Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wear It Proud

DJ deko-ze
Originally uploaded by 416style.
I made it down to Toronto's Pride after the parade to check out the scene, I should have expected that I would find it kinda sketchy. It was a Sunday afternoon after all and these "kids" have been giving it their all - all weekend. There were still some in costume and some fresh faces willing to pose for pictures. Some adorable sailors smiled for me on cue, while other shots I had to sneak around to get.

At the north end near the swing stage all the dorky types congregated - making me think Toronto's gay scene is probably one of the most boring around; certainly not the same as Sydney’s salacious celebration. My girlfriends and I walked south along closed–off Church Street to a skinny "beer garden" in a parking lot with the floor covered in shipped-in sand and a sign saying "no barefeet". We parked ourselves in some lawn chairs and sucked in all the corporate sponsorship. Ah. Pride. Isn't it about throwing "off" conventions and breaking out of the mainstream?

I got a big laugh out of the crowd at one stage - after DJ Deko-ze (pictured) played for a jumping crowd DJ Jelo came on and played the kind of music that makes you think everyone is too wasted to really think about what they're dancing to. Jelo was playing "Ghostbusters - who ya gonna call?" while mixing in techno beats, crowd-cheering tracks and the occasional siren to make it officially some of the silliest music I've ever seen a crowd go wild for; though it was enough to make the girls on stage take off their tops and let it loose for the ogling masses. Well, maybe only the straight security guard was looking - but he was definitely getting an eyeful.

In between all the made for the masses music and corporate culture was an occasional person just doing their own thing and loving life - whether dancing in the street or letting their pride hang out. It was moments like this that reminded me what this whole pride event is meant to be. Walking home I heard one Sydneysider talking to a friend back home saying "It was great - while it lasted". I knew that after today all the rainbow flags would slowly come down and people would have to tuck their pride back in their pants until next year, but that sharing this weekend of freedom with all their friends was sure worth the trip.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Canada's Next Top Metropolis

Originally uploaded by DracoRed.
A couple things weirded me out about Canada's newest borrowed TV format Canada's Next Top Model, which debuted a couple weeks back. First, CityTV couldn't seem to find a level for the audio, it was jumping all over the board. The worst thing however, was the location of the show. Fashion in the forest? I just don't see it. The model's retreat is a gorgeous spot on the lake outside of Victoria, B.C. where "Supermodel" Tricia Helfer flies in to meet the young models on a float plane. Sure, great shot, great scenery, but where's the context?

Canada's Next Top Model comes across as "Super" amateur because of this bad decision. The show should be pushing this country's fashion-focused metropoli, Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. That's where the talent, the passion and the energy are, which sadly seem to be missing from the Canadian version of this show.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dive Right In

Originally uploaded by saisiv.
Sometimes I really miss being a Toronto lifeguard, sitting by the cool pool as the sun feeds my soul. Best way to spend the summer I'd say. That is, if you remember to slather on the sunscreen. Good news is we can all enjoy Toronto's public pools. As of the past weekend, 41 of 60 outdoor swimming pools opened across the city. Couldn't be better timing. You can call 416-338-POOL to see if your neighbourhood pool is open.

My favourite time to go? During "extended hours", when the pool extends opening hours until 11:45pm. Only a handful of pools offer this, and there are a few conditions: the temperature has to be 30C or over by 3pm with no chance for thunderstorms. It's one of Toronto's best-kept secrets (until now), and a great way to beat the heat before climbing into bed.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Farewell Four Sisters

Every morning I drive to work past The Boulevard Club, wishing I could afford the $6000 membership fee, and could work out in their gorgeous weight room overlooking the lake. This morning was no different, except that I thought I'd found a way to make myself feel better: Sure it's a beautiful view, except that it looks right across the lake at the ugly Lakeview Power Generating Station. The archaic coal plant, affectionately dubbed The Four Sisters, had been spewing pollution across Toronto for years. The thought that this monstrousity marred, ever so slightly, the patrons' views almost comforted me. Until later today, when I found out that the gruesome smoke stacks were demolished this morning. You Tube has a great video to boot.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

It's A Dog's Life

Woofstock, the festival for dog lovers, is back this coming weekend and appears to have outgrown its previous location in the Distillery District. This year, the free event will close down four blocks between Berczy Park at the Flatiron building and the historic St. Lawrence Market.

Everything you could want for your pooch and more await you. Watch for the latest trends on the doggy runway then shop for clothes, collars and other accessories. Show off your best pal in contests like best Stupid Dog Trick or the Canine Canada Pageant. Some of the prizes are pretty cool: stays at the dog-friendly King Edward Hotel and an oil painting of your dog. If your pooch isn't so pretty send in a picture for a chance to participate in an Extreme Doggie Makeover, or celebrate a life of leisure by bringing your older pup along for the Salute to Seniors Dog Parade. Head down and relish a city that's dog-friendly, if only for the weekend.

