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34 résultats trouvés

  1. IluvMTL

    What's happening to the Main?

    Took the 55 bus north on St-Laurent yesterday. I was shocked to see dozens of boarded up store fronts on the east side of the street between Sherbrooke and Mont-Royal. This is so much worse that I have ever seen in over 20 years! So sad and depressing. How could we let this happen? Go see for yourself. Take a walk on the Main. If anyone wants to record and share the images here, I'm sure you will be shocked too. Here's something I just saw in CULT-MTL on same subject, although IMO the situation is much more serious than the tone in the piece. http://cultmontreal.com/2013/04/st-laurent-montreal-main/ St-Laurent has seen better days There are few greater, simpler pleasures in this town than walking along the Main on a crisp spring afternoon. But given how dire things are looking for Montreal’s multicultural microcosm, I’m not looking forward to doing it this year with my usual enthusiasm. For years, pedestrians had to deal with all the interminable construction, and while many of us courageously traversed those rickety planks masquerading as sidewalks, the street never really recovered from those trying times. Businesses have been shuttering left and right (I weep for BBQ Rocky’s — where I’ll get smokes and watch soaps now I don’t know), so in an effort to make the abyss more enticing to prospective entrepreneurs, the St-Laurent Merchants’ Association is spending $30,000 to dress up the growing number of empty storefronts. Of course, it’s akin to trying to stop the bleeding from a gunshot wound with a few dabs of a wet nap, or more specifically it’s a modern take on Potemkin Village. The obvious, sad truth is that, given how gradual the Main’s depreciation has been, it’s going to take more than a few fancy snapshots to revitalize the area. It’s not a bad idea, per se, because mushy newspapers certainly don’t make for good window shopping, but saving the Main will require progressive thinking. There are plenty of cooler streets around town these days, and history isn’t much of a selling point, even when it’s engraved on ergonomically unfavourable benches. Some streets just never get their groove back: St-Laurent merchants need only look to their cross-street brother Prince Arthur if they want a harrowing look into their future. There’s a municipal election coming up later this year, so perhaps it’s high time that the supposedly “clean” party — the one that rules over the Plateau with a sanctimonious wag and aspires to expand their empire — prove they’re good at something besides pointing out how bloated and corrupt their political rivals are. And if they don’t have any solutions, either, maybe they can just hike parking rates by another buck or two. That’ll help. ■
  2. "Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way." - ALAN WATTS Salut, j'a fais une petite vidéo et je vous la partage. Suivez moi sur instagram- @donpicturehd https://www.instagram.com/donpicturehd/ Equipement utilisé: Principalement le Nikon D3400 LENSE: AF-P DX NIKKOR 18–55 mm f/3.5–5.6. Ça serait apprécier si vous vous abonnez à ma chaîne youtube. N'hésitez pas à commenter, merci!
  3. Lecture intéressante!! CARY PLANTATION, Me. — Up here, near the end of Interstate 95, a single main road ridged with stately conifers runs past the odd house that at night casts an orange glow over the snow. There is no school. No police department. Not even a stoplight. But there are property taxes. And some residents say the taxes’ growth has pushed this community of about 200 to the brink. To save Cary Plantation, they say, they want to dismantle it. “What do you do, what does the town do, when they can’t pay their bills? Do we go bankrupt? Do we lose our homes?” asked Diane Cassidy, a former nursing assistant. “There was no answer, other than deorganization.” Ms. Cassidy is leading an effort to dissolve the local government and join the Unorganized Territory, a vast swath of forest and townships in north, central and eastern Maine run by a partnership between the state and the counties. Last month, residents here voted, 64 to 0, to continue the process. At a time of rising municipal costs, local governments around the country are looking for ways to rein in tax bills, pursuing privatization, the consolidation of services, mergers and even bankruptcy. But in northern Maine, as operating costs have increased, the economy has stagnated and the population has aged and dwindled, a handful of struggling towns have pursued the unusual process of eliminating local government entirely. In the West, citizens are protesting to constrain government power. And over all, Americans tend to resist ceding their local authority. But these communities are handing their governing power over to the state and the county. “Knowing how dependent towns are in Maine on the property tax, they may have just reached a point where they’ve decided, ‘We’d be better off just not existing as a town,’ ” said Elizabeth K. Kellar, the chief executive of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence in Washington. Under state law, dismantling a local government takes 12 complex steps, often over at least two years, including legislative approval and a series of local votes. When a town deorganizes, state agencies and the county administer its services, like snow removal, policing and firefighting. Children are assigned to appropriate schools, often in a nearby district. Town-owned buildings and land are sold or held in trust by the state or the county. And every local government job is eliminated. Thus, there are no local officials’ salaries to pay and no infrastructure to maintain locally. And the cost of servicing each township is spread across the Unorganized Territory either in each county or statewide. “It’s basically like a company: There’s so much less overhead,” said Paul G. Bernier, the public works director for Aroostook County, who is responsible for overseeing services to the unorganized territories at the very top of Maine. “Sometimes it’s half of what they were paying.” In Aroostook County, Bancroft, population 60, completed the process last summer and now exists in name only. Besides Cary Plantation, Oxbow, about an hour northwest, is well on its way, although both have legislative approval and a final vote yet to go. State officials said that an effort to deorganize Atkinson, which began in 2013, may soon take a step forward, and that more municipalities had told the state that they were interested. Advertisement Continue reading the main story “Just the price tag to keep their local governments up and running is more or less untenable,” said Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine. “It’s the final step in this long, drawn-out process, which really starts with population decline.” Marcia McInnis, the fiscal administrator for the Unorganized Territory, estimated there have been 41 deorganizations in Maine’s history, about half of them during the Great Depression. But “it has become recently more common than it has been in the last, really, two decades,” she said. The last town to deorganize before Bancroft was Centerville, population two dozen, in 2004. There have also been deorganization attempts that failed at the local level, often because residents did not want to lose local control, or in some cases did not secure legislative approval. Photo A map of Cary Plantation. Residents there recently voted unanimously to continue the deorganization process. Credit Tristan Spinski for The New York Times “I attribute the recent increase in interest in deorganizing as a direct result of the economic Great Recession and in the loss of jobs in the logging industry,” Ms. McInnis said. Steve Sherman, a lifelong resident of Oxbow, where roughly 50 people are spread across six miles, began working to disband the government after years of watching the local labor market for papermaking and farming shrink along with the population. In November, 21 residents voted unanimously to move forward with deorganization; a third vote will take place in the future. “We’re not growing here. We’re headed the other way, it would seem,” said Mr. Sherman, a logger and Christmas tree farmer. “That’s just life, in northern Maine especially.” In Oxbow and in Cary Plantation, local government is already all but gone. Local meetings in Cary are held in Ms. Cassidy’s heated garage. With no public building, records are generally stored in officials’ homes. And most services are already contracted out. “I figure the state can do a better job,” Ms. Cassidy said. Other states have unorganized or unincorporated areas, but in Maine about half of the land is Unorganized Territory. The area predates the state itself — it was laid out when Maine was still part of Massachusetts and new settlers were expected to flock there. But the harsh climes of Maine’s wild lands, as they used to be known, never filled out with enough people to self-govern. “Maine has this oddity of having all of this space in an area of the country that cherishes town meetings and town governments,” said Kenneth Palmer, a professor emeritus at the University of Maine. “These tiny towns don’t have enough people to generate the municipal staff to really run the town. It’s this abandonment of a town structure.” But some in Cary say deorganizing is a way to give the community a new lease on life, not to abandon it. “I think it’s going to bring more people in,” said Kai Libby, 55, a retired Border Patrol agent who became the town’s first assessor last year to help shepherd the deorganization effort through the multistep process (and thus eliminate his own position). Mr. Libby and his wife, Tina, who led the withdrawal of Cary from its school district, live in the only house on their road, with a vast tract of land, enough space for four dogs and stacks of documents related to deorganization near their kitchen table. “There’s privacy, and it’s so quiet,” said Ms. Libby, 51. “We want to stay here. And to do that, it needs to be affordable for us to stay here.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/us/in-maine-local-control-is-a-luxury-fewer-towns-can-afford.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0
  4. FlyboyMTL

