may 2009 volume 2 issue 3
arts . culture . living
Jason Laurans shows you a good time
Cancer Bats Liam Cormier The Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra The ReelWorld Festival Tonya Lee Williams Vermicomposting So Many Ways to Save Your Money The Toronto Free Gallery
E M IS EG SU A E MA ! Y
Note From the Editor
FUTURÉALE volume 2 issue 3
Do what you love to do. They’re hard
words to live by. They’re particularly hard when you’re post-student, hold a running list of mindless jobs and well, you’re residing in a recession. But it’s true. It’s true to do what you love because it’s a real, REAL joy to spend your hours doing something that doesn’t feel like work. This is particularly true when, as the years go by, so much does feel like work. Now I understand that “work” is a state of mind but to find something that doesn’t require mental and emotional auditing in order to finish it (also work) is a pleasure. That brings me to my role here at FutuRéale. As the new EditorIn-Chief, it’s a pleasure to be here. The March/April issue is a culmination of richly diverse pieces. Sports, poetry, upcoming events, interviews and music are covered, to name a few. FutuRéale is no stranger to providing diverse content, but this issue reads a little different. From hereon in, FutuRéale focuses on providing content with the usual variety, but with more openness and flexibility. Instead of formatting the magazine in themes such as the Brazil Issue or the Holiday Issue, FutuRéale will remain more of an unrestricted space. Issues will simply offer a well rounded collection of Arts, Culture and Living material. The reason for the change? It’s not to cut back on the workload, but rather, to be on the same page as the readers and writers. If the magazine wants to truly recognize all backgrounds and styles, it must organize itself in a similar manner. FutuRéale loses the 9 to 5.
Editor in Chief Rochelle Grabenheimer
Associate Editors Leviana Coccia Melissa Doyle Ashley Foley
Editorial Designers Paul Bannister Marnina Herrmann
Contributing Writers Sarah Aspinall Leviana Coccia Melissa Doyle Ashley Foley Rochelle Grabenheimer Kevin Grubbe Shazia Islam Edward Landa Melissa Lang Vicki Lee Stephen B. Links Anthony Lopopolo Peter Martyn Dave Proctor Jess Silver Amanda Urbanski Zaida Vasconcelos Don Young
Webmaster Heronymo Allen
A dministrative Director Shaq Alam
E xecutive Director Omar Murji
Cofounders Vincent Lorenz Omar Murji
– Rochelle Grabenheimer
Contact FutuRéale at: email@example.com www.futureale.com
For any inquiries about FutuRéale’s new artistic license or just any content inquiries in general, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would be happy to hear from you.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Zaida Vasconcelos, Carlie and Jess Silver
07Are Movies Theatres an Endangered Species? Ashley Foley ponders the extinction of the cinema
10The Toronto Free Gallery
Amanda Urbanski visits the gallery
Melissa Doyle interviews the movie’s cast and crew
Edward Landa judges the new Guns ‘n’ Roses disc
14One on One with Liam Cormier
Kevin Grubbe interviews the lead singer of Cancer Bats
Melissa Lang reviews this portable microwave
17The Sports Caddy
Anthony Lopopolo wonders what has become of jersey retirements
20Real Sales for Real People
Leviana Coccia can save you money on just about everything
22Out with the Shopping Bag
Jess Silver examines the convenience of online shopping
23Are Generic Products All They’re Cracked Up to Be? Sarah Aspinall takes the plunge in the name of savings
Shazia Islam interviews folks who have made a difference
29The Beauty of Autism
Ashley Foley imagines living in Neverland
Ashley Foley & Peter Martyn explain what’s up with worms
33Real Makers of the ReelWorld
Rochelle Grabenheimer interviews the founder of the ReelWorld film festival
34Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes
Don Young reviews Iris Häussler’s Honest Threads exhibit
Vicki Lee visits the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra
Don Young has a good time at the Absolute Comedy club
43A History of Toronto Revisited
Stephen B. Lincks reports on Toronto Union Station’s history
44The HMS Speedy
Ashley Foley remembers an ill fated voyage
Dave Proctor spends the day at Pearson International Airport
48No Pillow? No Problem?
Leviana Coccia knows plenty of places in Toronto to catch some sweet shuteye
51Toronto’s Ultimate Travel Show
Melissa Doyle takes a trip around the world
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Silent Shouts I write for who is searching, For that worry stare For that chained heart For that disturbed soul A CHANCE IS GIVEN I write for those among us, whose pain is endless whose lives took turns, and left them with nothing but a breath whose eyewitness has accused them for false doing and despair A WISH IS GRANTED I write what the wise man has told me, my words are true my mind is at peace my soul is set free A fiercest light has come over me, sending me blesses, to write these silent shouts â€“ Zaida Vasconcelos
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
I’m Gone Can you feel me? I’m numb. Can you see me? I’m gone. It’s too late, it’s too late to save me. This is the end of me, I am torn. Everything I have ever known flashes before my eyes, And everything turns to stone. Nothing ever seems to matter anymore, The only thing I can seem to think, Is when I will see you again. This could be the end of me, This could be my time to go. Not knowing what’s next and what tomorrow holds, is so misleading and cold. There’s more than you can see, There’s much more to believe. But you will never know, You left me here to bleed, I needed you to be there, to confide in me. Why must you take away what we were made to be? Holding onto you is so tough, but letting go isn’t any easier. I love you more than life itself, Scary on how much of myself I have lost. So much of me has gone away, only to feel you inside of me. Shame on you, shame on me. For this has gone too far, but too far to stop. Can you feel me? No you cannot. For I am numb, I am gone. – Carlie www.mizzsmiles.tripod.com/blog/
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Question A question is a child’s way of discovering the truth Of finding closure and contempt in what is unknown. When it is written, the point of exclamation displays an abstract symbol to evoke a sense of uniqueness and variability in one’s response. Question what is real or not Questions are asked to express an emotion of uncertainty or a concerning thought. There is no telling in what direction a question can lead Each question demands that one reads. Read the hidden messages it is so careful to send, A person’s perspective it has the power to change or to bend. By asking questions even the hearts of lovers can mend. Question the angle from which the author chooses to write Or the motive of an earth shattering fight Why does the winner take all? Who decides on the authority that makes the final call? Like a key to the finish is an answer to a question But it has a gray area, a sense of obscurity that interests humanity. The why, how, who or where, To question is to speak on something for which we care. It is like a mechanism forcing one to compare One asks a question to find a solution, To determine one’s knowledge of a topic and express a perception. Questions resemble two sides of a coin Making people far apart or helping forces join That is its good and evil power, all held together in a question as simple as Why? Why is the world created this way? Who gets a say? What colour is the sun’s brightest ray? Go find me an answer. – Jess Silver
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Are Movie Theatres an Endangered Species or are They Already Extinct? by Ashley Foley
It’s Friday night. You and your
Photograph by Cindy Seigle
sweetheart sit closely together, greeting neighbours and friends with smiles. The dimmed room’s aroma of salt, butter and popcorn makes your mouth water. Your excitement rises as you lower yourself into the uncomfortable theatre seat that will occupy your time for the next two hours. The movie is like nothing you’ve seen before – just as you expected – they never seem to disappoint. About thirty years ago, movies were an exciting treat. Today, going to the movies has become a subculture in itself – taken for granted; an element of social status. The ‘treat’ in movie-going has been forgotten.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
“I don’t think movies are ever going to go back to the way they were. Nothing ever goes backwards. Movies are evolving into something else,” said Helga Haberfellner, a university film professor in Toronto. She goes on to explain that this is not to say that movies are getting worse or better, they are just “different”. Mov ies as a whole are becoming a media that people seem to depend on. You can see a movie anywhere: on your laptop, iPod, at home, on the bus. Thirty years ago, this idea was unheard of. “Thirty years ago we really didn’t have very many people who had a VHS system at home,” said Mike Glassbourg, producer
at Tickle Scratch film productions. “So to go to a movie you had to go to a movie theatre. So the experience was very unique. “Thirty years ago, you didn’t have a choice.” Today, however, there are countless choices. Countless opportunities. Movies and images are a part of our culture and it’s changing the way we see and interpret movies. We no longer see movies the way producers intended us to see them. We’re condensing the movie on to small screens that we have control over, thus limiting our movie experience. “You can’t get overwhelmed on a laptop. Laptops are underwhelming. You haven’t
innovations that entertain the viewer further than before. IMAX, 3D and VIP theatres are experiences available to movie viewers today and according to filmmakers, this is just the beginning. “Then I suspect we will have holographic movies, where you sit in a circle and the movie is in the middle,” said Haberfellner, getting excited. “I could see pretty much everything going to IMAX eventually. It’s much more personal and much more better quality,” said Mathew Cree, a film student. Virtual reality is another opportunity for movies on the horizon. So each individual can choose what happens next: if he kisses the girl, if the boy runs away, if they get married, if she gets caught. This would be similar to the classic Goosebumps novels children read: turn to page 34 to kiss the girl; turn to page 23 to run in the other direction. “I would assume that the movies are going to be made so they can individually satisfy,” said Heather Holmes, a Theatre Arts student and frequent movie go-er. So maybe Helga Haberfellner is right: maybe movies will never be what they were but the satisfaction and ‘treat’ in going to the movies will be brought to us in other ways. In more personal and involved
experiences such as Imax and virtual reality. The ‘treat’ simply changes. We make the ‘treat’ in going to movies what we need it to be. “Movies in small towns are more intimate feeling,” said Holmes. For the most part, the screens are smaller and the selection is less but if you are looking for a ‘treat’ a small town could be the place to find one in movie theatres. To some extent, the excitement in going to movies 30 years ago lives on through small town theatres. “It’s more family friendly,” said Sarah Leitch who has worked at an independent theatre as well as for Empire theatre in Ottawa. “It [the independent theatre] was more causal, friendly, and less structured. It was a lot more open atmosphere and I think that the customers appreciated that more, it wasn’t all stressful.” The idea of a small town theatre brings the ‘community’ back to theatre. You can go to a theatre and see friends you haven’t seen in a few weeks or the regulars from down the street, explained Glassbourg. The idea of going to see a movie in a small town also reinforces the idea of getting ready, planning in advance and committing two hours of your life to a movie. “It’s like a treat,” said Pelligrino. “It’s a night out.”
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Photograph by Michael Goldman
seen Titanic. You’ve seen the plot, but you haven’t seen the movie,” said Haberfellner, as her eyes grew wide, widening her arms. “The laptop takes you out of being a participant and turns you back into a viewer.” Today, people a re seei ng mov ies. Probably a majority of the population in Toronto has seen The Dark Knight. The question is: how many have seen it in the movie theatre, on a big screen, with good sound, without the interruption of the telephone ringing, people at the door and the light spilling in through the blinds? “Watch The Godfather on your 32” television or watch it on your laptop. Then watch it in the movies theatre. It’s not the same movie,” said Glassbourg. In a sense, the ‘treat’ in going to a movie is being condensed, literally. In doing so, the thrill of the movie is slowly being forgotten. It’s not gone, though, it has just changed. “There are so many movies now. Before, it was a new thing. There were so many different genres and almost every movie that came out was different,” said Diane Pelligrino, a film student. “Nowadays, when you see one action movie you’ve almost seen every action movie.” However, predictable plots and endings are being dressed up by new, exciting
“If you have to drive out to go see a movie, then it’s something you can’t do on a whim,” She added, comparing small towns to spontaneous movie nights in Toronto. The culture of going to the movies is also felt as a luxury in independent theatres because they expose you to a different atmosphere. “I got a cup of coffee in an actual coffee mug in a really small theatre,” said Alison Schmidt, a passionate movie go-er. “It was a really different experience.” It brings the relaxation of cuddling up to your sweetheart or a good friend with a hot cup of tea or coffee in the still darkness. And for
years ago but salary incomes have not been raised that dramatically. “It’s not a cheap night anymore,” Holmes concluded. “What me and my mom do, is we’ll go on a Tuesday and she’ll buy the tickets and I’ll buy the snacks so we each spend about $10.00,” said Schmidt, enlightening the idea that movies can still be a treat even during an economic crisis. However, this does not change the fact that movies are changing. The culture of going to the movies has shifted and therefore, movies have changed. “The economy is effected by the social events, the social events effects the movies,
to be a princess or prince, you can watch a fairytale and imagine, as you did as a child. “We thrive on entertainment,” said Pelligrino. “A movie is something you can’t get in day to day life. It gives you a taste of what you can’t get in reality.” Movies tell us a story. And since story telling has been around long before theatres, it is safe to say that movies will evolve with society. The technology or medium might change slightly but this comes as no surprise – already theatres are an upgrade from the drive in. “You make right in dreams what you can’t make right in the real world,” said
A movie is something you can’t get in day to day life. It gives you a taste of what you can’t get in reality. those two hours, you don’t have to check your Blackberry, email, do paperwork or make dinner. Schmidt appreciates independent theatres for the fact that you can see “really obscure things” such as foreign films and shorts. “I make sure I see short films. I make sure I see small budget films. I rarely go to a Hollywood movie,” said Glassbourg. “I am more interested in movies coming out of Europe, out of the Middle East, out of Asia, out of India, out of Australia and out of New Zealand. They’re not homogeneous.” “I’d prefer to see a good story. And a good story doesn’t cost $100 million dollars to tell.” And perhaps he is right. Perhaps the real reward of going to the movies has been lost in advertisement and predictable Holly wood endings. Stories, creativity and fantasy have been replaced by money. “It has become an elitist form of art,” said Holmes. “When people go it’s usually on a Tuesday night when it’s cheaper.” That means that for the rest of the week only a select group of movie goers can afford to go. Movie theatre prices have increased over five times the price they were thirty
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
and the economy effects the movie go-er,” explained Haberfellner, in a Shakespearian ‘love triangle’ diagram. Each of the three elements thrives off the others. “Movies used to be about escape,” said Haberfellner. “They had this dream life that everyone fantasized about having. Fantasy used to have this glow to it, because it was unattainable and you knew it.” However, today the Tuck Everlasting and E.T. movies are vanishing. Imagination is something frowned upon. Be mature. Act your age. Whatever happened to learning to ‘use your imagination’ in kindergarten? Even children’s films are filled with adult humour these days, such as Shrek, while Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan collect dust on shelves. “They used to be very romance-based, and horror used to be really big,” said Sarah Leitch. “But now, you’re getting into epic movies or comic books. It’s become its own hobby.” However, can the shift from imagination to maturity be called progress? Movies give us what we don’t have. If you want to travel but cannot afford the plane ticket, you can watch a movie that takes place in Paris to get a feel of the community and culture. If you want to be inspired to help others, then you can watch a movie about teamwork and romance. If you want
Haberfellner. We need that reassurance at the end of the week that ‘everything is going to be okay’. Or at the end of a long relationship, we need the encouraging happy ending of that corny ‘chick flick’. And let’s face it: sometimes you just need to “sit down and watch a mind numbing movie, forget about [your] problems and shut [your] brain off,” as Holmes put it. Our dreams are projected for all to see, making them real for those two solitary hours spent in that dark room, filled with strangers and the aroma of popcorn. We crave believing these fairytale endings – believing the prince slays the dragon, kisses the girl and they ride off into the sunset on a white horse. It gives us hope even in the most hopeless seeming times. As long as can dream we will always have movies. The challenge may be for each participant to allow themselves to become a part of the movie. In doing so, movies can become the treat they were thirty years ago. The challenge may also be to create accessible and imaginative movie going experiences. “A s human beings we need to have t hat,” sa id Haber fel l ner. “ We need to have dreams.”
