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Terence Dick
Writer, Editor

Toronto
January 03, 2013

Terence Dick is Akimblog's editor and Toronto correspondent. He's a freelance writer whose work can be found in magazines like DesignLines and King West, or in assorted artist catalogues. He often talks about art and art criticism to paying audiences, and teaches philosophy and creative writing to high school students. Each year he takes this opportunity to reflect on the past twelve months of art, ideas, people, politics, and culture as a way of assessing our progress (or lack thereof). Enjoy.

1. Idle No More

Like most newsworthy things these days, I first caught word of this grassroots movement through Facebook. The First Nations artists I happen to be friends with were posting announcements, blog updates, and videos of the demonstrations challenging Bill C 45 and its threats to the land, water, and Indigenous peoples of Canada. After a few short weeks, Idle No More can no longer ignored by the mainstream press, has a potential martyr-in-the-making with Chief Theresa Spence, and continues to demonstrate the widespread dissent that is emerging in the wake of the Harper government's radical changes to this nation's character (as well as reveal widespread racism both implicitly and explicitly in online news sources).

2. Wainio & Wentegate

While I have long appreciated Carol Wainio's paintings, she endeared herself to me (and those parts of the journalistic establishment she didn't terrify) this year with her precise and considered takedown of Globe columnist Margaret Wente's attribution problems. The weak defences, ham-fisted counter-attacks, and faux apologies that emerged in response painted a sorry picture of the state of print media in Canada. Wainio held fast to her ethical compass by first refusing to add more noise to the hubbub, and then, once again, stating clearly and objectively her position. If only the columnists involved treated their jobs as seriously as she does her blog.

3. Rob Ford: Part Deux

I spent far too much time this past year following my favourite reality TV show across a number of platforms: newsprint, Twitter, comment boards, and livestream video. The ups, but mostly downs of Toronto mayor Rob Ford have made for some jaw-dropping, eye-rolling, fist clenching, hand hitting forehead moments in 2012. I keep thinking it can't go on and yet it does: losing control of council, reading while driving, coaching on the job, going to court, ordering city buses for his football team, losing his job (maybe), and so on. I routinely quote from his testimony in this fall's conflict of interest trial. I watch budget meetings on Rogers TV to catch his outbursts. I drive my wife insane with minutiae about his various legal problems. His term is going to end one day (later, rather than sooner if you ask me), and, on a serious note, I can only hope Toronto's reputation as a city of stature survives intact.

4. The blessing and curse that is Twitter

In addition to my now daily following of #topoli (see my previous hit), I tweeted with greater regularity than ever before this year (which wasn't that hard since I only signed up in the fall of 2011). The narcissism of accumulating followers and assuming they want to read my every thought still troubles me, and I fret like an old fart about the damage on literacy and literature all this atomization of writing will effect, but, as a neighbor with over 150 000 followers recently explained to me, there's never been a better (that is, less mediated) way for a person to communicate with their audience, to share information, jokes, insights, nonsense, whatever. And there's never been an easier way for me to follow news – be it city council meetings or Superstorm Sandy damage – so immediately (minute-by-minute) and democratically (from official reporters like @reporterdonpeat to yahoos like @HULKMAYOR).

5. Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

Godspeed You! Black Emperor's unexpected new album after a long silence made for my most frequent soundtrack of the year (particularly the scorching first track "Mladic"). As I make my way through middle age, I find my tastes are becoming less refined in the sense that I demand more and more extremes in the culture I seek. The music was either noisier and more anti-social or goofier and more eccentric in its outsiderness. In addition to the post-rock ideologues from Montreal, I liked after-school old school hip-hop from the Y.N. Rich Kids and Nicholson Baker's protest songs. While I don't expect anyone to join my listening party, I think these choices might help you understand where I'm coming from in the next hundred reviews I write for Akimblog. Stay tuned.

 

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