Tuesday, November 28, 2006

city-tv every day in every way

Vintage Ad #87 - City TV, Channel 79 Cable 7
Another break from the vintage CBC ads this week for a peek at how CITY-TV advertised itself in the late 70s. Little flash or uber-hipness here, just strong lettering and increasing shades of grey.

On air for five years when this ad appeared, CITY had upped its signal the year before, when the CN Tower went into service. Note that the station was way up the dial at channel 79, where it stayed until 1983. The station had a mixed ownership, including Moses Znaimer - CHUM wouldn't buy its first stake until the following year and wouldn't gain full control of the station until 1981.

Brian Linehan's City Lights enjoyed a healthy run on the station and in syndication (1973-89). Known for digging deep into the background of those he interviewed, he was later parodied by Martin Short as "Brock Linehan" on SCTV. Linehan's 2004 obituary from the Globe and Mail.

Another CITY regular spoofed on SCTV was Morton Shulman, whose life included stints as Toronto's chief coroner in the 60s, a provincial MPP (High Park, 1971-75), talk show host (The Shulman File, 1977-82) and financial adviser. His controversial methods as a coroner inspired the 60s CBC drama Wojeck.

On the information end, CityPulse launched in '77. Looking at the current CITY bios page, longtime anchor Gord Martineau joined the station that year, with Anne Mroczkowski and JoJo Chintoh coming aboard the following year.

While nothing resembling a "Baby Blue" movie is mentioned among the station's upcoming flicks, there are a few whose content wouldn't have made it onto network TV unless they were heavily chopped (I'm looking at you, Straw Dogs).

Source: Saturday Night, April 1977

Monday, November 27, 2006

this newspaper will explode in 10 seconds...

Do Not Touch My Newspaper!
Now here's something I've never seen before...

The Sunday New York Times made its debut at the new digs this weekend, with a red sticker on the bag. This sticker provided a dire warning to whoever might want to snatch my afternoon reading. Anyone have statistics on the conviction rate for people pilfering their neighbour's papers?

There were times I could have used a notice like this at my old place, especially one month several years ago where the person housesitting the apartment above me ensured that my morning Globe and Mail made it into my hands 50% of the time, often appearing pre-read (it took several reminders before they left the paper alone).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

movin' right along

Once upon a time, I moved around a lot. It wasn't uncommon to move my junk in and out of residences, houses and sublets two, three times a year in university. But I didn't have as many possessions as I built up in the bunker over the past seven years, so moving was never particularly taxing.

There were times I had wished this was the case now.

The past week was almost pure packing. There had been dribbles over the previous month, but it was mostly tossing a few clothes in donation bins or donating cannned goods to local food banks. There was life to live, and my old landlord wanted to show the apartment. Only when my target date began to dawn on me did I get down to business.

I was proud I moved around 20 boxes in the Official Warehouse Car on my first two runs...then collapsed from total exhaustion. Pacing was going to be the key, especially as I discovered just how much of a packrat I'd been...

An old-fashioned, writing-university-essay style panic attack struck Thursday night, as the scale of how much stuff I had crammed into the bunker fully dawned on me. Did I have enough boxes? Even though several friends had indicated they could help, would that be enough? I wrote a frantic e-mail, which hopefully didn't annoy too many people. About five minutes after I sent off the note, I calmed back down - maybe getting my panic on paper was the tonic my nerves needed, even if unwillingly involved a dozen others (whoopsie).

Tip: Food Basics, or at least those around East York and the Don Valley, had a steady supply of good condition, bottom-included cardboard boxes.

Friday I felt more relaxed and continued with packing, trying to clear off the lingering items on my shelves. Made the last box run in Thorncliffe Park, stopping for a quick bite at Iqbal Sweets - tasty lunch thali special, including one of the meatiest, least greasy tandoori chicken thighs I've ever had. Several responses to my panicky note eased my mind more.

I was about to head over to Yonge St to pick up the cargo van when I received a call from the rental agency. Turned out somebody was tardy in returning a van and none were available from any of their Toronto locations.

My feeling of ease evaporated.

I headed over to check out their first substitute option, a pickup. Totally inadequate. After some calling around, a Dodge Grand Caravan was secured near Yorkdale (navy, not the grey pictured at left). The agency reduced the rental price, then drove me over to pick up the van. Due to tight spacing, a corner of the lot that turned into a cramped dead end and general inexperience driving large vehicles, it took me 10-15 minutes just to leave the lot, accompanied by a high volume of cussing.