HE C T F O S E T I S
The Toronto Free Gallery By Amanda Urbanski
“Strip Mining For Creative Cities” is the name of the most recent exhibition going on in the Toronto Free Gallery. It explores “the processes that strip away neighbourhood ‘facades’ to be consumed by the market.” Through the artists that contributed to the exhibit, it “critically examines the acts that displace residents, cultural practices and community infrastructure, replacing vital society safety nets with the likeness of preexisting forms.” Where can such a gallery be found? Situated at their new location on 1277 Bloor Street West in Bloordale Village, the quaint and cozy gallery was created by executive director Heather Haynes in September of 2004. The brown-bricked building is nestled in between Nucool Tattoo Parlour and The Caribbean Queen of Patties restaurant. The inside is a fairly spacious room currently hosting a small tent, a map hanging in a frame in the far left corner, and a large assortment of black and white photos combined together on the left wall, including pictures such as the Nest stadium in Beijing where the 2008 Summer Olympics were held. The windowsills hold all kinds of knick-knacks, which is what drew me in to the concept behind the exhibition. Were these just simply knickknacks lacking a home or were they inten-
tionally placed there for a reason? Walking over to the right wall, two paragraphs of black font was placed just slightly off centre, detailing the purpose of “Strip Mining for Creative Cities.” The intention behind the creation of the Toronto Free Gallery was to be a “creative laboratory aimed at providing artists with a space to experiment, explore new ideas, question norms and challenge both themselves and their audiences.” A contributor at BlogTo states that the gallery has become known for artistic experiments that do just that. The gallery’s mandate is, “to cover social, cultural, urban and environmental issues relevant to current times.” The way the gallery functions is through a call for proposals, which is sent out to local artists, regardless of the stages they are at in their careers, and are then juried by either a group comprised of people who work within the relevant theme or by the curator. Despite the simplicity of the exterior building, the gallery could be looked at as a hidden gem, possibly a diamond in the rough. Having the option of being able to drop in if something catches your eye (and not have to pay any fees to enjoy the art) is a refreshing change from most commercial art galleries. Michael Finucan, a Toronto-
nian that was passing by, easily concurs when discussing the welcoming feeling that surrounds the gallery. “This was my first time stopping by the gallery,” says Finucan. “But after I went in and took a look around, I can definitely say I don’t need to bring my cheese and wine with me to enjoy the exhibitions.”
The operating hours of the gallery are Wednesday to Friday from 11am till 6pm, as well as Saturday from 12pm till 6pm. For more information, please visit www.torontofreegallery.org
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
How easy is it to always be true to your feelings? What makes people truly happy? Is making the right decision always the easier one? These are just some of the themes that exist in Porcelain Dolls, a new film by Biko Franklin. By Melissa Doyle
In a recent interview, Franklin,
24, explained his film is about two people who are faced with making a decision in a relationship. “It’s about the difficulty when you are faced with two situations and you feel like they both are going to make you completely happy. But what is not making you completely happy, is not being able to choose one, so you are stuck in this unhappy existence with somebody before you can make that decision.” Franklin is actually responsible for a lot more than it seems. Franklin wrote, directed, edited, funded, promoted, and is doing almost everything else aside from acting in the film. “It’s a lot of work, but every part of it I love. Every part of it I just absorb, I feel like I’m learning something new every time I am putting a moment into this movie.” said Franklin. One of the filmmakers that most inspires Franklin is Charlie Kaufman. Some of the more popular titles by Kaufman include “Adaptation” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” According to Franklin, Kaufman is, “Brilliant, philosophical, and deals with the issues that I find interesting. He paints beautiful stories, paints beautiful yet f lawed characters, and I feel like every human can relate to those types of characters because we are ver y f lawed and it is interesting to see that dissected in a movie.” In another inter v iew, I spoke w ith Lindsay Lyon, 25, who is the lead actress in Porcelain Dolls. She plays Alice who makes a decision about two different relationships in her life. Lyon describes Alice as a sensitive, caring and genuine person. “She is torn between her relationship which society expects her to take on, which is her marriage and torn between this other relationship that fulfills her in a different way
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
that her marriage doesn’t and I just feel like she is confused, but she enjoys each relationship fully.” Lyon has always had a love for the dramatic arts. “It has always been a passion of mine, taking on different characters… I have always loved it, but it is only more recently that I have actually been focusing all my energy on it.” Lyon described a moment during the filming of Porcelain Dolls that she felt really enhanced the film. “At one point, it was a really heated emotional scene and when you are crying, there’s lots of fluid, there’s tears, stuff coming out of your nose and all that jazz and I was tempted to wipe it away and then Biko said, ‘No, just leave it, that’s raw and that’s real, in real life if you were reacting to the situation, it would be there so why not show it?’ and I didn’t even think of it like that. I thought you have to look good for the camera, so that really allowed me to take a step further and become that much more of the character.”
Lyon also expressed that while she enjoys acting in most film genres, she prefers dramatic roles. “I prefer more dramatic pieces myself, and with Porcelain Dolls, it required a roller-coaster of emotion.” Franklin is currently producing a new film entitled, Poor Little Gods. The film is about the difference between good and evil and knowing where the line is. “You can feel like you are on one side of that line, and if you look at it from a different perspective, it seems like you are on the other side,” explains Franklin. He likens it with, “If you get a job promotion, somebody else was passed over.” Though Porcelain Dolls is now being submitted to film festivals, it may become available online in the future. A movie clip and the trailer of the Porcelain Dolls can be viewed at the official website, www.porcelaindolls.com.
Chinese Democracy rdict e V g y Son By Edw b g n ard Landa A So
Twaiting rue, Guns N Roses fans have been for A xl Rose to ‘take [them]
popular musician’ in the new Guns N consistent and powerful rock and roll Roses setup. A xl dressed a tight leash on spirit. Following its redemption, Chidown to the paradise city’ once more song-writing after the original band left. nese Democracy lays out the next track, with an album fourteen years in the Since 1994 there has been promise of an Street of Dreams, which offers a more making. Much like its tentative title, upcoming Guns N Roses album, and fi- classic approach with a piano, a beautiChinese Democracy ended up being nally on November 28, 2008 the album ful solo, and for the first time, Axl Rose largely, an unrealistic project. After was proudly displayed in the front of any sings as he did with the original Guns N the release of The Spaghetti Incident local record store. Perhaps the interest Roses. The song dies out with his roarin 1993, a punk and glam rock cover in it came from the messiah-like wait ing vocals and a new feeling established album by the original line up of Guns washed over the public. Or maybe it was within the listener that maybe their faN Roses, it all started to ooze down. simply a growing curiosity of what could vourite metal band isn’t quite dead yet. If the World is the next track, it The bad luck began in 1994 when the Axl possibly achieve without the faceband released announcements of a new melting guitar licks provided by Slash. relieves the nostalgic beauty that was album in the works, primarily written Either way, the by A xl Rose. At this point the rest of album was an the members were beginning to lose i n t e r e s t i n g An array of foreign speech interest. It seemed most of the work a c q u i s i t i o n . put in by the band was done through Some bought and alien sound effects, spoken word and not instrumental rock, as Slash, (lead guitar) and Duff leading to the heavy knock of the power chord McKagan, (bass) continuously released statements of disappointment with the fill the listener’s ears band, loss of interest and simple agony over dealing with a man like A xl Rose. it with genuine interest They soon left the band, never officially while others bought it as a Guns N Roses with a new twist; a more destroying it; leaving A xl with all the joke, nevertheless they bought it. The album k icks off with the title evolved Axl Rose. The combination of rights to carry on. A xl reacted swiftly to this change by establishing a new set track, Chinese Democracy; the instru- Street of Dreams and If the World makes up, even involving a few notable musi- mental introduction is captivating. A n the listener rethink the impulsive plan cians in his work, including the likes of array of foreign speech a nd a l ien sound of possibly returning the album for a full Dave Navarro and the now permanent effects, leading to the heavy knock of refund with force, if necessary. The guiGuns N Roses bassist, Tommy Stin- the power chord fill the listener’s ears. tar maintains its hard rock feel with well son, originally of The Replacements. That is the only part that is awe inspir- placed outbursts to accentuate the hard T he new Gu ns N Roses, at least t he ing in the first song, which manages to work that Axl has put into it. The next troupe wh ich recorded Chinese De- disappoint with poor lyrics and a not-so- meal that Chinese Democracy feeds us mocracy, is comprised of Dizzy Reed, catchy melody. The second ditty, Shack- is one that only a select few could digest (keyboards), Tommy Stinson, (bass), ler’s Revenge, is also a less then awe-in- with a smile. There Was a Time truly has Bryan Mantia, (drums), Richard Fortus spiring performance. Yet it is the third a beautiful melody to it, until it reaches (rhythm guitar), Bumblefoot, (lead gui- song which redeems the album, and the chorus, where a very Urge Overkilltar), and A xl Rose, (lead singer). Even renews, or rather recycles, the listener’s meets-Nirvana-esque guitar kicks in though Bryan Mantia who drummed interest. Better, is a melodic track that to provide a rather grungy feel. Apart for Primus is included in the band, A xl features a grunge-like structure similar from the chorus, anyone can emote to Rose still picks up the trophy for ‘most to the two tracks before, yet with a more the song, yet Axl’s call for grunge in
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
this tune will only sit well with true rounded rock and roll plaid-wearing listeners. Nevertheless, track is perhaps a better the song does not put a great dent in name. the album, as the previous three tracks Madagascar, another seemed to secure a rather solid worth ra- great track to help support the tio of money to music. sometimes weak foundation of the Catcher in the Rye is the first truly album; truly captures a memorable guimemorable song off of the album. Al- tar performance from Bubmblefoot and though it finds itself as track number A xl’s long-loved vocal intensity. What seven, it’s worth the wait. Like an invest- better way to push towards the end of ment in a slow stock that finally booms the album than with yet another well after a while, Catcher in the Rye car- orchestrated, slower melody, This I ries the necessities of a pop song with Love. It is through these moments a punch of metal and A xl’s new found that A xl Rose truly shines on the love for grungy guitar riffs. Scraped, album. A xl expresses emotions the next song on the album is, all in all, for his lost love and truly placa decent metal track with a tune that lis- es a memorable tune in the teners would come to know and accept listener’s head. So far the as the meat of Chinese Democracy. It road seems relatively clear is important to note that much like in for the album, a few mundane tracks, a three-star restaurant, the meat may but on the whole, there are quite a few have been overcooked. The next track, saving songs. The last track to finish off Raid N The Bedouins has spent too an altogether good album is Prostitute,
emotion or an overlapping power. The album compiled more as a mere series of great-hits, of which only one or two would really live up to the name, rather than a powerful continuous motion in music. With this key component missing and the occasional feeling that the songs seem to be reLike an investment in a slow stock peating themselves, Chinese Democracy owes that finally booms after a while, a large chunk of its merit to postCatcher in the Rye carries the necessities of a pop song hearing ref lections. The album with a punch of metal appears as a onenight-stand with only, Catcher in the Rye and If the World, living a much time in the oven, and like its pre- much like the name suggests, it seems life after the one-time encounter. decessor fails to amuse. overused. The melody follows the The verdict, unlike the album, Then comes A xl Rose’s attempt to same prototype set up by previous slow appears within short term ref lection. once again regain his footing with his tracks on the album and fails to amaze. Chinese Democracy is a testament to album. Sorry, a touching song takes a The track in itself a good melody and a three things: A xl still has his pipes in road not yet taken by A xl, with a mel- pleasing performance on the vocals yet, check, the new Guns N Roses exist low and sweet melody. The song ex- because it is incredibly similar to so in the shadow of the good old days of hibits A xl’s intriguing vocal range and many other songs on the album, it hin- Slash and company, and although the manages to redeem the album and once ders their ability to shine. album is not great, it embodies a great more, re-establish the value equilibChinese Democracy has proved to potential that must be harvested. If I rium. Perhaps, A xl is apologizing for be a decent album, definitely worth a had half a thumb, I would give it, along the handful of less-than-entertaining listen. However, the long wait and the with another one, to the boys behind tidbits that meander through the album. inevitable hype that came from an- Chinese Democracy. His apology does not go unfulfilled as ticipation, proved to play against A xl. he provides a truly rockin’ track, I.R.S, He gave the public a variety of tracks — mh loaded with gain and all the beautiful which he re-mastered and rewrote over guitar bits we have come to appreciate. the last decade or so, and thus failed The only suggestion for such a well- to capture a moment in time; a certain
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
er i m r o
n k a nd u p e r o rdc ous haont-man . i r a v f fr do a blenth the band’s – t n e i m l se l move bbe spoke w a c i s ood pu l lu g u r m y o G w j e n n an e vi dy fi ho e ack in tuRéale’s K l i k e w a c s a r e a l r e a a se d p a e d l h t o nd to b i ng ani . Fu ou ng a Mosh Pit m for the Toron icious re leade of humour y a , s e l t p a V os rB it h peo adbangers to ts. Opening iv ine, Metz, w Cancea generous d d e D l le Ba s l l is fi yone f rom H liner Cancer ing , Dead & w it h raciou r r t ha d
C m a i hL t i w ne O n o One
ry g nce r inclu f head l. Eve lly a ve er beh ind a hee co heav y meta nticipation o and comers u t T Th c a t up i ng na mier is g song-mas h fans at r o C pound ma l l venue i riad of other w it L ia m amin s y music, e sa me scre mi x ing it up ancer Bats e ing t he e band is a m h t f re o r he C und is t h hardco nd Plag ues. gressive natu bel ieve he sually be fo ir concer t, t u g a to he Cycle, idering the a It’s d i fficu lt ts. Liam can Just before t d: s a . . n s B n an Co en ma sf u l Cancer f his concer t about the b k o p s e ft s and so ed ibly succe h before all o ith FutuRéal t r w o c t he in handise bo ime to chat t rc the me n took some a front-m
Thanks for speaking to us. Yeah, no problem. You shot the Deathsmarch video in January? Yeah.
That video came out at the beginning of February right? Yeah, we wanted it to be ready for the Taste of Chaos tour. So the Taste of Chaos tour started when? We actually drove down to L.A. the first week of February. Taste of Chaos is like a mini-Warped tour; by the same guys who do Warped tour. It’s like their winter tour. It’s a smaller club tour. It’s been going for a few years but it doesn’t normally come
to Canada. It’s been more of an American sort of thing. Now they’re actually doing a tour of Canadian cities; so at the end, it goes from Vancouver to Toronto. You’re in the middle of the Hail Destroyer tour? Yeah, we’re still supporting Hail Destroyer at this point. Have you begun work on any new songs for the next album? Yeah, we actually took January off to start working on our new stuff; so that went all right. We have four songs we’re doing on the tour. Kinda give people an idea of what we’ve got. I think what we’re gonna try and do is take the summer off and write a new record then.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Photograph of Liam Cormier © Ed Townend
Did you have a good turnout for that? Yeah, it actually ended up going right. With those things you never know. You know what I mean? We had an open call for people to come out for our hundred grand video. So having done that it was like, we need to ask way more people and get as many as possible. So we had 80 to a hundred people. So it ended up working out really well. It was too bad because a lot of people don’t realize that shooting a video is a lot of sitting around for like 14
hours. So everyone showed up when they were supposed to, but we weren’t ready for them for about 2 hours. I felt really bad, but in the end it worked, so it was worth it.
Jaye Schwarzer is your third bassist and newest member of the band. How does he fit with the band’s current direction? A mazingly! I def initely think Jaye brings the band to a whole new level; especially with his playing and his vibe. He also sings a lot. When we play live, to have him with a really strong voice backing me up, it helps a lot. Now that we’re writing, to have a fourth guy who really gets the idea of it, and have this other person to be thinking about things, it’s cool.
That’s quite a collection! Yeah, that’s why it’s always hard. I can never say there’s like one band. There’s even stuff that doesn’t seem as obvious. There’s a lot of the easy rock we listen to. We’re big fans of that, but they’re not he av y ba nd s . A ba nd l i k e T he Constantines, you know, is something that we like. So it’s almost like looking at them for their song structures and stuff like that, less than their intensity or lyrics. We just try to draw from all over the place.
Which bands would you say have had the most affect on your unique musical style? It’s hard to say … all of us are huge fans of music; so, I think we take stuff from all over the place. We all grew up listening to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and AC/ DC, and those bands still have a huge following. Then we got into punk rock and that got added to the mix, then metal. Some of us are into Pantera, Down and the whole Southern metal scene. I feel like all of that, from Black Flag to Down to I Hate God to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin has a part in what we do.
You were born in Montreal, right? No, I grew up in Southern Ontario; in Waterloo, but I lived for awhile in Montreal. That’s when we started the band – when I was living in Montreal. I was there for three years.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Tu parles français? Oui, je parle un petit peu français.
