June 10th, 2005


I played my first game of Dark Ages Vampire last night, hanging with schizmatic and larkvi at A.'s place. Considering my fascination with RPGing, it's a minor mystery that I hadn't played anything before now.

It was quite fun. I hadn't quite expected the immersive qualities of RPGing to be as present as they were. I'm rather looking forward to resuming the game next week, playing one of the damned in the Paris of the early 14th century immediately after the arrest of the Templars.

[URBAN NOTE] The Local Climate

Toronto is hot. I hadn't really internalized the temperature differences between PEI and the mainland--experienced the heat of the North American continent, noted just what a cooling effect the ocean had on the Island--until I looked at the temperature map on the back page of the Toronto Star yesterday and saw that, yes, Toronto was as hot as any adjacent major city in the United States. It was 30 degrees Celsius outside yesterday, insanely hot by Island standards. I was surprised at how well I'd managed to adjust to these temperatures, which once would have been enough to leave me prostrate; lifein2x3 and Jonathan Edelstein can attest to this based on my visits to Richmond and New York City back in 2002.

Toronto is smoggy. Prince Edward Island doesn't have significant levels of air pollution, apart from what's blown in from the mainland. It certainly doesn't have visible levels of air pollution. As of yesterday, the 9th of June, six smog alert days had been declared. This is annoying for me, since I now have the same sort of cough that I had last spring. As you might recall, things got so bad that I was even subjected to a CAT scan. (I only wish that I'd managed to acquire at least one image of my innards, since that would have been cool.) Curiously, it cleared up when true summer began. Uncoincidentally, Kingston too has visible levels of air pollution.

Toronto is hot and smoggy. And yet, I sort of like this climate. I just don't want to be one of the eight hundred people who'll die this year because of it.

[BRIEF NOTE] Côte-St-Luc, Art, and Empathy

Chris at Zeke's Gallery has more on the decision by the Montréal borough of Côte-St-Luc to withdraw the photos of Zahra Kazemi from public display. As he points out, borough mayor Robert Libman's claim to have been tricked by Kazemi's son into displaying potentially controversial photos isn't at all credible. No one saw these photos before they were mounted?

The actions taken in Côte-St-Luc are troubling, and not only because of their implications for public patronage of the arts. The photos were taken down, as Libman and his supporters admit, because they were unpopular, politically charged in a way that would be resented by at least a minority of the local population. Taken to its logical conclusion, this argument could be used deny the logitimacy of any cultural expression that challenges one's prejudices, or encourages someone to develop a bit of empathy. Public art, in the view of Côte-St-Luc's government, shouldn't be allowed to challenge orthodoxies even incidentally, not even when the art is produced by someone who died because she tried to challenge orthodoxies. Being tricked into feeling empathy with someone else is something that must be avoided at all costs, it seems. After all, why should we care about the Other in a multicultural society?

See CBC Montreal for more coverage. Reporters sans frontières and PEN Canada have also made public their critical reactions to the censorship.

[URBAN NOTE] Only in Toronto

Walking west on Queen Street West, content with my new haircut from House Of Lords, I ran into the eminently recognizable B-Girlz. They were apparently promoting some sort of event in the neighbourhood, but I didn't stay long enough to find out. Instead, I got on a westbound streetcar and shared a seat with a somewhat dunrken man of Ojibwa First Nation background, who had just completed the remarkably long trip</> from Kenora to Toronto as a hitchhiker, all in order to see his kids here.
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