I arrived back at the bunker to the find the first round of help waiting. For the next seven hours, furniture and boxes were shuttled over. I discovered I was lousy at backing the van into the bunker's driveway, which one of the helpers noticed. After the second trip, I was relieved from backing-in duty. Many thanks to Greg and Mark for their skillful coordination and talent for fully utilizing the space in the

van, as well as thanks to Nile, Elizabeth and James for their help.

A running joke was that I was using the "Yanoush, Hands of Fate" moving service (combining two cheesy things longtime readers of this site may recognize).


The rest of the weekend was spent cleaning out the last dregs from the bunker. Like one friend said, it was the small stuff that would kill me, as items kept popping up. By this point, I was in full purge mode - if it wasn't absolutely necessary, it went. A few large items didn't survive this cull, ranging from the living room rug to my George Foreman grill (RIP - you offered service above and beyond the call of duty, but you were wearing down. You'll be replaced sometime soon).

The Official Warehouse Car was rewarded for its dutiful service by being babied at the garage yesterday.

I suspect there will be further purging before the apartment assumes its full shape. If I have learned one thing from this experience, it's that my stockpiling habits were growing out of control. Better organization should ensure that I don't continually buy items I have hidden elsewhere, like tape, storage bags and gift wrap. That it is OK to toss out the odd book or CD. That I don't need a nuclear stockpile of food. That I don't want to be found dead when I'm 66 under a mound of...whatever.

But first, I have to unpack.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

the tuned-in look of chch

Vintage Ad #83 - The Tuned-In Look
A short break from the usual Tuesday CBC ad for a look at one of its competitors.

CHCH started off as Hamilton's CBC affiliate in 1954, severing its ties around 1960-61. For the next three decades, it was one of Canada's strongest independent stations, developing programs such as Hillarious House of Frightenstein, Party Game and Smith & Smith. A number of sales followed, until it formed the basis of CanWest Global's CH network after the station was acquired from WIC.

The introduction of colour programming spurred this series of trippy ads, featuring the station's "flower" logo. Also note that while the ad is tuned in and turned out, it doesn't suggest that the audience "drop out". The bean counters wouldn't have appreciated the audience numbers had that happened...

Source: Toronto Life, December 1967 

Monday, November 13, 2006

grand opening sale at tower records piccadilly

Vintage Ad #93 - Tower Records Comes to London
One anniversary I missed last month - the 20th for British rock magazine Q.

Amy and I started to pick it up around '93 and were regular readers for the rest of the decade, before price increases forced us to the back issue market. We'd howl at its humourous edge, especially the "Who the Hell" interviews and the side comments used for photos. English words drawn from article headlines slowly crept into our vocabulary. It was much fresher than the North American press - did we really need to know everything about a tired 70s act's latest project, as Rolling Stone often featured?

Cover stories on the premiere issue were Paul McCartney, Big Audio Dynamite, Lenny Henry and cocaine. Among the pieces inside:

* How digital audio tape threatens to sink the then-still-new compact disc
* The collapse of Stiff Records
* The new face of British horror fiction (featuring Alan Moore, Ramsey Campbell and Clive Barker)
* Reviews of albums by Elvis Costello (Blood & Chocolate, 3 of 5 stars), Human League (Crash, 4 stars), Huey Lewis & The News (Fore, 3 stars), R.E.M. (Life's Rich Pageant, 4 stars), Lionel Richie (Dancing On The Ceiling, 4 stars), Paul Simon (Graceland, 5 stars) and Talking Heads (True Stories, 4 stars). Stinking up the joint? One star each for The Bolshoi, Love & Rockets and The Lover Speaks.
* New movies in the UK that month: About Last Night..., Day Of The Dead, Highlander and Mona Lisa

As for Tower Piccadilly, I often browsed there while living in London. Problem was UK CD prices were out of my range, about double what the going rate was in North America (they certainly didn't slide down to the record/tape prices shown in the ad). Tower sold the Piccadilly store to Virgin in 2001, who still run it as one of their Megastores.

Source: Q #1, October 1986 

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

political party notes

Warehouse Election Central

Random notes from The Political Party Monday night...

* Arrived around 7:45 and the place was already packed...though I managed to snag a parking space directly across the street. The joys of running late.

* I've been to Revival twice before and couldn't believe how different the space looked with full lighting. Surprisingly bright.

* To indicate that time was up when answering a question, the TTC chimes were used. Some confuson was caused when a bicycle The only real abuse of this came during Jane Pitfield's last question, when she rambled on about crime in the city (summed up as people don't feel safe in the city because "crime is unpredictable").

