record show

Last month I finally attended the bi-annual Record Show at the Festival Banquet Centre. I’d seen the flyers for the show around town before and had always wanted to check it out but had never been able to -so I was extra super stoked to go. I prepared myself for an afternoon of record browsing with the hopes of finding some real gems.

The Festival Banquet centre is located on King St. East (to see my post on King East click here).  With low ceilings and dim lighting the hall kind of reminded of the multiple friend’s parent’s basements that I hung out in as a teenager.  The hall however was still decked out in kitschy wedding decorations and the air smelled like a cocktail of stale alcohol and tobacco smoke. Like most record sales I’ve been to it was pretty much a dude fest with a small spattering of women digging and flipping through the crates.

I went with the hopes of discovering some rare record finds; old jamaican ska, surf, 50/60′s soul and perhaps a little calypso or Nigerian afro-funk. But I was stuck mostly with flipping through various vendor’s collections of The Beatles, The Stones, Kiss and Journey among other boxes of records that you might normally find at a garage sale (priced accordingly cheap 3 for $5). So I guess if you’re into bargain bin rock music and perhaps completing a collection of a specific rock artist then this would’ve been the record sale for you. Don’t get me wrong there were tons of records -maybe too many? I probably would’ve been happier with less records and just a little more quality and uniqueness to the selection. A couple of turn tables with headphones for listening to potential record purchases would’ve helped too.

In the end we did end up buying a couple of albums. Steve got Rush: Archives (a triple album: Rush, Fly By Night and Caress of Steel), and I picked up a Barbara Lynn album.


We put them on in the evening Steve rocked out to some Rush, and later I danced Omi to sleep with Barbara Lynn’s sweet voice.

I leave you with a song from Barbara Lynn:

swimmingly

It’s already been two months since Omi was born and things are going swimmingly.  Despite all odds we sleep well, eat well, and not so surprisingly we do a hell of a lot more laundry than ever before.

I feel like I can attribute a lot of our relative ease into parenthood to our friends and family. For the past two months they’ve come and made us lunches, washed our dishes, rocked Omi to sleep, and stockpiled our newly purchased deep-freezer with delicious foods and treats thus leaving us ample time to tend to our new parental duties.  It has been a great relief that we quite literally have not had to worry about making dinners and sometimes even lunches for the past two months. To stay on this train of low stress preparation for dinners Steve’s been into making large batches of soups, meat pies, sauces and lasagna that I’m sure will last us well into the winter.

The biggest warmest thank you goes out to our friends and family for all your support, delicious meals and gifts!

A beautiful and yummy Dufflet‘s cake from our friends who most recently came for a lovely Saturday afternoon visit.

 

views from jackson

In the dwindling days of fall I took in some views from the top of Jackson Square’s roof.

Although I’m not the biggest fan of Jackson Square I do frequent it on a regular basis to run errands, and to go to the market and library. Despite its faults and concrete ugliness and the fact that in its construction the city demolished much of Hamilton’s rich Victorian architecture AND Ontario’s largest outdoor market and square, I do have to be fair in saying that it does serve as a walkable destination for me to get out and about with the little one and to get my day-to-day errands done. So I guess I shouldn’t really complain. I should be happy that at least some retail stores have remained downtown (don’t get me wrong there is room for plenty more).

In all actuality Jackson Square in the daytime is quite a hub. With all the office workers, students and loiterers walking and wheeling around Jackson grabbing their coffees and lunches, I’m surprised that other retailers haven’t decided to capitalize on this untapped market further. If I could work downtown, do my shopping, AND get my groceries all in one place during say lunch, on a break or after work, it would be muchos convenient and life changing for us downtown dwellers and for the daytime Hamilton office workers. I love being able to cram errands into a regular work-a-day day without having to get into a car and go from parking lot to parking lot especially with all the madness of the fast approaching Christmas retail rush.

But enough about that.  On days when the market is closed and I don’t feel like walking through the mall or heading down to James, I’ll take in some views from atop Jackson Square. I know I’ve blogged about my love for this vastly underused public space before (click here for that post) but yet again I find myself here and loving the downtown views from this concrete rooftop.

I guess for me the rooftop is one of Jackson Square’s saving graces -can’t wait until the new downtown grocery store opens up too!

totes

If you haven’t noticed there’s an amazing amount of Hamilton heart throb paraphernalia around this town in the form of T-shirts and tote bags.

For a birthday present this year I got one of my favourite Hamilton tote bags; a Jenna Rose silk-screened linen tote bag of a map of downtown Hamilton.

I’m told that it is a limited edition as Jenna is no longer making them. So get one while you still can at White Elephant.

For an assortment of other Hamilton wears go by Tourism Hamilton (or White Elephant) and you can pick up Russell Gibbs‘ You Can Do Anything In Hamilton tote or T-shirt, or The Print Studio (aka Centre 3) for an array of Hamilton art T-shirts. You can also find T-shirts with Hamilton’s Twitter Hashtag (#HamOnt) made by Best of Hamilton out and about the city, and at Mixed Media you can get a classic TH&B T-shirt too.

