Category Archives: Ottawa

ain’t that good news

I spent the first part of this afternoon listening to BBC World Service reports on the state of our world.

I’m tempted to not make that mistake again. At least, not ’til things are brighter.

Not that good news cannot be gleaned from recent world events. With a bit of effort.

Hence, dear reader, I present a few reasons to be cheerful.

Like, um, let’s see… Continue reading

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Ottawa’s Leiper of faith

Austin, Texas.

The self-proclaimed live music capital of the world.

A key stop on the chitlin circuit. The centre of Texas blues and country. The city of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson, The Flatlanders, South by Southwest, Antone’s, Roky Erickson, Janis Joplin, Lucinda Williams, Townes van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Scratch Acid, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Marcia Ball, Butthole Surfers and many other influential artists.

And, since 1974, home to Austin City Limits.

There is no city like it. But, if recent press reports are to be believed, the next Austin is prepared to make its name on the international music scene.

You know it as Ottawa.

That news likely came as a surprise to many, for Ottawa is not Austin. Never has been. Probably never will be. At least, not until global warming gathers a little more steam.

Yet, Councillor Jeff Leiper (Kitchissippi Ward), known to some as “the music councillor,” is not deterred. Far from it. And if his vision for Ottawa as a city with a bona fide music industry is ambitious, he is quick to acknowledge that this ain’t Austin.
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and the sign says

Seat belts save lives! Motorcycles need space! Signal for lane changes, you! And while you’re at it, secure that baby seat!

You may have noticed such helpful reminders looming over the Queensway in recent months. Spanning the width of the highway’s east- and westbound lanes, the conciliatory messages loom over three or four lanes of traffic. During rush hour, one has plenty of time to study and digest the information provided, which can range from the humourous (Next time, take the bus!) to the cryptic (“Speed enforced!” reads one — perhaps a reminder that it can be dangerous to drive too slowly on the Queensway.)

They are insistent. They are massive. They are bilingual. And they now come equipped with graphics.

What they are not, however, is particularly useful to the rush-hour motorist wondering why traffic is not moving. (Hint: It’s rush hour.) Continue reading

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bed rest and plenty of fluids

This morning, I went for lunch at Ottawa City Hall.

Which is a bit of a pity, as the only lunch option available involved standing at the end of very long lines to sample the latest in street food.

True, long lines at lunchtime are not unusual. But this was my first time in days experiencing natural light for any length of time. (Tell me about it! —Snorri) The bulk of my week has been spent in bed nursing a case of tuberculosis. No, not tuberculosis. What’s the word? Influenza. That’s what Jimmie Rodgers had, right?

I probably should still be in bed, but when offered an opportunity to share with a roomful of Councillors, reporters and musicians the experience of being put on hold by the City’s 311 phone service, well, one can only resist so much temptation.

And to those in attendance at the Mayor’s Boardroom event today, I’m pretty sure I am no longer contagious. Continue reading

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there is such thing as a free launch

This morning, I attended the official launch for Westfest, held at the Clocktower in Westboro.

Such launches remain a minor source of fascination for me, as the days when an official festival launch revealed closely guarded secrets are long gone. When “the moment you’ve all been waiting for” arrived, attendees could have told organizers we’d already read and heard all about the impressive lineup that will see Sarah Harmer and Lynn Miles headlining the two-night street festival, June 13 and 14. Continue reading

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