    Virgin Atlantic A346 in town

    I landed just behind Virgin Atlantic A340-600 today on 6L at about 17:30. His callsign Virgin 9911, and he taxied to the Air Canada Base....any news what its all about? Cheers
  5. http://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/top-10-sexiest-neighborhoods-on-earth-ipanema-rio-de-janeiro-tops-our-list It's happened to us all before: wandering through an unfamiliar part of town, you suddenly realize you're surrounded by throngs of devastatingly attractive people. It's as if you stumbled into a dream, or at least onto the set of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue shoot. And while your good fortune might appear to defy the laws of science, allow us to be the Scully to your Mulder by suggesting that there is, in fact, a perfectly logical explanation for this phenomenon. Thanks to chic shopping, trendy bars, and high-end real estate, certain neighborhoods just happen to be populated by really ridiculously good-looking people. Here are 10 of them. 5. Le Plateau-Mont Royal Montreal, Canada In a town already filled with a staggering number of beautiful Québécois, the Plateau elevates MTL's "holy crap these people are gorgeous" game to new heights. It's bisected by Boulevard St. Laurent, which is one of the city's main drags and peppered with lively bars, clubs, and scores of nubile young coeds -- most of whom speak French andEnglish! -- from nearby McGill University.
  6. http://www.playboy.com/playground/view/ben-affleck-batman-playboy-interview [h=1]PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: BEN AFFLECK[/h]by Michael Fleming[h=3]PHOTOGRAPHY BY LORENZO AGIUS[/h] PLAYBOY: The Sum of All Fears. AFFLECK: I met Morgan Freeman, which was great because I was able to ask him to work for free when we did Gone Baby Gone. We shot The Sum of All Fears in Montreal, and it almost killed me. That town never closes. The food is amazing, the drink is amazing, the girls are gorgeous. It’s not a place to focus on your work.
  7. IluvMTL

