Archive for the ‘Breaking News Dept.’ Category

Mayor Ford’s alternative to Transit City: The “Mushroom Plan” (Keep them in the dark and feed them manure).

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

To the Readers of the Allderblob: we recently came across the following letter, sealed in a concrete cylinder and buried under a pile of horse manure behind the Toronto Police equestrian facility on Strachan Ave. Marked: “Danger: Radioactive,” it was with some trepidation that we seized it in our teeth and wrenched it open. Imagine our delight at finding an epistle contained within! And since it’s been such a long time since you’ve had a chance to read such deathless prose, we’ve decided to share it with our readers.

Dear Toronto Councillors and Toronto MPPs:

As you ponder the new mayor’s brazen attempt to derail the hard work of the past administration to bring rapid transit within reach of as large a number of people in Toronto as possible, remind yourself of what it’s like to squash into a crowded subway and travel, often for long spells of time, through the dark underground passages beneath our city. Like a rat or a mole, you have no idea where you are. Like a worm, you shove your way against your surroundings to emerge into the light. Which way do you go?

More to the point, as councillors and elected representatives, which way will you take this city?

Are you lost and disoriented, blinking in the light, trying to find your bearings? Or are you standing on solid ground, aware of what’s around you because you’ve seen it coming and going through the wide windows on either side of you?

I like the fact that when I get on or off the streetcar, this busy city pauses, if only for a moment, while I walk to the curb. I see that moment as a small “Thank-you” from the individuals in their cars, a “Thank-you” offered in recognition of my choice to share my ride with a million others that day. I see their moment’s pause as an acknowledgment of both my humanness, and my superiority over their dead and death-dealing motor.

The alternative of streetcars is not a paltry compromise to the dark and expensive subway. Streetcars offer the commuter the chance to experience the daylight, to see the city she or he lives in, to climb on or off at frequent intervals, to make decisions about where and when to embark like a human being, not like some darkness-loving rodent. Streetcars encourage even-spaced development, not the “point-oriented” development that comes from the widely-spread subway stops. Subways are agreeable to many motorists, it’s true: they get the “proletarian masses” off the streets and into holes in the ground, out of the way of the car. It’s no surprise that those who support subways are only occasionally the same people who must take them for lack of other choices. It’s no surprise that grand era of the subway coincided with the “glory days” of car culture. But those days are behind us now, and forever.

I live by the axiom of the former chief planner of Toronto, Paul Bedford: “It should be possible to live one’s entire life in Toronto without ever having to own a car.” I also have the good fortune to live within a few minutes’ walk of two Toronto streetcar lines. Along either line I have access to important amenities in the city of Toronto: Ryerson University and the University of Toronto fall along one line; Toronto City Hall and the Eaton Centre along the other. I can take one streetcar from Main Station in the east end all the way to High Park in the west. I can take the other from the Beaches to a stroll along the Humber river. But many folks in our city are not so lucky. For them, hours on a crowded bus, a crowded highway, or a crowded subway is a daily fact of life. The Transit City plan of our city’s previous administration was an attempt to right this wrong, and bring fast, accessible streetcars, whether on their own right-of-ways or not, within reach of the city’s priority neighbourhoods.

We need more streetcars, whether with or without their own right-of-ways. Please be sure to vote against the new mayor’s subway plan, and in favour of the Transit City plan as it was originally created.

Thank You

David Miller declines to seek re-election for a third term, ALLDERBLOB takes the hard questions

Friday, September 25th, 2009

In a moment that will surely warm the cockles of Royson James’s heart, Toronto Mayor David “Broom-broom” Miller today announced that he has had enough of the mayoral duties, and will not be following through on his oft-touted aim of being a “three term mayor.”

At the end of his press conference, Mayor Miller made the unusual request for “courtesy,” whatever that is, and said he would not be taking questions.

Fortunately, we have the ALLDERBLOB. Royson, Ed, Enzo, and Marcus, not to mention Jeff and Antonia, you can direct your questions to us. We will answer them for you.

For example, consider the following hypothetical scenario:

Royson James (Toronto Star and Car Advertiser): Is it true, Mayor, that you have failed the people of Toronto and are now slinking out the back door with your tail between your legs?

Mayor Miller: That is a gross exaggeration (lowers trousers, turns around). As you can see, and contrary to rumour, I have no tail.

Ed Keenen Keenan (eye weekly and Car Advertiser): When you won your last election, you said the easy bicycle infrastructure had been installed by your predecessor, Mayor Last Man, but that you would be taking on the difficult projects. Yet today, the bikeplan is dead in the water. What have you done for the city’s most vulnerable road users?

