Today In History — Me!

October 29, 2011

Rather a long time ago on this day, my mother missed lunch because she was giving birth to me.  Thanks Mum!

The Middle” Is The 99% …

October 27, 2011

… and “Modern Family” is the planet-chewing 1%.

I don’t write much about TV these days.  I don’t watch that much other than Knowledge and Sports.  However, I really like “The Middle” (and so I watch it), and my wife likes “Modern Family” (and so I get to see it.)  And thus here I am writing about them.

They are both thirty-minute networks sitcoms featuring colourful families and big TV stars (Patricia Heaton in “The Middle” and Ed O’Neill in “Modern Family“) and both began in 2009. However, if you haven’t watched it, you may not even be aware of “The Middle” but most of us could hardly miss the hullabaloo as “Modern Family” wins award after award year after year.

Modern Family” receives accolades for dealing sympathetically with a gay couple, an older Anglo man married to a younger Hispanic woman, and vicious sibling rivalry. Each of these three families is, at least, middle class and the Ed O’Neill family can hardly be anything but rich.  The dialog is said to be modern and important but it sounds stylised and almost theatrical to me.

Modern Family” definitely represents the 1% where most people don’t seem to have to work that hard, where a household can spend thousands of dollars on a Halloween house party and the “problems” are about relationships and a sort of metaphysical angst.

On the other hand, “The Middle” is about real people.  It is about a working class couple who cannot make ends meet with two full-time jobs and they have three kids each of whom is as dysfunctional as we can imagine our teenaged kids to be.

The Middle” represents the 99% of us who have to run fast just to stay in the same rotten groove.  The language is down to earth and the problems involve money (usually the lack of it), the disappointments of childhood, and the quotidian efforts to keep all the patched appliances working. The dialog is genuinely funny and none of the characters is a pastiche.

Modern Family” is the banker getting billion-dollar bonuses for conceptualizing, while “The Middle” is a hard-rock miner getting by on minimum wage.



Kim Bolan at the VHS

October 27, 2011

I’m looking forward to tonight’s monthly lecture at the Vancouver Historical Society. The speaker is Kim Bolan, longtime Vancouver Sun reporter, highly knowledgable about Vancouver’s gangs, and author of a major study on the Air India bombing.  She’ll be talking about “From Gangs to Terrorism — Crime in Metro Vancouver.”  It should be very interesting and the VHS loves drop-ins for these lectures.

Fleet In Fog

October 27, 2011

More On The Brandon Block

October 26, 2011

It now looks as if the Brandon Block might be in the process of a rescue operation rather than the demolition I had feared before.

In this image taken this morning, you can see the damage to the south-most bay window on the second floor …

… with bricks missing on both sides of the upper cornice. (Note the blue cast to the image is caused by the blue netting the masonry company has used to contain the work.)

If this is a rescue operation, I certainly wish them well.

Are We Losing The Brandon Block?

October 25, 2011

I was passing the Brandon Block today and was shocked to see scaffolding all around it and what looked like serious masonry damage to the front of the second storey.

The Brandon Block was built one hundred years ago this year and is a marvelously elegant wide structure with a nice entrance arch for the apartments placed asymetrically in between the storefronts.  We have a detailed history of the building and its occupants and it is most definitely an important example of the cultural, retail and architectural heritage of Commercial Drive and Grandview as a whole.

I hope that my brief look was in an error.  The address is not listed on the City’s local property change reports and so no serious work should be happening there. We’ll see.

Two Windows

October 24, 2011

This beautiful architectural and social detail was taken in Nelson, BC. one summer some years since.