    bon appétit

    THE NAVIGATOR Where to Eat and Drink in Montreal 11:00 AM / APRIL 23, 2013 / POSTED BY Bon Appetit 29 COMMENTS (0) What Broadway is to New York City, Boulevard Saint-Laurent (or, as locals refer to it, La Main) is to Montreal: the city's main artery and the ideal way to discover some of the best old- and new-school restaurants Picnic Spot Kentucky-born chef Colin Perry cooks his grandmother's Southern recipes, like pinto beans studded with smoked hog jowls and served with cornbread and green-tomato relish. And while Dinette Triple Crown has a few seats for eating inside, most patrons get their fried chicken thighs and meat 'n' threes packed in nifty picnic boxes and take them to the Little Italy park between La Main and Rue Clark. Fried chicken thighs and meat 'n' threes at Dinette Triple Crown British Accent Looking for crazy-high-quality ingredients prepared in a straightforward, un-gimmicky way? Look no further than Lawrence. While the food is ostensibly British-style nose-to-tail cooking (as in rabbit offal tart, lamb's heart with prunes and bacon, or marinated smelt with beets), chef Marc Cohen is of the Mediterranean-inspired school, which means there's an un-remitting emphasis on seasonality. The smart cocktail and wine list is curated by rising-star sommelier Etheliya Hananova, the pastries span such French standards as tarte Tatin and praline-filled éclairs, and the weekend brunch is deservedly the most popular in town. Style-Central The cozy-chic Hotel Herman is a brand-new dinner spot in Mile End. Featuring a U-shaped bar and open kitchen, the elegant space feels as though it belongs in a 1930s train station, a place where people are coming and going and everyone is happy to be there. With its focus on natural wines, pre-Prohibition cocktails, and small, shareable plates of precise, Scandinavian-influenced dishes (including Boileau deer with beets or homemade goat cheese with crosnes, a root vegetable), it's the ideal place for a late-night bite. Pre-Prohibition cocktail at Hotel Herman in Mile EndThe Institution Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the legendary Jewish steakhouse Moishes is as good as ever--if not better. The wood-paneled, chandeliered room is electrifying, the chopped liver appetizer is the tastiest version this side of the Borscht Belt, and the bone-in filet mignon will convert die-hard filet haters. (Those wanting a more traditionally marbled cut will like the charcoal-grilled rib eye.) For sides, get the boiled verenikas and the Monte Carlo potatoes, and maybe an order of grilled mushrooms if you're craving something umami. Insider tip: Their new late-night menu gets you an appetizer and an entrée for only $25 after 9 p.m. The kitchen at Moishes Hidden Gem It might be surrounded by discount electronics stores and punk bars, but Bouillon Bilk offers seriously refined cuisine. The room is stylish (think Nordic modernism) and the vibe laid-back and cool. Super-talented chef François Nadon specializes in high-wire flavor combinations like bone marrow with snails. It makes for a special night out before or after a concert at the nearby Quartier des Spectacles cultural center. Pop-Up Plus Montreal's red-light district isn't exactly where you'd expect to find the city's most exciting kitchen. Société des Arts Technologique's Labo Culinaire FoodLab serves rustic meals in a high-ceilinged space on the third floor of the glitzy new-media performance center. Creative duo Michelle Marek and Seth Gabrielse are deeply knowledgeable chef-bakers who simply make whatever they're passionate about at any given moment: One month they're serving Russian Easter classics or Chinatown favorites, another they're grilling souvlakis or doing an homage to Richard Olney's Provençal menus. Trust them. A dish at Labo Culinaire FoodLab Chinese Theater For a bare-bones basement noodle-shop experience--and one of the city's best cheap eats--you can't beat Nudo at lunch. The Chinatown fixture specializes in hand-pulled Lanzhou-style noodles, which you can watch being twirled while you wait for your food. (The loud thud of dough getting pounded around makes for a unique sound track.) Their braised beef shank noodle soup is profoundly satisfying. Don't miss the surprisingly good vegetable sides, especially at $1.25 each. Go ahead and splurge $5 on the top four: radish salad, spicy shredded potato, seaweed, and soybeans with potherb mustard. It's timeless, run down, and beat up in some places but stylish and spiffy in others. It's Boulevard Saint-Laurent--Montreal's main artery, known around these parts as La Main. Running all the way from the cobblestoned Old Port waterfront in the south of town up to the island's north shore, it divides Montreal into east and west, winding through established and emerging neighborhoods including Mile End, Chinatown, and Little Italy. A walk along it is a perfect way to get a sense of the city's heartbeat and to explore its booming restaurant scene, from classic joints to the most vibrant new places in town. And there are plenty of one-of-a-kind coffee spots and bakeries to sustain you on your journey. --Adam Leith Gollner Get Your Coffee Fix The three best cafés in a city famous for its café society are just steps away from La Main. Your expertly pulled espresso awaits: Café Sardine serves up superb third wave coffees using beans by Canadian roasters Phil & Sebastian. Bonus: The hot dogs at lunch are not to be missed. Barista Chrissy Durcak operates the mobile espresso truck Dispatch Coffee, which serves out of a garage on Avenue Van Horne in winter and roams the streets in summer. (Check dispatchcoffee.ca for locations.) For a traditional Italian café with deep conversations and stylish patrons, linger over lattes at the beloved Caffé San Simeon on Rue Dante. It's also a hit with many of the city's best chefs. No Pain, No Gain Like any self-respecting Francophone metropolis, Montreal takes its boulangeries seriously. The current leader of the pack is Joe La Croûte, near the Jean Talon market. (Its chestnut-flour bread and Kamut baguettes are winners.) Good loaves can also be found at Boulangerie Guillaume in the Mile End. Some of the best croissants in the city are made at Au Kouign-Amann, a short stroll from La Main down Avenue du Mont-Royal. Be sure to try a slice of its namesake pastry, a buttery Breton cake. Where to Stay Casa Bianca is an upscale B&B in an old home in the Plateau neighborhood overlooking Mont Royal Park. The Hotel 10, formerly The Opus, is perched on the corner of Saint-Laurent and Rue Sherbrooke, making it a good base for exploring La Main. (Credit: Photographs by Dominique Lafond, Illustrations by Claire McCracken) Adam Leith Gollner is the author of The Fruit Hunters and The Book of Immortality, to be released this summer. RELATED Montreal: For Lovers of Food Sugar-Shack Cuisine from Martin Picard Mile End Sandwiches: Beyond the Brisket More from The Navigator Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2013/04/montreal-boulevard-saint-laurent.html#ixzz2RQ3MznDh
  8. [MAPS]https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Pernambuco&hl=en&sll=45.495362,-73.568761&sspn=0.001608,0.004128&t=h&hnear=Pernambuco,+Brazil&z=7[/MAPS] Brazil’s north-east: The Pernambuco model Eduardo Campos is both modern manager and old-fashioned political boss. His success in developing his state may make him his country’s next president Oct 27th 2012 | RECIFE | from the print edition IN THE 1980s an American anthropologist, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, carried out fieldwork in Timbaúba, a town in the sugar belt of Pernambuco state, in Brazil’s north-east. She described a place seemingly resigned to absolute poverty. The back-breaking task of cutting sugar cane by machete provided ill-paid work for only a few months of the year. The deaths of young children from disease and hunger were accepted “without weeping”. Traces of that bitter world survive in Timbaúba. In Alto do Cruzeiro, a poor suburb on a hilltop overlooking the town, Severina da Silva, a maid who also runs a shop in her living room, says that some people still go hungry. She is 48 but looks 20 years older. A 31-year-old cane cutter nicknamed “Bill” has six children—a throwback to the days when people had big families instead of pensions. But Bill has a labour contract, with full rights; he gets a stipend and a small plot from the state government to see him through the idle months. That is part of a broader social safety net provided by democracy in Brazil. It includes non-contributory pensions for rural workers. Some 6,000 of the town’s poorest residents take part in Bolsa Família, a cash-transfer scheme started by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president from 2003-10, who was born near Timbaúba. Thanks partly to this cash injection, the town now boasts car and motorbike dealers, new shops, a bank and restaurants. That is a ripple from a broader flood of investment that has made Pernambuco one of Brazil’s fastest-growing states. Once Europe’s most lucrative Atlantic colony, it languished for centuries. While sugar estates on the plains of São Paulo mechanised with world-beating efficiency, those in Pernambuco’s rolling hills