Monday, January 30, 2006

Curious George

When George Stroumboulopoulos began his broadcast of The Hour at CBC I watched with great interest. Finally someone would speak meaningfully to people my age (a few years younger than George) about things that could hold our attention for longer than 5 seconds. At least that's what I think the CBC was hoping for. I watched the first few episodes and then gave it a miss. It seemed amateurish. The set was kinda boring. George seemed still set in his rocker ways from his days at Much. I get the angst bit but I wanted good commentary, thoughtful commentary, not just "Awww c'mon".

Now, a couple years in, George is strutting around Queen West in his slick new Beemer and I think he deserves it. I was watching the show tonight and was impressed that it finally nails what I hoped it would be in its first season. The CBC has pulled it off. The news was fresh and I got a kick out their segment on 4:20 (though I wished the camera person had thought of white balancing the outdoor interviews). I also think they've done much better with the set, street scenes of Toronto is more fitting than bookcases filled with nick-nacks.

I followed this by a visit to CBC's site for The Hour and was happy to see fellow bloggers listed on the home page. Great way to get people involved, continue a discourse. (Apparently The Hour had to remove it's own blog because of a nasty situation). Can my blog make it to his front page? Something to aspire to maybe. (I think I might have to offer a sweeter review).

Well, here it is... The Hour's website does offer some juicy bits. Perfect for us after-work and weekend browsers. The video segments online were fantastic; could've loaded somewhat faster but were worth the wait. I watched George's interview with Rick Mercer, a piece on June Callwood, and then for kicks his interview with ex-Crossfire front man Tucker Carlson.

While not too many Canadians paid attention to Tucker before (unless you caught video of John Stewart bitch slapping the poor guy on Tucker's own show) they certainly are now...and if you don't know why, check out the video for yourself. The man calls Canadians "the retarded cousin" of the States. I was impressed George took him on. Watching the interview like I might a boxing match, I hoped to God that George didn't make it a fluff piece, that he nailed him on some of the bullshit, and he did. Thank you George.

So much to say about this piece, Tucker Carlson is a pretentious jerk and George slyly made comparisons to people like him needing slick sports cars to make up for ...ehm...other stuff. George even got him to revoke the "retarded" bit.

However (you really gotta see this thing) Tucker has some points. He admits that only about 5% of Americans would know who our Prime Minister is (yep, he'd be right - doesn't that say more about them) and that we think we're morally superior (well, our policies often are).

I was drunk on a rooftop in Brooklyn for NYE where some of the party had moved to and I was yelling "Move to Canada" and some sweet American guy came to me to say how much he liked Canada and then asked "Who is your Prime Minister?" But Mr. Carlson was wrong about one thing and that's that everyone wants to live in the States. Check out The Hour's About The Show page, in all the sweet comments made about it, one guy from Chicago so loves Canada and The Hour that he thinks he might retire here. So much for Tucker's point. While some of us might see better opportunities down south, when it comes to where to live the Golden Years some of us would still say Canada.

Say Goodbye Canada

Vintage postcard #6
Originally uploaded by jmv.
Got my breaking news from George Stroumboulopoulos' The Hour tonight about the Fairmont chain of hotels being bought by a Saudi prince and an American developer for $4 billion. So we can say Goodbye to another Canadian icon. Many of these hotels were built in the late 1800's under the vision of W.C. Van Horne, who dreamt of building lavish rest stops alongside the newly constructed Canadian Pacific Railway. ''If we can't export the scenery, we'll import the tourists'' he was known for saying.

I've been lucky enough to stay the night at the Royal York and tour some of the famous suites: The Governor General's and The Queen's. The room we had was kinda old school (think Laura Ashley decor} but it had a great view and the eggs benny in bed (vegg style) was phenominal.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dark City Coffee Delivered To Your Door

Coffee & Mouse...
Originally uploaded by Fanis.
Are you a coffee freak like me living in Toronto? If you are I want to share a terrific little secret with you. You can have super fresh roasted coffee delivered to your home or office door within 24 hours by Dark City. Even your favourite coffee shops won't have it this fresh. If you buy your blends at the supermarket this might be too much for's a whole new world of coffee out there.

