Sunday 31 October 2010

The Roadside Shark - Florida Keys' marketing answer to the Giant Gorillia

Fishers of Men

In the early days of PR and marketing one of the big bold milestone steps was the invention of the sandwich board. Put a huge advertising sign on the front and back of some hapless homeless man and have him stand around busy corners. Was a novel approach and it worked ... until every downtown store had their own walking signs. Message was lost in the crowd, and getting across the street was a chore.
Sandwich boards evolved. Clowns handing out flyers, fuzzy animal characters waving at the cars, life-sized robots in shop doors and windows. In the suburbs, merchants started thinking big. Inflatable Air Dancing Men, Giant, blow-up gorillas in the parking lots and blimps tethered to store ceilings.

The evolution of the signboard has made a science out attracting the attention of consumer. Unfortunately, the science of satisfying consumer demands has not. Just because a store has a great sign doesn't mean that once inside there are good prices, unique items for sale -- sometimes it is just the opposite.
In the Florida Keys, there is but one highway that runs from Key West at the southern tip of Florida, 140 miles north to Key Largo. It is a busy highway and vacationers are wont to barrel down Route 1 as fast as they can. Merchants, looking to slow down motorists and hopefully take bite out of their wallets have updated Giant Gorilla strategy with something befitting the Keys.
Just when I thought it was safe to drive the length of the Keys I spotted a number of over sized creatures of the deep, attached or parked in front of stores, from Mile Marker 1 right to 140.

I took these posted pictures (save for Betsy the Lobster which I linked from Sandwich Girls' Flickr account: in October 2010 while driving the length of Route #1.

Top: Over sized Great White Shark head is a daily Kodak moment at the Key West Aquarium. When the cruise ships are in there is a feeding frenzy of photographers
Second from top: Fibreglass Hammerhead wears a tank, weight belt and goggles at Wahoo's seaside restaurant in Islamorada. Very successful in pulling in tourists (we ate there!).
Third from top:Hanging plastic shark at the Islamorada charter fishing dock reels them in (including my wife Maria Nenadovich - the model - and me - the photographer).
Second from bottom: Tilden's dive shop in Marathon has a giant fibreglass Angel Fish in its parking lot.
Bottom: Sandwich Girl's Betsy the Lobster. Fibreglass giant spiny lobster now in front of the Rain Barrel Artists Village in Islamorada. Statue is 30-foot-tall and 40-foot-long


Just returned from a dive writing trip to the Cayman Islands While in Georgetown (the capitol) taking a surface break, I chanced upon a fibreglass shark outfront of a downtown bar. Not sure how Mr. Jaws lost his right flipper (bite off by an even bigger drunk scuba diver?). Picture taken May 3, 2011

Thursday 28 October 2010

Literary Circle - Bravo TV taping. Free. Giller Prize short list

Stephen Weir here
This is an invitation for late Friday afternoon. Tomorrow. Books. Giller. Bravo TV. Toronto.
The thing about most authors is that they are great writers but in person .... yawn. However, when you have a seasoned interviewer, like Seamus O'Regan, who can ask the hard question, suddenly an hour with five top authors becomes the high point of the week...!
Tomorrow afternoon, 5:30. Seamus O'Regan (Canada AM) will be interviewing the five short-listed Giller Prize authors.
I was at the last taping it was an unforgettable hour of literature (seriously). It is at the Masonic Temple (Yonge at Davenport). It is free but seating is limited. Email
I will be there. Hope you can make it.
The 5 authors and their books are:
David Bergen THE MATTER WITH MORRIS, Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Alexander MacLeod for his short story collection LIGHT LIFTING, Biblioasis Sarah Selecky for her short story collection THIS CAKE IS FOR THE PARTY, Thomas Allen Publishers
Johanna Skibsrud for her novel THE SENTIMENTALISTS, Gaspereau Press Kathleen Winter for her novel ANNABEL, House of Anansi Press

A Night of Literary Non-Fiction

IAN BROWN to headline IFOA's REAL LIFE: A Night of Literary Non-Fiction

Friday, Oct. 29th at 8:00 p.m.
Lakeside Terrace, York Quay Centre at Harbourfront

Winner of The Charles Taylor Prize now Canada's most highly acclaimed non-fiction author

TORONTO, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - Multiple book award winner Ian Brown is the most successful literary non-fiction writer Canada has ever produced. In 2010, his book, The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for His Disabled Son (Random House Canada), swept all of the major non-fiction prizes in the country. In addition to winning the 2010 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, Brown's book won the B.C. National Book Award and the Trillium Book Award, and the accolades keep coming: the book is shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award, to be announced in November.

Author Ian Brown, winner of the 2010 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, appears at Harbourfront's esteemed International Festival of Authors. Ian Brown joins fellow non-fiction writers Charles Foran, Charlotte Gray and poet Meaghan Strimas. Each will read from their most recent works. The evening is hosted by non-fiction author Larry Gaudet.

Ian Brown will read from his award-winning book The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for his Disabled Son.

Born with a genetic mutation so rare that perhaps 300 people around the world live with it, Ian Brown's son, at age twelve, weighs only 54 pounds, wears diapers, can't speak and needs to wear special cuffs on his arms so that he can't harm himself. "Sometimes watching him," Brown writes, "is like looking at the man in the moon - but you know there is actually no man there. But if Walker is so insubstantial, why does he feel so important? What is he trying to show me?" The author's journey takes him into deeply touching and troubling territory. "All I really want to know is what goes on inside his off-shaped head," he writes, "But every time I ask, he somehow persuades me to look into my own."