struggled. Revival began with a new port at Suape, south of Recife. Its hinterland is now a sprawling industrial complex. Some 40,000 workers are building a vast oil refinery and petrochemical plants for Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company. A new shipyard and wind-power plants rise among the mangroves. Suape is a monument to federal money, industrial policy and an alliance between Lula and Eduardo Campos, Pernambuco’s ambitious governor. But the state’s boom goes wider. Rising incomes have helped Mr Campos attract private investment. Fiat is to start work on a car plant beside the main road north of Recife. A host of smaller food, textile and shoe factories are now setting up in the state’s poor interior, including Timbaúba. While the rest of Brazil worries about deindustrialisation, Pernambuco does not: since Mr Campos became governor in 2007, industry’s share of the state’s economy has risen from 20% to 25%, and will reach 30% by 2015, he says. This boom has brought nearly full employment—and created an acute skills shortage. The refinery is years behind schedule, as is the shipyard’s order book, partly because illiterate former cane-cutters make poor welders. To try to remedy that, Mr Campos has teamed up with the Institute for Co-Responsibility in Education (ICE), a private educational foundation, to reform the state’s middle schools. More than 200 of these now operate an eight-hour day, rather than the four-hour shifts common in Brazil. In return, the government has raised teachers’ salaries and added bonuses tied to results. It is also trying to chivvy mayors into improving primary schools through extra funds and other incentives. That is vital: on average, pupils arrive in middle schools aged 15 with a three-year learning deficit, says Marcos Magalhães, ICE’s founder. Pernambuco is rising up the rankings of state educational performance. Mr Campos’s critics say he should do more to tackle poverty. Alongside the opulent residential blocks towering over its palm-fringed beaches, Recife has 600 favelas (slums), and its lagoons are fetid with untreated sewage. He replies that his government is doing what it can to help the generation scarred by the poverty of cane-cutting, particularly in the drought-stricken semi-desert region farther inland. But his bold bet is that infrastructure, private investment and better education will eliminate the causes of his state’s misery. “We are turning off the flow of poverty while looking after the stock,” he says, using his trademark management-speak. So far that bet has paid off. Mr Campos won a second term in 2010, and his Brazilian Socialist Party did well in this month’s municipal elections, in Pernambuco and beyond. He is nominally an ally of Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s successor as president. But he is also a potential threat to her winning a second term at the 2014 election. Mr Campos was born into politics. Miguel Arraes, his grandfather, was an old-fashioned socialist and Pernambuco’s governor both before and after Brazil’s 1964- 85 military dictatorship. Mr Campos says Arraes taught him that politics is about “bringing people together, rather than dividing them.” Some in Recife complain that he has learned that lesson too well and become a modern version of a traditional north-eastern coronel (political boss), shrinking from challenging the old rural order, trading support for jobs and favours and freezing out dissenters. But his defenders say he gets things done. He was lucky that his less-heralded predecessor laid the foundations of Pernambuco’s renaissance. He has built on them by modernising the state. He faced down the trade unions over school reform and brought private managers to state hospitals. He has set hundreds of targets for his administration, and harries his aides to achieve them. One that he recognises he must meet—or pay a political price—is to finish a new football stadium in Recife in time for next year’s warm-up tournament for the 2014 World Cup. As both the main parties that have run Brazil since 1995 lack new faces, Mr Campos’s success in Pernambuco has turned him into the country’s most-watched politician. http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21565227-eduardo-campos-both-modern-manager-and-old-fashioned-political-boss-his-success
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/business/global/hip-cities-that-think-about-how-they-work.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&smid=fb-share The story of young people, full of ambition, energy, skill and talent, moving to enticing cities that call to them like a siren’s song is as old as modern civilization. And in a world where national borders are easier to traverse, where more countries are joining the prosperous global middle class and where the cost of a one-way plane ticket is more affordable, young professionals probably have more cities to choose from than ever before. This survey is not based solely on quality of life, number of trees or the cost of a month’s rent. Instead, we examine some cities that aim to be both smart and well managed, yet have an undeniably hip vibe. Our pick of cities that are, in a phrase, both great and good: Auckland With its beaches, inlets and lush coastal climate, the Kiwi metropolis has always had great natural beauty going for it (and, now, for the first time in 24 years, it is the home to the World Cup Rugby Champions). But we digress. Currently counting 1.5 million residents , the government is projecting the city to hit the two million-mark in just 30 years. The city has recently voted to create a new central core that mixes sustainable housing and mixed-use development. The public transportation system, which includes subways, trams, busses and ferries, is constantly being expanded. Measures to increase the density of the urban landscape, meant to ultimately prevent encroachment on surrounding lands, as well as planting “green carpets” along urban roads demonstrate a keen eye toward creating a greener future. Plus, the city is expanding its free Wi-Fi coverage, according to a city official. Auckland is doing its best to “up their game with urban design,” said Angela Jones, a spokesperson for the city, turning a beautiful but provincial capital into a smart city. Berlin This culture capital combines low rents, a white-hot arts scene, good public transportation and myriad creative types — from media to design to technology — from all over the world. Known as Europe’s largest construction zone for at least 10 of the past 20 years, 4.4-million-strong Berlin has probably changed more in that time than any other large European city. And while the restaurants have become more expensive, the clothes are now more stylish and the D.J.’s have added more attitude, there is still plenty of real city left to be discovered by the thousands of artists and young professionals who move here every year to make this the pulsing center of Germany, the powerhouse of Europe. Besides radical renovations to the government center, main train station and the old Potsdamer Platz, the city recently turned a historic airport in its heart into a vast urban park. A short-term bike-rental system is in place and the old subway system, reunited after the fall of the wall, like the city itself, is as efficient as ever. Besides artists and bohemians looking for the vibe, the city — home to several prestigious universities, research institutes and many a company headquarter — is brimming with smart scientists and savvy businessmen. Barcelona Anyone who has walked down Las Ramblas on a summer evening or has stared at the Sagrada Familia for long enough understands why this city attracts planeloads of tourists. Music, good food, great weather and strong technology and service sectors compete to make this city of 1.6 million a home for all those who want to stay beyond summer break. If all the traditional charms of Barcelona were not enough, an active city government is trying to keep this city smart, too. Under its auspices, photovoltaic solar cells have been installed on many public and private rooftops. Charging stations for electrical cars and scooters have recently been set up around the city, in preparation for the day when residents will be tooling around in their electric vehicles. A biomass processing plant is being built that will use the detritus from city parks to generate heat and electricity, and free Wi-Fi is available at hotspots around the city. Cape Town Wedged between sea and mountain, Cape Town’s natural setting is stunning. Nor does the city — with its colorful neighborhoods, historic sites, and easy charm — disappoint. And while its one of Africa’s top tourist destinations, it also attracts many new residents from around the globe. The local government is trying to lead the growing city of 3.5 million with a more inclusive government and development structure, to overcome the gross inequities of South Africa’s past. Four major universities and many research institutes make Cape Town one of the continent’s bustling research centers. Named the 2014 World Design Capital last month, the city government is encouraging a cluster of design and creative firms in a neighborhood called the Fringe. The 2010 