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Friday 30 September 2016

Spadina Avenue Nuit Blanche 2014

Walk Among Worlds At Nuit Blanche.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  Spadina Ave.
Date: Oct 2014
Website:  nbto.com

  Nuit Blanche is an annual art festival where for one evening, art installations take over the city.  It takes place in cities around the world and we have attended the Toronto event several times.  This blog post is about the exhibits we visited in the wee hours of the morning on Spadina Avenue in 2014.

Big Top Grand Stand
Big Top Grand Stand

 In the centre of Clarence Square Park stood a stack of colourful concession stands.  As the name of the exhibit implies, these are the type of stands you might find selling cotton candy or hot dogs at a fair or circus.  The stands rose up into the sky.  Each booth was just a little bit smaller and atop everything stood a rainbow umbrella.  Sadly, no one seemed to be inside any of the booths selling midnight snacks to hungry art patrons.

Black Sun
Wrecking Ball.

  Black Sun is a video projection of a giant wrecking ball swinging against a white surface.  The ball hits the surface and bounces away.  It is then pulled back and swings towards the wall once again. This exhibit could represent the fact that so many older buildings in the city are being lost to new condo towers.  At last check, the building used for the projection was still standing.

Walk Among Worlds
7000 Beach Balls.

  On a side street off of Spadina Ave. was a rather large exhibit.  Walk Among Worlds included 7,000 beach balls painted to resemble globes.  Each of these globes represented one million people.  Our calculation puts the total at seven billion.  The attendance at Nuit Blanche in Toronto that year was estimated at one million people.  That only makes up one of those balls that were strung together to form a canopy over our heads and that filled the pathway around us.

Made In China
Hung out to dry.

  This exhibit filled an alleyway with donated clothing labeled "Made in China".  If you have ever walked along Spadina the night before garbage day you would see bags piled high in the street. This exhibit created the illusion that today was laundry day and the neighbourhood collectively hung out their clothing to dry.

Global Rainbow
Global Rainbow.

  Coloured laser beams shoot from Chinatown on Spadina Ave and stretch across the sky until finally hitting the famous Toronto landmark, the CN Tower.  The beams appear like a rainbow of the night.

Hit me with your laser beams.

Map of Our World
Nuit Blanche (Big Top Grand Stand) , Nuit Blanche (Walk Among Worlds) , Nuit Blanche (Made In China)
Nuit Blanche (Black Sun) , Nuit Blanche (Global Rainbow)

Post # 136

Sunday 25 September 2016


Brickman waits to cross the street.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 81 Jarvis Street
Date: Dec 2015
Website: ingesidee.de

  We were headed along Adelaide Street East in Toronto.  Our goal was to visit Toronto's First Post Office.  As we approached Jarvis Street a figure caught our eye.  We went closer to get a better look.

A Closer Look At Brickman.

  Standing in front of the condos is a man made of brick.  He stands with his arms by his sides and looks like several chimneys all grouped together.  He looks like a gentle giant.

A contemporary take on monumental sculpture.

  Most new condos in the city of Toronto have to provide some sort of street art.  Brickman was designed by Inges Idee which is a group of artists that have installations around the world.  The plaque at the base of Brickman states that he is part of the City of Toronto Private Developer Percent for Art Program.  It also states that he is meant to pose questions about human scale and urban development.  We just think he looks kind of cute and a little bit lost.

Looking Up At Brickman.

Map of Our World

Post # 135

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Blackwing Studios

When I'm with you baby I go out of my head.

Location: London, England
Address: 1 Pepper Street
Date: Sept 2015
Website: www.saveallhallows.com

   We have always been fans of the electronic music that was coming out of London, England in the early 1980s.  Several people who made large contributions to this music are recording engineer Eric Radcliffe, producer Daniel Miller and musician Vincent Clarke.  They all found early success at All Hallows Church inside a recording studio called Blackwing.  All Hallows Church was bombed twice during World War II and Blackwing Studios closed in 2001.  We decided to pay a visit to this site while there was still something left.

