The Walrus Blog

Monthly Archive: February 2008

Team Zizou (Edition L’Equipe)

Zidane, on the cover of L'Equipe

PARIS—Lucky for the Sportstrotter, my new compatriots, the French, like their sports. What’s more, they really like their sports. And nowhere is this widely held love of competition more apparent than in the identity of the country’s highest-circulation national daily newspaper: nope, it’s not Le Monde or Le Figaro, but rather l’Équipe, a broadsheet dedicated entirely to the coverage of sport.

I learned this remarkable (and, admittedly, somewhat unverifiable—the art of circulation auditing being what it is) fact only today. It’s been a weird day so far. It began with a trip to a French immigration office, where the official Sportstrotter fiancée and I had to wade through a fifty-strong pack of agitated foreigners (mostly North Africans, it seemed) crowded at the front door, thrusting passports in the face of the less-than-impressed woman manning the entrance, just to make our way inside for an appointment. (more…)

Posted in Sportstrotter  •  1 Comment

Starbucks Under My Thumb

Starbucks framed by thumb, fingers and statue ass
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC—I’m from the rural North. I accept that when I am in Owen Sound, Ontario, all I will be able to find is fifteen Tim Horton’s. But, like you, I know that when you are in a city you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a bunch of Starbucks. I know they’ve hit on hard times and are shutting down 100 stores. But even Buffalo has ‘em. Drive thru Starbucks. Pure satisfaction.

Well I’ve been swinging cats all day and night and hitting nothing down here in Myrtle Beach except backyard-sized beach towels with leather Elvis on them. I’ve taken for granted that when I want a coffee it will be there. I’ve never been so wrong:

There are only seventy-two Starbucks in all of South Carolina.

And only nine in Myrtle beach!

So, the usual strategy of standing on the steps of one and peering down the street for the other is not applicable.

Sorry sweetheart, (what all the tertiary workers call me down here ruining me forever for crotchety Toronto) but we sure have a whole mess of grits and scrapple.

I have to search for coffee. (more…)

Posted in Web 2.0 Museum  •  2 Comments

Weekly Toast: February 28, 2008

Weekly Toast

  1. My new addiction — numbers, polls, and more of the Donkey and Elephant from down south. Link.
  2. The most engaging online read I’ve had in a long time; several parts to this discussion, but all are quite fascinating. Scientific Objectivity has a History. Link.
  3. The TED Conference is on as we speak; I wish I was there. is blogging about it or you can just go to their website. Link.
  4. A little mix of digital art for those wanting to relax and not read (NB. wait time to download video). Link.
  5. Office supply museum, staplers… Link.
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Posted in How to Read  •  1 Comment

The Search for Authentic

Rusty towers in Ruffin, North Carolina. All four bars at gas station wreckage just off Blue Ridge Parkway

RUFFIN, NC—As I roamed the Blue Ridge Parkway today, I fell back into my last trip here. One week together for three girlfriends. For one of us, it was the final road trip of her life. Our beloved friend had breast cancer. When she died it crushed her community of friends and family. She was so damn young. She was so good. This was the worst thing. Why can’t we stop it. (more…)

Posted in Web 2.0 Museum  •  1 Comment

Cute As A…

All the pretty buttons...

TORONTO—As I write this, Prince Edward Island’s Cyclone roller coaster is deep into winter hibernation, and the hordes of Japanese tourists that flood the island in summer to see the birthplace of Anne have just finished lunch back on their own island. Cows Ice Cream in Charlottetown is one of the few summer-time hot spots to stay open in defiance of winter. The Confederation Centre for the Arts is another bastion of island culture open year-round. Lucky for Atlantic Canadian hipsters.

