Post-Protest

   17 March 2009, early morning

Yesterday I mocked some of the people complaining about the giant anti-war save-the-tigers protest. There was certainly a lot of that sentiment going around, but we live in Toronto, the greatest city in the world, so for every dude moaning about how there are too many people on the street there is someone else happy to ride home in a train full of protesters. For every person complaining the trains are packed there is someone else disappointed by the backlash. For every person shocked people would protest again, there is someone else impressed with how orderly things were. Generally, I find the people of Toronto to be all kinds of awesome.

The star has a wrap up of yesterdays protest, with interviews of various people involved. As I had guessed, neither Torontoist or BlogTO covered the protest. I leave it up to you to guess why that might be. (Last time I saw Himy Syed, he had a lot to say on this topic. I’m waiting for his t.oronto.ca project to launch.)

Update: Torontoist posts photos from the protest.

Comment  

Tamils Protest vs. White Whine

   16 March 2009, late morning

The second giant Tamil protest is taking place downtown right now. The protesters hope to form a human chain that goes up Yonge from Front to Bloor, across Bloor to University, and back down to Front. If they pull that off, they would have basically choked off all of downtown. In Sri Lanka there are Sri Lankans trapped inside a small region of the country, trapped in a perimeter controlled by the Sri Lankan army. They are being shelled by their government, and shot by their liberators. To contrast, in Toronto, there are people who are going to have to cross the protesters to drink cocktails at Holt’s for fashion week, who will be late to their appointments because Union Station is packed, who can’t finish their business plan because it’s too noisy, who are stuck in traffic, etc. This might be the very definition of White Whine.

As to whether a protest is actually a good way to bring about change, I have my doubts. The Sri Lankan government isn’t going to slow down now because Canada asks them to. And because of the way these protests are almost always conflated with support for the LTTE, it’s doubtful our current federal government is going to pay the protesters much attention anyway. Still, if they pull things off, it will be a very impressive feat.

There is some discussion going on in the BlogTO morning brew post today. It’s not particularly illuminating, though I am now arguing there with way too many people about stuff I really don’t care about. I get annoyed too easily. It will be interesting to see if BlogTO or Torontoist have much to say about the protest. Their coverage of news in Toronto tends to be very niche. (Though, BlogTO did cover the last protest.)

Update: I’d change this URL, but it would break incoming links. Apparently the protesters numbered well over the 25,000 people goal.

Comment [14] |  

The AGO

   25 February 2009, early morning

Shima and I have memberships at the AGO now. I’ve been three times since joining. I am trying to make it a point of going often in order to make the most of my membership purchase. (Though, I suppose supporting the gallery is worthwhile in and of itself.) The gallery is big enough it will probably take several trips to figure out where everything is, and see everything worth seeing.

The AGO renovation is amazing, and seems like what the ROM renovation should have aspired to. I like the Crystal, but once inside the museum it seems clear that it doesn’t work that well. Gallery space is poorly utilized, and the interior just doesn’t look that nice. There is all sorts of infrastructure jutting out here and there, which ruin the the interior elements of the design. The AGO on the other hand seems like a perfectly executed renovation. The exterior is certainly nice, but the interior is where things really shine. Everything seems neat and tidy and just right. The ROM’s big success is moving its entrance to Bloor, and the new lobby which is quite stunning. Beyond that I think the renovation wasn’t a success. It certainly doesn’t seem to have captivated Torontonians the way the AGO renovation has.

Comment [2] |  

Craft Burger

   10 February 2009, early morning

I met Shima at the Design Exchange, where the two of us went to a talk by Architecture for Humanity. The group is doing a four part trilogy (don’t ask) on Toronto’s past, present, and future. It was an interesting talk. (Honestly, anything in the design exchange is going to be enjoyable: that building is awesome.) I learnt how 16th century Spanish law influenced planning in Toronto, about all the things you can find in the Toronto archives, and how the TTC was punched in the crotch back in the 50s and hasn’t really recovered since. It was a good talk, but Shima and I were too hungry to stay for the Q&A.

On our way out we met a fellow from Blansdowne. I thought he knew Shima. Shima thought he knew me. It was only when we started to talk that the two of us realized he knew us through this blog. That’s the power of the Internet, people!

