Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To the lighthouse, and back

Nearly there

Four of us explored the Leslie St. Spit on Saturday -- an epic 4-hour psychogeography walk. The Spit, as you Toronto people already know, is an entirely manmade peninsula a bit east of the Toronto Islands. It's been constructed over 50 years from the rubble of demolished buildings, and the soil and rocks dug up in the construction of the subway system. (Lots of interesting background on the Spit can be found in this hugely informative Toronto Star feature -- be sure to check out the PDF info-graphic.) It's now a city park and bird sanctuary, but truckloads of rubble are still being added every week. So the Spit is an unusual hybrid: both nature reserve and junkyard. A lot of the old building detritus looks curiously organic; it's really interesting to see how the natural and the artificial blend together out there.

We saw a beaver lodge, rabbits, a hawk that glared at us but did not fly off when we walked up close enough to see its talons, pretty blue-backed songbirds nesting in birdhouses, and the famous double-crested cormorant colony. Also, the Quonset hut referenced in Spacing's April Fool's gag this year. And the lighthouse at the end of the Spit.

I took LOTS of photos and have put them up on Flickr with notes: click here.


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Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's time for another installment of Toronto's Hipster Boys Say the Darndest Things

Bakery section, Dominion. A nerdy hipster boy in a leather jacket is talking at a pretty girl with an eyebrow piercing, who is ignoring him and browsing the selection of day-old bread.

Hipster boy: ... an unethical idea: I steal holy water and mix it with Jaegermeister.
Girl: [in deeply bored voice, still looking at bread] That's disgusting.

Hipster boy then pulls out his cellphone, checks it, and announces he has just received an "awesome" text from a friend who is in a bar getting drunk on "Jaeger bombs". The girl, unimpressed, says "He's getting drunk at 3 in the afternoon?" The boy says, "I think he's drunk already!"

Update -- Later the same day:

Driveway of Olivia Chow & Jack Layton's house. Two guys are sweeping up leaves & debris & putting them into boxes in a truck.

One yardwork guy to the other: Thinking and self-reflection are the only tools we have for self-regulation. Use them always!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday at the diner


Can there be a more generically-named eatery in Toronto than People's Foods on Dupont? It's a great place to go for a classic diner breakfast, though.

These vintage table-top jukeboxes apparently still work, although we didn't try putting a quarter in. Laura and Jake noted that every time they're in there (which is often), someone at one of the tables is listening to "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns & Roses.

mmm diner coffee


Sunday, April 13, 2008

That was the week that was

Office towers

It's been an unusually busy, interesting week, though I didn't take many photos. A brief summary:

Monday: Visited Paul and Allysun and their tiny, brand-new daughter River. I believe that was the first time I've ever held a newborn baby.

Tuesday: Saw Nancy Cartwright talk at U of T, then went over to Trinity College to see Maggie, who is doing an M.Div. there, give a thoughtful and impassioned sermon on the metaphor of God as food. Appropriately enough, as part of the service I took communion, another thing I had never done before. The wine was sweet, the bread was wholewheat and chewy.

Wednesday: Coach House Books spring launch! A lineup of excellent readers, including Maggie, who read from her new novel, Girls Fall Down. Saw tons of book people I hadn't seen in forever. Jude's friend Katie is building a 20-foot mushroom in the Sculpture Garden. Sharon's wrapping up work on her "I Love You" book. Sean Dixon says he's writing a children's novel in which "a leaf dies and it's very sad," which led to Carl and I trying to explain to him what "emo" means. Etc.

Thursday: Long psychogeography walk, to commemorate Shawn's birthday. Started on Bloor, at the windows of Holt Renfrew (currently featuring an odd and underwhelming display involving lots of neutral colours and giant insects), meandered through Rosedale and into the ravine, all the way to the Brickworks, then on to Cabbagetown and Church St. A woman visiting from Scotland, a friend of one of the regular walkers, was with us, and expressed astonishment as we descended a flight of wooden stairs into the dark ravine: "You would NEVER do this where I'm from! You'd be robbed and killed instantly!"

(Above, a photo of office towers taken when we climbed to the top level of a Yorkville parking garage.)

Friday: Philosophy department end-of-term party at York, followed by end-of-term-party afterparty at the Duke of York, followed by several of us grad students (and one intrepid faculty member) roaming the dark streets of Toronto at 2 am. I led everyone down bpnichol lane and showed them the Coach House. We peered into the windows of the print shop and the bindery, and saw Rono, the elusive night guy at the Coach House. I have heard about Rono for years, but had never actually seen him before. He had a lot of shaggy grey hair, and he glared at us. I felt like we had glimpsed the Yeti.

Best overheard line of the week: A U of T undergrad to her friend, walking down St. George one afternoon: "I mean, even if you thought it was a dead balloon, why would you pick it up?"

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