Sounds like Rob Ford’s been spotted out of rehab in the Muskokas. It’s definite – Toronto needs a new mayor, and I know just who should fill that vacant chair!

More seriously, that photo was taken on the first night of the Global Cities Summit, when we were given a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of City Hall. The Summit itself provided a very interesting overview of city indicators, data collection techniques, smart city innovations, and different practices from around the world.

I also entered my gondola poster (co-created with Matt Kelling) into the Summit’s student competition, where it captured first place. All in all, a very successful end of the week.

Last weekend, Ori and I and some friends decided we would walk the entire 25 kilometers of the Humber River Trail, from the shores of Lake Ontario to the northern border of the City of Toronto at Steeles Avenue. It’s springtime, which is our traditional time to go walking (e.g., Camino in April 2011, Bruce Trail in April 2013).

Before we started, I plotted out the route using GIS (start at the bottom):

Unfortunately, there was a 10k run along Yonge Street, which brought all of the TTC’s surface routes to a grinding halt. We ended up walking four kilometers west along Queen Street, hoping to catch a streetcar that never came. We couldn’t even get a taxi, so we eventually took the bus and subway to Old Mill, where we began our walk. This meant that we skipped the first four kilometers of the Humber hike, but I guess we made up for it along Queen Street. Anyway, we’ll do that last segment (from the lake shore to Bloor Street) at some point later in the summer.

It was nevertheless satisfying to have walked all the way to the northern city limits. The walk was very pleasant; the trail is paved most of the way, and it was never rocky or muddy. You could easily bike the whole thing. It grew a bit monotonous after a while, and there were very few amenities (e.g., bathrooms, water fountains, or even decent restaurants near to the trail).

Below: Starting our hike at Old Mill subway station.

Below: The Humber River as seen from the Old Mill Bridge.

Below: Starting out at Old Mill. It was the most beautiful day, and the trees were just starting to get leaves on them.

Below: Anglers under Old Mill Bridge.

Below: One of the many weirs along the lower part of the River. Mike, a stormwater-engineer-turned-planner, was full of interesting trivia about the weirs.

Below: Passing under Dundas Street.

Below: One of many “forest friends” we saw along the way. We saw all kinds of birds, snakes, and rodents – quite the colourful menagerie compared to downtown’s mangy squirrels, raccoons, and pigeons.

Below: This was what the view from the trail looked like most of the time.

Below: Crossing the river.

Below: Mike and Kaylen with the remnants of damage caused by Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

Below: Crossing beneath Highway 401.

Below: Tim celebrates completing the trail.

Below: Sighted from our bus along Steeles Avenue as we took the TTC home. We walked out of Toronto!

In the last couple of days, I’ve been listening to lots of music featuring polyphonic sounds produced from typically monophonic sources.

I don’t really understand the mechanisms that go into producing these sounds, but I love the effect. I encourage you to watch all of the videos below in their entirety, because the level of musicianship in each one is really amazing.

I’ll start with an example that I remember first noticing many years ago. It’s Taj Mahal, the blues singer, singing “You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond.” He starts singing polyphonically for a few bars beginning at 4:14 in the video below:

I get shivers at 4:26 when he’s singing at least two notes and also changing the interval between them as he goes.

Here’s another example. Listen for the multiphonic singing at 1:21, and again at 4:09:

Another one. Lalah Hathaway sings multiphonically at 6:12:

And of course, nobody should be surprised that Bobby McFerrin can do it, too. Listen for it at 2:11:

Here’s Kongar-ol Ondar, the Tuvan throat singer who performs regularly with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Here, the higher pitches of the multiphonic singing are almost whistle-like. It’s a different technique from those used above:

Finally, check this out – multiphonics on a tuba. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a lovely and haunting Norwegian melody. The multiphonics and other hilarity begin at 0:48:

The final year of my Master of Museum Studies degree (which I just completed!) was consumed with work on my major exhibition project. This project takes the place of a second year thesis, and I worked with three of my very good friends (Keely Bland, Hilary Walker, and Kristie Nairn) on an exhibition in partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust. Our exhibition is Huzza  for Freedom! Political Cartoons from the War of 1812, and it is on display at the Parliament Interpretive Centre (265 Front Street E) until September 1, 2014. Check it out if you are in town this summer!

british valour and yankee boasting
Our exhibition showcases reproductions of political cartoons from the 1812 period, as well as several contemporary cartoons by Canadian artists whose work reflects upon War of 1812 commemoration and its significance to Canadian identity. We had a lot of fun selecting and researching these cartoons, and unpacking the complex historical symbolism and references in order to make these images legible to a modern audience.

Here is one of my favourite cartoons from the exhibition: Johnny Bull and the Alexandrians (1814). It shows John Bull (Great Britain personified) demanding goods from the citizens of Alexandria, who cower timidly before their powerful enemy. John Bull exclaims “I must have all your Flour – all your Tobacco – All your Provisions, All your Ships – All your Merchandize – every thing except your Porter and Perry – keep them out of my sight, I’ve had enough of them already.” Porter and Perry refer to American naval officers Captain Perry and Captain Porter, who each led several American victories against British naval forces during the war.

A lot of hard work went into this project, and it was a very rewarding experience for all involved. I acted as the project manager of my group and learned a lot about how to effectively manage a team and keep on top of every aspect of the project, from small details to the big-picture vision.

We held a very well-attended opening reception on Wednesday, April 2, and we were so grateful to all of our classmates, OHT staff, family and friends who came out to support us! Here are a few photos of the event:
We had about 75 people come out to our opening reception - not too shabby!

We had about 75 people come out to our opening reception – not too shabby!

My good friend Claire Morley checks out our display of etching tools.

My good friend Claire Morley checks out our display of etching tools.

Graeme MacKay, editorial cartoonist for the Hamilton Spectator, shows fellow cartoonists his work in our contemporary Canadian section.

Graeme MacKay, editorial cartoonist for the Hamilton Spectator, shows fellow cartoonists his work in our contemporary Canadian section.

Student curators (left to right): Hilary Walker, Kristie Nairn, Keely Bland, Oriana Duinker

Student curators (left to right): Hilary Walker, Kristie Nairn, Keely Bland, Oriana Duinker

I’ll end this post with my favourite cartoon detail from the entire exhibition. If you visit the exhibition this summer, keep your eyes peeled for this hilarious little detail. (I wanted to include this cartoon in the exhibit for many reasons, but it was the French horn reference that won this brass player over!)

curse these french horns
Five years ago, I posted some recordings from my senior music minor recital at WPI. I’m now happy to be able to share some more recent recordings.

One of my bandmates in the Hart House Jazz Ensemble, Adam Xiao, asked me to play with him on a few tracks. It was a favour to a friend of his, who needed to record some musicians for a university music project.

We ended up recording six tracks, which you can listen to below. I hope you like them.

  • Someday My Prince Will Come
  • Sugar
  • Have You Met Miss Jones
  • Four
  • A Night In Tunisia
  • Easy Living

You can also hear the HHJE’s final performance of the year, at The Rex in Toronto, on our YouTube channel (although the quality’s not great).