Connaught School And The Constant Uphill Battle Of Saving Regina’s Heritage

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The group Save Our Connaught is reporting that the Regina Board of Education turned down its request Tuesday evening to get another estimate on renovating the 100 year-old Cathedral area school. I don’t know about you, but I was always told it’s good to get a second opinion.

Six In The Morning: You Don’t Come Here For Breaking News, Do You?

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1  ANOTHER BRUSH WITH COMPLETE ANNIHILATION  Did you hear about the asteroid that buzzed Earth on Saturday? Whew.

2  I NEED TO START FOLLOWING PETER MAYHEW ON TWITTER  The seven-foot tall actor was stopped at the Denver airport for carrying an unusually long cane.

3  BEES ARE REALLY IMPORTANT  As you probably already know, the world’s bee population is under siege, so researchers are putting together a sperm bank to help counter the effects of colony collapse disorder.

4  AS GOES ROME?  Looks like the Italian capital is following the nation-wide trend of correcting its right-of-centre politics.

5  IT’LL REALLY PULL THE ROOM TOGETHER  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be presented with this commemorative Afghan rug. 

6  IT’S HEP WITH THE KIDS  The New York Times is on the bleeding edge of five years ago with this story on how young people are going crazy for vinyl.

 

 

Jean Stapleton, RIP

 

stapleton1Actor Jean Stapleton, best known as Edith Bunker in the 70s television series All In The Family, has passed away at the age of 90.

Though she became a household name for her Emmy Award winning role as Archie Bunker’s long-suffering but sweet-natured wife, Stapleton was also well respected for her work in theatre, appearing on Broadway in productions like Funny Girl, and Damn Yankees. 

She’ll always be Edith to me, though. I have warm memories of being a little kid in the 70s, nestled between my parents on the couch as they watched the show, laughing along with the studio audience, though I was too young to understand the jokes.

So long, Jean.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9__MzsHs9A

Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Entire Photo-Staff, Effective Immediately

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Among those laid off is John H. White (see photo above), a 68-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner. Meanwhile, the Poynter Institute reports that the Sun-Times will start giving their reporters mandatory training in iPhone photography. Because that’s the same thing, right?

We know print journalism is under siege – it has been for years. And, contrary to popular opinion, this is not so much because of “the internet” as the fact that there’s a smaller number of companies that own more and more news outlets. And the practice of these companies is to prioritize their bottom line over – oh, I don’t know – being a watchdog for democracy. But still, every time you hear about another paper laying off staff, or shutting down altogether, it hurts. News today that the Chicago Sun-Times has laid off its entire photo-staff feels like a sucker punch. This is terrible news, not just for journalism, but because it debases the craft of photography itself. Is it just me, or does it seem like we’re getting to a point where no one knows anything about anything. Maybe that’s the idea.

Six In The Morning: Featuring (mostly) Things That Stink

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1  LE MONDE SAYS SYRIA IS ABSOLUTELY USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS  Reporters and photographers for the French newspaper say they’ve witnessed the use of said weapons in combat.

2  MAYOR ACCUSES MEDIA OF DISTORTING THE TRUTH  No, not that mayor. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto insists that his idiotic, insensitive, and thoroughly undiplomatic remarks about the use of sex-slaves during the Second World War were somehow rendered that way by journalists, and not his own gormless self. 

3  FINGERS CROSSED  The monumental snow dump from 2012/13 just might stick around until next winter. I’m not ready to think about next winter, are you?

4  MICHAEL REGAN REALLY DOESN’T BELIEVE IN CLIMATE CHANGE  First it was cooling, now it’s warming – make up your minds! (I’m paraphrasing).

5  THEY’VE GOT MOXY!  Those kids who wanted to bring the drive-in movie experience back to Regina are getting closer to realizing their goal.

6  HE WHO SMELLED IT…  Farmers in the U.S. are having to deal with an infestation of stink bugs. It’s not their bouquet that offends (apparently they just smell like coriander), so much as the damage they do to crops.

