Ron Nurwisah, Boy Reporter

Boy Reporter is a Toronto-based journalist and blogger. He frequently writes about urban life, visual arts, culture and anything else that strikes his fancy.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Things heard while walking through the Gates

I'll be writing a longer post about the Gates when I get back to Toronto. But for now....

Best comment heard while walking through Central Park and the Gates:

"I hate this colour. I lived in Boston, Christo's turned Central Park into the Big Dig!"

Second best comment heard at the Gates:

"What's the weirdest question I ever got asked? Well last week someone came up to me and asked, 'hey where's this gate?'" - One of the guides at the Gates

Friday, February 25, 2005

Oh one more thing...

My friend David is a "reformed jerk" and a scientician. He also likes to give back to the community. Recently he went to an elementary school to judge a science fair, had the hots for teacher and tried really hard not to make kids cry. Read it here.

Kinda reminds me of a story I read in Canadian Business a while ago about competitive high school science fairs. A good story but I've excerpted what I think is the best part here:

"Science competitions are not just about winning. "Nobody sits in their hotel doing Rubik's Cube," says Lavrovsky. The kids have fun. They network their computers and tease each other for saying "obviously" a lot. But winning has its social benefits. Lavrovsky, for example, has gained lunchroom cred with the jocks at his high school, who reportedly stopped calling him "Enzyme Boy" as soon as his prize money started rolling in. The realities of gender equity don't hurt, either. As Lavrovsky likes to point out (with pictures), boys and girls compete--and even the football crowd is smart enough to see, he says, that "science-fair chicks are hot.""

Why oh why didn't the jocks beat him up for his money?! Maybe he paid for protection?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A long slow train ride

Because of financial considerations I'm taking the train down to NYC (and flying back up). That means I get to spend 12 hours hearing the clickety click of one of VIA or Amtrak's lovely locomotives lumbering its way down to the land of media kings and million dollar lofts.

I figure I'll spend a good chunk of that time starting my research on Colin McPhee, the Canadian composer who's responsible for introducing Balinese Gamelan music into the west. He started off as a jazz musician down in New York and somehow found his way onto the island of Bali in the 1930s and stayed there until the war. I'm trying to see if there's anything in his story that could be turned into a work of fiction (a novel, a play, a screenplay, anything).

When will the love stop?

One of the best things I did in recent memory is write an article for Spacing magazine. I'm proud to contribute to a magazine that's adding to the discourse around urban issues in Toronto. I'm also thrilled to share pages with writers like Sheila Heti and Ryan Bigge, who I'm big fans of.

Well there's more love coming our way. Maisonneuve's Christopher DeWolf gushes about Spacing, my friend's multi-city project Murmur (that's Murmure in French!). I should also learn French. It's strange that I can't read a good chunk of Canadian literature because it's written in another language and that there's a huge swathe of Canadian pop culture that I can't access (although Mitsou is doing her darndest to help me). Most importantly I'm not about to put Val's writing through Babelfish. She deserves better than that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Boy Reporter in NYC

I'm heading out to NYC for about five days. I'm taking the train down on Friday and flying back up Wed.

Things I plan to go see:
The Gates in Central Park
The new MOMA
The Whitney
Williamsburg
My cousins
An ex-girlfriend

Not in that order of course.

Monday, February 21, 2005

You Like Me... You Really Like Me!

I'm pulling a Sally Field and getting pretty excited about a cheeky little write up that media critic/Toronto Star columnist Antonia Zerbisias gave Torontoist. Apparently we're cute.... but really need a little more sass. Hmmm, that's like the girls I want to date, cute and with a little bit of sass.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Boy Reporter *hearts* Chicagoist

It's kinda like when your big brother or sister does something to make you proud. Chicagoist, kinda a big sister blog to Torontoist, has been teed off about a "ban" on photographers taking pictures of sculptures in Chicago's Millenium Park. Well after much haranguing the city realized what it was doing wrong and has decided to fix the problem and set the record straight! And of course they did this in style with their snazzy contemporary art inspired shirts as well! All we can say is "you go sis!"