Mayor Miller: Cyclists in Toronto have it easier than at any time in the city’s history. Today on Bloor street, many personal friends of mine are willing to literally lift a cyclist from the road and carry them along for a certain distance on their automobiles. Bikeplan? That’s just paper. I’ll give you a bikeplan you can believe in (grabs Ed by the neck and strikes his skull repeatedly with bare knuckles). Nyuh! Nyuh! Nyuh!.

NOW Magazine and Car Advertiser): Mayor! Mayor! NOW magazine readers want to know about your support for sex workers!

Mayor Miller: Support? I’ll show you support (activities of Mayor Miller are blocked from view by Don Wanagas’s thick tweed coat, which is whipped out and held in front of the Mayor’s lower half).

Marcus Gee (Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser): Pardon the loutish shenanigans of my lowbrow colleagues, Mayor Miller. My question is far more germaine to the real concerns of “real” Torontonians. It’s been said that you are a member of the NDP and a socialist. What are you personally going to do to refute these nefarious rumours, and to ensure that no socialist ever be elected to the mayor’s office in the future?

Mayor Miller: To answer that question, I would like to turn to a member of my Executive Council, Councillor Paula Fletcher. Paula?

Paula Fletcher: A politician’s past should not have a bearing on their activities of the present. That said, when Mr. Miller launched his campaign I was among the first to warn him he’d better quit the NDP and disavow his connection with them. I can tell you, no socialist will get anywhere near the mayor’s office in this city. Not now and not in the future. The mayor’s office will be relegated to the dustbin of history before that happens.

Antonia Zerbisias (Toronto Star and Car Advertiser): Sir, I have a question.

Don Wanagas: I’m sorry, that’s all the time we have for today.

Antonia: But sir, what about the Palestinian people? What about the small animals? What about Building Seven? Was it a controlled demolition?

Chris Phibbs: You heard the man, lady. Beat it.

(Phibbs and Wanagas form a human phalanx against the rush of photographers and reporters. Mayor Miller climbs on his waiting Segway and wheels from the room).

Jeff Gray (Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser): (arrives at back) Wha’ happen? Did I miss anything?

End of Press Conference.

More than words spilt on Bloor St

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

On Monday night we were at a party celebrating the launch of issue number three of Dandyhorse magazine. As our loyal readers will know, we share in the glory of our former Urban Design Expert (sorry about calling you a cascade of detritus in a previous post, Jake. You know we don’t mean it and we wish you every success), who has a short piece (cribbed from these pages) in the issue on the subject of bikelanes along Bloor Danforth. In a nutshell Allderdice claims bikelanes are in order on the street, but that whatever happens it’s imperative the city not destroy the part of the highway that already works well for all road users: the stretch of Danforth from Pape Ave to Broadview. In fact he advocates (and we at the ALLDERBLOB back him on this) an extension of the road-striping east of Pape all the way to Victoria Park Ave, a simple move that would turn all the Danforth into a safe and pleasant “mall” for all: cyclists, drivers and shoppers on foot.

Huzzah. Hooray for Jake. Hooray for the ALLDERBLOB. Hooray for Dandyhorse. Great party, Tammy and Arlene.

Meanwhile that same night, another cyclist was murdered in Toronto. On Bloor Street.

So much for words. Fuck words.

At around 9:45 pm, on Monday August 31, Darcy Allan Sheppard, age 33, father of four, a bike messenger, was killed in a most brutal way in front of many witnesses. The murder has claimed the attention of the nation. You can read stories about it in the Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser, in the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser, in the National Post and Car Advertiser, as well as in the New York Times and Car Advertiser, as well as most other papers in Canada. It’s front page stuff around the world in fact: try The Times and Car Advertiser of India, for example.

What makes the story shocking is the cold-blooded ruthlessness of the murder, as well as the fact that now under arrest and charged with “criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death” is Michael Bryant, the Harvard-educated former Attorney General of Ontario, former Member of Provincial Parliament, father of two and a stalwart foe of “stunt driving.” He is quoted in the New York Times article saying:

Among his targets were street-racing motorists. In 2007 he gave the police the power to seize and destroy cars modified for racing even if no charges were lodged against their owners.

After describing such cars as being as dangerous as explosives, he said, “We will crush your car, we will crush the parts.”

Later that year the province passed a bill to deem any vehicle traveling more than 50 kilometers an hour, or 31 miles an hour, faster than the speed limit to be racing. The legislation, under which more than 10,000 charges have been brought, allows the police to immediately seize vehicles and suspend licenses.

