Archive for September, 2009

A pleasant preview of the summer to come

Posted on September 30th, 2009 4 Comments

Okay, whoever’s responsible for the weather needs to just stop and look at what they’re doing, because this isn’t right. To begin with, you’ve got the evening rolling in earlier and earlier.

and yet, they chose to walk

Actually, that part’s normal. But the cold … where did that come from? Suddenly everyone’s got a coat on and the inappropriately tiny-clothed are dashing for their lives down the street, frantically clutching at their frigid bodies, screaming as they scramble for the nearest entrance. And now they’re stuck in a coffee shop for the night.

and they'll be there until spring

Despite my multifaceted enjoyment of underdressed ladies, however, I must profess that they probably had a good reason for being so today. I had on an undershirt, button-down shirt, and fall jacket, and still my armpit hair stood on end from the cold. I simply don’t think anyone expected the wind and the temperature drop. I’m sure that come spring, this kind of weather will be a pleasant preview of the summer to come, but right now it has a pretty mean looking winter breathing down its neck.

I don’t consider myself slight. Slender, I am not. But I didn’t think that the scarves, parkas, mitts, and toques I experienced tonight were too much.

turn that frown upsideblur

There it is, harsh reality disguised as a smiling silhouette: we’ve totally skipped autumn and gone right to winter! The weather people claim it’s normal and that past years have been freakishly warm. I would beg to differ. But I can’t because my fingers are starting to go numb. The landlord hasn’t turned on the heat yet so I’m warming myself by the glow of the computer. Too bad light doesn’t keep you warm. Damn eco-friendly bastard!

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The spiral’s just begun!

Posted on September 29th, 2009 6 Comments

Someone recently noted that TCL seemed to be written by a “young man just a bit on the frustrated side” and that I needed to find “something that excites you, something you can be passionate about and, write about it.”


You’d be frustrated too if you had a day job like mine. But what keeps me going is the thought that maybe, one day, Toronto City Life could be more than just a little blog. *sniff*


What’s not to love? The walking dissolves the fiery disappointment of the day into a manageable lump of smouldering coal for the evening. So that’s good. And I like what the pictures do. They let me look at the places I’ve been in their moment, seeing everything I couldn’t possibly see at the instant I was there.

i didn't see THAT before!

So that’s good. And you know, there are so many people downtown that inevitably you always bump into someone interesting. Sometimes they’re people you’ve seen before and feel you’ve kinda glimpsed a bit of who they are. Take this lady, for example:

lazy good fer nuthin'!

Note, she’s not panhandling. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing her panhandle. She’s always been stone-cold sober and more alert than me most of the times I’ve seen her. She’s strong, lugging around all sorts of stuff all day. Lucid and entirely there. And although I’m sure she lives on the streets, she takes care of herself. Now she’s got a story! Always something interesting. So that’s good.

And you know, when you need a breather, it’s nice to get closer to the lake and just enjoy the breeze and the views.

hey, that's the guy that scraped my sky!

Ahhh, the blissful Gardiner. The only problem with all of this is that it sometimes leads to late nights. Late nights with full bladders require entrance to some strange places. But so far even these have proven to be gold:

ahh, that explains the urine smell

Note the garbage bags on the dock belonged to a gentleman who, I believe, would be residing there that evening. He also appeared quite sober and built himself a cardboard shelter behind the cage. Unfortunately, he didn’t understand the requirements of long exposures, and so he’s not pictured. But again, interesting. So that’s good.

As one final piece of evidence, I give you … Chinatown:

going for the luckiest apple

I dunno. It sounded poignant, but I’m not sure where I was going with it. Maybe that I’m no artist, so pictures like this simply couldn’t exist in any other medium. Except maybe as stick figures. I can draw that guy with the fingers and teeth biting the horizontal line pretty well. I even add a little hair twirl for effect, sometimes eyebrows! However, I can’t get much more complex than that; the oranges would lead to tears and broken pencils.

But photos just need me to stand there and annoy Chinese people with my camera. I mean, I could try to draw something but my intention is to express enthusiasm, nor horror.