Having fresh flavourful coffee come to my door feels like a priviledge, but I'm not paying any more for it than I would at any specialty store. As a birthday or holiay treat I have it sent to my friends' homes. They love it.

My friend at Dark City Coffee roasts his fair trade and organic coffee on his premises. After having just watched the documentary Black Coffee on TVOntario I realized the importance of sharing this with you. We should all be aware of where in this world this commodity is coming from. Fairly traded coffee should be supported by everyone. Dark City offers coffee from around the world and you can live better knowing that everyone in the process of growing and trading is getting their fair share.

If you live in the West End of Toronto you'll find a little coffee shop on Roncesvalles called Cherry Bomb that serves a taste of Dark City Coffee. Alternative Grounds, also on Ronces, is a great place for fair trade and organic beans too.

If you want to know more about Dark City coffee check out CBC's recent review on Metro Morning

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wow, Rick You're Great, Will You Be Prime Minister?

With the Canadian election this week I'm feeling very patriotic, even despite the Conservative win.

I was watching one show I don't like to miss, Rick Mercer's Report, today and Rick was all like "Wow, remember the good old days" and i'm thinking "Yeah. Wasn't it cool" but then I'm thinking "Wow, I wish Rick Mercer was on ifilm, or maybe, like, Canada could have it's own version of the cool site so we could see funny Canadian content video on an all Canadian owned website." "Wow. That would be cool", Rick said.

But then Rick Mercer went and put up video on his own site and I'm thinking. "Yeah, That's cool, who needs ifilm".
So now I can check out Pierre Berton's "How To Roll A Joint" piece any time I want and feel like nothing's changed in this country at all; there's still Canadian content on the airwaves and a man over 80 will still not get busted for wanting to smoke a little pot (See October 18, 2004 episode for How To Roll A Joint), but we can talk in a couple months and see if there's still something called Canadian content.

Ps. The vids are in Quicktime, Windows and Real Media Player, but not for every piece.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Green vs. Orange: A Toronto Debate

In my work with the Green Party I've come across some people who think that the NDP's are a sound environmental choice in this election simply because they list a few things in their policy geared toward this issue. They do not put the environment first, they put unions first, uranium mining first and import of US toxic waste to Canada first.

If you have the chance please read the Media Release I wrote and sent out this morning:

A Greener Campaign

(January 18, 2006, Toronto) Campaign brochures landed in the mailboxes of many Parkdale-High Park residents today. In this last week of campaigning, candidates know it’s critical to make an impact. While several parties claim to make environmental issues a priority, a quick look at the method and means of printing these brochures only helps compound the fact that the Green Party does more toward a sustainable environment than any other party.

Parkdale-High Park Green Party candidate Rob Rishchynski ensures his campaign is living up to the environmental standards that often define his party. "Our campaign materials are produced using recycled papers and waterless printing processes. All campaign lawn signs are collected and re-used."

In an added boost to the party today, The Sierra Club of Canada rated the Greens’ platform highest among all five parties in its commitment to the environment. "The Green Party really improved its platform since the 2004 election, with a greater sophistication in its policy…it has the strongest set of recommendations for environment and sustainability”, said Elizabeth May, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada.

No other party appears to have a comprehensive strategy for reaching its environmental goals. Nor, in the case of Parkdale-High Park, has any other candidate but Rishchynski paid attention to the little things that matter, like ISO 14001 certified printing, energy conservation and using recycled materials.

Rishchynski knows it’s these very things that will make an impact with residents and business owners in the community, and he’s certain his party can offer real solutions for the environment while improving Canada’s economic outlook. For your copy of the brochure or to learn more about Green Party policies please visit


Also, if you have the opportunity, visit the Green Party blog, where I pulled the following:

The Green Party is unequivocally opposed to subsidizing car companies such as Ford and GM – which have the highest CO2 emissions of any major car companies worldwide
The Green Party is unequivocally opposed to construction of new nuclear power plants
The Green Party is unequivocally opposed to exporting uranium for nuclear weapons
The Green Party is unequivocally opposed to clear cutting
The Green Party is opposed to the commercial seal hunt and would cut government subsidies to it
The Green Party is unequivocally opposed to importing toxic waste from the United States to incinerate in Canada.

