Urbane Magazine Vol. I, Issue 1. Spring 2010 www.urbanemagazine.org
Blueprints for Better Cities inside
Americana Revival Workwear & American Nostalgia Transient Space Danger & Deterioration The Mi Concept Interview with Clothing Designer Dean Hutchinson
Religion & Freedom of Speech
Influences of Americana, p. 5 Aaron Doucet
Photoshoot: “Vagrants”, p. 6 David Pike
Trend Report, p. 8 Andrew Lovesey
Interview: Dean Hutchinson, p. 10
Freedom of Speech & Religion, p. 14 Gary Jones
Diversity our Strength?, p. 17
Leader Profile: Virginia Foxx , p. 19 Sarah Jane Vasallo
Transient Space, p.14
Independent Film in Toronto, p. 20
The Third Wave, p. 21 Lauren Treihaft
Cycling in Toronto, p. 22 Alex Fortuna
Know-A-Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles, p. 24 Christine Sirois
The Flannel Wearing Crowd, p. 26 Lauren Goodman
Urbane Magazine Editorial firstname.lastname@example.org Matthew Gray Editor-in-Chief
Rachel Yoes Design Editor
Matthew Wall Editorial Director
Ceecee Lu Politics Editor
Andrew Lovesey Fashion Editor
Lauren Treihaft Culture Editor
Farhad Manouchehri Fashion Editor Productions email@example.com Colin Macleod Creative Director Sapphire Li Productions Director
Dear Reader, Thank you for picking up this first copy of Urbane Magazine. We hope that it is one of many editions of our publication. Whether you’ve attended our lauch party, or you’re reading this online, I’d like to express my thanks. The theme of our first issue is ‘Cities’. We wanted to give a focus to the magazine, though still encouraging a wide breadth of content. Our fashion section focuses on ‘urban’ and functional clothing, design focuses on sustainability and civic planning. In the Culture section, we explore neighbourhoods and cycling in Toronto. Our politics section includes an article on faith and freedom of speech, an issue which is central to many current political debates. I hope you enjoy our mix of local and global topics, and that you enjoy this first issue of Urbane Magazine. Regards, Matthew Gray
Publishing firstname.lastname@example.org Olivia Forsyth-Sells Publisher Sarah Siddiqui Deputy Publisher Advisors Professor Blair Mascall Alex Beriault Christine Sirois Cover Illustration by Alex Beriault
Urbane Magazine is a student run publication at the University of Toronto. Contents of the publication do not reflect the views of the faculty or administration. To get involved, e-mail: email@example.com Urbane Magazine 80 Front Street East, Suite 414 Toronto, ON M5E 1T4
Americana Revival How American nostalgia continues to influence men’s fashion by AARON DOUCET
he revolution in Menswear that has taken place through the 20th century is best represented by the most humble of garments: a t-shirt. The origin of the basic tee can be narrowed down to WWI were it served as an undergarment, by the 1930s the t-shirt had established itself as the only undershirt, and hit the mainstream. But it wasn’t until the Second World War saw it’s soldiers returning to civilian life with the cotton crew neck as part of their wardrobes, that people began to take notice. The younger generation of the postwar era boldly took the t-shirt to the streets, but acceptance from the masses hinged on a Hollywood endorsement. The t-shirt was revamped to cling to the body, demonstrated spectacularly by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), this garment, once loose and shapeless, became revealing and highly masculine. The utilitarian had become vogue. Flash forward to now: young urbanites are going through a similar transformation. The metrosexual mores of the recent past are slipping away, and resurfacing is the masculine ideal of a prelapsarian America. The everyman is everywhere again. Americana is back. Of course, the influence of Americana nostalgia on men’s fashion isn’t anything new. Collections like Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren have been re-channeling wayfarers and deck shoes since the early-mid 2000’s. But it’s been in more recent years that a growing number of tastemakers have dedicated themselves to reviving American clothing for a hip, new audience. Some brands have brought in delegates from this new age to collaborate on revitalized products from their established U.S. brand, such as Daiki Suzuki for Woolrich. Mining and fishing garb is being stocked by upscale boutiques. And some have begun to reproduce iconic gear—501’s, wayfarers—to precise levels of authenticity. The result? Young men leaving home looking like middle class, 20th century men. And paying a premium for it. Afflicted? Definitely. But it’s interesting, that how we dress says a lot about who we’d like to be. The fact that these brands have been in business for so long, suggests a genuine and authentic product, obviously this is a sentiment that follows the garment out the door with the customer. This yearning for authenticity is revealing. For many, sturdy American gear
Quintessential American jeans. Photo via ACL
evokes a distant, romanticized culture, and with a recent decline in security, industry and overall economic stability, it’s no wonder why this nostalgia has subsumed the stylish set. In our disposable Walmart world, we’re beginning to recognize the importance of heritage and quality. Enthusiasts say the provenance of a particular garment is key; the deeper the roots, the better. This is why touchstone brands like, Levi’s (est. 1853), Woolrich (est. 1830), Red Wing (est. 1905), and Frye (est. 1863) to name a few, have managed to maintain their stronghold on the modern fashion market. In unknown times, people can turn to what they know best: the brands that built the modern world. These immortals reflect a cultural urge to prove that in these times of convenience, masculine ingenuity is not obsolete. A modern man may not spend his time building his own home, but he is spending his money on jeans and work boots that could withstand the action. This masculine aesthetic suggests a toughness and an endurance that the feminized, city-born, fashion-conscious man cannot match. In part, the heritage vogue is a rebellion against the stylization of posh city life – a revolution that’s likely to continue as we enter a new era of financial restraint. But mostly, it’s a way for Information Agers to protect their manliness. By choosing clothes that exist for a reason, young urbanites are defying the aesthetic of the impractical dandy and choosing to evoke a testosterone rich protector instead. It’s still fashion, of course. But it’s fashion that fulfills a masculine ideal over a feminine one. If only Grandpa knew how chic he was.
Photoshoot Urban decay
Photos by DAVID PIKE Models: Matthew Wall, Cassandra Batts, Sam Lalonde Stylists: Aaron Zack, Rachel Yoes, Nancy Chen
Trend Report ‘What’s old is new’ by ANDREW LOVESEY, Fashion Editor
rowing up, one would look through their parent’s belongings, tossing away the very trends of our future. Taking a closer look at what is hot now; plastic-framed glasses for instance, have been rejuvenated. Major fashion houses have revived their frames after this 50s/60s style. The fashion icons of then, once perceived as odd, could now walk down the street without even a second glance. The metal-framed glasses of the 70s period are soon to make a comeback. Keep your eyes tuned to the new eyewear collections of 2010, all of the major designers will be releasing at least one pair in hopes of reviving this once popular design. A recent story featured on the Fashion Television website highlighted the resurgence of psychedelics into the spring 2010 collections. Notable designers whose hued spring collections were previewed include Pucci, Diane Von Furstenburg, Anna Sui, Louis Vuitton, Versace, and of course the late Alexander McQueen. Fashion forecasting predicts upcoming trends based on the buying patterns of the past. Well tuck, not toss, away your plastic-framed glasses it is rather probable you will be reaching back into that chest of goodies for them once again. Not only optical trends resurface, looking at what is deemed as in-style nowadays, one not only sees eyewear and clothing trends being recycled, but even hairstyles and aspects of interior design. The mod design of the 60s has ambushed interior design with a new sense of direction. Whether it is an avant-garde piece in the living room, or the cast-iron-foot tub encrusted in the foundations of any modern, luxurious lavatory – trends resurface throughout all aspects of design not just in fashion.
