Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Big Month So Far, or: Concerts and Queens and Parades, Oh My (Plus: Crowdsourcing a Clean Shave)

Whirlwinds of activity around here! (Including, if you've been following the weather, actual whirlwinds.)

Yes, the summer months always seem to be the busiest in this city, and if there's one thing I need right now it's to keep myself busy. I'm currently fighting a bout of a frustratingly lingering cough and cold combination -- just like almost everybody I know, almost as if there's some sort of connection -- so it's important to get some sunshine and exercise, do the ol' up-and-about routine, that sort of thing.

Besides drinking entire cases of fluids, and besides stubbornly dragging myself out of bed bright and early every morning specifically just to watch soccer, what have I been up to? Well, buckle yourself in for a fine photographic travelogue, because we'll start from day one out along the Lake. (There are a lot of photos in this post, so slower connections should consider themselves forewarned.)

Ponemah, one of the three segments that makes up the collective Village of Dunnotar, has a population of maybe -- maybe -- two hundred people. So you don't know adorable and charming until you've seen a village of two hundred put on a parade, and Ponemah presented just such a parade for its residents to ring in Canada Day morning.

Longtime readers will remember that I'm known to enjoy parades, so I'll admit to being entirely easy to please, but even the coldest of hearts would admit that this was as cute a l'il parade as any you'll see:

My mini-review of the event:

You can check out the rest of the parade pictures here, if'n it pleases the court.

Ponemah was also staging its own fireworks display that evening, but our assembled group collectively decided to act like high-rollers and head into the big-city living of Winnipeg Beach.

Ah, good ol' Winnipeg Beach. Walking the Boardwalk, seeing the sights, eating as much Tiger Tiger ice cream as they can fit onto a cone (Tiger Tiger is the best, haters gonna hate) -- and, of course, a trip to the Beach wouldn't be complete without popping into the arcades and playing the vintage pinball machines.

These machines predate your fancy digital trappings, like screens and voice samples and all that hullabaloo; absolutely everything in the game (even the scoring wheel!) is analog, which is pretty impressive to look at.

But, I digress. Where was I? Ah, yes, explosions.


There were flashes of light across the lake, too, which we'd initially mistaken for fireworks somewhere else. But, nope, lightning storm:'s, uh, it's kind of difficult to photograph a lightning storm. I did my best, though, by grabbing video of it and extracting a few frames:

And then the storm did that for a few hours before floating northwest and flooding Peguis First Nation, which is entirely unfortunate. Still, the lightning looked cool, though.

Canada Day fell on a Thursday this year, which no doubt meant that a considerable number of people just blew Friday off entirely and declared it a really, really, really long weekend. Me, I'd already been out at the Lake for over a week, so it was high time to come back into the city -- most particularly because it was Free Wrap-Up Weekend time at the Jazz Festival, and damn if I don't love the free weekend every year. I'd missed it last year, having been out of the province finishing a Master's at the time, so I was pretty adamant about hitting it up this year. And I'd heard that they changed the Old Market Square stage slightly.

Hmm. Well, something's different. It's the banner, right? Is that a new banner?

The first night was well-attended, as you can see, and Papa Mambo as the headliners of the evening brought the obvious inevitability of a sweet conga line.

I thought ahead and parked near Old Market Square early the next afternoon, which was still reasonably well populated for a day gathering --

-- but that was more for convenience later in the evening, because I was fixin' to head down to the Forks first.

The Queen of England was in town on Saturday, you see. I don't know if you heard about it, it wasn't really mentioned very often or anything. I can't really claim to be much of a monarchist, mind you, but hey -- when eighty-plus years of world history decides to wander around town in a silly hat, it's usually worth investigating.

I'd intended to grab one of the Downtown Spirit buses directly to the Forks, but the only one I could grab at the time was running counter-clockwise rather than clockwise around downtown. A little out of the way, yes; on the other hand, it was air-conditioned, and the humidex was pushing 40C again that day, so who minds a detour? Down Main, along Portage, up Colony, down Vaughan, down Colony again, along Broadway -- and then stuck, by complete coincidence, because traffic was held up for the motorcade at the Government House.