World Cup of soccer was a boon for infrastructure, especially public transportation. A new bus system, with dedicated lanes, has been rolled out in recent years to keep the many suburbs connected and alleviate crushing traffic. Under a program called Smart Cape, libraries and civic centers have computer terminals with free Internet access. Poverty and crime are still issues in Cape Town, but overall quality of life indicators rank the city as one of the best in Africa. Copenhagen Progressive, cozy and very beautiful, the young and the elegant flock to this northern light. Rents might not be as low as in other hip cities, but the social infrastructure in this metropolitan area of 1.9 million cannot be beat. Offering a prosperous blend of art, culture and scene, this highly tolerant city is attracting young professionals lucky enough to work in the center of Danish industry and commerce. A mix of stately old European buildings and modern, green-oriented architecture speaks of a city that treasures the old but loves experimenting with the new. Despite its cool Scandinavian climate, the Danish capital might just be the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. Bike superhighways crisscross the city, and statistics show that more than a third of the city’s inhabitants commute to work or school on their trusty two-wheelers. A metro system was inaugurated in the last decade for those who choose to go without. With sunlight-flooded underground stations and clean, driverless subway cars, the system looks more like a people-mover at an international airport than an urban transport system. Having committed itself to reducing carbon levels by 20 percent before 2015, some of the city’s power is generated by wind. The city has been so successful in cleaning up its once-industrial harbor that it has been able to open three public baths in a harbor waterway. Curitiba, Brazil One of the smartest cities in Latin America, Brazil’s wealthy regional capital attracts many new inhabitants with jobs in service and production sectors, and with the promise a functioning city. The 1.7 million residents have access to a bus-based rapid transport system so good that more than 700,000 commuters use it daily. Buses run on designated lanes that, because of a unique and modern urban design, have right-of-way and preferred access to the city center. A beautiful botanical garden and other city parks, along with other strong environmental measures, keep the air largely clear of pollution, despite Curitiba’s land-locked location. The city strives to be sustainable in other ways, too. According to reports, it recently invested $106 million, or 5 percent, of its budget into its department of environment. The city government makes itself integral in the lives of Curitibans, not just seeking comment and feedback on policies, but also organizing a host of events. “Bike Night” is the latest craze in the active city. Each Tuesday, residents take to their bikes and peddle through the night, accompanied by municipal staff members. Montreal With its hearty French and North American mix, this city of 3.6 million has a real soul thanks to low living costs and long winter evenings. And it is no slouch when it comes to good food, hip culture, well-appointed museums and efficient transportation. With four major universities and plenty of bars, the nightlife in this bilingual city has a well-deserved reputation. Because the winters tend to be long and cold, the city possesses an extensive underground network connecting several downtown malls and a subterranean arts quarter. When spring finally does arrive, and snow is cleared from the many bike paths, the city puts out its 3,000 short-term-rental bicycles, known as Bixi. City-sponsored community gardens are sprouting around town, giving urbanites a chance to flex their green thumb. Montreal is an incredibly active town where festivals celebrating everything from jazz to Formula One dominate the city’s calendar during the summer. Thanks to Mount Royal, a large central park and cemetery that serves as cross-country, snowshoe and ice-skating terrain in the winter and becomes a verdant picnic ground and gathering spot in the summer, Montrealers never have to leave city limits. Santiago A vibrant mix of Latin American culture and European sensibility, this Chilean city is modern, safe and smart. The rapidly growing city of 6.7 million — , which, perhaps surprisingly, was first subject to urban planning mandates in the mid-20th century — is still ahead of others in South America when it comes to urban governance. A law curtailing urban sprawl and protecting the few natural spaces close to the city is exemplary. Beautiful old cultural jewels like the library and fine art museum are dwarfed by serious commercial skyscrapers. The smell of local food, good and inexpensive, brings life even to the streets of its financial district. One of the most extensive public transport systems on the continent whisks more than 2.3 million commuters to and from work or school every day. Because of its high altitude, pollution is a problem — one that the national government is trying to curb with various green initiatives. Short-term bike rentals exist in one of the more active parts of town, and significant city funds have been used to construct bicycle lanes. For a city this modern, however, Santiago has few parks. But the ocean is just a short drive to west and the mountains to the east. Shanghai China’s commercial heart has grown tremendously in the past couple of decades. Attracting young professionals with its jobs and opportunities rather than with museums and hip nightlife, this megacity of 23 million is surprisingly smart. Its top-down urban planning approach is efficient in a city made up of separate 16 districts and one county. City coffers are put to use building enormously ambitious infrastructure, like a deepwater port, tunnels, bridges and roadways. A good indicator for the rapid and deliberate growth of the city is the metro system. First opened in 1995, it is now the world’s longest subway network, according to city officials. Adding a futuristic aspect to the utilitarian system is a Maglev (magnetic levitation) line that connects the airport to the city, and on which the train travels at speeds of up to 431 kilometers, or 268 miles, per hour. But Shanghai’s urban development is also green. The city claims that it put the equivalent of $8 billion into environmental improvement and cleanup, which include sewage treatment systems but also an impressive number of city parks. In addition, Shanghai has made its city government more accessible by running a Web site were residents can find municipal information, and read a blog entitled “mayor’s window.” Vilnius, Lithuania One of the greenest of the former Eastern bloc capitals, Vilnius has a forward-thinking city government. In a recent Internet video that spread virally, the mayor, Arturas Zuokas, is seen crushing a Mercedes parked on a bike path with a tank. Beyond the obvious political theater of the stunt, the city, whose metropolitan area population is 850,000 takes providing good public transportation seriously. A recent study suggested that some 70 percent of the capital’s citizens either walk, bike or take the bus. Vilnius, a verdant city that despite some communist architectural clunkers is charmingly medieval and surprisingly well maintained, boasts an old town that is a Unesco world heritage site. After the fall of the old regime, the city took great pains to retool its waste disposal systems, building a modern landfill in 2005. The capital attracts young professionals, and not just from Eastern Europe, who see in Vilnius a rising star in business and appreciate all that the extensive cultural scene in the little capital has to offer.
  10. The small town of Triberg, Germany is creating big headlines these days, after its mayor designated a number of difficult or tricky parking spaces for men-only. Mayor Gallus Strobel has risked countless accusations of sexism after marking the town's toughest parking spots with a male or female symbol depending on their level of difficulty. "Men are, as a rule, a little better at such challenges... There are also great women drivers who are, of course, most welcome!" Mayor Strobel told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The idea behind this new policy was designed to attract ambitious drivers to utilize more difficult spaces. Parking spaces which are wider, well-lit and close to exits have been painted with female symbols, while narrow, obstructed and awkwardly angled spots have been labeled with male symbols. So far the parking challenge has been met with mixed opinions, however its also increased tourism to the area, as countless drivers have traveled to the small town in order to test their parking abilities. A major study in Britain earlier this year showed that while women might be slower at parking, they are more accurate and have better technique. The survey also suggests men liked to "pose park" by opting to park in a smaller spots, even when a larger spot is available. http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/10/12664764-german-mayor-designates-parking-spaces-just-for-men?lite
  11. pedepy