Note that the “explosive” in this case [our emphasis] was not a souped up street racing machine, but a normal old luxury vehicle, a Saab convertable.

A couple weeks ago we published an ARC press release on the murder of cyclist Tevane Sean Lennon, which said, in part:

We speak of “gunning the engine,” and the cowardice implicit in the gunning down of this man is a demonstration of a power relationship, just as much as if he had been driven into and run over.

How much more clear can this power relationship be than when the former attorney general of Ontario, in his Saab convertable, drives over an off-duty bike messenger?

Okay, it’s a sad day for Bryant too. It’s likely a career-killer. Regardless of the results of the impending trial and regardless of the valient efforts already underway to smear the dead cyclist (read here how Sheppard had outstanding warrants from Alberta for writing cheques to himself, and watch this to learn that according to one witness, Sheppard escalated the violence), Bryant will forever have this death on his hands, his own personal Chappaquiddick.

He’s trying. He’ll have the best legal council money can buy, and it does not take a cynic to imagine a future where he walks free, acquitted of all charges. If convicted, Bryant could receive a sentence of about two years. In the meantime he’s issued a self-serving statement, in a few terse words, expressing “sincere condolences” for the family of his victim.

There’s only one way this most powerful individual will ever be able truly redeem himself–that is if he abandons his car-worship and joins with ARC and others in the call for better bicycle infrastructure across all of Toronto. He could start by pushing his fellow Harvard crony at City Hall, Mayor David Miller, to demand a bikelane be built across the spine of Toronto, along the very street where Darcy Allan Sheppard was killed: Bloor-Danforth.

We will wait to hear if Michael Bryant ever utters the words “Take the Tooker” to judge the “sincerity” of his “condolences” to Darcy Allan Sheppard’s family.

UPDATE: ARC calls for police to be removed from the Bryant case: See TorontoCranks for more.

UPDATE 2: Dave Meslin, founder of Toronto Cyclist Union, agrees with Toronto Police Sheppard was not a cyclist but a pedestrian. See Mez dispenser for more.

upcoming events dept. (VEER, DandyHorse #3)

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

We received the following request in the mail:

I want to let you know about a TCAT film screening coming up at CineCycle, in the hope that you will be able to spread the word on your fantastic blog:) Let me know if this would be possible. See you around at the Bicycle Film Festival or elsewhere.

Eh? our fantastic blog? Please, sir, it’s blob, not blog.

But aside from that, we aim to please:

Date: Thursday, August 27th, 2009.

VEER. TCAT (Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation) presents an award winning documentary on cycling activism. 8 PM. 8 $. CineCycle, 129 Spadina Avenue.

The Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation is proud to present Veer, a full-length documentary on community based cycling activism through five main protagonists. The film is presented by TCAT and will be screened on August 27th at 8 PM. Tickets are 8 dollars and there will be drinks and expresso [please fix spelling before publication –ed.] available at the bar.

The film has received numerous awards, including Best Documentary at CUFF and a nomination for Best Documentary at the San Joaquin International Film Festival. Cinematographer Jason Turner recalls, “in Feb the film played the Victoria Film Festival where it sold out its first screening, and was the only film to have a second screening added which also sold out with as many people waiting outside as got in to see it”. So, if you want a chance to see Veer in Toronto, line up early for our August 27th screening at CineCycle, at 8 PM.

Also, Dandyhorse magazine, the publishing arm of the mighty Toronto Cyclist Union, is emerging from its chrysalis for the third time in just over a year, next week. Will it be lucky?

Apparently, there’s a party:

dandyhorse celebrates cycling in Toronto!

Come celebrate the end of summer with us on August 31.

Original bike art by Elicser, Marlena Zuber and Janet “Bike Girl” Attard, as well as limited edition dandyhorse t-shirts, for sale and by raffle to lucky ticket holders.

$10 admission includes raffle for limited editionposter sized print of original cover art by Elicser. $5 for subscribers.

(*People with pants on will not be turned away.)

We understand our former Urban Design Expert has pirated a screed from these pages and is blathering in this latest issue about Danforth Avenue. What a bore. What a schnorrer. What a pseudo-intellectual. What a cascade of detritus.

The party’s at the Gladstone hotel(tm) which is not a boutique hotel, but a “unique” hotel [gag –ed.]. The Gladstone’s in the west end. Darn that “west” “end.” They have everything but the best ice cream. For the city’s best ice cream apparently you gotta come to Ellie’s Ville [please, that’s “Leslieville.” –ed.].

