Friday, June 26, 2009

"They say the sky's the limit, and to me that's really true..."

This was the first cassette I ever owned. I received it on my 7th birthday in March, 1988.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The New Noise

Seriously? This is still news?

So, some adventurous souls in Fredericton decided to put on FredRock, a 3-day rock festival, in the city's downtown and it seems a handful of residents weren't pleased about it. As various articles by the Daily Creamer Gleaner and CBC from as far back as April indicate, residents were staunchly opposed to the concept of loud music continuing until as late as 11pm on a Sunday night -- the festival launched on a Friday, but it was the Sunday night slot that seemed to be of greatest concern. Even after the fact, they're still unhappy.

Let me put a few things in perspective:
  • The concert took place in the same location as the annual Fredericton Exhibition: an event that goes on for a whole week, creates far more traffic (because the FREX lot is unavailable for parking due to the carnival rides), and also continues until 11pm. Oh, and after it ends, the carnival staff tend to party and shout with their outdoor voices well into the morning hours.
  • Fredericton doesn't really have many other big events such as this one, and even less for those interested in rock or pop music. I may not be a big fan of headliners Black Crowes or Live, but I'm willing to support their appearance (and put up with their music) on the grounds that it could show outsiders that our city is a worthwhile place for artists to visit and capable of supporting large-scale cultural events. All this while supporting a group of local promoters (and their partners) who worked hard and surely put a lot of time and money on the line to make it happen -- without any guarantee that it would be a success.
  • I live within a block of the concert site. Traffic was barely affected and the noise wasn't as bad as I had anticipated either, although in the interest of full disclosure, I think the stage may have been facing away from our residence.
  • The crowd also seemed to disperse quite quickly after the show and were no more noisy than the FREX crowds who hang around the grounds for an hour after leaving that event and arguing about who won the crappiest prize toy while waiting for their parents to pick them up.
So, to summarize, a bunch of people spent 3 months complaining and lobbying against an event that would only inconvenience them for 3 evenings (only one of which was a weeknight), while providing a boost for local business and potentially opening the doors to some genuine growth in a city that could really use some. And yet I don't recall these same people expressing outrage and concern over the numerous other just-as-inconvenient events we've hosted every year for decades. Those events didn't all happen in their own back yards, but that's beside the point.

Facts: the Harvest Jazz & Blues festival inconveniences many people, as do the Highland Games, proms hosted at the Delta, Country Music Fest, the ECMAs, the Santa Claus parade, concerts at Officers' Square, Canada Day fireworks, the FREX, etc. I think they're even setting up a new carnival on the exhibition grounds as I type this, and FredRock just ended yesterday.

And why do we let these events pass without holding townhall meetings, airing grievances, and writing to the local newspapers? Because directly or indirectly, these events contribute to the overall happiness and well-being of the people who live in and around Fredericton. Maybe you don't care for all of them -- I sure don't -- but they enrich the lives of our fellow Frederictonians and sometimes that's worth a small sacrifice... Even a sacrifice as huge as being a little cranky on Monday morning because you only got 7 hours of sleep instead of 8.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The BLT-from-scratch challenge

Whoa, awesome! Michael Ruhlman (a food writer I dig) has proposed a challenge on his blog for all the kitchen and garden-handy cooks out there: make a BLT from scratch and send him the photos.

It sounds simple, but when Ruhlman writes "from scratch," he really means it. He expects participants to grow their own tomatoes and lettuce, cure their own bacon, make their own mayo, and bake their own bread (with wild yeast, preferrably). I've done all of these things before except making mayo and catching wild yeast, so I guess now's a good time to learn.

So, yeah, I'm all over this. My wife and I already have tomato plants growing on the patio, so the next steps will be to source a decent slab of pork belly for the bacon and arrange for some garden-grown lettuce. I don't think it's bending the rules too much if I get the lettuce from my mother's garden, is it? There's a pork farmer at our local market who's great for supplying pork belly. I'll have to talk to them this Saturday.

Writes Ruhlman: "The point is to cook an American classic for ourselves and for our families without resorting to Oscar Meyer, Helmann's, Wonderbread, or even the Florida and California Tomato Growers associations."