AND FINALLY…

FROM THE PERSONAL JOURNAL OF ROB FORD…  I was going to leave the Fords alone this morning (I think we’ve all had just about enough), but then I came across this.

Capital Pointe: Something’s Happening

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As you’ve probably already observed with your own eyes, either by passing through our fine city, or via, here, here, and here, something’s finally happening around the Capital Pointe site at Victoria and Albert – though, technically, not on it. In a nutshell, Sask Power has begun the process of moving an electrical duct (work that has to be completed in order for construction to begin on Capital Pointe itself) and traffic is being rerouted around the area.

So, while Sask Power’s subcontractor is beavering away, it must have seemed like as good an excuse as any for a photo-op. Which is what happened at 10am this morning* when the developers, BrightStar Corporation, made a “major media announcement”. In the end, that announcement wasn’t so much about construction as it was about their new partner: Augustine Group, a developer based in Niagara Falls, ON.

BrightStar’s VP and Capital Pointe’s project director Greg Black said that they’d taken the project “as far as they could”, and had arrived at a point where they felt they had to bring a new partner on board to start construction.

According to Brian Tilley, Augustine Group’s VP of sales and marketing, they are now the controlling shareholder of Capital Pointe. They expect to start construction on the site after Sask Power is finished with their electrical infrastructure work – in about 5 months – with occupancy now anticipated for Fall 2015.

But, in terms of how Capital Pointe itself has progressed, it doesn’t appear that much has changed. According to Tilley, they are still only 40 per cent sold, and they have yet to secure a buyer for the hotel – though they say they are in serious negotiations with five interested parties, and should be making an announcement about the hotel portion of the development in late June.

They also announced that they will make 36 new units available, starting at $189,000. These are being sold as studio suites, and will result in the development having a total of 180 residential suites, and 144 hotel rooms.

“All the less expensive suites sold out very quickly on the first launch,” Tilley said. “We believe, with the affordability of that price, and what rent prices are here — it’s crazy how high the rent is here — that product will be very, very affordable.”

Are they concerned about the lower price point of these units affecting the “luxury brand” of Capital Pointe?  “No,” Tilley said. “Because I think, at that price, even for the lower units, it’s still a luxury condominium.”

When one of the reporters assembled questioned whether construction had really started in earnest, when it’s Sask Power that is doing all the heavy lifting at the moment – not Augustine or BrightStar – Tilley responded: “Well, I see trucks moving dirt, and, to me, that’s construction.  We had to pay for this work to be done,” he said. “We’re not paying money to put a duct bank in if we’re not going to start construction.” He declined to disclose how much Sask Power has been paid to start this electrical work, but according to a statement from Sask Power last fall, the developers had to pay a deposit to start this infrastructure work, not the entire amount.

So… something’s happening at the Capital Pointe site. And, as usual, we’ll find out what it’ll mean in a few months time.

Prairie Dog will follow up on this story in a future print issue.

(photo: BrightStar Corporation’s Greg Black (left) passes the Capital Pointe torch to Augustine Group’s Brian Tilley).

*Prairie Dog prides itself on bringing you breaking news, as it happens!

Six In The Evening: Better Late Than Never

Six in the Evening1  HE’S BACK! Everyone’s favourite singing, dancing, pontificating astronaut (Chris Hadfield) has returned to our realm. But then, you’ve already heard all about it.

2  PITY POOR TORONTO It’s okay. They’re used to it.

3  LABRADOR VOTES LIBERAL Conservative MP, and former minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Peter Penashue has been given his walking papers.

4  BUYER BEEWARE A Utah couple found a huge bee hive behind a wall in their new home.

5  MARTIN SHORT TO WRITE MEMOIR FOR HARPER I totally misinterpreted this headline too, and was really disappointed when I figured it out.

6  SLEEP TIGHT A new virus is making a lot of people nervous.

Kafka’s Monkey at Artesian: Simian Vaudevillian Really Makes You Think.

