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Urban gadfly

Meet you there

By March 31, 2015 Urban gadfly

Taking a ferry for fun attracts thousands to Toronto’s waterfront yearly. In another lifetime, I viewed that ferry as a lifeline, my only route to green space.  Two decades later, I’m hoping to hear how that waterfront has changed. April is Town Hall time. Time to speak up. Read More

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Faces of Toronto

By January 30, 2015 Urban gadfly

What are you doing this weekend now that you know your city is the best in the world?

Are you, like me, a little anxious hearing we have suddenly gained celebrity status? Beyond our puffs of pride, can we sustain the wonders that make this city sparkle?  I’ll be watching and exploring it here from my perch.

For now, it’s enough to wonder if the rink will hold.

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The cult of personality

By October 27, 2014 Urban gadfly

Today is a day we’ve waited for forever, or maybe it just seems like forever. I’ve almost forgotten I have a say in making it happen, instead of one long whine from the parade sidelines.

We get to put a giant skewer to the cult of personality ( she says hopefully).

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Comedy Toronto

By August 15, 2014 Urban gadfly

My love for Shakespeare has limits. Rain in the forecast and the cruel joke of August sweaters had me passing on a planned picnic to As You Like it in High Park . I could feel a pout coming on. Perhaps it was just the picnic souring. But this is Toronto the What-the-hell-are-you-doing-home-surfing Netflix-for? and there is always a replacement. Off we trot to the Bad Dog Theatre Company, celebrating their launch week for their new digs, right down the street from their old residency at the Comedy Bar on Bloor Street in Toronto. Rolling into an evening with no real idea of what you’re going to see is a riot. Two shows, cheap prices for tickets and beer and we’ve caught the festive mood in full bloom. Read More

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Everything is ( NOT) awesome!

By July 23, 2014 Urban gadfly

Last night, my dreams were of Lego bricks on little legs, marching ominously towards my pillow to hatchet my brain.

That’s my reward for an all Lego weekend. Yes, I saw the hit Lego film and visited the Lego theme park in less than 48 hours.  One was unnervingly good, the other just unnerving. As infomercial, one succeeds with a giant wink of subversive branding.

The other? A dismal fail. It’s my own fault. I bought into hype.

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Stuff the weekend

By July 4, 2014 Urban gadfly

 

I love Toronto in July. Traffic is light, colours pop at every turn and the list of things to do is staggering.  At any given moment, my evil twin wants to whisper in my ear don’t you wish you had a cottage but I just smile and say yes, of course, cottage life must be grand but so is Toronto without all you people who leave to go to them.

What’s happening on your weekend? Read More

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My cheating heart

By May 7, 2014 Urban gadfly

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You know I adore you.

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Spend extravagant loonies on you.

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Stare often, and deeply into your rainbow hues.

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We’ve been together forever.

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But my eyes have strayed. I admit, it’s been going on for years.

I can’t help it.

I’m head over heels for trees.

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One city, one book. One nation, one icon

By April 16, 2014 Urban gadfly

We’re at the halfway mark of April and if you’re in Toronto, that means you have two weeks left to get in on the Keep Toronto Reading Festival. The city-wide celebration presented by The Toronto Public Library is chock full of events inspired by the One Book Selection.

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This year, the chosen book everyone is reading is The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, a bestseller about a cellist who continues to play while the city around him falls. In honour of the book,  Toronto Symphony Orchestra cellists performed, for 22 consecutive days , Albinoni’s Adagio, the very music from the novel, at locations across the city. These are the events that make a city truly wondrous. If you were lucky enough to be in one of these spots, you would be forgiven for losing your sense of time and place.

Still on the literary trail,  CBC Books asked Canadians to determine the most iconic Canadian fictional character. Leading the votes, I’m pleased to say, was Anne Shirley who beat out another precocious favourite, Winnie-the-pooh.

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I know there are still those somewhere in the world who haven’t read this classic. Their lives, Anne would say, are perfect graveyards of buried hopes. For all the years I wished my name was Victoria, I settled into Anne after reading this beauty and discovering myself.

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive-it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when i make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.”

L.M Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables 

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 Happy Reading!

 

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Skate while you can

By February 27, 2014 Urban gadfly

Ford nation must be happy. The gravy train has stopped short at the rink.

If you like to skate outdoors, you now have fewer options.

The City of Toronto has closed most of their outdoor skating rinks, one week shy of March Break.


Predicting weather isn’t easy and certainly not reliable.  Toronto budget chief Frank Di Giorio says bringing back seasonal workers would take cash that isn’t there.

Mayoralty candidate John Tory says “thats nuts” in the coldest winter in 35 years. He wants the city to review their budget. Only 17 of the city’s 51 rinks remain open today.

So much for #WeareWinter.

It’s the same every year. Rinks are closed at predetermined times just as the city pools shut down at end of August, often in hot and humid weather, offering zero flexibility from budget crunchers who forget we live in Wonky Weather Central. All indicators say wacky weather is only going to get worse. How will our “hockey nation” identity play out with abbreviated seasons for skaters?

I’m not a hockey player, but a writer who needs to emerge from my cave. Benign fuzzy bear I am NOT.

While I love the fluffy snow drifts and haven’t found an equal thrill yet to skiing very fast down a slick slope, I miss light.

We wake in the dark and the few hours of bright light are not enough for sanity. I embrace the season* for its inherent romance and believe it gives us all character- only if we actually step outside.

When I was a kid that was easy. The Jones brothers next door were not a boy band.  They did let us invade their back yard rink with our figure-eight loops. My brother and youngest sister were the only ones with hockey sticks.

We then graduated to Nathan Phillips Square which is still a regular winter haunt.

Several winter visits to Winterlude have convinced me that skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is all about the beaver tails which seems reasonable after you show off your fancy gliding.

In Toronto, we have our own trails, a tad shorter than the Canal but trails nevertheless. Writer Marcus Gee spent a day testing all the rinks across the city and I tried out two of his suggestions including Greenwood Park, a winding loop.

My favourite discovery, thanks to Gee’s prompt, was Colonel Sam Smith Park where packs of enthusiastic skaters hit the ice earlier this month on Family Day. The outdoor trail, built in 2010, is 250 metres long and I got to be a kid again, gliding a figure eight that much bigger than the backyard loop.

Both these rinks are still open for others like me who go a little nutty without fresh air, even if it blows a frigid blast. Forget style-my hat may not pass muster with Putin but those Sochi images stirred the skater in me.

See you on the rinks while we still can skate!

Read here for full list of rinks still open.

*read here for more on winter love

Recent posts you may have missed:

Recipes to warm you up:

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Postscript from the streets of Toronto

By February 23, 2014 Urban gadfly

Like most in this country, I watched the final game at dawn with family, in my case, a crowd of real hockey fans, ages 3 to 82.

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When it was over, we planned to head home but heard honking. Down the windows went. I leaned on the horn. Unlike the last gold medal victory, there were no spontaneous eruptions at intersections going south but just sporadic outbursts.The girls hollered at any sign of a flag. A few high fives into the open window and some upturned fists but it was looking to be a wash out.We almost turned around but then heard the swell near Yonge and Dundas, found a place to park and ran out to join the crowd. Read More

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