Category Archives: Toronto

This wacky city I live in.

Work With Me, TTC

The Bad, Toronto, You Stupid Dick Leave a reply

Non-Torontonians may gloss over this rant, but here goes.

The TTC is having another public relations melt down. Photos of bus drivers texting while they’re driving are flooding into newsrooms (okay as of today, only 3 so far in as many days). Of course these are getting posted all over the web.

You may recall the initial blow up where the Teet and the Internet came to blows over the Sleeping Ticket Taker (rest his poor soul).

Well The Teet has released the brilliant statement that the public should stop taking pictures of their staff to try to stem the flow of “bad imagery”. How very Egyptian.

To be fair,they aren’t saying “stop reporting our drivers” because they have either video evidence or phone record access of their staff (do they?!) which can correlate with the complaint. That, to me, sounds lame. To me, it sounds like they know they have a problem and just want it to go away.

The union pres for the Teet, Bob Kinnear, has verbal instructions for riders who want to confront drivers who are TXT while driving. He suggests: “I’d say, ‘Do you mind not texting while you’re driving from point A to point B?”

Uh. How about “PUT DOWN THE FUCKING PHONE!” It’s against the law to drive with an electronic device. Or did your drivers not get the memo?

I say take their picture. As long as it doesn’t obstruct what minimal vision they might be reduced to, depending on the driver’s infraction. Safety first, people!

The marble. It does nothing.

Toronto, You Magnificent Bastard 2 Replies

7:45 am and I’ve just pressed the 19th floor button to go up to my dentist. He’s got an office in a swanky Yonge and Bloor address, upper downtown, whose lobby consists of 80s style floor to ceiling marble.

Like a stylized Ridley Scott scene of streaming light and isolation, I jab a button and the middle elevator door dings open. I enter the car, turn and press 19. As I step back from the panel I hear some rustling just outside the elevator. Someone is rushing to get to my cab, despite the dearth of free elevators at that hour of the morning.

Time. Slows. Down…

He crests the frame of the elevator as I reach out to the DOOR OPEN button. I notice two things: He’s carrying a Tim Hortons large coffee in one hand and a nice attache case in the other. The other thing I notice is that he’s going down.

Time. Slows. Down. More…

I see his left foot slip out and his whole frame lists to the left. His shoulder hits the elevator door frame, and probably saved him from going down utterly without support. Meanwhile, with his weight toppling left, his right foot gives on the marble floor and it’s inevitable. It’s a full on fall, people! I have a flash of YouTube videos of smoke stacks that should have fallen one way but comically, ironically fall on the foreman’s F150. But he’s still going down and I snap out of it.

His left knee hits the marble. He drops the attache for sake of the coffee. His left butt cheek is the next to hit the floor but he’s twisting fast enough to make it his whole ass.

My hand goes out. But I don’t know where to grab.

He’s on his ass fully now, torso inside the cab, legs out in the lobby. Incredibly his coffee is unspilt. I want to help him up but I stop as that I can sense he’s super embarrassed about the whole thing – I know I wouldn’t want to be helped. I then think I can take his coffee to assist in his righting, but then I feel that’s a bit too intimate of a thing to touch. He literally jumps up from the floor.

As the doors shut we make the usual noises two humans do when faced with a slip like this: “You ok? Sure? You took quite the tumble there…” etc.

“At least it’s Friday…” I offer.

“Can’t get any worse, right?”

Toronto vs New York: Some Observations

Toronto, Travel

Toronto (TO) is surpassing New York City (NYC) in dirt. While TO is still quite clean (I’d eat a pickle slice off the ground in the TTC over the NYC Subway) the actual “feel” of TO is becoming less than stellar. This morning I saw a lot more random garbage during my walk to the subway than I did in my 4 days in NYC.

NYC is friendlier (or, “getting” friendlier?). In NYC, ask anyone for directions and you’ll get a straight answer. Except for people on 9th Avenue for some reason. In TO, people don’t make eye contact so finding someone to ask a question becomes hard.

Taxis. Without a word of a lie: A 10 min cab ride in NYC is equal to a 10 second cab ride in TO, price-wise. NYC cab drivers know how to drive and will drop you off two blocks from your destination if they think they might get into some kind of jam, costing you money. In TO… Fuck. Where do I begin? $4.50 just to get into a cab? The driver we had last night decided that Parliament Street was “…not good! Not good!” because the street was closed to one lane (aren’t most streets in Downtown Toronto one lane these days?). And then proceeded to rack up a $16 cab fare to $25 (no tip) by going up a street with one lane.