And I almost forget... thanks boing boing for the link. And Andrew Peerless for the illustration of the 'bean.'

American Apparel, also like cancer

I recently referred to CanWest's soon to be launched youth daily, Dose, as similar to cancer. Despite the possibly insensitivity I believe the analogy to be accurate.

In the same bent I would also like to point out the frightening ability of American Apparel to metastize. They're opening a third location and a fourth will be opening soon. That's four stores in a year! Yikes!

Mixed Media Watch criticizes AA's fetishization of its mixed model employees. The ads are reminiscent of those Calvin Klein ads of yore. I still remember the backlash against those, but this time hardly a peep. Oh how things have changed. Image aside, I still think it's better to buy from a company that doesn't use sweatshops but may objectify its more attractive employees vs. Abercrombie and Fitch's rather problematic t-shirts. As if paying your asian workers pennies an hour wasn't enough.

Other things that are also like cancer, swedish clothing retailer H&M. I am now placing a moratorium on comparisons of anything to cancer!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Hobnobbing with artists

I'm heading out to the Untitled Art Awards tonight! I actually know a few of the nominees as well. Shawn and Gabe are nominated for murmur in the exhibition in a virtual space category, a few other people I know curated a few of the shows that are nominated and of course the very talented and whip-smart Julia Dault, who I had the pleasure to interview over the weekend.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Minimalist blogging

I'm posting two (maybe three stories) on Torontoist today, that doesn't leave much room for blogging.

I just wanted to point out Zoilus' manifesto like column in the Globe this weekend about Canadian Indie music and why the industry seems to have their head stuck up their asses.

Also, because I'm way too lazy to re-post what I wrote on my livejournal about the wavelength fifth anniversary.... here's the link.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Creeping Somebodies

Let the Toronto indie-rock love in continue. The fifth anniversary of local indie-rock series Wavelength has been getting full-court press coverage. I pitched in my two cents with my interview of Jonathan Bunce, Wavelength founder and all-around musical force. The Star weighed in with their profile of the Creeping Nobodies (who are pictured here, aren't they cute?). Now gives us more reason to love Owen "Didn't I see you on Conan O'Brien" Pallett. Stu Berman from eye Weekly tops it all of with his High-Fidelity style top-five Wavelengths ever!

I'll post photos of the weekend shows soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I need to gush...

I gush about something at least once a week. This time it's Mixed Media Watch. A blog out of NYC that fights for the positive and constructive representations of people of colour and mixed races in the media! I check it almost daily now!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

It's back...

Ok, music hipsters get out your foam bats and start whacking. The Village Voice Pazz and Jop list is back. Get it while it's hot.

Saving the Mother Corp.

I'd like to thank JJ Forms for getting me in gear to write this post by telling me the terrible news that the CBC has lost the broadcast rights for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Not getting an Olympics on home soil is a huge blow for the struggling CBC. Especially considering, the massive financial bleeding that's going on right now because of the lack of NHL Hockey (again thanks JJ).

So is the CBC really dead or dying? Something that's been chicken littled repeatedly. The CBC has been gutted and it doesn't have the capacity to function like it should. But as I've said before it is in the double bind of being a broadcaster mandated to serve the public yet also forced to compete with programming like Fear Factor. Whereas CTV had the incredibly vapid Canadian Idol the CBC went to the high road and did the Greatest Canadian. How do you give the people what they want when it seems what they want is couples eating bugs and soul-sucking sitcoms like Joey.

From a financial and programming standpoint this is no way to run a business. Sports was pretty much the only thing that the pointy heads running the CBC and the market could agree on. Yes, we're serving the public they want to see hockey and guess what it also rakes in a lot of cash. But this happy coincidence isn't always possible and soon to be a distant memory.

The question isn't how to keep the CBC financially afloat, but how to keep it relevant. How to make the CBC and its programming the subject of water cooler conversations, of in-jokes among friends.

I'm glad the CBC is trying to make itself edgy again with shows like The Hour and Zed (which I watch religiously now because of the delightful Ziya Tong). Radio3 among some circles is a pretty hip website but the CBC desperately needs something that gets people abuzz and it needs it several times a year. The Greatest Canadian filled this niche among some circles but it still wasn't enough. The last episode only got 1.4 million viewers. Huge by CBC numbers but only about half of what an episode of CSI gets!

