Sixty years ago, a retired marine biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service wrote a book about how the pesticide DDT seemed to be upending the natural order of things. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was the first book to examine humankind’s impact on nature. and sparked the global environmental movement. Silent Spring is still in print today, and as one critic said: "Her lyrical writing rendered her not a mere translator of the natural world, but an alchemist transmuting the steel of science into the gold of wonder." Here she is now with a timely reminder that our days could be short here, so let’s not make this the last of our springs.
1. KFC for your Inner Voyeur. Courtroom trials are just words. But oh what drama! Now you can catch it all on Court TV which first hit fame with the O.J. Simpson’s trial in 1995. Just go to Court TV for the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial; and John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot Ronald Reagan, being allowed to sing at a sold-out concert next month; and in the archives, Harvey Weinstein on trial. It’s all online; it’s free; and it’s yours to bookmark.
2. Your cabin in the woods. If you think you will never see a poem as lovely as a tree, you can go to Arcana who are offering just two cabins in the woods “somewhere in southwestern Ontario.” You won’t know where exactly, until you’ve paid the $700+ for your minimum two-night stay in a 275-square-foot mirror-like cabin that will “return you to the wild as a place, but also the wild as a state of mind.”
3. Who writes Zelensky’s speeches? Well, he does, of course, being a retired stand-up comedian. But given that Zelensky sends a nightly video message to his countrymen, and is speaking to Parliaments at a Churchillian pace, he needs a collaborator. That pen belongs to Dmytro Lytvyn, a former journalist and political analyst with fewer than 200 followers on Twitter who works (and, of course, lives) at Bankova, Ukraine’s equivalent of the White House, along with other members of the President’s inner team. Like any good ghostwriter, he never takes credit, claiming instead: “The president always knows what he wants to say, and how he wants to say it.”
4. Inside the tow-truck mafia. Remember those tow-trucks parked on the on-ramps to the 401? They’re not just eager for the next tow, they’re evidence of how the mafia took over Ontario’s towing industry. It all began with Toronto’s amalgamation back in 1998. The result has been “back alley deals, fake crashes, arson, and even murder.”
5. Perfect pitch for Steinway? The storied piano maker is going public (again) next month. So you can not only buy a baby grand for $75,000, you can own shares in the company founded by German immigrant Harry Engelhard Steinway in a New York City loft in 1853. Majority owner John Paulson is hoping to cash in on the huge rise in the luxury goods market, not to mention the Chinese market which has more pianists than Canada has people. But if Steinways are the Mercedes of the piano business, Fazioli’s are the Rolls-Royces. The Italian company makes only 140 pianos a year, and a concert-grand will set you back $200,000 to $250,000. Pianist Angela Hewitt will play on nothing less, even after hers was accidentally dropped and destroyed in 2020 by her piano movers.
Still, you can find a Fazioli in the lobby bar of the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto.
6. Nuclear weapons are not as destructive as you think. An oddly rational argument for not fearing nuclear war.
7. What your heart needs is an ambulance drone. Each year nearly a million Europeans suffer from cardiac arrest. Only 8% survive because first-responders can’t get there in time. But this new ambulance drone can fly over 100 km/h and reach its destination in a minute. So survival can jump from 8% to 80%. It’s not here yet, but it’s coming soon to a CPR near you.
8. The Venice Biennale starts today. The world’s biggest art show, founded in 1895, opens today. This year Vancouver filmmaker and photographer, Stan Douglas, is Canada’s official representative. Oh, and April 23rd is also William Shakespeare’s birthday, his 458th. Just think, if the Bard did a reading at the Biennale, we could call it The Merchant of Venice Biennale. Kidding!
9. Young, thin and white. That’s who Abercrombie & Fitch sought, both in its customers and staff. This Netflix documentary tells that story of how they rooted themselves in discrimination at every single level. For many years, “exclusion was the root of their success.” Then...the world changed. A&F is closing stores and issuing statements like this.
Finally, with Easter Week just ending, here’s the Top 50 versions of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.