Kelsey Grammer can fill a musical theatre venue. And can do it with the shittiest singing voice I’ve ever paid $75 to listen to. And thoroughly enjoyed. I doubt that if Jesus was a Canadian, and he came back to life, and he starred in “Godspell” at the Royal Alexander on King, and the tickets were free, the show would shut in two weeks. One thing I should mention: while Kelsey was the big name, the real star of La Cage Aux Folles was Douglas Hodge, whose edification of Albin won hands limply down over Nathan Lane’s in “The Bird Cage”

TO’s Dundas Square over NYC Times Square? I’ll take TO’s. It’s less crowded and less kinetic. While Times Square is breathtakingly bright and energetic, it gets tiring after 10 minutes trying to rest your eyes on something that doesn’t want your money. At least in TO you can look at Kevin Frankish.

Food? Hands down NYC. Travel to Food? NYC. TO is still young and is still compartmentalizing it’s ethnic diversity so if you want good Italian one night, it’s a streetcar ride over to College and Bathurst, another streetcar in the opposite direction for an hour to get great Indian. NYC is blurring these kind of lines as space becomes more and more expensive. In one block you can get Mexican Fusion, hi-fashion fried chicken on a waffle (I did!) or the latest in hip trendy sushi styles. You can get fried endangered Galapagos turtle on the streets of NYC. TO can’t even manage a good (edible, safe) hot dog.

Apple Store. TO’s Eaton Centre is far less frustrating than 5th Ave’s outlet. While ours smells like wet sock on a good day, at the NYC store, you could get knifed over a Mac Book Air and a Specialist would not even notice you until you bled out and fell hard onto the floor. Maybe.

Museums, Art and General Culture. NYC wins this by default – duh. How do you compete with the culture capital of North America? Besides, TO will soon be abandoning any semblance of intelligent art/culture endowments, replaced with corporate funded pap, thanks to Rob Ford’s proposed money cuts.

I know it’s not fair to compare TO to NYC. TO is an embryo compared to NYC’s maturity. But we’d be wise to look up to our older sibs if we want to be world class.

Couple more pics for you. Be sure to follow my photo updates on my NYC Set on Flickr

Its In The Fog!

Toronto, Travel, You Magnificent Bastard, You Stupid Dick

I’m standing outside SharkBoy’s office, looking at the CN Tower through the skyscrapers thinking how hazy the day is, despite the sun being out in full force. The tower looked like it was an overexposed photo. I shake my head and think I’ve been reading too many How To Photography books.

SharkBoy exits his office and his smiling face lights up my heart. Long weekend! New York Here We Come!

Later, we’re settled in our seats on Flight 113 to Newark. The props haven’t started up despite the plane being 15 minutes late. SharkBoy mentions that fog is rolling in. We wait.

An announcement comes over the PA. Since the plane will be flying in fog, they need to lighten the aircraft by 6 passengers. Those who leave the plane will get the next available flight and a $100 credit. No one leaves and everyone starts to look at each other to see who will blink. Someone yells out “Only $100?!”. After a time the shift supervisor boards the plane with the manifest. She’s… headed straight for us!!

Since we paid the cheapest fare, we’re first off the plane. How this is fair, I have no clue – we’re penalized because we purchased early? And wanted to save some bucks? But I bite my tongue. The aircraft itself is no place to start into something like this, even though SharkBoy tosses out a few cautionary comments about how is this unacceptable. We debark the plane. I’m angry but more embarrassed to be the first people walked off. The hot stares that laser the words “You poor suckers”, burnt into the back of my head as I curtly brush past the apologetic flight attendant.

I’m still not clear why a plane has to lighten it’s load in heavy fog. I may never know. I don’t care right about now.

Since we were first off that meant we were first to see the supervisor who had no clue we were coming back from the plane. No one informed the clerical staff that the ground crew were booting people off the plane and we were met with confusion. SharkBoy is ready to pop. I take a less combative stance and try to figure out what to do next with the shift supervisor. She’s not frazzled but at the same time, she’s got a lot on her plate as more people come off our plane and others are being delayed and eventually cancelled. I have to say while I’m mad (at the weather – how useless is that?) I did have a nice bonding moment with Allison (Ashtor?). We confessed to each other that we hated flying but loved travel.

In the course of the next couple hours I went back to her to stay informed as to out status. Allison (Ashley?) was dealing with one woman who demanded, quite literally, that Porter change the weather. Seriously, she was complaining that Porter had no back up plan for bad weather. Uh… Wot? She was the kind of woman who would jump the queue “just to ask one question” that turned into 5 and ended with her rolling her eyes and not listening to what the staff were telling her (Which she did repeatedly, cell phone hanging off her Holt Renfrew spa toned face). The kind of person you wanted to accidentally walk into a turbo prop engine, Holt Refrew spa toned face first.

At about 7pm they shut down the airport completely due to the fog. We made arrangements for tomorrow morning. My last contact with Asllsionshey I started our conversation by telling her that she was doing an amazing job. And she was. I made mention that working at an airport on an island in a large lake must be frustrating more so than a land locked one. She confessed that if she drove into work and couldn’t see the CN Tower, she knew her day would be trouble.

I’ll take that to heart.

My BEST Starbucks is So Much Better Than Your Starbucks

Toronto, You Magnificent Bastard

The window comes into view and I excitedly look in like a kid on the street at The Hudsons Bay Company at Christmas.

Sitting in my seat from yesterday is a man with sunglasses, winter coat and a scarf wrapped around the bottom of his head. It’s 7C outside. He’s inside.

I’m sure it’s gone.

Wait. Back up.

Yesterday I flew down the stairs of the subway, eager to get home to play my latest video game guilt free. I say “guilt free” because whenever I play it when SharkBoy is home and even if he’s occupied with something, I feel a bit guilty that we’re not humanly interacting. Since he had overtime last night, it meant at least an hour of guilt free gaming. I had to hurry.

I jam my fist into my back pocket. It’s not there. The $107 VIP subway monthly pass is missing.

I rifle through my wallet because sometimes things magically appear in there, like my DisneyWorld Monorail Pilot ID, which I take great pleasure out of trying to pass it off as real ID. Which only gets me quizzical looks like I’m an escaped mental patient. Which at 45yrs old maybe I am.

It’s not there. My world sinks. I just lost $107 dollars in the form of a small credit card size piece of plastic. I pay the single fare and start forming an email in my head:

Dear TTC;

I could care less about your station monitors that 98% sell ads, 2% announce the next train (which is always 3-4 minutes away, duh) and are dirty 100% of the time. I could care less that your posters are claiming we’re dirty pigs and we need to keep the TTC clean – I’ve learned to ignore bitchy behaviour like this from when I had anal college roommates. But if you’re going to spend some money, can you please fix your monetary intake system? Okay great, you now can pay for your fare choices by debit card in some stations (bejebus, guys, go look at NYC for payment options – literally no restrictions – MONEY IN!), but how about loss prevention, for both of us? $107 dollars is a hell of a lot of money to lose, especially on the second day of owning it – I got $9 worth of rides out of my pass before losing it.

You think you’d take care of that to a beneficial state where you and I don’t LOSE any MONEY. It would be easy implement a registered purchaser system and still retain the pass back allowance. One registered card with a moniker of -01, -02, -03 for months, easily canceled and reissued if need be, like a credit card. For a small fee, replacing a pass midway through the month could be cost of $15. Think of it: I lose a card, you cancel the one in the wild, charge me 300% mark up on the cost of replacing it (staffing the replacement counter, cost of plastic, server time, etc) and then we’re both happy. I learn a valuable lesson not to lose my card again (and there will always be people losing their cards) and you just got $10 extra on top of the $107 from me! Cha-ching!

As I ride home I also think about where I might have lost it. The last place I used my wallet and might have popped the card out from my back pocket was my local Starbucks. The one where even the new staff magically know that I take a grande Earl Grey tea in a venti cup. I decide to ask when I get my tea the next morning.

Okay so you’re up to speed.

I somberly walk up to the cash. One barista is already pouring my tea, the other has wrung me in. “Good Morning Ted!”

With downturn eyes, I sheepishly ask: “Did anyone turn in a monthy pass?”

Her eyes light up. My eyes light up. She reaches for her lost and found drawer.