So how do we make the CBC relevant again? Is it even worth it? It's a question I'm going to leave open, I will likely be writing more about this in the future but throw your two cents in please.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

More of Boy Reporter on Torontoist

I neglected to post on Monday, but to make it up to you I posted two things on Torontoist today. An interview with local indie-rock guru Jonathan Bunce and I try to shed some light on Chinese New Year! Enjoy!

Also, I'll be posting photos of the Wavelength extravaganza later this week.

Friday, February 04, 2005

CanWest.... it's like cancer?

CanWest is at it again. This time, it's news that they'll be launching Dose, a free daily targetting youth in five major Canadian cities.

Terrible name aside, how CanWest has the money to do this befuddles Boy Reporter. After all, the National Post, CanWest's flagship paper can barely pay its freelancers and are cutting back drastically (this tip from a friend who freelances for them regularly).

With the addition of Dose, a city like Vancouver will now have up to four papers all owned by the same company, making the city's newsstands more crowded but also leading to headlines that might resemble something like this:

The National Post: Terrorists strike Toronto, kill 59
Vancouver Sun: Terrorists kill 59 in Toronto
The Province: Terror in Toronto
Dose: 59 whacked in T-Dot

I could yak on here about the concentration of media ownership and a lack of diversity in voices, but I won't. What's more important is what this'll mean for Canada's beleagured newspaper industry. Everyone says that young people aren't reading papers anymore, is this the way to get them back?

Papers targetting the youth market have been around for a little while now. Chicago's Hollinger (for all those not steeped in Canada media history, Hollinger is Conrad Black's company and used to own the Post, Vancouver Sun, Winnipeg Free Press, et al) owned Sun-Times puts out RedStreak and its competitor the Tribune puts out RedEye. Neither paper seems particularly groundbreaking, almost like Maxim/People/InStyle in newspaper form. Media watchers hated the magazine, but it's still around, so they must be doing something right.

So will Dose take off? I hope not. I hope it falls flat on its face but if it doesn't the Aspers may have just reopened the newspaper wars in Canada. At least the Globe and Post fights of the late '90s led to some positive changes and decent journalism. I can't see Dose doing anything like that.

Mid-winter Heat Wave

Contrary to Phil's belief that there'll be six more weeks of winter. It's been sunny and balmy all week here in Toronto. Which makes it hard for me to concentrate on work. For all of you who haven't been doing so I'm posting at least once a week on Torontoist. It's a bit of a slow week for me on TOist, but next week I'll be posting on everything from Chinese New Year to an interview I did with local indie-rock guru Jonathan Bunce (the man known for Wavelength, among other things)

In other news I'm also continuing my work on a piece on Cheuk Kwan and Kwoi Gin, two documentary makers that travelled to 13 countries in 4 years in search of Chinese restaurants! I've got a few book reviews that'll be coming out in the next issue of Broken Pencil.... will the excitement ever stop?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Should I stay or should I go?


I went to the AGO to go see their Christo and Jeanne-Claude exhibit. Christo, for those not art savvy, is the installation artist famous for wrapping up surrounding buildings (like the Reichstag and the pont neuf in Paris), installing giant umbrellas all over a California valley and working with large pieces of orange sheeting and oil drums.

Their work is the ultimate statement of our abilities to influence an environment but also on our transitory and impermanent nature. All the works are usually left on display for a short period of time (a week or two).

I'm seriously considering whether I should head down to New York City and catch their latest installation, The Gates. Considering art lovers are shelling out huge amounts of money to catch this and I'd be getting the Christo experience for very cheap (pheww friends/family that live in NYC) is it worth it?

Local boy makes good


To think, we knew him when....

Last night I was watching current 'it' band of the moment the Arcade Fire on Conan. Lo and behold there was Toronto's very own Owen Pallett (seen here at their Webster Hall show opening for the AF). Zoilus called it a couple of months back.

Photo courtesy of awesome NYC blogger: Youngna Park!