* It was quickly clear that the house was pro-David Miller. It felt as if there were a few strategically-placed designated clappers for Pitfield, especially one near the front of the room, who at times literally was the only person clapping. Miller seemed more relaxed than his challenger, in dress, tone and speaking style.

* Despite pleas not to boo or show similar behaviour, a few items Pitfield brought up produced a few razzberries. The first boos came when she mentioned New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in relation to homeless issues (she also developed a slight stutter in trying not to say the word "ghetto", going as far as "ghe". A proposal to extend corporate naming into the subway system did not go down well.

* Most of the audience razzberries toward Miller came during a question on the street furniture contract and the much-loathed eucans, which he admitted were probably a mistake. One or two groans could be heard when he indicated tolls on the Gardiner and DVP weren't coming anytime soon (he made a good point that tollswouldn't drive people in outlying areas of the city to transit unless service was expanded).

* Odd tangent when Pitfield, replying to a question about trash, mentioned her close ties to the aboriginal community. When a snicker was heard in the crowd, she discussed her work with them and how they needed to be "lifted up".

* A recurring villain was councillor Case Ootes and his opposition to bike lanes in his ward, especially the existing one on Cosburn. While she didn't mention Ootes by name, Pitfield made a nice slam dunk of his obstructions of the city bike plan.

* Other takes on the evening: Campaign Bubble, Funkaoshi, Spacing Votes, Toronto Star

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

paper people

Vintage Ad #82 - The Paper People
Colour programming debuted on CBC in September 1966 with a documentary on the Calgary Stampede on Telescope (video clip). Slowly, colour worked its way across the schedule, which
brings us to today's ad.

A description of The Paper People from a 1991 article on author Timothy Findley's dramatic work in Theatre Research in Canada:

The 1967 broadcast of The Paper People, CBC's first feature-length colour film, caused an immediate controversy. Members of Parliament joined the public and critics in an outcry over the film's high cost and subject matter. The film focuses on an artist who fashions life-size figures out of papier-mâché then burns them in a kind of early performance art, filming the conflagration. The filming of a documentary about the artist's work frames the story. Findley came up with the plot idea after producer Mervyn Rosenzveig said he wanted a script to capture the essence of the sixties. Script editor Doris Gauntlett and director David Gardner helped shape the text and shooting script of the film.

For Findley, 1967 was a "people"-filled year, as it also saw the publication of his first novel Last of the Crazy People.

(Annoying autobiographical pause: Last of the Crazy People was my introduction to Findley, thanks to a reading Dad took me to when I was a kid. It was at a Chinese restaurant in downtown Windsor - don't remember the name of it (Oriental Express?), other than it was at the corner of Pitt and Ferry and was demolished years ago for the Daimler Chrysler building. All I remember is that it may have been the first time I ate a spring roll, Dad thought it was sweet Findley's partner William Whitehead was in attendance and I got a signed book out of it.)

The guest cast features an interesting contrast: Kate Reid, one of Canada's most distinguished actresses of the period, and Brett Somers, a few years removed from 1970s game show immortality on Match Game.

Festival (1960-69) was an arts program whose productions ranged from remounts of shows from Stratford to ballet, original dramas to literary classics.

Source: Toronto Life, December 1967

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

snapshots department

Nighthawks at the Vesta Wookie Go Home
1) A recent Psychogeography walk, which circled the train tracks running alongside Dupont. Left: Nighthawks at the Vesta Lunch. This was my first visit to the venerable greasy spoon and I was happy to discover my stomach could handle it (mind you, I only had a roast beef sandwich, but the meat was thrown on the griddle). On the right, one of Toronto's darkest secrets - its quiet strain of anti-Wookieism. More photos from this trek on over here (Oct 20th pics).


Miles of Aisles of Peppers Sample an Orange?
2) Marche Jean-Talon in Montreal. I drove back from la belle province with a back seat full of produce, ranging from peppers to pattypan squash. Made a fantastic spaghetti sauce from a large $1 bag of baby eggplants. The orange samples on the right are typical for the market - they lived up to their "very, very sweet" billing. I could have made a light lunch out of all the chunks of apples, pears, pineapples and cucumbers that were up for grabs. I also blew a bundle on local ciders and preserves at Le Marche des Saveurs du Quebec, a store on the south side of the market specializing in oddball Quebec items. We'll see if the small jar of spruce jelly I picked up remains a conversation piece.