Archive for November, 2005

Why the Government has fallen: Advertising corrupts (automobile advertising corrupts automobiliously).

Monday, November 28th, 2005

The Gomery Report, which purported to look into the so-called “Sponsorship scandal,” was issued some weeks ago to much “shock” [“the government is corrupt? How could that have happened?”–ed.] and “awe” [“aw, shucks,” that is–ed.].

And now, tonight, after some bluster and swagger and not a little deceit, the 171 members of parliament who together make up the three parties in opposition to the 133 members of the Liberal party, who ruled in a minority government for the past year and a half, have voted they have “no confidence” in the ability of the Liberals to keep ruling. We are to elect a new government.

How did this happen? What was the Gomery Report, and what exactly were its findings? What was so explosive? Why did it cost the government its mandate?

Answers to these questions cannot be found here. Frankly, the ALLDERBLOB doesn’t profess to know the answers.

What we do know is that the “Gomery Commission” as established had a longer name: the “Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities.”

And what we know about “advertising activity” is it serves a place in society: it manufactures a need for stuff without a god-damn about whether that stuff is good, bad, useful or evil.

What we know about advertising is that it, like power, corrupts. And while absolute power, as Lord Acton [whoever the hell he was –ed.] said, “corrupts absolutely,” automobile advertising corrupts automo-biliously.

Yes, automobiliously, from the adjective “automobilious,” meaning “car-sickened.” Not “car-sickness,” that’s the effect the car has on its passengers. “Car-sickened” is the effect cars have on those outside, not those inside. It refers to the degradation of society as a whole that the car induces.

Advertising Corrupts: as demonstrated by the Gomery Report, as long as there’s advertising, it will mess up our minds.

Automobile advertising corrupts automobiliously: as demonstrated by the ALLDERBLOB, as long as there’s car advertising, it will mess up our cities, our towns, our countryside, our villages, and our wilderness.

The Gomery Report brought down the government. Can the ALLDERBLOB bring down the practice of automobile advertising?

Stay tuned…

Forget Paris, It’s Oshawa that’s Burning

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

General Motors announces plans to cut 30,000 jobs.

Four-thousand-five hundred of the lost jobs are to be in Canada, including the closing of an Oshawa facility known as North America’s “most productive” car manufacturer (yawn).

While we at the ALLDERBLOB feel the pain of those who are losing their jobs, and demand to know, with CAW Union president Buzz Hargrove, GM’s logic in slashing jobs at its number-one plant, we nonetheless welcome the news.


Because the automobile is so “last century.” The whole hydro-carbon thing is just too much hot air to take anymore.


And anyway, it’s high time we start walking the walk of sustainable urban design [whatever the hell that is–ed.]. Carbohydrates, man, that’s what’s eating us these days [shurely you got that backwards? –ed.].

We note on the same day the front page trumpets GM crapping on Canada, a sidebar in the business pages speaks about new government investment in wind farms across Ontario.

And we note (from, a “pedestrian rights and advocacy group” based in New York City):

In the 1890’s there were 1200 makers of bicycles and parts in New York City with 83 bicycle shops within a one mile radius of lower Broadway . By comparison today there is one bike maker in New York City, no makers of parts, and less than 83 bike shops in all of Manhattan.

For a short period of time the bicycle industry was driving our nations economy. In the mid 1890’s there were two patent offices. One for cycling, and another for everything else.

When we think about that history, and we think about the tremendous cost and waste associated with car-dependent society, we find ourselves cheering at the news of GM’s (and imminently we hope, Ford’s and Chrysler’s) failure.

Our only sorrow is knowing about the hard landing of those who have made the mistake of investing in a future that relies on such miserable business models. Our only wish is that our government opens its eyes in time to the corrupt character of the industry it promotes so heavily (some $400 million of our tax revenue was ordained this year in support of automobile production in Ontario).

And our only request is the government stop talking out of both sides of its mouth with regard to car-culture, and simply outlaw the promotion and marketing of these machines of death.

Utopia? Legacy of Gladstone and Queen

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Two weeks ago, a guy riding a bicycle home to his family on Halloween day was run over and killed by a truck in front of the Gladstone Hotel, at the corner of Gladstone and Queen in Toronto’s west end.

The man on the bicycle, a father and a husband by the name of Ryan Carriere, was one of those people you hear about who ride a bicycle not out of need (he earned a good living) but out of choice: a choice to save a little bit of the earth for the future, to keep the air a little cleaner for everyone to breathe, and to preserve some of that oil (with its 12 full-time slaves per barrel) for more important uses than the daily portage to and from work.

It was the daytime, and the cyclist was killed by a truck that pulled him under its wheels. An investigation is underway, and the family is looking for witnesses (contact info here and at the end of this post).

Something like this happened less than two years ago, when another big truck ran over another adult cyclist at Dundas West and Dupont. And not many months before that, another cyclist was killed by a big truck on Spadina Avenue.

In fact, a report by the Toronto regional coroner in 1998 (which you can read about here) makes it clear that “38% of cyclist fatalities involved large vehicles … and that cyclists were 4 times more likely to be killed in a collision involving a large vehicle, such as the one that killed [Carriere], than in collisions with smaller vehicles.” The report recommended the government mandate wheel guards to protect the vulnerable.

