Description 53 - On the Hill

I'm in the seat of Canadian power (probably), reading a pamphlet, admiring statues of people holding documents, reducing an important monument to a Renaissance Faire hat and saying "awesome" too much. But the kitty-cats make up for it.

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Associated links
Ottawa Tourism
National Arts Centre
A Treasure to Explore: Parliament Hill, including history, the "Hill Cam" and a Flash Virtual Tour
The statues discussed: John Diefenbaker, Queen Victoria, Lester Pearson, Baldwin and Lafontaine, Sir John A. MacDonald
Lester B. Pearson @The Greatest Canadian
Canadian Parliamentary Cats @Wikipedia
Canadian Museum of Civilization
The Women Are Persons! Monument

The song I "sing" at the beginning is a mocking Rhapsody In Blue. In one of the sections I had to cut for time, I talked about a kiosk with ads of upcoming events at the NAC, and one was for Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the NACO in a program which includes George Gershwin's Piano Concerto In F. I was relieved they were doing that instead of that other Gershwin piece that has become such a cliché, then demonstrated what a cliché it's become.

To give you an idea of the multimedia brilliance of the NAC, on that page I've linked for the event, there's a link to an episode of their "Explore the Symphony" podcast, which discusses another composer featured in that night's program, Johannes Brahms. I just had to stop writing this post to listen to it. The NAC has been an important part of the Canadian podcasting community (a word used almost as much as Rhapsody In Blue has been played) for a few years now - in fact, I remember them doing video blogs before the concept was even invented, as early as 2000 (my friend Gavin worked on them). I highly recommend you explore all of their podcasts in English and French. There's even a cooking podcast, for heaven's sake! Other great podcasts produced in Ottawa include Fear and Loathing In Ottawa, The Gaelic Hour, and pretty much everything done by Mark Blevis.

Something else I cut was any mention of the big event going on in town at the time: the Canadian Tulip Festival (though there is the odd mention of tulips). Basically, through most of May every year, there are tulips just about everywhere they can be planted in Ottawa and Gatineau, with the biggest display at Major's Hill Park, sort of across from the U.S. Embassy. It is a pretty spectacular thing if you're so enclined.

Btw, I remember the location of that park in relation to the embassy not because of my background, but because of a time I attended the other big event that happens in Ottawa, Bluesfest in July. A few years ago, I went to see Danny Michel play in Major's Hill Park. During the set, Danny noticed an inexplicable echo. Trying to figure it out, he started playing short bursts to bounce back at him. The echo was a result of the sound going across the park to the tremendous wall of glass on the modern, imposing embassy. Once that was determined, he played a couple more echo games with us, then noted how symbolic it was that no matter what we tried to say to the Americans, it would just get bounced back at us.


One of the good guys in radio

I just saw on CP24 that Marc Chambers passed away today, so I did some googling for confirmation, and unfortunately found some.

When I started working at CJOJ in Belleville in 1995, I heard rumblings that this guy who'd been big at CHUM was going to ride shotgun with our morning man for ratings period. This of course intimidated me since 1) most things do, and 2) CHUM (AM and FM) was kind of an institution to me, and anyone who did well there was automatically a radio hero, even if I hadn't heard him/her. But the only thing really intimidating about Marc Chambers was his voice: a booming, but smooth piece of work that's the sort of thing you think of when you think of real radio. Not surprising, then, that he was one of the most used "image" voices in the business, the guy who declares the name of your station or network. The one he may have been best known for was The Weather Network.

I've probably given the impression that commercial radio people are a weird bunch, and a lot of them have a distinct kind of neurotic desperation to them that can make them assholes. (I'm guessing I could be put in that group at times in my life.) Marc was not one of those guys. He'd do his thing, never being too out-there or cloying, and be done with it, joking around off-mic and just being cool. He had a deep love for radio that emanated from him; he'd been around the block enough times that it could have worn him down, but I sensed no bitterness or cynicism from him. He was confident in his talent, but quietly so, and he was supportive of everyone around him, including me.

I only worked with him for a few months, and maybe talked to him a time or two after that. So for all I know, he actually could've been an asshole. ;-) But I observed the work he did on the mic - which he earned by being a hustling freelancer - and also his work providing support in the business, doing things like his columns in Broadcast Dialogue magazine. All that good stuff still showed through. He was one of those people I'd kept telling myself I should get back in touch with, but never did. And here we are.

But I wanted to let you know that, to me, Marc Chambers was one of the good guys in radio, and that there actually are some. To learn more, 1050CHUM has a great tribute here.