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On this weekend at Artesian is Golden Apple Theatre’s production of Kafka’s Monkey – adapted by Colin Teevan from Franz Kafka’s A Report To An Academy. This is the Canadian premiere of the play, following a successful run in New York this past spring, and its world premiere at the Young Vic in London in 2009 – and it’s well worth checking out.

A chimpanzee is shot, captured, and brought to Weimar-era Germany by ship. Over time, he realizes, in order to survive, he has to depart from his ape persona, and somehow become human. After a rough introduction to alcohol, he very quickly develops the human characteristic of speech and proceeds to enchant and amaze European audiences under his new vaudevillian persona – Red Peter (so named for the red mark on his cheek from when he was shot).

And he’s a hit! He dances, he sings, and he gamely climbs an on-stage apparatus, all the while wearing a tailored little suit and bowler hat. When we meet Red Peter, it is to hear his titular report to an academy – and, in this case, we are the academy, as audience members are given white lab coats to wear upon entry to the theatre. The relationship is set up early: We might be in control in the bigger sense, but for the next hour, we’re here to listen to an animal who no longer identifies as an animal, and to, ostensibly, hear his perspective on his life “as a former ape.” But it quickly becomes very clear that what he really is is a creature tragically caught between two worlds with, as he reminds us, “no way out.”

Jodi Sadowsky gives a nuanced and very observant performance as Red Peter – not to mention an energetic one. It’s a physically demanding role. Not only because of the marathon-like nature of the text (she’s the only one on stage for the duration of this one-act play), but for the way she channels the character. Sadowsky’s performance is imbued with the physicality of Red Peter’s former ape self, occasionally reverting to full-ape mode at key moments. It’s a tic he’ll never rid himself of, but Sadowsky’s movements are also a take on the ingratiating way of the vaudevillian stage performer – a plaintive appeal to draw Red Peter’s audience in – and the combination of these two traits works well. It’s a crucial aspect of the performance that was arrived at after long hours of work with local dancer and movement coach Chancz Perry.

“I started working out a few months before, but I didn’t realize how physical it was going to be,” Sadowsky says. “I watched a lot of ape videos – that was a big thing for me before we got to rehearsals. But when we got to rehearsals, Chancz and Ryland, we really worked together to find out ‘What is the walk? How do you hold yourself? You were an ape, but now you’re a man.’”

Red Peter oscillates between regaling the audience of his dangerous passage from the other continent (and transformation to an semi-upright “human”) and compulsively climbing his little wooden jungle gym, bringing home the point that he’ll sadly never be comfortable in either environment. Sadowsky’s interpretation of the text hones in on the simultaneous admiration and resentment Peter has for his former captors – now his friends.

This split affinity also raises questions around how much our personas in general are performances, and what is given up through the process of assimilation. When Kafka wrote the story, it first appeared in Der Jude, and was interpreted by some as a satirization of the cultural assimilation of Jews in a time of rampant anti-Semitism. Director Ryland Alexander points out that the themes of alienation are still very relevant.

“Comparing what the world was like then and now, I think we’ve come a long way, but at the same time it still goes on,” he says. “We aren’t as accepting of people’s ideas, philosophies and ideologies, and we’re very quick to judge. So, what happens when we don’t embrace, and we force our ideals upon others? And I think some of the despair that comes out in the character is really what you see in society when people don’t have a way out.”

“We talked about how Red Peter just goes from one cage to another,” Sadowsky adds.

On a personal level, both Sadowsky and Alexander say they can identify with the feeling of being caught between two worlds.

“I moved back into the province about a year and a half ago,” he says. “And things have dramatically changed in the cultural landscape of the province. So, I’ve had to take stock.”

He says the play also taps into the push-pull between following one’s life’s work as an artist and having to balance that with the ability to support oneself. “That pull of ‘what is your ape?’ What is it that makes you feel alienated from society as a whole, from not giving culture its just cause?”

“One of the things I like about the metaphor is that anyone can figure that out,” Alexander says. “What they take away from this play, hopefully, is ‘What do I do to survive? And how do I feel about that?’”

In the end, we’re all just little monkeys trying to figure that out.