    population variations

    i've posted this about this before and i'm still trying to get this data that is the estimated daytime population on the island, counting commuters and out of the town visitors. i recently stumbled upon this web page http://geodepot.statcan.ca/diss/maps/thematicmaps/cma_e.cfm?name=Montr%C3%A9al which suggests the numbers exists but unfortunately those maps do not display any of the data they are based on .. does anyone have any idea where i could find this information ?? ....
  12. Newbie

    If you find this computer...

    I'm doing this because someone suggested it to me. If you or any of your friends or family members happens to buy or see a used 13'' MacBook pro with serial number ending in V66D (the serial number is on the back in tiny fonts), I will be happy to buy it back for a much higher price (or give you a nice negotiable cash reward, if you show me where I can buy it). Just let me know the rest of the serial number. It was stolen for me and it will probably soon end up in one of the many used computer shops or pawn shops in town. I have some important school papers and very important personal media which I will try to recover if the hard drive has been cleared. Thanks in advance!
  13. I.H.T. SPECIAL REPORT: SMART CITIES http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/business/global/hip-cities-that-think-about-how-they-work.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=montreal,%20auckland,%20berlin&st=cse&scp=1 By CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZE Published: November 17, 2011 The story of young people, full of ambition, energy, skill and talent, moving to enticing cities that call to them like a siren’s song is as old as modern civilization. And in a world where national borders are easier to traverse, where more countries are joining the prosperous global middle class and where the cost of a one-way plane ticket is more affordable, young professionals probably have more cities to choose from than ever before. This survey is not based solely on quality of life, number of trees or the cost of a month’s rent. Instead, we examine some cities that aim to be both smart and well managed, yet have an undeniably hip vibe. Our pick of cities that are, in a phrase, both great and good: Montreal With its hearty French and North American mix, this city of 3.6 million has a real soul thanks to low living costs and long winter evenings. And it is no slouch when it comes to good food, hip culture, well-appointed museums and efficient transportation. Related With four major universities and plenty of bars, the nightlife in this bilingual city has a well-deserved reputation. Because the winters tend to be long and cold, the city possesses an extensive underground network connecting several downtown malls and a subterranean arts quarter. When spring finally does arrive, and snow is cleared from the many bike paths, the city puts out its 5,000 short-term-rental bicycles, known as Bixi. City-sponsored community gardens are sprouting around town, giving urbanites a chance to flex their green thumb. Montreal is an incredibly active town where festivals celebrating everything from jazz to Formula One dominate the city’s calendar during the summer. Thanks to Mount Royal, a large central park and cemetery that serves as cross-country, snowshoe and ice-skating terrain in the winter and becomes a verdant picnic ground and gathering spot in the summer, Montrealers never have to leave city limits.
  14. I have noticed in the past months in this forum and many others in SSP/SSC the amount of rants about ugly suburb sprawl and design. These days, Many neighborhood planners just build and go. Sure they might build a park here and there, but nothing that might add uniqueness to a city or town. Personally i had the chance to live in Calgary and I once visited a neighborhood called McKenzie Towne which is by far i think one of the best examples as to how i would develop suburbs in Canada. All the amenities in the central area with beautifully constructed houses on the outside with great parks, fountains and bicycle trails. At night the neighborhood is surprisingly vibrant (only 11, 000 people) with restaurants and fantastic pubs. I can only imagine in 30/40 years how this little town will look with all the trees and vegetation matured! I would love to see these kind of developments around Montreal or Toronto! http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=mckenzie+towne&hl=en&ll=50.913702,-113.964581&spn=0.015315,0.042272&z=15&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=50.913702,-113.964581&panoid=rzCDkdLVVG2sB2fGzF2jrg&cbp=12,280.66,,0,8.68 http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=mckenzie+towne&hl=en&ll=50.913536,-113.9698&spn=0.003863,0.010568&z=17&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=50.913536,-113.9698&panoid=lrnqlqsqoGl1FuR1rrDQdQ&cbp=12,100.14,,0,5.57 http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=mckenzie+towne&hl=en&ll=50.913296,-113.969818&spn=0.003863,0.010568&z=17&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=50.913156,-113.970046&panoid=-L2scdoFHHHP5r2uuY0RQg&cbp=12,228.7,,0,4.39 http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=mckenzie+towne&hl=en&ll=50.91634,-113.960246&spn=0.000014,0.021136&z=16&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=50.91634,-113.960246&panoid=u2VS_zIsxUsGQd0xAhB3Pg&cbp=12,74.85,,0,7.49 http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=mckenzie+towne&hl=en&ll=50.91525,-113.960637&spn=0.000003,0.005284&z=18&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=50.91525,-113.960637&panoid=gTpjEsRS8yDtkiCpBpnCOw&cbp=12,222.93,,0,15.08 http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=mckenzie+towne&hl=en&ll=50.913757,-113.962308&spn=0.001931,0.005284&z=18&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=50.913757,-113.962308&panoid=BuvKEP1o_b7-0o-KyMAItw&cbp=12,79.11,,0,2.74 http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=mckenzie+towne&hl=en&ll=50.91337,-113.968863&spn=0.007725,0.021136&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=50.913584,-113.968534&panoid=stfZebx-Ap8oFn19zAJ3RQ&cbp=12,17.37,,0,9.78&z=16
  15. jesseps

    Birth of a gold major

    (Courtesy of The Financial Post) G-O-L-D
  16. http://www.thedailyherald.com/islands/1-islands-news/9561-investor-group-fields-probing-questions-on-waterfront-project.html Hi im a newbie on this forum even though i've been lurking for years, I'm from the island of St martin in the caribbean where Jutras groupe immobilier has been the talk of the town lately. I was wondering like most people here if this promoter is considered a serious one in Montreal ?
  17. pedepy

    Confused article ?