Continued on facing page.
1 The death of Alexander McQueen was a great loss to the fashion world. Inayaili de León
Above dress by Versace Illustration by Sapphire Li
Report Fashion Trends 2 Alexander McQueen dress and shoes 3 Apichart Chaichulla, Vintage looks, with items by Yohji Yamamoto
Fashion and its face are forever changing, moulding itself alongside the shifts in popular culture. The ‘Teddy Boy’ look of the 50s has returned with the tailored velvet-trimmed waistcoats, leather jackets, slicked back hair, and suede shoes. The bohemian, hippy trends of the 60s and 70s, have always been teetering on the fringe of sub-culture for ages, battling against the more restricting aspects of the main stream. We have welcomed back the high waist into women’s fashion, seen now in pants, and skirts alike. The shoulder pads of the 80s have returned with a vengeance, sneaking their way back onto the shoulders of blazers and dresses strutting down the streets of Toronto. Today, we are able to see such trendsetting designers as Alexander McQueen who drew much inspiration from the Gothic age or Yohji Yamamoto who takes from traditional Japanese design. Fashion is forever drawing from the past, and reshaping it with a more modern perspective. So why are we always looking back to the past for inspiration? Is it a matter of originality; has it come to the point where one cannot be unique without mimicking what used to be? How do we stay fresh when the industry is forever spoiling what we cherish the most — our creative image. So in a time when most has been done before; how can one be truly original without drawing inspiration from somewhere? One must just take fashion as it comes, assessing the trends, sampling them like a child would taste candy in a couture candy store. The question is, not what is coming, or what has been; it is simply how you will style it into your wardrobe. Each season brings us a wonderful new selection to tickle our inner fashionista, leaving you with the choice of fashion now, or then. Spring 2010
This is About Nothing
The Mi Concept 808 Sutter Street San Francisco, CA 94109 415 567 8080
471 Richmond Street West Toronto, ON M5V 1X9 416 548 8881 www.themiconcept.com
An interview with designer Dean Hutchinson by EVAN HUTCHINSON, Photos by MATTHEW GRAY Dean Hutchinson is a fashion designer with a shop in San Francisco, and a workshop on Richmond Street West, in Toronto. Urbane Magazine: Who are you? Dean hutchinson: “I am awareness with choice. If we label ourselves with just one thing, we tend to pigeon ourselves and others as being those things.” um: What lead you to become a designer? dh: “It was during a sociology assignment, while attending university, on women’s access into the corporate elites in the 1970’s. As a result of not finding any women in the corporate structure during that time, it lead me to question why. I was very interested in the psychology of presentation and I wondered whether those two thoughts needed to be married. I questioned whether they not being put into the corporate world due to their presentation of self?”
1 Theresa Tsui works on clothing in Hutchinson’s Toronto location. 2 Bespoke outerwear and jackets 1
um: Where were you raised? dh: “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.” um: How has that affected what you do? dh: “I don’t know if it has. I could never find that correlation between where I am from and what I do. I have always struggle with that. I have never seen how my family has influenced me philosophically and aesthetically. But, I can see from an environmentally setting: paired down to essentials, bare, simple.” um: What is your ideal society blended with fashion? dh: “ My ideal society would not involve fashion and we would not be viewed or judged in that aspect. For example, animals live in much greater harmony than people in the sense that they do not judge people by appearance; that is ideal. Anything that humans do not touch are much more beautiful then when humans touch it; beauty does not need any involvement to be beautiful.” um: What does creating clothes give you? dh: “ It gives me the opportunity to affect people lives. It is not the product you create for them, but the opportunity to engage with them.” um: What are trying to give them then? dh: “Awareness of what already exists within them” 2
Interview Avant-Garde Minimalist Fashion
3 Hutchinson’s team produces his bespoke clothing by hand in a workshop in Toronto’s fashion district. 4 The Mi Concept’s San Francisco store opened December 2008, and has been a hotspot for avant garde fashion enthusiasts ever since.
My designs at this point are shaped by as much as what I am reading as what I see. It is my philosophical understanding and how I take that and turn it into a visual object.
um: What is the biggest struggle in your life? dh: “Myself. If you stay out of your own way, then all things will evolve as they should. It is when you start to kind of fuck it up, that is when it is not allowed to take the course it should.” um: You say you can make people feel good and sexy...What is the secret recipe in your clothes? dh: “ The clothes are only one more “tool” that allows people to see something that already exists in them. Without [confidence] being authentic, it wont last long. I think I have the ability to visually package anyone to make them look attractive, however that only lasts a moment. For anyone to hold that, it has to resonate within them.”
um: In one or a few words, what is the Mi concept? dh: “Nothing . . . Because it then allows an individual to make it whatever they want it to be for them.” um: What are clothes? dh: “Clothes are costumes. They can act in a way as life’s theatre. If we truly believe we are nothing and can choose to be something, we can choose a character role or being that can allow us a certain dress.” um: What shapes your design? dh: “My designs at this point are shaped by as much as what I am reading as what I see. It is my philosophical understanding and how I take that and turn it into a visual object. It all starts from a feeling.” um: You say the shopping experience at Mi resembles a psychiatry session. Expand. dh: “If allowed the opportunity I am going to engage with a client at a level where we tend to push the thinking. With that, it is up to client how far they want to go in that process. If they do, it usually ends up at some level of self analysis.” um: Do you think Mi is for everyone? dh: “No. Mi is a way of thinking . . . not about buying clothes. For those who want to take a moment and think, yes; for those who just want the shopping experience, no.” 4 Spring 2010
Transient Spaces Danger & Deterioration
was a great deal more subdued and floral patterns abounded. The layout of their hallways seemed to have been inspired by The Overlook Hotel, in both the generous application paisley wallpaper and blue carpeting. The stylistic neglect had a great deal to do with the general lack of care on part of the employees and residents regarding the building- it is not their home and they do not treat it as such. Clearly, the owners of the Days Inn were not concerned with the appearance of their Toronto location, and I am certain that as long as profits are sustained and no legal ramifications are incurred, the decor will remain relatively the same.
“Hotel Waverly”, Ryan Raz, CC3.0
by JEN ROBERTON Transient spaces are the fringes of decay in a city. They give a city character, as much they blight it.
