RANDOM MOMENTS IN TORONTO


Greetings,

Thursday was a pretty crazy day.

I was attending a conference at the Toronto Convention Centre for a work-related
event. At the event, I ended up re-connecting with someone from Queen’s who works for another publication covering the event. I also went to Queen Street for lunch and chatted with my old boss at the CBC, which was nice.

Yet a funny thing happened as the day went on.

After the conference ended, I was scheduled to attend a wine-tasting hosted by my friend Julie’s PR agency on Cumberland Street in Yorkville. I was in the neighbourhood and a guy playing three-minute chess games in order to raise funds for a trip to Jamaica to see his dying father was on a street corner at Bay & Bloor. He had an iPod speaker set playing various tunes, chess board and everything, so I decided to play a game against him. I lost, but it was still pretty wicked playing a game of chess on a street corner. Surprising how much one remembers when you’ve got three minutes to win the game and you hate losing.

The wine-tasting was great. I’m not sure where I stand on Yorkville, though.

It’s a funny thing, Yorkville. I can appreciate the place’s strange historiography, the out-of-place town house shopping districts, the collection of extremely high-end shopping outlets that midtowners and Avenue Road/Rosedale/Forest Hill-types frequent in an effort to maintain their status among the glitterati.

In spite of the extremely overpriced restaurants like Sotto Sotto, Hemingway’s or
Sassafraz, the food served there is pretty damn good (well, I can only speak to Hemingway’s, but many celebrities don’t go to any place with the word “Firkin” attached to the end).

There’s an odd quality, though, about the people.

As a 905er (“Wow, you live in Markham? That’s soooo far!” is just one line I’ve heard from insular Toronto folks that inhabit midtown), I love Toronto and spend a great deal of time in the city. I prefer Toronto over Markham easy, but I’ve always kind of felt out of place in Yorkville. Not because I feel I’m better than anyone there, but because I’m so distinctly un-Yorkville: I dress business-conservative which puts me
in a Bay Street fashion motif, I have a face that has been described as “scary” because, at first glance and without talking to me, I look and act like a biker. Bikers don’t go to Yorkville. Finally,I don’t see much point in spending three times the amount of money on a restaurant, “vintage” clothing store or art book store than I could in most other parts of the city. People in Yorkville just do stuff like this, these decendents of real hipsters from the ’60s. At least when it comes to places
like The Gladstone, West Queen West or Roncesvalles, I can, with reasonable degrees of accuracy, spot authentic cool and see how far removed I am from that world. In Yorkville, the hipster factor is a bit more muddy and a lot less real.

PORNOGRAPHY’s INFLUENCE: UNTE Reader has a really interesting article on the influence of pornography in American society. It asks some really provocative questions about how deeply sexualized Western culture has become, even asking the question that has censors and pro-porn advocates alike debating: have we gone too far in Western society when it comes to the role of porn in our lives?

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