So you see, TCL is both an attempt to share some of my interest in this town, and a fairly thorough lack of skill to present it. And it’s written by a bitter, disappointed guy. I’m not an alcoholic yet, but I’m willing to try. The spiral’s just begun!

So that’s a good thing.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

PATH to glory

Posted on September 26th, 2009 Be the first to comment

Ah, fall. A time when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of … wait, I’ve done that already. I guess I’m still in shock at how quickly the temperature’s fallen. I’m walking around with pointy nipples for God’s sake!

It’s also been an unusually traumatic week, what with Bill Carroll switching time slots and all. You can smell change in the air. And musty autumn leaves. And urine. Why’s it always urine?

But no matter. The proper urban rat knows all the warmest holes in the ground. In Toronto it happens to be a long-ish path known as, umm, PATH. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be an acronym or what; not that it would jazz it up any.

Today, instead of writing a long post describing what’s there and blah blah blah, I thought I’d just invite you along for the walk. I am so thoughtful!

… Continue Reading

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Laws are designed to kill us!

Posted on September 24th, 2009 4 Comments

the old 'expired credit card' trick Do you have to use one of these things regularly?

Oh man, I don’t envy you. Now that I’ve had ample opportunity to compare the wheel to the foot, walking is just slightly slower than the car. If you include the driving around the block a few times to find a spot, then shimmying into an unparallel park, and finally gasping in disgust as the ticket machine spits out 2:30 (that’s two minutes and thirty seconds) for your two bucks, walking is actually considerably faster. And the machine makes way more than me per hour.

If you drive stick on an uncooperative clutch like I used to, you start to deform disproportionally as your right arm and left leg gain muscle, while your opposing limbs just get pastier and pudgier — except for the sunburnt left forearm. If the window’s down, that arm’s going on there.

Besides that, the amount of signage on every pole is simply irresponsible. Are we actually supposed to pay attention to all of that while driving?

guvernment bylaws

If you’re not familiar with the snow route sign, you may simply think it means no parking there because the lane will be made into a ski trail. Or something equally enjoyable that employs snow. And right next to it is a sign telling you when it’s okay to park there. And that’s a busy sign. First it lists the two times that you can park there from Monday to Friday. Then the times during Saturday and Sunday. Finally, on the bottom are the arrows that indicate the directions in which this rule applies. And the times and directions thing is also happening on the no stopping sign. Then there’s the small idling limit sign which, once again may be unfamiliar  since it’s a municipal bylaw.

Squinty eyes, at the wheel with bikers squeezing by on the right, pedestrians running out in front, and the streetcar just getting by on the left. And the car behind you honking. That’s always my favourite :) And there are signs you have to pay attention to there? Yup. And they usually come in clusters like this on every pole and the little arrows and, depending on the block, the times change.

Sometimes it’s just not fair:

and another sign hiding in the bushes waiting to club you over the head

Did you see the hidden sign? Beneath the no parking one. That’s probably the one with the five-thousand dollar fine. And what about the arrows on that no stopping one? Does that mean that you must drive through the intersection on any light during rush-hour? Just to disambiguate, there’s a no standing one too.

That’s why I always look in all directions, twice, before crossing the street. If you get some driver trying to obey all the signage, they’re liable to kill someone. And what the hell are vendors doing hocking their stuff out in the middle of the street?

just don't do anything anywhere, okay?

It might seem like nitpicking, but since they went to the bother of producing I don’t know how many such arrow-laden signs and sticking them to everything, you’d think they’d try to imply less idiocy on the part of the populace. Doesn’t matter which way you turn that thing, it always tells you that you shouldn’t try to sell hot dogs from the middle of the street. City Hall probably doesn’t want to clean up the mess from the collision with the law-abiding car.

if you stare long enough, they give you food Do we need all that signage? I believe it’s perfectly reasonable for a reflective, observant individual to bend the laws a little. I’m sure we’ve all crossed on a red when there was no traffic. Or mowed down a few pedestrian during a pub crawl. Hey, it’s Friday!

It’s not that I intend to become some Johnny Scofflaw, I just think that someone should re-think all of the stuff affixed to utility poles. Common street laws apply almost everywhere; you don’t need to tell people not to park in the middle of an intersection. That kinda stuff.


Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

From the desk of Patrick

Posted on September 23rd, 2009 Be the first to comment
from my desk to yours

Attention: Councillor Kyle Rae,

related to bob rae?Sir,

With all due respect, you’re a jerk. I’ve enclosed a reduced photo of you to demonstrate this fact. To you.

I wake up to Bill Carroll on CFRB every morning. I could wake up to The Edge or CHIN but I don’t. Do you know why? Because I don’t necessarily enjoy the music. Or understand the words.  But not because I think that the audience are skanks! Or whatever it is that you were implying:

“And the cruel vengeance of fate is he has to talk to the listeners of CFRB.”

I understand that you and Mr. Tory, to whom you were referring, may have had some political encounters in the past. However, your trysts had nothing to do with me or CFRB’s audience. Spiteful public jealousy does not behoove a politician, sir. And if you have a problem with John talking to us, take it up with him!


from my desk to yours

Dear Bill Carroll,

angel? or demon? or just some guy with his hands in his pockets?Sir,

With all due respect, oh no! I can’t believe they’re moving you to 9 a.m. I mean, great that you get to wake up later and have a longer time slot, but I’m not sure about this John Moore fellow that’s replacing you. (I’ve enclosed a photo of him looking rather menacing — he says he doesn’t like cats!)

I hope he can muster the same incensed outbursts at, well, anything like you can. I doubt he’ll be able to evoke the same enraged, torch-bearing, city-razing rabble that your rants do during my struggle with consciousness.

Will he be able to adopt the same seething indignation at even the most inane topics like you, Mr. Carroll?  And I hope you take this as the compliment it is, but your hair-trigger City Hall temper is awe-inspiring. Sir, you are a champion. I would name my cat after you but Oliver Carroll sounds too Dickensian.

Perhaps one day, when this nutty day job of mine is behind me, I can set set my alarm to nine o’clock and wake up refreshed and angry like I used to. Until then, I’ll wearily hold your memory in a petulant little piece of my heart.


from my desk to yours

Dear Tess Kalinowski,


With all due respect, what the hell?! I was ready with that Toronto subway post a couple of days ago; where were you?! I thought we were supposed to put them both up at the same time. You know, cross-promotion; I link to your story and you link to mine. That was the plan.

But no, I guess your story on the new Sheppard West subway station design was more important.

It could have been so poignant, your spanky new airport terminal of a station against my musty old Bloor-Danforth ones. Mix in a couple of the Transit Commission’s screw-ups like the new transit maps with all the errors, and the under-priced monthly pass that’s losing them money, and we could’ve caused a tidal wave in the media! Think of the brouhaha that this would’ve started. We could’ve singlehandedly taken down the entire Commission!

Now we’ve lost our window of opportunity. It’s best if you disavow any knowledge of me. Pity you chose the route you took; you’ll always be just a transportation reporter.


Filed under: Pictures

That’s going to be something very special

Posted on September 22nd, 2009 4 Comments

At first I thought I was just being a little too sensitive to the sight of construction cranes. After all, they’re not unlike beaky, disciplinarian public school teachers with their exaggerated snoot in every page of last night’s incomplete homework. Then the reading glasses come off and that evil scowl emerges. “Can you explain this, Patrick?” *shudder*

But that’s not it. There really is a lot of construction going on. In just about every direction you turn, there’s a cross educator:

if you squint and tilt your head maybe?

Okay, well, the big ones are more like a cross. And angrier. For example:

the lightbox ... of doom!!

That’s is the TIFF / Bell Lightbox, kitty-corner from where this year’s TIFFery took place. I think it’s designed to loom ominously like that.  It certainly doesn’t yet scream “film festival!!” to me.

Not all construction hangs over the city like the cold face of death, though. Take Trump Tower, for example:

the best, most luxurious, most glamorous, most decadent tower in the history of mankind, ever.

Nice lid, right? And what does The Donald have to say about his new erection?

“The thing that excites me most is the architecture. Secondly, I believe that the location of this building by itself will make it very successful. So you have a combination of great location and great architecture—and that’s going to be something very special.”