A deteriorating hotel in the city holds both elements of danger and intrigueI am oddly drawn to such a place. The Waverly’s nightly fee of sixty dollars was, however, out of our range and we he Hotel Waverly is a fixture that decided not to rent a room. stands out as a sort of shady cesspool in Toronto. Its decrepit ap- I can only equate the ambiance of the pearance has a great deal to do with its Waverly to a similar experience I had reputation, the former not exactly serv- at a hotel downtown on Carleton Street, ing to bolster the latter. The main feature of the hotel’s lobby is a flat screen TV facing the front of the check-in desk, a short distance from the iridescent candy and soda machine lurking in the far corner. The architectural modernity stands in stark contrast to the stained, pastel-colored chairs scattered in the where I had previously stayed with cowaiting area. A women, hunched and workers. Despite the number of noise sipping a bottle of beer through a straw, complaints leveled against us, the staff lends the room a sense of quiet despera- at the Days Inn were extremely friendtion. One cannot help but feel that bad ly and we enjoyed our stay. The decor, things happen in the Hotel Waverly. however, was awful- the color palate
One cannot help but feel that bad things happen in the Hotel Waverly
The Hotel Waverly and the Days Inn, serving both public and private functions, hold an inherent duality- and it is this duality that is the root of their deterioration. They may be considered as a private space as they are owned by corporations and individuals, but remain somewhat public due due to their temporary occupation by a variety of people. This dualism can make the traveler uneasy, especially so when the owner of such spaces does little in the way of upkeep. More often then not, they delegate the duty of maintenance to their employees and cleanliness ends up suffering. The people utilizing the space don’t feel obligated to sustain or improve upon it, and are usually contributing to the general deterioration. Take, for example, the TTC- the stench of vomit, vodka and McDonald’s is particularly fowl on the last train of the night. Vessels of transportation tend to acquire their own distinctly nauseating atmosphere. Whenever I travel by air, I am reminded of the made-for-TV movie The Langoliers. Ten people wake up on a deserted airplane, only to discover that
Report Urban Decay 1 â&#x20AC;&#x153;Take a Seatâ&#x20AC;?, Eduardo ZĂĄrate CC3.0 2 The Big Bop
the other passengers and crew have mysteriously vanished. Conveniently, a pilot is present among the remaining survivors, and manages to safely land the plane. Throughout the course of the film, the survivors are harassed by a fellow passenger, an especially high-strung, psychotic business-type who constantly raves about tiny monsters known only as langoliers. Once they manage to safely evacuate the plane, they find themselves to be the last humans alive on earth. The movie requires no further viewing past this point, as Stephen King provides yet another disappointing ending. It has, however, provided me with many, possibly unfounded, fears regarding air travel. Aerophobia is not an uncommon condition, and their are a multitude of programs, medications and therapeutic treatments for those who suffer from it. The preponderance of aerophobia is most likely due to the lack of control people have in such situations, as well as the extensive media coverage plane crashes. Other risks involved in flying include dealing with fellow passengers- in a post-9/11 world, almost nobody is above the suspicion of terrorist activity. However, the airplane is not the most dangerous means of transportation. The likelihood of being involved in a car-related accident is higher than being involved in a plane crash. All forms of streets, residential to highways, have a degree of implicit danger. Drunk drivers are of primary concern to the average pedestrian, and organizations such as MADD do a great deal to ensure that people drive sober. Decreasing the number people that driver under influence however, does not ensure that the streets are absolutely safe. The outskirts of Toronto feature roads with little or no safety measures, lacking
any traffic cameras or general means of deterrence. As a result, a significant number of hit-and-runs with no identifiable suspect occur. In such instances, we rely on the honesty of drivers and the police regulate such incidences. I personally trust neither. The air of uncertainty clouding these transient spaces and systems of transportation manifests itself in decay and deterioration. They are public spaces in the sense that we have no connection to the people that use or maintain the space. This heightens our unease. Its physical appearance increases this sense of discomfort, as most of these spaces are extremely dated, falling apart, or a combination of the two. Being a frequent coach flyer on the low budget circuit, I can assure you that most aircraft contain a nebula of offen-
sive odors and dilapidated furnishings. Subways, trains, buses, and streets less traveled are also oft neglected, but I personally find these locations charming. I love their unpolished look. I enjoy the risk posed therein, and it is why i frequent these spaces. In large city like Toronto, hotels like the Waverly will always exist. Streets will always be in differing states of decay, due to the constant onslaught of the elements. Toronto has seen a number of decrepit building closed down in the last few years, including such venues as The Big Bop, a popular haunt for raves and shows. I do not think, however, that this marks the decline of less visually appealing spaces. All cities have them, and although they may end up migrating due to the process of gentrification, they will always be present to some extent.
OPINION Rights & Religion
by GARY JONES
anada: nation of religious pluralism and our home more often than it is our native land. Certainly, it was by the ‘Grace of God’ that our official head of state and ‘Defender of the Faith’, Queen Elizabeth II, signed the constitution of a nation ‘founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God’. Our constitutional rights and freedoms, those undeniable liberties that provide this, our ‘true north strong and free’, are documented as being granted to us by an unknowable being working through an unelected individual. That’s what we get for letting our Prime Minister pirouette behind her back. Why must the basis of our freedom be so bound by those who indignantly claim unquestionable authority by divine mandate? Why must we be so fettered by beliefs so far removed from our notions of personal liberty that if we were to call it by any name other than religion, we would have done away with it all long ago? Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was mostly right in infamously claiming ‘we face an aggressive secular attack from without’; he simply neglected to mention that the attack had been ongoing since the birth of free speech and the creation of individual liberty. Perhaps a bright side: this hypocrisy is on par with the rest of the developed world. Let us look at our neighbours to the south. Irrelevant of whether George H.W. Bush genuinely claimed that those who held no belief in God should not be considered ‘citizens’ (the quote is unsourced), few would deny the stranglehold of faith on the government of the United States. Remember the release during the Bush administration of presidential briefing slides
prepared by the Department of Defence slathered with biblical quotations advocating war in Iraq; few would deny the singular and unquestioning pliability of the supplicant in the face of faith, a state terrifyingly irrelevant of a position as incorruptible as that of ‘Head of State’. Ever-present in the American media is the oft-touted ‘defence of the family’; no longer at ease defending the ‘unnatural’ marriage of mixed-race couples, the bigots must move to the next easy target: the right to same-sex marriage, frequent citing theistic condemnation of such behaviour. Of course, when presented rates of divorce and extramarital affairs conducted despite ‘holy matrimony’, questions as to the sanctity of marriage are written off as obscene slander. Let us look at the highly developed nation of Ireland, which, now past the bloody revolution that spawned its independence, has had the world’s first consecutive election of a female head of