Bien. Speaking of french, you spent a great deal of time biking around the city for the French Immersion video. That must have been exhausting for you. Yeah. It was a good idea because we’d been on tour so much. I missed riding; so I was like, “Yeah, we’ll shoot this video on my bike. It’ll be fun. I’ll get to ride all day.” But then that video shoot was like fourteen hours of riding. We started at seven and finished at nine a.m. It was just like riding all over the city for fourteen hours. It was one of the most tiresome things I’ve ever done. But in the end, it was really cool. Thanks for speaking with us. Yeah, no problem. Thanks.
– pb For more information on Cancer Bats, please visit www.cancerbats.com
, orld W me y k e a H bre r e v l ne l ’ u yo
The WaveBox: Homer Simpson’s Dream Come True A heated look into what the WaveBox is and why there’s so much hype hovering around it. By Melissa Lang
It’s been profusely advertised
on a wide spectrum of television shows such as the Daily Show, Fox News, HGTV, EXTRA, MOJO Network, HouseSmart TV, Univision, and The Gadget Show, just to name a few. It’s been dubbed the WaveBox; the world’s first portable microwave. It can heat up your moisture-deprived foods with a touch of a button, outside the comfort of your own home. Is the WaveBox just some sort of marketing ploy to suck consumers into buying a product that feeds our capitalist economy? Or is it actually a handy device for the traveling nomad? I’ll admit, when I first heard about this compact microwave I had my doubts, I mean an in-car microwave? Immediately, I had this ridiculous v ision of Homer Simpson carelessly driving about in his car, with a donut in his hand and a sandwich heating up in a microwave beside him. However, as I started to dive into my research, my initial skepticism started to evaporate and I began to see why it would be convenient for a customer to buy such a device. This innovative idea came from creator Tim Frank, who had a light bulb moment when he not iced constr uct ion workers actually bringing microwaves along with them, to their construction sites. The light weight of the microwave allows it to be portable, as it weighs merely 14 pounds. In fact, on the official WaveBox website (w w w.thewavebox.com) many reviews were written by the wives of construction worker who own and love the product. Other positive reviews come from parents with children who have extreme allergies, benefitting from using the WaveBox to heat
up specialty foods, on the road. According to Tim Frank, the product has a very broad demographic follow ing of customers, varying from sportsmen of all types (fishermen, boaters, hunters, etc) to truckers, construction workers, campers and even soccer moms. So really, this product is very versatile and can cater to anyone’s need to eat, while travelling or just being outside the home. The portability of the WaveBox is initial attraction for most consumers. The manufacturers have tried to make the product aesthetically appealing as well; it is sold in optional colours such as red, white and blue (traditional American colours – I might add). Readers may wonder how do you plug in this radioactive power box if used outdoors? The Wavebox can be powered in three ways; standard AC, direct to 12-volt battery and via any vehicle power socket rated at 20 amps or higher. The WaveBox also comes with a CoolBag, an integrated soft-side cooler that keeps your food and
drinks cool until you’re ready to heat them up. But before you jump up and down for the perfect, portable microwave you should know it’s not cheap. The WaveBox is priced at $199 U.S. You can easily purchase a traditional in-house microwave for less than $100 at the nearest Canadian Tire. Considering that this product is not even sold in Canada yet, although Tim plans to launch it by late 2009 (that’s a secret – shhhhh) it still has a ways to go. As much as the WaveBox seems like a really innovative and practical product, I still have my reservations about it since I, personally, have not actually seen food being heated up in it. However, if you do decide to buy the WaveBox for whatever reasons (fugitive, homeless, soccer mom, etc) always take into account that safety comes first. So for the sake of lives everywhere, heed my warning: don’t heat and drive!
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
The Sports Caddy:
The rising of the banner: What has become of jersey retirements? As an esteemed right winger in the nascent days of the NHL, Irvine (Ace) Bailey was a pioneer member of the first-ever Toronto Maple Leafs squad. He recorded three consecutive 20-goal seasons leading up to a Stanley Cup triumph in 1932 – the first championship earned with a maple leaf emblazoned on their jerseys. by Anthony Lopopolo
However, on Dec. 2, 1933, Bailey
was the tragic victim of a retaliatory hit delivered by Boston Bruins defenseman Eddie Shore in Maple Leaf Gardens, fracturing his skull as he collapsed onto the ice. Playing in his eighth season, Bailey’s career – and almost his life – met an abrupt ending. To properly acknowledge Bailey’s dedication to the franchise, the Toronto Maple Leafs officially retired his no. 6, posthumously, in 1992, as he became the first player to receive such an honour in NHL history.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
And so began a practice that has recognized players of various positions and styles of play. One that encapsulates an individual’s vocation in ceremony and applause. The jersey retirement, in all its allure and ardour, has taken on the role of the scribe, denoting a date on which fans can celebrate. Formal pre-game ceremonies have been scheduled where audiences witness a name and number flutter as the banner, which holds those credentials, makes its ascent to the rafters. In mere moments, an entire
career is relived and revisited. Seventeen years after the inauguration of this ritual, the Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens remain the only teams to consistently dig down into the depths of their departed past – each adorning the ceiling of their arena with 15 banners. This year alone saw both franchises respect manifold players, most of whom encircle the Bell Centre. The Canadiens unveiled a Ring of Honour in October, 2008, as the first segment of their centennial celebrations.
But, as a transparent arms race is being waged between these two storied clubs, has the tradition of retiring jersey numbers been detracted of its meaning? Has it rid itself of the very credentials that immortalized so many deserved greats in the advent years of these momentous occasions? Has the whole operation turned, well, stale? In Toronto, a city devoid of any remote success from all four fields of major pro sports, two captains were enshrined in the Air Canada Centre after a two-year layoff from retiring numbers. Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour were the
a player’s time with the team, and how he serviced fans across the city in their lasting epoch of leadership, as previous honourees exemplify. Ace Bailey’s career was ended at its height as a Maple Leaf. Syl Apps, known as one of the greatest captains in Leafs history, contributed to three Stanley Cups. Wendel Clark cared so much about the Maple Leaf sweater that he overtly grieved about his trade to the Quebec Nordiques in 1994. In response to what the fans opine, the Leafs utterly saturated a practice they founded in order to create a space for Gilmour. And in
validation. The Tampa Bay Lightning, for example, don’t possess an illustrious and established pedigree, despite winning a Stanley Cup in 2004. Future honourees, if one should suggest, are currently enjoying the prime years of their careers – Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis are two likely individuals to be regarded. In addition, 11 players have been feted by the four remaining Canadian teams, including a legacy of Edmonton Oilers that, in retrospect, may have dressed one of the most potent teams in NHL history during the 1980s.
Original Six and expansion franchises have maintained a modest outlook on any kind of internal appraisal, either unable or unwilling to throw out a bounty of accolades for the fans’ and player’s validation.
guests of honour, both of whom shared ice time and a spot in the hearts of fans. The only difference between the two was that Clark deserved cognitive recognition, while Gilmour didn’t, even though he, the player, had a successful career. Despite the Killer’s six-year stay – his most accomplished records being a 127 points total and a Frank J. Selke trophy earned in 1993 – his time with the Leafs was shortlived, whereas the 14 other inductees managed to sustain at least a 10-year tenure with the club. Almost every one of them won cups too. What most fans remember is Gilmour’s post-season performance in the 1993 conference finals in a thrilling, yet controversial encounter with Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings. That series alone – coupled with the succession of Clark as captain – swayed popular public perception towards the better half of Gilmour, and still continues to be the source of the fans’ benevolent regard of the Kingston native. Although these ceremonies are very much about production, the act of official retirement is more an acknowledgement of
that sense, the rite has been translated into a sentimental spectacle rather than a justified one. Given that Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment CEO Richard Peddie agreed on keeping all retired Leaf numbers in circulation during a 2005 meeting, there really is no cap as to who can or cannot be observed as an honorary member of the franchise. Then why not accept every player who provides a season or two of offensive or defensive flair, as Gilmour did with the Leafs from 1992-1997? The Montreal Canadiens, meanwhile, have won 11 more Stanley Cups than the Leafs and also honoured 15 players – except each one owns two or more championship rings. And while there is a deep pool of talent from which the Habs can select, the players chosen are the results of fastidious study, as the Canadiens still permanently retire jersey numbers within the organization. Elsewhere in the league, Original Six and expansion franchises have maintained a modest outlook on any kind of internal appraisal, either unable or unwilling to throw out a bounty of accolades for the fans’ and player’s
So, with 30 teams of various ages and revenue streams, it would be unfair to say that the universal repute of jersey retirements has been irrevocably stripped of all its potential poignancy. Some clubs are too young to even consider such an event; some haven’t simply crossed that point in time. The ritual, after all, is dependent on the way in which a team chooses to approach it. The Canadiens, living through its hundredth season, have been true traditionalists, making way for those who have graced the uniform and begot success. The Leafs, perhaps ignominiously ostracized from a protocol that they installed in the league, seem to be devaluing the entire process. The fact that 29 other teams prohibit retired numbers from being worn not only consolidates that player’s legacy within the organization, but refines the team’s lineage to a deserved few. Otherwise, it no longer becomes an honour to a particular franchise or player; more of a tool to mobilize a fan base than anything else.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Real Sales for Real People Canada is experiencing an awful recession yet people continue
buying items at regular price. Whether or not this regular price is a good price, people need to start questioning if they can still afford a $40 t-shirt. Is $40 even a good price for a t-shirt?
You wear it a few times, it shrinks in the dryer and you’ve still spent all of that money. The money you spent could have been used on good, nutritious food—something we all know never goes to waste. Here’s the thing, if you pay attention to the sales in and around Toronto, you won’t have to worry about wasting an eighth or more of your paycheck on a shirt you’ll only wear once or twice. Whether you’re unfortunately struggling in this recession or not, spring is around the corner which means new clothes, new trends, and sadly, lower bank accounts. However, there are sales everywhere that might just improve your bank balance. Whether you’re looking for a new shirt to match that comfy pair of flats or a new set of wine glasses, here is where to start. Almost Perfect in North York, Oshawa, Ajax, and Peterborough, is an overproduction food shop that sells top of the line meal starters. Meat, meat products, pies, vegetables, ice cream, bagels, and the like are all for sale here for 30% less than the leading grocer. Most products are brand name and can save you a few dollars, even when you are in a hurry. Ambrosia Natural Foods in Thornhill and Newmarket is a health food store that sells their product in bulk. From vitamins to herbal teas, everything is discounted, compared to your local grocery store.
by Leviana Coccia
In Etobicoke, Future Bakery has begun to sell dairy and bakery products from 15 to 25% cheaper than major corporate stores. Yeast and sugar free breads, cakes, and a variety of pastries are included in the discounted selection. The bakery even sells delicious apple pies for only $5.99. With these sales on your mind, you might consider having a potluck or fancy dinner night at your place. On that note, you cannot serve your gourmet, top of the line, not to mention discounted meals without having a new outfit. You can find discounted and brand name clothes at St. Jacob’s Factory Outlet Mall in Waterloo, Cookstown Manufacturer’s Outlet Mall in Cookstown, Canada One Factor y Outlet in Niagara Falls, and Windsor Crossings Plaza in Windsor. Also, the Athletic Sports Show in Mississauga has a variety of children and adult wear including discounted dressy, casual, and active wear. On a more chic but still casual level, the Buffalo Outlet in Dixie Outlet Mall in Mississauga has men’s and ladies’ jeans, shirts, sweaters, shorts, and outerwear for discounted and clearance prices. If you are thinking about swimming this summer but need a cheap, but sexy bathing suit, you should check out Bikini Bay Warehouse Outlet on Orfus Rd. in Toronto. You can mix and match anything under the sun to match your personal f lare. This Warehouse is selling onc pieces, two pieces, cover-ups, beachwear, plus sizes, and maternity wear for reasonable and clearance prices.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
arts.culture.living Whether or not your household is in a recession, now is the time to save your money. There is a future ahead of you and what better way to plan for it than purchasing brand name products for no name prices. Thinking about going camping this summer? W hy not check out Toronto’s Camp Connection General Store in the Lawrence Plaza. Converse, casual clothing, and camp accessories for men, women, and children have got to be sold. For all of you brand name shoppers, Camp Connection General Store is selling Point Zero, Indian Motorcycle, Jockey, Woods, and World Famous for affordable prices. For all of those in the North York area, Bayview Village Fashion Outlet (BVFO), a clearance store, is selling European designs made in Italy and France. BVFO offers casual, business, and formal wear and on top of the already reduced prices, there is a clearance rack consisting of clothing from $4.99 and up. Items by DKNY, Parasuco, Frank, and Mario Serani are all up for grabs. BVFO is great for fast fashion pickups that don’t leave a dent in your wallet. Gentlemen, are you struggling to find a new affordable outfit to replace your regular black pinstripe suit? You should try out the European Design Clearance Centre on Bloor St. in Toronto. From socks to knitwear, this centre carries conventional brands like Dax and Chaps. Everything here will save you up to 80%. Now that you can look great, feel great, and still have enough money to pay your bills, it’s time to move onto affordable household products. If you’re tired of the same, boring, white, now chipped ceramic plates that you’ve had in your house since your bridal shower or house warming, you should go to one of the Benix & Co. Warehouse Outlets. They are located in North York, Woodbridge and Brampton. These outlets sell the largest selections of pots, pans, glasses, and other useful household necessities for up to 70% less than other retailers. Enzee’s Housewares and More is also following the trend of other houseware stores with up to 75% off of retail house appliances. Enzee’s is selling Faberware’s stainless steel kettle for only $29.99, Bionaire’s
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
humidifier with permanent filter for only $39.99, and Delonghi espresso maker for only $39.99. The espresso machine can serve many purposes, including a night for two. Perhaps you’re getting ready for a romantic evening with a loved one, you have the espressos ready but the last candle you’ve purchased was for your birthday three months ago. Then again, who needs candles, right? Wrong. Candle By Mail Warehouse is a company that does a majority of their business via Canada Post. Each year for a few selected months, they sell all of their products in their catalogue for 20% less than you would normally pay. Everything from aromatherapy to oil lamps can be purchased. For that romantic evening, you can not get ready for a hot date without a little bit of snazzy makeup and convenient beauty products. Apex Outlet Store in Woodbridge is constantly renewing its inventory and constantly serving your best needs. Each customer could receive 75% off of brand names like Redken, Dove, and Axe. Whether you need a new hair dryer, an electric shaver, or a bulk of cheap bars of soap, Apex is the place to go. Since the summer is fast approaching, sunglasses are an essential. However, designer glasses can get very expensive so why spend extra money when you can go to Sunglass Safari’s spring “clean-out” event in Mississauga. The store is restocked daily, carries brand name sunglasses, and is selling them up to 75% cheaper than any other store. New 2009 Versace sunglasses are 25% off, Raybans start at $59, and Guess sunglasses, valued up to $125, are now only $39. Just to make the sales even better, Tommy Hilfiger’s, valued up to $150, are also only $39. The location also holds a large number of sunglass cases to choose from. Since being busy all the time is what Torontonians do best, we need to have the electronics to accompany our hectic lifestyles. Blacks Photography in Markham
is having its annual tent sale this June where brand name cameras and accessories will be up to 75% off. Expect savings on Canon, Nikon, Samsung, and Fuji products. Today’s generation is constantly online. W hether updating Facebook photos or e-mailing a client, we are constantly on the Internet. Factory Direct Computer O u t l e t s i n To r o n t o , S c a r b o r o u g h , Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, and Orangeville is one of Canada’s largest computer hardware stores. Here is where you will find new, old, refurbished, and end of the line computers and computer products for great, affordable prices. Multinational corporations like to use advertising to do the trick in the selling department but when there is not enough money going around to have a consumer’s market, it is important that Torontonians take a look at the cheaper side of things. Whether or not your household is in a recession, now is the time to save your money. There is a future ahead of you and what better way to plan for it than purchasing brand name products for no name prices. These aren’t the only sales moving around Toronto, though. The best advice for a situation like the one we are in is never to settle for regular price because in a few weeks it will be marked down. Never settle to save less when you can save more. Every dollar counts these days. If you don’t need to buy that new pair of shoes or new cologne, don’t. If you are spending money, be wise about how much you’re spending and what you’re spending that money on. You have control over your wallet, even in a recession. Don’t confuse your wants with your needs and always make sure you keep an eye out for all the great sales that Toronto has and will have. If you think you can get it cheaper somewhere else, get it cheaper.