Shima wanted a burger. I had vague memories of a place called Craft Burger opening up in the city. I looked the place up on my iPhone, and yes, there was a place called Craft Burger and it had been successful enough to open up a second location in Toronto. Shima and I went to this new Yonge and Bloor location since it was on our way home. The place was small, clean, and it being late, not too busy. I ordered an organic burger (where the meat comes from the Healthy Butcher), and Shima bought something with avocado and other fancy-ass ingredients. We split some onion rings. We sat down next to a couple with a baby and a toddler. The mom had giant breasts. It was unreal. Our food arrived and so we ate. My God, it was good. Craft Burger is a bit expensive for a burger shop, but I don’t think I’ve had a better burger in the city. People, you need to go there now.

Comment [12] |  

The Post Blackout Trip to Work

   16 January 2009, early morning

I left for work at 9:00 today. I thought leaving during rush-hour proper would be stupid since subways were not running on Bloor. Waiting was probably a good idea, but my guess that by 9:00 things would be OK was way off. I sat in Dale’s drinking a coffee for about 45 minutes, after realizing that a) the subway wasn’t going to start soon and b) shuttle buses weren’t going to empty any time soon. Buses East and West were totally packed by the time they got to Bloor and Lansdowne (Blansdowne). At 10 I hopped on a bus, which, while still quite busy, didn’t have people falling out the front door. The trip to Keele (where subway service had resumed) was uneventful, till you reached the station. Keele was a zoo. I can only imagine how bad it was earlier in the morning. Once I got to Keele, and got on a train heading West, the my trip was a lot less interesting. The train was empty, but running quite slow. My beloved 191 had stopped its rush hour service hours ago, so I took the slow but reliable Kipling and Dixon buses to make it in to work — 3 hours late.

Comment [4] |  

#hohoto

   15 December 2008, mid-afternoon

7:23 PM: Over the last little while, I would see the occasional message on my twitter feed informing me so-and-so would be attending #hohoto at the Mod Club. I didn’t bother getting tickets, because I couldn’t even image the thing would sell out. Nerds at a club: how does that sell out? Of course, it does. #hohoto seems to have become some sort of nerdapolooza here in Toronto. I don’t know what the tech community equivalent of a scenester is, but I suspect I’m going to meet a whole bunch tonight.

I’m off to meet Laurence now. It’ll be interesting to see how the night plays out. If it’s anything like any other tech event I’ve been too, it’ll be a lot of dudes and awkward conversation.

8:51 AM: #hohoto was definitely a big success. The organizers managed to raise over $25,000 for the food bank. According to Mayor Miller, this makes the group one of the top 5 donors to the food bank. (This is all the more impressive when you factor in the fact that they did this all in 2 weeks.) As a party I think it also worked well. I underestimated just how many PR and Marketing people would show up. So, to my surprise, it wasn’t just a bunch of dudes and awkward conversation. People were drinking, a few people were dancing, and a lot of people were schmoozing. I saw a lot of my friends, and they played Stevie Wonder, so I had a great time.

Comment |  

GOBAMA and Dundas Square

    5 November 2008, early morning

Last night was amazing. I haven’t been so emotionally invested in an election my entire life. And this was an election I played no part in.

I met Tyler at his office, and along with my brother, the three of us made our way to the Gladstone. We were joined by a big posse of people, all interested in the election. The Gladstone was a great place to be last night. People were genuinely excited about what was going on — and you could get beer. The Gladstone was electric, and I’m glad I stayed their long enough to see Obama be declared the winner, and listen to John McCain give his concession speech. You’d have think the leafs had won.

If history is unfolding around you, don’t go to Dundas Square. Dundas Square is a great place to be if you want to look at ads, but that is about it. What a failure of a public space. My cousin sums things up great:

What a self hating city this is. Last night really made me hate Dundas square even more. It truly exists only to sell you things. You cant be a citizen there, you can’t be a person. You can only be a consumer. It is a totally inflexible space and those omnipresent screens can only be used for evil.

So essentially, Toronto has no city centre or town hall that exists as a genuinely civic space. It has a big mall and it has a place to go if you want to be bombarded by ads.

… A black man was elected president of the United States and they couldnt stop selling us useless fucking shit for like an hour?

If you build a city or community on the creation and accumulation of wealth, that is all you are going to have in the end. It is cheap and crass and meaningless and often totally innapropriate. It is antithetical to everything that residents of the city actually need.