In Ireland, a €25,000 fine can be imposed for statements that are “grossly abusive ... to matters held sacred by any religion”
state (now followed by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel). Yet now they have put their yoke on free speech, having written into law a €25,000 maximum fine for any statement or material “that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion”. Surely, religions would never perpetuate acts worthy of criticism? The Netherlands has no small reputation for their progressive social system and for their consistent application of secular legislation to encourage the freedom of the individual. Now, it is a powderkeg of religious tensions that is left untouched by the overt
movement by the Dutch government to protect at all costs the status quo. The assassination of filmmaker Theo van Gogh for his film, which criticized Islamically-rationalized misogyny and abuse was followed by governmental neglect in dealing with attempts at citizenship renewal by critic/victim of Islam and refugee-turned-Dutchpolitician Ayaan Hirsi Ali. To say the least, the Netherlands has been tiptoeing about the daffodils, hoping to avoid stirring up the sentiments of its Muslim population. Political cartoonist, pseudonym ‘Gregorius Nekschot’ was arrested for the internet publication of several cartoons satirizing what he termed ‘Islamically-inspired apartheid against women’; despite the arrest, he has maintained that free speech ‘should never go to the point of calling for violence’. Given the 139 dead from the earlier Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy in Denmark (where the Prophet Muhammud was portrayed as wearing a turban-bomb), there are understandable consequences to freedom of expression, but why is it that the expression that condemns the religious evoke such violence? It is the nature of criticism to provoke some degree of response, preferably responding with amendments or amelioration of the criticized practice. While it can be unrealistic to expect amicable resolution at every disagreement, a stated avoidance of violence should at least be an indicator of what separates civilized discourse from the barbaric. This need for a rational response, rather than a physical one, is a common feature of our enacted civil legislature. But where is this a feature in religion; ‘Do unto others...’, right? In the same book where we are told to turn the other cheek, we are told to stone to death those who work on the Sabbath, or those that do wrong to their parents. In the same book where we are charged not to harm the innocent, a mere dis-
Illustration by Sapphire Li Spring 2010
Disagree with Gary Jones’ analysis? e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
sension from the faith, even to speak against it, is an act punishable by death. In the same book where we are commanded to honour the family, we are compelled to demean women and children as mere possessions. The apologists of faith cite the favourable passages, claiming it as the origin for all morality or ethical behaviour. The more unsavory commandments are gently excused as being relics of the times. We should be so fortunate as to implicate the entire body of belief in being similarly antiquated and ignorant. To claim that the Sun revolves around the earth is to invite correction; to claim that dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans is to invite instruction; to claim that so-called divine precepts are of questionable value is to apparently invite violence and aggression. So precious and unquestionable is the literarily inspired opinion of theism that disputation is impossible, even if discussion is based on evidence, rather than ideology. Return to Canada now, where the threats to free speech loom from above, below, and all sides. After a failed attempt to change the previously legalized ability of homosexuals to marry, our evangelical Christian Prime Minister instead cut budgets for women’s advocacy, and for certain gay-related festivals. This was timed closely to legislature that would protect religious groups from discrimination charges should any action be based on religious belief. But we Canadians also have the Canadian Human Rights Comission. Surely, these upholders of liberty would reduce the double standards on free speech between individuals and religious organizations. Well, only so much. In December 2008, Montreal Salafist imam A.H.S. al-Hayiti was brought to court for his online book which advocated the beheading of homosexuals, as well as the killing of those who blasphemed against the prophet Muhammed, ‘be they muslim or not’ (directly translated from French). In marked contrast to that aforementioned
Dutch author, it was firmly ruled that the imam’s writings ‘did not seem’ to promote hatred as defined by the commission’s criteria for the act. Lest we forget the Criminal Code of Canada, as “under Section 318, it is a criminal act to “advocate or promote genocide” - to call for, support, encourage or argue for the killing of members of a group based on colour, race, religion or ethnic origin”. Yet, to do so religiously is to apparently avoid blame. In particular, this ruling was loudly criticized by the National Post, among others, who stated “It is increasingly obvious these commissions were set up deliberately to lower the standard of proof and get around rules of natural justice, thereby ensuring people who would never be
To claim that ... divine precepts are of questionable value is to apparently invite violence and aggression
convicted in court are punished to the satisfaction of the activists and special interest groups that hover around the tribunals.” Which special interest groups would these be? Well, Tarek Fatah, a prominent founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, denoted the links between the chrc, The Canadian Islamic Congress, and the Canadian Arab Foundation, these latter two of which displayed ‘contempt for Canadian values’. The closeness of the three groups was rather protested by Tarek Fatah, who, despite his Muslim status, is strongly critical of the ‘Islamicist’ mentality of some chrc members. As Fatah noted- “Our human rights cannot revolve around religion. It’s not about [religious] rights, it’s about human rights.” Certainly, our local system of justice must be far more cognizant of the need for abolishing the double standard when enforcing the law—but again, unfortunate occurrences remonstrate the optimistic.
Justin Trottier, an outspoken leader in the Toronto secular community, and Executive Director of the Center for Inquiry Canada, experienced both aggression and humiliation in one unfortunate moment. When putting up advertisement for a public discussion on the recently published “God: The Failed Hypothesis”, he was approached by a pair of individuals who voiced their disapproval. This followed with a defacing of one of the print advertisements. Sometime later, Trottier was again approached by the pair, and this time, was physically assaulted, with nothing but verbal protests from Trottier. Coming out of the incident shaken and bloodied, the evident motivation would lead one to consider this a hate crime. But, there are no recourses for atheists; Justin’s assault was recorded as any commonplace fistfight. To write on a bathroom wall, ‘Jews burn in hell’ is to commit an hate crime; why must this overt religiously-fuelled physical beating be treated any less severely? Again, the ugly double standards rear their head. “I think I discovered the hard way the boundaries of freedom of speech,” said Justin Trottier. “The fact that an atheist should fear for his well being while advertising for a university event that seeks to promote free inquiry is alarming, and though I feared for my life briefly, I’ve never felt as strong about my atheism. My colleagues and I have only strengthened our resolve to forge ahead with our agenda to push for secularism, science and freedom of thought.” We Canadians are a privileged group. Our naivety speaks for itself, and it is still largely oblivious to the overtones of inviolable and unquestionable sacrosanct ideologies. From the standpoint of government, it must first be admitted that nothing is sacred. Above all else that we must hold true as a fundament of our democracy-- is the primacy of free speech.