Out With the Shopping Bag
AND in With the InterneT Electronics, clothing, houseware, academic resources and the list goes on and on. It seems that everything is only a click away. These days online shopping is the hottest new trend die-hard consumers are following. by Jess Silver
Navigating through the mall on a
Saturday afternoon can feel like being part of a huge ant colony in desperate search for food. But it’s not food we’re looking for, it’s deals. For the last decade or so, shoppers have had the option to stop dragging around those huge overflowing shopping bags because online shopping is where it’s at. “For the last several years, online shopping has been in growth mode, consistently racking up higher and higher numbers as online businesses mature and more and more consumers get broadband and let their mouses do the walking”, says Geoff Duncan, Market Researcher for ComScore. Shopping online proves advantageous for most because of the amount of flexibility, freedom and convenience it provides. When shopping online, one does not need to worry about the holiday rush and traffic. The question many pose is how well are e-retailers doing in the wake of the recent economic crisis, and are people going to stop using the Internet as a means for their shopping as a reflection of this? According to Mr. Duncan of the ComScore Marketing Firm most online retailers are feeling the effects of the plunge that the economy has taken, as there is a decline in online shopping evident from last year. Deb Schinder, MVP of Sunbelt Blog affirms that there has been a decline in sales produced by big box stores like Wal-Mart compared to what it saw in 2007. Most e-retailers saw a 4 % decline in the last year. “This is due in part to the amount of congestion the Internet saw,
and many stores had seen their websites slow to a crawl or simply could not maintain the sites”, says Ms. Schinder. Another example of this is Canadian Tire. It had to shut down its e-commerce website because it had become too expensive to maintain and the flow of online shoppers has decreased. What is interesting is that it is not that online shopping is really suffering in the wake of the recession, it is simply that many retail figures that were expected to be surpass have in fact not been reached. Companies like Apple and Amazon saw increases in the online shopping world with Apple’s traffic up approximately 19% from 2007, and Amazon respectively up 7% with 76.2 million shoppers, according to ComScore. Similarly, eBay dominated the online shopping race with a whopping 85.4 billion users but this was still representative of a decline compared to last year. One would think that the tough economic situation would not only weigh in on the amount of traffic and hits that e- retailers are seeing but that it would also alter the mindset of online shoppers, making them more conscious of their spending habits. However, young people who do most of their shopping online do not feel that it is as constricting as in-store shopping and, in fact, it is more preferable for a lot of people. Social commerce exists because young adults spend a majority of their time clicking away and staying on top of what’s hot or what’s not. Online shopping takes place while blogging and instant messaging is also
happening; it is part of the social media that consistently surrounds us. “It is great when you are looking for something specific because there are so many places that you can look to get the best deal. It is also good because you can search online to find something you want and you don’t have to waste time searching the malls, it saves a lot of time, energy and money”, says Lauren Engelberg, a frequent online shopper. These days, time really is of the essence because everyone is too busy to take time out of his or her work schedules to spend a few hours at the mall- (although that still happens), but at a dramatically decreased rate. Quick and easy is the goal and that’s why the internet is the latest vehicle most shoppers choose to hop into. So why has the growth of online shopping been relatively slow? “It has been a slow process because of media hype and potential problems which may come with doing business online,” according to Online Shopping Trends in Canada. As long as you are smart about how you shop online and what you shop for, there is no reason for you to be disappointed with the outcome of your quick and easy shopping experience, that gets done with one click of a button. Die-hard shoppers want to get what they want fast and the internet is the quickest, most stylish mode of getting your hands on the things you want most.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Are Generic Products All They’re Cracked Up To Be? Taking the Plunge in the Name of Savings
by Sarah Aspinall
My basket is almost half full; I stare possibility of losing their job. For this rea- might have imagined. This is because the
Photograph by Ralph Bijker
up at the array of products in front of me, searching for the last couple of items before making the trek home. It’s been a long day. Down the aisle the faint chime of the cash registers can still be heard as I choose the cheapest store brand salad dressing and a box of crackers. I head for the checkout; these days shopping has gotten a lot easier for me. Previously, I allowed myself to splurge on exotic specialty products and brand name foods but changing times have caused me to think about maintaining a stricter budget. With the economy the way it is, many people are presented with the daunting
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
son, people are happy just to see their next pay cheque. In Januar y, the Canadian economy shed a record number of jobs and over 120,000 people found themselves suddenly without work and with bills to pay. At the same time, value brands like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have actually seen a rise in sales. This would lead some to believe that such corporations might expand their efforts and come to dominate the markets. For example, Wal-Mart might expand its grocery industry, an industry that guarantees success during a recession. However, despite its attempts to do just that, Wal-Mart has not expanded like some
Wal-Mart grocery industry is different in Canada than it is the U.S. According to Theodoros Peridis, Associate Professor at the Schulich School of Business, because the grocery business in the States is much more fragmented and notably less efficient than in Canada, Wal-Mart can achieve much cheaper prices in the U.S. through its immense inf luence over suppliers. In comparison, “Our grassroots grocery business [in Canada] is much tighter and more competitive, which can restrict Wal-Mart’s influence over suppliers” explains Peridis. In fact, the grocery industry is doing so well in Canada that grocery stocks have
quietly posted gains. In Canada, the top three grocery retailers, Metro, Empire Company Ltd. (owner of Sobeys) and Loblaw’s have all seen between 20 and 30 per cent gains over the last year. “Grocery stocks are doing better than some of the other stocks,” said Peridis. “Even with the economy the way it is, everyone has to eat.” Ironically, these same retailers have launched new advertising cam-
of the current economic situation, nearly 74 per cent of people surveyed were dining-in more often than eating out. Also, 62 per cent supported the idea of buying generic branded products to take advantage of the savings they offered. “A heightened sense of economic uncertainty is leading consumers to be much more value conscious than in recent memory,” said Sean Simpson, research manager of Ipsos
name products can save consumers up to sixty percent in savings, they often contain more additives or preservatives. “These products tend to be lower quality, they tend to use more basic spices, more additives and more salt,” said Peridis. “It’s not to say they are necessarily less healthy,” he clarifies. The A merican Federal Dr ug Administration estimates that on average,
Experts say that on average, shoppers can save between 15 to 50 per cent by switching to generic products. While some customers maintain brand loyalties, others are switching to cheaper brands in order to save money during tough economic times. paigns aimed at promoting savings for their customers. Some retailers are taking advantage of the sudden surge of people looking for savings by promoting cheaper store branded products. Loblaw’s is one of those retailers. Its recent ad campaign focuses on the NoName™ brand products that promote higher savings. The Quebecbased, Metro also launched its, “Red Flag Value Program” in February, highlighting weekly in-store savings and giving its customers the option of redeeming their Air Miles for discounts on groceries. Many other retailers, small and large, are being forced to change their advertising approaches. In January, Toronto’s Honest Ed ’s, famous for g iv ing away free turkeys during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, offered a unique take on providing savings. Its massive threeday sale brought prices back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Shoppers were treated to dirt-cheap prices, ranging from ten cents for ladies t-shirts, to 25 cents for a loaf of bread. Thousands of people showed up for the sale. One way to target consumers appropriately is to do your research. Metro recently carried out an internal survey of consumer trends in Ontario surrounding food shopping habits. Researchers found that in light
Reid Public Affairs, who supervised the Metro survey. “The need to stretch dollars for essential, everyday purchases like food is the new economic reality.” Buying store brands has always seemed to garner some sort of reaction and it may have something to do with the negative stigma that is often attached to such products vs. the brand name products people have grown loyal to. Are the generic equivalents held to the same standards as ‘brand names? Do generic products taste as good? Are they safe? These questions have been asked over and over again by consumers and have led to the creation of shows like Canada’s The Shopping Bags where the value of products are tested. According to Peridis, there are two types of “generic” brands: the first being the, “store brand” and the second being the, “no name brand.” “Store brand products can be between ten and twenty percent cheaper than brand name products and their claims to quality seem to hold,” said Peridis. Peridis adds that what some people don’t realize is that store brand products are often produced by the same manufacturers who make the brand name products and they often come with the same, or similar recipes and ingredients. However, Peridis says that although no
people save between 20 and 70 percent when purchasing generic pharmaceutical products over expensive, popular brands. Generic pharmaceutical products are held to the same standards as brand name drugs and are often made by the same companies to ensure federal controllers consider them safe. However, you can pay up to twice as much for the branded version of the same product. According to the Health Canada website, “whether a manufacturer makes brand name drugs or generic ones, the standards are the same. The ingredients, manufacturing processes and facilities must meet the federal guidelines for Good Manufacturing Practices.” As a recent University graduate, I am no stranger to strict budgeting and cost-saving strategies that many people are now adopting because of the recession. Both during and after school, I’ve bought generic store brands in an effort to save money. After working in marketing, I’ve also learned not to fall for luxurious packaging and advertising because often, that is just what is being paid for—not quality. Keep the following tips in mind the next time you go grocery shopping: Compare ingredients: Before purchasing a product, take a look at the ingredients, you may be surprised to find that
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
there are very few differences between brands, if at all! See for yourself: Sometimes you’ll never know until you tr y. Tr y testing out a generic product like pop, ketchup or toothpaste to see if you have a brand preference. For essential items that you do have a clear preference for: Stay with your favourite.
Don’t shop while hungry: The consensus is that if you go grocery shopping while hungry, you may be more inclined to buy more things you are craving versus things you need. Experts say that on average, shoppers can save between 15 to 50 per cent by switching to generic products. While some customers maintain brand loyalties, others are switching to cheaper brands in
order to save money during tough economic times. If you’re thinking of making the switch yourself, remember to compare ingredients and don’t be afraid to risk trying new things. Happy Savings!
The reality is that, when it comes to grocery food items, it’s often hit or miss. Here’s a list of ten basic recommendations to consider when deciding whether to buy generic or a more expensive brand name version: Save On Produce
Why pay more for a branded vegetable? Aren’t all oranges –oranges? You pay more for names like Del Monte, Sunkist and Tropicana.
Over the counter medications
Advil, Tylenol, Motrin, Claritin and Tums all have generic versions that are essentially identical in ingredients, but can cost a lot less.
There is little difference between the generic and brand name soaps, skin creams, deodorants, etc., at least not enough to warrant the difference in cost. With the brand name, you’re paying for advertising and packaging.
Flour, spices and sugar have to meet certain government regulations so you might as well stick with the cheaper version.
All organic food must go through the same qualification process to meet the ‘Certified Organic’ standard. Why pay more for the pricier organic brand name?
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Splurge On Peanut butter
Often there isn’t a large price different between generic and named brand peanut butter, so it’s recommended to stick with your favourite.
This is a matter of taste. Many generic brands don’t offer the best bean quality or processing, leaving your brew tasting a little stale.
Shampoos and conditioners
Generally the cheaper shampoos and conditioners don’t have the ingredients necessary to clean your hair and leave it healthy. The wrong ingredients may strip your hair of natural oils so be sure to buy the more expensive version.
Detergents, dish washing liquids and household cleaners are often watered down in generic versions.
Snack food and chips
Many people prefer the taste and quality of more expensive products since they are snacking for leisure.
Volunte e r An Unfo i n g rgettab O v e l e r Experie A n End s e a n ce. ur i n g F s : riendsh ip . By Shazia Islam
I’m fortunate to know people who just decided one day that they would drop everything for the opportunity to work in a third world country. Although I too have entertained the idea of doing the same, somehow, my path led me in a different direction. Sure, it can be a life-changing experience, but there is already plenty of that in my carefully constructed bubble. However, at some point, I might have a healthier relationship with life if I allow my inner wisdom to poke and prod until the limited bubble finally bursts. Ever y time another friend stuffs the proverbial backpack with survivor paraphernalia headed south, I feel my feet twitching to follow along. Of course, there is plenty of volunteer work to be done on Canadian shores, from homeless shelters to senior centres.
Volunteering overseas, however, takes a special amount of courage since volunteers are literally stepping into an unknown world which may be ravaged by war, disease, poverty, malnutrition, natural disasters, and a host of other extreme ills. Work sites like refugee camps and squalid slums are far removed from the clean, air-conditioned work environments we’re used to in Canada, but like schools, village communities and hospitals, they make up a huge part of a volunteer’s “office” in the third world. With all these challenges, just what makes
people so hungry for this kind of experience and where do they look for it? People like Gurpreet Kambo and Calvin Knight can offer us some insight. Gurpreet went on a six-month volunteer and educational exchange program through Canada World Youth, an organization that connects young Canadians with their peers from different countries to foster understanding and cooperation. The program consisted of each Canadian participant being paired up with a member of the exchange country; in this case, Honduras.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
There were nine pairs in total, along with a project supervisor from each country. Each pair spent the first three months in a rural part of Canada with a host family, where the exchange members were able to experience aspects of Canadian culture and given a work placement. Gurpreet and his exchange buddy received the opportunity to work in a small museum where they conducted tours and worked on the museum’s database among other things. For the second half of the program, the group flew to Honduras where Gurpreet was assigned
to work in a government daycare for street children. He and his fellow participants played with the children and taught them English. They also organized fundraisers for the centre and used the money to renovate the place. All in all, Gurpreet feels that his experience as a volunteer was nothing short of amazing, and if he had the chance to do it again, he would. His main reason for doing it in the first place was to experience something new and to meet new people. All too often, we in the West tend to have the attitude that people in the third world need our help and guidance. This way of thinking is reminiscent of the times when British Imperialism was at its zenith. Colonialism, an aspect of British Imperialism, played a big part in spreading and imposing Christian values and ideals in the non-Christian world, all in the name of aid. It damaged the systems, cultures and traditions native to those regions. Although help is always nice, and is never refused when offered, in light of such history, the current Western attitude, similar to those of earlier British imperialists, requires adjustment. We are not benevolent givers while other nations are the needy takers. In Gurpreet’s case, he thought the daycare was getting on just fine without their help, but there was still “room for us to do things when we were there.” If we went with the attitude that we have just as much to learn as to give, than it would make for a much healthier relationship between nations and people in general. It is important to recognize the large scale success of other nations in helping their own people. The Grameen Bank is one such example of a micro-credit organization that has made a real difference in the lives of the poor, particularly poor women in Bangladesh, and whose founder, Mohammad Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Many international volunteer groups work in concert with such NGOs (non-government organizations), and provide them with the manpower to administer assistance. One of the volunteer groups that contributes to making
such development possible is K irabo Canada. Kirabo Canada was founded by Calvin Knight, a high school teacher who not only wanted to share his knowledge and skills with his students in Canada, but also with kids around the world. He has both gained and given from his experiences in countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania and Cuba. He spent a lot of time in India where he taught and mentored orphaned boys. Uganda was his next stop and this is where the idea of Kirabo Canada was born. Calvin’s not for profit organization is committed to “providing Canadians with the experience of living in a developing nation through interactions with locals, excursions and above all volunteering… we create a bond between the Canadian participant and the country of Uganda.” Kirabo works closely with grassroots organizations in providing educational programs for Ugandan children who have been impoverished by war. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LR A) waged a 20-year war against the Ugandan government and is responsible for largesca le hu ma n r ights abuses i nclud i ng abducting children and turning them into child soldiers and sex slaves. Millions of Ugandans were displaced as a result of the LR A’s armed rebellion in the north. The LRA still exists and is a guerilla group led by self-professed messenger of “God” Joseph Kony. Kony and his followers want to establish a theocratic state based on the Biblical ten commandments. LR A also represents the interests of the Acholi people, who Kony asserts are being discriminated against. The LRA is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on war crime charges. In 2006, a truce was called, and the LRA is said to have moved its headquarters to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although Uganda has been relatively peaceful for the last three years, the war has had a crippling effect on Uganda’s children. Many of the children are orphans and cannot afford the cost of schooling, one of the only ways to escape a life of poverty. In
order to find a solution to this problem, the Almond Secondary School was established in 2003 to provide education to children in Lira District which is located in the northern region of Uganda. The school is funded by Kirabo Canada and the primary donor, All Nations Christian Care Centre, a charity registered with the Ugandan government. Kirabo’s goal is to form an ongoing
falling apart. Calvin believes that this is an important element of the experience since there is a “physical entity left behind” when the group returns to Canada. In the afternoon, leadership seminars are conducted and the kids take part in educational activities which teach them skills in planning and problem-solving. Although English is the official language, the kids still have
which makes it impossible not to re-evaluate your own concerns.” As you can tell, overseas volunteering definitely doesn’t sound like a walk in the park. It requires hard-work, courage, openness and patience, but overall job satisfaction scores very high. People like Gurpreet work a livelong pursuit. But whether you choose to participate
Everyone wants to do their part. It's an innate desire to help people in need. What I enjoy doing is being directly involved. It has changed my life. relationship with the kids through sponsorship and hands-on work. A good portion of the fee paid by volunteers who join Kirabo goes towards assisting the educational needs of the children, as well as to pay for construction projects. Another important aspect of the Kirabo volunteer experience is a visit to Rachele Secondary School, a rehabilitation centre for child soldiers that aims at helping children start a new life. The organization is 100% volunteer-run and is committed to all funds going towards various projects helping the children of Uganda. Of course, there are administrative costs, but these are kept to a minimum. K irabo organizes an annual volunteer program in July which has room for a maximum of 15 volunteers. Information sessions are planned months in advance to give Canadians a taste of what it might be like. The fee is $4499 and this includes f light, accommodation, transportation, excursions, and food. W hen the group arrives in Uganda, they get a city tour and attend cultural performances. Following this, they leave for Lira, go to A lmond Secondary School and meet the students and staff. The first part of their days at the school are spent on construction projects and refurbishing anything in need of repair. Kirabo constructed a courtyard for the school, as well as a dormitory that was
a lot of difficulty expressing themselves. Therefore, English makes up part of the curriculum. After school, some of the kids and volunteers meet to discuss plans for the Kampala and Lira Kids Day, a special day for Uganda’s poorest children that works in conjunction with another international organization called Right to Play. The special event promotes sport and play and aims at children gaining confidence in their abilities. Kirabo also works with H.E.A.L. International (Health Empowerment Aid Light), another nonprofit organization in creating leadership programs in the area. Indeed, the work Kirabo does is extensive. Calvin’s thoughts on his personal motivations? “It makes me happy. I believe it is what makes everyone happy. It brings you more happiness than sitting and doing nothing. Everyone wants to do their part. It’s an innate desire to help people in need. What I enjoy doing is being directly involved. It has changed my life, and I want to give others the opportunity to do it as well.” …and what are his opinions on the volunteer experience? “ I t ’s g o o d s e n s o r y o v e r l o a d . Everything they are seeing, doing, hearing is completely foreign to them. The volunteers are getting just as much as they are giving. It is an uplifting experience to meet people who are happy with so little,
on a temporary or permanent basis and whether you build homes or teach English, play ball or play music, your skills are a welcoming contribution to the global volunteer network. In Gurpreet’s words, “if you do do it, put your whole heart into it and have the most memorable experience you can possibly have. It’s not worth doing unless you put everything into it.” Kirabo Canada will be holding a Gala fundraiser at Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario) on April 26, which will include a silent auction and information booths. The event will also feature performances by some spectacular spoken word and musical artists. Tickets are $25 and the show starts at 7pm.