My Secret Garden.

  We turned off of Copperfield Street and into a little garden beside the church.

I remember only for an hour.  Move right through me can you feel the power.

  A notice beside a doorway explained some of the history of the church.  This notice also mentioned that the bands Depeche Mode and Yazoo had both recorded albums here.  Depeche Mode is a band that achieved great commercial success around the world.  Vincent Clarke was an early member of the band and wrote their hit song Just Can't Get Enough.  Depeche Mode recorded their first two albums at Blackwing.

Personal Jesus.
We'd sit on a bench for a while.  I treasure the way we used to laugh and play.

  In doing some online research we were able to locate archived photos of  Depeche Mode on the All Hallows Church grounds.  We found a photo of the band posing next to the cross (above) as well as sitting on a bench next to the brick wall and generally goofing around in the garden.

Came in from the city. Walked into the door.

  Vincent Clarke left Depeche Mode and created the group Yazoo with singer Alison Moyet.  Their first album Upstairs At Eric's makes reference to engineer Eric Radcliffe who was also the owner of Blackwing Studios.  The album spawned the hits Situation and Don't Go.  After a second album with Yazoo, Vincent Clarke recorded Never Never at Blackwing with singer Fergeal Sharkey under the name The Assembly.

Love's just a door that's locked and there's no key.

  Vincent Clarke then left Blackwing Studios and went on to create the band Erasure with singer Andy Bell.  Depeche Mode replaced the vacancy left by Vincent Clarke with musician Alan Wilder and also left Blackwing in order to record their future albums elsewhere.  Daniel Miller continued to produce for them during the 1980s.  Other notable bands have recorded at Blackwing including Fad Gadget, The Pixies and the Cocteau Twins.  Even part of Nine Inch Nails debut album Pretty Hate Machine was recorded at Blackwing. 

Back of All Hallows Church.

 A community is trying to save the church from being developed and we hope that it can stay this way.  They maintain and use the gardens surrounding the church.  As well as being of interest to synthpop fans as the home of Blackwing Studios, All Hallows is one of the last remaining undeveloped World War II bombsites in London.

Leave In Silence.

Map of Our World
Blackwing Studios

Post # 134

Thursday 15 September 2016

Upside Down House

Something is not quite right here. I know. 15 dollars for parking??

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Address: 4967 Clifton Hill
Date: Jan 2015
Website:  www.upsidedownhouseniagarafalls.ca

  Things are getting a bit topsy-turvy in Niagara Falls.  You could be forgiven for thinking that something is not quite right as you near the top of Clifton Hill.  We were headed to the Upside Down House where the floor is the ceiling and the ceiling is the floor.  The entire structure sits on its roof and you enter the home through a door that has been cut into its side.  No one uses the front door as it is up in the air on what is now the second floor. 

I Don't Believe It.

  Even before reaching the Upside Down House we encountered the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum which appears to have toppled over onto its side.  King Kong clings to the top of the tower which points the way to our final destination.  We finally reached the home, paid our admission and walked inside.

The Upside Down Kitchen.

  The first room we encountered was the kitchen.  We looked up and there above us were a fridge, a stove and a breakfast table all defying gravity.  Don't try to hide the cookie jar from little hands by putting it in the top cupboard.  The floor would be harder for them to reach.

The Upside Down Upside Down Kitchen.

  The photo above is what the house would look like if it had a normal kitchen.

The World Just Keeps On Turning.

  We hope you don't think we just took a bunch of pictures and flipped them around.  If you notice the cars outside in the parking lot in this hallway photo, you can see that this photo is right way up.  In the wider photo below you can see the ceiling that we walk on to move around the house.

Dancing On The Ceiling

  The best part of the Upside Down House is the trick photos you can take.

Upside Down Bathroom.
 Can someone pass me my towel please?