Sure is, Donald. It’s a winning formula: Donald TrumpExcitement ® + location = oodles of cash

Secondly, I hope that’s what he means by “special”.

Anyhow, these are just a couple of the more interesting taller buildings. There are many more, including ones that aren’t so tall:

the sore thumb of petulance

I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said that between any two main intersections, you’d find at least two large construction sites.

I was going to stop the post here without any real point, as I am wont to do. But as I was flipping through the news over an especially messy lunch today (I must omit the details), I found a Toronto Star article about office vacancies and how they’re linked to unemployment. It deftly reveals how all this new office space is opening downtown — I can attest to that! — followed up with unemployment statistics. Get it? Those buildings are stealing our jobs!

I knew it — now it’s cranes and immigrant buildings. And Trump’s mixed in with all this too.

(Sorry about that last link. Have to keep it up as a bleak reminder never to drink and blog again.)

Filed under: Pictures, Why I'm Right

Scabby Row forsook

Posted on September 21st, 2009 2 Comments

Darn. I was so hoping that one of the local dailies would run something about the TTC, specifically about the subway. There was only more complaining from St. Clair West (the concrete streetcar barriers are built, people! It’s done! Get over it!), something about Robert Prichard who’s supposed to be getting the Metrolinx program underway (trying to bring the TTC and all the regional transit systems under one roof), and some goof who got busted driving his riding mower drunk on one of the rural roads north-east of Toronto.

Haha! I know, that last one’s not transit. But I had to share. I spent enough time around that area to have seen inebriated lawnmower drivers, and let me tell you, it’s hi-freakin-larious. Under normal circumstances, these gentlemen wouldn’t think to drive an unbalanced buggy with sharp, high-velocity, metal blades underneath, up a very steep hill. But then they partake of a few. :D

I guess there was one thing kinda related to the subway, the Toronto Sun’s lament about the state of our highways. Mostly, they were talking about this:

so many places to hide a dead body

This is the picturesque Don Valley Parkway. It’s picturesque because it’s late in the afternoon on Sunday. At almost any other time, it’s bumper to bumper, stop and go. If you’ve been on it, you know what I’m talkin’ about, right? How many years of your life have you lost on that road? And on some sections, you’ve got a foot between you, the concrete barrier, the car on the other side, and the car in front, and the jerk behind is honking his horn for you to get outta the way. That, buddy, is how that dipshit down in the valley down there crashed his car. That’s why we’re moving extra slow. That’s why you can kiss my flatulent ass you …

Gosh, even thinking about it gets me all worked up; that’s one angry road. The attached 401’s not much better, but that’s a whole different kinda rage; high-speed, low-brow, middle-finger. You can’t shout at those speeds once you achieve them.

Torontonians know what I’m talking about, right? Yeah! Grandma’s doing eighty in the fast lane with nothing in front of her, tapping the breaks a few times a meter. What the fuck is her problem?! HONK H-O-N-K *H-O-N-K* GODDAMMITYARR!! *smash smash smash* GAAAARRR!! Then black out. Wake up under a highway overpass somewhere by the airport with blood on your hands and a dead body in the trunk of your car. Evade police for weeks in a massive manhunt through rural southern Ontario. Eh? Yeah. What Torontonian hasn’t been there?

So to avoid that scene, and since there’s no way we’re biking in from the sticks every day, there’s public transit. But not the fru-fru, surface streetcar my spoiled butt takes every day. We’re talking about the city plumbing; the subway.

There’s been a lot of talk about putting new stuff into the city center, which is fine by me, but it seems like a lot of the outlying, underground stuff is being forgotten. Specifically, the Bloor-Danforth subway line. That’s not to say that the Yonge-University line isn’t need of bit of a facelift too:

no, that's really nicotine. gross.

Vintage. The tiles look nicotine-friendly, don’t you think? But, at least, in good condition.

However, in the stations, if you’re in a hurry, headphones in, reading email, you might not notice how rustic they’re getting.

yeah, city people move *that* fast!

Often, it’s not straight ahead; that’s just an attractive young blur. Sometimes you have to wait for the crowd to clear (as in Sunday), and then look up:

that's how they get ya! standing there, waiting for the sybway, and wham! "accident". yeah right.