Well, if that isn't some fortuitous timing, I don't know what is. Suppose anybody showed up?

Call it a hunch, but I'm starting to think that the Queen is around here somewhere. Also a clue:

Ha ha ha ha, d'awwwwwwwwwww

who's a cute puppy who's a cute puppy, is it you, are you the cutest pupp--

Ahem. Sorry. Moving on.

"Look, Mom! I'm media!"
"Get down from there."

Sure enough, after a few minutes, the Queen eventually emerged from the House and made her way into the car awaiting her. It turns out that eighty-four-year-olds don't really move all that quickly, so not only can you get a lot of shots of the Queen at once but they all turn out pretty well because her posture never changes too dramatically.

You see what I mean. She's going down the stairs, understandably taking it slow, and in the time she's doing that the Government House makes like a clown car and pops out at least a dozen people. Your understanding of the time between pictures depends entirely on whether you're looking at the crowd as a whole or focusing on the Queen in each shot, perfectly composed, just takin' it one step at a time while the rest of the world rushes and swirls around her. There's a certain elegance to it, really, but she is the Queen of England so I suppose that's to be expected.

Anyway, they loaded her up into one of the cars in the motorcade, and off they went.

The kid standing next to me when I took these pictures was super adorably excited about the whole thing. "SHE WAVED AT ME! SHE WAVED AT MEEEEEEEEEE"

So that was a productive diversion, but the main events were still ahead. Onward, then, to the Forks!

In the confusion, a lone shopping cart, toppled and abandoned by the cruel whims of fate.

But who would do such a thing? I've narrowed it down, and the perpetrator is somebody at this very event!

...oh, hell. This could take a while.

You know, call it a hunch, but I'm starting to think that the Queen is around here somewhere. Also a clue:

Well, that's the Human Rights cornerstone she's dedicating there, so she can't be too far away. While we wait for her, let's take a brief moment to admire the undisputed shirt of the day:

Stylin' and profilin'! Whoo~!

Okay, that killed a bit of time. The Queen made her pilgrimage from the video site to the live site in the meantime, so let's see if you can spot her in this picture. GamePro ProTip: she's not wearing black.

Yo, hang on, hang on, looking too disheveled here, everyone line up formal-like, line up, line--

--good. Okay. Now we walk.

You'll note that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the terrifying death mask of Premier Greg Selinger were sticking close to the Queen, hoping that maybe she'd brush against them and some of her authority might rub off on them. Shameless politicking, yes, but helpful for those of us taking pictures; any time that I couldn't see the diminuitive Royal from my vantage point, all I had to do was stretch my arms up and aim the camera slightly ahead of the considerably taller Harper.

1.68m 43kg

So the Queen and her party took their seats, the free show kicked off, and I made way towards the Forks terminals to get myself something to eat. Can I just take this time to reiterate that there were a lot of people there?

There were a lot of people there.

Anyway, wouldn't you know it -- Winnipeg being Winnipeg, the major thunderstorm warning on the day cashed itself in shortly afterwards. I mean, it poured, holy crow. I was inside and eating for the worst of it, thankfully, but I think it's safe to say that the celebration was somewhat dampened by the time I got back.

Not quite the same atmosphere, no. The VIP party did have a tent, though, so at least they were dry.

And let's check in with the obligatory cordoned-off protest section! Protest section, how're you doing?

Ah, you crazy funsters, always so resolute and determined. Play us out, Eagle & Hawk!

And back I walked to Old Market Square, being rained on intermittently because it is summer in Manitoba. While I'm here, let me just point out a few things that I noticed on the way back.


With forty-six numbered landmarks, thirteen different facility symbols, and a colour-coded parking legend, the roadside map of the Forks seen here clearly had a lot of thought put into it. If I could make one small request, though -- could one of you guys maybe slap a "You Are Here" somewhere on it? I don't mean to be difficult, but I think it's worth considering.


This sizeable banner along the southwestern edge of the Exchange District pleads for the reader to fight demolition-by-neglect in the neighbourhood, listing the options for fighting urban decay as "JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP OR CONTACT YOUR CITY COUNCILLOR". In that order. Facebook is listed first, City Council is listed second. I know it doesn't necessarily say a lot for Facebook, but it really doesn't say a lot for our City Council.

And, thirdly:

It was a nice try, whoever you are, but I don't think this is panning out quite as well as you'd hoped. Everybody else read the same Banksy collection you did, I guess.

The crowds were reemerging as the evening began to set in, and a good time was had by all when local soulsters The Solutions busted out some favourites.

You know you make me wanna--

Man it's hard to time that shot right. Well, close enough!

Winnipeg's Retro Rhythm Review also put on a well-attended and well-appreciated set; there was kind of a minor gaffe when they opened with a song that the previous band had already included in a medley, but hey, these things happen. And they adhered to the entirely reasonable conclusion that one Queen in town deserves another:

If you're one of those "But is this jazz?" wags, then sure, pal, it's jazz. Now zip it; no talking over the Rhapsody allowed.

New Zealand funk-soul group The OpenSouls closed out Saturday evening, also playing as the penultimate act on Sunday, so let's segue to the next day with an intermission --


-- and then make a point of mentioning that the OpenSouls' guitar and keyboard soloist is completely awesome at what he does.

This dude right there, that guy. The set could have been an hour and a half of him soloing and it still would have been a highlight of either day.

The Festival closed out with Moses Mayes this year, just as it's done every year since 2002, just as it should every year. You guys still like them, right?

Good! I'm glad we're all in agreement, then. It was an awesome set, with some new material I was pleasantly surprised to hear, and the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival 2010 ended on a high note as always.

If you peer into the background of that post-concert pic, you'll make out a couple of police offers moving dudes with drums along; it had apparently been decided at some point that the usual street for these after-Festival drum shenanigans, the block of road just west of the Square, was no longer suitable for such affairs.

So everybody involved moved to the block of road just southeast of the Square, instead. Bam! Problem solved.

You might want to get down from... no? You're good? Alright, well, careful up there.

This was what the scene still looked like when I finally did leave, sometime around 1:30 in the morning, so there's a reasonable chance that they're all still out there. But, alas, I had other things to look after.

In fact, let's try and check an item off my list right now! Why not, you've read this far. I don't write about myself particularly often, but I have a certain pressing matter to attend to -- and, not entirely sure of my options, I figure that a bit of reader input may be the best course of action to get the information I'll need.

Here's my scenario:

I need a shave.

I've let the ol' beard grow pretty fiercely over the past few weeks because, heck with it, I was up out at the Lake most of the time and a strapping Viking-blooded young man like myself cannot be bothered with such things while he is at the Lake.

As you can tell from the above picture, though -- and as you can tell from my bemused expression in said picture -- I have come to the conclusion that my beard ain't on board with the whole concept of brand synergy. My hair runs mostly dark brown; my beard runs redder along the upper lip, blonder along the lower lip, light brown along the cheeks, and greying in a couple areas under the chin. It is the worst mutant superpower ever.

Why not just shave the whole thing off myself? I would, of course, under normal circumstances. But, besides the colour scheme, I've found out something else entirely about my facial hair: it shrugs off conventional razor blades. The usual standard shaving equipment is quite inadequate for denting this beast, so I think the best plan is to turn the job over to a professional.

So hit me with any details you may have, fine readers, because the question is this: where's the best place in the city for a man to go and get a proper shave? I realize this is a question that really does not come up very often in everyday conversation, it being the nichest of niches from an era gone by, but I know there're still at least a couple of barbershops in the city that provide the service. The less expensive the better, of course, but it ain't a dealbreaker; as long as it's cheaper than the electric trimmer, left-handed scissors, and entire package of razor blades that I would need to do the job myself, I'm still coming out ahead on the deal. So if you know a place, fill me in; help a brother get a fresh start here!


James T said...

Go see Joe at Brava on Ellice across from The U of W. Full on, full-service shave.

Grant Hamilton said...

Buy a straight razor and do it yourself -- I got one for Christmas, and it took me months to work up the nerve, but it's really not that difficult.

I mean, it's HARD to do it and have it turn out well, but if you just want to look presentable, a straight razor shave is well within the skillset of a normal person.

I'm percolating a blog post -- avec video -- that documents my first attempt.