Tag Archives: Spacing

More Spacing walk vids

Here are some more videos from the walk with Shawn Micallef.

I’ll begin by posting Scaledown.ca video that Chris Holt edited and posted on Youtube. It’s Shawn Micallef discussing what we are about to set out and accomplish on the walk, along with his experience walking in Windsor and Toronto, and forming the Toronto Psychogeographic Society. Take notice that this bar is full of people, and almost no one is talking. Just eager listeners. More people who care about Windsor.

This first vid from the walk contains the flags and “torch” for the City of Windsor on Riverside Drive in front of The Hilton and Radisson Hotels. I never really noticed these flags…and I certainly didn’t notice the embarrassing fake paper-fire in the “torch”. Thanks Ryan Fields for pointing it out. This was recorded moments after being “barked” at by someone in the passenger seat of a car using a megaphone. Thanks Windsor.

Below, you can watch the play-by-play of the holiday display in the St. Clair Centre for the Arts. Also, there is a mirror mounted on the stop sign so that drivers leaving the St. Clair Centre for the Arts can see traffic racing up the street behind them. It acts as a rear-view mirror. But it was completely swiveled in the wrong direction, offering little or no help until we moved it back into position. It’s kind of off-putting to see a traffic aid so easily accessed and subject to tampering.

This video shows the CCTV camera mounted on The Windsor Star. There’s a need for a garbage can in this area, clearly. Michelle uses the audio recorder to get some sounds of garbage.

Stephen captures my excitement while looking at a “dressed up” ashtray on the street near The Windsor Star. Also, a stream of newspapers from other cities is available here, and I feel somewhat embarrassed for having not recognized these here before. There’s a city parking lot that I thought belonged to The Windsor Star exclusively, but is apparently for anyone. We encounter some broken glass (light bulb), more street garbage, a suitcase handle (I decided to spike – mimicking the traveler who broke their bag, and it was so cold, it shattered – oops), a dessert fork, and more. Most of this stuff was around the new bus station. Stephen also takes a closer look at Rogues gallery and the signs around it.

Behind Sir Cedric’s Fish and Chips, and the LCBO, there is a massive air conditioning unit…we think…and it seems a little big for anything in the area to be using. Anyone know what this is?

We find a hydro substation, not having known what it was…thinking it was a house of some kind. Ryan Fields recognized it though. Also, a beautiful house that I have never (ever) looked at, even though it is one of the nicest houses I’ve seen downtown. I also realized where the offices for Windsor Business Magazine are located. We also encounter some fliers that peak our interest. I then get ornery about the broken planters and public space defilement. swear a little too much, but it gets increasingly annoying to see these things being broken and then ignored. The costs associated with fixing these things is clearly irrelevant, or an afterthought for the people doing this damage.

The last video for today’s post is more discussion about the damage being done by snow plows in the parking lots downtown, specifically near the Art Gallery of Windsor. The broken public planters, placed strategically to block an old driveway, mixed with busted concrete makes for a sad image of these areas. Just a bit of a downer. If these objects don’t belong here, which ones do? I wonder.


Recap of Spacing Walk

Could I have predicted the turnout? No. Did I hope for it and expect it? Yes.

The who’s who of the walk was beautiful. There were lots of strangers to Phog, and lots of well-known community figures prepared to spend an hour in the cold.

Shawn Micallef spoke briefly from the stage to a full building. No one spoke. No one whispered or interrupted. It was magnificent. He talked about his experience with walking in Toronto and what people could do during their walk to make it as enjoyable as possible.

My group consisted of a few random folks who were not yet in a group of their own. Ryan Fields, Stephen Hargreaves, Marissa Nowlan, and Michelle Wybenga.

We started out by heading west, and our random-walk-algorithm took us in a repeating spiral around the northwestern portion of downtown Windsor.

The best part of the walking event, for me, was actually prior to and after the walk. Seeing the faces of people who care was unparalleled for me. I got a few comments sent to me that evening and the next day telling me that it was the best night that some people had EVER experienced as a part of a Phog event. Matt Baker and Christine Arkell-Rideout were particularly pleased, which evokes a sense of pride for our creative-class community.