Tomorrow (February 29) the centre is hosting Cute As A…, a button exhibity and trading event featuring unique designs by fifty Canadian artists—all on one-inch pins. The show is curated by Siobhan Wiggins, the Centre’s education and outreach officer. (more…)

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Posted in The Haulout  •  No Comments

Kenya: Kofi’s Stand and Hope for Peace

Photo by Arno Kopecky

NAIROBI—It’s been a hard-slogging month for Kofi Annan. Unlike Condoleezza Rice, who whisked in for a ten-hour visit last week, the former UN chief has promised not to leave until he finds a solution to Kenya’s intractable crisis. This means looking to the very people who provoked the last two months of violence to suddenly (or rather, oh so slowly) become reasonable, accountable, and amenable to each other’s point of view.

Small wonder that this has become the longest such engagement of his career, with no end yet in sight; after coming within inches of a deal over the weekend, mediation efforts sputtered to a halt on Tuesday. The Ghanaian sage looked frustrated as he announced a suspension in the peace process, pending an urgent one-on-one with Kibaki and Odinga. (more…)

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Posted in Notes From Vancouver  •  No Comments

Richard Ford in Canada

Richard Ford is a Good Looking Man

A few weeks ago, the New York Times ran a story announcing that Richard Ford, long-hanging ornament of the house of Knopf, was jumping ship to Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. As far as these things go, this was pretty big news. Ford, after all, had been with Knopf for seventeen years, and with his editor there, Gary Fisketjon, for years before that. During his time there, he had published four books, including Independence Day, the first novel to win the PEN award and the Pulitzer in the same year.

Ecco, by contrast, hasn’t exactly been an imprint famous for its big literary names. While they did recently put out a very beautiful series of Tobias Wolff reissues, and have a small but respectable poetry wing, they’ve also published Mario Batali’s Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style, Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews by the fabulously Dickensian Poopa Dweck, and John Leguizamo’s woefully forgotten autobiography Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, and All the Rest of My Hollywood Friends. (more…)

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Posted in The Shelf  •  1 Comment

Grand Central Google User Image
FRONT ROYAL, VA—I am in Front Royal, Virginia. Next stop: Grand Central.

En route to the South I managed to cross the Mason-Dixon and I am bedded down. Away from home, I am still able to manage all my messages and phone calls online using Google’s great new acquisition.

If you are in the U.S and have a Blogger account you can now sign up for the Grand Central beta for free. The Skype and Telco assasinator has pulled in, is locking down the bandwidth and is now open for business.

What does it means? It means you can pick a phone number from anywhere in the U.S. and have all calls made to it forwarded to you for free. If you have a friend in Nebraska you can get a number from there and talk to each other all day and night. For free.

I am using it now. It works!

Other features:

  • Reply to a voice message with one click.
  • Access a central messaging system with a personal message where all your messages are archived. You can keep, forward, and respond to the messages.
  • Ring different phones based on who is calling!
  • There’s also call display and number display. Call blocking, screening, notifications to text or email… the list goes on.

Basically, Grand Central offers one single number through which you can run all your numbers, emails, and personas. And, for now, it is free.

No Blogger account? I have invites for people who want to hop aboard the Google train with me.

Posted in Web 2.0 Museum  •  4 Comments

Road Trip 2.0

Abandoned commune, North Carolina: where I had to stay the last time I went to the Carolinas without consulting Web 2.0
BUFFALO, NY—My motto is “always be moving.” Accordingly, I am leaving on a road trip tomorrow to that Canadian travel heartland, Myrtle Beach:

There’s a reason Hooters Air flies there. Anyone with real money or class goes to the Outer Banks or Charleston. But there’s a reason why the rich are rich; the middle class is where all the suckers are. –comment from The Housing Bubble blog

I’ve packed my leopard jeans, Big Gulp cup and fake Uggs and now I just need to figure out where to eat and sleep. (Most important, as the last time I went to the Carolinas without consulting Web 2.0, I was forced to stay in the abandoned commune above.)

43 Places: Tag-based, simple and well-populated, this food and hotel review site has figured it out. According to the tag cloud New Zealand is most talked about. Jesus (my carry-on dog) would never make that flight.