– pb For more information on how you can become an overseas volunteer, please visit the following sites:
www.KiraboCanada.ca www.RightToPlay.com www.FreeTheChildren.com www.CanadaWorldYouth.org/en/
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
The Beauty of Autism Imagine a place with no taxes, no bills and no button-up shirts, where mermaids and fire breathing dragons are common encounters. A place where brand names dont matter; and laughter really is the best medicine. Imagine not having to be on time for anything. Imagine living in Neverland. Bradley Foley, cowboy-at-large!
For those with autism, Neverland
is their everyday reality. It doesn’t disintegrate in their adolescence as it does for most people. However, if you’re lucky enough to be touched by the love and beauty of an autistic family member, you may have the opportunity to visit Neverland even in your adulthood. My brother Bradley has autism. He has taught me never to forget what it was like to go to Neverland. “Keep an open mind and try to see the individual as a person, instead of the disability” said Al Griggs, an autism support assistant who also works with Bradley. This is the most important thing to remember when dealing with a sibling with autism. “Forget what you think you know and just get to know the person. Each individual has something that they love and kind of makes them tick and if you can find that, then you can reach them” said Griggs. Let
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
the beauty of autism wash over you – it’s cleansing. It will help to build a stronger relationship with your sibling. “It’s way different, it’s hard to explain” said Maddie Paddock, whose younger sister Lauren has autism. “It’s not like a normal relationship that other people have with their siblings.” So you’re going to need lots of patience. For me, this was the most difficult. When I was younger, I would get jealous because he took up a lot of my parents’ time. Once I was older, I developed the patience my parents have, so my relationship with my brother has evolved. Paddock took the words right from my mouth in saying, “I really don’t think you can understand it unless you live with it.” “It takes longer to get to know the individual,” Griggs said. “You have to look deeper. And listen. And take your time to get to know them. Each one … has a really
By Ashley Foley unique personality.” You have to work at it. It is difficult at first but it definitely pays off in the long run. Some people with autism will test you and try to push you away to see how far you can go. But don’t give in, miracles like autism don’t happen overnight. “Each individual I work with is completely different. What motivates one won’t motivate another”, Griggs said. For my brother what motivates him is humour and Nascar but for others, such as Paddock’s sister, it is movies. Paddock remarks that, “When she’s in a social situation, that’s all she will talk about.” “The more they’re included the more they feel a sense of worth,” said Griggs. Small, simple tasks such as helping with dishes or making lunch can give a person with autism a reason to get out of bed in the morning. When talking of walks Bradley takes in the morning, Griggs says, “Bradley
knows people in [the community] now, who are regulars on the waterfront trail in the morning and they look forward to seeing him. He knows the dogs’ names and he knows the people’s names and they all know him. So he has that acceptance.” You would be surprised how much support there is in your community. Paddock participated in a number of support groups designed for siblings of people with autism. It helped her and others voice their frustrations and pleasures. Whether it’s a friend, neighbor or relative, support groups will help to brush off the people who scrunch up their eyebrows
at you when they see your autistic relative getting restless in a checkout line. Instead, you learn to focus on the ones who smile, patiently waiting while you pick up the gum and chocolate bars your relative accidentally knocked over. “My favourite thing about her… is that she is kind of a kid forever,” said Paddock, “S he i s so na ive a nd i n nocent… it ’s really genuine.” However, “there’s this whole thing about people who are different. There is a stigma attached to that,” said Donna Miller, Consultant of Disability Services at Humber College. “Not knowing how
to react and not knowing how to relate to them.” It is important to keep in mind that instead of feeling embarrassed, feel sympathetic – but not for your relative, for the people who scrunch up their eyebrows at you in the checkout. Give them your sympathy because they have lost a part of themselves that as a child, took them to Neverland, and they can’t get it back. “[Bradley] definitely adds something to my life,” said Griggs. “He keeps the inner child in me alive.”
Resources and Links:
General Information on autism and related conditions
Approaches to Treatment and Education
Life with Autism: Resources for Adults and Youth
Life with autism: Resources for Families and caregivers
Autism ONTARIO Education Scholarships for autistic Students and their siblings
Celebrities and Autism
Autism: The Musical MOre testimonials from Families with Autistic children
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Vermicomposting A New Lifestyle
By Ashley Foley and Peter Martyn
Since we’re running scarce of space to dump
garbage in Ontario, wouldn’t it be nice if there were an animal that could decompose garbage into rich soil? Lucky for us there is. Michael Power/St. Joseph High School in Toronto joined the growing community of schools, businesses and homes participating in vermicomposting last year. “Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, is simply composting with worms,” states the Green Venture website, www.greenventure.ca, where Michael Power/St. Joseph High School has purchased their worm composters. It also states that: “Red worms or red wrigglers are the best because they can expel their own body weight every day”.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
“They’re bred in province now but generally speaking they don’t survive the cold winters here,” said Michael Gemmell, Program Coordinator at Green Venture. He explained that they are mainly an indoor worm that should not be kept at temperatures colder than five degrees Celsius. “The soil is a lot better than regular compost. So we’re going to be using that in our school garden,” said Taisa Brown, member of the Green Power program and supervisor of vermicomposting at Michael Power/St. Joseph High School. “It also makes a brilliant bug spray for plants. A lot of our trees are being infested by bugs eating the leaves.” The Green Venture office is located in Hamilton and Gemmell explains how vermicomposting is also reaching out to Hamilton’s local community. “We also work in conjunction with a local restaurant, which gives us their organic waste, such as lettuce leaves, for compost.” Vermicomposting not only helps to keep organic waste out of landfills, but it also creates rich soil; prime for gardening. By implementing worm composting, organic fertilizers replace pesticides, rich soil can restore dead natural landscapes and lastly, landfills will not fill up so quickly. Different businesses, programs and individuals can work together to spread worm composting nationwide. “We have three worm bins at three different locations,” explains Brown. “We feed them roughly one pound of food per week per bin, and as time goes on they can handle more food.” Even though there were only three worm bins in the school last year, there were also multiple collection bins throughout the school where students drop off their fruit and vegetable scraps. Brown explains, “We go through the food that goes into the collection bins with gloves to make sure it’s all done correctly,” said Brown. There are also signs and posters throughout the school explaining what can and cannot be fed to the worms. “It’s kind of a neat program – there are worms in the school!” said Amanda O’Connor, a student and member of Green Power at Michael Power/St. Joseph. “The
reason why we did it was to reduce the amount of garbage our school produces because our school is massive and needless to say, there is a lot of garbage going into a landfill because of our school.” O’Connor ex plained that the program initially faced some difficulties in her school. “In the beginning they weren’t getting much food,” she said. But soon the worms were getting the right amount of food – and the right food. “We’ve had a few challenges,” said Jennifer Gee, the teacher coordinator for Green Power at Michael Power/St. Joseph. “But I have noticed an increase in interest in the topic and an increase in comfort in the idea of having worms in the school.” Brown happily explained that some boys who did not show environmental interest in her school programs were bringing her fruits and vegetables to compost. Cur rent ly, the school’s major problem is that the program has not been widely advertised, which is something Michael Power/St. Joseph is working on. Without knowledge, people can be nervous about having worms in the school because they do not understand how controlled and successful the process can be. Without proper education, the worms will not receive a balanced diet and the experiment can fail. “You have to overcome the yuk-factor,” explained Gemmell. “But in truth, when the [vermicomposting] bins are just sitting there… it’s just like being in a greenhouse. You get the smell of the soil or a garden.” “It’s definitely not smelly,” said Gee. She explained that a lot of the staff at Michael Power/St. Joseph have been really impressed with how the bins do not smell. Faculty did not believe that vermicomposting would not create bad odors. “There was a lot of resistance that way,” Gee continued, but since introducing worm composting into the school, she explained that teachers’ attitudes toward the program have changed. “I have already had several staff ask me about the possibilities of doing this at home,” she said.
No bo Ev ery dy lik Gu es bo e Lo ss I dy ha me n ’ Sh g, th ll go tes m ort ea i n, e. It s t y, b , fat, slimy wor wo m j rm itsy, uicy ones s, fu z s. on ; e zy wu s , z zy
As long as the worms have a balanced diet and are not fed foods they cannot properly decompose, there will be no bad smells or fruit flies. With the purchase of a worm kit, Green Venture supplies a troubleshooting guide, in case bad smells or fruit fly problems do occur. Gee had read a number of articles regarding the success of vermicomposting in California, which triggered her to implement worm composting at Michael Power/ St. Joseph. Since worm composting become so popu la r t hat Ca l i for n ia Gover nor Arnold Schwarzenegger rewarded a number of offices grants in order to implement it in the workplace, Gee wanted followed suit in Toronto. “I think it’s definitely successful and it’s going to grow in the school and its going to extend beyond the school,” Gee said, expressing optimism in the program. “You want it to spread out to people’s lives.” – pb
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
The fundamental structure of a diverse film festival rests on a diverse staff and volunteers. Adopting the mantra of, “Nothing about us, without us,” the individuals involved in ReelWorld Film Festival are just that: a unique and active group. Talking with the founder, Tonya Lee Williams, often known for her role as Dr. Olivia Winters in, Young and the Restless it is apparent that her, “diverse” contribution to the festival lies in her work ethic. We asked her the generic questions about the festival first (how long has it been around, what is its mandate etc.) and received informative, yet unrevealing answers (it’s been around since 2001, aims to promote achievements of diversity in film, new media and video etc.). However, we got our real answers when asking about her personal contribution to the festival. She says she works 70 hours per week on the festival. Impressive when you consider she’s also President of a production company called Wilbo Entertainment, is working on producing and directing her
first feature film Making Room for Lily, talks with groups across North America about her experience in the entertainment business, mentors talented young artists, and lobbies for change in Canadian licensing and government policy. Clearly, a devoted film festival founder with an extensive background in the entertainment business is not your common gem. Naturally, the founder of a film festival focused on diversity would be expected to have such a background. It takes real legwork to ensure that other staff members are also diversity-minded. However, it doesn’t take long to find such staff. Music composers, Adrian Maurer and Taku Yamada from AlphaOrganic, involved in the 2008 festival, explain their refreshing work philosophy. AlphaOrganic aims at several initiatives, one of them the start up of a non profit organization to collaborate with and recognize politically and socially active artists. Both Adrian and Taku have educational backgrounds different from music
composition and arrangement. However, like Tonya, their work ethic is the real testament of their ability. Adrian and Taku were given 3 days to compile their work at last year’s ReelWorld Festival. Their finished product was highly praised. Given their success, it comes as a surprise that they remain so humble about their work. Instead, they claim to prefer the, “behindthe-scenes” reputation. The philosophy behind AlphaOrganic is to provide musical composition in a caring and liberal manner. True to the name, AlphaOrganic presents itself as distinctively on top. Both the founder and the contributors to ReelWorld Festival demonstrate an unconventional approach to their work. It is through their hard work and unique initiatives ReelWorld rests on real ground. The Annual ReelWorld Film Festival ran from April 15-April 19, 2009.
For more information on the foundation, festival, programs and events visit www.reelworld.ca For more information on AlphaOrganic visit www.alphaorganicemedia.com To contact Adrian or Taku write them at email@example.com
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes Iris Häussler’s Honest Threads is a collection of clothing that comes with experiences attached
What does a collection of used
clothing – from hats to boots – have to do with arts and culture? Perhaps it is a clothing drive for the needy and less fortunate in Toronto. Artist Iris Häussler began this collection, w ith the assistance of curator Mona Filip of The Koffler Gallery. The official description is, “This interactive installation within the Honest Ed’s store weaves a fragmentary portrait of the city as Torontonians share intimate stories through the lending and borrowing of personal garments and the memories they carry.” The words say it all. But if you are familiar with an Iris Häussler project, you know a few words can never describe the meaning and emotion that are included. It’s like describing the taste of a seven-course meal. It can never come close to the actual experience of eating it. This installation is no different. Honest Threads is a collection of clothes that come attached w ith ex periences.
