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Toronto City Life » 2012 » July

Archive for July, 2012

Down the rabbit hole

Posted on July 25th, 2012 Be the first to comment

Remember yesterday when I was talking about the seeming unwillingness of the government to curb violence? I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice this, but the only conclusions that people are drawing are that Harper and his cadre are doing this either through sheer incompetence or some level of meat-headed obstinance that simply won’t allow them to do anything else.

Except what if there’s a third option? One in which this is a cold, calculating move designed to get us all under the yoke of a tyrannical government. I mean, you only have to look as far back as Bills C-11, C-10, or C-38 (the Omnibus Crime Bill) to see exactly where they want to take Canada, and it’s a very ugly direction indeed; Orwellian, even — and that is not an exaggeration by any means.

And if you doubt that, today’s news offers an early glimpse into the plan made incarnate at this year’s Caribana (you know everyone still calls it that!) Here’s just a sample of what they deem is “normal” for private security (these aren’t even sworn police officers, and this is in a public place):

Security guards will be searching visitors’ bags for alcohol, drugs and weapons.

[Organizer Stephen] Weir said the people who usually purchase bleacher seats are seniors, families with young children and tourists. He doesn’t expect pat-downs will be part of the screening process.

Oh, he “doesn’t expect” pat downs will be used on children? That means that, yes, most certainly the troglodyte security goons will most definitely be grabbing at your kids’ genitals, a la US TSA gropings. And since these are mostly elderly and kids and families sitting in the bleachers, off course they need to be the subjects of a security crack-down. They are, after all, typical of the most despicable criminals out there. Makes sense, right?

People are unfairly linking us with an event in another part of the city that was really tragic, but we should be doing this.

Oh, it’s unfair. We don’t have a violent event, so of course we’ll be frisking people. And only the the law-abiding citizens who paid for their tickets; everyone else just walking around on the street won’t be subject to this. Makes sense, right?

If you’ve brought in food and non-alcoholic beverages, we don’t care. But if someone tries to bring in drugs or alcohol or projectiles and the worst-case scenario, a weapon, we have police standing by.

So what exactly is the point of security then? You know, it’s one thing to watch the crowd for sketchy people, but frisking people and rifling through their bags, especially when they’re families, elderly, and kids, has only one purpose, and it’s exactly the same purpose that the police at the G20 were put out in such force and ended up breaking the law in far larger numbers than even the demonstrators (who actually had larger numbers): fear and intimidation.

If you doubt this, read the official reports on the G20 (I’m sure I link to them from this blog somewhere). Does that help to answer why the police didn’t give a fuck when the vandals were wrecking Toronto? They weren’t there to serve and protect — it’s that simple.

They are not there to help you, they’re there to teach you to kow tow to authority, to demand that you allow flabby fucks to manhandle your kids, to scare you into obeying whatever commands they issue, even if they themselves have no more authority than the average citizen on the street. It’s important to repeat this last part, because in a public place like the Caribana parade, you have as many rights as any pudgy fuck with a pseudo-badge and a hard-on for fondling your wife’s breasts. And if you don’t like it, you can be sure that there will be hundreds of security cameras recording your every move, without your knowledge or permission, exactly as described in Orwell’s 1984.

Just today I saw two police cruisers in Allan Gardens and four bicycle cops for a total of eight uniforms busting an old man. One of the officers was doing a little jig while two others were laughing up a storm; the old guy just stood there looking down at the ground. Ridiculous? Of course not, it’s fear and intimidation; they’re doing their jobs!

You know, if the evidence fits then whatever the theory it supports must necessarily be true, and frankly all the crap that the mayor and the mainstream keep throwing at us makes no sense at all (see above).


Sadly, most people will just go along with our descent, much to the resounding joy of Harper and his underlings who see their hellish visions of a “modern” society coming to life, and these people will cower in fear and bow to “the authorities” (whoever they claim to be), whenever they’re told to.

This is just the very beginning.


Filed under: Patrick Bay, Why I'm Right

Ford desperately grasps at straws in response gun violence

Posted on July 24th, 2012 Be the first to comment

What with Toronto being the center of the Canadian universe, it’d be hard to miss the latest spat of gun violence around town. Funny thing is, it only seems to make news when it happens in neighbourhoods where it usually doesn’t. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the Morningside area of Scarborough where the latest big shooting happened I’m well familiar with (I went to high school there), and it’s never been a terribly pleasant place to visit. Even the hookers along Kingston Road are lacking a certain je ne sais quoi — hard to believe hooking could get seedier, but it does.

But this particular neighbourhood where the shooting happened is a small residential street near The Guild, a ritzy part of Scabby Row, not the rundown hellhole ‘hood people are making it out to be on the news. And that’s precisely why it made the news.

