Dan Schaumann

Official site of avid traveller and singer/songwriter, Dan Schaumann. Debut album "A Thousand Days Beneath The Sun" out now on CD and iTunes.

Canada

No pants subway ride

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January 13th, 2014 Posted 2:02 am

A few days ago my friend Alan in Montreal let me know about a global event that was to be held today: the 13th annual No Pants Subway Ride!

The tradition began in 2002 by a ‘prank collective’ known as Improv Everywhere. Founded in New York City by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere puts together elaborate pranks on the unsuspecting public, recruiting thousands of ‘agents’ over the years who are in on the joke and participate in their events. I’ve stumbled across their immensely popular videos on Youtube before, but it’s only been in the past couple of days that I’ve read up on who they are, leading me to watch the fascinating documentary that details their rise to fame, We Cause Scenes.

The original No Pants Subway Ride was a simple experiment in which a man walked onto to a subway carriage without his pants. A few stops later, a second man walked onto the same carriage sans trousers. Each man was to remain completely blasé about the fact he was in his underpants; neither was to acknowledge one another. The idea was to see what kind of reaction would be evoked by the surrounding people on the carriage, and also to leave the commuters with a smile on their face (not to mention a crazy story to tell at dinner parties). This is the hidden video taken on the day:

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Minus thirty-nine

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January 7th, 2014 Posted 7:05 pm

Today was cold.

I mean, REALLY FREAKING COLD.

I knew I’d be in for a harsh winter before I moved to Toronto, but even the locals are saying there hasn’t been an icy epidemic as ridiculous as this for many years!

Almost every consecutive week for the past month now I’ve broken my record for the coldest weather I’ve experienced. Prior to leaving for Canada my record remained at -11°C, achieved in Jindabyne, NSW in 2001 (that’s even despite spending 15 months in Europe from 2008-2009). It didn’t take long to reach my -11°C record upon my Canadian arrival, followed quickly by minimums of -14°C, then -18°C, then an ice storm, and on Friday last week exceeding all my expectations at -23°C with a -35°C wind chill.

And then today happened. A blast of air direct from the Arctic made its way over Canada & the US, breaking decades worth of wind chill records. Just before I left home for work this morning, I checked the weather on my phone and found this:

-24 Toronto -39 Toronto

Yep: that’s -24°C with a -39°C wind chill.

Holy moses!

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No streetcars today (the Toronto Ice Storm)

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December 22nd, 2013 Posted 10:30 pm

In the very early hours of the morning I was awoken by strange whirring noises and sharp flashes of light radiating through my bedroom window. At first I thought it was some kind of hallucinogenic dream, but as I regained consciousness and peered behind the curtains I found a streetcar creeping along the tracks at a very slow pace. Each inch it travelled, it would let out a bright electrical spark at the point where the trolley pole touched the overhead electrical line. I assumed it was a faulty tram on its way back to the depot for repairs and I returned to my slumber, completely unaware that Toronto was in the midst of one of the most catastrophic ice storms in recent history.

Toronto Ice Storm-10

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Can snow clean dirty shoes?

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December 14th, 2013 Posted 7:06 pm

Earlier this week I pulled some Bear Grylls moves through the brambles in order to reach a near-frozen river, which left me with slightly dirty shoes by the end of the day. I hadn’t yet bothered to wash them, but a thought struck me this afternoon while admiring the first proper snowstorm to hit Toronto this winter:

Can a walk through the snow clean dirty shoes?

I donned my filthy footwear, took my camera along for some company, and set through the chilly streets of Kensington Market to find out.

Can Snow Clean Dirty Shoes-6

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Great Big Sea

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December 2nd, 2013 Posted 9:16 pm

I remember the day clearly. It was the 9th of Februrary, 2012 and I’d recently begun using Last.fm, a music recommendation service that takes note of the songs & artists you listen to and attempts to find other bands you might enjoy based on your listening patterns.

One of the first recommendations offered to me was a band I’d never heard of called Great Big Sea. The blurb on their Last.fm profile declared them to be a “Canadian folk-rock band from Newfoundland and Labrador, best known for performing energetic rock interpretations of traditional Newfoundland folk songs.” Straight away I was intrigued, given that I love the folk-rock genre and that they hailed from such a remote & faraway location you rarely hear about in the music world.