They have meaning to the owners, who are as much the guardian of the story as they are keeper of the clothing. And what better place to stage the exhibit than at Honest Ed’s, a place where many people in past decades have come to be clothed and a place owned for almost 60 years by the late Ed Mirvish, a person who had many stories to tell, and a person of whom many stories were told. With a pair of his patent leather shoes, a tan suit and some Hawaiian leis from one of his later birthday parties, Ed Mirvish is well represented in the installation. Over a hundred people contributed to the exhibit. Some are well known, while others are not. Some used clothing articles have obvious meanings, like a white suit from a first communion, or a school uniform. Others have deeper meanings that can be understood over a period of time. A favourite example – Julie Markham’s “Leftover Wool” sweater. In Julie’s words: “This is my ‘ leftover wool ’ sweater, a
By Don Young
collection of squares made out of ends of wool from sweaters I knit during an era when I was an avid knitter (mostly high school, mostly sweaters for family, friends, and me). Then, because I was the ‘crafty one,’ I inherited all of my grandmothers knitting supplies, which included lots of ‘leftover wool.’ My maternal grandmother taught me to knit when I was about five or six, maybe seven. The first thing I remember knitting was a very small square which grandma quickly transformed into a wee ‘muff’ for one of my dolls. She knitted and crocheted for every spare moment – she rarely had ‘idle hands,’ despite debilitating arthritis which left her with the most beautiful crooked fingers I have ever seen. I was thrilled to receive all these bags of wool that came from her life; pieces of wool that contributed to many pairs of mitts knitted for the church bazaar. When I was trying to figure out what to do with all this ‘leftover wool,’ and because I hadn’t been knitting much for a few years, I thought I’d start off
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
“This outfit is a recreation of what my mother was wearing in this photograph taken on-board the ship, the Conte Biancamano, as she was crossing the Atlantic Ocean to immigrate to Canada in 1954. This image, in which she seems to project a heroic and hopeful expression towards the future awaiting her, has always been an inspiration to me. I have often looked at it and wondered what she must have been thinking in this moment of suspension at sea.”
with something simple. Of course! Simple squares! I’d figure out what to do with them once I had a few. A few became this sweater, which I finished in 1992. A friend and I have shared it ever since. I’ve never felt that it belonged to me, as it’s a collection of so many. It seems appropriate to share it further.” Sharing is a big part of the exhibit. The lenders have shared the clothing and the memories. The viewers engage in those memories and can try on the articles. Many of the pieces can be borrowed for a few days and worn to events, further adding to the history they contain. An example is Chef Jamie Kennedy’s whites. His coat is on display and available to borrow. It comes complete with working stains from his kitchen. What a wonderful thing to wear to a dinner party where the menu includes some of his recipes that are created in your kitchen, wearing the same coat he used. It’s a memory you cannot buy. But you can create it – almost for free.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Many of the items have family connections: Mother’s blouse, skirt, poncho, wedding dress or raincoat; Father’s hat, kit bag, or suede jacket; a football jersey or a t-shirt from a concert. All have meaning and a story to tell. Another example – Mariatu Kamara’s African Dress (as told to Susan McClelland): “At the age of 12, rebel child soldiers in Sierra Leone invaded the tiny v illage where Mariatu Kamara was living. They held her hostage for more than 12 hours and then amputated her hands. Mariatu lived for three years in a refugee camp for amputees in Freetown, Sierra Leone. There, she gave birth to a child, her son Abdul, who was conceived when she was raped just prior to the rebel attack by an elderly man in her village. Abdul eventually died from malnutrition at the camp. For the three years Mariatu l ived at t he ca mp, she begged on t he streets of Freetown for her and her family’s survival.
In 2002, a Canadian man read a newspaper article about Mariatu’s plight and sponsored her to come to the countr y for medical care. Within a few months, Mariatu went to live with Kadi and Abou Nabe, originally from Sierra Leone, who had immigrated to Toronto in the early 1980s. Mariatu, who had never set foot in a school in Sierra Leone, began to attend classes. In 2007, she graduated high school. Today, she is a UNICEF special representative for children in armed conf lict. She speaks publicly about girls and war. She is also in her first year of George Brown’s Assaulted Women’s and Children’s Counsellor/Advocate Program. In 2008, her memoir chronicling her experiences as a child victim of war, immigration to Canada and triumph in life was published by Annick Press. Other stories are about similar travels to a new understanding or a new place in life. Sara Angelucci’s Mother’s dress
Honest Threads will display garments and the memories they carry. Lent by Torontonians, each item holds a personal story, revealing a glimpse of the many threads that weave our identity over time. Visitors will be able to borrow the garments for a few days and wear them, experiencing both literally and psychologically what it is like to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes.’
has such a tale: “This outfit is a recreation of what my mother was wearing in this photograph taken on-board the ship, the Conte Biancamano, as she was crossing the Atlantic Ocean to immigrate to Canada in 1954. This image, in which she seems to project a heroic and hopeful expression towards the future awaiting her, has always been an inspiration to me. I have often looked at it and wondered what she must have been thinking in this moment of suspension at sea, as she left her small Italian village behind to move to a new country, one she knew precious little about. The photographer seems to have captured the essence of her leap of faith. It was only after my mother died that I began to ponder these questions, and to understand the courage it must have taken to be an immigrant. This recreated outfit was used in an artwork entitled Questions She’ll Never Answer. Somehow, just asking the questions out loud, the ones I’d never thought to ask her, was somewhat of a comfort.” If there are many stories of the clothes and their history, what of the people who visit the installation and borrow the items? According to Anna Silverstein, one of the gallery attendants, the visitors are a diverse group. Many people seek out the installation since they have an interest in the arts and culture scene in Toronto. Others are drawn to it when they are shopping in the men’s wear section at Honest Ed’s. Let’s consider the story of an unsuspecting visitor, someone who happened to come in to view the installation and ended up leaving with a costume. Duane Crowe had come to Honest Ed’s on a snowy January afternoon to buy Ovaltine. Before he got in the store, his
attention was captured by the black and white video playing in the display window on the street. In Duane’s words, he was “grabbed by the film.” He browsed through the pictures and stories posted on the walls, and viewed much of the clothing on the racks. He spoke with Iris, Mona and Anna, and seemed to enjoy the opportunity to learn about the exhibit and what it contained. One item that especially intrigued Duane was the WWII Tunic and hat that had once belonged to Jim Rehius’ father. By the time he’d tried it on, he knew he had to take it out on loan. Was his experience richer than just Ovaltine? Iris Häussler expressed her positive experience with the exhibit: “This place is still breathing. It’s about stories like the success of the immigrants. The exhibit displays a charm accumulated over years. The store itself has so many stories.” The concept began in her mind several years before. As the Berlin Wall came down and borders were becoming more open, she created a coat exchange, where people from each side of past conflicts could experience wearing a coat from someone on the opposite side. These were people who once thought of each other as enemies; but in the new world, had to get beyond old wars and make a new life for themselves. The Honest Threads exhibit is sponsored by the Koffler Gallery. Their description: “Exploring the intersection of visual art, literature and theatre, Toronto artist Iris Häussler creates immersive environments that reveal personal histories, real or fictional. Responding to The Koffler Gallery’s invitation to develop the first off-site project, Häussler chose Toronto’s famous landmark, Honest Ed’s, to host an installation that engages the GTA public in sharing real life stories.
Honest Threads will display garments and the memories they carr y. Lent by Torontonians, each item holds a personal stor y, revealing a glimpse of the many threads that weave our identity over time. Visitors will be able to borrow the garments for a few days and wear them, experiencing both literally and psychologically what it is like to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes.’ At the same time, they will add new layers to the clothes’ history. Trading experiences on multiple levels will enrich our shared view of the place we call home. As pieces of a vast puzzle, these individual stories will render a fragmentary portrait of the city, attesting to its complex history.” Curator Mona Filip was pleased with the exhibit’s popularity and was looking forward to another part of it, a guided bus tour that would start at Honest Ed’s and continue to the Blackwood Gallery, AGYU and the Doris McCarthy Gallery. As she explains, it was “like speed dating with galleries.” The tour would not allow enough time to thoroughly view any of the four locations, but it would give an overview of each. Therefore, a person could return for a longer view of the locations they find interesting. The first bus was completely booked and they scheduled a second. It seems there are lots of people interested in art. Honest Threads was displayed until March 8, 2009, at Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor Street West, 2nd floor. The Koff ler Centre of the Arts (and its corresponding gallery) offers a variety of exhibitions, performances and classes. Please visit www.koff leratrs.org for more information.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
The Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra provides an extraordinary experience for young musicians by Vicki Lee
From the outside, the Edward Johnson
All photographs by Christy DiFelice
Building looks like any other building at the University of Toronto. Bustling during the work week, these buildings become silent giants during the weekend; dark and empty, awaiting their halls to be once more filled with students come Monday. However, the building is robbed one day of rest. For three hours every Saturday, instead of maintaining the solemn demeanor worn by the other buildings on the U of T campus, this facility, used by the Faculty of Music, is bustling with the musicians of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO). The TSYO was founded in 1974 by conductor and violinist Victor Feldbrill, who played first violin and conducted for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO). As stated in their name, the TSYO is designated for youth, specifically, musicians under the age of 22. Currently, the orchestra has 76 musicians, from the young age of eleven, to their mid twenties. Some are even boast-
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
ing a university degree. Every September the orchestra holds auditions for the season, with typically about one third of those auditioning being accepted. Although the TSYO does not ask their musicians to be at a certain grade in their playing, the stringent audition process ensures that only those capable of high caliber playing get accepted. In addition to performing pieces of their choosing, students are asked to play selections from the orchestra repertoire and possibly demonstrate sight reading or technical skills. Although the TSYO is exclusive in selecting their members based on musical ability, the orchestra makes strides in being inclusive to all those who have the talent and desire to join the orchestra. There are fifteen financial awards available from the TSYO of up to $600, allowing those from all economical backgrounds to play. Once the musicians have been selected, the orchestra begins rehearsing every Saturday afternoon, leading up to two main
concerts in December and April. Other performance opportunities for the TSYO include a chamber concert where students play in smaller ensembles, high school performances and concerts held across the country and sometimes internationally. The TSYO maintains a close relationship with their big brother, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as shown by the numerous TSO members who are involved with the training and organization of the youth orchestra. There are seven coaches for the younger orchestra, including YoungDae Park for the violin, Daniel Blackman for the violas, David Hetherington for the cello, Paul Rogers for the bass, Keith Atkinson for the woodwinds, and Harcus Hennigar for the brass. In addition, there are several joint performance opportunities which strengthen the ties between the two orchestras. Most prominent would be the annual â€œside by sideâ€? performance, where the TSYO not only has the opportunity to
play alongside the TSO, but they also have the chance to play on the illustrious stage of Roy Thomson Hall. The TSYO also holds an annual concerto competition, which all TSYO members are encouraged to participate in. Landing first place in the competition will grant you the opportunity to play with the TSO in the following season, and second place will award you the chance to play a concerto with the TSYO. These opportunities (as any musician will tell you) are much coveted. Since many young people are not about to jump at the opportunity to spend their weekend rehearsing Beethoven or Stravinsky – not to mention the two to three hours a day that members are expected to practice – it’s clear that the TSYO members are not your typical youth. The members of the TSYO show themselves to be an extremely hard working group and blessed with a natural inclination towards music
– not surprising when one considers the high level of playing required for the TSYO. Unlike other youth bands or orchestras, the TSYO does not use simplified versions of a piece; that is, the musicians are asked to play the original orchestra arrangement. TYSO Trumpet player Tim Watson can attest to the difficulty of the pieces, stating that the pieces he plays are “much harder” than those he plays studying music at the University of Toronto. For many, the TSYO is not their only musical endeavor. Several study at the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM), with many of them playing at an ARCT level, which is the highest attainable grade. Some are also members of other prominent orchestras such as the Glenn Gould Orchestra. Other members also go on to join the Canadian National Youth Orchestra, which is the country’s official youth orchestra. Though TSYO manager Christy DiFelice did not
want to overstate the TSYO’s ranking as a youth orchestra, there was an unmistakable gleam of pride in her eye as she humbly stated, “I feel uncomfortable saying the TSYO is ranked as the top youth orchestra in Canada, but we’re certainly one of the best.” Considering the amount of work required in being a member of such a prominent orchestra, it is even more impressive when one realizes that for some of these students, their playing is not even their primary talent. Out of the TSYO members who are currently pursuing higher education, some are studying music as expected. There are also members, however, who are pursuing an eclectic range of careers, such as engineering, medicine and sports therapy. Many of the TSYO’s musicians are still in high school, and are playing in addition to their homework, extracurricular activities at school, maintaining friendships and applying for university. All this is a testament to DiFelice’s belief that hard work, and not necessarily talent, is the primary factor that leads to success within the orchestra. Dropping by one of their rehearsals, what stands out most about these young musicians is perhaps not the music that they produce, but rather how much they were regular youth in every other way. Just like any other afterschool club, the TSYO has its members who show up late for practice, forget their stand, have lost sheet music for a particular piece. Friendships are formed within the orchestra, and they joke and banter with each other and their coaches, even while a coach scolds them for a mistake. As DiFelice points out, one of the most rewarding experiences of working with the TSYO is seeing these young adults often grow over the course of a few years. “There are students that I’ve known for three years who when I first met, you can see the potential in them, but they weren’t hitting it,” says DiFelice. “They weren’t investing into themselves. Then over a three year period, you see them progress not only as musicians, but more importantly, as individuals.”
When prompted to reveal his reasons for joining the orchestra, one of the young oboe players simply looked at me as if it was obvious and said, “For fun.” 38
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Just as the TSYO is composed of a diverse range of individuals, the reasons students choose to join the orchestra is equally as diverse. Unable to pinpoint it to one reason, DiFelice says that there could be any number of factors that prompted the musicians to join the orchestra. Undoubtedly, the incredible musical opportunities that the TSYO offers to its members ranks high on the list of reasons. First, there is the larger than average musical repertoire that the TSYO has at its disposal. Many of these young musicians have the chance to play pieces that they might not have even otherwise seen until joining a professional orchestra later in life. DiFelice attests this to the fact that the TSYO is large for a youth orchestra and therefore, has the funding to provide more music. Additionally, the company that TSYO musicians keep is enough to wet any player’s musical appetite. In addition to being coached by some of the TSO’s best musicians, they are conducted by an impressive musician in his own right – trombonist Alain Trudel. Known in the musical community as one of the great trombonists of his time, Trudel has distinguished himself as a remarkable conductor. He has conducted orchestras across Canada and around the world, including the Vancouver CBC Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, Orchestre Metropolitain du Grand Montreal, the Saskatoon Symphony, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, City of Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra, The Tokyo Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia in the U.K., and an All Star chamber ensemble in Hamamatsu, Japan. Let’s also not forget the intimidating list of guest conductors that have graced the TSYO with their presence, including Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Emmanuel Pahud, Richard Stolzman, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Gunther Herbig and Sir Andrew Davis. But perhaps one of the strongest reasons to join the TSYO is the discipline it provides to those aspiring to become professional musicians. These young adults have the advantage of experiencing what it is like to be part of a fairly structured orchestra early on, which as DiFelice points out, is much better than experiencing it for the first time when they show up at their first professional job.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
“If rehearsals are from two to five, we expect you to be in your chair, tuned and warmed up ten minutes to t wo,” says DiFelice. “What we’re trying to do is train them to become professional musicians, in conditions they would expect from a professional orchestra. This is to see if this is what they want to do. If they can’t handle the pressure at this level, then they certainly can’t handle it at a higher level.” It is certainly not a folly for these students to harbour hopes of becoming professional musicians in the future. There is TSYO alumni in virtually every major orchestra around the world, and although the TSYO is not a feeder orchestra to the TSO, there are currently five members of the TSO who were once members of the youth orchestra. This revealing fact is not lost on students currently pursuing a higher education in music. When asked if he has aspirations of one day performing with the TSO, Tim Watson states quickly, “Of course. But I am also realistic.”
Finally, one cannot forget the simplest reason to join an orchestra - for the love of music. When prompted to reveal his reasons for joining the orchestra, one of the young oboe players simply looked at me as if it was obvious and said, “For fun.” DiFelice agrees with this sentiment. “If all they get from it is joy, as well as a love and understanding of music, then I think we’ve partially done our job.” So what does the TSYO have in store for 2009? As they finish off their season, the TSYO can look forward to performing in Newfoundland with the Newfoundland Youth Orchestra. The TSYO will also hold their annual spring concert at the MacMillian Theatre on April 17. Finally, the orchestra will finish the year on a high note, with three performances at Roy Thomson Hall including the joint concert with the TSO in late April and the Young People’s Concert in early May. For more information on the TSYO and their programs, visit their website. website
Absolutely Funny Absolute Comedy offers great laughs at affordable prices By Don Young
Everyone needs a release – he’s digging up. They watch the audience,
in order to adjust their performance, based on the probes Michael puts out. Tonight is a good crowd. They’re here to have fun and enjoy the evening and they won’t be disappointed. Michael hands the stage over to Dred Lee, a local comedian who talks about things that happen to us all. Well, maybe sometimes. He keeps the tempo going, and hands the stage back to Michael, who introduces the next act. Finally, the headliner, Wes Zaharuk, takes the stage. He’s well prepared, with props and routines that keep the audience in stitches for the length of his set. It’s obvious Wes has done this all before, and he does it with style. He’s big on audience participation, which makes his act unique at each performance. His set is quite long as it moves from tricks with a vacuum cleaner to a striptease, and on to a finale that has him undressing and redressing in a few seconds. It’s a performance that really caps the evening. It seems like time flies by and the entertainment is over. The bills are delivered and paid; customer response cards are distributed and collected. The efficient staff is cleaning the theatre as people drift out, often gathering in the bar/lobby to have a nightcap or just discuss the show with the performers.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Photograph of Jason Laurans byPaul Bannister
a chance to get away from their daily cares and trials; an activity to cleanse the soul and prepare it to face the world with new enthusiasm. Comedy serves that purpose and a favourite place for many to enjoy it is at Absolute Comedy. On a typical night, the announcer comes on the sound system to clearly announce the show will begin in six minutes. Just enough time to get to the little room, and ensure the server is able to fill your food and drink requirements before the show begins. The music gets louder, the light go dimmer. It’s showtime! The Master of Ceremonies takes the stage and the fun begins. On this night, it is Michael Takacs, an experienced comedian and MC, who supplements his routine with clips from his day job as a schoolteacher. His function is two-fold: he’ll warm up the audience while drawing them out. Why are they at Absolute Comedy? Is it a party celebrating a promotion, birthday or family gathering? Is it mostly a local crowd, or are there a lot of visitors from outside Toronto, or even further away? Tonight it is a varied crowd, and Michael finds a group from a Canadian airline, which gives him a point of entry into the audience and their minds. The other comedians pay attention to what
Absolute Comedy showcases some of the most talented professionals working in North America. As seasoned comedians, they’re familiar faces seen on the popular TV comedy shows.
