A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘holidays

[FORUM] What are some major celebrations in your community?

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My last two posts were about public celebrations in Toronto, centered around things–sports teams, art festivals–that are popular if problematic.

What goes on in your community? What are some things you celebrate? Are there issues with these?

(I choose to consider this the last post of Saturday, not the first post of Sunday. My prerogative.)

Written by Randy McDonald

October 11, 2015 at 6:39 am

[URBAN NOTE] On the future of Nuit Blanche in Toronto

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This past week, I have been highlighting photos from my Nuit Blanche experience. I found it a bit flat, the riot at Yonge and Dundas was easily overlooked, but others like Torontoist came across some interesting things. The news, coming immediately afterwards, that Scotiabank was dropping its sponsorship. As others like the Toronto Star‘s Martin Knelman have pointed out, the loss of this sponsorship hardly dooms this popular festival. (Scotiabank, apparently, provides less than a third of its funding.) It does, local journalist Paul Gallant argued at Yahoo News, make it important to define what exactly Nuit Blanche is. Is it a public art event? Is it a holiday? Is it a mixture? How can these energies be galvanized? Et cetera.

More and more art lovers are unwilling to swim through rowdy crowds or stand in line for more than an hour for a three-minute encounter with a piece of art that may or may not disappoint. The Eaton Centre stopped participating a few years ago because they couldn’t police the vandalism and the litter happening in the building. This week major Nuit Blanche sponsor Scotiabank, which contributed as much as 50 per cent of Nuit Blanche’s $3-million budget, revealed that it had given organizers notice back in February, stating the festival “no longer aligns with our sponsorship strategy.” People are wondering whether Toronto’s all-night art happening, which in its early years felt like a night of delight and magic, has lost its way.

Which is a little ironic, considering that the real focus of the night—the art itself—has never been more thoughtfully programmed. “There have been some pretty concerted efforts to make it into a truly international event that’s mindful of art world gravitas. But I don’t know if that worked or if people cared,” says David Balzer, art writer and author of Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else. Twelve of the 117 official entries this year were by high-profile Latin American artists, while Paris- and New York-based artist JR, known around the world for his large black and white portraits, was given centre stage at Nathan Phillips Square. “I’ve never been 100 per cent on criticizing Nuit Blanche as this vulgar spectacle because it’s provided some openings for international artists to come, and provided openings for local and Canadian artists to kick it up a notch,” says Balzer.

Over the years the works on display have been hit and miss. Some are huge crowd-pleasers, like a UFO crash site with ET and Yoda inside a giant tent, while others are decidedly low key, like a piece this year where the artist simply reversed traffic signs on a one-way street.

“I know that it has helped introduce a whole new audience to performance and installation art. So that’s good,” says R.M. Vaughan, author of Bright Eyes: Insomnia and its Cultures and an artist who has participated in several Nuit Blanches over the years. “I don’t think anybody was ever ready for the numbers of people who showed up, and continue to show up. The works that do best in Nuit Blanche are the big, loud, sparkly outdoor spectacles. There is arguably a ‘Nuit Blanche Style’ of project now. The party versus art dynamic is frustrating, but only for the artists. We always wonder, where are you people the rest of the year?”

Toronto artist Sanda Rechico points out that there is a difference between an art exhibition and a festival—and that Nuit Blanche clearly fits into the latter category. “People come out for festivals for particular reasons. Some people come out for TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] and they don’t even want to see the films, they just want to see the celebrities. The problem may just be crowd control and not much more,” says Rechico, who has participated in Nuit Blanche in the past. “Because it’s all night and it’s overnight, it brings that idea of party into the mix. And whenever there’s a party, somebody’s going to spill a drink.”

Written by Randy McDonald

October 11, 2015 at 2:16 am

[PHOTO] Coffeemaker with coffee

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Written by Randy McDonald

September 29, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Posted in Non Blog, Photo, Popular Culture

Tagged with , ,

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that John Tory wants private industry to fund a Toronto bid for the Olympics.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a paper suggesting that the effects of panspermia might be detectable, via the worlds seeded with life.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that the Earth’s geological composition is likely to be unique.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the technological advancement of Neanderthals in Spain.
  • Far Outliers notes the extent to which some opposition to the Anglo-American invasion of Europe in the Second World War was motivated by pan-European sentiment.
  • Geocurrents dislikes very bad maps of human development in Argentina.
  • Language Hat notes that Jabotinsky wanted Hebrew to be written in Latin script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the Sad Puppies.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a book talking about a specifically Orthodox Christian take on demography.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the first ride at the CNE.
  • Torontoist notes a Toronto libraries “passport”.
  • Understanding Society notes M.I. Finley’s excellent book on the dynamics of the Roman Empire.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a bizarre article published in a journal arguing that professors are equivalents to terrorists.
  • Why I Love Toronto recommends Dream in High Park.