This is the IFOA's signature Non-Fiction event. Charles Taylor Prize winner Ian Brown, Charles Taylor Prize Founder Noreen Taylor and Charles Taylor Foundation trustee, Dr. David Staines are available for interviews before and after the event.

WHEN: Friday, October 29, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: Lakeside Terrace, York Quay Centre, Toronto

TICKETS: $18.00 Available online in advance. Seating is limited.

Previous Winners of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction:
2000 Wayne Johnston for Baltimore's Mansion: A Memoir
2002 Carol Shields for Jane Austen
2004 Isabel Huggan for Belonging: Home Away from Home
2005 Charles Montgomery for The Last Heathen: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in Melanesia
2006 J.B. MacKinnon for Dead Man in Paradise
2007 Rudy Wiebe for Of this Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest
2008 Richard Gwyn for John A.: The Man Who Made Us
2009: Tim Cook for Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917-1918, Volume Two
2010: Ian Brown for The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for His Disabled Son

The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction is presented annually by the Charles Taylor Foundation with support in 2010 from its partners: AVFX, Ben McNally Books, BookTelevision and Bravo!, Canada Newswire, CTV, The Globe and Mail, Le Meridien King Edward Hotel, Quill & Quire publications, and Windfields Farm.

For more information about The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, and Ian Brown's award winning book, please follow links at and follow on Twitter @taylorprize.

For further information:

Media are requested to confirm their attendance and/or interview requests with Stephen Weir & Associates:

Stephen Weir: 416-489-5868 cell: 416-801-3101
Linda Crane: 905-257-6033 cell: 416-727-0112

Sunday 24 October 2010

A nation of photographers and a nation of models


Canadian master photographer Ed Burtynsky got it half right while speaking at a Contact Photography Festival event when he told the media that Canada has become a nation of photographers. Cell Phone cameras. Cheap high def video cams. The explosive rise of the digital camera. Twitter Vids. You Tubes. Facebook. Canadians are documentary every aspect of life in this country.
Burtynsky, a Ryerson Polytechnical Institute grad, is world famous for his landscape photographs, so he should be excused for not mentioning the other half of the equation. Canadian has become a nation of models!
For every person who carries a camera to a public event, there is an equal or greater number of people willing and waiting to poise for that Kodak Moment. During Scotiabank Caribana 2010, 600 media, most of them videographers and photographers, registered to be on the parade route.
While the parade marshals find the photographers annoying in the least and downright disruptive in the pejorative, the barely clad dancers didn't mind stopping the parade to constantly pose for pictures. Within days of the Parade over 3,300 YouTube videos (marked Caribana) had been posted and 24,000 pictures (marked Caribana) posted on Flickr. And Facebook? 100,000 jpgs and counting.
It is not just events where body beautiful rules. On Saturday October 23rd my photographer son Andrew and myself took our cameras to Trinity Bellwood Park where 6,000 peoples drenched themselves in fake blood and shuffled through the park and into the streets of Toronto in the annual Zombie Walk.
There were hundreds and hundreds of photographers following the moaning, stumbling rag tag parade. The zombies had worked hard on their make-up and wanted to be photographed. Ever had a corpse ask you to take her picture? I have.
The Zombie Walk has no sponsors (save beyond a Henry's Camera portrait booth), and no actual raison d'etre. But because of the growing Yin and the Yang between people's need to be seen and people's need to be camera carrying voyeurs there is no stomping on Toronto's undead parade.
Top - Complete stranger asks Zombies to deadpan it for his camera. (But he still told them to say "Cheese")
Bottom - Andrew Weir's picture of the Zombie Parade - Trinity Bellwood Park.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

20th Annual Volunteer Autumn Art Sale at the McMichael


18 October 2010
For immediate release

20th Annual Volunteer Autumn Art Sale at the McMichael

KLEINBURG, October 18, 2010. – With the help of 50 well-known Canadian artists and the volunteers at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, October is artistically going out in a blaze of fun and colour. The McMichael Autumn Art Sale takes place October 22nd – 24th and is expected to attract thousands of art patrons to Kleinburg and the public gallery.
Presented by the McMichael Volunteer Committee, this sale is a major fundraiser for the gallery. For three days over 200 pieces of art and sculptures – all for sale – will fill the gallery’s spacious Grand Hall. Oil paintings. Fused Glass. Works on paper. Stone carvings. All of the works are one-of-a-kind, and all have been created by well known artists including: Cindy Praakel, Kenneth Kirsh, Florence Chik-Lau and Lynda Cunningham.
The McMichael Autumn Art Sale begins with the popular Opening Night Gala (6pm to 10pm) on Friday, October 22nd. The evening features complimentary Hors d’Oeuves, free admission, and free parking. The Autumn Art Sale continues on through Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The warm summer weather has delayed the arrival of the fall colour foliage. Organizers of Art Sale are predicting a spectacular burst of colour along Major Mackenzie Drive just in time for the Volunteer Art Show and Sale.
The McMichael Volunteer Committee is a dedicated team of McMichael members, from all walks of life, who share a passion for the arts and are committed to volunteerism. The group organizes events and raise funds, both to enhance the visitor experience and to support children’s education at the McMichael. To date the Committee has contributed over $250,000 to the gallery.

About the gallery

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. The McMichael is the only public gallery that collects and exhibits exclusively Canadian art. The permanent collection holds over 6,000 works including pieces by Inuit, First Nations and Group of Seven artists.
Friday night’s gala opening features free parking and admission to the gallery. For the rest of the weekend admission is as follows: Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $30 for families. There is a $5 fee for parking. The gallery is located on Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information about the gallery visit

Media contact:

Stephen Weir, Publicist
(905) 893-1121 ext. 2528 Gallery
(416) 489-5868 Home Office
(416) 801-3101 Cell