Diversity our Strength? Interest Groups & Infrastructure by CEECEE LU, Politics Editor Toronto’s spending continues to grow, and the burden falls on tax payers, both commercial and private. Why the spending when inflation is nil? For some residents, the developments which greet a Toronto in the new year induce anticipation but reflection as well. The ongoing mayoral races and newly amended Operating and Capital budget have given rise for contemplation as to what should and can be improved for the city. A look at the evolution of Toronto throughout the past decade reveals a city, once a Canadian beacon of finance, culture, and entertainment, is now receding into a faded shell of its former self. A deteriorating manufacturing sector, festering unemployment, and corroded infrastructure are all elements of the slow decay now found within the once flourishing urban landscape. The accumulation of unfortunate situations mean bad news for a fragile budget neck deep in shortages and shortfalls—figures which ranged from $450 to $500 million for 2009. Though difficult to obtain an exact quote, city statements and media reports are projecting ones of near $500 million for 2011 as well. With these numbers in mind, the sentiments of media reports, public opinion polls, and everyday discussions reveal an overwhelming opinion that since the new millennium, wasteful operations and reckless spending are part and parcel of an administrative disease. Toronto is unable to regulate its spending behaviour to match its ability to raise profits. In an ‘09 financial report of the city, the Chief Financial Officer notes that the
Ilustration by Alex Beriault
operating costs of the city are beginning to far overreach its main source of revenue, namely property taxes. It is a rise that the CFO attributes to the growing “unique and diverse needs” of Toronto. However, as the annual budget is revealed near the start of each year, there is often a sinking feeling that some operations and some special interest group consistently receives preferential treatment over the needs and necessities of other city concerns. As such, some necessary responsibilities such as infrastructure projects are often funded externally— accumulating debt for the city—or entirely sidestepped. A crumbling infrastructure, though rarely making
front page, is a city cancer nonetheless. Adopting an “out of sight, out of mind” doctrine, it still is essential and everlasting yet often overlooked by the mainstream media and general public. A paper from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities states that Canada on a whole requires $123-billion to just restore the state of its roads, bridges, and other networks. The structures within Toronto, which constitute a noteworthy portion of that sum, have many buildings, piping, and roads which are well over half a century old, many well exceeding their life cycle. The wellbeing of these components all decrease breakage and repair time, improving the movement of goods, services and
REPORT Municipal Spending
ideas within a city, which stimulates the economy and ultimately keeps the conditions of more notorious topics of concern—crime, poverty, unemployment— in check. Experts and city councillors generally agree that the infrastructure within the city will soon reach a critical point. In February ‘10, Mayor Miller and his office presented the mandatory balanced budget, its details heralded as “a tremendous achievement.” Unfortunately, affixed to the budget were tax hikes and increased user fees, surplus from previous years, and reserve drains—revenue aids viewed as unfavourable and unnecessary for the general public. In any case, greater income had been preceded by greater spending needs, roughly $500 million more, though the Consumer Price Index (CPI, an indicator of inflation created by the Bank of Canada) had increased less than one percent. As the government increasingly draws from the personal and commercial wealth of Toronto residents and businesses, incentive for spending, investment, and risk-taking decreases, stunting long-term economic growth and recovery. Businesses within the downtown core are paying nearly double in property taxes than other areas of the GTA; however, their property taxes continue to rise each year. The suburban areas thrive while the urban areas weaken. As numbers are offered exposing the contrast between the commercial vigour of Toronto and other Canadian cities, metropolitan Toronto grows more and more akin to the runt of the litter. Though the financial condition of the municipal budget cannot afford the luxury of increased spending, they are ones which the mayor asserted were necessary for operation of services provided by the city. Among these services are the ones provided by special interest groups—whether issuebased or trade unions. The initially presented balanced budget is not the
final version, but as the annual budget is presented and debated near the start of each year, meetings are oftentimes public and further attended by various representatives of the numerous issuebased interest groups which exist within the city. The groups of spokespeople hail from a diverse background ranging from arts and culture to tourism to environmentalists. Yet, all have one thing in common—a shared goal to present a case compelling enough to sway city councillors to mould budget policies in favour of their cause. Though the impact of these groups are limited, there have been complaints of favouritism, particularly towards environmental causes—worthy, but ultimately futile in addressing the most pressing concerns of the city. Though issue-based interest groups may not have momentous effects, there is a similar pattern of preference in more weighty organizations, in particular those of Toronto unions and
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities reports $123 billion dollars is needed to repair infrastructure
their influence upon municipal operations and policies. At this time, the mention of trade unions may bring memories of the 2009 garbage strike initiated because generously-waged union workers demanded the benefit of banking sick days from the city. There are other, more constant sources of influence working to sway legislation and budget. One such group in particular, demands and receives more attention than most others. The unionized TTC behemoth has been eating away at the Toronto budget for years, though this year, the province will not be providing aid. Regardless, an 8.2% increase in financial backing is planned. This increase
translates into increased fares for riders, increased extraction from property-tax revenue, and renewed initiatives to convince the premiers that provincial money is necessary for the service. Provincial aid has been trumpeted as the be all and end all to Toronto deficit issues. Substantial amounts of effort has been put into trying to invoke guilt among the premiers. All the while a reduction in TTC ridership has been projected by the city. No amount of financial aid for a costly operation with stagnant growth can solve long term issues. Similarly, the police union is distributed the largest portion of municipal funding than any other public service and continue to receive increases in funding as well as an expanding force. Supporters assert that crime rates have been consistently falling over the years, though that is wholly in line with a pattern found in urban-centres across the nation. Thus, in light of the genuine importance of their services, these interest groups become a necessary evil of sorts when coupled with their select privileges and demands. Consequently, as increases occur in certain specific divisions, infrastructure projects and other departments are faced with cutbacks and massive layoffs, not to mention hiked taxes, fares, and fees for residents. However, there is little doubt that the imbalance for the Toronto budget will continue to grow if the same mistakes are made over and over again. The systemic misplacement of budget funding do not find a solution in the raising of property taxes and user fees nor in accusing the provincial government of neglecting its parental responsibilities. As the mayoral races continue, many will look to a figure who can accomplish an economical operation of the city budget required to provide the long-term benefits Toronto needs, rather than perpetual one-off strategies and blind favouritism.
Virginia Foxx Leader Profile by SARAH JANE VASALLO Hypocrisy, misinformation and misrepresentation. A look at Republican US Congresswoman Virginia Foxx. To begin this series of outspoken, eccentric, and off-the-wall figureheads, we will firstly turn our attention to Ms. Virginia Foxx, Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina and her torrid affair with the US healthcare bill. For many, Ms. Foxx serves as a wonderful model in disproving it the adage “the older, the wiser” in the healthcare reform arena. For starters, Foxx believes it to be a “distraction” as there are “no Americans who don’t have healthcare.” Which leads one to question whether Ms. Foxx actually lives in America or not, or whether she has ever spoken to anybody who does not live in a gated community with three garages. Granted, she did admit that there are about “7.5 million Americans who want to purchase health insurance who cannot afford it,” and then she said, well, that was about it actually. I suppose the others will just have to make do with their Coleman first aid kits. Then, at a speech on the House floor April ’09, she viciously proclaimed, “We have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” As an American who can be sympathetic to the views of both Democrats and Republicans, this comment is absurd. The masses responded with rousing applause for this astounding leap of logic, or not. One source suggested requiring a minimum IQ to run for national office. Although we can see how this may be rational in the long run, who then would provide the entertainment? Excessive is probably Ms. Foxx’s middle name, claiming that Americans have more to fear from
a public option than they do from religious fundamentalism and al-Qaeda. Thank you, Ms. Foxx, for trying to connect the dots on the national agenda, but leaping across multiple degrees of separation to explain how public healthcare is more of a threat to national security than terrorism is perhaps too ambitious a leap. Sadly, Foxx has been defaulting to the age-old strategy to sway public opinion: fear. Scare tactics have always provided a way for politicians to sway public opinion in their favour when they lose control of an argument. Incidentally, the word “fear” was used six times in her short, one-minute speech. Yet when considering the attitudes of the Republicans when approaching health care reform, one can see the source of her outrageous claims. It is important to remember that though the House passed the $871 billion bill late 2009, it was not a safe majority—the vote had been 220 to 215—only one Republican voted in favour. Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated, the Republicans have done nearly nothing to promote national unity, instead advocating “tea parties” and promoting dissent. When it comes to health care reform, complaint has been particularly toxic. Sarah Palin, herself the political character but in many ways the face of the Republican party, has referred to one stipulation within the bill as creating “death panels.” Hitler and Holocaust accusations have also been taken up by some GOP members. Outrageous, as these comparisons are extraordinarily disrespectful to the magnitude of a genuine tragedy which had occurred. The claims are unfounded, fear-mongering, and desperate. Sadly, the Republicans have been de-
Foxx campaiging against the stimulus bill. Office of Virginia Foxx
faulting to the age-old strategy to sway public opinion: fear. Scare tactics have always provided a way for politicians to sway public opinion in their favour when they lose control of an argument. This sounds familiar. As some supporters refuse to back down, trudging forward and working towards appropriate universal health care, many non-supporters tip to the opposite extreme, bent on name-calling, anger, and conflict. Rather than sophisticated debate, the premise of reform has been blindly thrown around and trampled on without insight or mercy. Vicious protestation from Republicans has infected the general public, increasing venomous frustration towards health care reform. But as some Americans look on with growing discontent, others just look on in horror. The impact of domestic policies are oftentimes the most powerful. Contrary to Ms. Foxx, I, rather, think we have more to fear from Republican extremism and anti-healthcare fundamentalism than we do from external threats. Politicians who actively seek to invoke conflict and anger rather than calm consideration and debate on topics such as health care, are doing a great disservice to the present and future of every single citizen.
