Saturday, February 23, 2013


February in southern Ontario and you become your own environmental system. Warm moist breath on cold hard air creates a wreath of clouds around your head. My cloud is like a contrail, a thin white line that quickly streaks and disappears on to the air.

Terra's cloud is indeed its own system, a white hurricane that swirls around her head as she lays on the snow, panting, cooling off, her brown eyes like islands deep under the clouds.

This Cedervale Ravine, a long trail that sprawls along a deep ravine in Toronto's north end. The sides of it go up a good 40 ft in some areas and are thickly wooded. Streets pass over it, supported by high trestles the bases of which are the canvas for urban artists

Terra flies up and down the hills, hunting squirrels which elude her, hunting sticks which fall victim to her; the World Wildlife Fund may order an injunction against my dog, for almost single handedly rendering sticks in urban ravines extinct

This is a special place in the city, an urban forest if you will. As you pass under the overpasses you can hear the traffic, in the winter through the bare trees you can see the houses up on the top, but it's easy to forget where you are; hawks circle over head, tiny streams bubble under thin black ice and wild creatures lurk in the undergrowth

On this cold winter day with a few large flakes of snow floating in the air as if they were lost, torn off from something, adrift, it is easy to get lost; not physically lost on the trail, but lost in the bright white snow and the hard blue sky and the tangle of trees

Here's a little video

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


This post concerns a local Toronto story that may or not have spread beyond the city.

Toronto has a very active coyote population. I have seen several of them over the years. There is a large clan out by the airport and, naturally, in large urban green spaces like High Park and Earl Bales Park. But they are spread out all over the city.

Cabbagetown is a densely populated urban neighbourhood where recently a lone coyote has been making the rounds. There are some parks there but nothing like High Park or even the big ravine parks around my house. If a coyote came, and then decided to linger, there must be a reason. They are opportunistic omnivores .. yeh, someone was feeding it, intentionally or not.

So people were concerned that this wild animal was hanging around. I can't blame them, I would not be comfortable with letting Terra out in the yard at night .. oh wait, I don't let her out in the yard at night. My main fear is skunks but the point is: There be varmits out there.

I'd also be concerned for the coyote, Cabbage town has a lot of traffic.

So people were freaking. Wild animal in the streets. What should they do .. Humane Society, Animal Control, SPCA .. .no, let's call the cops.

That's right, the cops. Because the police are specifically trained to deal with wildife in an urban environment ... oh wait, they so are not

Two nights ago City TV was down there interviewing one of these cops when the reporter (the reporter mind you, not the cop) noticed said coyote about 14 feet away from here. It's all on tape. The coyote was there, not concerned with them or the traffic, just very casual and not stressed. Cops moved forward and coyote moved away from them .. please not this, he moved away from the humans, not towards them.

The tape then cuts to one of the most extraordinary scenes I've ever witnessed: In the middle of city streets, with cars all around, a cop is in a Weaver stance, knees bent, his 9 mm semi automatic pistol in his hands, taking a shot at the coyote

He shot at the coyote, in full darkness, with a 9 mm pistol ...

He missed. Gosh, you think.

There was a car not more than six feet away from him and Dirty Harry decides it's a perfect idea to take a pot shot at a wild animal

So the coyote bolts into a nearby park. Off camera, the cop calls for backup .. not Animal Control, but more cops. They chase the coyote into a park. And still off camera they shoot it. And kill it

The reasoning is that they needed to put down this "aggressive" animal. I saw this thing on tape. With people all around, camera lights, cops walking towards it, it seemed quite calm and just moved slowly away. Not what I call aggression

Why didn't the cops call for Animal Control? There was not time, this beast was so "aggressive" they couldn't call in actual trained professionals .. oh but wait, they did call in other cops.

As far as I know, this animal had not killed another animal, it had never confronted a human, but it had to be gunned down like Dillinger leaving a movie theatre.

It's sad on many levels.

Sad that people more than likely created a situation that screamed to this coyote "All You Can Eat Buffet" Sad that their reaction was to call the cops as if this was not a wild animal but a criminal. Sad that the cops didn't seem to have the self awareness to understand that this particular case was beyond their skill set.

And sad that the cops, when presented with an unfamiliar situation, shot first.

I wish I had not seen this story on TV. I saw the animal. I saw how it was behaving. I saw a law enforcement officer who is supposed to protect us, take a gun stance and shoot into the darkness

I've seen our urban coyotes with my own eyes, they always seem well adapted to their environ. They are beautiful, they always seemed to have this attitude like "Hey don't mind me, you go your way and I'll go my way"

I'm mad about this whole thing

But mostly I'm just sad

Friday, February 8, 2013


Readers in central Canada and the eastern US with relate to this today:


"Storm of the century!"

"Stay inside!"


