Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day 2018 with Ian Anderson & Jethro Tull at Ste. Michelle Winery.

    I won't be celebrating Father's Day with my daughters today. But not because they dislike me as much as some of the people on the Vancouver is Falling Facebook Group. We celebrated Father's Day last Sunday with a trip to the Jethro Tull 50th Anniversary concert at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery outside of Seattle.
     This trip also included an overnight stay at a most interesting hotel in Bothell called McMenamins Anderson School. I'll write about it later.
     My first introduction to Jethro Tull was in 1968 when I moved to Manchester England after 3 years of architecture school. I was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, where my mother's family moved during WW2 thinking it would be less likely bombed than Hull or other industrialized places.
     Those who have visited Blackpool often think that it's a pity it wasn't bombed!
    In subsequent years, Jethro Tull, and in particular, Ian Anderson, its zany flute-playing creator became my favourite musicians, along with the Beatles and Moody Blues. (What I didn't realize until last week was that Ian Anderson also lived in Blackpool for many years.)
     Jethro Tull's 50th Anniversary Tour has an astounding international schedule but does include stops in Toronto Ottawa and Montreal in early July. My daughters arranged tickets for the Seattle area stop since it was closest to Vancouver.
    The Ste. Michelle Winery holds regular concerts throughout the summer,
but you wouldn't know this from last Sunday's experience. Many patrons, (ourselves included) were left standing in the rain trying to get in until well after the concert started.
     We subsequently learned this was due to new and heightened security arrangements. But what was unforgivable is that no one from the venue came down the line to explain what was happening, nor apologize. Moreover, we subsequently learned there was a second entrance that was barely used.
    Once inside, this can be an attractive experience. You can go into the winery and buy a bottle of wine and enjoy it at the concert. The sound was good and the stage and seating arrangements are ok.
    To the management of Ste. Michelle Winery I say you really need to give your head a shake and do a better job in future, especially when it's raining.
     So here are a few images of the 70 year old Ian Anderson (like me, he's lost most of his hair) and the group. If you are in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal, while Anderson's voice is not what it used to be, I highly recommend the show.
     Thanks Georgia and Claire for a most memorable Father's Day present and experience.
The show includes video messages from former members of the group
ps, The show ends with a performance of Aqualung, the group's most memorable song. It's about a homeless man, and seems as relevant today as it was almost fifty years ago when it was written. For those of you who don't know all the lyrics....

Sitting on a park bench
Eying little girls with bad intent
Snots running down his nose
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes, hey, Aqualung
Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run, hey, Aqualung
Feeling like a dead duck
Spitting out pieces of his broken luck, oh, Aqualung
Sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely
Taking time, the only way he knows
Leg hurting bad as he bends to pick a dog end
He goes down to a bog and warms his feet
Feeling alone, the army's up the road
Salvation a la mode and a cup of tea
Aqualung, my friend, don't you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see it's only me
Do you still remember
December's foggy freeze
When the ice that clings on to your beard
It was screaming agony
Hey and
Sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely
Taking time, the only way he knows
Leg hurting bad as he bends to pick a dog end
He goes down to a bog and warms his feet
Feeling alone, the army's up the road
Salvation a la mode and a cup of tea
Aqualung my friend don't you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see it's only me
Oh Aqualung
Songwriters: Ian Anderson
Aqualung lyrics © BMG Rights Management US, LLC

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Opinion: Cities need to be designed for pedestrians, transit, bikes… not just cars. Vancouver Courier June 7, 2018

     Do you hate city planners? If so, you’re not alone.
    “Who Hates Planners and Why?” was one of the workshops at the Planning Institute of British Columbia’s annual conference in Victoria last week. Attended by more than 450 delegates, the event marked the institute’s 60th anniversary.
     Founded by eight members in 1958, PIBC now has 1,600 members throughout B.C. and the Yukon. While the founding members were all men, today women outnumber the men.