Elaine Weeks (Walkerville Publishing, Walkerville Times) was on-hand and eager, and she brought along Heather from a group called Windsor Essex Walks. Yet another joining of active city-loving Windsorites. Chris Holt brought his video camera to capture awesomeness, and Michael Johnson (google map man) came fresh off his successful Big Walk performance to participate in this great night by collecting audio and other stories.

The video below is of our first steps west out of Phog Lounge. Our algorithm was to travel west for three blocks, turn right, travel two blocks, turn right, travel one block, turn right…repeat. This is the beginning.

The video below this follows our group reading some clever graffiti (although terribly ugly), and then hearing Glen Campbell music being played through the outdoor speakers at the new bus station.

This video is of our group cutting through the Hilton/Radisson hotels because our algorithm had us getting stuck at these buildings. Stephen Hargreaves was gracious enough to tape everything, but he was very fond of zooming in…which means some blurriness until he decides to zoom back out. The first bit of the group getting into the building is a little shaky. After that, you see a defunct mall with 1980s and early 90s themed stores until we make our way back out onto Riverside Drive.

Windsor Pshychogeography with Spacing Magazine

picture-54Last night was one of the best nights (community meets entertainment) I have ever witnessed.

That’s saying a lot after booking live shows and events for five years.

Shawn Micallef popped down to Windsor for the holidays, but he reprised his role as “Spacing Magazine guy” and conduit to psychogeography know-how on Sunday. Of course, this all was a success because of Shawn and the help and sponsorship (promotionally) from Chris Holt of Scaledown.ca and Andrew Foot of International Metropolis.

We began by getting chart paper taped together (thank Chris, Nancy, and Andrew) and getting it on a wall where the mapping of our psychogeography walk would end up. Shawn set up a Google Earth Map of Windsor on his computer, and we projected it onto the paper. It shot directly across a normal sight line (and busy space) in the back of the bar. Why would we do this? Shawn thought it was a great way to integrate people at the bar into the process, even if they were not actually participating in the walk or the recording of the walk. It was a very smart move. It connected everyone in the building to this event in one way or another.

Then we waited. Were people going to come? Were the 30 people who RSVP’d “Attending” actually going to come?

The answer was a big fat yes.

Of course, they were mostly late, but they were present. And they were into it.

Roughly 40 people, maybe 45, showed up with warm outfits and eager minds.

We then got a short talk from Shawn, on stage, telling the group what psychogeography is/was, and what we were going to do on our walk. We also learned that when we returned from our randomly chosen walks, we would be recording the routes we took and the “points of interest” on a projected map. Each group was to do this upon their return, and conversation would ensue, based on the things they experienced


On the left here, is the map projection of downtown Windsor. My group had all kinds of recording equipment. I used my Moleskine to record the things we saw and the crossroads we were nearest to when we saw/heard/experienced them. I gave my Flip Video recorder to Stephen Hargreaves, and my newly FOUND Zoom H4 audio recorder to a couple of the other member of our small group. Ryan Fields ended up with it…

So when we returned from out 50 minutes, we added as much as we could fit on the map, and we will all be posting more of these images on Flickr and our own personal websites as soon as we do the proper editing.

The Flickr group name was decided to be Windsor Psychogeography. Here’s a LINK.

Needless to say, the results were amazing. So many people, out on the streets with open eyes and keen interests in the state of their city and their downtown core. Personally, I saw all kinds of stuff I never noticed, including the display in front of the Baby House on Pitt Street which showed images of big, well-attended baseball games at Memorial Park in the 60s…which is where I grew up playing baseball to a MUCH smaller crowd.

I also was dragged into a parking garage stairwell, full of new graffiti (seen by very few) and treated to one of the most unique acoustic spaces in the city. it was amazing, and I will share the audio as soon as I edit it down. Another shock…a car of idiots driving with a megaphone, barking at us as they drove by. Nothing says downtown rowdy Windsor like that kind of crap.

