by Irena Syrokomla
Jane Jacobs and her latest book
"Dark Age Ahead"
On June 2nd Jane Jacobs came to Waterloo for the
reading of her most recent book. The audience sat mesmerized by this 88
year-old woman, looking her age and having some difficulty speaking –
eventually speaking with amazing clarity and focus. Since she has no
association with any organization and no benefit derived from any powerful
institutions she is free, absolutely free to express her opinions openly,
frankly and to the point.
We are at the point of no return. We have to make a choice,
a rational conscious choice to salvage what we wish; otherwise society – if
not the whole humanity – is in trouble. In North America, the direction of
city development is to build more suburbs. These are recipes for future
disaster, miles and miles of roads without people ever walking, just people
moving by in cars. In such an environment, there is no opportunity for
casual encounters, no community, no common ground. Suburbs are just
individual bedrooms, shopping malls, and highways to far away place.
The concept of education has changed in the last several
decades. Going to university is no longer to learn or acquire knowledge,
widen horizons or became aware, it is all about being qualified to earn more
– to earn more money.
Culture is no longer passed on within the community; the
community is broken into non-interacting groups with the general principle
of not interfering with individuals. The culture is being reduced to
anecdotal evidence, information received from TV and schools, parents or
families pass less and less knowledge, principles or traditions. It takes a
village to raise a child, it takes a community to maintain and transfer
Professions, which used to be classified as "free
professions", - able to set their own standards and maintain high principles
- are betraying themselves. There is too much power within them to do as
they please. The self-policing principle is to protect its own interests, to
stay outside of law and ethics in its own errors and crimes. In politics
there is widespread corruption, improper taxation and general wasteful use
of public funds. And people in general accept that "it is not anybody’s
fault, it is just the way things are".
The audience sat in dead silence only every now and then
breaking into spontaneous applause. There were long line-ups to buy her last
book as well as prior titles. Jane Jacobs mentioned, to the overwhelming
enthusiastic reaction of the audience that she has TWO books in the works.
What can I say? - that old woman has the clarity of vision and the alertness
of mind most of us do not have, regardless of age! We wish her many more
years to live and guide us into the 21st century. After all, she
already had a significant impact on city planners and the way Toronto is
today - or for that matter San Francisco.
"Dark Age Ahead" by Jane Jacobs is available at Words Worth
Books at Waterloo City Square – as well as in other bookstores. Something to
read and think about this summer.
"Anything Goes" at Stratford
Porter’s "Anything Goes" is one of the greatest achievements of the Broadway
musicals. It opened originally in New York in 1934 just a few years after
the Depression of 1929, and in the period when standard Broadway shows were
financial failures. It was a spectacular event, signalling that the
Depression was over and better times were coming. The public was obviously
ready for singing, dancing and an optimistic outlook.
The staging by Director/Choreographer Anne Allan is superb,
the cast is of exceptional quality. The main parts are filled by Cynthia
Dale, Sheila McCarthy, Michael Gruber and Jimmy Spadola. The rest of the
cast - too numerous to mention – makes the show not to be forgotten. Their
energy, their dancing skills and voices are so impressive, the old hits such
as Easy to Love, Public Enemy Number One, Buddy, Beware, and
of course Anything Goes come to life and bring so much joy to the
audience as they recall them from the old recordings. It is a pleasure to
have them sung with the live orchestra.
What is especially worth noting is the stage design. How do
you fit on the limited Avon Theatre stage at least part of an ocean liner
with the dancing and singing crew? Designer Patrick Clark was equal to the
task and made the request of Anne Allan’s "The show should look elegant, it
needs a space that is feminine and fluid". It was a challenge to design and
build a décor that could be broken in pieces, and at the same time allow the
depth and layering necessary to present the whole dancing and singing show.
The costumes based on the 30’s era were light, sophisticated and fitting the
characters to a T, all ladies looked so slim and gorgeous in them. Patrick
Clark deserves a special mention for his work.
The theatre was full, of course. In bloom and vibrating with
tourists Stratford is getting better every year. More Americans are visiting
this season.. Good for Stratford, good for the region, good for us!
"Anything Goes" will be playing till the end of October.
Stratford box office number is 1-800-567-1600, web site