A new book about DETROIT by someone who can really write . . . Mark Binelli

DETROITCITYMARK BINELLI is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Men’s JournalHe decided to write a book about the ‘afterlife of an American metropolis’ (i.e. that old deteriorating reliable, DETROIT, Michigan).  Binelli looks beyond the city’s scarred landscape to a DETROIT that may have a future.  An excerpt below . . .“For people of my generation and younger, growing up in the Detroit area meant growing up with a constant reminder of the best having ended a long time ago. We held no other concept of Detroit but as a shell of its former self. Our parents could mourn what it used to be and tell us stories about the wonderful downtown department stores and the heyday of Motown and muscle cars. But for us, those stories existed as pure fable. It was like being told about an uncle who died before you were born, what a terrific guy he’d been, if only you’d had the chance to meet him, see how handsome he looks in these old pictures . . .Would my kids one day grow up thinking the same thoughts about America as a whole, about my ponderous tales of cold war victories and dot-com booms? It was easy to let your imagination drift in melodramatic courses. A malaise spreading through the rest of the country—a creeping sense of dread that, after spending the past eight years doing absolutely everything wrong, this time we really had reached the inevitable end of our particular empire—all of this had the effect of making Detroit, for the first time in my life, feel less like a crazy anomaly and more like a leading indicator. The mood of hopelessness had become palpable. I found myself fleetingly wondering if Detroit, in the end, might reclaim its old title after all—not the Motor City but the city of tomorrow.I squinted out over the ledge one last time. The icy wind was almost harsh enough to make you cry, and Detroit, from up here, looked like it went on forever.” – Mark Binelli, Detroit City is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis. illustrated, 318 pp, Metropolitan Books

Get to know your local hipster – “The Unknown Hipster Diaries” Edition #2

Jean-Philippe Delhomme’s “Unknown Hipster Diaries” Edition #1 was a sell-out.  A thousand copies of Edition #2 (August Editions) will appear in March/2013, available in selected American bookstores and on-line from Amazon.

HIPSTER3So what is a hipster?  In a nutshell, a subculture of independent thinking 20 and 30 year-olds (usually), into counter-culture, progressive politics, art, indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, witty banter – that kind of stuff.  They cluster in major cosmopolitan centres, dress in vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses.  TORONTO has a good-sized hipster population.  Some local Hipsterspotting locales: Kensington Market, Leslieville, Riverdale, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, West Queen West, Ossington Avenue and certain parts of Parkdale.  Most are well educated, often with liberal arts or maths and sciences degrees, and many find jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries.

To learn more about the species, visit Jean-Philippe Delhomme’s thoroughly charming blog, http://www.unknownhipster.com/.  A working artist, Delhomme’s clients include Barneys New York, The Mark Hotel, Le Bon Marche and Sotheby’s.

Cocktail Bar, laugh machine, sound EFX gadgets @ CBC’s Radio & TV Museum

Enter the world of sound effects, laugh tracks, vinyl and vintage radio production at the CBC Radio and Television Museum, 250 Front Street West.

SOUNDEFX7<The Cocktail Bar played vinyl records only, either one at a time or simultaneously.>

SOUNDEFX5<An early Laugh Track Machine.  Each drawer holds 6 unique laugh track recordings.  When all 3 drawers were in use, up to 18 different laugh tracks could be mixed together to create any unique sound required.

The CBC Radio and Television Museum is open 5 days a week.  It’s free. 250 Front Street West, inside the Broadcast Centre.

472 vertical windows = 472 chronic-care beds . . . at the new Bridgepoint Health

A distinctive landmark already, and the doors don’t open until April, Bridgepoint Health perches above the Don Valley Parkway, Don River, and acres of ravine parkland.  The 680,000 hectare structure further cements TORONTO’s longtime status as Canada’s #1 medical centre.57% of Ontarians older than 65 live with 3 or more chronic diseases – sometimes as many as 8 or 9.  Once patients move into this bright new hospital, staff’s primary goal is to get them out and about, learning to manage their illnesses.  All aspects of the building – from communal dining rooms, to an Internet café, spiritual room, rooftop garden, visitor lounges, outside terraces and hairdressing services – have been designed with this end in mind.  <PHOTOS BELOW – construction of Bridgepoint 2010-12/ the semi-circular old hospital (to be demolished)/the restored Don Jail (1848) /landscaped parkland on the lip of the Don Valley>

BRIDGEPOINT2Bright floor-to-ceiling windows in every patient’s room offer spectacular views of the Riverdale neighbourhood to the east, the city skyline and Cabbagetown to the west.  Cabbagetown, just across the Gerrard Street Bridge  (Sumach/Sackville/Spruce Streets) contains several early medical buildings which have been turned into townhouses and apartments.  The first Toronto General Hospital (demolished), Women’s College Hospital (renovated) and a block of medical residences were established in this heritage neighbourhood.

The Heliconian Hall – Yorkville’s wooden masterpiece, 35 Hazelton Avenue

The TORONTO Heliconian Club is the oldest association of its kind in Canada. It was founded in 1909 to give women in the arts and letters an opportunity to meet socially and intellectually.  Members range in age and experience from women who have earned great distinction to those in the early stages of their careers.  The building itself was erected in 1876, and is one of our city’s rare wooden structures.


The General Motors pavilion and its “Futurama” ride/exhibition was a must-see attraction at New York’s World’s Fair in 1939-40.  Inside was a diorama, viewed from a rotating platform, showing an America of skyscrapers, radio-controlled cars, miles and miles of freeways, and homogenized greenbelts.  The World’s Fair and its exhibits are included in a new book about industrial designer, Norman Bel Geddes, “the man who streamlined the world.”   “Norman Bel Geddes Designs America” (Abrams, $65).

Reclaiming public space for the public . . . on Church Street.

POSTERINGYet another TORONTO neighbourhood is preparing for a war on postering.  The Church/Wellesley Business Improvement Area will be installing eighteen poster-resistant colourful wraps on Church Street hyrdro poles come March.

BIA co-chair AVERY PITCHER says “it’s our goal to incorporate community postering into the Village in a way that enhances the area, rather than seeing one hydro pole after another covered with multiple copies of commercial posters advertising events elsewhere in the city.”

Other neighbourhoods have tried to reduce postering.  Some have succeeded (Bloor Street West is the best example); others have not.  It’s a fight that has to be won every single day.

Councillor ADAM VAUGHAN supports the use of pole wraps in Koreatown, the Annex and the Entertainment District.  “It’s a response to people that over-poster.  I don’t have any objection to it,” he told Xtra magazine this month.

TORONTO is one of the most over-postered cities in North America.  There’s nothing beautiful about plastering a community with pasted up messages from cheapskate commercial enterprises.