Or you have to be at the right end of the platform:

not unlike my bathroom

Right, not that right. The other right. Your right. Right :) And you’re right, it is unsightly. But I haven’t heard of any plans to take care of it. Has Scabby Row been foresaken? I did my teen years there and it was pretty grungy. I was back recently and Kennedy Station had an even more watch-your-back feel to it than I remembered.

I’m one of those incurably sunny people who think that one of the ways to deal with the problem is to make the place nicer. For being so busy, it’s a grim station. On one side, it’s got a raised road with a raised LRT train track under it (two storeys of concrete, basically) so it’s dark, and on the other the parking lot of a grey-slab of a community centre. Stabbing or shooting someone here doesn’t seem out of context.

So, change the context I say. I’m sure it’s been tried and tested somewhere. And I’m sure I didn’t come up with it; wouldn’t that be a sad world to live in? I’m just too lazy to find a link.

Spruce up the stations. Scrub off some of that water damage. Repair some of those broken chunks. Put a little more life in there.

That probably won’t come out of the downtown streetcar money, which itself is in question. And that  infrastructure funding that was supposed to have paid for things like this turned out to be not so much. But there is the community.

Filed under: Pictures, Why I'm Right

The voodoo that distract you do

Posted on September 18th, 2009 11 Comments

Ah, fall. A time when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of replacing that moth-eaten coat and maybe, finally getting that haircut. But there are so many options downtown that it’s hard to make a decision. So I thought I’d do a bit of window shopping down trendy, chic Queen West.

"art on" -- better put on the thimble

It didn’t pan out.

First off, I wouldn’t know fashion if it ran up to me, tugged at my sleeve, and called me dad. So most of the clothing stores and their slight, jaded attendants with aborted personalities, were out of the question. And any haircut I would plunk down three digits for (as if!), would be experimental. I don’t wear experimental well. I have a utilitarian, European head. It’s made for thinking, imbibing spirits, and spectacular love-making. Not for unusual hair styles.

But that’s okay. If I can’t spend my money on anything else, I can always buy a new MIDI controller of some kind that I’ll use, like, three times and then forget about.

ukuleles are out back with the GARBAGE!

I used to flip through the comics at Silver Snail regularly as a teen, but they don’t carry much of what I enjoy anymore. I keep tellin’ em there’s a market for it. They keep tellin’ me that what I want is “illegal” and “sick” and that they “never carried it” and “please stop masturbating”.  Hey, their loss.

I’ll happily take my business elsewhere.

they have a "roll" now too?!

I enjoy a genital piercing as much as the next guy, but I was pretty intent on getting that haircut. That’s the problem with Queen West though, isn’t it? There’s always something to distract you. If it’s not a novelty condom store or the exciting fall 2009 line of designer bongs and smoking accessories,  it’s street voodoo:

"strange, the cards indicate a crossing of the paths with 'jerk and camera'"

So, naturally, by the time I got to the old Citytv building, the first thing and the other thing (there were two, right?), had broken free of my skull and fled. Something about a hat and a vest?

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. Wish I could say the same for  poor Moses Znaimer.

wasn't the first time either.

Oh yeah, now I remember. Yeah. No way I’m getting a haircut now.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures


Posted on September 17th, 2009 2 Comments


Just flour. Maybe bleached. Let’s say it is. And slightly lumpy.

If you chucked it in my face, that’d suck. If it got in my eyes, like happened to a high school vice-principal in June of this year, it would really suck. Could it do some longer term damage? I think it’s likely. But would you call it a weapon?

measuring out justice

I know that legally, if it’s not your fist it’s a weapon, but it seems like a funny definition. Why not assault with an object? Does an object become a weapon the moment I pick it up to bash someone with? So if I were to fling cats at people, those cats would become weapons? Haha! Oliver would not want to stay in a police evidence baggie.

Laws is weird! :o

Hmm. I guess it kinda makes sense that laws would be a bit loopy. They’re put there by people who’ve listened to the most fucked up criminal trial shit day in day out for decades. Like the Rengel case. You remember:


Oh man — that doesn’t get any easier.