Keep that thought in mind.

The full coroner’s report (read it here), also recommends a form of “law of the sea” apply to the city’s roadways. In essence this would mean that motorized traffic would yield right-of-way to pedal-traffic, which in turn would yield to pedestrian traffic.

In an article about the memorial for Carriere in the Toronto Globe and Mail last week, (read it here) his widow, Megan Holtz, said that her husband “couldn’t ride home without enduring a brief stretch of Queen Street West. He refused to cycle on the sidewalk and would sometimes walk his bike under the railway tracks near Gladstone Avenue.

“‘Pedestrians shouldn’t be forced off the sidewalk and cyclists shouldn’t be forced off the road,’ Ms. Holtz said,” according to the article.

Where are the bicycles supposed to ride?

According to the article,

Adam Giambrone, councillor for the ward Mr. Carriere lived in and chair of the city cycling committee, said that the committee has urged the province to take action on side guards for trucks. He added that the area where the accident occurred is known to be dangerous and is slated for improvement.

He also argued that, over all, the city is safe for cyclists. Cycling advocates are shaken right now, he said, but they should remember that the situation is always improving.

But [Darren Stehr, spokesperson for Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists, which organized the memorial] slammed the city, saying it is dragging its feet on cycling safety and that many city bicycle routes are poorly laid out. “You try to convince a driver to use one of those [bicycle] routes to go from A to B and he’ll say you’re nuts. It’s like they gave a monkey some crack and told him to draw,” he said.

Ironically, the crash happened in front of the Gladstone Hotel, a hotbed of radical thought and a synonym for independent culture in Toronto (with daily events, lectures and presentations you can read about here).

In fact, in a terrible irony, the Gladstone is to be the site of a book launch in a few days’ time, next Sunday, November 20. The book is uTOpia, published by Toronto’s Coach House Press.

The irony is this book, which celebrates a “spirit of renewal” in Toronto (or some such bumf) and has a foreword from no less an eminence than his worship, the Mayor of Toronto David Miller, contains 35 essays and projects by folks just like Ryan Carriere: artists and poets and philosophers all, any one of whom could have been astride a bike in front of the hotel two weeks ago. An essay, “Toronto Islands: A Love Story,” first published here, will be among the 35 or so essays and projects contained in the book.

The irony is that the essay, like many others in the book, celebrates and promotes a life without cars, a life many of us are building for and hoping for, and a life which many of us believe is no “utopia” but in fact real, possible, and necessary.

Information on the book and the launch can be found here and at the end of this post.

Following is the call that has gone out to potential witnesses of the crash that killed Ryan Carriere:

If you were there, or if you know anything which may be of use to the family, please contact:

Patrick Brown
(416) 366-6521 (direct)

McLeish Orlando LLP
One Queen Street East
Suite 1620
Box 76
Toronto, Ontario
M5C 2C5
Telephone: 416.366.3311
Fax: 416.366.3330

Here is Coach House Press’s description and schedule for the uTOpia book launch:

Something to add to your TO-do list.
uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto (eds. Jason McBride and Alana Wilcox) is an anthology that aims to capture and chronicle the wave of civic pride and enthusiasm that has washed over the city during the past two years. A compendium of pie-in-the-sky speculations and pragmatic suggestions by thirty-four different journalists, artists, thinkers, architects and activists, the book profiles Torontonians like the Zeidler family, a pair of Queen Street gallery owners and a self-proclaimed ‘infrastructure geek’ obsessed with sidewalk stamps, and considers fiftiesstyle strip malls, the TTC, gentrification, crumbling sidewalks, why Toronto is better than Paris and the perils of a car-free Kensington Market.

Playful, erudite and accessible, this book lauds, lambastes and leads the charge for change in Canada’s biggest metropolis. uTOpia includes two full-colour fold-out maps of perfectly utopian Torontos and a foreword by Mayor David Miller. Contributors include Howard Akler, Andrew Alfred-Duggan, Jacob Allderdice, Bert Archer, James Bow, Nicole Cohen, Jonny Dovercourt, Dale Duncan, Philip Evans, Mark Fram, Misha Glouberman, Chris Hardwicke, Sheila Heti, Alfred Holden, Luis Jacob, Lorraine Johnson, Edward Keenan, Mark Kingwell, John Lorinc, Sally McKay, Heather McLean, Dave Meslin, Shawn Micallef, Derek Murr, Ninjalicious, Darren O’Donnell, Planning Action, Barbara Rahder, Dylan Reid, Erik Rutherford, Jeffery Stinson, Deanne Taylor, Conan Tobias, Stéphanie Verge, Adam Vaughan and Marlena Zuber.

uTOpia Launch
Sunday, November 20, 2005
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen St. W., Toronto
416 979 2217 or

2:00 to 5:00pm
Panels, activities and more. We’ll talk public, private and political space, hold mayoral auditions, ask you to redesign your favourite building on a napkin and give the CN Tower a makeover. Bring your kids!