But, at the end of the day, who cares about Dundas Square. I listened to Obama give his victory speech at the Elephant and Castle with my cousin, brother, and Haran. The room was quite somber — except for myself, who was pretty loud and drunk at this point. There is a Black Dude heading to the White House, and he is awesome. This is awesome.

Comment [14] |  

Illegal Signs at Lansdowne

   14 November 2007, early morning

I emailed Adam’s office about the ugly billboard up on the municipal housing just west of Bloor and Lansdowne. His office got in touch with MLS, and passed on a response to me:

The sign is a third party fascia sign that has no permit. Charges have already been initiated against the property owner and the matter is now before the courts. As for your last question I suggest you direct your enquiry to the sign company and or property owner for it is of no concern to MLS.

Foolishly, I thought I had made a difference. Several weeks passed and I noticed the sign was still up. I thought I’d email the fellow behind Illegal Signs with the information the councilor’s office gave me to see what his take on things was:

What they didn’t tell you is they are asking for a $1000 fine and that the City can take down the sign if it wants. … The city has decided not to enforce the law.

Now, clearly ugly billboards aren’t the biggest problem facing Toronto, and they certainly aren’t the biggest problem in my area, but this really does speak to just how lame the city is. Unlike Toronto’s other problems, this one is incredibly easy to solve: the city can take down illegal signs. More so, they can probably fine the companies the cost of doing so. This isn’t the sort of problem that requires creative thinking to sort out.

(By strange coincidence, this sign I emailed Rami Tebello about was discussed on his site just yesterday.)

Update May 6th 2009: The sign is still up. Go City Hall! Go!

Comment [4] |  

conversation21

   14 November 2007, terribly early in the morning

I took the 26W to Mississauga yesterday. Mississauga is a strange city. Unlike most cities, where the city centre is tight and quite walkable, Mississauga’s is sparse and sprawling. I got off at the Square One bus terminal, and started walking to the mall. The terminal and the mall aren’t connected; I had to trek through some parking lots. I grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then left the mall to go to the Living Arts Centre. It all felt like a real journey. I’m not a big fan of Mississauga. It’s all sub-divisions or office parks separated by 6 lane roads. If you don’t have a car it’s not a very friendly city to be in. I try and avoid the city when I can.

Shima and I were there last night as part of the conversation21 lecture series. Shima wanted to hear Jan Gehl speak. He talked about how modern cities, those that came to life after the 50s, are designed at a 60km/h scale: they are meant to be lived in while zooming around in a car. You have big billboards, big buildings, big everything, scattered through out a sprawling city. The city becomes a series of private venues connected by roads. Real interaction between people gets lost in such a city. He had some great aerial shots of some cities that were totally devoid of people: it was just buildings and cars. Gehl advocates designing at the 5km/h scale, which is a more human scale. Cities should be designed to bring people together. I’m probably not doing his talk justice. He is an excellent speaker.

There is apparently some serious interest in the city of Mississauga to make the city more livable. I’m not sure it’s possible to accomplish such a goal, but the city certainly seems enthusiastic about trying. Toronto really does seem old and busted in comparison. I can’t recall the last time I heard something — anything really — positive coming from city hall.

Comment [2] |  

Toll the 905

   28 June 2007, early afternoon

Someone on Tyler’s blog mentioned something I’m surprised the city doesn’t do: toll the highways/roads coming in from the 905 regions for non-Toronto residents. So Shima and the planners why doesn’t the city do this? (Also, Shima and the Planners would be a good name for a band, assuming Shima was the lead singer.)

Comment [9]  

The Nathan Phillips Square Redesign Competition

   21 February 2007, terribly early in the morning

Shima and I attended the Nathan Phillips Square redesign competition last night. We watched short presentations from each of the 4 finalists. I thought all the finalists were quite good. Any of the designs being implemented would be a big improvement to the space, which is already pretty well used and loved. In particular, I thought the design by Plant Architects, and the one from Rogers Marvel, were particularly good. I’m hoping one of these two teams wins. Marvel’s plan looks simple and uninteresting till you start to hear them talk about what they’ve done and how they’ve changed things. There is a lot in their plan you don’t notice till they point it out. (A nice touch is that they’ve stripped away parts of the walk-way to show off key parts of the square.) Plant’s has a lot of good ideas for utilizing the walkways, and turning pockets of the square into more intimate spaces. I’m looking forward to seeing who wins. I hope the city actually goes through with this plan. I think Nathan Phillips Square is pretty nice as it is, except it’s borders are so ugly: all these plans fix that and then some.