 

the hammer

There’s something quite humorous about wielding a hammer in “The Hammer”.

I recently renewed my annual membership at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and couldn’t help but notice this great installation by Hamilton artist Simon Frank.

The hammer, with an embossed pine tree, is hung on the large wall of the front entrance of the AGH.  You can swing it as you like into the drywall.  The overall effect is the creation of a forest of hammered out pine trees, or as the title of the work states View (from the escarpment). I love it!

 

i love fall

One beautiful balmy Sunday morning we headed on out for a gorgeous fall walk at Dundas Valley Conservation Area.  It was just at that perfect moment in time when you can see the full range of fall foliage from green to yellow, rusty oranges and red all at once.

We were all set to go; baby in the carrier, fall apples for a snack and a Detour coffee in hand to give us a kick start to the trek.

We’ve cycled to the conservation area before and biked the main loop trail but this was my first time doing the loop on foot -a little ambitious as it was only week two after having a baby, but it felt amazing to be out of the house enjoying the fall air and all the smells of the forest.

I love when the trail comes upon the old Hermitage ruins.  The Hermitage is an old estate that is over 170 years old.  It served as a summer house for a wealthy Irish-born Scottish immigrant named George Gordon Browne Leith.

According to the historic plaque outside the Hermitage the limestone summer home was destroyed in a fire in 1934. Leith’s daughter built a smaller home within its ruins in which she lived until her death in 1942.  The ruins are all that’s left of what is said to have been a lavish estate. The Gatehouse, previously home to the Leith’s gatehouse keeper and his family, is now an operating museum that houses artifacts from the Hermitage as well as the details and history of the Hermitage and the Leith family.

My other favourite spot on the trail is when it opens up onto an old apple orchard.  The trees are all gnarly and twisted, and the apples have long gone wild.

I love seeing remnant glimpses into history like this old orchard.  I wonder about how the land and life would’ve been like when the orchard was well tended. Perhaps this was part of the Leith’s estate?

 

*Dundas Valley  Conservation Area, 540 Governors Rd., Dundas. $9/vehicle, free to enter on foot or by bicycle

fall crawl

October’s art crawl has come and gone but it just might have been my favourite one of the year.  With all the hoopla of the Supercrawl over it was nice to see this art crawl so chill and low-key.  It always seems like in the fall and winter the crawl crowd seems to mellow out, which I secretly kinda love.

During last week’s crawl I stumbled upon three new gallery spaces, one of which has become my new favourite Hamilton gallery.

Located at 27 John Street North, the Nathaniel Hughson Gallery just recently opened in the space that Wishart advertising agency formerly occupied.  It’s a great addition to the expanding Hamilton art and gallery scene.  It keeps me optimistic when galleries start reaching beyond James North especially onto this particular stretch of John (between King William and King Streets). I have big hopes for this little drag on John North -so much potential!

David Hind‘s metal work above the door of Nathaniel Hughson’s Art Gallery.

Another piece by David Hind inside the gallery.  I’m a really big fan of his work and of his collaborative projects with the collective the Aluminum Quilting Society.

There were many other fantastic pieces of artwork in the gallery from several established Ontario artist including local Hamilton artist Christina Sealey.  The works of art exhibited ranged from painting to sculpture, including functional pieces of furniture. It is definitely worth a visit, so add this to the list of galleries to check out at your next art crawl, or better yet take a looksy if you’re in the neighbourhood.

Next we popped into Manta Contemporary at 51 King William, which is another new gallery slightly off the beaten James North track.  I loved the playful exhibit From Cardboard that they had in perfect time for Halloween.

The exhibit consisted of wonderfully crafted masks made from none other than cardboard.  The idea behind the exhibit is to sell the pieces (masks, costumes and props) -for Halloween of course! The works that sell will be replaced regularly by new pieces that are being created on an on-going basis until October 31st.  Super fun! If you need a unique costume now you know where to go.

As we continued on King William I noticed this subtle installation projected onto Delta Bingo Hall‘s wall from Baltimore Café.  It was like a giant old full moon all soft-lit and glowy. Loved these surprise discoveries during this art crawl.

My big fav of the night was a 5 piece blues band (out front of Christ Church Cathedral) consisting primarily of elderly gents.  Their aged voices were just as fun and sassy as they needed to be to draw a crowd.

The last gallery discovery of the night was another newish space that we were lead to by a series of arrows chalked, taped and painted on the sidewalk leading off of James and onto Barton. I don’t remember the name of the gallery but it was quite non-descript with a fairly young crowd checking out the artwork. There was some electronic music and sound equipment set up, which implied that there’d likely have been a show, however we didn’t stick around for very long. I’m not 100% certain but I believe this space is called HAVN -”a multi-modal node for the development, exhibition, documentation, and dispersal of sound, images, and ideas” -sounds interesting.

Great to see the continued development and expansion of the art scene in Hamilton!

city motor hotel

When there’s a building slated for the demolition in Hamilton — and these days there have been a lot — I can’t help but reflect on the history, the architecture and the reminder of an era that is no more that is being knocked to the ground.

