Toronto Mike


Last month, I received a package from a Toronto Mike'd listener named Jim Shedden. The box included four books and a lengthy letter. One of the books was by Jim himself and Rick Prelinger. That book is titled "I AM HERE: Home Movies and Everyday Masterpieces".

I don't get many personal letters. Every day I get an email or two or three from Toronto Mike'd listeners, but a lengthy personal letter on actual paper? That's a rarity, so I took my time to soak in every word Jim wrote.

The letter wasn't written for public consumption, so I won't share it all here, but I found it very interesting. Jim is the director of the publishing program at the Art Gallery of Ontario. He loves music, and shared with me his personal inspirations, all of which he's heard referenced on Toronto Mike'd. 1050 CHUM, CHUM-FM, CFNY (Brad McNally’s Eclectic Spirit!), Q-107, Neon, Brave New Waves, CKLN, CIUT, CBC, etc.

Then, I learned more about Jim.

Back in the day (1975-1989) I published zines, mostly related to the Queen St. punk/new wave/postpunk scene, but I also did earlier zines on comic books when I was 14 and 15. The music scenes included This Tiny Donkey Looks Rather Lost (co-founded by Lisa Godfrey, of CBC Ideas and Q before that), The Hanged Men Dance, and Black Triangle (co-founded with Steve Kane). I am enclosing four facsimiles of zines (3) that I published and co-published back then. They are embarrassing: juvenile, moronic, self-centred, whiny. But they’re from 40 years ago so what can I do? During that time I hung at the Record Peddler, Records on Wheels, Vortex (esp. Dundas & Church), Sam’s, This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, OCA, The Bev, the Cabana Room, the Cameron, and Start Dancing. And diners. I also started working for Elliott Lefko as a gopher and behind the scenes whatever for various poetry events that he was doing (the Garys had a hold, for good reason, on the kind of music programming that Elliott wanted to do and would do).

Jim's my kind of guy, so when he invited me to AGO for a personal tour of the exhibit he co-curated based on "I AM HERE: Home Movies and Everyday Masterpieces", how could I resist. I made the trek to the fifth floor today to drink it all in.

The exhibition is only open through Sunday, August 14, so get yourself to AGO before it's too late! Here's the overview

From the earliest cave paintings to TikTok, humans have found creative ways to document their day-to-day lives. I AM HERE: Home Movies and Everyday Masterpieces, a major new AGO exhibition opening in April of 2022, is a revealing look at our universal need to capture, share and cherish the everyday. Featuring lost-and-found home movies from the Prelinger Archives, alongside celebrated artworks by the likes of David Hockney, Patti Smith, Claes Oldenburg, Annie Pootoogook, Arthur Jafa and Mary Pratt, as well as snapshots, photo albums, letters, television, grocery lists, and social media, I AM HERE brings together a broad range of personal records from different time periods and locales to explore the shared human impulse to document life as it happens.

Co-curated by Jim Shedden, the AGO’s Manager of Publishing, and Alexa Greist, AGO Associate Curator and R. Fraser Elliott Chair, Prints & Drawings, in collaboration with archivist, scholar and writer Rick Prelinger, the exhibition is a celebration of daily life and human creativity, replete with music and creative prompts. Among the artworks on display will be a digital collage of the more than 3000 submissions received from around the world as part of the AGO’s 2021 Portraits of Resilience exhibition. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue co-published by the AGO and DelMonico Books/D.A.P

And you never know who you'll bump into! While I was chatting with Jim I heard an unmistakeable voice say "Toronto Mike!". It was FOTM Marcia Young, who visited me only two days ago. Hear our chat here.

Thank you, Jim! Great book, great exhibition and great meeting you today!

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