A painting of me

Blansdowne Buttons FTW!

   22 September 2011, early evening

I always take note when Blansdowne is used in the popular press. I’ve been trying to get people to call my neighbourhood Blansdowne for a while now. It’s actually been far more successful a venture than I had imagined. BlogTO started calling the aera Blansdowne ages ago. (You can see me in the comments patting myself on the back.) Torontoist followed suit some time later. Even TorontoLife has used the name, though somewhat incorrectly—they are so lame. Today I learned that Spacing is making Blansdowne buttons. Not stupid-ass Bloordale Village buttons, but Blansdowne buttons.

That’s what I’m talking about, people.

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It's Called Blansdowne

   29 October 2010, early morning

I thought a new milestone in my quest to get people to call the neighbourhood Blansdowne was reached a little while ago when Toronto Life used the name in an article about Drift Bar. Well almost, they referred to the area as Blandsdowne. That doesn’t even make any sense. There is nothing Bland about Blansdowne. More so, where are they getting the extra ‘D’? This is why no one reads Toronto Life.

The Globe and Mail mentioned my neighbourhood by name in their recent article about the area. I was pretty excited, but then I realized they too spelled the name wrong. What local calls the area Blandsdowne? Seriously? (I’m not even going to touch on the super obnoxious “let’s sell homes” tone of this piece.) This is why no one reads the Globe and Mail.

Journalists of the city: Bloor + Lansdowne = Blansdowne.

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Vote for Kevin Beaulieu

   21 October 2010, early morning

Ward 18 has only gotten better since I moved here. I would like to think that some of that is due to me, but I suspect a fair amount of the credit should go to Adam Giambrone and his staff. Kevin Beaulieu is the first of Adam’s staff that I met when I moved here. He would attend DIG IN meetings when Adam could not make them, or in addition to Adam. He’s always been easy to get a hold of and very quick to respond to inquiries. He’s also very knowledgeable about the area and its issues. I was glad to see that he was running to take Adam’s place in our riding. There are lots of good candidates running in Ward 18, but I think Kevin is by far the best. At the public debates I’ve attended, he’s the only candidate who can ever offer up very specific solutions to the problems in our ward. Most other candidates speak in very broad terms. (“We need more community meetings!” Perhaps, but that isn’t a solution for every single problem ever.) I hope he makes it on to city council. It will be to our collective benefit.

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   21 September 2010, mid-afternoon

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Blansdowne Art

   15 October 2009, early morning

I was interviewed yesterday about this blog and Blansdowne by Redmond Entwistle for a video installation project he is doing for Gallery TPW. It was a strange experience being interviewed about the area, since I don’t think my website or my opinion are particularly important. I also haven’t lived here that long. I suppose the total dearth of people blogging about the area is what elevates this blog to a position of authority it probably doesn’t deserve. The video he was working on sounds like it’ll be interesting, so if you’re in the city you should go check it out. The opening is this Saturday.

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Blansdowne FTW!

   16 July 2009, early morning

3-speed has opened up down the road from me, just a bit West of Dufferin and Bloor. The bar is owned by the same people that own The Communist’s Daughter. I was there last night with some people from DIG IN. It was a bit shocking for a few reasons: a) the place was packed b) with young hip 20-somethings c) and no degenerates. Blansdowne is changing. Starving Artist and The Holy Oak Cafe both opened up within a few weeks of each other. Starving Artist is almost always packed, not always with people from the area, and serves awesome waffles. Holy Oak seems to cater to people in the area more, and seems to be doing well enough. Every time I’ve gone there are a few people hanging out doing whatever it is people do in cafes. It’s a nice spot as well. Calico, a Vegan place, opened up last week down the road from Holy Oak. Further down the road a new (proper) Mexican place opened up as well. And further still there’s a new Trinidadian place, 3-Chelles. When I moved here I called Blansdowne the lamest strip on Bloor. I figured it would change. I’m pretty sure it has.

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   20 June 2009, early morning

Hopefully the rain lets up. Street festivals aren’t as much fun when you are being rained on. The BIG on BLOOR festival takes place today. Bloor St. is closed from Lansdowne to Christie for the event. Last year it was shockingly busy. Hopefully this year people still choose to come out.

