Archive for April, 2010

Call to Artists

Posted on April 30th, 2010 Be the first to comment

I’ve been sitting on this one for long enough; sorry, Kurt. May the exhibit be heavenly. Enlightening. Ascendant. Hey, whatever turns you on. :)

For the benefit of the reader who may not be familiar with the Queen West art strip, it’s a terrific place to exhibit work. The whole area is chock-a-block with galleries and people interested in seeing them. In July, tourist season in full swing, with the heat and oh-so-pleasant air con inside, it’ll be even more lucrative. Kurt’s been at this for a while so you’ll be in good hands and I didn’t see anywhere on there that it says “locals only”.


*new* gallery, art, queen street west, banner, toronto, city,life“The Spirit Of The Thing” is an exploration of Art that deals with spirituality. I asked a friend if he was religious. His reply was one that is heard often now;”No but I am spiritual.”. I want this exhibit to reach for some explanation as to what the word spiritual means in this context. Does being spiritual have some loosely defined form of dogma? How is it practiced? Or is this just a way to avoid the matter of religion altogether? Have we as a western society become so jaded by our religious traditions that we have rejected their ways, but don’t want to be viewed as having no concept as to what is before and after these short stays in our fleshy carcasses? Has history showed us the political truth of religious societies; A truth of war, intolerance, and abuse in the name of their deities? Have we re-examined religious literature to come to the conclusion that indeed it is literature and not dogma? So we have on mass vacated the houses of religion, but what have we replaced them with? These are the questions I want to see your answers to.

The exhibit will take place in *New* Gallery in the middle of the Queen West art district, during the month of July. *New* gallery is an Artist collective as well as a rental gallery. The fees are very reasonable and with enough Artists involved to share the expense the cost would be nominal. For more information please e mail me, Kurt Rostek, .

Submissions by email only. Send 3-5 jpegs of recent work, and an Artist Statement. All media acceptable. Send all submissions to Kurt Rostek,

Deadline For Entry: May 15th 2010

Filed under: B Sides


Posted on April 27th, 2010 4 Comments

Newstalk 1010 is starting to grow on me again.

The downtown AM radio station was part of my regular morning schedule. I’d wake up, shove an energy drink into my face, and get good and worked up to Bill Carroll’s latest rant.

As the weekday morning guy, Bill was on top of local topics before most people, and he’d always deliver them with an abundance of vociferous opinion. Sometimes he’d be so wrong that I’d have to stand up in protest. At other times Bill would say something so accurate and poignant that I’d have to rise in support. Either way I’d be out of bed and into my day with a tank full of caffeine and indignation.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures


Posted on April 26th, 2010 4 Comments

Wheels are in motion.

poster, sign, tcl,, recruitment, yonge street, toronto, city, life

I spent this afternoon pushing thumbtacks into all sort of surfaces around the local Universities in an attempt to lure writers, photographers, artists, and fellow bloggers to TCL. It’s time for this blog to start spreading its wings a little.

I’ll be keeping my hands as dirty as usual around here (posts / photos / etc.), but I firmly believe that the potential for TCL to grow into something more substantial is there. And I don’t think I can get there alone.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The point where the blog devolved

Posted on April 26th, 2010 4 Comments

I don’t believe I’ve ever done more than one post in a day on TCL — this one is too short to feel satisfying so something will have to follow.

Bit of an unspoken tradition with me until I thought … and why? Well, gives me time to go over the photos, research, etc. But darned if I didn’t come across the neatest thing the other day. Neat enough to make me question.

pest, calendar, toronto,, chris hutsul, city, life

This insightful work was produced by Chris Hutsul out of Kensington Market. Chris was kind enough to provide a gargantuan version of this drawing as well as a close-up of that adorable house centipede in the center.

Mr. Hutsul is obviously a native.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Almost deep-fried food

Posted on April 25th, 2010 3 Comments

You know, I really thought that last post about letting your kids wander around alone in a city would’ve been more contentious. Apparently not. Gotta say, the TCL readership is waaaaaay more liberal than I ever could’ve imagined. Cool!

Or you’re still reading. Sorry, it was kinda long. I’ll do my best to keep this one lighter.

Nothing much to say anyway. The Music Garden is supposed to communicate through other senses.

music garden, railing, path, docks, harbourfront, waterfront, queen's quay, toronto, city, life

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Never get involved in arguments on the streetcar

Posted on April 23rd, 2010 12 Comments

Generally speaking, that’s a good rule. I usually just smile and ignore, but I was sucked into this one. Why? I offered my seat to a kid. Oi.