Indeed, my area's first real winter storm in a couple of years. More snow falling in one day than most of last winter .. but last winter we barely got 30 cms of snow altogether.

Anyway, the media never wastes an opportunity to drum up some hysteria.

Some of us expect this sort of thing in winter. And others even welcome it

Case in point, the following video

(Most of this was shot with my GoPro, I decided to play with the settings, let's call it an experiment and leave it at that)


Read from the responses to a music video posted on Youtube:

This is the kind of band where you love them so much you want to be the only person in the entire world who knows about them ...

Remember that? When you loved music that much, when it was all encompassing verging on overwhelming ...

In that moment you are flat out convinced that no one could love the band/singer/song as much as you, that no one understands it the way that you do, that your appreciation of the song is something unique and powerful and verifiable.

Perhaps you felt that way about all of music, or at least all of the music that you enjoyed ... no, not enjoyed .. needed .. you needed music, and in some cosmic way it needed you. Without your love, the music may not exist, your connection was so powerful.

No one else, alive or dead, could feel about music, the way that you did ...

Of course, we've all felt that way, or close enough to it, at some point in our life. Perhaps that high degree of devotion faded with time, as they oft times do, or perhaps it's stayed with you to this day.

You could analyze from where that passion arises but I'm more interested in where it goes .. if it goes anywhere. Because I don't really think it does .. go, that is, I just think it changes. Mellows, tempers, but not necessarily tempers.

In my youth a new song, a new artist could occupy my thoughts for days on end but let's face it, there wasn't much else going on in those days. These days I have more happening .. like thinking about what I used to think about ...


Music may not be so all encompassing, I may not love it dearly, but it's still a passion. I may not think about a new song all day long but I may play it several times over and over. I may play it several times over and over. I may play it several times over and over ..


One thing that has definitely changed from the sentiment of the statement at the beginning of this post; I don't want to keep the music all to myself, I want to share it

So here's a few things I've recently been listening to


This is the second album from the Keys that I've bought. I discovered Brothers about two years ago and it was, as they say, in heavy rotation in my house and my car and still is. The Keys have a kind of retro guitar and drums rocks vibe (the instruments played by the two members) and a deft lyrical turn, much of it pretty tongue in cheek.

This recording follows in the same vein as Brothers: Catchy melodies with a strong back beat and lyrics that at first seem simple but often have a satirical edge to them. Lead singer is Dan Auerbach is sometimes a little more fond of his falsetto than am I, but generally he has a rough, emotive style that works well with the lyrics.

You've heard the Black Keys even if you've never listened to them ... And by that I mean their music is used in tons of TV commercials, shows and movies.


This is Ms Ryder's second full length album. Her first, Is It OK, still remains in heavy rotation. An Ontario girl, we've seen her perform and if you ger the chance, do check her out; dynamic and energetic, a young woman with deep connections to 60's style folk music and traditions

That first CD could probably be classified as folk-rock (I had classifying music I really really do) strongly guitar based both acoustic and electric. Serena has a unique voice, you could describe it as Buffy St Marie meets Janice; she's not often a "wailer" but when she does, she is always in total control

She is also a very deft songwriter, mostly songs of heart break and passion but also a pinch of social awareness

Multiple recordings by an artist of whom you're fond is always a tricky thing: You want the second one to be different from the first but not too different.

Harmony is different from Is It OK. The melodies seem a bit more deliberately "catchy" and there is more of a pop influence to it. One of the songs, For You, almost has a James Bondy feel to it, which kind of baffled me for a moment, are they trying to package her like Adelle?

Overall the album is more polished, more "produced" but Serena's voice is still there and fuck, it's something special. As is her songwriting


The interwebs is a wonderful thing. A few months ago Collette and I wanted to attend the Winter Festival down at the Distillery. Every evening they had a different performer, none of whom were familiar to me so I went online, browsing Youtube to find samples of music.

And I found Royal Wood. What the hell is up with that name? Apparently it's a family name, and not some dude's porn star name. Anyway.

Royal is a Toronto based singer/songwriter. He has a crooner's voice, a beautiful smooth perfectly nuanced voice that is capable of expressing emotion without a lot of technical trickery. He is also an incredibly talented piano player

He has won several awards for his songwriting and that makes me happy; his lyrics are subtle, deft and effectively understated.

This is an album of ballads. It reminds me of Marc Cohn and early Billy Joel. You could compare his vocal style to Rufus Wainwright .. yes, he sings that well.

At first the music just washes over you, the melodies and Royal's voice and the temper of the album just makes you want to close your eyes and dive into it. I love how understated it all is; lyrically and musically there are no histrionics but it is actucally fairly haunting and it tends to linger in the mind.

So that is what I've been listening to. Some of the music I love. But not loved to the point I"m too selfish to share

You're welcome
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