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My workplace is getting renovated. I'm excited to see a young architecture firm take the weirdness that is our central library/farmers market building and integrate the spaces. There's a great focus on the social space and providing both a view of each other as well as areas for privacy. I'm looking forward particularly to the new reading room with fireplace and the public kitchen in the market! Also the two-way conversion of York Blvd out front as well as parking lanes that turn into places for farmers market vendor stalls in the summer.

The current 1980 building is a fabulous experiment in open concept and while being nice to be in has some flaws. Like being able to hear the children's department in the archives and staff quarters being, essentially, big cubicles added on to the peripheral as an after-thought. Or the fact that the first floor is presently large print, circulation, children's dept., conference rooms and a hallway. People generally expect books and computers when they walk into a library these days.

Preliminary work has already begun.

Rendering: Hamilton Farmers Market / Central Library Renovation from Raise the Hammer on Vimeo.
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Greg ([ profile] plaidninja) has been my stalwart partner in crime for various purposes over the years. One of our favourite things to do when we hang out is to see AWESOME BANDS and drink lots and stuff. Given that we don't see eachother all that much these days, I'm too busy doing my thing and he's too busy doing his thing, it was refreshing to spending hanging out drinking too much and seeing AWESOME BANDS and drinking lots and stuff.

Hey know what's fun about Canada? 13% sales tax! Also indie bands get free hosting on the CBC with like pictures and tour dates and embed-able Shockwave applications for me to put in my blog. That's tax-dollar value right there.

Kids on TV

Kids on TV
Photo by David Hawe

Kids On TV emerged from the drainage pipe of a Toronto bathhouse in the spring of 2003. The group consists of John Caffery, Minus Smile, Wolf, and Roxanne Luchak. Their output includes, but is by no means limited to, musical recordings, musical performances, film, dance videos,rock opera collaborations, graffiti, crafting, and live "sleep-ins" in ritzy Toronto bars. Kids On TV want to transform space and your mind. Tune in. Get addicted. Get nasty. Kids On TV bring it live and bring it real with big dirty beats, shameless samples and breakdance meat.

Back in the twilight years of Toronto's Toolbox bar for bears and gays and things Kids on TV played a performance. Unfortunately I did not attend as I was likely sleeping or sucking a dick or working or something. Bummer. Word is they confused the poor bears at the bar but brought their own crowd down to Eastern Ave and Morse away from the Church Street Homosexual Ghetto.

The band is sorta all over the map stylistically channelling everything from the classic homosexualism of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Pet Shop Boys to EBM/Goth stuff. Throw in some break dancing and screaming for good measure.

What's fun about them is that they bring a dance party without being some Womyn's Studies all inclusive pan-gender Drag King stinky pit cunt poetry throw-down. Conversely we have 'bear music'. This has the sad tendency to come down to essentially a college town open mic. The subjects of performance being like a hot under-grad chick in a tight sweater with a big rack. Acoustic guitar from summer camp in tow it's not secrete that all the boys want to bone her. Why else would anyone tolerate C-D-G songs about how cute her dead cat 'Jingles' was? Except everyone is big, fat, hairy and male. Or into that look.

My point being that 'gay bands' can be good and overtly gay without negating the music. If you are a gay making music about the gaying try and do it in a way that even the more rigid of straight boys will dig. Otherwise you just look like you're trying too hard to get laid, sell records or gain some sort of promotional advantage. I don't get up on stage grinding with the band and screaming along to the songs I don't know with the above examples but I did at the Kids on TV show. And, personally, that's how I define a good night out.

And more bands! Clickity click! )
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Spent the evening at Gary and Kieran's new gallery talking to my friend John. He's a researcher on respiratory illness at McMaster University here in Hamilton. His wife is an arts administrator type. They've come here from Sydney to save this Canadian city from itself and are two of the most dynamic shit disturbing people you'd ever imagine. They're smacking slackers in the face and getting shit done. Take that complacency.

There is a nearly hilarious situation here in Hamilton's almost-trendy James St. North arts district. With Australians, ex-news paper employees, arts burn outs and members of historic farming families changing the way the city approaches art.

I'm optimistic. Best of all I get to be part of it all.

I got to re-connect briefly with [ profile] etherlad today too.

Good night. Didn't spend a dime.

Let's Drink

Jul. 4th, 2007 06:58 pm
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Thanks to my Facebook social network, pervasive digital cameras and alcohol I can now never forget karaoke that I'd be better off forgetting.


Jun. 20th, 2007 06:34 pm
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Mike Long finally sold out!


Jun. 13th, 2007 11:22 pm
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Bayfront, originally uploaded by nfotxn.

I met up with Jeremy in the parking lot of our building getting a boost from his Mom who'd been visiting. So we decided we'd go charge the battery by roving around town looking at buildings. One such place was the Lifesavers plant on Cumberland that, since Hershey's acquisition and subsequent closing of the plant, has laid derelict.

