Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Putting Out Fires Because Music Can Be Too Hot: A Tale of Free Pianos and Carelessness with Fire

Much to-do this morning about two decorated pianos installed on Montreal corners for the month of September to provide a place for impromptu music.  Great idea, even if not totally original: Toronto had 41 during July, and apparently artist Luke Jerram has inspired a couple of dozen other cities to try the idea: Play Me, I'm Yours.

Mike Kowalsky who posted the photo on the left to Facebook notes that the piano at the corner of St. Viateur and Casgrain is painted with flora and fauna found in the nearby Champ des possibles, a former industrial space/parking lot owned by the city of Montreal and now gone to glorious abandon.  Another great idea.

But just a few hours before that piano was inaugarated I had an experience in the Champ which is troubling.  While out walking I came upon a big tree trunk burning in the Champ, apparently the remnants of a campfire of the night previous.  With the aid of a young man cutting across the field on his way to work in one of the lofts in the nearby transformed light industrial buildings, I was able to turn it over so that the burning surface faced the ground.  Then I was able to cover it with dirt and gravel.  Stopped by the firehouse on the way back, just to let them know so they could check to see if the first was indeed extinguished.

Okay, camp fires are nice, and wild places in the center of the city are even nicer, but to keep them EVERYONE has to be careful of them.  This summer has been hot and dry, and even if it rained a bit the night before, it's quite possible that left undisturbed, the fire inthe trunk could have smoldered for hours or even days before bursting into flame.

Hey guys, be careful when you play with matches--and with the commons that we would all like to protect!

BTW. the second photo is of the piano on St. Denis and Marie-Anne, a much more urban setting.


patricia said...

It is so easy to iniate a disaster. On this side of the Atlantic, a teenager started a fire that destroyed 400 ha of forest in the Bouches-du-Rhône department last Sunday. The Champ isn't isn't surrounded by a forest or wheat, but who knows what the wind can do when it wakes up.

There were also 40 "Play me I'm yours" pianos in the streets and parcs of Paris this summer, between June 22 and July 9. The City of Paris was even looking for volunteers to watch the instruments ( What a nice idea!

Did you know that Patrick Watson played on Marianne/St. Denis piano the other day? A Twitter post announced the free show would be broadcasted live on the Internet. 11 AM Montreal time, I was before my computer with earphones on and a big smile on my face, happy to watch relaxed "Plateauers" gathering around the colored instrument. At one point, I even applauded spontaneously before my screen, forgetting I was actually in Paris. I wish I could concentrate on things as much as I was in Montreal that day.

Mary Soderstrom said...

The Patrick Watsn concert apparently was terrific! Haven't gone by the piano in our neighborhood but I will.