Two brothers, I dunno, ten and and eleven, were escorted to the back of the streetcar where I was sitting, by their dad. He sat them down and suddenly realized he’d forgotten to get transfers. The one kid was buzzing to look out the back of the car and he kneeled on the empty seat between me and the matronly, scraggly-haired woman on the other end. His dad sat him back down. Guess he thought the kid would be pestering us.

There were two empty seats across from me – the back  is a half-circle facing each other – so I offered to give the kid my seat. I knew the dad would want to sit with the kids anyways (correctomundo, btw), so I thought the kid might as well have a few seconds of fun gazing out the back of the streetcar. I loved looking out through the front of subway cars when I was young, so I get it. And I honestly didn’t see the harm. The boy was polite, he was obeying his dad, he was keeping his feet off the seats, backpack neatly to the side – damn if that kid didn’t deserve an ice cream sundae!

So shit, peeking through a greasy, filth-covered window for ten seconds seemed appropriate for a young man of that calibre.

Offered it to him twice. Twice he refused.

Scraggly-hair to my left says, “good for you!”, to him. “You listen to your dad!”

Okay, guess she had a point. But you know, not like he’s gonna roll up his sleeve, tie off a vein, and start hitting the dragon back there. Plus, potential weirdo ends up in a seat farther away from the kids. Where would be the downside?

Dad came back, seat gladly accepted. The opportunity was gone.

Oh well, the kid did refuse. And that should’ve been the end of it.

Scraggly-hair pointed at the kids and said to the dad, “You shouldn’t leave them alone like that here. This isn’t a safe neighbourhood.”

Internally, I begged to differ. Oddballs? Painful piercings? Imaginative body modifications? Yes, yes, and yes. Dangerous? No. But, this was still just between her and the three of them. :)

The dad replied, “I teach my sons well and they know how to handle themselves.”

The buzzing kid popped erect, beaming a smile, and immediately added, “We take the streetcar by ourselves all the time. We walk home, we take the subways, we take the buses. I know what to do if I get lost. On this streetcar, if I got lost, I would get off at St. Andrew Station and …”

It went on for another five minutes with the other boy interjecting excitedly in sporadic bursts to further heighten the tales of their prowess. The dad finally stopped them when they got on the subject of late-night taxi rides (if only he’d let them look out the window).

“You never know who’s around them down here. All sorts of people”, responded scraggly-hair after a short pause. “It’s just not safe.”

Then she looked over at me. For fucks’ sake!!

“I didn’t mean to imply that you’re a criminal”, she explained sheepishly.

Steady, old boy, I thought to myself. Not a problem, a broad smile and that’ll be my reply. No problem. I never felt myself to be a criminal, so ho harm no foul. And no statement. :)

“But don’t you think it’s dangerous?”, still looking at me. :(

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The green green grass of home

Posted on April 21st, 2010 3 Comments

“Where to buy weed in Toronto”.

That was the reigning search on TCL for quite a while. Search number two was “city sweats”, followed closely by “Perspirex in Toronto”.

Strange how these things come about.

Sweats and Perspirex, especially as relate to Toronto, are apparently a niche that only this blog can fill. Both searches lead to a post about a trio of miniature commercials I saw one night that seemed to target women with simultaneous dermatological problems, odour issues, and bikini zone chafing. Perspirex, an industrial-strength antiperspirant, was one of the products in the commercials; mentioned in the post more-or-less in passing. TCL subsequently became one of Toronto’s best web resources for sweaty crotches and a panoply of related variants.

The weed search usually returns a link to a post I’d written last May about the topic. Not exactly the Yellow Pages for Toronto’s ganja dealers, but better than a guidebook. My point wasn’t to discuss marijuana anyway, more the attitude towards it in this city. As I’d mentioned, I thought that cops were generally cool with pot smokers. It’s the people dealing the stuff that tend to cause the problems, and I think this is broadly recognized. Most of the people I spoke to at the 420 rally yesterday agreed with me. Then again, they probably would, wouldn’t they? :)

420, rally, demonstration, protest, pot, weed, cannabis, marijuana, yonge-dundas square, yds, toronto, city, life

I just discovered this myself, but apparently April 20th is traditionally the day to drag your ass to some hastily-arranged public location (I got the tweet that morning), and at the stroke of 4:20, toke like you’ve never toked before. All in the hope that marijuana will be fully decriminalized.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Going parking

Posted on April 20th, 2010 4 Comments

It’s looking like that post about Toronto’s urban gardens I mentioned the other day is just not going to happen. Not exclusively, anyways.

Lately, every time I set out to visit some of my favourite concrete-edged green spots, something else comes up. I think it’s a trend.