[LINK] “Why the Rich Love Burning Man”

The radical online magazine Jacobin features an article by Keith A. Spencer critical of the extent to which the rich apparently now dominate the Burning Man festival. Thoughts?

Burning Man grew from unpretentious origins: a group of artists and hippies came together to burn an effigy at Baker Beach in San Francisco, and in 1990 set out to have the same festival in a place where the cops wouldn’t hassle them about unlicensed pyrotechnics. The search led them to the Black Rock Desert.

Burning Man is very much a descendent of the counterculture San Francisco of yesteryear, and possesses the same sort of libertine, nudity-positive spirit. Some of the early organizers of the festival professed particular admiration for the Situationists, the group of French leftists whose manifestos and graffitied slogans like “Never Work” became icons of the May 1968 upsurge in France.

[. . .]

Participation sounds egalitarian, but it leads to some interesting contradictions. The most elaborate camps and spectacles tend to be brought by the rich because they have the time, the money, or both, to do so. Wealthier attendees often pay laborers to build and plan their own massive (and often exclusive) camps. If you scan San Francisco’s Craigslist in the month of August, you’ll start to see ads for part-time service labor gigs to plump the metaphorical pillows of wealthy Burners.

The rich also hire sherpas to guide them around the festival and wait on them at the camp. Some burners derogatorily refer to these rich person camps as “turnkey camps.”

Silicon Valley’s adoration of Burning Man goes back a long way, and tech workers have always been fans of the festival. But it hasn’t always been the provenance of billionaires — in the early days, it was a free festival with a cluster of pitched tents, weird art, and explosives; but as the years went on, more exclusive, turnkey camps appeared and increased in step with the ticket price — which went from $35 in 1994 to $390 in 2015 (about sixteen times the rate of inflation).

Black Rock City has had its own FAA-licensed airport since 2000, and it’s been getting much busier. These days you can even get from San Carlos in Silicon Valley to the festival for $1500. In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg flew into Burning Man on a private helicopter, staying for just one day, to eat and serve artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 27, 2015 at 7:52 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that someone built a lego replica of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood circa 1887.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the OSIRIS REx asteroid sample return mission’s launch.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the HD 219134 planetary system, just nearby.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests nuclear fusion is getting measurably closer.
  • Joe. My. God. has more on the man who murdered a teenage girl at Jerusalem’s pride parade.
  • Language Hat notes the attitude of Jabotinsky towards the Hebrew language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the mid-19th century convergence of anti-Communist and pro-slavery attitudes.
  • Marginal Revolution looks forward to an Uighur restaurant in Virginia.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on wool.
  • Torontoist reviews all of the terrible food available at the Canadian National Exhibition.
  • Towleroad reports testimony about the terrible fates facing gay men under ISIS rule.
  • Why I Love Toronto reports on the blogger’s exciting week.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the accidental release of Russia’s casualty information in the Ukrainian war, with two thousand dead.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about her favourite things in New York City.
  • Centauri Dreams features an essay by Nick Nielsen arguing in favour of manned spaceflight.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the unusual chemical composition of the debris disk of HD 34700.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Finland’s interest in a guaranteed minimum income.
  • Language Log notes the complexities of Wenzhou dialect.
  • Languages of the World shares an old post on the Roma and their language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that prison rape in the United States is a real thing.
  • pollotenchegg looks at birth rate trends in Ukraine over 2013-2015.
  • Savage Minds notes the difficulties of life as an anthropologist.
  • Torontoist notes a dance festival in Seaton Village.
  • Towleroad notes the Illinois ban on gay conversion therapy.
  • Transit Toronto looks at the TTC’s service in the time of the Canadian National Exhibition.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Ukrainian nationalist criticism of Ukrainian policy after independence, and suggests that fear of a Russian nationalist backlash might lead to a Russian annexation of Donbas.

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