assemble yourself. There are a few designer gems, like Rachel Comey and Donna Karan, but those require some serious digging to find.
If it sounds like I’m being hard on Fabricland, I’m not. Growing up with an interior-designer mother, I spent more than my fair share of time wandering among the bolts of Stratford, Ontario’s Fabricland. (Fabric stores often rival hardware stores for places that are utterly uninteresting to children.) Fabric is the raw material of creativity: a seasoned eye can look at a bolt of fabric and see a couch, a new pair of pants, or a quilt. But these stores offer no toys and no books, and there are only so many patterned flannelettes one can fondle before even the most well-behaved child will slide onto the floor and throw a temper tantrum just for something to do.
Torontoist’s Sarah Hagi reacts to Douglas Coupland, now with an exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum. Her suggestion that his best ideas are in the past strikes me as a bit unfair: might his more recent ideas still be pretty good? I have to go see the exhibit, regardless.
Coupland is best known for his iconic novels like Generation X (1991), which coined the term that defined 1990s youth culture, but before all that he started off as a formally trained visual artist and designer. Taking place at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the pop art–inspired whimsical exhibition everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything is where his work as a novelist and visual artist clearly intersect.
In one section we are shown his novels Girlfriend in a Coma and Generation X—only, Coupland has lovingly chewed them up into pulpy hornets’ nests. The nests were so convincingly crafted, they were hard to tell apart from the real nests he left atop the display.
Then there’s a section called “The Brain” that takes up a large chunk of the exhibition, which displays various knickknacks collected over a decade and divided into three hemispheres that hint at the brain’s bilateral symmetry. The piece itself is remarkable, made up of thousands of objects, including street signs and miniature kitchen furniture, all representing different experiences in the artist’s life—from being born on a Canadian military base in West Germany to growing up in middle-class Vancouver.
Spending a few minutes in the exhibit, you quickly realize why its title is so broad—Coupland’s work is anything and everything. It’s also for anyone, with many pieces appealing to the general audiences. This feels a bit too safe, but the exhibit’s accessibility makes sense: Coupland’s status as a national treasure is something that couldn’t have been achieved without catering to a wide audience. In a culture of hot takes and unpopular opinions, his pieces feel somewhat refreshing; Coupland isn’t trying to be the first to make a statement, but instead focuses on interpreting major 21st-century events. This message was amplified by paintings about 9/11 that were created so to only be properly seen through the lens of a smartphone camera (which didn’t exist in 2001).