Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Riding Transit STINKS!!!

Now normally I will say that the worst part of public transit is the public part. If I could just have public transit that would pick me up at my door and take me straight to work and home without stopping to pick up other people, that would be pretty perfect. Plus, you know, I would really be doing my part for the environment and leaving my car at home.

There is, however, increasingly less to say in praise of the transit component of public transit. Ever since the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) debuted a bunch of brand new buses in my area I have been growing increasingly dissatisfied with the service provided by the TTC. These new buses are supposed to be handicapped accessible, and they are. In order to accomodate the dozen people in my entire borough that are confined to a wheelchair, the vast majority of citizens that ride transit are inconvenienced. Sorry, but this is mass transit. Majority rules.

In any case, I do have a specific complaint about the buses beyond the reduced capacity, inefficient design and uncomfortable seating/standing arrangement. My complaint is that these buses stink; literally.

They stink of fuel. They stink like diesel. Frequently. It is a nauseating, clinging stink like fresh tar and even after my many years of exposure to commercial inks and industrial solvents it even sickens me slightly. It can be any bus at any time. I know this because I took notes. What follows is an incomplete list. I started taking notes only after I had noticed the stink several times and I stopped for a while. Also, I didn't make notes when it was inconvenient to do so or when I didn't have a pen or my notebook, but I think this list still paints a pretty good picture of what I am up against.

October 17, 2005
#9 Bellamy Southbound • 2:00pm • Bus# 7439 • Fuel Stink

October 21, 2005
#16 Morningside Eastbound • 12:54am • Bus# 7496 • Heavy Fuel Stink

October 28, 2005
#86 Scarborough Westbound • 1:45pm • Bus# 7468 • Fuel/Exhaust Stink

January 10, 2006
#9 Bellamy Northbound • 7:30pm • Bus# 7711 • Fuel/Tar Stink

January 18, 2006
#9 Bellamy Southbound • 2:45pm • Bus# 7711 • Fuel Stink - Loud rattle from heater (same bus as January 10)

January 24, 2006
#116 Morningside Eastbound • 2:05pm • Bus# 7499 • Fuel Stink (+Loads of new graffiti and mysterious big white puddle on seat...)

January 30, 2006
#9 Bellamy Southbound • 2:00pm • Bus# 7728 • Strong Fuel Stink

February 07, 2006
#9 Bellamy Southbound • 2:00pm • Bus# 7768 • Fuel Stink

April 06, 2006
#86 Scarborough Eastbound • 1:40am • Bus# 7435 • Fuel Stink

May 24, 2006
#9 Bellamy Southbound • 2:00pm • Bus# 7772 • Fuel Stink

June 05, 2006
#116 Morningside Eastbound • 1:05am • Bus# 7421 • Fuel Stink

June 08, 2006
#86 Scarborough Eastbound • 12:50am • Bus# 7431 • Fuel Stink and Hot Plastic Smell Like a Melting Garbage Bag

June 12, 2006
#9 Bellamy Southbound • 2:00pm • Bus# 7522 • Fuel Stink

Far from a complete list, but I think you get the idea. Keep in mind these are brand new buses! When I spoke to the TTC Chair, Councillor Howard Moscoe about the reason for buying these awful vehicles, his only response was, "They are mandated by the provincial government." He missed my point - I wasn't asking why we needed accessible buses - just why we got stuck with these particular lemons from Orion bus manufacturers. I intend to make a little Flash animation explaining why these buses are so terrible but I never seem to be able to get around to it. They can't be changed now, but that doesn't mean I have to like them.

Hooray for Transit!

But Can I call Her Fans Paris-ites?

Just look at the Paris Hilton phenomenon and the way every other teenager looks like a prostitute.
Tom Ford, Designer 1961-

A woman should be less concerned about Paris and more concerned about whether the dress she's about to buy relates to the way she lives.
Geoffrey Beene, Designer (Speaking of Paris, France) 1927-2004

I really wanted to hate the new Paris Hilton single, Stars Are Blind. Really. Really very badly. I wanted to be able to mock it and revile it as I do the woman herself. I wanted to laugh along with others as we marvelled at this scrap of piffle crafted solely to satisfy the immense ego of a spoiled young woman with far more money than talent or grace.

Yes, I wanted that very much.

The problem is, the song itself is not all that bad. It's a pop song featuring over-engineered vocals that amelodically warble some mediocre lyrics over a canned synth-reggae beat track. In short, it sounds a lot like much of the other disposable pop music that bounces about in the top ten for awhile until its balloon, well, pops. Paris can't actually sing as such, but it doesn't matter. The song has been designed to play to her strengths, so she performs a kind of a chanting whispery affair that is as banal as it is forgettable. Certainly it will be very, very successful.

In addition to the song itself is a music video with only slightly less soul and relevance than its musical component. It is described by the Paris camp (crew?) as an homage to the video for Chris Isaak's Wicked Game. I would be tempted to believe that if it were not or two things: Thing One: Paris Hilton takes credit for the artistic inspiration to film the video in black and white. Truly she is a visionary ahead of her time! If her time were 1982, that is. Thing Two: I am not certain that Paris knows what an homage is.

Anyway, in summation: Not terrible. Far from great. Somewhat unadjacent even to good. Just not bad enough to muster any depth of disgust.

Looking around the web I see that there are many, many people willing to tear down the song simply because they harbour so strong a dislike for Paris. I think that there is some intellectual dishonesty there. Just take it for what it is. It is junk pop and a lot of people will love it - there is a fanclub that has recruited member from around the world to bombard a Los Angeles radio station with requests in order to force the track to number one. These are people (well, girls mostly... maybe some gay guys - do gay guys like Paris? Cole Porter did - ha ha!) that can't even tune into the station, but they love Paris Hilton. Go figure.

It is funny that I just saw Nelly Furtado's newest track and I think that the two of them, sadly, are of a similarly weak and forgettable quality. I understand Furtado's single is a solid hit in Europe. And then there is Madonna.

That, pretty much, is why I listen to talk radio.