But we saw beautiful houses in Downtown West, and apartments, and a Windsor Utilities sub-station that looked amazing, and tons of reflections of the very bright Caesars Windsor sign, and the variant changes in sidewalk design (pavement, brick, cobblestone, etc), and the sound-scapes of the music pouring out of the bus depot…and on and on and on…

As more of these images, videos, and sound bits come into the fore, I will share them with you.

picture-71And here is the same projection map without the projection. The only thing showing is the progress (up to that point) of the mapped routes and landmarks of experience. I’m leaving this up at Phog for a little while longer so people can add to it if they think something is “missing”.


picture-43Not many weeks ago, with the Big Walk, I became aware of a guy from Windsor named Shawn Micallef. You see, I knew he existed beforehand, because I saw him regularly at Phog with some of my current patrons/friends.

What I did not know was that he was heavily involved in some amazing projects, including pshycogeography, Spacing Magazine (Associate Editor), and Murmur. Murmur being the most outstandingly wonderful story-telling concept I heard about when I was 20 or 21.

But Spacing magazine was something being tossed at me (conceptually) by several people. Some knew Shawn was involved, and others had no idea who Shawn was, but they knew Spacing Magazine. I was being referred to this magazine, because surely if I was interested in taking a crazy-long walk, I was a fan of the things this magazine stood for. Here’s what their website says:

“Public space is at the heart of democracy. It’s where people interact, teach, learn, participate, and protest.

But environmental degradation, commercial self-interest, and infrastructure neglect have come to dominate our cities’ streets. Fortunately, imaginative and passionate city-dwellers worldwide — and in Toronto in particular — appreciate the endless possibilities that cities can offer. They are resisting the co-option of their communities through random acts of beauty and intellect.

Inspired by these actions, we launched Spacing in December 2003 to cover the numerous political, cultural, and social issues affecting our lives in the public realm. We want the magazine to be an integral, independent, and unique voice that brings to life the joys and obstacles surrounding Toronto’s public spaces.

This city is a special place — we’re excited by its people and its neighbourhoods, its sidewalks and its graffiti. Spacing is here to help our readers understand and take ownership of Toronto’s urban landscape.”

Fast forward a bit, to when Chris Holt tells me that he has a pile of these magazines at his house.

“I can bring ’em to you if you want ’em,” he said. So I was totally revved about finally seeing this magazine, and secondarily, putting it out for my customers to consume at Phog. Maybe we get a little leakage from the pages of this magazine about CARING about your city and DOING things rather than harping, bitching, and whining. We’ll see in due time.

So I began reading the mags, but damn-near every article is fascinating, and I know it will take a while to get through these babies. I did, however find an article less than 6 hours after writing the blog post about the Downtown Mission and the possibility of them having their own organic garden on municipal land. (By the way, I got a ton of comments on this post form people who are musicians etc., who I know for their music primarily, but who are doing this VERY thing in other parts of the county…teaching food education through hands-on participation, an THEN donating food to food banks! Getting the word out there is amazing. The results of outreach can really open your eyes.)

The article I found in Spacing read like a question and answer, with the first question and answer giving me all the convincing I needed to decide whether it’s possible for The Downtown Mission to do this kind of project. Interview by Matthew Hague.

Nick Saul is the Executive Director of The Stop Community Food Centre, an organization in the Davenport West neighbourhood whose range of services include a food bank, workshops, and community kitchens…

Spacing: What are the opportunities that exist within the city to produce more locally grown, nutritious food?

Saul: I am a big believer that we should take every green space we have and turn it into food production. I think we should be growing food in our backyards, in our front yards, on our balconies. The Stop has an 8000-square-foot garden at Earlscourt Park where we grow about 3000 pounds of organic produce that comes back into our many programs, and it’s an exciting example of what you can do with green space in the city. Parks aren’t simply there to walk in and smell the flowers; you can actually turn some of that land into food production, and support our communities with healthy food.

Well holy crap.

Need I print more?