Commuterfeed: Twittered traffic reports. Nothing worse than heading for the open road and smack in to Washington D.C. traffic. Track and avoid or Twitter your progress as you inch along.

Tripr: I am all over this once I get to the depressing Myrtle Beach amusement parks and shuffleboard. Users make and upload videos of hotels so you can check it out before you book and go. A sort of YouTube for travel. International but new so only 200 or so hotels rated right now. They offer money to upload videos, but I think they should get their Web 2.0 startup out of their mom’s basement first.

Circos: graded ratings (A through F) of hotels and restaurants in all major American cities (since eating and sleeping in smaller cities and Canada is not necessary).

Everyscape has a swollen head. It claims that it “isn’t an online world, it’s the world online.” If you are going to Laguna Beach, Beijing, or a handful of other places the site is an interesting mashup of location mapping and panoramas. But their world so far is teeny tiny.

Triplife: More like Stuffedshirtlife. For business travelers who want to network. The idea I guess is that even when you are having fun you should be working. Really creepy site with pictures of people I never want to meet. Tight smiles and slack stares.

Posted in Web 2.0 Museum  •  3 Comments

I’m a D-list Oscar Celebrity!

1898 Denver
It feels like I’m in Denver, Colorado, in the fall of 1861, watching the transcontinental telegraph line crawl towards me carried on donkeys. It was the age of instantaneous, global communication.

For the first time in history, the Oscars were Twittered. And I was among the top users Twittering the Oscars!

There were over 1400 twemes on the Oscars last night. For the uninitiated: A tweme is a twitter featuring a hashtag (#) and a particular subject tag. The Oscars are #aa08.

You can read last nights coverage but I can also give you my top twit of the night from user jesuspenis:

#aa08 sicko hahaha you guys have no health care

There is so much potential–with zero latency or waiting–to interpret/bag on/report on an event. For anyone for fun and/or in an emergency.

It is the age of instantaneous, global communication. Again.

Posted in Web 2.0 Museum  •  1 Comment

ABC… With Love

Brent Roe's A

TORONTO—Trudging through the snow as wind whipped my face during last Tuesday’s snowstorm, I had to ask whether any gallery opening was worth the trouble. But I’m going to assume that anyone reading this wasn’t as hearty as me, and missed the opening reception of Art Metropole’s current show ABC…With Love (Too Cool For School).

The show’s focus is the twenty-six paperback novel-sized gorgeous letterpress prints (in orange-yellow, steely-blue, and warm grey) pinned on the wall as you enter. Thirteen artists from around the world contributed to the prints, each drawing two letters of the alphabet. The works have a kindergarten-esque feel. Jill Henderson, who curated the exhibition and drew two of the letters, calls the show “curating-by-numbers.” (more…)

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Posted in The Haulout  •  No Comments

Streem Microblog front page
As we move into The Great Depression 2.0 (my grandparents have been drinking rancid orange juice and cheaping out on toilet paper for decades in preparation) we consumers have to look for new cheap amusements.

Thank goodness for miroblogging. It’s free (as long as you already have expensive equipment) and highly addictive.

Moreover, there are new formats every couple of weeks to stave off the Facebook Fatigue effect. First Tumblr, then Soup now….

It’s so new the code is still wet, and just this morning they added the ability to not look at it in those garish soccer-flag tones. Just click on “I hate these colors.”

Our grandparents wandered the continent and hopped trains looking for work in The Dustbowl. Until Roosevelt and Harold Ickes, Roosevelt’s then-secretary of the interior, created public work projects like the Blue Ridge Parkway to boost the economy.

We can tiptoe through our abandoned gas-fueled cars and abandoned suburbs gazing into our iPhones blogging for Obama to create a public works national Wi-Fi project to pump billions into the economy and save us all.

Streeming, of course, the whole thing.

Posted in Web 2.0 Museum  •  No Comments
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