Thursday, December 26, 2013

3D Thursday: China Doll, karaoke queen

Shanghai restaurant on Somerset Street West near Bronson is home to China Doll, the infamous Ottawa drag performer who hosts karaoke every week and every New Year's Eve—each time in a different, outrageously fun outfit.

I caught up with China Doll during the Chinatown Craft Sale earlier in December, wearing something that was screaming for a 3D photo:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Of course I'm referring to the hair...

While I'm on the topic, here's China Doll at New Year's a couple of years ago, with a balloon dopplegänger drawn by Chinatown artist Julie Cruikshank:

In fact, China Doll is so famous, the Bytown Museum included some of China Doll's accessories in their 2010 "Evocative Objects" exhibit:

I also ran into China Doll at Bluesfest this past July in advance of the Björk concert. A friend of mine described the ensemble to me and it sounded pretty strange until I met up with her and realized she had been describing China Doll. Though I suppose it can be a bit much for the uninitiated:

Anyhow, whatever your plans are, have a happy new year!

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Monday, December 23, 2013

From the "fake trees" department...

There was a brief period in the design for the Bronson Avenue reconstruction when the consultants responded to residents' desire for more trees by suggesting fake metal 'trees' to provide shade to pedestrians, since there would be no room for real trees in the widened Bronson Avenue. Thankfully, this suggestion was short lived, and circumstances changed to permit a lot of real trees.

Across from the Rideau Centre's food court a couple of weeks ago, I noticed this row of branches lined up outside the entrance to 45 Rideau Street, next to the Chapters. It looks like they have been lined up as fake 'trees' to provide a structure on which to mount decorative lights.

In fairness, if these were real trees they wouldn't have leaves at this time of year anyway.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peds on Weds: the first sidewalks in Centretown (Updated)

I was doing some research for a post about sidewalks that I'll hopefully pull together one of these days, when I came across this entry in the 1896 City of Ottawa by-law book, "to provide for borrowing money by the issue of debentures secured by special rates, for the construction of an artificial stone sidewalk as a local improvement on Elgin Street in the City of Ottawa."

While many of the by-laws of the era barely filled a single page of the annual consolidated by-laws book, this one, and others with the same purpose in other parts of the city, takes five pages to go into great detail about how the funding would be structured for a two-block section of sidewalk "on that part of the west side of Elgin Street, lying between Maria Street [Laurier Avenue West] and Cooper Street in Central Ward, in the City of Ottawa."*

There are a few things that get my geek on with this: The first is that this is the same section of sidewalk where two squares of sidewalk survived until just a few years ago. In the other blog post, I said that my friend (who now blogs himself) recalled that sidewalk having a plaque dating it to 1905. I am not sure if perhaps he misremembered the year, or if the sidewalk was re-done in 1905 (the by-law books of that decade didn't give any clear information).

Another is just the tremendous detail to which the financing arrangements are described in the by-law itself. It essentially starts with first principles and works each step toward the conclusion. Nowadays, the by-law would have very little information, the report surrounding the by-law might describe in vague terms how much it would cost, but the details about how much would be assessed to whom (setting aside the fact that we don't finance things this way anymore) wouldn't be available to anyone except with some tooth-pulling from the city bureaucracy and possibly an MFIPPA (freedom of information act) request)

I'm composing this far too late to type out the entire thing, but if anyone wants to do it and put it in a comment, I'd be happy to add in the text.