Jeremy and I ended up in the parking lot talking to the security guard. A dirty biker daddy type whom was just dirty enough to be less than hot. He was also a little crazy (or lonely) but pleasant enough to not totally invalidate anything that he'd tell us. We were mostly interested in the structural state of the building. It's made from brick, concrete and steel and however vandalized the structure is in good shape. It's three floors each 18,500 sqft with 12' ceilings on the 1st and 2nd and surprising 14' floors in the basement. It's a beautiful piece of well built and practical deco inspired architecture made from local red brick and limestone from sometime in the early 50's.

The place was as pristine as a theme park up until the day Hershey sold the building. It was heavily vandalized by some kids 8-12 years old a few years ago. They broke all but 6-8 of the brand new windows. They were caught by police right as a 12-year-old kid was about to hit an extremely high amp power main with a 4' steel pipe to "see the sparks".

We were given stories likely fed by the owner of the building to the security guard about possible plans for the place. However it became obvious that given the mention of "The City" that in all likely hood property standards by-law was being enforced upon them. And it's likely the city is threatening imminent domain. Which is a good thing for those in the city who have plans to adaptively re-use these spaces. Because the building will sell for a lark.

Afterwards we met up with Kim and Sarah and Captain Frackelton for some ice cream down at Hutches on Bayfront Park. There were city people there showing off the latest preferred plan for the West Harbour Waterfront. Which is already a bustling place on any non-inclement day during the summer. The Park already exists but the improvements they have in mind are currently seeping through City Hall.

Even if they complete 1/2 of the improvements on the map I will be as pleased as punch. Because I live a block away.

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In the Paper!, originally uploaded by nfotxn.

I got my opinion printed in the paper. A local politician came to pander to us before an election. So I said my bit and it got published! And highly stripped down! But published!

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There was a big storm here Friday night! It was so windy that on my way home my beard was being blow UP my face. Ironically just after I'd told [ profile] wwabbit that we don't "really get tornados and dangerous weather" here in Hamilton AND observed [ profile] brianmn and [ profile] pigboy74's surprise bathroom remodelling by candlelight.

Apparently some lightening hit this telephone poll just the right way that it caught on fire. Of course Matt and I didn't know what was going on when the police pulled up outside. So Matt took a gander out our front door to see others gawking up the hill. Low and behold it was not a UFO but indeed a handsome old wooden telephone poll on fire!

Not soon after that some cop was barking at us to "GET BACK INSIDE OR THERE'LL BE 15,000 VOLTS FALLING ON YOU!" as if he were Bruce Willis or something. How about informing the people in the area that they are in possible immediate danger rather than barking at us after you tie the police barrier to our railing, dingus?

We headed out the back door to watch behind the barrier. No particularly hunky firemen. But it's not like they were parading around in suspenders and a smile. The utility people turned off the power and the firemen watched the pole burned until it set itself free. Sprayed it with water. We went upstairs to Jer's to eat all his ice cream (it's melting!) and drink all his vodka (it's melting) and smoke all his pot (it's melting!). Then I headed to the art crawl where I intended to record my performance with Matt, Mark and Anja. But my batteries were dead. We did a pretty fierce Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels) on the drop of a hat, I swear!

Oh right, the video:
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Barton Haus, originally uploaded by nfotxn.

We're signing a new lease that comes with new walls for our retardedly large space. So I tried out Google Sketch Up again and decided that I'm probably fit to be an architect. Seriously architects, you went to school for nothing. See all my fancy little lines and measurements and things? I have no idea what they mean. That's right, I can do 3-D Rendering. It's the wave of the future.

* Model not to scale.

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Jelly 1/4 Century Retrospective, originally uploaded by nfotxn.

For those of you whom have not met my roomie, band mate and former 2002 mayoral candidate Matt Jelly allow me to inform you of his turning 25 years old today. We made some commemorative buttons to market the occasion. Meet us at Doors Pub around 9PM for candid performances by Wordman Z, Wax Mannequin, Mark Raymond, LAZERFIST and other special guests!

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What's this? Now indexed as, currently, in the top-50 comedians on YouTube. It's The Longer dancing outside the Harvey's they closed just steps from my workplace at HPL Central. Hit that shit gays. Make him a star!

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It's the longer again. Dancing to Huggy Bear outside my faaaabulous apartment.

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Wax Mannequin, originally uploaded by nfotxn.

Ok. Start at the beginning. I've been a busy boy.

Last weekend the Hamilton Artists Inc. did their annual "Artopia" fund raiser in which local artists took paint cans ("buckets") and made art pieces that were auctioned off. The event raised more than $10,000 for the Inc. AND everyone got righteously trashed on good beer. Jelly hosted with Dan Zen and it was a swell time.

This is Wax Mannequin fiercing the one-man-band having just hauled ass from Waterdown at a previous gig to close up Artopia.

Check out his music on myspace. I suggest "Animals Jump". More pics of him on Flickr. by the talented Steph Bell.

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Hamilton Art Party, originally uploaded by nfotxn.