Kafka’s Monkey continues at Artesian until Sunday May 12.
2627 13th Ave.
Show starts at 8pm.
Tickets are available at Cobb Swanson Music, Bach and Beyond and through Golden Apple’s website.

(photo: Darrol Hoffmeister, Sharpshooter Photography)

Six In The Evening: Featuring Disasters in the Making and Some Cute Widdle Animals

Six in the Evening1 FIRE!  Crews are keeping a close eye on Grasslands National Park after a weekend of crazy wildfires.

2 FLOODS!  Several communities northwest of Saskatoon are underwater.

3  SO LONG SK8 PARK   A new stadium at Evraz Place means Regina’s skateboarding enthusiasts will lose their current indoor skate park. I sure hope these kids like football.

4  THE CUTEST OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS   If you were looking for another excuse to visit Costa Rica, they’ve got a sanctuary that houses over 150 sloths!

5  SPREADING HER WINGS?  Kirstine Stewart is leaving the CBC to head up Twitter Canada.

6 RECORD BREAKING  Our planet is on the cusp of breaking the record for CO2 levels.

I Used To Live Here

 

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More than one year after its tenants were evicted, the Crescent Apartments have finally come down. And I, for one, am glad. I used to live there. When my husband and I were evicted over a year ago, I was furious. At the time, Regina had a vacancy rate of 0.6 per cent – and the City was approving the demolition of a building housing 12 families (the vacancy rate is still below one per cent). Now that it’s down, I can stop feeling steam coming out of my ears every time I pass through that area, knowing that there are huge, beautiful two and three bedroom apartments sitting empty. I suppose others must be breathing a sigh of relief too. With the city’s housing summit only a few weeks away, an empty building full of spacious apartments sure would look bad.

Shortly after receiving our notices, my neighbours and I would often exchange rumours we’d heard about the landlord’s plans. Some were convinced it was coming down for parking – not a crazy theory given that’s exactly what is becoming of the landlord’s other property, the Black Building, at 1755 Hamilton St. That building housed 46 families. The parking lot theory was also not crazy because the General Hospital, just next door, is renowned across the city for being a tough place to find a parking spot. But these were people’s homes. And they were beautiful. Yeah, they’d seen better days, but the bones of the place were great. The Crescents was built in 1912, and was even on the heritage holding bylaw list (until it was taken off so the landlord could apply to demolish it). All of the apartments had at least some – if not all – of their original features; oak trim, mantle pieces, cornices, and glass lighting fixtures. Surely the landlords had something else in mind. I wondered if they might be thinking of turning the place over to refurbished, retrofitted luxury condos once they’d turfed everyone out. They might have made a killing off that. That’s what would happen in other cities, anyway. Of course, I should have known they didn’t have that kind of imagination. When I went by the other day and took these pictures, I could make out the old iron radiators, and at least one mantle piece left on the main floor, barely visible through the rubble. I guess no one was told that they could take these things out and sell them in other provinces where people actually value that kind of thing.

As you can probably tell, I’m still angry. I can’t complain for myself anymore, though. My husband and I landed very comfortably on our feet, and we now own a nice little house that I love. We even have a garden (at least we did the last time I checked, before all this snow arrived). But that’s not really the point. Some of our neighbours didn’t land as comfortably as we did, and either had to move to parts of the city they never wanted to be in, or to other apartments at twice the price and with half the space. And, because they live in a province without rent control, they never know how much the rent will rise. It’s a stressful situation that a lot of people in this province are forced to live with.

Goodbye, Crescent Apartments. I’m told you housed half the arts community in this town at some point or other. You were a great old building, and probably could have lasted another hundred years if you’d been treated right. The wreckage of your former walls now lays as a monument to apathy and neglect, like the ghosts of so many buildings in this city that have gone before you.

Regina Really Is Just One Big Parking Lot

I often hear people remark on the dearth of parking in downtown Regina and, frankly, they usually sound pretty desperate. They say things like: “There’s not enough parking!”, “We need more parking!”, and “I can’t find a parking spot anywhere!”