Professional planners use their knowledge, skills and experience to help create more livable and sustainable communities and environments. In so doing, they often raise the ire of politicians, citizens, developers, architect and others.While we usually associate planners with municipal land-use, zoning and developments, PIBC members work in many different fields. They include resource and environmental management, heritage conservation, transportation, economic development and law.
     As Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, noted in her opening remarks, planners are by nature optimistic. They start with what exists today and must plan for an increasingly uncertain future. She urged planners to be courageous, to stand up to politicians and be willing to recommend changes to policies that don’t work.
     In the opening keynote address, internationally renowned planner Gil Penalosa inspired the audience with a presentation on how planners must adapt to a changing world. As life expectancy increases, it is increasingly important to design cities for those who are eight and 80, not just those 30 and athletic.
     In the past, we designed our cities to accommodate cars. However, those under 16 do not drive and many seniors are as afraid of losing their drivers license as getting cancer. We need to design cities for those who don’t have a driver’s license.
     Since streets comprise 25 to 35 per cent of the space occupied by cities, we must design for pedestrians and cyclists as much as cars. Rather than worry only about potholes, we need to worry about broken sidewalks and playgrounds.
     Penalosa argues good sidewalks and cycle paths dignify a community.
For years, he has been promoting the idea of Ciclovias, a Spanish term that means cycleway. They began in his home city of Bogota, Colombia in the 1970s, when the main streets were blocked off to cars for runners, skaters and cyclists each Sunday and public holiday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.  Today they are happening in Paris and Delhi and dozens of other cities around the world.
Penalosa challenged planners to consider that in 40 years we are going to double the size of cities.   Half of the homes we will require are yet to be built.
     As we plan cities of the future, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past half century when we built primarily low-density neighbourhoods, devoid of commercial areas, linked to downtowns by extensive expressways.
     We also need to focus on preventing pedestrian injuries and deaths. One way to do this is to reduce road speeds to 30 km in all residential areas, an idea gaining currency around the world.
We need to improve public transit, whether it be rapid bus, light rail, or subways. In Penalosa’s opinion, a civilized city isn’t one where the poor have cars, but rather it is one where the rich use public transit. This means designing more comfortable, weather-protected bus-stop shelters.
Penalosa concluded his talk by challenging the audience to plan the city for children. If we want them to walk to school, we must retain and build small neighbourhood schools. We must never forget the perspective at 95 cm — the height of a child.
     Not surprisingly, many of the conference workshops addressed housing affordability and how planners can more effectively work with neighbourhood residents and politicians to achieve buy-in for more housing choices.
     One idea is the creation of “house-plexes,” comprising three, four or six dwellings. In some cases, they may be larger homes that have been subdivided. In others, they will be new structures offering smaller homes for sale or rent on former single-family lots.
     While we may often hate planners, they have an important role to play since one thing all conference delegates agreed upon is the answer to housing affordability is not more taxes.

Looking Back, Looking Forward. Relocatable Modular Housing and Jethro Tull!

Some say you shouldn't look back. Just look forward. I disagree.

In spring 1971, while finishing thesis drawings for a factory-produced relocatable modular housing system, I was listening to Jethro Tull's recently released Aqualung album in the UofT  Architecture School Studio at 230 College Street.

Today, UofT has a new school. Relocatable modular housing is being built around the province and Georgia Geller & Claire Geller are taking me to see Jethro Tull's 50th Anniversary Tour at Ste. Michelle Winery in Washington State. Looking back, looking forward!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Baku Azerbaijan. Yes, they're real!

During my last trip to Russia I tried to arrange a side journey to Azerbaijan since the country has fascinated me since I was a 10-year old stamp collector. Unfortunately, I couldn't obtain my visa in time. However, having just visited Astana, all being well, I hope to visit Baku, the capital city this fall when I travel the Silk Route between Tbilisi and Ashgabat.In case you are wondering why I am so eager to visit, here are some photos!