In the case of the City Motor Hotel in Hamilton’s east end, slated for expropriation and demolition, I get lost in daydreams of parties, banquets and cocktail hours when things were swinging à la Miami Beach-style some 50-plus years ago.

Back in the ’60s, car culture was hitting it big, highways were expanding, and cityscapes were evolving and sprawling to make room for the massive appeal, convenience and ever-growing popularity of the automobile.

With this, came a shift in how people moved from place to place, where they went and how they’d go about their business. Before personal automobiles became common, most people travelled to destinations by train and, when requiring a night’s accommodation, stayed at a hotel downtown, making use of the surrounding amenities to occupy their time.

But by the ’60s, downtowns were no longer considered a convenient rest stop for drivers on the way in and out of cities. People wanted to pull their cars directly up to the place they were staying and indulge in other new modern fancies of the era such as TV, air-conditioning and perhaps a luxurious outdoor pool. Thus came the growing popularity of motor hotels. In the ’60s these motels were affordable, modern and classy. Every city or town had at least one.

Growing up in Burlington, I remember the Town and Country Motel on Plains Road and the Riviera Motel over by the lake.

With the cityscape and land-use around them evolving, many of these motels are no longer on the edges of town. They often seem stuck in the past, declining in stature exponentially with every decade that passes.

These old monuments to the automobile’s golden age won’t remain forever.

Take for example the old City Motor Hotel on Queenston Road in Hamilton. It has most certainly seen better days and is on track to be expropriated by the city and demolished.

The City Motor Hotel has been notoriously labelled as a hot-bed of prostitution, drug-dealing, drug-use and other crime. Just the other day, I heard there was a stabbing. The owner sold it about 10 years ago, but is back in possession as the main mortage holder. At last report, the city is moving ahead with expropriation.

But I find myself fantasizing about a developer who might save the hotel, refurbish the kidney-shaped pool, and restore the hotel rooms back to mint 1960s vintage glory.

It could be a concept motel — a real throwback to the ’60s with Mad Men-themed parties, room rentals for fake proms, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and DJ nights with swinging ’50s and ’60s music.

It could be Hamilton’s little taste of an arty novelty boutique hotel similar to ones you might find in Palm Springs, Miami or L.A.

I know it’s a far-fetched idea, but what can I say: I love to dream.

Who knows what the fate of the City Motor is.

In the meantime, stop by, collect a memory or two, snap your photos and have a daydream before the hotel is no more.

 

This article was originally published in The Hamilton Spectator on Saturday, October 20th 2012. You can see the article here.

 

rock museum

When I was in my early teens I would often make my way to Hamilton from Burlington to shop along King Street; Deja Vu for vintage, Cheapies for CD’s and tapes and Rock N Tee’s for shoes and T-shirts. I can’t remember if I ever happened into Rock Museum back in the day, but boy was I ever happy about my rediscovery of this store in recent weeks.

Nearly twenty years later, having moved to downtown Hamilton I walk by Rock Museum about a million times a week without really giving it a second thought. Clearly taking for granted all that it has to offer as a classic neighbourhood fixture.

On occasion at a quick glance, a T-shirt in the window might catch my eye.  Like the one with kittens wearing cowboy hats, or one with wolves howling at the moon.  Sometimes I think I should go in there and pick one up -you know just for fun in that classic 80′s vintage T-shirt kind of way.

Well, the other day a friend was visiting from out of town and under her suggestion we headed on in to the Rock Museum. The store appeared to be relatively unchanged from the 80′s. It is quite a miracle that a store can stay so much the same when everything else seems to change so quickly. I guess that is what I found to be the beauty of this store.

The store is all T-shirts from wall to wall, and floor to ceiling ranging from hilarious slogans to classic rock t-shirts in the back.  For the most part the T-shirts are printed with kitschy pictures of unicorns, rainbows, wolves, cats, and even some shirts with those sparkly bubble letters.  All the shirts have that matte kind of gluey texture of the classic iron-on.

Yep, I did say iron-on. That’s how they do all their shirts.  You pick the shirt style and colour you want (or bring in your own shirt).  You pick the print or design.  Then they’ll iron it on for you.

In no less than 2-3 minutes your shirt will have a fresh and hot iron-on image bonded right on. So cool!

They’re definitely the iron-on experts as they’ve been doing it for over 30+ years!

I was so enthralled with the whole store and its infinite possibilities for hilarious and amazing gifts for friends and family that I was giddily spreading the word about my awe of Rock Museum to all those visiting us in Hamilton.

When my sister came down to visit she popped into the store and came out with iron-on letters of her name that she was going to put onto a shirt of her choice from home.  She advised that I should get my letters ASAP as they are in short supply mostly because the lettering is actually from the 80′s and they are running out of certain letters like for example the letter “I” which had to be craftily severed from part of a letter “H”.

So if you want your T-shirt emblazoned with your name in 80′s glittery rainbow lettering, you’d better hurry down to Rock Museum fast!

*Rock Museum/Klassy T-shirt (that’s classy with a “K”!), 101 King St. East, 905.525.5333

 

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