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Lights Out

   26 January 2009, evening time

Club Paradise
Club Paradise is one of two strip clubs in my neighbourhood, the other being the House of Lancaster. While the House of Lancaster is just a strip club, I consider Club Paradise a landmark. Two things about the club standout in my mind. First, it shares a wall with an evangelical church. That’s an awkward living arrangement. Besides that, it is also home to this brilliant large neon sign of a girl bending over. It’s a surprisingly explicit sign and, as one could imagine, not a popular sight in the neighbourhood. The sign has been off for a few weeks now. Apparently the owner is caving to residents requests to take the sign down. By spring it may not be here at all. I think i’m the only person in Blansdowne that’s going to miss the sign. I liked looking out my window and seeing it. Club Paradise is a pretty ugly building when you take away its sign.

Update: The lights are back on! And there are new signs.

Update Sept 26th 2013: The sign was taken down, and replaced with an incredibly boring picture of a ladies lips. It is the worst.

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Blackout in Blansdowne

   15 January 2009, late evening

It’s pitch black on Bloor right now. For some strange reason my building still has power. The walk home was both creepy, and crossing the street was a little scary. The subways run during a minor blackout apparently. I was impressed. I can see sirens down the road. I wonder if people are taking advantage of the dark. If it wasn’t so god damn cold, I might have a picture to remember this by. Instead, i’ll have to use my imagination the next time I read this post.

Update: Well Laurence wanted photos, so one of the city can be seen below. There are a few more on my Flickr right now page.

A dark bloor.

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There Goes the Neighbourhood

   6 November 2008, late evening

the opening night for the Paul Bright gallery

The Paul Bright Gallery opened up down the road from me today. This is gallery number three to open up on the Bloor and Lansdowne corner. Richard Mercer is across the street, and Toronto Free Gallery is a few doors down. I still live next to a strip club, but I feel like the neighbourhood has lost a little bit of its edge. Mind you, i’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

You can see a reflection of a pawn shop in the window. I wonder how long that shop will be there.

Update Aug 4th 2009: The pawn shop outlasted the art gallery! Dis.

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Street Health Stories and the Interventionists

   13 May 2008, early morning

I watched Street Health Stories and the Interventionists last night at DIGIN to DOCS. Street Health Stories features a few homeless people discussing their lives; this narration is played over portraits of them taken by 4 ladies who were at one time homeless. It’s basically an attempt to put names and faces to statistics on homelessness. I thought it was a well executed film. The Interventionists looks at a new unit within the police force that deals with mentally ill people: a police officer is paired with a psychiatric nurse, and they attempt to diffuse situations that would normally be dealt with by EMS or the police. They try to divert people that would normally be sent to jail or to the hospital to services in their area, unless this isn’t feasible. It struck me as a smart and effective use of resources. Both films were interesting.

The discussion after the film went the way most of these discussions seem to. I get the sense that people in the area feel no one listens to their concerns — which is probably true — so whenever they are given a chance to speak, I find they are generally far too antagonistic. The people who came to speak were all basically working to improve the lives of the homeless in Toronto. They really aren’t the people you need to demand more from, since they are fighting the good fight. The fact they might be based downtown, rather than in our neighbourhood really isn’t something you can fault them for. I see this sort of thing happen all the time. Adam Giambrone is by far the most responsive of the elected representatives in the area. And because he’s the most accessible he is the one that gets bitched at the most. Silva and Ruprecht basically hide for 4 years and no one in the area cares — worse still they elect them again. And people are surprised nothing changes?

You can learn more about the Interventionists and Street Health Stories at the NFB.

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Illegal Signs at Lansdowne

   14 November 2007, late 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!

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Ticket for the Go

   25 October 2007, mid-morning

I exchanged a few words with a man this morning on the south side of Bloor and Lansdowne. He said he was a schizophrenic, had been on the street for 4 days, and needed help. He clearly did need help. Before he could finish going on about how he needed money for a GO ticket I was off: it’s amazing how cold I’ve become living here for a year. It was all very depressing.

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Global Village Treats

   17 October 2007, late morning

I was at Global Village Treats late Monday night ordering some chicken kebabs. I had been meaning to stop in for a while once I realized they were selling Persian food; I am addicted to Persian food. Since Shima refused to eat at a Persian place that also sold Spanish and Filipino food — she was convinced it wouldn’t be authentic or good — I had to wait till I was wondering the streets alone. At 10:00 at night the place isn’t too busy. The store was being manned by one of the owners, a small Filipino lady. She runs the store with her husband, an Iranian fellow. They also have hired a cook that is apparently from somewhere in South America. Hence, the store sells Iranian, Filipino, and South American food. Apparently, depending on the day, they have different things available. (I also wanted to grab some of the South American food they had on the menu, but they were all sold out.)