You see, nary a night goes by when a *pop pop pop* isn’t heard down the street from my place; that’s either a lot of fireworks, backfiring cars, or guns going off. I’m pretty sure it’s the later. And it’s the same for nearby Regent Park. When guns go off, neither the media nor the mayor give a shit. In fact, the best people like Ford can do is put on an idiotic bravado by vowing to get those pestilent immigrants out of our fair city, or butting heads with the premiere and pretending to stand on the side of the common man by refusing to take any “BS” (i.e. demanding money from the province), even after voting to cut every single community violence prevention project around town (and being literally the only councillor to do so), and sporting a brand new luxury SUV to demonstrate exactly how much he himself is cutting corners in these tough times.

Let’s not mince words, Ford is a hypocritical piece of filth and he knows it. And he and his buddy, the Chief of Police (incidentally one of the few city agencies to get a plentiful raise while all others received cuts, not including the latest boost from the province), just plaster newspaper headlines with more crap about gun control (were any of the guns used legally purchased?)  And is it coincidental that these shootings coincide with the criticisms of Harper’s Omnibus Crime Bill, in the same way that Obama was forced to back off on his gun control legislation just as the Denver shootings took place? Sure, it’s a bit conspiracy theory, but you have to admit that the timing couldn’t be better. Almost too good.

Also interesting to note that the police don’t appear to keep statistics on how many deaths they’ve caused, but judging by the general number of complaints against them, I’d say that the first step in addressing crime is to overhaul the police services, not allow them to investigate themselves, and to show the public that crime by armed, trained, sworn police officers is dealt with as seriously as crime by civilians, not covered over, drawn out for years, and summarily dismissed. When neighbourhoods can trust the cops to actually enforce the law and not be more crooked than the criminals (I don’t recall any criminal taking an oath to serve and protect the public), then maybe the neighbours will have a reason to report crimes and criminals in their midst. And then maybe something will change.

And in case you’re wondering why most people don’t want to talk to police after shootings — that’s the reason! The vast majority of them believe cops can’t be trusted, and a lot of the time they’re right on the money. Why invite armed thugs, a.k.a. Toronto Police, into the neighbourhood when they’ve seen them selling drugs and pushing people around while being given a free pass by the law to do as they wish (in fact, being licensed to do it)? Not such a big mystery, is it?

Any news reporter mention that? Did Ford blurt that, even in passing, out of his bloated giblet?

But this, the path of transparency, honesty, and propriety, is clearly not one Harper and all of his underlings, including Ford, are willing to take, despite being told for years what the issues are. They know the problems, they know the solutions, and they’re heading in exactly the opposite direction. The only conclusion must be that they’re not interested in curbing violence, they’re interested in keeping the population scared and huddled until they can swoop in on their pale horses and take away all of our rights in the name of “safety”.

If only their efforts weren’t so transparent, one might be tempted to call them absolute imbeciles. Sadly, the truth of the matter is much more insidious.

Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay

Toronto Sun reaches new height of journalism

Posted on July 17th, 2012 2 Comments

The birdcage liner aimed at Toronto’s avid knuckle-draggers really outdid itself today. I am now no longer able to distinguish it from other vaunted tabloids like the Weekly World News (more interesting), or the Onion (more funny).

Story goes: dude walks up, sees other dude with bag on seat, screws up face, takes a photo, hobbles off on account of a gimpy leg. Didn’t ask for the seat, didn’t motion like he wanted to sit down, just cast a glance like, “who the hell are you to be taking up my seat with a bag?” Breaking news reported to Sun News who interview gimpy leg dude in the street; now front page of Toronto Sun and most likely running on high rotation on Sun News Network alongside the hot dog rat story.

And look, as of this post, 95 people registered their rabid displeasure at the event — that’s three times as many as the story in which a three-year-old boy kills his dad with his handgun.

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay, Pictures

Gettin’ our trendy Wellies on

Posted on July 15th, 2012 Be the first to comment

Sarah and I made a sort of unnofficial agreement — well, no, really I made a proposal and she agreed — that we would try to try out a new breakfast joint every Saturday morning, time and money willing. I use the word “morning” lightly because Saturday and that word are not usually best of buddies; I’m sure you know what I mean. But this being Toronto, there are plenty of places around willing to serve breakfast at all manner of un-Godly hours, so that shouldn’t cause us any problems.

Yesterday, for our inaugural journey, Sarah found a place called Bar Wellington for us to try out. It’s a red brick job sitting on the corner of Wellington and Portland Streets, a trendy area with lots of trendy people wearing trendy clothes, walking trendy dogs, riding trendy Vespas, and just generally being trendy.