As I was adding more stuff to TCLand (you haven’t been?! It’s that map icon at the top of the page; basically TCL on a map, current to mid-July 2009 as of this post), I was looking through the archives to see what happened in April last year. That’s when the number of posts jumped … lotsa stuff happening, it seems. I have every reason to believe that this year should be much the same. Although I don’t know if I can count on another Tamil protest happening.

Movie productions, though, probably yes.

the thing, movie, film, production, set, king, victoria, streets, new york, manhattan, 2011, toronto, city, life

They blocked off a section of Victoria at King to shoot a scene for The Thing. Once again Toronto was whored out as New York. Manhattan to be precise. Okay, I can understand not wanting to alienate the massive US market. And I guess it’s a compliment. But one day people will learn the truth about their idyllic New York. Then they can come to Toronto to see what it really looks like. :)

victoria, king, east, streets, 75th, 2nd, avenue, manhattan, new york, the thing, movie, film, production, set, street signs, toronto, city, life

Thing or no, I did actually manage to hit a couple of in-town parkettes.

Berczy Park, unfortunately, wasn’t in full swing yet. The fountain was off and only the early-spring flowers were poking through the soil. I’ll have to re-visit. But the upshot is that the rear facade of the adjacent Flatiron building is mostly visible from the park.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Free Viagra, draq queens, and neo-Nazis

Posted on April 18th, 2010 12 Comments

I started thinking a bit the other day, as I am wont to do sometimes. About why municipal politics catches my interest while, at the same time, I just couldn’t care less about anything beyond that.

I live in Ontario, but other than the way the provincial government’s been hosing the city lately, I don’t follow anything Queen’s Park. Federally, well, who’s our Prime Minister again? Some wet blanket, obviously.

So why do I care? Local politicians may be mouthier than their higher-ups but it’s still politics. Oh yeah, says the brain, there will undoubtedly be rallies and bullhorns and all sortsa shit to complement the summer. Eureka!

Instantly puts a smile on my face. Plus, apparently the local campaign is considerably longer (10 months), than any other level of government, so it tends to attract hardboiled characters. Everything about it just seems feistier, grittier. And I want to be perfectly clear; I definitely DON’T want anyone to be assassinated or even hurt, but wouldn’t an attempt be the coolest thing ever?

The hardboiled characters are in a constant state of flux, which is also a bonus. Back in early January there were 7 potential or confirmed candidates.  The one candidate I just knew would take a pummelling was, within a few months, blasted with a scandal. He shuffled off the stage in tears after delivering only half of his resignation speech (hardboiled characters only, Jammers).

The roster of current candidates has grown to 26, with an additional 6 having dropped out. I’ll try to keep it quick, but I suspect I’ll need to draw on it in the future, so this list may be a necessary evil. No particular order.

Rocco Kusi Achampong; born in Ghana on Christmas day, 31-years-old, had the foresight to provide a profile photo on Wikimedia Commons.

Don Andrews; born Vilim Zlomislic, leader of the neo-Nazi Nationalist Party of Canada and unremitting racist.

George Babula; no public profile, but let’s assume he’s born in Toronto. It would make sense considering George’s “Parkdale Party” is running mostly on a platform of nostalgia.

Andrew Barton;  I thought Jammers was young! I think Andrew is just doing this for a school project.

Wendell Brereton; the inner city reverend needs to get a name that’s easier to spell. Excellent headwear and best campaign video yet.

Douglas Campbell; another old fuddy-duddy with no online presence, not even a photo. His legacy: “If you vote for a capitalist candidate, you’re voting to kill children.”

Jaime Castillo; is this how they run things in Peru?! Every single thing on the web page (including the “new plan”) links to the 2003 campaign, now offline. You think you’d have your shit together this time around.

Mark Cidade; constantly changing hair style may leave voters anxious. Marxidad is a catchy moniker, and I also speak nerd, but is that enough to win an election?

Keith Cole; right … fucking … on. If one thing’s sorely missing in municipal politics it’s drag queens. Most direct campaign slogan yet: “Get over it!”

Selwyn Firth; hides behind a carefully veiled wall of secrecy and factoids. Facebook profile nearly empty. His kind will take over humanity if not contained. Slogan: “Science should trump emotions.”

Rob Ford; political heavyweight muscling his way onto Smitherman’s scene (see George Smitherman). He’s a contender. Media connections, dad’s political grease, his own largesse around City Hall – all these add serious weight to his campaign.

Baquie Ghazi; obvious name problem aside, why choose to email the platform to some random dude’s blog? If he’s not going to be serious about this…

Howard Gomberg; how can you not love this guy? Stage experience ranks high on my mayoral skill set, as do improv skills. Keep watching this guy.