  The upper photo is of the bathroom as it really appeared. If you take a picture of someone's arms reaching for the ceiling and then flip it around, it looks like you are falling from above.

A Hand From Above.
Exit The Upside Down Bedroom.

  We had fun taking various pictures.  We found that if you take a picture of someone and they jump up in the air or bend over to touch the floor (aka the ceiling) you will get a great shot.  People with long hair should give it a flick to make it appear that gravity is taking effect.  Once you leave the Upside Down House you flip your photos upside down again and admire the results. ˙uoıʇɐɔɐʌ uo ɹǝʇʇǝq sı ǝɟıן 'uıɐbɐ ǝɔuO

Map of Our World
Upside Down House

Post # 133

Saturday 10 September 2016

The Stinking Rose

Follow your nose to The Stinking Rose.

Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Address: 325 Columbus Ave
Date: Feb 2014
Website:  www.thestinkingrose.com

  One of us is very fond of garlic.  So when we discovered a restaurant totally devoted to garlic based recipes we just had to pay it a visit.  The Stinking Rose in San Francisco stands out as you drive down Columbus Avenue.  It has been turning heads with its unusual name and filling noses with its overpowering smell for over 25 years.

Something Stinks in San Fran.

   The idea for the restaurant came after a visit to the Gilroy Garlic Festival.  The town of Gilroy is about an hour and a half south of San Francisco and is known for its garlic.  We stopped in Gilroy to gas up the car during our California driving trip.  As soon as we exited the vehicle we could smell the garlic, even over the fumes from the gas station.  We also paid a visit to Garlic World which is a grocery / souvenir shop selling local products.

Garlic Bulb.

  Back at The Stinking Rose we enjoyed an appetizer of garlic spinach fondue and followed it up with a couple of garlic based entrees.  Everything was delicious and after our meal we advertised for the restaurant with our breath.

World's Longest Vampire Repellent.

  The restaurant also boasts one of the world's longest garlic braids.  It has close to 2,600 blubs on it and wraps all around the interior of the restaurant.  If you are looking for a unique dining experience we highly recommend The Stinking Rose.  It was one of the culinary highlights of our California trip.

Map of Our World
The Stinking Rose , Garlic World

Post # 132

Monday 5 September 2016

White Castle

Because being bad news is what we're all about.

Location: New York, New York, USA
Address: 89-03 57th Ave
Date: Jan 2009
Website:  www.whitecastle.com

  We went to White Castle and we got thrown out!  Oh no, that wasn't us, that was the Beastie Boys.  We went to White Castle because we had a craving.  It wasn't quite like the craving Harold and Kumar experience in the movie Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, but we were hungry.  Harold & Kumar have a series of misadventures before finally getting their long awaited burgers.  We just hopped in the car with some friends and drove to the nearest location to pick up a Crave Case.

The Crave is Calling.  From a Rotary Dial phone.

  A Crave Case is a cardboard suitcase filled with 30 of White Castle's signature burgers.  Their tiny steamed burgers made with onions and a pickle are the original slider.  White Castle was formed in 1921 and was the first fast food hamburger chain in the world.  After spending a cold, January day in New York, we polished off our whole case of burgers.  They really hit the spot. 

I haven't been to White Castle in ages.  You sure you know how to get there?

  The movie Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle was set in New Jersey, but in reality the building where Harold & Kumar lived is in Toronto, Canada. It is located just a few blocks south of St. Clair West and Avenue Road. There have never been any White Castle restaurants in Canada so for the full experience you would have to cross the border into the United States. The good news is that some grocery and convenience stores in Canada sell frozen White Castle burgers. That means you could pick up some burgers at the Longo's near Avenue and St. Clair and walk down to Edmund Ave. You could then enjoy your burger in front of the fictional apartment from the movie. That is if you can also find a microwave first.

This location is near Summerhill subway. Visit other Toronto TTC stations.

Map of Our World
Mayfair Mansions
White Castle (Elmhurst, NY)

Post # 131