This is the teenager who coerced her boyfriend into killing another girl because she was jealous of her. She was tried and sentenced as an adult and the boyfriend, D.B., is on trial now. In his case, it’s going to be simply a matter of how much time he’ll get. The trial will just be going through the motions. And they’re deliberating whether or not to try him as an adult, meaning they’d release his identity as they did hers. Sure hope they do! I’m curious to see, aren’t you?

The other thing I’d be curious to see would be the plans for the proposed Loblaws supermarket / Ryerson hockey rink. Right. And not just some weird hybrid, but inside the hallowed halls of Maple Leaf Gardens, no less:

and the lights are on ... why?

You may remember a few years back when Loblaws tried to buy the Gardens to make the building into another supermarket. I’m one of those odd Canadians who don’t follow hockey at all, but even I knew that that wouldn’t fly. After all, the Gardens are an institution. To have a university hockey team in there seems appropriate, but a supermarket… It just doesn’t sound like a way to popularize the idea of re-opening the place.

There’s also the problem of having all that flour (not to mention other baking supplies), near all that violence and with no laws.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Rude ways to use dead trees

Posted on September 16th, 2009 4 Comments

Out of TCL’s loyal following of at least three readers (hi mom!), I’ve recently received a comment that made me think that I need to clarify things a little. It has to do with veracity; the veracity of these posts. The truthicity of the blog.

In other words, do I make stuff up to fill in the spaces between the photos?

The answer to that is complex. I like to think of the question as an open-ended one, like religion or Marxism. Or the purpose of the chicken in crossing the boulevard. So the answer is, yes, I make up nonsensical sentences to sandwich between photos. Or are they so sensical that they’re BLoWINg yOuR MiNd?!


However, I only make up stuff real-sounding stuff when it’s easy to verify as being made up. Like me being friends with George Clooney. I mean, if anyone took that seriously … I found that jerk passed out on my couch one Saturday morning, the whole place trashed, underwear of every gender on everything, I don’t know how many condoms on the living room table; I told him, if he’s gonna self-destruct, he’s not taking me out with him. He basically spat in my face for an answer. Friends, we are not.

Anyhow, I don’t feel it’s fair to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes when I talk about the day. If it was boring, I’ll just resort to writing a post in which I explain the factuality of the blog or some crap like that.

To confess, I do sometimes embellish. A little. A difficult woman with a large heinie may, for example, be described as a backside as gelatinous and stark as shrieking horror itself. But I don’t think the embellishment’s that extreme. And I think it helps get the point across: that the big-bummed woman was unpleasant.

I guess it’s the high school semester I spent hunched over the junior writer’s / gofer’s desk at the prestigious Scarborough Mirror, but that *umph* for journalistic integrity stuck with me. Journalistic integrity with irritable bowels. Sometimes uncomfortable and cramped, but relax and it’s party time in your pants.

So, since I’m on the ugly truth thing, I guess I should come clean about something. I didn’t care to see Natalie Portman today because something distracted  me. And it had something to WITH THIS!!

not even absorbent

… no, wait. WITH THIS!!

are they taking the piss?!

To begin with, what’s with the giant blogTO plug? Who nibbled on who’s private parts to get that in there? This is the kind of thing that makes my inner journalist vomit internally.

Can you imagine TCL in print on the street? What a rude way to use to use a dead tree. Seriously.

Then, you’ve got this teeny-tiny format tabloid newsed-paper that looks suspiciously like the National Enquirer. It’s being handed out at strategic locations by … not my words … retro-branded “Newsies”. I shed a tear every evening watching them stand there on the corner pretending like the thirties are relevant to anyone. And for the dumb hats they have to wear.

When you visit the website of the paper, it’s suspiciously void of any information. Owned and operated by “three Torontonians”? That narrows it down to everyone here. Seems shifty. Real shifty.

And with all the free publications around town, t.o.night is stepping into a snug alley. I’m pretty sure that Now Magazine and Eye Weekly aren’t above administering a mugging.

Good luck, t.o.night. Because there’s an ass-kicking scheduled for t.o.morrow.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures