Archive for January, 2010

Honest Education, pt.1

Posted on January 29th, 2010 4 Comments

I had a city-sized epiphany yesterday, and if you’ll grant me a moment of your time, dear reader, I’d like to share it with you. In a few parts. Okay, it was a bit of a tipsy revelation, also part of the reason I’m writing about it today.

It all began with my trip to Honest Ed’s.

honest ed's store, bloor street west, bathurst street, mirvish village, retail, street corner, intersection, toronto, city, life

Actually, it’d begun earlier in the day when I’d met a long-ago co-worker suddenly turned neighbour — a conversation that self-destructed after we’d conducted it ;) ;) – and ended with drinks and friends somewhere on the west end. Well, technically it ended with me flipping through sickeningly unsteady photos, but that’s neither here nor there.

But I’m pretty sure Honest Ed Mirvish’s disturbed vision had a big role to play in the tone of my thoughts, and so contributed to the epiphany I was about to have in a very big way.

I’m not even sure how to begin describing the place. To try is like trying to squeeze one of those morbidly obese guys — the ones with cowboy hats and aviator glasses and locomoting about on struggling motor scooters — into a standard-size kitchen disposal bag. Ba-tam! Can’t be done.

So this won’t be easy, and definitely not complete, but it’s a start.

Well, I guess the most obvious feature is that Ed’s is the granddaddy of all cheapie stores.

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The prices are really really good. And, considering how much you’re plunking down for a set of PJs, you can usually expect pretty good value for the money. Better than disposable, one-use sleeping attire, were I forced to quantify it.

However, that “cheap” tag is really wholly inadequate. I trust that if you’ve been, dear reader, you’d agree. For starters, each and every sign is hand-painted. That’s quite a feat considering the amount of product they carry.

Then there’s the wall-to-wall kitsch.

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Most of it is actually left over from the multitudes of productions that the Mirvish family have lavished on Toronto over the years. Most of those are equally kitschy, for-the-masses spectacles. Not my flavour, but maybe I haven’t given them a fair shake. Lots of people swear by them. That’s entertainment!

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The walls of the double-jointed store (the alley between is integral to the experience), are littered with the famous names that have been in a Mirvish show, or that have personally shaken Ed’s hand. I couldn’t tell you who a lot of the people are, but they seem like a generally classy lot. Lotsa Brylcreem going on there, seems respectably dandy.

However, if that was all to this store, I really don’t think I’d be able to recommend bringing the kids along. Or a heist crew.

Please allow me to elaborate, dear reader.

Continued in next part…

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Orphans must be killed

Posted on January 27th, 2010 6 Comments

It’s done, dear reader!

I’ve signed on the dotted line and am now the proud new Senior Flash Developer at Henderson Bas, a downtown ad agency with a bunch of famous clients and awards coming out the wazoo. I normally wouldn’t mention their name but, being so out there, I don’t think they’re averse to being discussed. I’ll just have to refrain from talking too much smack.

The contract was a gargantuan tome, one of the largest volumes I’d ever encountered. A whole adult tree made up just the non-disclosure agreement alone, the rest had to be delivered by freight train. So it’s pretty thorough. I’m fairly certain I’ll have to relinquish my spleen upon termination, but that’s a pretty standard clause. Otherwise, I’ll be slapping stuff together for HB come Monday; incidentally also my birthday (I know, right?)

In the same way that I won’t talk smack about HB, I’m not going to go into the gruesome details of why I left my current position. Let’s just say that there were some … issues.

… Continue Reading

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Spade’s a spade

Posted on January 25th, 2010 3 Comments

Do people even know what the word racism means anymore? I’m not suggesting racism doesn’t exist, and I’ve experienced my fair share of bigotry (on the receiving end too), but the term has become so distorted that at times it’s almost meaningless.

From Taxi News:

[Addai] said racialization is defined in the Human Rights Code as, in addition to physical features, characteristics of people that are commonly racialized, including: accent or manner of speech, name, clothing and grooming, diet, beliefs and practices, leisure preferences, places of origin and citizenship.

“In one way or another, I would say that segments of this Code apply to everyone in this room,” he stated.

Point in case: consider the recent Star article about taxi licensing in Toronto. It begins with a rather miffed-looking Asafo Addai claiming that City Hall imposes a racist policy through two-tier licensing for cabbies. He’s so miffed, in fact, that he’s taking it before the Human Rights Tribunal, accusing the city of systemic discrimination against minorities and newcomers. The words racism and racialism are tossed around like so much wilted salad.

What’s got Asafo in a huff is the “Ambassador” license that the city issues to all new cabbies. These require the driver to solely own and operate their vehicle, unlike the older “standard” license that allows cars to be rented out and ownership to be transferred. Obviously this severely limits the driver’s ability to make extra income and, with the cost of buying existing standard plates running in the quarter-million range (yup, $250,000), it’s usually not an option.  Sure, I can understand why he’d be upset about this, and I’d definitely support changing it. And Asafo’s claim that this is, “inhibiting a group of people from ascending”, is absolutely correct if you ask me.

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But what group of people? Is Asafo suggesting that only black folk drive cabs? Or just immigrants? Or people with argyle socks and dollar-store slacks? I can tell you with absolute certainty that that’s not true.

As a teenager I tried to join the police force but because of affirmative action, got the hand in the face, being told unapologetically it was because I was white. In hindsight it’s better I didn’t become a copper, and even though I didn’t like it, I ultimately understood the reasoning behind the hiring practices. But I know what it feels like to be denied something for no other reason than being a certain colour.

That’s really my whole issue with people bandying around the term “racism”. When individuals like Asafo play the race card, they’re actually doing a great disservice to real complaints of bigotry, injustice, and disparity. In fact, Asafo is the one making (or trying to make), a distinction based on race (or ethnicity, or income, or source of slacks, etc.); everyone else in the same boat as him are just people — white, black, and every other colour that can fit into the driver’s seat of a cab. Between Asafo and me, I’d say I came a lot closer to blatant systemic racism. (And I wouldn’t really call that racism.)

The other problem with Mr. Addai’s assertion is the fact that Toronto currently only issues one type of taxi licence, not two. The Ambassador program started in the late nineties specifically to address the problem of inequality — the other type of license was discontinued at that point (still exists, just not being issued). It doesn’t matter what colour your skin is, how much money you have, or even how nice your smile is, the Ambassador license is the only one you can get. No one’s picking on Asafo because of his race, his place of birth, his age, his weight, etc. — he’s getting the shaft just like all his cabbie brethren and sistren. Just because most of them happen to be immigrants doesn’t make it racism.

And saying that racialism is some random mix of attributes that varies from person to person — that’s just dumb.

taxi news cover, newspaper, toronto city, life

By the way, did you know that Toronto has a monthly newspaper dedicated to the local taxi industry? Neither did I, until I found a copy in the disheveled racks at Metro Hall. That’s where I discovered that silly excerpt at the top of this post. It doesn’t seem like the most upbeat publication around town, but then again, being a cabbie doesn’t sound terribly glamorous either.

Filed under: Pictures, Why I'm Right