Meant to be bent

    Posted on: Sunday, January 30th, 2011

You’ve no doubt seen it before.

Every Sunday during mass, the area surrounding the Gower Street United Church gets littered with parked cars, most of which are there illegally. Be it blocking a crosswalk, covering an island, taking up an entire traffic lane or simply parking where the sign says “no”, the patrons of this mass manage to break just about every municipal parking law on the books.

And yet they go unpunished.

I don’t know exactly why this is, but I take it as a positive sign that, despite the hard and fast rules of how things are done in this city, there’s room for compromise.

That, given a certain set of circumstances, the rules can be bent on occasion for good reason.

Take Back Your City

    Posted on: Sunday, January 30th, 2011

St. John’s is “Booming.” What the hell does that mean, and what are we going to do about it?

It seems to mean that there are lots and lots of changes happening so fast we can hardly keep track of them, and we’re going to come together (again) on February 5th at City Hall to start organizing citizens to take control of the situation.

Fesbruary 5th Happy City Poster

What’s Been Happening?

Here’s what St. John’s is facing: a growing city with little to no attention paid to “sprawl” or sustainability; a public transit system that’s basically in crisis; rising house prices and new high-paying jobs that are putting stress on housing prices and availability; public demands for services like bike paths, recycling, and clean drinking water that cost money; raising municipal taxes amid worrying calls from groups for the City to manage its expenses better; etc., etc., etc.

The good news is that we can do something about this, and it involves people coming together in a co-ordinated fashion. So Happy City is holding public forums to help people come up with ways to address burning issues and engage policy makers to makes changes.

What’s Going Down February 5th?

Here’s what you can expect at the event on Saturday. Our facilitator, Bui Petersen, will be following a model called “conversation cafe.” He’ll explain this further at the beginning of the day, but basically everybody breaks into smaller groups to chat informally about a given topic. They will be:

  1. What makes St. John’s a great place to live?
  2. What gets in the way of the City working for everyone?
  3. Describe the future St. John’s of your dreams.

Then we’ll come back together to share our discussions with each other and determine what some of our shared concerns and values seem to be.

After a short (free!) lunch, we’ll have a chat about some of the current issues facing St. John’s (they might include some I noted above) and we’ll split up again to talk about how, based on our discussions earlier, how we might tackle some of these.

What’s Next?

We’ll share these discussions with each other again, and then we’ll have a chance to talk about where to go from here. There are lots of ideas for getting our voices heard and for interacting with policy makers. Now is our chance to plan our future.

We’ll Meet Again

Our next meeting is already scheduled for March 26th. So we’re serious about this.

Learn more at or click “attending” on the February 5th Facebook Event and invite your friends!

The Fights packs a powerful punch

    Posted on: Friday, January 28th, 2011

Currently in mid-run at the Rabbittown Theatre is The Fights, a co-production between Rabbittown and MUN Drama. I checked it out last night and was taken with its mix of gritty, gruff realism and old time charm.

The Fights tells the true story of Newfoundland-born “Gentleman” Johnny Dwyer’s rise through the ranks of the illegal, bare knuckle fighting circuit of 1870’s New York City. An ambitious story well represented by Ben Pittman’s script, which is brought to well-textured life in this, its inaugural staging.

I’ll get to the production side of things in a moment, but first I’d like to acknowledge the great little piece of cross-promotion The Fights has going with Yellow Belly Brewery, wherein the brewery has installed a tap of their Fighting Irish Red in the box office/bar of the Rabbittown Theatre.

Pint in hand, the first thing that struck me when I entered the theatre was the life breathed into it by John Rao’s set design. Despite its stark minimalism — a small bar in one corner, some steps leading up to a small stage with a table and some chairs in another corner — I was immediately struck with a sense of time and place indicative of the era. This was helped along nicely by Brian Bishop’s lighting design, which cast a nostalgia-tinged sepia tone over the stage, carefully dimmed so as to create the illusion you’re peering deep into an often dark past.

Finally, the majority of the cast, in full character, were already in place around the bar before the doors even opened, gallivanting as though the audience were not passing through them to take their seats, giving us the sense that we are entering their world and not the other way around.

A rich cast of characters make up Gentleman Johnny’s world, performed with gusto and grace by an ensemble cast of seasoned actors and relative newcomers alike. There’s a lot of story crammed into The Fights’ spry two hours, with rises and falls, delights and deceptions, and this cast makes good on all accounts.

Even the fights, a technical challenge in and of themselves, were delivered with a dramatic flair that kept me in the moment and often got the audience, myself included, caught up in the cheering and jeering.

There were lots of nice touches that The Fights had to offer which I thoroughly enjoyed but won’t spoil in mentioning, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge how they segued into intermission. So consider that acknowledged.

And the ending definitely had its way with my heart strings there for a moment.

The Fights continues its run at The Rabbittown Theatre tonight (Friday) and tomorrow night (Saturday) with an 8pm start time, and tomorrow afternoon at 2pm. Tickets are $20, or $30 with a meal (call for details). For more information or to book tickets, call the box office at 739-8220.

Holy sacred heart of Jesus

    Posted on: Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

I can’t decide if she’s doing an impression of Mary Walsh, or if this is who Mary Walsh bases the majority of her characters off of.


    Posted on: Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Contestant #2 is from Kilbride.

Just sayin’.