Not to be influenced by one experience, we return for a second visit, and a chance to meet the owner of Absolute Comedy, Jason Laurans, just in from a second Absolute Comedy location in Ottawa. There’s something special on this night, a late evening show where the Just For Laughs crew will be able to view the performers. Nine comedians are given the opportunity to show their skills. This is pretty serious stuff for comedians. Only the best will be selected. Eight men and one woman. Two cameras recording, and one chance to prove yourself. The stakes are high. Jason Blanchard is the master of ceremonies. He’s an able host, warming up the capacity crowd and setting the stage for the comedians who follow. The room is alive; people are standing against the back wall. You almost need reservations to get in the washroom. The nine comedians are hot. They range from the youth of Bobby Mair to the experienced Evan Carter and Brian Hope. Dred Lee is back plus there is Ryan Maglunob and Martha O’Neill. Martha O’Neill adds a female perspective and provides an entertaining set. Why are there not more females on the schedule? After the show, we join Jason Laurans, an experienced comedian who opened the Absolute Comedy clubs in Ottawa and
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Toronto. The Toronto club is just over a year old, and attracts good crowds on most nights. Reservations are suggested, especially if seats near the stage are desired. In Ottawa, reservations are necessary to ensure a seat anywhere in the room. The clubs target thirty-five year olds, plus or minus 15 years and the comedy fits that age range. The club’s objective is to provide a location for people to come and enjoy a variety of comedians, while having a snack or dinner and perhaps a drink or two. Jason is determined that you will enjoy it. If you don’t, he wants to hear about it. As a comedian, he’s trained to give the customer what they want: good quality food and drink with professional entertainment, all at reasonable prices. I don’t think he misses the mark very often. The food covers a variety of choices, from the basic BLT sandwich for $7.25 to chicken alfredo fettuccini or lasagna for $10.50. There are large burgers and several salads, so almost everyone will find something they like. Appetizers and snacks range from chips and salsa at $3.50, to chicken wings, a veggie platter and a combo platter at $18. A selection of beers, wines and shooters are available at competitive prices. The service is good and the atmosphere is friendly. People come here to have fun.
Just to be really sure, we return a third time for the Wednesday Pro/Am Night. The host, Herb Irving, is a talented comedian with a wealth of material to draw from. He stirs up the crowd and introduces The Bring Back Swayzes. This musical comedy duo is a good start to the evening. They establish the tone that will be continued by the following acts: Ben Hur, Julia Latkowitz and Brendan McKegan. It’s hard to tell that they are not established comedians, as they provide entertaining stand up comedy. The headliner, Jay Malone, takes the stage like he owns it. This guy’s a veteran of many comedy shows, including his own episode of Comedy Now! His press release says, “His style is both clean and cerebral, but is infused with an edge.” Let’s just say he’s a funny guy. His performance is excellent and seems so natural, like he is totally in tune with the audience. They’re still laughing long after Jay has left the stage. Herb Irving is the last person on the stage. He leads a rollicking rendition of O’ Cannabis, to the tune of O’ Canada, that has the audience in stitches. Where else can you find a thoroughly entertaining evening for a $6 admission (food and refreshment extra)? Why is Absolute Comedy better than the many other comedy venues, several of
Absolute Comedy has been designed for stand-up. The theatre has a small stage, with suitable lighting and sound. There’s room for a few props, but this is a club that highlights the comedian.
which are spread across the GTA? Why was Dominion better than Food City? It’s in the content and the presentation. Absolute Comedy offers a selection of comedy to fit most wants. The comedy is aligned with adults, and would require a warning notice if on TV. It perfectly suits the audience, who come to see and hear the comedy of real life, not a made for TV pasteurized and homogenized version of life. Still, there is a maturity to the performances since they avoid the childishness of some of the situation comedy seen in movie theatres. The Content: Absolute Comedy showcases some of the most talented professionals working in North America. As seasoned comedians, they’re familiar faces seen on the popular TV comedy shows. To compliment this, fresh new talent brings a creative edge, making for a balanced show. Wednesday night is a great time to visit. For only $6, you can see an experienced host and headliner, plus a variety of new faces, who are there to showcase their talent, hoping to get offered more work. What they may lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm. Later in the week, the price goes up and more seasoned comedians take over the stage. The acts are honed to razor sharpness, so Saturday night has two shows of the best stand-up comedy available in Toronto. This is where you see the comedians you’ve
likely seen on television, but in a show that can have a bit more edge and a lot less editing. It is comedy that reaches the lives of real people, and tells it like it is. There is no nudity, except for Wes Zaharuk; but after the initial shock wears off, the audience realizes the nudity is inferred more than explicit. It’s all in the timing. The Presentation: Absolute Comedy has been designed for stand-up. The theatre has a small stage, with suitable lighting and sound. There’s room for a few props, but this is a club that highlights the comedian, usually one or two at a time. The action is focused on the stage, so you always know where to look. All the seats face the stage. The room can be adjusted with heavy drapes to suit the size of the audience at each show. There are no poor seats in the room, but if you arrive late or without reservations on a busy night, you may end up standing against the back wall for the performance. The place is clean and well maintained. The floors are vaccuumed after every show and the tables gleam. There’s pride taken by the staff. I get the impression that Jason Laurans demands it. Absolute Comedy offers a total package, where you can have a full evening of food and entertainment, whether you come alone or bring a couple of friends. There are “dinner & show packages,” from $17 to $27. They
will even create a program/package if you have specific needs. Just call them and ask. They’ll also bring your preferred show to a location of your choice. Absolute Comedy has a convenient location – on Yonge Street just north of Eglinton (2335 Yonge St.). Parking is available in a pay lot behind the building. Evening rates are reasonable. Absolute Comedy’s week often begins on Tuesday with a varied offering: Student Night ($5 admission with a Student I.D.) or Dark Night (An explicit, uncensored show on the second Tuesday of each month, hosted by Andrew Evans; $10 admission.) Pro/Am Night, a combination of professionals and amateurs is on Wednesday ($6 admission, no I.D. required). Thursday is a regular professional show ($10 admission). Friday has a show at 9:00 pm ($12. admission). Saturday has two shows – 8:00 and 10:45 pm ($15 admission), and Sunday is an 8:00 pm show ($10. admission). Occasionally, other shows are presented, such as the recent Just for Laughs show. For more information about Absolute Comedy, please visit www.absolutecomedy.ca.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
A History of Toronto Revisited:
The State of the Union Addressed Walking between Romanesque columns that seem to hold up the sky itself, the eye is directed through the massive arches and up towards the illustrious curved ceiling By Stephen B. Links of the “Great Hall”.
Lit by the sun shining through the
high windows, dust particles that float like a still frame from an old Elliot Ness film. One can get certainly lost in the reverence of Toronto’s Union station. Standing in a building built during a time where wealth was measured in steel, it’s easy to feel like you have been superimposed on an era where industrial strength far outweighed the intangible aff luence gauged by today’s market. Inside of the station, the only modern crisis to be felt is getting home. The first of three Union Stations was built in 1858 and was located in what is now Toronto’s Skywalk. Owned by the Grand Trunk Railway, (GTR) the station was shared by the Northern and the Great Western Railways, both of which helped centralize Toronto as a transport hub. As the economy rose and the big city numbers grew, so too did the demand for a larger station. In 1873 a second Union Station was built at the same location as it’s predecessor. With a front façade that favoured the harbour, the station saluted the importance of boat travel on Lake Ontario, welcoming the union between water and land in the distribution and transportation for the rest of Canada. However, in 1899, t he R a i lway and Shipping World magazine blasted Union Station saying, “The general consensus of opinion is that the Toronto Union Station is one of the most inconvenient stations in (North) America, expensive to run and unsatisfactory in very many other respects.” The building was limited at sixty trains per day and felt a strain with the arrival of the
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Canadian Pacific. Once again plans were made to expand. In 1904, critics would no longer talk of the inconvenience of the station because due to being conveniently close to the Great Toronto Fire, (that swept through the warehouse and manufacturing district ending just a block East of the station) the station was wiped clean, clearing the way for bigger plans. Next, in a manner not unlike the PacMan effect of intense urbanization today, the GTR appropriated the toasted land where the current station stands. At this point it was 1911 and since there were about 40,000 people using the station per day, changes were made again to account for the increase in numbers. Due to the shift in production to focus on the war, there were heavy delays in building the new station. Later, the GTR managed to go bust, even with an increased number of people using the train lines. This lead to the station’s full nationalization by the Federal government and so the Canadian National Railway was born. Built between 1914 and 1920, it wasn’t until 1927 that all trains were finally transf e r re d to t he ne w Un ion St at ion . O n August 6th, 1927 the official opening ceremony brought Prince Edward to cut the ribbon to open the doors of the station. In 1975 critics changed their tune. In a Historic Sites and Monument Board, it was quoted that the new third station was of, “national architectural significance as one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts railway station design in Canada.”
As urbanization goes, by the 70’s and 80’s and the station’s waterfront yards were sold to make way for new development. There was a shift in business development and consequently, the PATH was constructed. The PATH connected the station to surrounding business buildings and an underground shopping tunnel for individuals to access. Currently servicing all rail types and over 200,000 passengers per day, Union Station is now the busiest transportation facility in Canada. Today, Union Station is springing leaks and is said to be looking a little dated but the whole point and character behind historical buildings is to look dated. In fact, the dated look is what gave rise to Union Station being used for movie sets. With new plans to destroy the station by revamping it into a futuristic looking building, old gangster movies are nearing extinction as their habitats are being slowly destroyed. Talks of the station’s near future development include a UnionPearson link and a modern revitalization of the Front St. entrance. Plans will also include a modernized subway station with improved access to all platforms and an entirely new eastbound platform. This $100 Million initiative to revamp one of Toronto’s remaining links to the past proves that Rome may not have been built in a day, but all it takes is a plan on paper to destroy it.
The HMS Speedy
Changing Direction. Changing Location. Changing History. The sinking of the H.M.S. Speedy in 1806 at Presqu’ile Provincial Park changed Brighton, the City of Quinte West and even Toronto by Ashley Foley
history of the park. Topics such as the sinking of the Speedy, battles fought at Presqu’ile (including those during the war of 1812), how the Sophiasburg Triangle si n k s more sh ips t ha n t he Ber mud a Triangle, and finally, how Toronto first came about are all presented in creative, exciting ways. “You get to talk to [instructors], watch some videos and look at overhead maps, comparing how things have changed and developed,” said Kiersten Elford, a former camper at Presqu’ile during Victoria Day weekend. “People are still very passionate about the history of the area, and they’re very passionate that it has been protected,” said Dejong. At Presqu’ile’s bicentennial reunion in 2006, a film was documented at Presqu’ile reenacting the sinking, starring park host, Matthew Holmes as Captain Paxton. The film has been distributed to local libraries, schools, played at the neighbourhood amphitheatre and shown at the lighthouse interpretive center in Presqu’ile. “A lot of parks don’t have that sort of thing, so it was nice that it wasn’t the same interpretive thing as other parks,” Said Elford. Many stories have been brought to the attention of Presqu’ile dealing with how the H.M.S. Speedy sank. Matthew Holmes, and many others, believes that “the Speedy should never have sailed. It was rotten; it was taking on water when it left Toronto. It was a retired ship that was brought back into service.” But how it sank is not significant: what is significant today is how the H.M.S Speedy has structured Presqu’ile/ Toronto, as we know it.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Photograph by Benny Lin
This shipping accident ultimately deter m i ne d t he c u r rent loc at ion of Ontario’s capital city, resulting in the thriving metropolis known as Toronto. The H.M.S. Speedy was a ship traveling from York (Toronto) to Newcastle (Presqu’ile Provincial Park), but sank in the Sophiasburg Triangle off the Presqu’ile point. There is a legend that the Speedy was struck by ‘The Devil’s Horseblock’: a rock that rises out of the water in the Sophiasburg Triangle. In this sinking, several Upper Canada leaders were lost and Ontario’s settlement was reestablished to present day, ‘Toronto’. “If the Speedy had made it, Brighton would not have been the quaint little town it is. It probably would have been the heart of a thriving metropolis,” said Matthew Holmes, a former Park Host at Presqu’ile. “If it wasn’t for the sinking of the Speedy, [Presqu’ ile] would have been a ‘tow n site’ and we wouldn’t have a Provincial Park” said Dolf Dejong, former Head of Education and Assistant Superintendent of Presqu’ile for thirteen years. “There’s a lot of tourism that comes into the town for various reasons, and Presqu’ile is a pretty good drawing attraction,” said Holmes. “There are trees at Presqu’ile that are not otherwise found this far south and it is a major landing strip for all migratory birds because it is their first stop [when] heading north for the summer.” Victoria Day weekend is a major, annual event at Presqu’ile, since many travel a far distance to witness the birds flying home for the summer. E v e r y n i g ht d u r i n g t he H i s t or y Weekend (the long weekend in August), Presqu’ile hosts a presentation on the
Held Over FutuRéale’s Dave Proctor spent a full day at Pearson International Airport. This is his story…
I wanted there to be more; I’m sit-
Photograph by Miss Nikichan
ting at the arrivals gate beneath a clock; one of hundreds of clocks, hundreds of people, listening to the slow-rolling railroad sound of luggage on tile floors. Ck-kunk, ck-kunk, ck-kunk, and no one is noticing I am here. My expectations were for drama, eavesdropping ear-candy and harassment by zealous security officials wondering why I didn’t have a boarding pass and what I was doing at Lester B. Pearson International
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Airport. My hopes were high enough that I was going over my story while riding the 192 Airport Rocket from Kipling station, surrounded by eight or nine people with big hiking backpacks like mine (but theirs not filled with notebooks and pens). If confronted by security, I was waiting for a friend. If asked by the airport bartender, I was going to hop on a flight and see where the wind takes me. If discovered by the airport ‘s Media Relations department and
asked why I went through with this day of observation without involving them or announcing my arrival, I would simply say I forgot. With no boarding pass and no business at the airport, I step off the bus and miraculously the doors still slide open for me. The patterned grey carpet reminds me of a convention center. The generic triangles and straight lines designed to not
offend the eye; the silver metal frames circling the outside of Terminal 3 are designed not for style, but life support for the Terminal-Link monorail. Nothing is shocking or out of the ordinary, save for the smell of drywall dust and the bear-sized construction workers improving something behind fake walls.
One woman traces the schedule chart w ith her f inger and mouths the word “delayed.” She sits down, defeated. To my right, a woman is kneeling on her chair, staring at the gate with a single rose in her hands. This is it, I realize. And vow not to move from beneath my clock until she moves from beneath hers.