Independent Film In Toronto
Matthew Gray What remains of the Carlton
by BRAD BRISCO On December 6th of 2009, Toronto lost one of its few arthouse film theatres. Carlton Cinemas, formerly located at 20 Carlton Street, closed after its owner, Cineplex Odeon Canada, determined it was no longer feasible to continue running a theatre with steadily declining business. The theatre specialized in showing foreign films and documentaries long after their initial first run had ended. The theatre could not compete with the recently opened AMC megaplex at the corner of Yonge and Dundas. On February 18th of 2010, it was announced that the community-based Edmonton motion picture exhibition company, Magic Lantern Theatres, will reopen the theatre this June. Despite this great news, it is becoming extremely difficult for other art house film theatres across Canada to remain open, especially in rural areas. So what can we learn about the future of films with the closing of historic theatres such as the Carlton? Significant developments in technology have impacted the film industry in a number of ways- the cost of processing and printing the actual film used in 35mm projections is not always financially sound, especially for independent films. For a project that is either shot or edited digitally, the digital file must first be converted to a master negative. To process the output of a 90-minute digital file to film costs around $40,000. To print 10 positive prints from the master negative for theatre showings costs an additional $20,000. Conversely, the cost to process a digital file using an industry standard editing system such as Final Cut Studio costs about $700. The final product can then be sent to theatres, with the necessary digital equipment, around the world.
eymaking blockbusters than gamble on critically acclaimed, independent film that may not produce the necessary profit margin. Companies such as Summit Entertainment are able to produce and distribute critically acclaimed films, such as The Hurt Locker and The Brothers Bloom, based on the commercial success of the Twilight Saga. The overwhelming success of 20th Century Fox’s Avatar allows its independent division, Fox Searchlight Pictures, to produce and distribute films with a smaller audience, including 500 Days of Summer.
The quality of a digitally projected presentation, in my opinion, does not even begin to approach that of a film projectionhowever, the low cost and ease of digital versus the expense and technological impairment inherent in film make digital presentations an optimal choice for low-budget, independent enterprises.
So if fault does not truly fall upon the studios for the lack of independent, innovative film, who is to blame? I believe we, as consumers, are partly responsible- people often complain that generic Hollywood films are not what “the people want,” yet the first showing of Avatar was marked by lines stretching out of the cinema. Films with broad commercial appeal are almost always guaranteed success, one of the reasons why films such as Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel are continually produced. At the time this article was written, the film as already made $357 million dollars in the 30 days it has been out. It opened in almost 3,750 theatres because people wanted to see it. Conversely, the previous mentioned The Hurt Locker, which was in release for a total of 147 days and in 535 theatres made $16 million dollars.
The low cost and accessibility of digital may appear to be a boon for young budding filmmakers. The process of conceptualization, filming, and editing is facilitated by inexpensive digital equipment and editing software made widely available to the public. The problem, however, lies in the means of distribution within the film industry. Future films are financed on the profit accumulated from previously successful films- companies are more likely to produce forumulaic mon-
How can we prevent the fall of independent cinema? Simply by going to theatres that play independent cinema and watching their films. With the cinema, you are literally voting with your dollars. Cineplex Odeon Canada currently owns one more art-house theatre in Toronto – Cumberland Four at 159 Cumberland Street. There, and when the Carlton reopens in June, you can show that while popular does not mean “good,“ we can make “good” popular.
FEATURE Bossa Nova music
The Third Wave Latin music makes a comeback
by LAUREN TREIHAFT, Culture Editor
ith the everlasting influx of new music there seems to be a common thread among new “indie” releases; the reemergence of the Latin sound, specifically bossa nova.
Now, in 2010, there is a band whose sole dedication is to pay homage to bossa nova. Their name, Nouvelle Vague, is evocative of the French New Wave as well as the new wave style of music that materialized in the late 70s and lasted through the 80s. Nouvelle Vague puts a very different spin on the classic bossa song. The band uses post-punk/ electronic songs from new wave artists such as “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Divison and “Blue Monday” by New Order, and turns them into bossa nova by incorporating seventh chords and adding emphasis on the second beat. The product is very enjoyable. The arguable downside to this band is their lack of original material. Spring 2010
Bossa nova is a form of Latin jazz that originated in Brazil and was popularized by artists such as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. The sound derives from the style of samba. Bossa nova was very prevalent from the late 1950s into the mid 1960s. American artists such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald contributed to the craze by creating albums of Americanized bossa nova in which they sang the formerly Portuguese songs in English. Perhaps the most well known bossa nova song is “The Girl From Ipanema,” by Jobim, later covered by Sinatra. The style of music was praised for its easy listening capabilities and tropical feel. France also witnessed the emergence of bossa during the New Wave of the 1960s with artists like Serge Gainsbourg and Enzo Enzo, whose music is often referred to as French café music.
There is a multitude of other bands/ artists trying their hand at riffs of Latin Jazz. Andrew Bird’s “Masterswarm” of
Bossa nova ... is praised for its easy listening tropical feel
his latest album, Noble Beast, has definite traces of bossa nova. Famous Norwegian duo, The Kings of Convenience is largely influenced by bossa nova. All three of their albums draw heavily on the sound, especially the song, “Leaning Against the Wall”. Prominent indie artist, Beck, has sampled standard bossa nova song, “Desafinado” and wrote his own samba, “Tropicalia.” Belle and Sebastian have been known to incorporate the genre in their work as well. No harm in a little bossa.
Nouvelle Vague in Concert, Serge G.
Recently, several other artists have chosen to honor the musical careers of their parents and predecessors. Bebel Gilberto, daughter of Joao Gilberto, remains a popular singer of bossa nova. She performs the classics that her parents made famous as well as her own material. She released a new album in 2009, All in One. Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of Serge Gainsbourg, and Isabelle Antena are two French artists who continue to honor the French bossa/ café tradition. Will bossa nova and Latin jazz as a whole have its third chance at fame? If history does in fact repeat itself then we may have stumbled on an important resurrection.