Strange convergence of Gun and Car in Toronto: Cyclist killed, Memorial planned

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) announces a MEMORIAL to be held for the latest cyclist casualty on the streets of Toronto: Tevane Sean Lennon, 22, murdered Tuesday August 11, 2009, at the corner of Finch Ave and Martin Grove Rd.
Memorial date: August 18. Meet at Bloor and Spadina, 5:30 pm for a group bicycle ride, or 7:30 pm at the murder site. Bring flowers.

ARC STATEMENT: A couple years ago, a disproportionate number of Torontonians were killed or injured in gunfire, and the media were all over it. “The Year of the Gun,” they called it. And indeed the destruction was wanton and horrifying. At the same time, however, some observed that death on the roads from car crashes, including a large number of pedestrians and cyclists killed by car, went unheralded even while this number was far higher than that of people killed by gunfire.

This year, the media have taken up the concept of a “War on the Car,” as if this inanimate object that so limits our transportation choice in the city of Toronto should be the subject of humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, the death and injury from gunfire and from car crashes both have been the locus of the real “war” on Toronto’s streets: a war that is killing real human beings.

There are actual cases where “vehicular homicide” is planned and carried out, with the guilty party receiving only a minor penalty, if at all, for their “accident.” Occasionally the car and the gun converge, with the homicide clearly intentional but no less horrifying than when it is done using the vehicle alone.

One such case was this past Tuesday, August 11, when Tevane Sean Lennon, 22, a cyclist, returning to his family home from a grocery shopping trip, was fired upon from the window of an automobile and killed.

Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists stands up whenever a cyclist is killed on the streets of Toronto. We pay our respects to the fallen for we know we could be him or her. We understand the danger that goes with the joy of riding a bicycle, and we work toward making the city a safer place for all cyclists, at all times and in all neighbourhoods.

In this strange convergence of the car and the gun as the source of danger to our fellow cyclist, we ask how strange is it, really? The car, like the gun, represents power, a machine purchased toward the end of enabling weak, dumb humans to rise above their station at the expense of the environment, including the lives of other human beings. A cyclist has made a choice of human-ness in the face of dumb power, and as such is vulnerable to the expression of dumb power. We speak of “gunning the engine,” and the cowardice implicit in the gunning down of this man is a demonstration of a power relationship, just as much as if he had been driven into and run over.

No one deserves to be killed on the streets of Toronto, whether by gun or by automobile. We will ride to the site of the murder and hold a moment of silence in memory of the victim, in solidarity with his family and friends and in hope that justice will be served.

That’s sad about John Travolta.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

When something bad happens to John Travolta, it happens to all of us. Fortunately, we have Gonzales. Gonzales makes everything from the 70s better.

Santa Claus and the great north pole melt of 2008: Don’t cry for me, Argentina!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Like many of you on Xmas eve, we at the ALLDERBLOB are huddled around our teevees holding out for a bit of warmth. It’s hard to come by these days. Luckily, with climate change and all that, we’re expecting big changes in the home heating department.

Santa Claus is apparently going to have some home heating issues of his own, a lot sooner than anyone predicted!

Speaking of jolly old St. Nick, wasn’t that a nice present he handed over to the outgoing U.S. president the other day? After the waterboarding and all, he seemed ready to give George just about anything he could’ve asked for–but this was better than any climate change expert had predicted. Even Dick Cheney, the most knowledgeable climate change expert of any.

Oh wait, that’s not Santa Claus. That’s Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Oops. My bad.

Taking ourselves too seriously

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Most of our readers (hi, Pokerslam14! Hi, Casino4Real! Hi, Tegsasholdem!) have been returning to our site over and over during the past couple weeks, eager for our take on the turn of events at the seat of government, both here in Canada (Harper still holds the Prime Ministership in a minority government, after a vote in which the smallest percentage of eligible voters in Canadian history bothered to cast ballots) and in the U.S.A. (so Dieboldt was not able to rig the election this time). Most of our readers (hi, Casinofaves! Hi, Pokerpartay! Hi, Deal_me_in!) have their knickers in a knot, waiting for our take on the so-called “crisis” that has brought the “shrivelled 3” to the door of the poorhouse and to the government feeding trough, begging for handouts.

To tell the truth, we are as amazed as the next person, and as perplexed as anyone about the doofuses who run the formerly giant car-makin’ machineries. What is it, something in the water that makes them so stupid? What is it, something in the air that makes them so greedy? What is it, something in their feedbags that makes them so suicidal?