    Looking for pictures of the Manhattan skyline on Google, one photo within the results page kind of well, stood out... I clicked on it, and followed on to see what website this particular image had came from. The rest of what I saw sort of made me smile. You be the judge. The Heart of New York City Oh, what a pretty town ...
  18. Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/06/17/mtl-asbestos-parody.html#ixzz0r9x8BNIT
  19. Une filiale de la Caisse lorgnerait deux complexes à New York Publié le 08 février 2010 à 08h38 | Mis à jour à 08h47 La Presse Canadienne New York Une filiale de la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDP), CWCapital, dirigerait un groupe qui serait intéressé par l'achat de deux importants complexes immobiliers situés dans le même secteur de New York. Le Globe and Mail rapporte lundi qu'il s'agit des complexes résidentiels Peter Cooper Village et Stuyvesant Town, construits à la fin des années 1940 dans le sud du quartier Manhattan afin d'accueillir les familles de nombreux combattants de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. On y dénombre quelque 11 000 appartements. De nos jours, les unités sont surtout louées par la classe moyenne. Une transaction pour la vente de ces deux complexes moyennant 5,4 milliards de dollars US a échoué à la fin du mois dernier; leurs clefs ont été remises aux créanciers. CWCapital est contrôlé par Otéra Capital, l'une des filiales de la CDP qui oeuvre dans le domaine immobilier. L'an dernier, la Caisse de dépôt a essuyé des pertes majeures dans ce domaine. Otéra est active au Canada, aux États-Unis et en Europe, tandis que CWCapital gère des investissements sous forme de prêts hypothécaires commerciaux et d'autres prêts immobiliers, dans tous les secteurs aux États-Unis. Otéra rapporte que l'actif net de son portefeuille totalisait 11,3 millliards de dollars CAN au 31 décembre 2008. Tant Otéra que CWCapital ont refusé de commenter les allégations à propos des complexes Peter Cooper Village et Stuyvesant Town.
  20. Will California become America's first failed state? Los Angeles, 2009: California may be the eighth largest economy in the world, but its state staff are being paid in IOUs, unemployment is at its highest in 70 years, and teachers are on hunger strike. So what has gone so catastrophically wrong? Patients without medical insurance wait for treatment in the Forum, a music arena inInglewood, Los Angeles. The 1,500 free places were filled by 4am. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images California has a special place in the American psyche. It is the Golden State: a playground of the rich and famous with perfect weather. It symbolises a lifestyle of sunshine, swimming pools and the Hollywood dream factory. But the state that was once held up as the epitome of the boundless opportunities of America has collapsed. From its politics to its economy to its environment and way of life, California is like a patient on life support. At the start of summer the state government was so deeply in debt that it began to issue IOUs instead of wages. Its unemployment rate has soared to more than 12%, the highest figure in 70 years. Desperate to pay off a crippling budget deficit, California is slashing spending in education and healthcare, laying off vast numbers of workers and forcing others to take unpaid leave. In a state made up of sprawling suburbs the collapse of the housing bubble has impoverished millions and kicked tens of thousands of families out of their homes. Its political system is locked in paralysis and the two-term rule of former movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen as a disaster – his approval ratings having sunk to levels that would make George W Bush blush. The crisis is so deep that Professor Kevin Starr, who has written an acclaimed history of the state, recently declared: "California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America." Outside the Forum in Inglewood, near downtown Los Angeles, California has already failed. The scene is reminiscent of the fallout from Hurricane Katrina, as crowds of impoverished citizens stand or lie aimlessly on the hot tarmac of the centre's car park. It is 10am, and most have already been here for hours. They have come for free healthcare: a travelling medical and dental clinic has set up shop in the Forum (which usually hosts rock concerts) and thousands of the poor, the uninsured and the down-on-their-luck have driven for miles to be here. The queue began forming at 1am. By 4am, the 1,500 spaces were already full and people were being turned away. On the floor of the Forum, root-canal surgeries are taking place. People are ferried in on cushions, hauled out of decrepit cars. Sitting propped up against a lamp post, waiting for her number to be called, is Debbie Tuua, 33. It is her birthday, but she has taken a day off work to bring her elderly parents to the Forum, and they have driven through the night to get here. They wait in a car as the heat of the day begins to rise. "It is awful for them, but what choice do we have?" Tuua says. "I have no other way to get care to them." Yet California is currently cutting healthcare, slashing the "Healthy Families" programme that helped an estimated one million of its poorest children. Los Angeles now has a poverty rate of 20%. Other cities across the state, such as Fresno and Modesto, have jobless rates that rival Detroit's. In order to pass its state budget, California's government has had to agree to a deal that cuts billions of dollars from education and sacks 60,000 state employees. Some teachers have launched a hunger strike in protest. California's education system has become so poor so quickly that it is now effectively failing its future workforce. The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy. California's schools are ranked 47th out of 50 in the nation. Its government-issued bonds have been ranked just above "junk". Some of the state's leading intellectuals believe this collapse is a disaster that will harm Californians for years to come. "It will take a while for this self-destructive behaviour to do its worst damage," says Robert Hass, a professor at Berkeley and a former US poet laureate, whose work has often been suffused with the imagery of the Californian way of life. Now, incredibly, California, which has been a natural target for immigration throughout its history, is losing people. Between 2004 and 2008, half a million residents upped sticks and headed elsewhere. By 2010, California could lose a congressman because its population will have fallen so much – an astonishing prospect for a state that is currently the biggest single political entity in America. Neighbouring Nevada has launched a mocking campaign to entice businesses away, portraying Californian politicians as monkeys, and with a tag-line jingle that runs: "Kiss your assets goodbye!" You know you have a problem when Nevada – famed for nothing more than Las Vegas, casinos and desert – is laughing at you. This matters, too. Much has been made globally of the problems of Ireland and Iceland. Yet California dwarfs both. It is the eighth largest economy in the world, with a population of 37 million. If it was an independent country it would be in the G8. And if it were a company, it would likely be declared bankrupt. That prospect might surprise many, but it does not come as news to Tuua, as she glances nervously into the warming sky, hoping her parents will not have to wait in the car through the heat of the day just to see a doctor. "It is so depressing. They both worked hard all their lives in this state and this is where they have ended up. It should not have to be this way," she says. It is impossible not to be impressed by the physical presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger when he walks into a room. He may appear slightly smaller than you imagine, but he's just as powerful. This is, after all, the man who, before he was California's governor, was the Terminator and Conan the Barbarian. But even Schwarzenegger is humbled by the scale of the crisis. At a press conference in Sacramento to announce the final passing of a state budget, which would include billions of dollars of cuts, the governor speaks in uncharacteristically pensive terms. "It is clear that we do not know yet what the future holds. We are still in troubled waters," he says quietly. He looks subdued, despite his sharp grey suit and bright pink tie. Later, during a grilling by reporters, Schwarzenegger is asked an unusual question. As a gaggle of journalists begins to shout, one man's voice quickly silences the others. "Do you ever feel like you're watching the end of the California dream?" asks the reporter. It is clearly a personal matter for Schwarzenegger. After all, his life story has embodied it. He arrived virtually penniless from Austria, barely speaking English. He ended up a movie star, rich beyond his dreams, and finally governor, hanging Conan's prop sword in his office. Schwarzenegger answers thoughtfully and at length. He hails his own experience and ends with a passionate rallying call in his still thickly accented voice. "There is people that sometimes suggest that the American dream, or the Californian dream, is evaporating. I think it's absolutely wrong. I think the Californian dream is as strong as ever," he says, mangling the grammar but not the sentiment. Looking back, it is easy to see where Schwarzenegger's optimism sprung from. California has always been a special place, with its own idea of what could be achieved in life. There is no such thing as a British dream. Even within America, there is no Kansas dream or New Jersey dream. But for California the concept is natural. It has always been a place apart. It is of the American West, the destination point in a nation whose history has been marked by restless pioneers. It is the home of Hollywood, the nation's very own fantasy land. Getting on a bus or a train or a plane and heading out for California has been a regular trope in hundreds of books, movies, plays, and in the popular imagination. It has been writ large in the national psyche as free from the racial divisions of the American South and the traditions and reserve of New England. It was America's own America. