Urban Planner: January 28, 2010
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Urban Planner: January 28, 2010

Urban Planner is Torontoist’s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email all of its details—as well as images, if you’ve got any—to [email protected].

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Happiness Silhouette by Ingrid Paulson. Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

FORUM: Tonight, indie jack-of-all-trades Charles Spearin will take the stage at Harbourfront Centre’s Inside the Musician’s Studio, the first installment of their four-part series of cultural forums. Multi-instrumentalist Spearin (who is a member of both Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think) will be discussing his 2009 concept album, The Happiness Project, which was recorded after Spearin noticed musical cadences in the stories his neighbours would tell. He recorded these stories and mixed them with melodies in order to create a hybrid of spoken and musical recording. This event will allow audience members to discuss the creative process with Spearin, and will be moderated by music critic Stuart Berman. Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), 8 p.m., FREE.
FILM: Established in 2007, FoodCycles is a not-for-profit urban farm in Parc Downsview Park committed to teaching Torontonians about the importance of soil, compost, and growing one’s own food. Tonight, they are screening Dirt! The Movie in an attempt to raise funds for their education initiatives. Dirt! was an official selection at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and digs deep into the miraculous history of soil and its labyrinthine connections to everything we need to survive. Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor Street West), 7 p.m. (reception at 6:30 p.m.), $10–$20 sliding scale.
ART: A city is a contradiction in terms. An enormous shared space annexed into millions of private compartments, it has the potential to be either a sprawling tundra of impersonal isolation or an intimate haven of culture and vibrancy. We like to think of Toronto as the latter, but like all cities, it’s a work in progress. Public Realm, an exhibit currently on display and curated by Toronto Star urban affairs columnist Christopher Hume, asks us to consider our public spaces as canvases for improvement. Part art show, part municipal symposium, participants will offer their visions of Toronto’s future by using the public realm to cultivate inclusive, functional, and aesthetic communal spaces. Runs until January 31. Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts (984 Queen Street West), Today–January 30, 12–6 p.m. (January 31, 12–5 p.m.), FREE.
MUSIC: The ukulele is often brushed off as a novelty item due to its size and simplicity, but in fact, the tiny guitar-like instrument boasts quite a respectable history. Originally brought to the shores of Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants in the nineteenth century, it was quickly absorbed into Hawaiian culture. It eventually made its way into mainstream American music, rising in popularity until the 1950s, when rock ‘n’ roll took over. Tonight, the Royal Cinema will premiere The Mighty Uke, a documentary chronicling the history of the little music-maker, and exploring its renewed popularity in today’s music scene. As a bonus, there will be ukulele performances from James Hill, Andrea Koziol, and special guest Melanie Doane. Bring your own ukulele for a strumming extravaganza. The Royal Cinema (608 College Street), 8 p.m., $15.
WORDS: Local small press powerhouses Ferno House and The Emergency Response Unit have collaborated to produce a limited edition anthology of poetry and fiction. Dinosaur Porn (which we wrote about yesterday) was both edited and designed by the publishing team, and the handcrafted chapbook will hold its launch party tonight. Hosted by the editors, the evening will include readings by Nathaniel G. Moore, Dave Miller, Carey Toane, Christine McNair, David Brock, Louise Bak, and Gary Barwin. This is a terrific opportunity to acquaint yourself with some new literary voices and support Toronto’s small press community. Supermarket (268 Augusta Avenue), 7:30 p.m., FREE.
MUSIC: Apparently, today is the day for underappreciated musical instruments to assert their legitimacy. Toronto SynthFest is hosting the first in a series of showcases to display Toronto’s thriving synth scene. No longer boxed in by its notorious usage in cringeworthy ’80s hits and celebrity aerobics videos, the synthesizer has catapulted into the twenty-first century, embracing technology and sound art to create dynamic new music. Tonight’s performers include Stop Die Resuscitate, Digits, and Hamilton’s En Francais. Don’t miss the chance to get in on the synth revolution. Rancho Relaxo (300 College Street), Doors at 9 p.m., $5.

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