The Bike Cycle Urbane takes a spin through Toronto’s bike culture
1 2 Hart House Car Free Day, Tom Cardoso
by ALEX FORTUNA
e so often take public resources for granted that it can be difficult to recall t i m e s when they were not available to ease the passage of daily life. The modern morning commute, facilitated by Toronto’s infamously hazardous bike lanes and ubiquitous bike racks, is far cry from what cyclists of previous generations experienced. The privileges we are afforded did not exist some twenty years ago- the push towards a
greener way of living has changed Toronto dramatically. This boom in cycling infrastructure has been accompanied by a resurgence in the popularity of bicycling culture. To investigate how a change in cycling culture has affected bike sales in Toronto I sat down with shop managers from two different shops: Uncle Jacob, owner of the used-bike shop Uncle Jacobs Bikes, located near College and Spadina, and
Dean Corrigan, manager of the family oriented Spokes and Sports on Avenue road. Spokes and Sports opened its doors in 1984, and Dean Corrigan has basically managed the shop ever since. “When the store first opened cyclists were very stereotyped,” he said, “the only people that road bikes were athletes, otherwise bikes were considered
Green Commuting “this bike is 100 years old!” It is a cruising style bike with wooden wheels and a fixed gear crank-set. “I would never sell this bike, but look at this” he says and points to a Schwinn, a modern day cruiser style bike, “it has the exact same geometry and everything”. He’s right; the latter is lighter and more affordable, but core characteristics remain the same. “So what do you get out of selling bikes?” I ask just before I leave the shop. “A living” he replies to my surprise, “we just provide the bikes, people do with them what they will, it’s the people that set the prices, who are most a part of the culture”.
to be for kids, all that has changed now”. At this time there was no bike week, let alone bike month, and Toronto had yet to put into practice a string of bike lanes across the city. “There is still a stereotype that exists outside of the city, kids may be insulted for biking to school, instead of driving a car, but as this changes, so does the cycling culture.” In recent years, bikes have also become more affordable and have used more sophisticated materials, aiding in the growth of cycling culture. New styles, designed specifically for different uses, have made riding more appealing to potential cyclists. Twenty years ago a rider’s only affordable option was a steel frame bike, whose weight may have been a deal breaker to many. When aluminum began to be used by bike manufacturers it was more costly but considerably lighter than its steel predecessor. Cheaper manufacturing (often overseas) has meant that aluminum bikes are substantially more affordable. “A TTC metropass now sells for $121 a month, a sensible commuting bike can start at just $300 dollars, its seems like the most sensible thing to do, often times its much faster to bike than wait
for the TTC,” says Corrigan. “Parents and their children are all buying bikes, that’s become more common since we opened,” Corrigan says, “there are also so many more varieties of cyclists. We have athletes that come into the store all the time. But we also have people who commute to work or school, cycling is no longer a novelty and it has a better community feel”.
Anyone can buy a bike on a whim. However, cyclists need to incorporate cycling into their everyday life.
Uncle Jacob’s is a downtown retailer of a variety of used bikes. The shop is located on Spadina in the middle of Chinatown. It is stuffed full of bikes of all kinds, and is often a start for many people looking for an inexpensive way of getting around. “Bikes really haven’t changed very much to me, a bike is a bike, it gets you from A to B, I don’t care what they say on them”, says Jacob as he ushers me toward a bike at the back of the store,
The business model for selling bikes has changed; with more affordable bikes oriented for different purposes, but what has really changed is the vibrant culture that surrounds it all. The success of Toronto’s Bike Week has seen it turned into a month-long commemoration with countless retail and repair stores. Thousands of Torontonians now support this excellent mode of transportation. Jacob was right; anyone can go out and buy a bike on a whim. However, cyclists need to incorporate cycling into their everyday life. Growth of cycling culture helps bring the issue to the minds of civic planners and policy makers at City Hall, and thus helps promote green transportation. Students have always been involved in cycling and bikes are particularly efficient for navigating around a city cheaply, quickly, and in an environmentally friendly way. But what is important is that students keep the tradition and culture alive. What may seem now to be a resurgent cultural fad is in fact a distinct and healthy lifestyle; one that has economical and physical benefits that you will reap for the rest of your life.
Roncesvalles East of High Park by CHRISTINE SIROIS Know A Neighbourhood features highlights of various parts of Toronto.
lthough Roncesvalles Avenue has looked more like one big construction site than a destination for travel over the last few months, remember the old adage: looks can be deceiving. The pavement and streetcar tracks on the stretch of road between Dundas St. West to the north and Queen St. West to the south seems to be catching up with the rest of the neighbourhood, which has been growing in both population and popularity over the last 10 years or so.
Cafe Polonez (195 Roncesvalles Avenue) harkens back to a bygone era. Despite recent renovations, there is still a homey feel to the restaurant that dishes out Eastern European soul food full of cabbage, celeriac, beets and poppy seeds that rivals your Babcia’s. A “half-portion” of their Wiener Schnitzel ($9) comes with a heap of
mashed potatoes, deli-style coleslaw, shredded beets, steamed veggies, sauerkraut and an egg fried sunny side up. For a slightly lighter fare, Mitzi’s Café (100 Sorauren Avenue) continues to be a popular breakfast spot. Although the
while the espresso at Mitzi’s is decent, there is a battle royale going on along Roncesvalles and those who live in the Village pledge their loyalty to one of three espresso bars along the strip.
… according to locals, there are only three places that matter.
There are at least a dozen coffee shops and espresso bars along Roncesvalles Ave., however, according to locals, there are only three places that matter. Alternative Grounds (333 Roncesvalles Avenue), was among the first Toronto cafés to serve Fair-Trade coffee and espresso. Roasting their own beans, this café has earned has the allegiance of many, however surly staff and burnt beans were a turnoff on both visits. Down the road at Cherry Bomb (79 Roncesvalles Av-
According the Roncesvalles Business Improvement Area’s website, the neighbourhood came to be through donations of land by John Howard, Toronto’s first surveyor, and Colonel Walter O’Hara, who named Roncesvalles after the gorge where he fought during the Battle of the Pyrenees in 1813. Many of the homes in the neighbourhood are from the early 1900’s, when the neighbourhood experienced its first boom in growth. Up until World War II, most of the residents of Roncesvalles were of British decent. After the war, a large number of Polish immigrants settled in the area. Their influence is still strong today, with many polish businesses bustling from day to day. Roncesvalles is also home to Toronto’s Polish Festival, which happens in the fall and is, according to BlogTO, the largest in North America.
menu is limited, the quality of the food is top notch and the prices are reasonable (scrambled eggs were $10.99). The deck out front makes dining alfresco a pleasure in the warmer months and the interior is cozy in the winter. And
Know A Neighbourhood Roncesvalles
Ryan Raz The Film Buff [Movie Store] 73 Roncesvalles Ave Cherry Bomb Café [Coffee] 79 Roncesvalles Ave Mrs. Huizenga’s [Antique/Vintage] 121 Roncesvalles Ave Café Polonez [Restaurant] 195 Roncesvalles Ave Lit Espresso Bar [Coffee] 221 Roncesvalles Ave Alternative Grounds [Coffee] 333 Roncesvalles Ave Revue Cinema [Film] 400 Roncesvalles Ave Mitzi’s Café [Breakfast Restaurant] 100 Sorauren Ave, (Off map)
enue) is a favourite for those who take their coffee to go. With little seating but tasty brews using beans from the Dark City roastery, it is tough to get a seat at the best of times, but worth lingering around if you can get one. For a true sit-down experience, Lit Espresso Bar (221 Roncesvalles Avenue ) is the neighbourhood favourite. Brewing beverages with beans from Stumptown Coffee Roasters out of Portland, Oregon, Lit’s baristas are competent, making foam that is silky and smooth, not lumpy and saggy, poured precisely into a leaf or heart design. If the coffee does not tempt you to stay, the baked goods and paninis probably will. Once sufficiently caffeinated, a stroll down the street, lined with charming boutiques and shops, is a necessary next step. Mrs. Huizenga’s (121 Roncesvalles Avenue) is a veritable trove of vintage and antique finds. Huizenga’s website does the best job
describing their shop that is “teeming with undiscovered favorites, furnishings large and small, old books with lovely covers [and] new jewelry made with vintage findings”. The Film Buff (73 Roncesvalles Avenue) boasts an impressive collection of arthouse, classic, indie and foreign films as well as a notable selection of Criterion Collection films for your take home enjoyment. Their catalogue, excluding new releases, is listed alphabetically on their website (http://www. thefilmbuff.com/). For an evening out, the Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles Avenue) may not be the most thrilling multi-media experience but its charm and history certainly make up for its lack of multi-plex amenities. On its website, the Revue Cinema proudly boasts about its roots, stating that it has occupied the same address on Roncesvales for almost a hundred year.