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and now an adopted Californian, remembers arriving here from his native New England. "In New England you would have to know people for 10 years before they let you in their home," he says. "Here, when I took my son to his first play date, the mother invited me to a hot tub." Michael Levine is a Hollywood mover and shaker, shaping PR for a stable of A-list clients that once included Michael Jackson. Levine arrived in California 32 years ago. "The concept of the Californian dream was a certain quality of life," he says. "It was experimentalism and creativity. California was a utopia." Levine arrived at the end of the state's golden age, at a time when the dream seemed to have been transformed into reality. The 1950s and 60s had been boom-time in the American economy; jobs had been plentiful and development rapid. Unburdened by environmental concerns, Californian developers built vast suburbs beneath perpetually blue skies. Entire cities sprang from the desert, and orchards were paved over into playgrounds and shopping malls. "They came here, they educated their kids, they had a pool and a house. That was the opportunity for a pretty broad section of society," says Joel Kotkin, an urbanist at Chapman University, in Orange County. This was what attracted immigrants in their millions, flocking to industries – especially defence and aviation – that seemed to promise jobs for life. But the newcomers were mistaken. Levine, among millions of others, does not think California is a utopia now. "California is going to take decades to fix," he says. So where did it all wrong? Few places embody the collapse of California as graphically as the city of Riverside. Dubbed "The Inland Empire", it is an area in the southern part of the state where the desert has been conquered by mile upon mile of housing developments, strip malls and four-lane freeways. The tidal wave of foreclosures and repossessions that burst the state's vastly inflated property bubble first washed ashore here. "We've been hit hard by foreclosures. You can see it everywhere," says political scientist Shaun Bowler, who has lived in California for 20 years after moving here from his native England. The impact of the crisis ranges from boarded-up homes to abandoned swimming pools that have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Bowler's sister, visiting from England, was recently taken to hospital suffering from an infected insect bite from such a pool. "You could say she was a victim of the foreclosure crisis, too," he jokes. But it is no laughing matter. One in four American mortgages that are "under water", meaning they are worth more than the home itself, are in California. In the Central Valley town of Merced, house prices have crashed by 70%. Two Democrat politicians have asked for their districts to be declared disaster zones, because of the poor economic conditions caused by foreclosures. In one city near Riverside, a squatter's camp of newly homeless labourers sleeping in their vehicles has grown up in a supermarket car park – the local government has provided toilets and a mobile shower. In the Los Angeles suburb of Pacoima, one in nine homeowners are now in default on their mortgage, and the local priest, the Rev John Lasseigne, has garnered national headlines – swapping saving souls to saving houses, by negotiating directly with banks on behalf of his parishioners. For some campaigners and advocates against suburban sprawl and car culture, it has been a bitter triumph. "Let the gloating begin!" says James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, a warning about the high cost of the suburban lifestyle. Others see the end of the housing boom as a man-made disaster akin to a mass hysteria, but with no redemption in sight. "If California was an experiment then it was an experiment of mass irresponsibility – and that has failed," says Michael Levine. Nowhere is the economic cost of California's crisis writ larger than in the Central Valley town of Mendota, smack in the heart of a dusty landscape of flat, endless fields of fruit and vegetables. The town, which boldly terms itself "the cantaloup capital of the world", now has an unemployment rate of 38%. That is expected to rise above 50% as the harvest ends and labourers are laid off. City officials hold food giveaways every two weeks. More than 40% of the town's people live below the poverty level. Shops have shut, restaurants have closed, drugs and alcohol abuse have become a problem. Standing behind the counter of his DVD and grocery store, former Mendota mayor Joseph Riofrio tells me it breaks his heart to watch the town sink into the mire. His father had built the store in the 1950s and constructed a solid middle-class life around it, to raise his family. Now Riofrio has stopped selling booze in a one-man bid to curb the social problems breaking out all around him. "It is so bad, but it has now got to the point where we are getting used to it being like this," he says. Riofrio knows his father's achievements could not be replicated today. The state that once promised opportunities for working men and their families now promises only desperation. "He could not do what he did again. That chance does not exist now," Riofrio says. Outside, in a shop that Riofrio's grandfather built, groups of unemployed men play pool for 25 cents a game. Near every one of the town's liquor stores others lie slumped on the pavements, drinking their sorrows away. Mendota is fighting for survival against heavy odds. The town of 7,000 souls has seen 2,000 people leave in the past two years. But amid the crisis there are a few sparks of hope for the future. California has long been an incubator of fresh ideas, many of which spread across the country. If America emerges from its crisis a greener, more economically and politically responsible nation, it is likely that renewal will have begun here. The clues to California's salvation – and perhaps even the country as a whole – are starting to emerge. Take Anthony "Van" Jones, a man now in the vanguard of the movement to build a future green economy, creating millions of jobs, solving environmental problems and reducing climate change at a stroke. It is a beguiling vision and one that Jones conceived in the northern Californian city of Oakland. He began political life as an anti-poverty campaigner, but gradually combined that with environmentalism, believing that greening the economy could also revitalise it and lift up the poor. He founded Green for All as an advocacy group and published a best-selling book, The Green Collar Economy. Then Obama came to power and Jones got the call from the White House. In just a few years, his ideas had spread from the streets of Oakland to White House policy papers. Jones was later ousted from his role, but his ideas remain. Green jobs are at the forefront of Obama's ideas on both the economy and the environment. Jones believes California will once more change itself, and then change the nation. "California remains a beacon of hope… This is a new time for a new direction to grow a new society and a new economy," Jones has said. It is already happening. California may have sprawling development and awful smog, but it leads the way in environmental issues. Arnold Schwarzenegger was seen as a leading light, taking the state far ahead of the federal government on eco-issues. The number of solar panels in the state has risen from 500 a decade ago to more than 50,000 now. California generates twice as much energy from solar power as all the other US states combined. Its own government is starting to turn on the reckless sprawl that has marked the state's development. California's attorney-general, Jerry Brown, recently sued one county government for not paying enough attention to global warming when it came to urban planning. Even those, like Kotkin, who are sceptical about the end of suburbia, think California will develop a new model for modern living: comfortable, yes, but more modest and eco-friendly. Kotkin, who is writing an eagerly anticipated book about what America will look like in 2050, thinks much of it will still resemble the bedrock of the Californian dream: sturdy, wholesome suburbs for all – just done more responsibly. "We will still live in suburbs. You work with the society you have got. The question is how we make them more sustainable," he says. Even the way America eats is being changed in California. Every freeway may be lined with fast-food outlets, but California is also the state of Alice Waters, the guru of the slow-food movement, who inspired Michelle Obama to plant a vegetable garden in the White House. She thinks the state is changing its values. "The crisis is bringing us back to our senses. We had adopted a fast and easy way of living, but we are moving away from that now," she says. There is hope in politics, too. There is a growing movement to call for a constitutional convention that could redraw the way the state is governed. It could change how the state passes budgets and make the political system more open, recreating the lost middle ground. Recently, the powerful mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, signed on to the idea. Gerrymandering, too, is set to take a hit. Next year Schwarzenegger will take steps to redraw some districts to make them more competitive, breaking the stranglehold of party politics. He wants district boundaries to be drawn up by impartial judges, not politicians. In previous times that would have been the equivalent of a turkey voting for Christmas. But now the bold move is seen for what it is: a necessary step to change things. And there is no denying that innovation is something that California does well. Even in the most deprived corners of the state there is a sense that things can still turn around. California has always been able to reinvent itself, and some of its most hardcore critics still like the idea of it having a "dream". "I believe in California. It pains me at the moment to see it where it is, but I still believe in it," said Michael Levine. Perhaps more surprisingly, a fellow believer is to be found in Mendota in the shape of Joseph Riofrio. His shop operates as a sort of informal meeting place for the town. People drop in to chat, to get advice, or to buy a cold soft drink to relieve the unrelenting heat outside. The people are poor, many of them out of work, often hiring a bunch of DVDs as a cheap way of passing the time. But Riofrio sees them as a community, one that he grew up in. He is proud of his town and determined to stick it out. "This is a good place to live," he says. "I want to be here when it turns around." He is talking of the stricken town outside. But he could be describing the whole state.★ • This article was amended on 5 October 2009 because we inadvertently referred to the historian, Kevin Starr, as Kenneth.
  21. Cataclaw

    Opera

    We ought to give each club, lounge, bar, restaurant, pub, it's own thread with reviews, pictures, info, commentaries and all that kind of stuff! I'll start with Opera since it's been the subject of a lot of talk lately with the possible demolition for the redevelopment of the ilot du monument national. Some pix from last sunday: My review: Good spot, huge, clean, modern, great music, (mostly) classy good-looking people but all this comes with a price - definitely one of the most expensive spots in town.