This Week at City Hall

Wednesday, August 12
Executive Committee (11:45 am): Coming up this week is, once again, the Housing Incentives Policy! This'll be it's fourth time before Exec Committee (previously came up March 17, March 31, and April 14). The goal of the policy is to stimulate the construction of affordable housing in the city -- a much needed commodity. Exec committee keeps referring the policy back to administration, however, as they don't want to move to support housing in any significant way until the province comes through with a serious commitment to affordable housing.

Well, last time this came up, Exec Committee asked for advice on what elements of the policy could be passed pending more information from the province on what they're planning housing-wise.

Admin's answer: pretty much all of it.

Looks like they're suggesting most of the provisions in the policy can be passed as is. That means things like the $4,000 incentive for Secondary Suites; the tax incentives for new small-sized developments; and the design, sustainability and safety requirements. Two provisions that have been altered though are the grants of $10,000/unit of new affordable housing and the tax exemptions for larg-scale new developments. The policy will still include these provisions, but they will only be handed out to developments which are given provincial support at "historic levels."

So, under the policy, as long as the province holds up its end of the bargain and keeps funding housing the way it has been, the city will guarantee more support as well.

Now, I have my guess about how this'll fare but I'm going to write it down, seal it in an envelope, and keep it secret until after the meeting so as not to jinx anything.

Meanwhile, Exec Committee will also be considering a 7.14 per cent increase to the Service Agreement Fees for 2010 which brings them up to $227,289/hectare, (Service Agreement Fees are collected from developers to cover the cost of installing infrastructure into new subdivisions); acquisition of lands to facilitate a drainage channel to convey surface water from the Global Transportation Hub into Cottonwood Creek; and, finally, funding levels for the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.

As always, full reports and agendas can be found on the city's website.

Magazine rack

The current issue of Bust has an awesome interview with hyped hipster screenwriter Diablo Cody. Cody, here interviewed by the hilarious television writer Jill Soloway (You must go to her website sometime, and read one of the greatest Hollywood short stories ever. It's called Courtney Cox's Asshole. Really.) comes off as sharp, funny and unpretentios as hell.

On the subject of the big, post-Juno backlash, she admits "I would have hated my guts. I would have thought, 'Oh, that girl with her fucking precious shtick and her stupid name. Go fuck yourself. I'm writing my novel here, I can't even deal with this, please go away.' Oh, my God, I would have had no patience with myself."

And I have to respect how much she talks up and supports other women in Hollywood, especially the writers and directors who aren't big stars. It's a nice antidote to the tall poppy, only-girl-in-the-boys-club thing you see too often. I'm totally going to see Jennifer's Body.

All the News That's Fit to Print

I don't know if the New York Times is covering this story, but it certainly is getting major play on blogs and websites devoted to celebrity news and scandal. Trivial, yes. But the PGA's response is ludicrous. Apparently, it doesn't want even the slightest whiff of impropriety to detract from its mega-million dollar corporate brand -- like, for instance, that its star golfers are human. (Broward New Times)

Postponing the inevitable

While the rest of the prairie dog readership is having fun at the Regina Folk Festival (only quibble so far: wouldn't Mihrangi (her website) rate her own main stage show, not just a Saturday night teaser? She did a couple of years ago), the aging metalheads are mourning that tonight at Mosaic Stadium … nothing will happen. (CBC Sask)

This fan-shot video illustrates what happened. (YouTube, at the 4:40 mark) Tyler fell from an eight-foot-wide catwalk into the audience while entertaining the people when a fuse blew and most of the amps went dead. The fall doesn't look like it's going to cause serious damage, but Steven Tyler is 61 years old and had spent the biggest part of the first half century of life ingesting every chemical into his body short of industrial-strength bleach, so it's probably still recovering from all those toxins.

Aerosmith fans should note, however, that the show is not cancelled, at least not yet. It's postponed. But Tyler is going to need a couple of months to recover, (HuffPo) which means the tour will come back, if at all, sometime around Thanksgiving. That time of year, you're playing Russian roulette with the weather – during the Rolling Stones' second show in Regina in 2006, the temperatures and wind ganged up for such an uncomfortable night that the band played in winter jackets. To be fair to Regina's weather, however, it snowed during the tour's next stop, at Chicago's Soldier Field.

Playing outdoors – especially in colder weather – is no fun. Guitar strings contract in the cold weather, and guitars go out of tune halfway though the show. The colder it gets, the more likely things are going to break – from guitar strings to electrical equipment. And it's no fun for the audience members who are gradually suffering from hypothermia – unless, of course, they're bringing in their own anti-freeze.

Given that now it's a lose-lose situation, why not just shut the tour down? Give everybody back their money, and say, we'll see you next year when Tyler doesn't have as many broken bones? One reason, and I'm just going by what I know about the music business – insurance.

When I was nine year old, I had tickets for the Stampeders show at Buffalo Days. But it was the days of the outdoor gandstand, and it rained that night. I got my money back. But the touring scale of the Stampeders in 1974 and Aerosmith in 2009 is a bit different.

You don't take out a tour where you're spending a quarter million a day – salaries, trucks, equipment, stadium rentals – out on a whim. Modern stadium tours are done with all the logistical planning of the D-Day invasion. There's too much money at risk to leave anything up to chance – even the health of the band members.

The best example I can think of is The Who's 2002 North American tour. The band was primarily touring because lead singer Roger Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle needed the money, and convinced Pete Townshend that it would be a good idea to tour again. In fairness, they toured as The Who and Friends in 1996 doing Quadrophenia from beginning to end, and toured again in 1999, and they sounded better than their 1982 'farewell' or 1989 'reunion' tour.

The band members had to pass a medical physical in order to get insurance for the tour. If the band had to cancel any shows because one of the band members got ill, the insurance would be the only thing keeping them from financial ruin. Entwistle apparently failed his physical – he had a heart condition. Behind the scenes, the band and its management made a decision: if anything happened to John on the tour, they would have to get a replacement. So they crossed their fingers and hoped for the best.

The best didn't happen. On June 26, 2002, just before the first show of the tour, Entwistle went to bed with a prostitute at the Las Vegas Hard Rock CafĂ©, after ingesting a small amount of cocaine. The next morning, the woman woke up – John didn't. He had died of a heart attack. The band postponed the Vegas show, and continued on with the tour, with highly-regarded session musician Pino Palladino in John's place. (Wikipedia)

If The Who without The Ox (John's nickname) was hard to take, now imagine Aerosmith touring with someone else as lead singer. They've already undergone a tour from hell – Brad Whitford missed some shows due to surgery, and other shows were postponed when Tyler pulled a muscle in his leg. It's doubtful, in my opinion, that they're pulling in the coin they thought they were going to when this tour started. What the heck. At least they're not going to play Stonehenge on this tour – yet. (YouTube) And I'd tell anyone who had tickets for Aerosmith that they would be better off at the Regina Folk Festival. Except it's sold out. And the show is going on.