From Pretty to Pugly

Originally uploaded by bigdaddyhame.
The Pugly award results are in and it seems my west end neighbourhood is doing its unfair share of ugly architecture. The Glenlake condo project at Dundas West brought up the tail, receiving the largest amount of disapproving public votes and therefore a spot in the Hall of Shame. Not so long ago, protesters banded together to show their dissent at the condo project going up in place of an old neighbourhood church; would've been good to harness some of that passion when designing the building too. Also low on the list is the High Park condo building that sprouted up from the facade of a church of Scientology. While it means well, huge columns support the front of the structure and the building as a whole lacks an overall and cohesive design theme.

Arts and science architecture share the top spots. Proud Torontonians gave the most approval to the National Ballet School, with the MaRS project and the Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research following closely behind. All buildings on the list were completed or registered in 2005. With the continued growth Toronto is experiencing, they'll be a steady stream of industrial, commercial and residential candidates for years to come. I just hope developers are paying attention to the Pugly awards and what the public has to say about design and architecture in our city.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Toronto Police To The Rescue

ring buoy
Originally uploaded by 416style.
In an added bit of excitement during our Doors Open tour of the Toronto Police Marine Unit we witnessed the police make a speedy rescue of a man who'd fallen in from the pier. The man and his wife may have been tourists as they couldn't speak English, making the rescue somewhat harder.

Given that the city can be so uptight about water barriers and fences - even in some cases for public fountains - it suprises me that there aren't more blockades to certain points on the harbourfront pier that lack even a chain link to keep the public back. From what I discovered this man had just gotten too close and slipped. Even for those of us who can swim, the cold water can be a serious shock to the system.

Once in Stockholm in May my friends and I decided to cool off after a competitive game of basketball, the cold water made me lose my breath immediately and I couldn't react. My friends on the dock grabbed me out (I was a lifeguard at the time). Hypothermia can be another risk in cold water.

When you're out near the water with friends and family this summer wear a lifejacket where possible and keep your eye on kids at all times. I can't tell you the number of times I had to jump in and pull kids from the pool beacause parents had turned their backs thinking that lifeguards could also "babysit" their kids at the pool. With 1 lifeguard for about every 75 patrons it's near to impossible to manage when parents don't assist. Be water smart this summer.

Friday, June 02, 2006

It's Bloggarrific

Blogger TShirt
Originally uploaded by kengo.
Eleven months into my blogging hobby I now have 5 blogs, I’ve created 114 posts and -here’s the BIG NEWS- today I reached 10,000 hits. Thank you all for stopping by, leaving comments (that’s what blogging’s all about) and showing your support for my writing habit.

Feel like going for a spin? FourONEsixSTYLE will take you for a ride around Toronto. Need to know what’s hot in technology and media? Freshtracks will give you the latest news, reviews and breakthroughs. Don’t want to travel the bumpy road anymore? Travel in style when you visit bumpmedia’s travel blog.

Burgeoning blogs include one for my Theta friends from University to stay in touch, and another blog building up to the 2010 Whistler Olympics (I can’t wait).

Highlights of my blog career include getting posted on CBC’s The Hour homepage (thanks for noticing) and getting one of my flickr photos published on a book cover.

Now that I’m feeling like an old time blog pro I’ve also started contributing to an addictive urban blog called blogTO. You’ll catch me posting there at least 3 times a week.

“Where do you find the time?” my friends ask. I know though that if I wasn’t writing I’d go mad. So please, drop by and read my blogs now and then and help contribute to my sanity.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Waiting for Doctor Joe

please wash your hands
Originally uploaded by 416style.
I was at work today when co-workers decided to drive me to Toronto Women's College Hospital emergency, to seek attention for a skin infection that was getting out of control (got burned from a hot water bottle months ago). I really didn't want to go. Spend my night waiting in a boring sterile room? Not my style.

Press has traditionally reported 5 hours average waiting time to see a doctor in emerge, though I hadn't been in years and didn't know if that figure was still accurate. Could've just been journalists trying to bust the Harris or McGuinty governments, so I was interested to see for myself what the case would really be.

I showed up at 5:20 and saw a few stragglers, a bike courier who'd been hit by a door and an overly talkative girl with an insane rash on her feet. At 6:30 I decided to scope out the scene a bit more and found that there was still another room beyond this, and it might take another couple hours, I was told. 3 hours? If you go north of Toronto friends have told me you can be in and out in 5 minutes!

By now things were getting a little sketchy. Some guy in his thirties and kinda twitchy sat down near me, must be coming down from something. He was making all sorts of weird noises and organizing little piles of things on the table. 'Hi. Hi. How you doing?" he'd pipe up every once in a while to whomever was within earhsot. I watched him ring for a cab from the courtesy phone, call himself Denis and then deny it was him who'd called when the cab driver showed up. I couldn't believe it. I had to call him out, but he still denied calling the taxi. Another hour and a half killed just watching the crazy guy in action.

Just before being sent into the main room my boyfriend showed up with a bite of sushi. Yum. For another hour we played with the eye chart, checked our weight and height, then I paced up and down the hall with my cell phone. Since I'd already read the first 5 chapters of Confessions of A Shopaholic and grazed through Wired magazine I was getting impatient.

4 hours later Dr. Joe makes his appearance. Five minutes later I'm out and on my way to the pharmacy. So that's the state of health care in this city... 4 hours, 1 sktechbag, 10 rooms, 5 silly chapters, 6 spicy tuna rolls and 5 minutes with a doctor.