This was an art party held by our friend Colm and others. Pictured is my back as I talk to roomie Jessica about... art? They were scoring a film live and painting the walls of an old construction company building. The irony was that despite the pretentious squat party feel it was in fact a rented building with a liquor license.

In the end it was all in good fun and people had a good time.

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Well, this is validating. I meant to blog about this earlier but I was reminded about it whilst chatting with Steve and Doug last night. For once the press about Hamilton isn't regarding failing industry or rates of cancer. In fact the jist of the article seems to be that Hamilton is the place for GTA based artists to afford their craft. But still live in the lifestyle they were accustomed to in the increasingly grupster infested neighbourhoods of Toronto like Queen West.

Yeah, I already told everyone that. Like twice. And once more when I was drunk and forgot I'd already told you.

So let me allow this to be my documented advice to all my local gays with money. Buy a house in the James Street Noth/Jamesville area. Barring something tragic like a horrible batch of acrylic paint that asphyxiates all the artists in the area it's unlikely this place is going to un-gentrify any time soon.

Oh and Douglas Drake is my roomie Doug. You know, just to get the biases out in the open.

Hamming it up

Toronto artists are finding a cheap and cheerful alternative to the megacity in Hamilton.

The New York Times ran a piece last year about how all the young New York artists were packing up their paint brushes and decamping for Philadelphia, which is close and cheap, and, has Philly Cheesesteaks. I joked with my editor: "Hey, maybe the same thing's happening with Toronto and Hamilton.''

We laughed. Oh how we laughed.

Imagine my surprise when I found it to be true.

"I'm a former Torontonian and I moved here two and a half years ago," says Ian Jarvis, artist and community programmer for Hamilton Artists Inc., an artist run spot that supports contemporary visual arts.

Mr. Jarvis tells me he was part of the whole Toronto arts scene -- still is -- "but it's really hard to be an artist in Toronto now," he laments. "You need two to three jobs to make a living so there's no time for art, and no room for art storage."

Artists are being priced out and pushed out of work lofts and studios as the buildings morph into cafes and condos. "So we decided to move to Hamilton, where we bought a four bedroom 100-year old Victorian house with a basement rental."

His mortgage? $276 a month. Actually, make that $138, because he splits it with his partner. "As a result," explains Mr. Jarvis, "I only need to work three days a week, which leaves four days for creating art."
carrying on... )
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Let it be known that the new Junior Boys record is great live. They've added a drummer and are also dressing nicer. The new tracks are super solid and mostly just missing tricky stuff you can't do live too easily like vocoders and vocal harmonies.

Not surprising is that their best track live is still Under The Sun because Jeremy really knows how to go to town with that sloshy wet chorus and delay guitar. This is because they've toured that song for a while now. This set off the new drummer in the live set-up and turned it into a whole new ball game. The track was dancey and wet like sweat. But still felt like a long ride on your bike as the sun sets. If they get all the songs like this during the tour they will be total stars.
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House of Rock dot CA, originally uploaded by nfotxn.

This evening the sun stretched across the dilapidated buildings of Donut Rock City. A blue school bus, destination Venezuela, arrived from Cape Breton Island. There's a warm breeze and un-fussy pints. Jelly conducts the open stage with the regulars like Word Man Z. The Cape Breton'ers ate, sound checked and mingled. Jelly gave out the winner's prize. A copy of "The Next Best Thing" and the featured vegetable which was a few cloves of garlic, peeled and ready to press.

The House of Rock kids from Cape Breton took the stage. They were all really great. Tom Fun and the Holy Microphones were awesome. Here's a song from the website that doesn't do the live show justice. I would definitely check them out as well as Slowcoaster and Carmen Townsend at A real talented bunch.

A really great relaxing time in the downtown Hammer. I love my medium sized city.

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I fierce the Viola

If anyone wants to see some wicked photos of the last SQ gig check it out! There are tons of pics of moi! Moi moi moi! Stephanie Bell took some wicked photos.

We're recording soon it would seem. Also fluorescent orange is the new black. Know it, love it, live it.
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My band played last night. Before rehearsal we felt we needed more percussion so we stopped by the local music shop and I laid down a few hundred clams on a drum machine. Now there is a fourth member of Squirrel Cage and his name is Doctor Rhythm.

The gig at the Pepper Jack turned out really well. I fierced the viola as well as did some jamming on the drum machine in a "I just bought this 5 hours ago" style. The performance went much better than our last one by a factor of at least 12. The band is starting to work a bit better stripped down to three humans and one doctor of rhythm. Our last song "The End" was helped immensely by some really artistic reverb/delay work by our sound guy Doug. Thanks Doug! Also Jelly brought the smoke machine however no lasers were to be found. Next time I think I need to buy a few at a dollar store and give them to sexy dudes in the crowd.

We'll be recording the first record soon. Jeremy secured funding from the university as part of the films he is directing for them. Sly! Although first things first we need have a non-stoned/exhausted/last minute rehearsal. Haven't done that in a while.

Still breathing.


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