We bought a new bike a couple weeks ago. It cost us over $800. It has an 8-speed internal hub and a coaster brake. With a barrel of oil (read 25,000 man-hours of labour) now costing below $50 US, we thought about sniffing around for a wrecky old car instead. We thought about the VW bus with “issues” that a friend put up for sale not long ago at $500.

But we look to the future, and we say, “nah.” We see how cars defuture.

How come so few others see the same?

We lay our cruds on the table

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Here at the ALLDERBLOB, that blob of blobs, we rarely show our hand. Oh, them as can read between the lines know we take pride in that part of the city of Toronto known by locals as “the Pocket,” and may even figure out we hold a stake in the neighbourhood. After all, what else could it mean when we describe “chez ALLDERBLOB” as Seymour Jones?

Sadly our days in the Pocket are numbered.

Actually, the number is exactly 30.

We’ve sold our place, and are moving on to greener pastures.

Will the move affect the blob of blobs? Does a raccoon defecate under the back porch? Things will change. But we leave you with two abiding images: one is our kitchen, with the stove we rescued 13 years ago from the scrap metal collector down the street, and restored with a new manifold and all new valves;

The stove

The famous stove

the other is the fabled shed, the true castle of chez ALLDERBLOB, which resides in all its glory at the back of the back yard, hard by the subway yard and from whose second floor windows one could espy all kind and manner of goings-on.



Stevie Harper has left the building; Chris Carlsson shows up

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Word has it Canada is to elect a new government. The writ, as they say, was dropped a couple days ago when the Prime Minister, Stephen “Steve” Harper, formally requested Governor General Michaëlle Jean to dissolve Parliament.

To do this, he left his own house early last Sunday morning in a four-car motorcade and drove to Parliament, where Jean had been told to expect him.

At 20 minutes after 8 a.m., Harper drove in a four-car prime ministerial motorcade across the street from his 24 Sussex Drive residence to Rideau Hall and told Governor-General Michaelle Jean he needed a new mandate.

Four cars. To drive literally across the street.

View Larger Map

And Steve wants us to believe he cares about the environment?

Thanks to Vic for the tip.

Our colleague Chris Carlsson, meanwhile, stopped by Toronto during the weekend past to promote his new book Nowtopia and get to know the city.

Chris, the man, is not the same person as Chris, the legend. The legend invented Critical Mass bike rides, a global phenomenon celebrated each month in some 300 cities. The man acknowledges he contributed to the discussion, and coined the name (the movement started out in San Francisco, Carlsson’s home town, under the name “Commuter Clot,” but Carlsson, who had visited China and seen the way cyclists there could literally stop the movement of motorized traffic when they built up in sufficient numbers or resolve, conceived of the name critical mass to describe the phenomenon). For “inventing” Critical Mass in 1992, Carlsson was awarded the Golden Wheel Award by the San Francisco Bike Coalition. His book Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Defiant Celebration would be on any cycling advocate’s wish list.

Chris Carlsson, the legend, founded Processed World in 1981, a magazine (now a website) devoted to chronicling the emerging class of workers whose skills as typists eclipsed any creative abilities or gifts they might have had, when it came to finding employment.

The magazine’s creators found themselves using their only marketable skill after years of university education: “handling information.” In spite of being employed in offices as “temps,” few really thought of themselves as “office workers.” More common was the hopeful assertion that they were photographers, writers, artists, dancers, historians or philosophers.

Chris’s new book, Nowtopia, is a starchly written analysis of labour relations in the post-modern era, and as such ties in nicely with the Prime Minister of Canada deciding to quit his day job during Carlsson’s Canadian visit.

As Carlsson describes it,

Nowtopia is a book about a new politics of work. It profiles tinkerers, inventors, and improvisational spirits who bring an artistic approach to important tasks that are ignored or undervalued by market society. Rooted in practices that have been emerging over the past few decades, Nowtopia’s exploration of work locates an important thread of self-emancipatory class politics beyond the traditional arena of wage-labor.

When we have the Prime Minister of Canada acknowledging he is at best a “temp,” in other words, we are close to living the “Nowtopia” Carlsson describes. In this emerging world, we are not defined by our jobs but by what we do in our spare time. Is Prime Minister Stephen Harper the boss? Or is he just a hopeless drone, pushing paper in a windowless cubical while he itches to make some xerox art while the real boss goes to lunch?

For Carlsson, “Steve” Harper would be only a tool in the spectacle of power, no more or less than some of the tools he’s had to fire in the past week as his reelection campaign veered into weird territory.