Bound for the Discovery Channel...


Oh dear, God! (Northampton bus station, the third ugliest structure in the United Kingdom)

Actually, this is going to be an interesting one, for anybody who is at all into architecture and urban planning. Thanks to Ghost of a Flea for tipping me in this direction: it seems that Britain’s Channel 4 has completed its twelve-part series Demolition, wherein the twelve worst buildings in the United Kingdom are ranked and rated from a nomination base of thousands.

Canadians and Americans are no strangers to god-awful architecture, and given the propensity for the North American specialty channels to import and adapt this sort of television affair from England (witness The Greatest Canadian and The Greatest American), how long will it be before we get to see a series describing Canada’s twelve greatest eyesores.

I guarantee you my comment box is going to be filling up with nominations after I post this.

But I welcome a series such as this. Speaking as a planner, I’m always encouraged when ordinary people — the people who use these buildings day in and day out — get to speak out on what they want their cities to look like. Of course the choices are going to be controversial, but that’s the point. It’s time we had more of a debate on the nature of our public spaces.

My pick? Hmm… I know the CN Tower is going to be on the list, as it is Toronto’s most prominent phallic symbol, but I still kind of like it. And even though I oppose Mies Van de Roch’s urban ideals with a passion, there is a savage beauty to his twin coffins — I mean, his Toronto Dominion Towers. Hull’s Place du Portage has to rate highly in the “please demolish me” category. But I think Toronto’s most astounding piece of bad architecture has to be “Fort Book”, the Robarts Library at the corner of St. George and Harbord.

I mean, take a look at it from the southwest corner of the intersection. Look up at the belltower, the small building up front and the tall building behind, and tell me that this thing doesn’t look like a giant turkey to you. I dare you.

Credit Where It’s Due

Liberal Scott Feschuk has, far and away, the best partisan blog of the campaign. For all of the miscues of this campaign, Scott has been given enough leeway to speak personally to the voters, and that at least shows that somebody within the Liberal campaign Gets It (tm).

Consider Feschuk’s response to Scott Reid’s “beer and popcorn” miscue:

I want to thank the many loyal blog readers who have sent in witty and/or hostile remarks in relation to the unfortunate “beer and popcorn” commentary by my good friend Scott Reid, who is sitting next to me on the plane at this moment and who just now made me write the whole “good friend” part - which, between you and me, is completely bogus in the sense that now he is a total social leper and I have every intention of cutting the poor bugger loose. (To gauge from my inbox, public opinion is currently evenly divided on Scott’s comment, with half of people describing him as an “idiot” and the other half defiantly insisting he is a “complete idiot”.)

Scott’s comments are actually not being treated as a joke around here. Far from it. The PM was mighty cheesed about the remarks and told Scott so. Quite possibly more than once. Also, kinda loudly. Scott, meanwhile, is all sheepish today - which is a new thing for him. Here’s an exclusive quote from Scott Reid exclusively acquired by me just this very minute on the tarmac of the Winnipeg airport: “I put the jack in jackass.” Maybe I’m a softie, but I for one don’t believe that’s true. I think we all know that, yesterday at least, he put the ass in jackass.

Talk about refreshing honesty. Feschuk’s response has, on its own, gone some way to undoing the damage Reid’s comments have done. It reminds us that what us centrist voters really want is more Liberals like Feschuk, and fewer Liberals like Reid.

Make Israel Our Eleventh Province?

In other news, the world expressed confusion today when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got on his knees on Iranian television and said, “oh, please Israel, please bomb our heavy water reactors! Bomb them to smithereens and then bomb them some more. We’ll make sure the rest of the world looks the other way.”

(rustling paper)

Oh, wait a minute. What Mahmoud actually said was that the Holocaust was a myth perpetrated by the Europeans to create a Jewish state in the Arab world.

Hm. Amounts to the same thing.

Well, folks, we appear to have our new Maummar Gaddafi; somebody who is clearly not right in the head. And unfortunately he seems to be getting his hands on some nuclear technology. You know, I’ve said that it would be foolhardy to invade Iran, but if he keeps this stuff up, I think we can expect a serious conflict in the Persian Gulf. Let us hope we can do enough to help the reformist forces bring about change from within.

I especially got a laugh out of this comment:

“This is our proposal: give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them [the Jews] so that the Jews can establish their country.”

Hmm… You know, I think we Canadians might go for that. Hand them a piece of decent territory, larger than what they have now, and allow them to form Canada’s eleventh province. They can single-handedly defend our borders and make our secret service the most feared in the world.

And — this part’s serious — other than the West Bank and Gaza zealots who think that the occupied territories are their’s by Biblical fiat, I can’t think of a more decent set of people to accept into this country. Hardworking, diverse, rich in their culture. They would certainly contribute much to the Canadian diaspora.

Shame that we’d have to rob the Middle East of one of its very few democratic states, though.

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