Monowar Hossain; can’t understand a word you’re saying, my friend! I think I picked up “ruling ideology” in there somewhere, and I appreciate you showing off your diploma, but this is not a great platform to run on.

John Letonja; misspelling his own site name on his own site makes me dubious of John’s qualifications. But I’d still like to see us “build are own products and manufacture are own goods”.

Colin Magee: Tweets need work. That is all.

Giorgio Mammoliti; did I say he looks like a gangster or what? Giorgio’s another politician who’s been around the block a few times and he’s well supported by “legitimate” business interests.

Joseph Pampena; I actually think Joseph’s idea of listing the city on the Toronto Stock Exchange is worth discussing. Let’s see if JP Public Relations Inc. (one client?) can get it out there.

Joe Pantalone; this is the guy in the current mayor’s butt crack, the Deputy Mayor. I guess he’s pretty well qualified, but won’t everyone just step all over him once he’s mayor?

Rocco Rossi; sports a Smithermanesque (see George Smitherman) dome and pretends to be Italian, but lacks a red-meat rage. Lackadaisically high in the polls.

George Smitherman; Furious George has an interesting back story, apt mix of social awareness, a “fuck you we’re getting it done” attitude, and occasionally resembles Lex Luthor. Front-runner and still my fave to win, even if I didn’t like him.

Mark State; resume says born in South Porcupine; okay, good start. Experience includes “Casual Worker”. Good.  And “NLP Practitioner”. Interesting. I wasn’t aware that NLP Practitioner was a profession but I’m sure it comes in handy. We’ll call you as soon as we’ve made our decision, Mark.

← Tom Sullivan; he’s busy disseminating his message far and wide. Just not anywhere I can find it. Apparently he exists, that’s all I can say at the moment.

Sarah Thomson; Sarah Thomson … Sarah Palin; the coincidences are hard to ignore. Although Mrs. Thomson comes across as carrying more in the attic, her hyper-businessy past doesn’t sit well with me.

← Rata Wadhwa; Rata continues to plug away at his campaign from a very low profile. His 2003 platform of legalized prostitution, pot, free condoms and Viagra, didn’t win him much initial support. Seven years later and his third time around, can this 55-year-old Charlie Chaplin impersonator give the other candidates a run for their money?

Sonny Yeung; Sonny describes himself as a “successfully nominated” candidate, probably owing to his “I won’t be an autocrat” left-wing and “I love deregulation” right-wing olive branches. However, Sonny seems unfocused, stating that his “aim is to offer thought and analysis of the whole campaign.” See, I thought it was to become mayor.

I think it’ll be good fun watching these hardboiled candidates crack. I gather that, for a number of them, the campaign is being run for ulterior motives, but for most of them it’s going to be a brutal, sweaty six months. Many won’t make it.

Maybe I’m stuck in my plebeian ways but this is my kind of politics.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The wall of utmost convenience

Posted on April 16th, 2010 4 Comments

So as I was saying yesterday about convenience, here’s a terrific example.

I was planning to do a post about urban public gardens. I know, it seems a little bent at the wrist, but I wanted to do it more in the context of the unforgiving city. Those little squares of land nestled in between caverns of glass. Had a great story ‘n everything. Then this happens:

collapsed wall, yonge, gould, street, ryerson university, emergency services, dog team, toronto, city, life

I know it’s not war-torn Bosnia, but still, you don’t get many brick walls coming down in such a prominent location, in the middle of the day. Extremely convenient for me, if I may be frank. So I believe this proves my point. Unless someone’s suggesting I brought the wall down just to prove a point. :|

Anyhow, can I get a little personal here? I felt totally legit today – schedule ‘n all. I weaved in and out of the news crowd like it was nothing, had conversations with a few of them. Also witnessed a Ryerson student being turned back at the yellow tape. One of the camera guys joked with me with a “nice try, eh? You’re not from Ryerson, are you?” To which I replied, “Hell no.” Reply, *nod*.

That’s how it’s done. No one stopped me when I ducked under the yellow tape. Or stood on the wall. Or the electrical box. QED.

emergency, fire, crews, collapsed wall, yonge, gould, street, ryerson university, media, news, toronto, city, life

I probably don’t need to tell you what happened if you listen to local news. But if you don’t, it’s pretty straightforward. This wall came down on a street just north of Yonge-Dundas Square, so good foot traffic. Plus it’s the edge of Ryerson University. Some time early this afternoon, it slumped. And then came down. No one was hurt, so very lucky.

See? Simple. Probably the sign attached to the front from what I heard.

I had dinner at the place next door a few weeks back and I don’t recall the building bulging any. Also didn’t notice anything every other day I walked past there either. I use that corner a lot, is what I’m getting at, and can’t say I saw anything untoward.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures