Monday, May 30, 2005

Phantom Shanghai

phantom shanghai
Originally uploaded by 416style.
Stunning photographs at The Distillery District this past Sunday. Images resonate through my head now. Phantom Shanghai's effect was like a sad flower creeping up through a crack in the cement. Greg Girard (see link) shows that there is life in even the most destitute of places. Snails in a contaminated Shanghai river. Homes built amid destruction. A discotheque for workers in a dim factory. There is life out there.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The New Queen West

the drake hotel toronto
Originally uploaded by 416style.
Back in the day, Queen West was the place to go, to eat and to shop, but the big boys and big brands moved in, and though it still has some charm and style, cool had to move further west. It did, and West Queen West was born. More great boutiques and eateries, including Susur Lee’s designer fish and chip shop.

This became the new trendy part of Queen, now near Trinity Park, but it too has lost its original boho charm. So let’s go further west, out near the Queen Street Mental Health monolith. Welcome. Until recently, the rundown area didn’t see too much action, but it’s come alive, and it is the new cool. Now galleries and subdued cafes easily mix with greasy spoons and vintage clothing shops.

I’d long meant to see what the area had to offer. Today was the perfect opportunity, I’d drank too much at The Drake Hotel last night and had to go back for my car this morning. So this is where my stroll began, at The Drake’s Beaconsfield Street. 18 galleries I counted, on a 6 block stretch to Shaw.

I hadn’t even noticed the largest of them before, the MOCCA (Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art). Its student art show didn’t impress me the same way the smaller galleries work did, where works of art, design and science hung and were projected onto spaces gutted to the reveal the guts and bones of an original 1800’s building.

The Deleon White gallery with it’s massive ceilings took me in. I nodded to the fantastic little man working away on his mac G4 laptop. Upstairs, the Emmersive gallery showed me what a water drop looks like magnified and made luminescent by a laser beam. The Spin Gallery had its homo-moderne twist of New York 70s body art.

A few blocks further down, at the Clint Roenisch Gallery, I realized that gallery owners whiling away at their G4’s is a bit of a cliché. I enjoyed the artist’s printing techniques while coyly smiling in his direction.

Katherine Mulherin’s Contemporary Art Projects space was most impressive (see link). Strewn across the walls were small frames of needlework showing little Japanese space girls partying with polar bears, something I’m sure Bjork would love to see. There were futuristic robot dolls and also a map of the world etched out of several old layers of paint on an antique piece of wood. I liked that the space contained a variety of media and artists' work.

How charming this street is, I thought as I looked up to the sign for Camera Bar, a swank and original little space used for screening movies. This, I thought, had to be filmmaker Atom Egoyan’s new venture. It was indeed. The filmmaker sat at the edge of its communal table, while people poured out into the street, no doubt reflecting on the latest kudos received at Cannes.

So cool can be found, but not always where you’d think. Because if everybody already knows about it no doubt it's already lost some originality, and isn't that what cool is all about.

Explore a little farther down the street next time and see where it takes you.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Toronto's new iCon: the Apple store

ginza apple store
Originally uploaded by 416style.
Over the weekend, crowds rushed Toronto's new Apple store. I might have been there too but I felt horribly let down by Apple, a company I've loved and supported since the wee age of 10. The Apple store is, and should be, an icon, a landmark, in cities around the world. (See Tokyo's store in the high-end shopping district of Ginza.) Ours is a stinking little store in Yorkdale mall, and this is the first one Canada gets?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Pool parties and powerboats

My bday is in less than a month...June 18...on a Saturday which is nice. I do prefer celebrating Sunday afternoon though. Last year was fantastic, all my friends came down to C-Lounge on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we chilled with champagne and house music in a poolside cabana. Can I top it? Should I do something different? Everyone enjoyed the atmoshere of the place, but there aren't any similar places I can think of.
The other option on the table is to rent a power boat from Queens Quay Yachting ( and bomb around the harbour and the Toronto Islands. This is great too, but limited to about 12 would I choose?
I really wish I had a pool, or that my girlfriend from LA would come back so we could hang at her place. Summer pool parties are awesome.

Bloody Caesar

Mmmm...every weekend I look forward to a Bloody Caesar in a tall glass with my Eggs Florentine (I like Dr. G's brunch in Bloor West Village). Lately though the craving has carried over to weekdays and I find myself mixing or ordering this more than my usual gin and tonic. The LCBO has a few options now too: Mott's, Smirnoff and The Keg Caesar's. The Keg gives you the salty glass rimmer which is nice, and theirs are pretty good. I think the Smirnoff's Caesar's the best though, but, it's even better if you can make it yourself. Here's how I like it:

In a tall glass with celery
Wet the rim with lemon juice
Sprinkle it with celery salt or one of the pre-made rimmers from Caban
1 oz vodka (I like Moskovskaya)
salt + pepper
dash Worcestershire sauce
dash Tabasco sauce
clamato juice
squeeze of lemon

I think it's kinda cool too that the drink is a Canadian "invention" from the 60s. Drink up Canada!