I quickly navigated to Youtube where I clicked through to one of their more recent releases, Nothing But A Song, an original tune from their 2010 album Safe Upon The Shore. It’s rare that a newly-discovered song resonates so well with me: I had a beaming smile on my face by the second bar and from the moment Alan Doyle’s captivating baritone made its passionate entrance, I can honestly say I was hooked.

 

 

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Santa Claus Parade

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November 18th, 2013 Posted 12:47 pm

Yesterday was the day of the 2013 Toronto Santa Claus Parade! At 5.6km long and having been held every year since 1905, it’s one of the longest running and altogether largest parades of its kind anywhere in the world.

Now, I’m normally a major grinch when it comes to Christmas-related items. I’ve always thought it was a silly celebration in the southern hemisphere (commercially speaking, anyway). We’re bombarded with images of snow and Santa and reindeer when in reality it’s 42 degrees under the blistering hot sun and as humid as a sauna. But seeing as I’ll be in the northern hemisphere for Christmas this year, I figured I’d at least make a small effort to soak in the traditional wintry Christmas imagery we’re all so familiar with.

I almost didn’t bother going to the parade until my friend Laura mentioned on FB how impressive the floats all looked as she walked past them lining up for the event early in the morning – not to mention the fact that there was a One Direction float in the mix. That was enough to convince me to get out of the house, but I still had the inkling I wouldn’t be impressed, so I declined to carry around my camera.

Thankfully I still had my phone camera, because it actually turned out to be a darn lot more impressive than I could have imagined. Never in my life have I seen such a conglomeration of clowns, marching bands, gorilla/monkey/bee/squirrel/giraffe onesies, fairy floss, Santa Claus hats and floats featuring all kinds of crazy Christmassy characters… it was insane! And I couldn’t believe how many participants there were and how many people lined the streets to observe the jolly festivities.

I’m still not a Christmas convert but I’m glad I made it out to see the parade in the end. Here’s a little of what happened on the day:

Santa Claus Parade 2013 - Clowns

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Labyrinths of Toronto

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October 14th, 2013 Posted 10:21 pm

Never before have I been to a city so abundant in labyrinths!

My first week in Toronto led me on a chance discovery tour of said structure, first developed by the Ancient Greeks and featured over the ages on coins, walls, rock, paintings, tattoos and pottery. These days the labyrinth predominantly appears as a path set into the ground for the purposes of walking as if it were a pilgrimage – it’s said to bring a sense of meditational peace to anybody who follows its trail.

Unlike a maze, which is made up of a path that branches into multiple directions and often leads to dead ends, a labyrinth comprises only of a single twisting, turning path that eventually terminates at the centre of the pattern. And Toronto just happens to be full of them.

Toronto Public Labyrinth 1

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Nuit Blanche 2013

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October 6th, 2013 Posted 7:37 pm

Toronto was buzzing last night!

It was the night of the annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (“sleepless night”) festival – a city-wide, night-time arts & cultural exhibition developed by the French over a decade ago which has since spread out across the world. Ontatio’s largest city was the first North American location to take on the Nuit Blanche concept in 2006; 8 years later, 2013’s event saw 110 art locations scattered around the CBD with easily a couple of hundred thousand sightseers taking to the streets between sunset & sunrise to revel in the festivities.

Nuit Blanche-3

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Let the Canadian adventure begin!

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September 24th, 2013 Posted 10:37 pm

I can barely believe it! For the second time in my life I’ve succeeded in quitting my job, packing my bags, moving out of my humble abode and driving my possessions up to Queensland for storage at my parent’s place north of Townsville. At 1:50pm on Wednesday 25th of September 2013, I’ll be leaving the life I’ve established over the past four years in Sydney to embark upon a new adventure: first, a five-day stopover in New York City, before flying into Toronto for a working holiday. I have the potential to live and work in Canada for two full years, but having merely booked three nights accommodation at a backpackers so far, I can only see as far forward as October 3rd; anything beyond that date remains a mystery. This sense of not knowing – of having a blank canvas future in a foreign country – is amongst the greatest feelings I’ve known.

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I Wish I Lived In Canada

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June 10th, 2013 Posted 4:28 pm

Here’s an acoustic recording of a little tune I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks, dedicated to the gorgeous country that is Canada.

I’ve never even set foot onto it, but from what I’ve heard and from the people I’ve met who hail from its shores, it sounds like an incredible place.

In any case: travel + romance = perfect song inspiration for me 🙂

Maybe… just maybe… I’ll make it there someday?

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