“It has VIP across the top! I lost it yesterday and I was worried I lost $100 and I was so angry you don’t know how mad I was and…and…” I speed along, sputtering out. My baby is back in my hands.

“What makes it a VIP pass?” she asks. I realize I don’t know her name. Hello wave of guilt. Surfs up!

“Husband works for the City. Gets them at a slight discount. THANK YOU!”

“Well Greg was eying it and we all decided to give it a day or two.”

I hand over $5 for my $1.94 tea. “Keep the change,” I say. I feel that $3 isn’t enough. Hang ten!

I had expected someone like “Greg” or a patron of Starbucks to pocket the pass. I know I would. Well maybe not since I would already have one, but seriously the staff at the Brookdale and Yonge Starbucks are the best. Restored (a little bit of) my faith in humanity.

The Numbers Game

Amy, political, Toronto, You Stupid Dick

This just in! Breaking news from the city of Toronto. We now go to Amy, an ASL talking, Dead Robot Heavy Industries Political Correspondent. Amy?

Amy! Good Gorilla!
New big gorilla! Promise to stop eating Amy’s banana! Make banana go to smaller gorillas outside gorilla nest. Make choo choo train go through ground with no banana! But why Amy not get own banana? No worry, Amy! New deal! Get rid of most big gorillas and we only love new big Gorilla. But big gorilla break law. Big gorilla could murder someone on the steps of city hall and small outside gorillas still love. Amy think small outside gorillas are dumb.

Thank you Amy.

Couple points about last night’s vote:

While the numbers weren’t really that surprising, the speed at which they did come in, was. Thank god for algorithms that can calculate averages of political wins within 8 minutes of the polls shutting.

Twitter users are 90% liberal.

What was up with Hazel’s throat-dusty rant about “the media” when asked by CP24 if she was surprised she won again? Holy back off, grandma!

While commenting on Rob Ford’s weight is as equally unfair as commenting on Smitherman’s sexual preference, one is much funner to do than the other.

Smitherman’s speech was classy, yes. But that child needs some PR training. When Daddy says “Wave”, you better fucking wave, kid.

If you want a vision of Toronto for the next four years, see the fat fuck that cameras loved last night when Flounder won: air pumping to U2’s “Its a Beautiful Day”.

I said last night in my tweets that stand up comedians and political cartoonists will be rolling in the dough for the next while.

These certainly are interesting times.

Toronto Zombie Walk 2010


Yesterday SharkBoy and I ventured out to Trinity Bellwoods to see the running of the Zombies. After the launch by the lead exhibitionist from the band GWAR, we connected with Fortess and Jtree and their faithful dogstar, Penny and (dead) people watched for a while.

This year we didn’t dress up like we have in the past, and that felt weird. I can’t decide if I like being the one taking the photos or being taken. I do LOVE my new camera, though. Here are some good shots (Full set on Flickr here):

Crowd Spills Out

Avenue Z

We Won

Best Zombie of the Day: Schrödinger's cat Zombie

Duct Tape Hell


Until Next Year my undead minions!

Bumpy Ride

Toronto, You Stupid Dick

Subway, 8:04am. Front car. Somewhat crowded, not shoulder to shoulder, but getting there and I have my back against the driver’s cab wall when a man holding a coffee gets on and stands directly in front of me. He’s decided to keep an overstuffed knapsack well in place on his back in this crowded car – whatever. People should take them off in busy trains but I’ve given up riling against that stupid wall of stupidity long ago. His pack brushes against my iPhone a couple times so I hike it above the top of his bag and continue playing.

With every stop his knapsack bumps into my chest/stomach. Ugh. I have nowhere to go, either side of me has people. After the 5th bump I give the bag a gentle nudge forward. Enough to let him know it’s hitting me, not enough to be rude. He is holding coffee over the sitting people in front of him.

It continues for two more stations.

Without stopping my game or looking up from my screen, I push his bag hard to the right. No question as to why the sudden jolt. He whips around. I finally see that Mr Knapsack an adult (I was expecting a high school kid) and his eyes are angry.

“Your bag kept hitting me,” I say. My eyes focus and get decidedly more angrier than his. I’m in no mood for this shit.


He then stands perpendicular to me, sipping his coffee. His eyes light on my screen as I continue to play LUXOR on my iPhone.

I look up and lock eyes. He turns.

Yeah, that’s right, bitch.