More coverage of the event from: BlogTO, Torontoist, Spacing, and the Toronto Star.

Comment [10]  

Toronto's Municipal Election 2006

   13 November 2006, evening time

This is one of the few times I wish I had a TV. I feel like heading out to one of the election parties to check out the results live. I’ve been following along with the Torontoist’s live blogging of the election. Pitfield has already conceded defeat to Miller, so that’s good at the very least. I think it was pretty brave for Pitfield to challenge Miller: she gave up her very safe seat to make the attempt. I’m still waiting to hear who wins our ward. It was very hard to decide who to vote for.

Update: With 30 of 31 polls reporting, Adam Giambrone looks to be the clear winner of Ward 18. The crowd at Lula Lounge must be quite happy.

Update: Toronto Star pick Chin Lee has won my families riding, Ward 41.

Update: Proving incumbents have it easy, David Shiner wins another election. Sanaz got a comendable 10% of the vote. Ed Shiller, the other oposition clocked in at around 30%.

Update: Ward 17, just North of me, looks to have gone to the incumbent Cesar Palacio. It was a very ugly campaign, and i’ll be disappointed if Bravo can’t recover. 1 poll to go. She needs to make up 200 votes. I don’t see it hapening.

Comment |  

Who Hates Dufferin Grove Park?

    9 November 2006, mid-afternoon

Shima and I were sitting next to this older lady at the Ward 18 debate last night. She came with her family, who were sitting up at the front. Whenever Dufferin Grove Park was mentioned, and it was mentioned often, she would say, “My god it’s a disaster.” She must have called the park a disaster at least 50 times during the course of the night. (The event was co-organized by the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park, so candidates were quick to heap praise on the park.) I had always assumed the park was well liked. I mean, who hates a park? Well, apparently people do. I’ll need to dig a bit to find out why. I’ve been to the park once with Shima, and it was full of children playing in a wadding pool and running around having fun. I can’t think of another park downtown like it.

Update Nov 13th 2006: So, apparently Carol Seljak hates the compost toilet at Dufferin Grove park. One of her complaints was that the neighbourhood had not been informed about what is going on in the park with respect to the toilet. The Friends of Dufferin Grove Park counter by pointing out no one opposed to the composting toilet showed up for a meeting to discuss. Adam’s office flyered the area to inform the residents of the development. Shima suspects that the flyers were in English only, and may have been ignored by the Vietnamese and Portuguese community in the area. (It this a valid concern?)

There were two meetings for the park, and the September 12th one came up during the debates at Dewson Public School. A lady informed the audience described it as a hundred people working together without a single voice of opposition. She felt it was a perfect example of democracy in action. I think she should read more.

Update Nov 30th 2006: I met a bunch of the park staff today. One of the staff, Mayssan Shuja-Uddin, emailed me and asked me to come meet the people that run things. I think she thought I was unhappy with how the park was being run. Now, this wasn’t the case, since I don’t really use the park enough to care one way or another how they do things, but I still thought it’d be cool to meet the people behind the park — and it was. Everyone was very friendly. More than that, you can see they want to help, and that the fact they might not be doing everything they can be frustrates them. Myssan found this particular blog post, which is why she emailed me. I can’t imagine more proactive park staff.

I was curious about how representative the park is of the community, and in particular if community concerns were being addressed. The natural assumption to make when I heard people were angry over the changes in the park were that there was a disconnect between the old and new residents in the area. It would seem this isn’t the case. The staff mentioned that the Portuguese community, who would be the older community in the area, is out in full force during the winter, when the rink is open, but don’t use the park much during the summer months. During the summer, the park is dominated by toddlers and their parents for the most part. There is a large wading pool and a jungle gym which I guess are the main draws. Chances are these would be the new members of the community — young families have moved to the area because homes are/were much cheaper than homes elsewhere in Toronto. They mentioned they do get the odd suggestion and complaint from all sorts of people, not just the newer crowd. If old Portuguese matrons can figure out how to voice their worries, I suspect there isn’t a communication issue with the park.

I still want to track down people that actually hate the park. I wish I had spoke more to the lady at the candidates meeting. I still don’t get how you can hate on a park. (There was one person I thought had a legitimate beef with the park, but it turned out she was pretty much just an Internet troll. You can watch as she yells to herself in her own little message board.)