Trendiness, per se, doesn’t really agree with me — I tend to gravitate more towards the unwashed vagrant look. Plus, the intersection reminds me of the varied and harried times slinging code for evil advertising agencies I’d spent within literally a stone’s throw of there, not all of them bad, but always commensurate with the amount of overall trendiness exhibited by whatever employer I was under the yoke of at the time. In other words, I tend to whinge uncontrollably whenever I’m in the presence of threadbare shirts, fashionably unshorn faces, trendily asymmetric quaffs, and thonged-feet (this ain’t the beach, buddy!)

I was, however, able to put my judgement aside long enough to dig into a plate of sunny-sided eggs, brown toast, and a delightful, albeit misnomered, rendition of hash-brown potatoes consisting of cubed potatoes and lightly herbed cherry tomatoes, and washing it all down with fresh OJ and a glass of oddly vegetable-flavoured water. Sarah couldn’t verify this last part for me because she was busy slamming down a much more vegetable-laden Caesar and ripping into a plate of “Not So Classic” eggs Benedict in which the Canadian bacon is replaced with prosciutto. An extra side of hollandaise went mostly to waste as there was enough of the home made concoction to aptly smother everything on her plate.

Aside from what I thought was somewhat bland hollandaise (I like more zing in my butter/yolk artery-hardener), the $25-ish price tag seemed quite reasonable for a tasty (even the vegetable water wasn’t off-putting), fresh meal, that was big enough to be left partially unfinished. The outdoor patio was breezy, which was just as well since we would never have been able to get Sarah’s wheelchair into the inaccessible building otherwise. It could have been quieter, but then again this is just off of King West on a Saturday; expectations must be tempered.

Overall, I’d give the place a double-thumbs up. I know Sarah thoroughly enjoyed her meal, and I was pretty satisfied too. It was certainly a step-up from the traditional greasy spoon where the hollandaise comes out of a packet and and the hash-browns are swimming in month-old grease. As I said, the hollandaise could’ve used more acid, but Sarah seemed satisfied with it so I guess that’s a matter of personal preference. Next time I might try the “Wellington Medallions”, their fru-fru, Grand-Marnier-infused take on pancakes, but the breakfast was good enough that there’s nothing to make me think twice about returning to an area immersed in nightmarish memories of insane advertising agencies sporting trendy assholes riding trendy Vespas with trendy girlfriends holding trendy dogs…

Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay

New tracks for Queen Spadina

Posted on July 15th, 2012 Be the first to comment
Queen/Spadina track replacement

Queen/Spadina track replacement

Filed under: Patrick Bay, Pictures

Elliot what?

Posted on July 14th, 2012 Be the first to comment

When people ask me where my parents live, my answer is almost always invariably met with a blank stare.

“Elliot Lake?”

“Yeah,” I’d reply. “You know where Sudbury is?”

“Ummm, kinda. Do people go skiing there?”

“Yeah, I suppose. More likely they go to mine minerals there. Iron, copper, that kinda thing.”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, you go to Sudbury, then head an additional two hours or so north and west. That’s Elliot Lake.”

“How far is that from Toronto?”

“I guess anywhere from seven to nine hours depending on traffic and weather.”

*surprised whistle* “Is it nice?”

“Yeah. If you like bears and hiking. In the winter they do a lot of ice fishing.”

“Sounds like cottage country. Muskokas.”

“Yeah … no. It’s pretty wild up there. Civilization is mostly a strip-mall type deal named the Algo Centre. Beyond that, it’s all trees and lakes and logging roads.”

Basically, people have never heard of it let alone be able to place it on a map. That is, of course, until recently. Now most Ontarians have at least a rough idea of where the infamous mall is located.

My parents are still trying to convince me to move to their community — apparently uranium mining is about to take off again and there are going to be jobs galore!

That’s a definite maybe on that one.


Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay

Last night I dreamt of blogging

Posted on July 14th, 2012 Be the first to comment

Kinda reminds me of all this spam I’ve been receiving lately that starts off with, “I was awake at 4:30 again this morning as usual…”; you know, the one from Ilsa Beauregard or Brian Stainhousman or Georgina Whatsamopolous telling me what a great investment they’ve discovered or how they’ve defied ageing or how they’ve managed to extend their penis by 10.3% and erectile rigidity to superhuman levels.

Except this time it’s me that’s awake and this one particular vision of blogging at my desk keeps running through me head — I’m sitting at my dining table (which is now permanently my work table), it’s a golden late afternoon outside with gilded shafts slicing the air of my downtown apartment behind me, and I’m blogging about the day’s events on TCL. I haven’t discovered any great new investment product, am still the same age (and getting older), and am fairly satisfied with my boners. And I’m happy.

And I realized I missed this.

I mean, there’s definitely a place for hard-hitting political commentary and well-deserved Ford bashing, and I have other blogs where I can broadcast my programming prowess or disgust with modern events around the globe, but I can’t help but wonder what the hell happened to me.

