Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Amazing Race comes to Toronto

industrial go karts
Originally uploaded by 416style.
The Amazing Race has long been a popular show in Canada. It's certainly been a favourite of mine since the beginning. As a bit of a computer and TV geek a couple years ago I decided to particpate in a chatroom where TAR's host, The Philminator, answered questions about himself and the show. There were some funny questions like "Who picks your wardrobe?" Just so you know, it's not Phil. He wasn't crazy either about some of the knit sweaters he was made to wear. Another question was "When are you coming to Canada?" He didn't answer it. Well, now they've come and gone, and while it makes me happy they showcased this multifacted city in their final episode I think they could've done a bit better. The Bata Shoe museum wouldn't have been my pick for a city landmark, though I suppose it is original. I also wasn't so happy they profiled the Kajama, it was a bit too close to home: my friends and I like to get it for the night for some crazy on-board parties. They also showed Queens Quay Yachting, another place my friends and I like to rent boats. Just hope there's still availability when we try to book it next summer.

I would've suggested a trip to the islands, perhaps in a canoe, or a visit to our little known Olympic Museum.

I did like their task while at the CNTower. Couldn't have been easy finding the marker located in this Go-Karts area.

Hopefully the show will help this city's profile. It appeared the American contestants enjoyed it...and in case there are any fan's out there reading this...rolling lumber is not a national sport.

Know Your Candidates and Get Out and Vote!

green party
Originally uploaded by 416style.
We often tell ourselves we'd like to get involved and make a difference. Well, there's no better time than now. With an election happening on January 23rd it's a short time commitment if you want to make your voice heard in your community, and there are several ways to do it. The first place to start is to read about the candidates in your riding. The second step would be to get involved with the campaign: canvas the neighbourhood, distribute signs or see what else you can offer the campaign office. For some of us this is not possible, so the next step is simple: GET OUT AND VOTE! There's no excuse.

I've been involved in my riding of Parkdale-High Park since the last election. I knew the candidates and was amazed by 2004 Green Party candidate Neil Spiegel. He was well-educated, well-spoken and had a clear vision. This time I'm on board again with new candidate: Rob Rishchynski for the Parkdale-High Park Green Party. The Greens' mandate is one I can respect: they are fiscally responsible, socially progressive and wish to sustain the environment which they recognize is interconnected with the economy. It's worked in various parts of Europe for years and now it's time for their policy to start to work here: in Parkdale-High Park, in Toronto and the rest of this beautiful country.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Animal Rights and Abattoirs

Originally uploaded by Pigalina.
I'm one of many people who call the increasingly dense community at Bathurst and King home, but for me it's only from nine to five. Condos are sprouting up like blades of grass in springtime and the area is having a hard time keeping up with increased needs for green space, parking and garbage collection. I've heard the new inhabitants complain and see the garbage blowing about, but there's one thing I haven't heard them complain about, and its the main reason I wouldn't call this place my evening home, or even consider buying a condo in this area. It's that the abattoirs (slaughter houses) on nearby Niagara blow their putrid stank all over this community. It makes no sense to keep these facilities here while Toronto attempts to revitalize and cleanse the city.

I feel particularly compelled to complain since I've been vegetarian for over five years and have a hard time every morning as I pass the truck of bovines on Lakeshore Blvd on their way to meet their destiny. Today was -12C as I passed the sorry fellas in the open-air truck. Normally their cute little snouts are sticking out smelling the last of the sea air before they are sedated, but today an extreme cold warning was issued (with the added wind chill) and these guys were not moving at all. Isn't that an animal rights issue? I couldn't say how long their drive is but I'm sure some were frozen to death before reaching the knife.

Up at Keele and St.Clair, townhomes also border the stockyards and I've driven past trucks loading up animal bits. Can this not be contained? Can something not be done about the smell that wafts over Torontonians homes? Can we not just stop eating so many helpless animals? Why all the suffering?

As a vegetarian I try not to rant in the stereotypical way expected of “people like me” but I hear it coming at me more often than I’ve delivered it. Perhaps part of my despair comes from the bonds I created with pigs and other farm animals while on my Grandma’s farm in Denmark. I wanted to take one home with me. Does no one else understand that these are creatures of the world too?

Karma does.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Who's Fault Is This?

Welcome to the Neighborhood
Originally uploaded by steffiejupe.
Heard a great Parkdale story last night: a guy was giving his wife grocery money in the car and got arrested since the cops thought he was a john. Great neighborhood, if you can contend with crack users at 9 in the morning. Still, some people get upset when neighborhoods go through "gentrification". What would you rather live in, a community that's rebuilding or an abandoned one like parts of Detroit with no momentum unless its crime related?

Parkdale's feeling some pressure now that the lovely little stretch of Toronto called West Queen West is seeing a rivival. Charming galleries and shops line the streets. The Drake and Gladstone Hotel (which opened last night) have tried their best too to make something that the artsy neighborhood would appreciate. But now here comes Starbucks and everyone freaks out. This picture was published in Now and eye magazines this week to further their social commentary about the nasty beast called gentrification.

Sure, there'll always be those that suffer as things change. People won't always be happy. But The Stardust Motel, which is now The Drake, did nothing to make this city sparkle, and to be honest I can't even remember what was on this corner of Dovercourt previously.

On the opposite side of the street there is now a big sign and a very unusual structure which looks like a climbing wall with mirrors, but it's actually a condo office for Westside Lofts. That should make the neighbors happy, or crazy, depending what side of the tracks they're on. A recent article in the Toronto Star featured the lofts at 48 Abell, where my boyfriend Craig used to live. Seems these lofts will be torn down since it can't be brought up to code. So these tenants, who've had great rent and some of the best true lofts in the city will now have to find a new place. I do feel for them, but they've had a great ride.

It's a fantastic new location and I couldn't help put my name "on the list" for the new condo's marketing campaign, as stupid as their message was. Go to the site for westsidelofts to see it for yourself. Girl and guy line up outside a club, but they're "not on the list". "Get yourself on the list" it says. Pretty gay, but condo advertising usually is. I didn't know much about these condos when I signed up but I heard that plans might be to build two towers, one a low income building "with a mind to the art crowd" the paper says, and one tower with "snappy condominiums [for] hipsters that can afford real estate". I think I'm out. Towers in this neighborhood are a bad idea and anyone who thinks they can market condos to wanna-be "hipsters" needs to be a bit more dialed in to this neighborhood's personality.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Am I Gonna Be A Star?

Originally uploaded by 416style.
Madonna's lyrics "Am I Gonna Be A Star?" run through my head. Took yesterday off to 'star' in a commercial for Toronto's Beck Taxi. Not a bad way to spend the day, drink wine, say a line.... I wasn't feeling natural at first but it seemed to all come together. My boyfriend Craig starred opposite me, the archetypal boyfriend trying to rush his woman out the door. Hope the chemistry shows on screen.

Later in the night I attended some broadcaster's convention/piss up with my sisinlaw Wendy. We were there at about 7pm but these kids had been drinking since noon. It was a little nuts but a great time. The highlight? I ran into Mayor Miller in the Sheraton, shot him a coy smile and got a sincere hello from the charming man.

Love this city. Toronto's feeling electric lately and (maybe since it's all lit up in fantastic Christmas lights) yesterday I was bubbling with civic pride.