Aside: I can’t speak anymore. Yesterday I could barely get out what was on my mind. I’m like that at work too I find. I think working as a programmer is making me stupid.

Comment [6]  

The Political Party

    7 November 2006, the wee hours

Miller and the Panel at the Political Party event

The Political Party was packed. The Revival, a fairly big space, was full to the brim of people. I arrived around 8:00, minutes before Jane Pitfield took the stage, and was stuck at the very back of the building. Considering the place was so packed, I was surprised to bump into Himy Syed again. He was filming the event on his little camera, and gave me a flyer for an event for Un-Incumbents. It takes place tomorrow at 10:00 AM — so I’m not exactly sure who’ll be free to attend. I imagine it should be interesting, as it showcases several challengers for city council seats. We spoke briefly as Pitfield had already started talking when we noticed each other.

I felt a bit sorry for Jane Pitfield. She was clearly in Miller territory. No one would really clap for anything she had to say, regardless of whether it was sensible or not. People were pretty rude as well, snickering and laughing at some of the things she said. Most of the time she was on stage, a stupid bicyclist wouldn’t stop ringing a bicycle bell. This really took away from the event as a whole: it was a big Mayor Miller love in, which is kind of boring. Clearly people were there to support Miller and hear him speak. I think most people were annoyed Pitfield was there at all. I don’t agree with Pitfield on a lot of issues, and I won’t be voting for her, but the fact she gave up a safe seat on city council to run against a very popular mayor is something that deserves some respect.

Jane Pitfield said what she had to say, and then there was a short intermission. I used this time to try and move up as close to the front as I could get. (I made it right to the front.) On the way there, I spotted Sanaz and Yasmine. Right behind them were Colin and Lakme. I seem to bump into Colin at all sorts of random spots in the city. We all chatted while waiting for David Miller to take the stage.

Miller took the stage after the short break. He is a commanding and charismatic figure. His opening speech was quite good, and he did an excellent job of answering the questions presented to him by the panel. He was lucky in that he didn’t have to deal with the same sort of crowd Pitfield did: people laughed at his jokes, and clapped at what he had to say. I agree with pretty much everything Miller has to say, and clearly the downtown crowd did as well. At one point he was asked about placing a toll on the Gardiner and DVP, to which he gave a long answer and well thought answer on how doing so would be unfair. This didn’t play well to the crowd who probably don’t use the DVP all that much. This was one of the few times during the night where Miller had to deal with a negative reaction from the crowd. Rather than pander, he reiterated that he wouldn’t put tolls on the roads. It was nice to see him stick to his guns. More so, I agree 100% with his reasoning. If you are from Scarborough, taking the TTC into work really isn’t the better way at all. We have such crap access to transit that many people are compelled to drive to get anywhere. After hearing them both speak, Miller is still the person I hope wins on the 13th. Miller struck me as being in a totally different league than Pitfield. I agree with his vision for the future of the city. My hope is he get more of it done in his second term in office.

I’m betting Emm Gryner and her new band were wicked awesome. I probably should have stayed to see them play; I’m such an idiot.

I’ve posted photos from the event on my Flickr account.

Comment |  

Heritage Designations

    6 November 2006, early morning

I had always thought heritage designations for buildings existed to protect them from being demolished. If the city had some old-ass building it wanted to protect, because it was pretty or historically significant, the city could label it a heritage site and save it from the wrecking ball. Apparently I am naive, because Shima emailed me a list of heritage sites that have been demolished over the years. 168 buildings seems like a lot of buildings to me.

Comment [3]  

The Beaconsfield and the Gladstone

    3 November 2006, early morning

The Beaconsfield, has good burgers. Actually, most of the items on the menu looked pretty good, but Heather felt we should definitely get the burgers: she had heard good things about them. We both drank Amsterdam Blondes and talked, while waiting for Shima and Ali to arrive. Heather will be off in London soon, leaving Matt as the sole friend I stole from Tyler to remain in the city. I’d start singing All By Myself , but I’m not quite all alone just yet. Ali and Shima arrived a short while later, and not too long after that our food arrived. The burgers were really good; Heather had not been misinformed. Ali ordered a burger as well, though not before telling us about his new healthy life-style. The Beaconsfield started to fill up as we made out way out. We all walked over to the Gladstone to see a small art exhibit taking place on the second floor of the hotel. The Gladstone has changed a lot since the last time I was there. The interior is quite nice. We wandered around for a bit, enjoying the art. And then were back on the street. And then we were all home.