For some mysterious reason the Twitter account is now at an unhealthily large number of followers, I’m blessed with a modicum of financial stability, and lord knows my life is more interesting and unpredictable now than it ever was when TCL started.

And why did I start TCL again? When I go back to post number one about New Year’s Eve at Nathan Phillips Square, there’s the prototype for what I had intended should I ever get to this day. And here I am, and it feels like I’m wasting a great opportunity. At least that’s why my brain seems to be keeping me up at 4:30 in the morning.

Yeah, it’s true that life today is in some ways more challenging than it used to be. The various projects that come my way professionally have me keeping vampiric hours which sometimes include weekends, and Sarah’s MS keeps me occupied in a bunch of ways. I’ve hardly mentioned her at all but she’s such a large part of my life (in a great way). I also now have another cat, a little black hellion named Bitty, who vies for my attention along with the ever-hungry Ollie.

And although it’s sometimes hard to get behind the keyboard, what with all the extra side projects I decided to heap onto my already overfull plate, I just can’t seem to shake that feeling that this is exactly where I should be at this time of the day. Well, hopefully I’ll be better-rested in the future when I decide to write again, but you get the idea. No gimmicks, no filler, no photos for the sake of photos, just Toronto City Life.

So welcome, once again, dear reader. It’s nice to be back.

Filed under: B Sides

Toronto real estate market primed for a crash?

Posted on July 4th, 2012 1 Comment

Unfortunately, I don’t know who wrote this Pastebin entry about the Toronto and Vancouver real estate markets, but it’s a salient and seemingly well-researched piece, certainly better than the vast majority of so-called “news” sites out there anyways.

I’ve copied it here in its entirety and would love to be able to attribute it to whoever wrote it (if you know, drop me a line!).

The real estate market everywhere will be in turmoil by September. The bankers know it. The realtors smell it. The sheeple have no idea what’s coming.

Investor and consumer behaviour’s been irrational. Your friends, relatives and the people at work have been employing leverage on a scale not seen since the 1920s to speculate that assets already priced at record levels will go higher. Net worth has been consolidated in houses, as it was in stocks prior to the Great Depression and in US real estate before the GFC. The consequences will be the same. F knows this. It’s why the hammer dropped two weeks ago. Too late.

An astonishing number of people are about to be turned into crispy critters by something they see as safe and benign. A whack of them lined up outside a new Vancouver-area condo development called Cambie+7 a few days ago – the latest reminder of the lust we saw weeks ago north of Toronto when people stormed a sales centre and bought million-dollar homes in five minutes.

Here they are:

What they’re buying: Lilliputian units (less than 600 feet), in an unbuilt structure in a regional city with a declining real estate market for an average of $710 a square foot. Why? Two reasons. “Proven value appreciation,” says the developer. “Condos in the area went up 35% in the last three years.” So, of course, they’ll go up forever. Second, a 5% deposit – putting rank speculation on a $500,000 asset within the grasp of anyone with $25,000.

By the way, here’s what half a million (including closing costs) gets you:

That real estate is troubled will become apparent to everyone in a few months. For those who care to look now, the cracks are widening. Quite apart from the public delusion mentioned above, Vancouver (for example) is unraveling. In the next day or so the real estate board will try to caramelize and fluff the latest ugly set of numbers. But June was a disaster, as this pathetic blog told you would happen.

Sales of detached houses crashed 37%
Prices have declined for four consecutive months, the first such occurrence in 16 years.
The average SFH has lost almost 13% of its value, likely one-third or less of what’s coming.
Condo sales were down 20%. Prices were down 6% in a single month.
Listings of detached homes have exploded higher 27% over this time a year ago.
But this is not a Vancouver story. It will define economic lives in every significant community. Prices could actually revert to the mean, which historically places the cost of owning a house close to that of renting the same digs. By this measure houses in Toronto and Vancouver are overvalued by about half. You can just imagine the consequences.
Bankers can. That elfin deity known as F tried to calm jittery Bay Street nerves with a conference call on Friday, addressing head-on fears that slashing the amortization rate and curtailing lending will crash housing. It didn’t work. “We are prepared to take that risk, quite frankly, because of the greater risk of the development over time of a housing bubble,” he said. “I realize it may have some dampening effect on the economy and I realize it may have some dampening effect in the residential real estate market.”

For their part bankers are uncharacteristically speaking out. As RBC’s head of banking told a Globe reporter, “This is not like turning a Ferrari. This is like a big ship. And it takes a while to turn. And sometimes if you over steer, you can’t re-steer the other way.”

It’s all just beginning. The odds of us having a soft landing, as I detailed last week, are fading daily. One on hand the lenders, agents, developers, brokers and bankers understand what just happened and where it’s leading. On the other, idiot buyers, popped on leverage, are embracing deals they see as riskless.

When the facts emerge, expect chaos at the exits.

Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay