Friday, 22 June 2007

Kind of a Drag

It’s kind of a drag, but I’m going to have to quit blogging for a while. My to-do list overfloweth – renovating bathroom in my house, renovating bathroom in my mom’s house, building outdoor chair, making path in backyard, tiling entranceway, killing Emily (Bell’s automated attendant), enjoying summer…

I'm going to keep reading everyone else's though.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Summer in the City/The Lovin' Spoonful

It’s June 21 today, which means that it’s officially summer in the city, and everywhere else for that matter.

Everything about Zal Yanovsky, who played lead guitar in the Lovin’ Spoonful, was big: big girth, big voice, big beard, big life. Zal moved to Kingston with his wife Rose after leaving the music business, and they opened one of Kingston’s most famous restaurants, Chez Piggy. Not ones to settle for lesser imitations, they imported $200 bottles of balsamic vinegar, and an oven from France to make baguette. Once I was dining at Chez Piggy and a friend pointed out a homeless man walking around the restaurant talking loudly to people. It was Zal, whose exuberant beard--which partially functioned as a bib--was often scattered with crumbs. Zal and Rose lived on a hobby farm outside the city, and when you drove by their place you could hear the eerie cries of peacocks. They were big supporters of the Humane Society and the Children’s Breakfast Program in local schools. Zal died of a heart attack one night. He was 58. His wife Rose died of cancer a couple of years later. Kingston just isn’t the same without them.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007


My hair is unruly at the best of times, but this hot and humid weather has turned it into a bipolar do that alternates between raging Medusa and overcooked limp linguini. Thankfully there are those out there who appreciate hair in all its moody manifestations…

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Sultans of String

The description of their music

Atomic world-jazz-flamenco combining the sounds of Chris McKhool's lush, lyrical Gypsy-jazz violin with Kevin Laliberte's rhythm-fueled flamenco-inspired guitar playing for a wild improvised musical journey. Bassist Drew Birston energizes the groove with adventurous Latin, jazz and folk rhythms.

would likely have sent Mark Twain on a adjectival killing spree, but the music itself is anything but homicidal. So for those of you who would like some string after a swinging sing sing sing, the Sultans of String have some free listening at their website.

Monday, 18 June 2007


The first one is of an elephant that no longer has a face. It looks like someone has used a powersaw to cross-section its skull, then taken a baseball bat to whatever was inside. I suppose there’s no neat and tidy way of removing tusks.

The second one shows two people sitting in the back of a car. The woman on the right looks calmly terrified. The man on the left is holding a gun to her head. He’s smoking and by the expression on his face, you’d think he was at a bar with some friends. The caption says that the woman was killed one hour later.

The third one is more personal, less dramatic. It hangs on my wall, and was taken at one of our numerous get-togethers. That’s when we all worked at Case Mix Research, which the people down the hall nicknamed Cake Mix Research, because we always seemed to be celebrating something. It was the kind of place where you felt you could have your cake and eat it too. Unfortunately it didn’t defy all platitudes, and all good things did come to an end. The research group folded, two of the group had a falling out, two others moved away and kept in selective touch only. I’m not sure how I feel when I look at the photograph of us all together, and wonder sometimes if I should take it down and put it in a box at the back of my closet.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Go All the Way/The Raspberries

Is there any fruit more sublime than the raspberry? An exceptionally succulent mango comes close, but doesn’t surpass. Raspberries are one of the premier pleasures of summer. But like many pleasures, they’re ephemeral: after a couple of days they become soggy and moldy. Instant gratification is called for. In honour of raspberries--and not delaying gratification in one of life’s other pleasures--I post this song.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

The Unicorn Song

In my quest for a wilder life I’ve been looking into volunteer vacations, where you pay large sums of money to work (it sounds crazy, but how else am I ever going to get the opportunity to radio-collar a cheetah?). A lot of the projects involve wildlife conservation. I’m ambivalent about this. It’s sort of like going out one day a year to pick up garbage along the roads--things look better temporarily, but it doesn’t resolve the underlying problem. Maybe it would be better to leave the garbage where it is, a form of dispersed landfill, and let it get eyesoaringly high. The same goes with wildlife. So many zoos are trying to breed endangered species, so that one day they can restock dewindling natural populations. Even if that endeavour succeeds, won't they still be subject to the same forces that caused their numbers to decline in the first place, like loss of habitat and poaching? Maybe it would be better to let species die out. Nobody is really noticing all the little things that are no more, but if enough of the big ones go, maybe it will finally have an impact. Or maybe one day, elephants, tigers and rhinoceroses will seem as mythical as unicorns.