8:00pm to midnight
A TOast and some TOmfoolery, featuring music by Republic of Safety, Free School and special guests, and much, much more.

Sponsored by Pages’ This Is Not a Reading Series, NOW Magazine, Spacing Magazine and’s book lounge.

Silver Buggy, No Punch-backs

Saturday, November 12th, 2005

The Pong of cars rises to greet us at every turn.

Today the stench rose most distinctly from a certain silver-painted job in front of the Bedford Street entrance to the St. George subway station here in Toronto.

You drive a beetle
It makes you feeble

And “Phony Beetle-mania
Has bitten the dust.”

You drive a car!
You drive a car!
You drive a car!
You drive a car!

You drive a car
You say you must

You have a choice though
to let it rust.

Ride a bike!
Take a bus!
Take the subway, or
Take a hike

The Events of November, 2005: Why Paris is Burning

Monday, November 7th, 2005

In Paris as we write, the youth of the suburbs are setting cars on fire and running. They have been doing this for a week. Every night, congregating in the ghettoized banlieus of the city and spreading out to torch some more cars. Why?

In an absurd world, only the absurd makes sense.

Guy Debord, at another conflation of space and time that saw “violence” spreading from the ghettos an ocean away, once wrote:

AUGUST 13 – 16, 1965, the blacks of Los Angeles revolted. An incident between traffic police and pedestrians developed into two days of spontaneous riots. Despite increasing reinforcements, the forces of order were unable to regain control of the streets. By the third day the blacks had armed themselves by looting accessible gun stores, enabling them to fire even on police helicopters. It took thousands of police and soldiers, including an entire infantry division supported by tanks, to confine the riot to the Watts area, and several more days of street fighting to finally bring it under control. Stores were massively plundered and many were burned. Official sources listed 32 dead (including 27 blacks), more than 800 wounded and 3000 arrests.

Reactions from all sides were most revealing: a revolutionary event, by bringing existing problems into the open, provokes its opponents into an unhabitual lucidity. Police Chief William Parker, for example, rejected all the major black organizations’ offers of mediation, correctly asserting: “These rioters don’t have any leaders.” Since the blacks no longer had any leaders, it was the moment of truth for both sides. What did one of those unemployed leaders, NAACP general secretary Roy Wilkins, have to say? He declared that the riot “should be put down with all necessary force.” And Los Angeles Cardinal McIntyre, who protested loudly, did not protest against the violence of the repression, which one might have supposed the most tactful policy at a time when the Roman Church is modernizing its image; he denounced “this premeditated revolt against the rights of one’s neighbor and against respect for law and order,” calling on Catholics to oppose the looting and “this violence without any apparent justification.” And all those who went so far as to recognize the “apparent justifications” of the rage of the Los Angeles blacks (but never their real ones), all the ideologists and “spokesmen” of the vacuous international Left, deplored the irresponsibility, the disorder, the looting (especially the fact that arms and alcohol were the first targets) and the 2000 fires with which the blacks lit up their battle and their ball. But who has defended the Los Angeles rioters in the terms they deserve? We will. Let the economists fret over the $27 million lost, and the city planners sigh over one of their most beautiful supermarkets gone up in smoke, and McIntyre blubber over his slain deputy sheriff. Let the sociologists bemoan the absurdity and intoxication of this rebellion. The role of a revolutionary publication is not only to justify the Los Angeles insurgents, but to help elucidate their perspectives, to explain theoretically the truth for which such practical action expresses the search.

Hack journalists such as those found here (Time Magazine) or here (New York Post) (free registration required) will tell you “Paris is Burning” as a reflection of the alienation and discrimination, the joblessness and hopelessness these second- and third-generation French Muslims face.

We at the ALLDERBLOB see it differently. And with M. Debord, we hold: “The role of a velorutionary [sorry–could you check that? –ed.] publication is not only to justify the … insurgents, but to help elucidate their perspectives, to explain theoretically the truth for which such practical action expresses the search.”

Without further ado then, let us assay to explain theoretically the truth:

The truth is, everybody hates cars. The mistake of France’s angry youth is in thinking that by torching cars they will receive notice for their grievances. Instead, people all across the civilized world are cheering them on. They are wishing the hoodlums will inspire a little local mayhem, heralding a fiery end to the neighbour’s “portable furnace” in the driveway or against the curb next door.

People all across the civilized world are checking their insurance policies for coverage in case of acts of violence, and crossing their fingers that their car will be next: who wouldn’t want an inflated sum of cash in place of the stinking rattletrap heap that seems to cost more to run every day?

They’ve done the math. They know it’s cheaper to take transit, walk, or ride a bike. They need exercise, and would love to “ride a bike to the restaurant instead of drive a car to the gym” (as the well-known fortune cookie fortune has it).

Only trouble is, the alienated youth of Paris aren’t trying to do anyone any favours, and it will slowly dawn on them that nobody cares if they torch cars, for god’s sake. Unfortunately, this will mean an escalation to objects folks actually give a damn about: we’ve already seen this with schools and a garment factory being targetted.

So Folks, it’s up to you: if you want your own car torched, you’re going to have to do it yourself.