Summer, Finally

Not so Hazy and Not so Lazy

Maybe it’s because we have our first bona-fide day where you could go out with­out a jack­et. Maybe it’s because the sun tru­ly does­n’t set until near­ly around 8:30. Maybe it’s because Granville Mar­ket is brim­ming over with sweet local straw­ber­ries, most of the spot prawns and aspara­gus are past, and the heir­loom toma­toes are start­ing to appear. All of the above is con­tribut­ing to a feel­ing that we have final­ly passed into the sum­mer season.

For me, being between contracts/jobs and with some time on my hands, it means that I can enjoy some of this, although I’m cer­tain­ly not spend­ing my days at the beach. Next week, being the Cana­da Day and Fourth of July hol­i­day week, both Pam and I are going to get a lit­tle sum­mer break, with a trip to Whistler with my broth­er and his fam­i­ly. We’ve been look­ing for­ward to that for a long time.

Planning for the Autumn Demise of Classical Radio in Vancouver

Sum­mer is also the time when a few things end. This morn­ing was the last time that Tom Allen would do his ‘cage match’, a whim­si­cal fea­ture of ‘Music and Com­pa­ny’ where he would pit one piece of music against anoth­er and call for a vote. This week’s final cage match theme was: ‘With a bang or a whim­per’, since it will be the last one of these bits of fun…forever. Rep­re­sent­ing an end­ing with a bang was Chabri­er’s ‘Ah Hur­rah’ from the Opera, Le Roi Mal­gre Lui. The oppo­nent (rep­re­sent­ing a ‘whim­per’ or soft end­ing) was the last move­ment from Hayd­n’s clever Sym­pho­ny No. 45, ‘The Farewell Sym­pho­ny’ (where one by one, the musi­cians leave the stage until there are only 2 first vio­lins left to end the piece, a clev­er­ly chore­o­graphed hint to Hayd­n’s patron, the Prince Niko­laus Esterházy that his court musi­cians as well as his com­pos­er were all home­sick and want­ed him to close up the sum­mer palace so every­one could return home to Eisenstadt).

It was a typ­i­cal cage match; one part joke, one part seri­ous, one part dra­ma. Like just about every­thing Tom Allen does on the pro­gram, it makes one think a lit­tle, and sets up the day. I will sore­ly miss this along with some of his oth­er reg­u­lar fea­tures. Prob­a­bly my favourite comes at about 6:30 AM: This Day in… which observes some event in his­to­ry that shares today’s date. Today’s was the first solo cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of the globe in a boat by Joshua Slocum, a Nova Scot­ian sea­man who fin­ished the trip that he had begun in Boston three years ear­li­er in 1895 on today’s date. Like so many oth­er ‘This Day In…‘s, I did­n’t know about this event, and felt the joy I often do from gain­ing a bit of knowl­edge just as I’m start­ing the day.

With­out going off on anoth­er rant about the stu­pid­i­ty and wrong­ness of the CBC get­ting rid of the best clas­si­cal music morn­ing pro­gram in the world, I’ve final­ly accept­ed the inevitable and made plans. A cou­ple of weeks ago I picked up (on sale) a curi­ous new device at Lon­don Drugs: a BLIK Inter­net Clock Radio. This the new clock radio we'll start using on Labour Day, 2008 It’s a stan­dard-look­ing radio (unfor­tu­nate­ly with infe­ri­or speak­ers to the Bose Wave Radio that we’ve been using for the last 10 years or so) that ‘tunes’ to a stream­ing radio sta­tion on the Inter­net rather than local FM (although you can do that, if the Inter­net is down). I’ve test­ed it, and while there is about a 20-sec­ond delay while the sta­tion ‘resolves’ to the URL you’ve cho­sen, it will indeed allow you to awak­en to over 9,000 dif­fer­ent sta­tions all over the world (although in prac­tice the num­ber one would want to tune to is a small frac­tion of that num­ber). I was able to set the pre­sets to the BBC’s Radio 3 (which I knew well from my days as a Grad Stu­dent), the local CBC Radio 1, NPR in Boston, as well as the nation­al NPR sta­tion. I’ll look for some oth­er sta­tions, as there are 8 pre­set slots. As you can imag­ine, retriev­ing and sift­ing through 9,000 sta­tions in a tree-like menu using a ter­ri­ble LED screen is a bit of a chal­lenge (oh, if only Apple would make one of these- I guess they do, it’s called a Mac Mini with mouse, key­board, speak­ers and a small flat-screen mon­i­tor run­ning a brows­er with some pre­set stream­ing radio sta­tion book­marks, but even some­thing like that is too large for a night-table). Most of these sta­tions have us wak­ing up at 9:00 AM East­ern on North Amer­i­ca, or 68(!) hours ahead in the UK. I fear that at noon 2:00 in the after­noon in Lon­don we may not get a com­plete­ly morn­ing-friend­ly clas­si­cal music feed, so I’ll have to search fur­ther until I find a new place to tune to. Both Pam and I hope that we don’t have to resort to NPR, which always put me in a bad mood in the morn­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly now that it has moved so much far­ther to the Right polit­i­cal­ly than it used to be (hear­ing the appalling Cok­ie Roberts sneer at the Democ­rats every Mon­day morn­ing got my blood boil­ing ear­ly in the week — fun­ny, but that was my word, but appar­ent­ly it’s still what she is doing, defend­ing Dick Cheney on the TV Pro­gram ‘This Week’).

While they are get­ting rid of Clas­si­cal Music on Radio 2, I do remem­ber the some­what encour­ag­ing news that the CBC said that they were going to add a stream­ing clas­si­cal music chan­nel on the Inter­net. I doubt if it will have the incom­pa­ra­ble Tom Allen on it, but at least there will be a Cana­di­an alter­na­tive for our move from FM Radio to almost exclu­sive­ly Inter­net radio from Labour Day on. 

2 Replies to “Summer, Finally”

  1. Hi David,

    Glad to see that you are going to Whistler. Fam­i­ly time rocks! Thanks for com­ing out on Tues­day. Shar­ing some of my thoughts and ideas (and wor­ries) helped me reflect on my own future. I real­ly appre­ci­ate the feedback!

  2. hel­lo
    i’m from detroit. i was a dai­ly lis­ten­er to tom and missed him before he left. surf­ing the FM dial, i found a clas­si­cal sta­tion close by WRCJ FM 90.9. don’t know if it can be picked up in cana­da but it’s worth a lis­ten. their sta­tion also streams on the inter­net. it is under­stood that oth­er groups and gen­res should be rep­re­sent­ed, but clas­si­cal music has inspired and remains the foun­da­tion of the var­ied sounds heard today. what is next? SCAREY!!!

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