Comment |  

Everyday is Saturday Night

    1 November 2006, the wee hours

K-OS at the Mod Club

The K-OS concert was filled with several pleasant surprises. Mageneta Lane were one of the opening acts, and I can’t say enough good things about them. The other opening act, a black man with a guitar, who could belt out some wicked Hendrix and Marley, was also awesome. (That fellow should be famous.) Finally, there was K-OS himself, who was quite the showman. It was a very creative concert, totally not what I was expecting.

The Mysterious Opener

A black dude in a suit and fedora saunters out on to the stage. He’s carrying an acoustic guitar. He sits down and starts asking the crowd if they’re ready to have a good time, if they’re going to party, if they’re ready for some rock and roll, etc, etc — regular opener sort of stuff. Only he has I don’t give a fuck aurora about him, and he’s swearing a healthy amount. I had a feeling his show was going to be good. He started off by playing some Bob Marley. Someone screamed “Hendrix!” and he quickly switched to playing Purple Haze. He played the intro to Stairway to Heaven, though I think this was meant to be funny more than anything else. After this little introduction of sorts, he started playing his own stuff, which was great. So I ask you Internet: What was his damn name?

Magneta Lane

My favourite girl band of the moment, Magneta Lane, were up next. This was a very pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect a rock trio to open for K-OS. They played a fairly long set consisting mostly of songs from their new album. I’m not sure if anyone knew who they were or not, but most people seemed to like them all the same. I think Torontonians are polite enough anyway that they’ll sit through an opening act they aren’t impressed with and not raise too big a ruckus. They didn’t play Their Party Days, which was a shame, but they did end the set with Daggers Out, which I like quite a bit. If you haven’t heard anything by Magneta Lane you are really missing out.

K-OS

K-OS’ set was very different from what I was expecting. It was certainly a fair bit different than the set he put on at the Amphitheater. There was a heavy rock influence to everything he played. It’s like he decided to do covers of his own music. I liked it a lot. I recognized much of the band from the last concert. They were all playing just as good as the last time I saw them. K-OS’ band features a really killer DJ that scratched the hell out of several records, and an awesome Indian percussionist who played a very nice tabla solo. It was a pretty long set, and featured music from all of his albums. (Most of the stuff was new, of course.) My feet were killing me by the end of the night. Shima and Ali, who I went to the show with, were equally tired. When his set ended, Ali went off to get our coats — and chat up the girls from Magneta Lane — while Shima and I cheered for more music. (Well I cheered anyway.) The band came out for an encore, and played his latest single Sunday Morning. And with that the night was over.

Comment [2] |  

Architecture, Urban Design and Toronto

   20 October 2006, late morning

The pannel at the Active 18 Planning Talk

I thought this wasn’t a political debate.

Shima and I attended a talk last night at the Theatre Centre — it’s part of that gorgeous building at the corner Dovercourt and Queen. In attendance were 2 candidates from our ward, Adam Giambrone and Simon Wookey. Shima informed me that the remaining guests were also worth paying attention to: they were John Sewell, who is apparently a bit of a planning superstar, but is better known for being a former mayor of Toronto (before my time), and Adam Vaughan, who was a journalist for City TV.

It was a very interesting discussion…. which i’ll write about not later today.

You can see more photos of this talk over at my Flickr account.

Himy Syed

Himy Syed

The night ended with Shima and I meeting the infamous Himy Syed. He makes some very cool outdoor art projects. It’s strange meeting someone that you met online through your weblog. He used to post the occasional comment here.

Right now Himy Syed is putting all his energy into running for deputy mayor, and councilor for Ward 19. And does the man have some energy. Shima and I chatted with him for a good while; he told us about all the things he wants to do in the city. He’s a very creative and unconventional politician to be. I’m really hoping he wins the ward. It’d be nice to have some different voices in office. (If you live in Ward 19, vote for him. I’m not kidding.)

It’s interesting to see how contenders find ways to challenge the incumbents. Himy has no where near the funds of the incumbant Joe Pantalone. He argues there isn’t much point trying to campaign the same way as Pantalone, because its a game he can’t win. Instead Himy’s campaign has been very grass roots. He goes to events like this, meets people, and encourages them to talk about him. His website is slowly being filled to the brim with information. He has PDF files you can download if you want to make your own flyers to advertise for him. (You print them out at 8 by 10, and they can be arranged in various ways to make bigger posters.) His buttons are all made out of older buttons. (I think Shima’s friend Tiff would love how he is so mindful of waste and the environment.) It will be interesting to see if this approach works; I think it could in a ward like Ward 19. It certainly will be a tough race, as I understand Pantalone is well liked.

Comment [5] |  

Protests for Black July

   25 July 2006, early morning

As I mentioned yesterday, there was a large protest for Canada’s actions—or lack thereof—in the conflict in Sri Lanka, and a memorial for the communal riots of July 1983. I attended the event for an hour or so. During that time, I got to hear 3 politicians speak, watch a dance performance, and listen to some poetry. Of the three speakers I heard, Jim Karygiannis seemed to be the most informed of the lot. He has actually been to Sri Lanka, and has been attending these events for some time. The focus of the event (while I was there) was primarily on human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and requests for Canada to play a bigger role in the peace process. Dundas square was fairly packed; there was a sea of Tamil people sitting on the ground and standing around the edge of the square. Teenagers handed out flyers to people walking by the busy Dundas and Yonge intersection.

Two things in particular made this an effective protest I would say, beyond the sheer number of people out at Dundas Square:

  • There wasn’t much discussion on the LTTE whatsoever. Strangers on the street can learn about what is going on in Sri Lanka without having their opinions coloured by things they have heard about the LTTE. (I think one problem with the Tigers is that their notoriety overshadows that of the actual conflict.)
  • Most of the speakers were in English, which meant that the event could attract an audience outside of the Tamil community. Those speakers who did speak in Tamil had their speeches paraphrased afterwards by one of the Tamil MCs. At the protests I’ve attended in support of democracy in Iran, I think the overuse of Farsi is problematic. (I haven’t attended any big protests, where things might be different.)

Was anyone else there?

Comment [2] |  

byMark

   20 July 2006, mid-morning

Summerlicious is usually very hit or miss. Yesterday’s trip to byMark, which I thought would be a hit, was definitely a miss. I went to the restaurant with Nina, Riadh and Shima. The restaurant was fairly busy when we arrived at 9:00, but emptied out slowly as the night moved on. Shima and Nina didn’t like our waiter, though I’m not entirely sure why. I thought the service at byMark was alright, but nothing exceptional. (The best service I’ve encountered at a restaurant has to be at Centro or George.) I think everyone was a little bit disappointed with the food. I had crab cakes, followed by halibut, followed by a small mouse cake, as did Riadh; Nina and Shima had a chicken dish instead for their mains. The halibut was over cooked; it was far too chewy. The sauce it was in was quite tasty, but overall it was a disappointing main. The crab cakes were alright, but again, nothing too special. Shima’s chicken dish was quite bland, though I am sure someone would argue the flavour was subtle and nuanced. Everything tasted like it had been sitting under a heat lamp for hours on end, which might have been the case. I am sure during the rest of the year, byMark produces great food, but during summerlicious I don’t think they do in the least. As with Monsoon, I was left with no real desire to go back. If you want some good food during Summerlicious, my guess is that Bloom would deliver.

Comment [10] |  

Zombies: A Love Story?

   16 July 2006, late afternoon

Rishi and I watched Zombies today after having brunch with Sheliza at Flo’s diner in Yorkville. Neither of us really knew what the play was about, but it was well reviewed in Eye so Rishi wanted to check it out. Zombies is a one-man show about a guy who is late for work, and who had a strange dream. I really don’t want to say anymore on the plot; suffice it to say it’s a little bit strange. Stewart Matthews, the writer and one and only actor in the play, did a brilliant job playing all the parts, his accents and mannerisms changing with each character. It was really quite the sight to see. I’ll need to check out more of the Fringe Festival next year. Both plays I watched were really good, and I wonder how many other good ones I missed out on.

Comment |  

The (W)hole of Emily Scheller

   14 July 2006, late at night

I just got back from watching The (W)hole of Emily Scheller with Steph. It’s playing at this years Fringe Festival. The play is about the events in Emily’s life which have turned her into an ever-so-slightly cynical young lady. Her story is told to the audience in reverse chronological order. The play looks at some serious milestones in the girl’s life, and presents them in sometimes humorous, sometimes touching, ways. Emily is played by three actors: one boy and two girls. (None of them look alike, and going by the few descriptions we get of Emily in the play, none of them look like her either. I’m not sure if that matters or not.) One of the leads is Matt’s sister Rachael, who I haven’t seen in something like 7 years. (Oh my God high school was a long time ago.) She, along with both the other actors, did an excellent job. I was really impressed, and so was Steph. I’m really glad I made it out to see the play. It’s playing once more on Saturday, July 15th, at 2:15 PM. You should watch it. (Although I guess I say that about everything I see.)

Comment |  

The TTC is on Strike -- Again

   29 May 2006, early morning

The last time there was a big TTC strike, I was in high school, and it was the most wonderful time of the year. Even though my brother was driven to school by my aunt, I had already decided that there was no way for me to get to school. I enjoyed my time off. However, now that I work, it’s really just annoying that the TTC isn’t running today. (Am I the only one who had no idea a strike was in the works?) I have things I need to get done. A TTC strike isn’t quite the same as a Toronto wide holiday, though it is pretty close I suppose.

Update: So it’s about an hours wait for a taxi. There are two of us that don’t drive at the company I work at, and since we live fairly close together, we are splitting a cab into work. I can’t see this strike lasting very long.

Update: I got a lift back home from a fellow that works with me; and so ends a very short day at work. The strike is over now, and the TTC should be back up and running shortly.

Comment [4] |  

Coffee Tree and Me

   16 March 2006, early morning

In my quest to get better coffee at work, I went to a local coffee shop and bought some freshly ground coffee. Coffee Tree, the store near my home, claims to be the first shop in the city to sell coffee that they roast in the store (and grind if you need them to). The first coffee I bought was from Tuscany (or was simply called Tuscany). It’s a French roast. According to Mezan, a French roast is one where they almost burn the beans. If you roasted the beans anymore they’d be on fire. The Tuscany coffee tastes pretty good. If you like strong, smooth cups of coffee, I’d recommend it. The second coffee I bought from Coffee Tree was Arabian Sidamo. It’s also a French roast, and it also tastes good. If I was a more avid coffee drinker, I’d probably be able to describe with richer language what the two coffees taste like. Next week I will try some Venetian Roasts, which are medium roasted coffees. Coffee Tree is in the Bloor West Village, and is most definitely worth checking out if you are looking for fresh coffee.

Comment [2] |  

The TTC Fare Hike

   10 February 2006, early morning

We pay a fair amount of money to ride the trains here in Toronto. If you live on the subway line, and want to go somewhere on the subway line, then the TTC is quite fast. If not, then the TTC’s service is very hit or miss. Yesterday the TTC announced a hike in fares, the second in 2 years years. I’m not sure it is worth spending $5.50 round-trip to ride the TTC. However, if you don’t have a car, do you really have a choice? (That’s not a rhetorical question: the answer is no.)

We have bus coverage for much of the city—there is an express bus that goes right by my work!—but the quality of service we get from these buses is lacking at best. The bus I take home from work comes on average about once every ten minutes. This usually means two buses come back to back at 5:00, and another two at 5:30. One is usually dangerously overcrowded, while the other is empty. I understand that on the roads you never know how traffic will work out. However, one would think after running this service for so many years, the TTC would have worked out some tricks-of-the-trade. The bus I take to get to my house in Scarborough, the 130 Middlefield, doesn’t run on weekends, and holidays. I seem to remember when I was in grade school it didn’t run on weeknights as well. If I wanted to get home on a day the Middlefield bus wasn’t running, I’d take the McCowan and walk. Actually, if you live Scarborough, access to the TTC is pretty crap in general. The RT is pretty useless: Dave has stories of waiting at Lawrence East station for an RT train that wasn’t packed like a sardine, watching 3-4 pass him by before he could cram himself onto a train; that’s not good. Mezan says about half his trip to come downtown is spent on the bus from his home to Kennedy station. I think I could go on with more stories of how lame the TTC can be, but you probably get the point.

The Globe and Mail has a list of all the new fares. I think a Metropass is going to be a pretty good deal for anyone who takes the TTC on a semi-regular basis, especially since it is transferable now. The TTC should be better then it is. It benefits the city to have a viable public transit system. I’m sure more people would take the TTC if it was as fast and as efficient as the Tokyo Metro.

If you want something more insightful on the state of the TTC, you’ll have to wait for Lawrence or Matt to chime in.

Comment [2]  

← ← ← → → →