I was chatting with the owner for a good while — it takes some time to cook up chicken. She’s a very friendly and outgoing lady. The store has been open a few weeks now. They get a lot of their lunch business from the kids in the neighbourhood. (The store is closer to Dufferin, there are several high schools near by.) Late at night Iranian taxi-cab drivers apparently stop off to grab a quick dinner before heading off again. We mostly discussed how stressful it is to operate a restaurant. (We also spent some time chatting about our Iranian significant others.) It was a nice little chat.

There are a few tables to sit on, but for the most part it’s a take-out place. The interior has been painted by the two owners: there are some nice murals over most of the walls. It’s nice clean and bright inside. I enjoyed the food: the chicken kebabs were quite good. (Even Shima agreed.) The only thing I felt they were missing was some sumac. I’m not sure if they have that available when you eat in. Next time I’m there I’ll need to try the other food, so expect a follow up review.

Global Village Treats is at 1226 Bloor St. West (between Brock & Margueretta); their number is 416-827-1417. They look to be open pretty late.

ed. edited and cross-posted to the DigIn blog.

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The Sticky Light Project

   25 September 2007, evening time

I got an email from one of the artists that lives in the area:

We are now deep into the school Bloor NIGHTLIGHT “sticky light” project and it’s very exciting – we may have well over 300 original tiny sculptures that light up – all created by hundreds of art students from five schools and colleges. The Student School have been very excited about he project and have their whole school participating in a special outing at High Park .

There are a ton of events happening in my area for Nuit Blanche, this is one of them. If you are out that night be sure to make your way out to Bloor and Lansdowne. There are 10 exhibits in the area, all based around the theme of light. One of the exhibits is taking place in the house of lancaster (one of the strip clubs); artists are taking over the joint and doing various performances in that venue. Sadly, there won’t be any naked ladies. There are more details about the Bloor Night Light exhibit at the Nuit Blanche site itself.


Tony Ruprecht

   30 July 2007, early afternoon

I haven’t been living at Bloor and Lansdowne too long now, but I have been here long enough to realize that Tony Ruprecht is a thoroughly useless MPP. Ruprecht is the most senior Liberal MPP not to make cabinet. And this is the only fellow in Toronto that endorsed McGuinty’s leadership bid, so to be passed over seems like quite the disrespect. You may recall he gained some notoriety for spending way too much time in Cuba. He claims he was trying to learn Portuguese — I shit you not. (So maybe not having a cabinet position suits him fine.) He is also somewhat infamous for taking donations from all sorts of people you probably would not want to be associated with. As election season approaches I’ve seen him out and about more frequently. When I saw him last he was asking the cops what needs to be done to help reduce crime in the area — this was after they discussed at length what they needed the provincial government to do. To say he comes off as a bit clueless is an understatement. Apparently it was more of the same this weekend at a community march he attended. The worse part is that more likely than not he will win again. He always wins as far as I can tell. What is wrong with people? Please, think before you vote.

Update Sep 12th: Ruprecht is currently doing a good job of avoiding any and all all-candidates debates. There is one scheduled for the 25th of this month he is refusing to participate in thus far. Apparently various community group leaders have been ringing his office up trying to get him to commit. They’ve had no luck thus far. He recently skipped an all-candidates debate on Gold Hawk Live. Yesterday he was at a DigIn meeting, but apparently left before it actually got underway. I wonder if he is worried about people actually hearing what he has to say. Ah the life of an incumbent.

Update Sep 25th: The all candidates debate was today. Ruprecht opted to show up, which was great; it was an actual all-candidates meeting. Even representatives from both communist parties where there. Tony is amicable enough in real life, but he just doesn’t deserve the job he has. He’s been at his post for years, but doesn’t seem to have effected any real change in the area. My vote is probably going to Paul Ferreira. Not only does he have a lot of experience, he was easily the most well spoken of the candidates at the debate.

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The Splash Party

   6 July 2007, early morning

I grabbed my camera and headed off to Bloor St. after work to check out how the Splash Party was progressing. A Splash Party is like a Foam Party, but with more cleaning and less gyrating. Volunteers were cleaning up the store fronts along Bloor between Lansdowne and Dufferin, while a fellow with a power washer was trailing behind them washing the shit out of everything in his path. By the time I arrived there was also a Samba band on the scene, banging away on drums. It was quite the sight. The streets were busier than I had seen them in quite a while. Arriving late, I had apparently missed the small army of children helping out earlier in the day. The base of operations for the event was the House of Lancaster. It’s certainly strange watching little kids BBQ hot dogs in front of a strip club. I love my neighbourhood.


