Monday, September 25, 2006

I feel like Columbus, but on a very small scale

Except for a couple of very rare and inconsequential moments, I have always known everything. If I don't know something, I will have most likely have heard something related to it or can fake it quite convincingly. I am also a master at creating diversions that are inconspicuous. This is why I become profoundly excited on the rare occasion that I learn something new. Of course, I joke. I'm a very curious person and learn new things all the time. Most of it, alas, is useless. Not in this case though.

This weekend, I was surfing the interweb and stumbled on quite a bit of gripping porn. I also somehow ended up reading an article about a novel that has intrigued me. It is called The Toronto You Are Leaving, by Gordon Stewart Anderson. It is set in the gay world of 1970s Toronto. Anderson died of AIDS in 1991 and had never published his manuscript. His mother - whose following actions imply that she is a beautiful, generous, sympathetic and admirable woman - found her son's manuscript after his death. She then took it upon herself to edit and self-publish the novel after being rejected by the mega publishing houses. This back-history gives me enough reason to want to read it, if only to confirm to this woman that she did the right thing, that her son's voice still wants to be heard and to also contribute something to alleviating the financial burden she must have experienced in her task.

Beyond that, I am intrigued because I cannot imagine what Toronto - let alone "gay" Toronto - was like in the 70s. Toronto may be a major centre now, but then it was just finding its feet. I have rarely seen or read contemporary depictions of Toronto pre-1980... It's not like New York which has been documented in every way possible during every phase of its evolution. In fact, it was probably around the late-60s that Canada finally purged itself of its colonial insecurity and began to develop a unique voice. Yes, we were late-bloomers, but apart from New Zealand, I can think of no other country in a similar situation- having been a full-fledged British colony and also being colonized in a more ambiguous way by our superpower neighbour. It is perhaps a small miracle that we have managed to maintain our identity when one considers that we are dwarfed in every way by the US, share an enormous border, share the same language and are products of the same mother culture. If Europeans, with their profound tradition(s) feel threatened by US cultural dominance, they should consult us for tips. I'm getting off topic. Point is, with a few important exceptions, Canada is largely invisible in the landscape of pre-80s culture and I am curious about how and what this city was back then.

Also, Toronto has an astonishing capacity to rapidly yet rather organically transform itself all the time. So for me, having a first hand account of a homo experiencing the city that is my home but in a version of itself that is totally foreign to me, piques my curiosity. Plus, I think his mom is ace.

From what I have gathered, the book is available at This Ain't the Rosedale Library and Glad Day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Toronto the Good needs to let me be "bad"

On the way to work today, I heard that the TTC is thinking of running the subways in this town 24 hours. Although there are some very good arguments hesitant about this and it largely seems that the infrastructure doesn't exist, I'm happy that it is at least being considered. I find it encouraging that Toronto is shedding some of its provincialism and archaic concepts about time. The Mel Lastmans of the world may think that a tacky tourist trap may prove our "world-class" stature, but in my humble view, a world-class city is one that is confident and mature. Having Papa Puritan enforce a nap-time for millions of adults is just very... 1950. Here I'm referring especially to the 2am last call. This condescending cut-off is exposed as provincial when one considers that certain bars are allowed to stay open until 4am during the film festival, so the celebrity hordes can be fooled into believing we're glamorous party-girls. And having to trek around town before the ungodly hour of 10pm for a bottle of wine is just sadistic. When it's easier to buy a gram of coke than it is to buy a bottle of wine, something seems wrong to me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Finally, taste beats out moula

Final Fantasy is one of my favourite musical acts of the moment. It essentially consists of one Owen Pallett who uses his violin to create poppy yet complex compositions with intelligent lyrics to boot. He just won the inaugural Polaris Music Prize.

The Polaris Prize has been established to recognize the increasing greatness of the Canadian indie music scene and to reward albums based on artistic merit and not genre or sales. All the 10 nominees were great, but giving the award to Final Fantasy shows that the jury actually has brains and balls. All too rare nowadays. Good job, folks.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Toronto Film Festival Farfy Foo-Foo

The TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) seriously takes over this city. I think it was Ebert (but don't quote me) that said that Torontonians are cineastes the way the Milanese are opera fans. Superficial and pretentious, yes, but it's hard to dispute when you see 73 year old WASP nerd-women lining up at 9AM, Ziploc bag of trail mix in osteoperosified hand, to see a documentary about Nigerian lesbian mimes- which will be followed by at least 4 more films that day alone. Yes, there are some certain film fest types that are very obvious and they are all amusing...

The best thing is that the aforementioned WASP granny can do her thing while teenage girls, office worker and star-fucker homos sit at "celeb" bars alone and desperate in the hope of maybe glimpsing Brad Pitt's batty-crease. A film-geek will have a heart attack laughing at very average jokes during a screening because he knows the director's in the crowd and it makes him feel connected to art and he hopes the director will notice and become his pen-pal. A middle-aged Greek tiropita folder that is culturally illiterate will see the one Greek film programmed and declare it to be the best film in the history of cinema even though she leaves the screening confused, emotionless and tired.

There are also the indie kids that have shaggy hair and bury their internal tears in tedious layers of "clever" irony and recycled wit, then further embarass themselves with pseudo-intellectual analyses of mediocre Danish films that they assume are fantastic because they are obscure and foreign. Self-satisfied yuppies go to watch documentaries about poor peeps and feel that it makes a difference while they fart into their Starbucks cup. A suburban housewife will go to see a gala screening of a Hollywood blockbuster that will be in wide-release within days only to experience a modicum of glamour and to escape the smell of her hubby's cock. Then there is me who goes to see films based largely on the amount of screen time given to penises and bums.

You get the drift.

There are, however, around 250,000 people that will attend the festival and the vast majority of them go to see a movie without a neurotic reason. It really is an exciting time in the city, which may make us seem like millions of nerds but I like to think that it demonstrates a place that is open and curious and interested in "the other". In fact, the fact that this event has become so successful and so prominent is totally fitting for the T-Dot... it isn't a hedonistic or glamorous city, but it is the insecure voyeur in the corner jerking off and who also happens to have a disco bathhouse in the basement, full of really cool people. It is also an almost obnoxiously diverse place that somehow smooths differences over, sometimes to the dismay of those who thrive on dogma and division. We've got Hollywood and Tehraniwood humping here and instead of nuclear explosions you get a Diet Coke and a falafel. You could even throw them in a blender and I'm sure it would tasty to someone.

I saw a really good film called Chacun sa nuit, but I'll post about that later.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


H: Horny
I: Irritable
R: Romantic
T: Tired

That has been my week. I'm all about acronyms today.

You Could Use Me