Opening in 1912 and closing briefly in 2004 until June 2006, the Revue has earned the distinction of being one of the oldest continuously running movie theatres in the Canada. The Revue now operates as “a community-run not-for-profit cinema” showing second-run films. It is a great opportunity to catch films that you may not have had a chance to see the first time around. Standing the test of time, the Revue is a symbol of the tenacity of the neighbourhood on the whole. With its roots deep in Toronto’s history, Roncesvalles is in the midst of a re-birth. While many of the shops hold on to old-time traditions (many are closed on Mondays) there is a pleasant mix of old world charm and an astute trendiness that is only going to blossom once the dust settles and the streetcars are up and running again.
The Self & the Night Toronto Nightlife by LAUREN GOODMAN A witty guide to some of Toronto’s hot nightlife spots.
n modern times there seems to be a huge emphasis on the self, and I don’t mean the id, ego, and superego for all you Freud fans. On a daily stroll I come across discussions circles regularly revolving around self-fulfilling prophecies, self-discovery, and self-enlightenment. Of course all these things are important, yet, society has always looked down upon labeling oneself or embodying a specific type of person or group. And although this act may be chastised in one form or another, in this case it could be a lifesaver. Before stepping out into the endless streets of Toronto, embrace the self, especially when you are springing for a wild night out on the town. Toronto’s nightlife is unique. It is evocative of the various crowds of students and working people that roam the streets. The city contains a plethora of bars, music venues and clubs. Although it is a nuisance to label yourself as belonging to a certain string of bars or clubs, this selfrecognition may be an omen. You may otherwise find yourself dancing in a gruesome throng of neon monsters that are in no way identifiable. Indeed, Toronto is a great place to find nightlife but you must beware of the things that lurk behind the shadows of an otherwise vibrant and bustling city. Strangelove is often a first stop for new Torontonians on a weekend evening due to its self-publicity, mainly through word of mouth, and its convenient location on College Street west. Events are held weekly bringing with them big crowds and a lot of hype. Currently Strangelove hosts the popular “Dance Like You Fuck” night-quite an endearing name. On these particular nights,
Above: Dancecave, via blogTO Strangelove 587 College Street 416 588 7625 M6G 1B2 Dancecave 529 Bloor Street West 416 532 1598 M5S 1Y5
The Boat 158 Augusta Avenue 416 593 9218 M5T 2L5
upon walking up to the bar a pungent odour of sex wafts from the doorway like a pheromone attempting to allure unsuspecting pedestrians. Once the desired social response has been triggered, check your breasts and Belmonts with the bouncer and enter into a jungle of hormone charged predators preparing to pounce on the first drunk Lolita that walks through the door. Aside from the predator-prey dynamic, the place is incestuous, as everyone has slept with
Likewise, Strangelove certainly does not function like a communist society. Instead, it functions more like a monarchy. The dazzling kings, otherwise known as American Apparel groupies, of the shady palace prance around the hotbed of lewdly dressed girls buying them vodka cranberries in hopes of bedding them. Apart from the crowd, when decipherable, the music is comprised of today’s top forty with an underlying bass line and your occasional Justice or Daft Punk song thrown in. The club thrives off its internal publicity. Throughout the night, various televisions screens flash self-important images of people who attended previous events at the club. You never know when Big Brother is going to appear above you ordering you to buy another drink or grind on a flailing victim. The place becomes less of a dance club and more of a cult of hipsters in attendance to market themselves accordingly.
At “Dance Like You Fuck” at Strangelove, a pungent odour of sex wafts from the door
each other. Honestly, this place belongs amongst the double wides in Alabama. At first glance, it seems like great place to spend one’s Friday night, but don’t be fooled by it’s name, its no throwback to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece.
Feature Toronto’s bars and clubs 1 Strangelove, photo by Vegas Kent 2 The Boat
Though no Charles Manson has come forth surely there are nightly orgies that take place on the dance floor. Save yourself the trouble and skip right over this one unless you are looking for selfdeprecation and a one-night stand. A place like Dancecave on the other hand caters strictly to university students looking to let loose and enjoy good dance music from the past four decades. They play anything from The Clash to the MGMT. The crowd that attends Dancecave is broad-based and open, as opposed to the restricted and insular group found at Strangelove. This can be construed both positively and negatively, for at Dancecave you won’t necessarily be subjected to an excess of egocentric imbeciles, but instead the occasional meathead that may have drunkenly stumbled over from the Brunny can cross your path. Don’t worry about your sense of fashion here, after a couple of Long Island ice teas everyone becomes a blur and the guy in the corner who looks like Will Ferrel suddenly becomes Brad Pitt (with a bald spot). Dancecave is free on weekends with a student ID, which is a nice change of pace from other clubs charging upward of twenty-dollar cover charges. Dancecave is also gigantic, so you rarely have the problem of standing in a line outside the door and you always have space to crump, mosh, or do whatever kind of dance move that is popular these days. Additionally, Dancecave seems to draw out an international crowd which is always a great time. So if you’re looking for incomprehensible conversations or perhaps un petit ménage a trois then Dancecave is certainly the place for you. Just make damn sure you know who The Postal Service is. If you’re looking for a more alternative club experience, Kensington Market continues to be a haven for atypical dance parties. The Boat is one place
you shouldn’t overlook. Located at 158 Augusta Ave. This former Portuguese restaurant is now a quirky, indie dance club. The Boat is place where you never know what you’re going to get with events ranging from Motown night, to 1930’s swing parties. The line is usually long after eleven which is an inconvenience considering Toronto’s frigid winter weather, but the slight delay gives the attendees a chance to scope out their preferred partner for the evening whether it be one of the countless boys in horn-rimmed glasses and a skinny tie or the androgynous Diane Keaton look-a-like circa Annie Hall. Before walking the plank onto
this proverbial ship amidst the sailors and occasional pirates, one must be acquainted with Tom Waits and The Talking Heads, be a true socialist, and be well versed in Marx and Bukowski. More importantly, with debit and cheap drinks available at the bar, be prepared to get shipwrecked. Overall, find a joint where you will feel comfortable being yourself so you don’t get stuck in an awkward situation. Explore Toronto for dives and elegant bars with covert décor. You can basically find any crowd in this city, just watch out for the homeless people and buskers waiting outside.
Urbane Magazine would like to thank the following sponsors: Steamwhistle Breweries Hart House Good Ideas Fund Woodsworth College Student Association
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