Bloor and Lansdowne at 1:45 AM

   23 June 2007, the wee hours

I got off the subway at 1:45 AM. I was surprised to see a small group of people getting off with me. I guess people don’t like taking cabs home. I had expected Bloor and Lansdowne to be a bit more shady at this time, but it looked about the same as it always does. I think I need to venture towards Dufferin to see something a bit more sketchy. The walk to my condo, heading towards Dundas West, was without drama.

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No Take-Out at the Kiss Cup Bar

   13 June 2007, mid-morning

I popped into the Kiss Cup Bar & Restaurant before heading off to yesterday’s DigIn meeting. The bar has a reputation for being a bit sketchy — that’s a polite way of saying it’s a place to go if you are all about the crack. The place wasn’t too busy: there may have been 5-6 people tops, split between two tables; no one struck me as sketchy. An old Asian dude was sitting by the bar; his feet were up on another bar chair and he was sleeping. I stood by the bar for a few moments, looking for whomever was in charge, when the dude who was sleeping woke up and looked at me. I guess he was in charge.

— “Do you have a take out menu?”
— “Wings.”
— “Uh — do you have a take out menu?”
— “Wings.”
— “You don’t have a take out menu.”

They didn’t. Well that was a misadventure. Before leaving I asked how much beer was. It turns out it’s three dollars. That’s pretty cheap. I guess that counts for something.

Update: I spoke too soon; the Kiss Cup Bar is pretty good. It may be small, and the patrons may be a tiny bit unruly, but you can buy a glass of “cool” beer for $2, and really, isn’t that all you need? (The running theory of the night was that the beer on tap was probably Lakeport, but no one knew for sure.)

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More on the Lansdowne Narrowing Project

   12 June 2007, mid-morning

Kevin Beaulieu, one of Adam Giambrone’s assistants, has posted a pretty long and detailed message on the DigIn mailing list about the Lansdowne Narrowing Project. I am still of the opinion this will be a good thing. (I’ve highlighted what I think is important — all the emphasis below is mine.)

Read the rest of this post. (421 words)

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Gardening on Bloor

   11 June 2007, early morning

Shima, her mom, and I were out on Bloor this past Sunday planting flowers in the planters between Dufferin and Lansdowne. There were a small group of us planting, with support coming from Spiro and the bouncers from the House of Lancaster. I find it strange that of all the shops on the strip, the one that seems to be the most helpful when it comes to this sort of thing is the House of Lancaster. Strip Clubs aren’t usually agents of social change. It will be interesting to see if the plants die, or if the planters stay clean.

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Street Drama on Lansdowne

   29 May 2007, early morning

The excitement never ceases in my neighbourhood. If you have driven up Lansdowne over the past week, no doubt you’ve noticed the sea of yellow lawn signs that now sit in front of what feels like every house on the road. These yellow, Giambrone Don’t Narrow Lansdowne, signs are accompanied in some cases by hand written placards — all in the same hand writing, mind you — with messages to Miller and Giambrone. This is all the work of the newly formed Toronto Lansdowne Residents’ Association (TLRA).

Read the rest of this post. (711 words)

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Ridley Scott is Moving In

   15 April 2007, early morning

When Bloor and Lansdowne makes the front page of the Star for something that isn’t crime related, you know it’s going to be good. Yesterday, I, along with many of my neighbours, learned that Ridley Scot was planning on opening a large studio complex in my area . It’s big news for Toronto on the whole really. The building would sit just North of Bloor on Lansdowne, at 940 Lansdowne Ave. This is the sort of new development that could have a very big impact on the neighbourhood. For starters, you’ll have an influx of new people working at the studios, who will need places to eat and shop during the day; second, for something like a studio, I imagine you may attract people who want to come and check it out. I’m hoping the empty store fronts start filling up with more restaurants and shops. At the very least Dupont may get a bit less ugly.

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Gangstarr White Dude: Hey, where’s the strip club?
Me: Which one?
GWD: I don’t know.
Me: Well to get to Club Paradise head West on Bloor.
GWD: No, fuck that place.
Me: House of Nottingham is left when you get to Bloor.
GWD: Yeah, that’s the one
— In front of Lansdowne Station

I Own My Home

   16 November 2006, lunch time

As of yesterday I am now the proud owner of a tiny-ass condo a little bit West of Downtown. It took an awfully long time for everything to close. I feel exactly the same as I did before. I don’t think the massive debt now on my shoulders has really sunk in yet. My first mortgage payment is tomorrow. Maybe i’ll feel like home owner then.

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