*EDIT: Owing to the aforementioned late hour, it was pointed out to me that the 100-year-old sidewalk was on the next block down, between Somerset and Cooper. Here are the by-law pages for the construction of "an artificial stone walk [i.e. concrete sidewalk] six feet in width on the west side of that part of Elgin street, which lies between Cooper street and MacLaren street in Central Ward". This will cost $671.58, "of this amount the City disburses the sum of $297.78, being the cost of two feet in width of the said sidewalk [which is the portion of sidewalk that will be on City property]. Like the first one, this took three pages of the by-law book in the form of by-law No 1618, "Given under the Corporate Seal of the City of Ottawa, this 4th day of November, A.D., 1895. Certified [by] JOHN HENDERSON, City Clerk [and] W. BORTHWICK, Mayor.":

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

3D Thursday: Gladstone block

I haven't blogged much about the Gladstone Avenue reconstruction project, perhaps because as far as street reconstructions go it's fairly straightforward; only four blocks, and not a major commercial street like Bank, Somerset, or Preston. My only Gladstone reconstruction post was also a 3D Thursday post. (Incidentally, there's an open house this Wednesday for the Queen Street redesign, 11 December 2013 at 5:30-8pm, City Hall)

Due to time constraints, the contractor only undertook one block this year, between Metcalfe and Elgin. Some years the snow comes pretty late, allowing for an extended construction season. This year, unfortunately, is not one of them, and snow fell after the curbs were put in for the much-wider sidewalks:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The next photo shows in 3D what you can't see in the 2D equivalent (linked immediately below the photo): that the curbs (under the orange tarps) are higher than the sidewalk bed behind them.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

It was a bit of a mess at the Metcalfe end of the block while all this was sorted out.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The following week, the road and sidewalks were stripped of the snow and graded with asphalt. It was probably the least snowy street in Ottawa (even if it was also the least-paved one). This excavator has a neat side-to-side pivot on its bucket.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The sidewalks have been paved in asphalt temporarily for the winter, using this miniature asphalt layer vehicle (like the ones used for roads, but only about six feet wide). This might be my first attempt at nighttime 3D photos with flash, and I'm glad with how it turned out.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The remaining three blocks between Bank and Cartier will be done next year, as will the finishing work on this block. It'll be a big improvement over how it used to look: an excessively wide street with no trees, lots of potholes, and narrow sidewalks.

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

3D Thursday: Frosted Preston

It's been a while since I did a straight-up residential photo for my 3D Thursday series. Here's a nice shot of some trees on Preston Street on the first snowfall of the season, which happened to be on Saturday, November 9, the day of the Plant Pool Recreation Association's annual Dessert Party.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The PPRA raises funds to allow children to participate in recreational programming who might not otherwise be able to afford to.

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ] [Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lifting Centretown's Spirits

Yes, there are decorations on streetlamps, lights in store windows, and powdery white snow on the ground, but last week's opening of the new LCBO at Bank and McLeod has not just spirits, but also wine and beer.

Ottawa Citizen columnist Joanne Chianello sparked a twitter conversation earlier this month about the location, and the relatively uncommon location of this LCBO at the base of a condo tower (certainly unprecedented in Ottawa).

A spin-off twitter conversation by Metroland's Laura Mueller sparked a discussion about the impact of this location on the other nearby LCBO locations. CBC's Giacomo Panico pointed out that this location was moving from 240 Sparks ... LCBO store locator [Edit: I got some stuff wrong here earlier. Fixed now, I think.]

Meanwhile, the LCBO 7 blocks down Bank Street in the Glebe, which would be visible from the Bank and McLeod location if not for the Queensway, isn't going anywhere anytime soon, apparently. (Sadly, all three of the large ash trees in front of that location succumbed last year to the Emerald Ash Borer beetle infestation).

Equidistant from those two locations, the LCBO next to the Loblaws on Pretoria is being rebuilt in the location of the former Beer Store (which, by contrast, is closed permanently) with nothing but air above it.

There is also supposed to be an LCBO at the new Lansdowne Park big box plaza/mall.

There's a lot I can't comment on by the mere fact that I don't drink alcoholic beverages, but it's still an interesting case study in terms of, "what do you put in a mid-size mainstreet commercial space when there's already a Shopper's Drug Mart only a block away?"

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chinatown's other panda

On Monday, I posted about a panda-based artwork in Chinatown. However, there is another painted panda on a Chinatown storefront which has become iconic of Chinatown:

This is in the entryway of the vacant storefront that had previously been Manphat Grocery, at the corner of Somerset and Booth. Here's the rest of the window:

As with the other panda, this was done as part of the storefront mural project that runs throughout Chinatown.

The storefront of 800 Somerset Street West wasn't particularly attractive, even before the store closed down in 2008. The Booth Street wall was painted with a mural to brighten it up:

After the store closed, it was papered up from the inside. For a number of years it made the corner pretty dead, and it has only been used for storage for one of the nearby businesses. I've heard it speculated that this unsightly building contributed to the failure of the Chi Developments' 288 Booth condo project diagonally across the street, which was an attempt by an amateur developer to rebuild on the lot left vacant by a fire took in August 2007.

In early June, the mural was still in its early stages. White flowers on their own represent death, which—while perhaps reflective of the level of activity of this space—doesn't contribute to the goals of livening up the street with murals.

With a few blue and bright pink flowers as highlights, the mural has been a welcome splash of colour since it was finished (and retouched after a graffiti attack).

The flowers are just scenery; the real surprise is when you're walking down the sidewalk and the panda pops out at you!

I encourage you to head down to Chinatown to check out the artwork on the many doors, walls and storefronts on Somerset Street between Bay Street and Preston Street. Leigh and Karen from Highjinx have added seasonal decorations to many of the store windows, and the Somerset Chinatown BIA has installed red and white Christmas lights to many of the buildings.

A great place for a Christmas lunch or dinner for your office, family and friends!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

3D Thursday: Nuit Blanche Ottawa Gatineau #nbog13

I took a number of photos during this year's rainy-but-well-attended Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau on September 21/22, but only two 3D photos. I no longer have two cameras and it's hard to take a pair of stills with moving people in the shot.

Both of the 3D photos I took were in the Market. This tree was nicely done up on George Street, I think by the O-Town [Yarn-]Bombers:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

You can see the two exposures by closing one eye, then the other. I think between exposures, a couple of the lights were turned off in the condo building in the background.

With brightly-coloured things like this, the colour shots don't work quite as well because red objects only appear in one eye and blue objects only appear in the other. Here's the same photo again with the colours removed before converting the layers to red and cyan:

The next one is a photographic sculpture by Susy Oliviera at SAW Gallery, called Have Everything and Die. The wall behind was red, so I didn't even bother trying to do the 3D conversion in colour (but I've left the colour in the source photos below).

This sculpture is ideal for photographing in 3D, because a regular photo doesn't capture the essence of it. It's a bunch of pieces of photo moulded together into a kind of sculpture (she had another, photographed on Peter Simpson's Big Beat blog here), but instead of the face put convex (with the nose pointing out), it's concave (with the cheeks and nose going inward):

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

That's a pretty important part of the piece that you don't get with a regular photo of the sculpture.

But a really neat thing about the 3D photos is if you flip your 3D glasses around (i.e. the red filter on your right eye instead of your left eye), it looks convex! This is a neat twist on the old paper dragon illusion or the rotating mask illusion.

While I'm talking about Nuit Blanche 2013, I should mention that I happened to be in Toronto this October to see Ai Weiwei's Forever Bicycles sculpture, which was installed outside Toronto City Hall for their Nuit Blanche. The colour-changing lighting scheme prevented me from taking any photos in 3D (since I'd need to take two photos in succession), but it's still really neat:

The description says that it's made up of 3,144 bicycles, and the title is a play on the name of China's largest bicycle brand, Yong Jiu, which translates as "forever".

They're not real bicycles, but rather a steel representation of bicycle frames. But the wheels are real bicycle wheels and they all spin freely!

It's possible I'm just imagining it, but from a distance, it looks like the shape of the sculpture is a pair of giant bicycles heading each other off on Nathan Phillips Square:

Truly mesmerising! A shame I couldn't get this shot in 3D!

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]