Well, apparently some of these eloquent individuals have taken matters into their own hands. They’ve taken a fresh look at City Square and have come to the logical conclusion that this public space can also double as a convenient, centrally located spot to park one’s automobile. I took these pics (as proof!) on Friday evening as a friend and I passed through the square en route to a real parking lot. Why didn’t these guerilla parkers do the same? Probably because they wanted to illustrate for us a central issue around parking in Regina: Everyone wants a spot, but no one wants to pay. But, as so many of us have found out over the years, when it comes to parking in the Queen City, one way or the other, someone always pays.

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Rest In Peace, Captain Peacock

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Frank Thornton, the veteran English actor who played the fusty old Captain Peacock on the much loved BBC comedy Are You Being Served, has passed away at the age of 92.

In addition to starring in the classic Brit-com which ran from 1972 – 1985, Thornton appeared most recently on BBC’s Last of the Summer Wine, and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

For those of us who remember him fondly, I think we all hope he’s with Mrs. Slocombe. And her pussy*.

* I’m not being rude. It’s what the character insisted on calling her cat. Look for it on youtube. It’s a hoot.

Six In The Morning: Bailouts, Prison Breaks, and Suicide Missions

6-in-the-morning1  BAILOUT VOTE POSTPONED  Cypriots are staring down a pretty grim future as the European bailout looms.

2  I’M SURE I’VE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE  Following what must be one of the more spectacular prison break attempts in Canadian history, the helicopter pilot whose services were commandeered to spring two Quebecois prisoners from the hoosegow yesterday tells his story.

3  IT’S NEVER TOO LATE!  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says women between the ages of 50 and 55 shouldn’t feel discouraged from pursuing pregnancy with donor eggs or embryos. Because apparently everyone should have everything they want whenever they want it. As long as they have money.

4  EVERYONE AGREES: THOMAS MULCAIR IS NOT HELPING THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE DEAL  Alison Redford is joining the rest of the gang on the Keystone pipeline wagon, and calling comments Mulcair made on his recent trip to Washington “ridiculous and unhelpful” to their efforts to secure a deal for the Keystone pipeline. What are they so worried about? They’re going to get it eventually.

5  GO ASK DADDY  Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has asked Pope Francis to intervene in Argentina’s dispute over the Falklands with the U.K..

6  IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM  The man behind Mars One – a “private space project” – is looking for people willing to take a one-way trip to Mars.

Six In The Evening: Bouncing Babies, Media Monopolies, And A Strong Argument For Rent Control

6 in the Evening1  OUT OF CONTROL  Tenants in a Regina apartment building are facing rental increases averaging 77%. Their building was recently sold, and they’ve been given six months notice, so it’s totally legal.

2  NOT SO FAST  For reasons probably only justifiable to them, Canada’s Competition Bureau has approved a merger between BCE and Astral. How exactly does this keep things competitive?

3  HOPE AND QUESTIONS  Doctors in the U.S. have apparently cured a baby born with HIV. Staff at the University of Mississippi Health Centre say the child will no longer need medication for the disease and they are optimistic for the baby’s future health. The researchers are still unclear on how the cure worked – and caution that this cure might not work on older children and adults. Still, it’s hard not to interpret news like this as hopeful.

4  KENYA VOTES   In what has been a long time coming, Kenyans lined up at the polls today to cast their votes for the first time in five years. Violence erupted earlier in the day in Mombassa, with 15 people being killed by roving, machete-wielding gangs. Despite the tense atmosphere, voter turnout was estimated to be 70%. Jesus. What’s our excuse?

5  GOING UNDERGROUND  Scientists are digging deep under the earth’s surface to study carbon movement and what it can tell us about life on the surface – and climate change.

6  WE LIKE THE ARTS. STUDIES PROVE IT.  According to some research, Saskatchewan residents spend more per capita on “live performing arts than any other residents in Canada.” And apparently that’s more than double what Saskatchewanians spend on sporting events. I wonder what they consider performing arts.