The NDP Record:

The NDP government in BC supported the clear cutting of Clayoquot Sound
The NDP government in Ontario supported the construction of the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant
The federal NDP supported $100 million in subsidies to Ford in the Fall of 2004 and $200 million in subsidies to General Motors in March 2005 to protect CAW jobs, but GM announced 30,000 layoffs for North American workers in November 2005
The NDP accepts exporting uranium without guarantees that these exports are not used to create weapons of mass destruction;
The NDP always puts unionized jobs ahead of the environment. Which is worse: putting business interests ahead of the environment or unions' interests ahead of the environment? Answer – both are creating an ecological debt for our children.
The NDP instigated the fall of the Liberal government in November 2005 before the most important conference in my lifetime – the conference to negotiate the follow on agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. All the opposition parties put short-term political interest ahead of the long term interest of the planet and future generations.

Guess which Party made the following statements or actions:

"Environmentalists are the enemies of progress" (NDP Premier in BC)
The largest mass arrest in Canada's history – arresting grandmothers, students and teachers stopping logging trucks from clear cutting old growth forest in Clayoquot. (Under an NDP government).
In power, the NDP in Ontario, BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba has never implemented proportional representation.
What party pressured the leader's Chief of Staff to resign because he personally opposed the commercial seal hunt in Newfoundland? (Answer: NDP – Rick Smith as Layton's Chief of Staff was pressured to resign in 2004).

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Vote Green

I've been campaigning with the Green Party in the Parkdale High Park riding for a couple weeks now. I've been to several All-Candidates meetings and met many business owners who reassured me that the idea of electing a Green candidate is not far off. Many welcome the idea that the Green Party's policy is both fiscally responsible and environmentally sustainable.

What impresses me, after reading all federal party platforms, is that green leader Jim Harris and the Greens have a clear vision and also have very realistic objectives with which to reach their goals for the future of this country. I didn't seem to find this with any other party. Sure, the Liberals will throw cash at their "issues" which might help in the short term, and the NDP's words tell us they believe in the environment while all their actions point in support of dirty dirty industry.

The Liberals have an appaulling record at meeting Kyoto standards - carbon emissions have gone up 24% since 1993 instead of their promised 20% decline; and Harper's party is starting to remind us of why we hated them in the last election, telling the papers the Conservatives will scrap Kyoto altogether. Even though they say Harper's a changed man doesn't mean he won't set us back 10 years to a time when the lack of certain freedoms and liberties repressed and alienated friends and neighbours.

The Green Party seems to be the only one thinking ahead. They are socially progressive, want to change the way government and tax is structured, do away with corporate campaign donations and give us all a place to live where we can breath freer, fresher air.

On January 23rd, vote Green. Tell Ottawa we are ready for a greener country and a greener government.

If you need more information visit

Monday, January 09, 2006

Trumps Gold Touch

trumps gold finger
Originally uploaded by 416style.
Canadians have a bit of a problem generally. We don't realize the great talent we have at home or endorse the uniqueness of things that make up our cities and culture, that is until the Americans or other "cool" countries see it first.

Trump is coming to Toronto to change our skyline because he thinks our bustling and beautiful city's real estate is undervalued in price. Well, our opinions are undervalued and understated as well. Did you know that Trump's New York flat for "The Apprentice" was designed by a Toronto company? Green Tea Design on Carlaw was responsible. You can get a piece of the action right here at home. Are you feeling a little proud now? That's just the way we Canadians are.

Trump is all over New York. I saw three of his buildings on a recent trip to New York and know he'll be taking over most of the Brooklyn shore. Hopefully Trump's hotel and condo tower here does well and our city skyline continues on the up and up. Just wish our opinion of ourselves would do the same thing.