Again, I expected more of one an less of the other. The departures gate is a different animal. The thin snaking hallways of Arrivals and the horrid coffee at the downstairs Java Joe’s scream “Get out!” to those returning to Pearson. Upstairs at departures, everything is wider, more open. You can spin
I cross the floor and pass the ticket counters with my backpack weighing lightly on my shoulders and avoid purchasing a last minute seat A man with a carved putty face checks his Blackberry and darts past me to the departures level above. But I had something specific I needed to see; something to clarify. If I expected any action it was because of Die Hard 2; any quirky bureaucratic disagreements because of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. These were the airports I grew up with and were adorned with the samesame grey-ish blue walls that give the illusion of colour without actually having any. These airports should have the same ethnically diverse and ornery employees. I want to see the airports I knew, and yes, that arrivals sequence from Love, Actually – the one where the narrator says he can see that “Love, actually, is –” reflected in the hugs and kisses of returning travelers. I head to the “public concourse,” the master arrivals gate, an Olympic-sized arena of tile surrounded by chairs that face towards the middle, away from the returning passengers. I sit underneath the schedule board with its pumpkin-orange numbers and destinations f lickering at people. People are waiting and looking at t hei r watches, watch i ng t he gates and pacing.
Another gate full of passengers walks by, tanned from Cancun. Then a quiet flight of Dutch people. Still, she waits. Then rises, and goes to talk to some security guards. Twice the drama, I expect. She talks with them and they laugh a bit, her tense facial muscles melting into a smile, and then she walks off, rose still in hand. And as I am recovering from being a little stunned and disappointed that “Love, actually, is only kinda,” she is replaced by two more older men with single roses and another young girl with two aluminum balloons. “Welcome Back” and “I Love You.” But this girl’s reunion with a tall, bearded man is underscored by the people around me in the public concourse, sitting and staring at their luggage. Who would bring luggage to the arrivals gate? The question strikes me with a loud ck-kunk as one man checks his watch and stretches his feet over his bags. He’s waiting to be picked up, I realize. Him and all the others in the arrivals area waiting with their bags had no one waiting for them with flowers or balloons. It’s not all Love, Actually but a combination of love and disappointment; a mix of roses, drywall dust and clocks.
around from the view of one security camera to the next and still not be noticed, if you are so inclined. I start getting lost in my thoughts to the heat of the sun from the sprawling overhead windows and the sound of someone calling a Mr. Michaels to the Air Transat desk. Author and columnist Pico Iyer wrote in his book, The Global Soul, that in a world of increasingly global citizens that can travel everywhere, lines start to blur, and the global citizen has a chance to redefine himself. In the airport, Iyer writes, one has no history to define his choices or actions. To paraphrase, “you have no history, only essence.” Going into the airport, and especially walking through the wide and sunny departures area, I was excited to see what my essence would make of me, feeling like the others who are about to leave, and wondering how I would interact with the people travelling that day. History versus essence, Bruce Willis versus the terrorists, Steve Martin versus the car rental lady – the romance of airports. So I cross the floor and pass the ticket counters with my backpack weighing lightly on my shoulders and avoid purchasing
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
a last minute seat on a flight going to who knows where. I round the corner into the boutiques section to see what my essence is interested in. Magazine racks wallpaper my vision, screaming about how fat Jessica Simpson is getting, who is too thin and who is going to save the world.
His daughter is heading to France for three months, he says. I’m here to observe the human condition and hopefully explore a longstanding fascination with airports, I say. “Ah.” So I’m sitting in a Swiss Chalet and eating a hamburger, listening to people talk
his daughter eventually, and so did everyone reuniting in the public concourse. Sure they kissed and hugged, but some didn’t. They just went home. The lone rose. People treat the departures gate as casually as a sliding door, a train, a sidewalk, or anything that will bring them to their destination. And it’s designed not to
People treat the departures gate as casually as a sliding door, a train, a sidewalk, or anything that will bring them to their destination. And the books – point of sale best sellers like Oprah’s book club and Paolo Coelho. The next store across the way doesn’t sell magazines. Instead, it sells booze. A nd if it doesn’t sell magazines or booze, it sells Canadian paraphernalia. Little stuffed beavers dressed in RCMP outfits; maple infused Canadian icewine; chocolate covered almonds (moose droppings); caramel covered peanuts (beaver droppings); fudge; Vancouver Olympics mascots; syrup. My eye catches people f locking to a Pizza Pizza and a Swiss Chalet, calmly eating, but not searching for international restaurants. This, the single most international place in arguably, the most internationally diverse city in our country, and I was hardpressed to find a store or a meal that originated outside of our ten provinces. This airport, the in-port of our globalism and diversity, a microcosm less exciting than the most generic part of my street. Then I see my boss. There is a moment of non-recognition, a mental shutdown where our two brains can’t compute “airport” and “familiar face.” Each trying to reconcile the place where no one has any history with precisely that – our history.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
around me about their jobs, their cars, and their pasts. No one is discussing their flight. No one is talking about their fears of flying or their exciement of traveling to foreign lands. No one is fighting terrorists. No one is held over. And as the final cut, the final blow, I ask the bartender what people usually get before they take a long plane ride. “I dunno, beer I guess,” he replied, but he wasn’t interested in knowing where I was going, if I was nervous or if I was escaping. Sipping my beer, going over my notes, deep in the boutiques wing of the departures floor, I can’t see any windows, hear any planes, or distinguish my barstool from any average barstool in Toronto. Writing this column I give myself and readers a chance to look around, notice the things that they would not otherwise see. I assumed I would tap into that secret history of stories that inform all of these stories about airports. The returning lovers, the angry employees, the cartoonish hijackers. But seeing my boss made me realize that my time in the airport is temporary. I would be going back home today. And so would he. But most importantly, so would
show us where we are heading, but what we’re leaving; and down in arrivals, what we’re coming home to. The gate facing the waiting people. Iyer believes that the global soul is casua l ly adjust i ng to t he accessibi lity of the world and its citizens, and that this connection is no longer magic, just an extension of our worlds, cities and streets. In the end, what you don’t notice about the airport is what you don’t notice about life. There’s love and heartbreak, convenience and inconvenience. Tiles and drywall. W hile there was nothing to suggest that our airport had the mythic capacity of the silver screen, in the end, I suppose it is the ultimate microcosm for life. There are stories and stores, but they are sometimes less interesting the closer you look. So this airport fascination of mine is just metal rails and concrete; exciting stories, and more often, unexciting ones the nearer I get. But there’s still that girl who walked off with the rose. W ho knows? Maybe she got on a plane.
No pillow? No problem. Toronto has plenty of places where a person can catch some sweet shuteye By Leviana Coccia Toronto is always busy. There is always
construction on Dufferin St., traffic on Yonge St., and crazy drivers on Bathurst St. If there is not a line up at the Tim Hortons on York St., then there is one at Yonge and Richmond. When there is a concert or a big game at the Air Canada Centre, Torontonians are better off taking the TTC and grabbing a quick bite to eat along the way. For students in the Toronto area, it can be particularly hectic with a long and frustrating commute in the early mornings and late nights. From assignments to tests, interviews to appointments, and parties to club events, Torontonian students don’t sleep. So, when it is 2 PM and your iPod’s battery is down to the last straw, you’ve been sipping at your empty Timmies for over an hour, your class doesn’t start for another forty minutes, and you really don’t feel like spending the school day pretending that you slept more than three hours the night before, it’s a good idea to take a power nap. Since Toronto is so active, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are indeed quiet places in the city. From the Allen Rd. to Lake Ontario, there are an endless number of places where people can catch some shuteye before they continue on with their busy day. However, for us Torontonian students who do not own a car or do not have our driver’s licenses, a convenient and cheap way to travel is by taking the subway. One of the most common subway stations in Toronto is Union Station. There are approximately a quarter of a million passengers that use the Union Station facility on a daily ba-
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
sis; and out of all of those people that take the TTC, GO Transit or VIA Rail, someone ought to catch some Z’s in the beautiful and historic train station. The main hall of Union Station is big and beautiful. There are colourful flags on the brick walls of the building next to enormous windows looking out on the city. There are ticket booths where one can purchase or pick up VIA Rail tickets and seats where people of all ages can rest before their departure. Below this platform is an enormous hall filled with coffee shops, restaurants and bright blue seats in all corners. The seats found further back on this level are the quietest on the property. On a typical Saturday, when travelers are walking back and forth,
a nice relaxing day in downtown Toronto? The Toronto beaches are very busy, as volleyballers, skateboarders, and joggers play on the 3-kilometer boardwalk. The people—young and old— rest on the sand and listen to the peaceful Lake Ontario waves reach the shore. Despite the seagulls and the smell of chlorine coming from the pools down the road, the Toronto beaches offer a great place to soak up the sun and take a breather during the summertime. Without having to get onto a plane or drive down to the ocean. This is the next best thing. It is nice to get away from the smog warnings, the traffic lights, and the streetcars on your day off; so, why not take a trip with a few friends to the Lakeshore with a towel and
chase your favourite pair of shoes or even a new CD. Indigo is a great place to get some sleep during the busy days of the year since it is inside and whether it is raining, sleeting, or there’s a blizzard outside, you will always know that there will be a coffee and a space on the couch awaiting your arrival. At the west end of the city, just off of Highway 27 on Humber College Blvd., is the University of Guelph-Humber. Guelph-Humber is a four-story building where students go to class and try to find a place to study and eat. In the building there is a nice coffee place called William’s Coffee Pub, which serves grilled baguettes, soups, salads, wraps, desserts and drinks. Around the pub, there is a selection of tables where
Napping in the Casa Loma Gardens feels almost medieval.
With the exotic colours of the garden and the old stone castle in the background, resting could never be more peaceful. these back and blue seats are far enough away from the bustle, but close enough to the Mmmuffins that you can wake up to the smell of baking. Besides being next to the cute coffee places at the station, you would be taking a nap with history as well. The City of Toronto Archives holds thousands of pictures showing the development of Union Station and downtown. Union Station is a great place for students to nap all year round. Throughout the seasons, nappers are able to notice the different decorations and themes that the station portrays. Toronto’s train station is like stepping into a fairy tale or witnessing an epic train story. The old station gives off the feel of early cinema, where women would wave their husbands off to work from an artfully constructed platform. History, good coffee, and a pleasant corner to rest your eyes are what awaits you at Front and Bay. But winter is not the only season where students are busy and tired. Though summer is more relaxing than winter and fall, it still has its stressful days as well. Students may be in school and holding down a part time job year-round so who would not enjoy
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
some sunscreen – enjoy the warm weather and your day to relax. When you arrive at the beaches, you could grab a water bottle and order a slice of pizza or a hot dog and head over to the sand. While you’re there you can lay your towel down, lather yourself in sunscreen and soak up the Toronto sun as you sleep. For all the Greater Toronto Area residents who do not feel like riding the bumpy rocket to the beach or even to Union Station, why not head to the Yorkdale Shopping Centre at Dufferin St. and Highway 401, where the Indigo bookstore awaits you? The two-floor bookstore is filled with endless page-turners and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, steeped tea and baked cookies. You could grab a book and a dessert and sit on one of the couches in the store to catch some Z’s. If you do not feel like reading and if you don’t have any extra change on you, then sit back, relax and listen to the feature CD playing on the stereo. Don’t fret, Indigo always has relaxing music playing. Whether it is Michael Bublé or Frank Sinatra, you will receive the proper rest you deserve. After your little retail nap, you have the energy to do anything. You could shop, (since you are in Yorkdale after all) and pur-
students can do their own thing—whether it is studying, eating or sleeping. The area is really comfortable and relaxing. William’s has a modern atmosphere with neat booths, tables, television sets, great food and great company. There is also a wireless connection so if you happen to take a nap and wake up finding that you need to finish an assignment or send an email, just pull out your laptop and you can get all your online errands done. Though William’s is filled with students from 8 am until late in the afternoon, students are respectful and keep to themselves. So, if you are in the area and you need a quick bite to eat and a place to rest for twenty minutes or so, Guelph-Humber’s William’s Coffee Pub would be a great choice. For the Torontonian students who prefer resting outdoors in a more garden-like scene, there are the Casa Loma Gardens. The Gardens are one of Toronto’s favourite landmarks with their displays of vibrant flowers, plants and trees. A visit to the Gardens is included with your admission to Casa Loma, so you do not have to worry about paying another fee to spend a quiet afternoon sleeping amongst nature. You would be able to visit the Casa Loma Gardens between May and the end of October, yearly.
Napping in the Casa Loma Gardens feels almost medieval. With the exotic colours of the garden and the old stone castle in the background, resting could never be more peaceful. The aroma of fresh flowers, the feel of the sun and a cool breeze, and the sound of birds chirping is almost too good to be true. After your nap, you could work up the energy to finish your tour of the castle grounds and take some pictures to go along with your relaxing day. When exploring the city of Toronto it is almost impossible to forget about the University of Toronto, which has three campuses: St. George, Mississauga, and Scarborough. The St. George campus is downtown. One of its most used buildings is called Hart House, which is open from 7 am until midnight, every day of the year. Theatre productions, meeting rooms and a library are all available at Hart House. Since
the St. George campus is one of the older campuses of the university, the feel of Hart House is almost like that of Casa Loma. The building is historic and a great place to sit and nap. The Hart House library is a popular place to rest. There are thousands of books inside the library stocked on beautiful wooden shelves. There are also beautiful and comfortable red leather chairs that face enormous windows looking out onto the campus. The library is dimly lit, making it easy to have a snooze. Since it is a library, it is extremely easy to fall asleep since everyone inside is using their library voices. Everything is quiet. Even though you’d be able to see the busy campus through the window, you’d be inside – free from all the hustle and bustle of students and teachers. There are sections of Hart House that have been restored with beautiful wooden
fireplaces and elegant sofas. Even though committees and clubs need to pay a $15.00 charge to use the facility, students can use the Hart House for free whenever they want. Anyone with a minimum of four courses at any university can use Hart House and if they choose, can obtain a membership as well. Basically, Hart House is accessible to a large population, even if they do not have a pillow to rest their head on. Everyone is entitled to sleep. It might not be allowed in your classroom, or while you’re pulling an all-nighter, but if you are tired, you ought to know the places where you can have a break from the hectic streets of Toronto. Besides, after you get that needed rest, you will feel a lot better and won’t mind waiting in line for another soon-to-be empty Timmies cup.
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
Explore Your Summer Getaway Under One Roof at
Toronto’s Ultimate Travel Show From March 27 to the 29th, people came from all over the world to show Toronto just what they had to offer. At the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto’s Ultimate Travel Show was underway. by Melissa Doyle
Everything, including luggage services,
travel guides and photography lessons, were all available under one roof that weekend. Michelle Skinner, 39, a resident of Campbellville, Ontario, attending the event for the first time, stated, “I am planning a couple trips for 2009-2010 and wanted to see what was available.” She is planning trips to Las Vegas, as well as a cruise, “I am not sure, but the Caribbean is what I am looking at.” Skinner said she was able to find an excellent booth that supplyed all the information that she was looking for. An event such as this one does not happen without an intense amount of planning and preparation. One of the key people involved in planning this event is Amanda Wedgewood, the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for the show. Wedgewood explained why she
ARTS | CULTURE | LIVING
enjoys this event, “The travel show is a fun one, and everyone loves to travel, or even think about traveling, so people that come to the show are excited, the exhibitors are excited. People come from all over the world so it’s really nice to get to know them and their cultures.” Booths had been set up representing places from all over the world, including, the Dominican Republic, Morocco, Egypt and Ireland. Conor Duffy, 23, Ireland native and representing the Royal Irish Tours booth at the event, was participating in the show for the first time. Duffy said that he was glad to be able to attend the event this year. I asked him what was being offered in Ireland, “It depends where you are interested in going [and] if you like driving yourself, or if you prefer to be on a Coach bus.” Clearly, there are many options for people, even after they have chosen their desired destination.
The show also includes the time and effort put in by many volunteers. Janet Pollen was volunteering at the event this year for the first time, though she has attended it as a guest before. “I am having a blast, it’s nice to be able to see all of these visitors [to Canada] as well as the public,” said Pollen. I asked Pollen why she enjoys attending and volunteering for this event, “It’s a happy-feel good, people are excited, whether they are going on a vacation or just planning a vacation, they have that sense of excitement, and they are all in a good mood.” With the whole world in one building, it is a convenient and efficient way to plan your summer getaway, so be sure to check out Toronto’s Ultimate Travel Show next year.