National Gallery of Canada Handing Out Pink Slips

 

This just in (yesterday). According to a press release, the National Gallery of Canada is eliminating 29 positions due to a $2.5 million shortfall in its operating budget (translation: budget cuts). Among the staff to be let go are six librarians. Of course. Who needs librarians anymore, right? But fear not – seven new positions will be created to support the gallery’s “revenue generation and visitor engagement objectives.” It’s good to know your priorities.

Introducing… The Creative Industries Agency!

This story is developing (in that I don’t have absolutely all the information yet), but the Saskatchewan Government has announced the Creative Industries Agency – meant as a salve to those who make their living through the arts, and what I guess is supposed to be a bandage over the gaping wound inflicted on the local film industry following the axing of the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit last year.

In a nutshell, there’s less money to support all the “creative industries” in the province than there used to be to support SaskFilm alone.

Updates and reaction to follow.

Six In The Evening: Now Sans-Culottes!

6 in the Evening1 WALKING AWAY  Coastal First Nations from British Columbia have walked away from a federal review of the B.C. pipeline project. Art Sterritt, executive director of coastal first nations said that they can no longer hold out and waste both time and money in negotiations with the likes of deep-pocketed oil companies.

2 FOUND IT!  They’ve finally found and identified Richard III’s skeletal remains.

3 MORE TO LOVE  Couldn’t get enough of Beyoncé at the Super Bowl? You’re in luck! She’s announced her world tour! No prairie dates have been listed so far, but she’s been here before. So, it could happen.

4 WHAT TOOK SO LONG?  William Shatner is going to call astronaut Chris Hadfield… in space!

5 CHINESE SMOG  Japanese media is reporting choking smog drifting over from China. That’s just rude.

6 FRENCH LAWS SLACKEN  At long last, the women of Paris can wear pants with impunity! Lawmakers in the French capital have finally striken from the books a law that dates back to 1800 which forbids the sporting of trousers by ladies.

Jian Ghomeshi! Live! Tonight!

Jian Ghomeshi will read from his coming-of-age memoir 1982 tonight at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

To get in the mood, check out prairie dog’s interview with the ever-charming and thoughtful host of CBC’s Q.

If you haven’t bought tickets yet, it’s not too late. Tickets will be available for $32 at the door. Doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 8:30.

Come, gentle townsfolk! Gather round to keep him warm!

 

Six In The Morning: Military Strikes and… No That’s Not A Euphemism.

6-in-the-morning1  ONE CANADIAN  The Algerian Prime Minister says there was one Canadian among the militants who attacked a gas plant in Sahara last week.

2  FRENCH AND MALIAN TROOPS CAPTURE TOWNS  According to the French Ministry of Defense, they have now “seized control” of the towns of Diabaly and Douentza from Islamist militants. More troops are expected from Ghana, Chad, and Nigeria.

3  MEANWHILE IN ERITREA  Soldiers have surrounded the ministry of information building, and state TV has been taken off the air, following an apparent coup attempt.

4  FEWER AMERICANS VISITING CANADA  Travel stats show that travel to Canada from the United Kingdom, China, Australia, and Japan, has been on the upswing in recent years. Travelers from the U.S. on the other hand, have been steadily declining in number. Oh, they’ll be back.

5  IT’S ABOUT BLOODY TIME  Three actor/filmmakers in Montreal have started a menstruation film festival in the hopes of breaking the taboos around young women talking about the curse. I mean, their monthly visit from Aunt Flow. I mean, that time of the month. How can I put this delicately?…

6  TODAY IS PROBABLY NOT THE MOST DEPRESSING DAY OF THE YEAR  It’s Blue Monday! That is to say, it’s the third Monday in January and, according to some calculations, this makes it the hardest day of the year to swallow. Of course, that’s just ridiculous, as this article deftly points out. Besides, everyone knows the most depressing day of the year is New Year’s Eve.

All the same, it’s as good an excuse as any to show the video for New Order’s Blue Monday (that someone apparently shot off their TV).