This is one of my favourite buildings on the old U of T campus for several reasons.  I’d rank it second only to the lovely Massey hall as a Toronto venue – not quite such immaculate concert acoustics (though still commendable) but absolutely excellent in every way for listening to a talk – great sight-lines not only of the speaker, but of their questioners (come the fun part at the end).

I heard a couple of lectures on expanding the MIDI standard here back in the early eighties, and a super cool presentation on advanced techniques for reflex horn throat-coupling, which were just then being brought over from submarine research (sub un-woofers!) into commercial audio.  Now commonly and cheaply deployed everywhere as “active noise cancellation.”

But the single best talk I’ve caught there (so far) was from Michael Moore, during the reign of W – and though Moore’s entire speech was surprisingly wide-ranging, well-balanced (as reason and rhetoric both) and politically lucid, the part that sticks with me most is the very beginning.

Catherine too remembers it clearly (and backstopped my own recollection).  Tickets were absolutely free, but you couldn’t get one for someone else, each person had to line up one by one and get their own.  First come first served, as fair as they could easily make it.  Yes the tickets ran out and not only was every seat inside filled – but all of the galleries and standing areas were also taken right up to (ushers doing whispering head-counts) capacity.

And then we waited, knowing well that there was a large group still outside who were not able to get in, and hoping that the man might stop and chat with them too (slower and lazier bothers and sisters are still on the same side) ;o)

Finally, almost forty-five minutes late, Michael Moore entered, and apologized to us, saying he’d just spent the last forty five minutes giving most of his speech to the crowd outside that didn’t get in – because he didn’t want anyone who had taken the trouble to come and hear him, to go away disappointed.

Classy stuff – and the whole crowd was entirely in favour of this solidarity.
You would think.  But then a group of youngsters done up all in black with their trendy little anarchist face-masks, stood up in the gallery and started chanting, “Let them in, let them in, let them in, let them in!”  Really angrily.

Moore explained the fire marshall wouldn’t let him speak if anyone else entered, we were already at full safe capacity as it was – and anyhow, he just gave the speech to everyone out there, and they already went away happy.

– Just in case they’d missed that the first time. – And wouldn’t you know? – they started chanting for him to go out and speak to the crowd outside – furiously!  Damn, I felt for the guy.  There were these young idiots drunk on testosterone almost violently demanding that he do the exact thing he had just done – without anyone even having to ask.  Simply ’cause he’s a nice guy.

Those boneheads wasted another fifteen minutes that he would have been very happy to use talking.  And I should note – most impressively – the guy was entirely off-book – no notes at all – and I’m a fact-wonk, easily irritated by large stupidities – not by him though.  Solid references, by in large.  Great talk.

Self-righteous, unorganized, narcissistic kids though.  Damn.
Have I mentioned I REALLY miss Marxist feminists lately?
(Not so much the Trotskyist ones though – bit too stabby for my tastes)

I am always curious about what you are thinking

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