An Orwellian Degree

So I don’t have a lot of time to write because I’m struggling to squeeze in a few paragraphs at work in the midst of moving offices weeks earlier than anticipated. But I wanted to touch briefly on what happened in Toronto over the weekend. You know, in case you missed it, even though you only had to go so far as signing into Windows Live Messenger in order to hear the news. Normally you see your local news, but apparently my news was local for everybody, because even Josh was getting updates in North Carolina about the cop cars being set on fire just up the street from my house, and having a couple of barely concealed brain aneurysms at my proximity to it all.

We hosted the G20 summit this past weekend, a move that not a lot of people agreed with. While the opportunity to show off our fair city is always appreciated, many were concerned with how much everything would cost, as well as the consequences on our streets of an event that by its very nature sparks protests. And although I agree that if you’re going to throw one of these behemoths then security is deserving of attentive spending, I still doubted it would do much to prevent the relatively minor issues of broken windows and other surface damage – as long as nobody was able to blow anything up or kill people, I’m happy. As for spending over a million on a ‘fake lake’ to recreate the atmosphere of the Muskokas for the media/cell-phone-charging station, well that was just stupid.

But I digress.

Canada is not always the quiet humble nation we like to let the rest of the world think we are. We protest when called upon, and while I do most of my protesting with signatures or online petitions, I will on occasion make the trip to Queen’s Park to protest whatever is on my agenda on the lawn outside of the provincial legislation. I won’t be behind a loudspeaker or undermining my own cause with stereotypical garb that makes it easier for the established power to dismiss me; no, I’m the kind to craft a strongly worded email to my M.P., or to call incessantly until I make enough of a nuisance of myself to get that stop sign or whatever put up. Still, I was tempted to get out there this weekend and into the thick of it, protesting if nothing else the fact that protesting in general was kept so far removed from the site of the meetings as to have zero effect on the delegates therein.

Because Toronto, in case you hadn’t noticed, turned into a locked down fortress practically overnight, and it was the police response rather than what they were responding to that finally waffled my decision to the ‘staying indoors’ option. The legitimate protests themselves were mostly peaceful; loud, organized, and varied in cause, but for the most part non-confrontational and an honest exercise in our democratic right. And of course there were a few more vocal characters, but by and large things were amicable.

Then there was the Black Bloc, a movement of supposed anarchists, apparently mostly from out of province, who made violence and destruction their mandate. Against ‘the pigs of Capitalism’ and ‘the march of Globalization’ and all that jazz, this felt essentially like a bunch of kids who had seen Fight Club one too many times. I’m not saying they got their black t-shirts at the Gap necessarily, but they sure got them from somewhere. So yes, we spent money dislodging all the mailboxes and garbage cans which did nothing to stop them smashing any windows that weren’t boarded up, and yes the Starbucks was targeted. Did you really think you were going to stop a bunch of pissed off kids from lighting things on fire? Don’t be stupid. The fact that there are cops in riot gear just makes the whole thing way more ‘awesome’ than just complaining on the internet. If anything, the excessive force gave them more fodder against ‘the man’.

So much for fighting fire with fire. How about using something a bit colder, like a frosty Toronto scowl? I hear we’re good at that. Maybe with a ‘What the fuck? Did you just break that window? What is wrong with you? We have to pay for that, you asshole!’ It’s hip to be an anarchist, so you’re not going to win unless you stop making it cool. Dig?

But no, they didn’t dig, and so when there was literal fire they fought with mismanaged attention followed by a blitzkreig of over compensation.

On Saturday, we were told that they were not ignoring the flaming cruisers, but rather were sticking to their more important task of protecting the already heavily reinforced series of fences in front of the summit site. This despite the fact that we had literally thousands of officers from all over Toronto and the surrounding suburbs. And while the gas exploding inside the burning cars could be heard several unprotected, unpoliced, and very crowded blocks away, they were not short of hands a few intersections north at Queens Park. Teams of riot squads, sometimes three lines deep, moved through the trees to corral the sparse protesters and joggers in search of kids from the nearby University, long hidden in the sewers. They struck their shields with their batons, steady and in rhythm while they walked, looking like something right out of 1984. Hooligans are one thing, but when I got home from stepping out for a quick bite (and maybe a glance or two up the street) and saw the same marching scene on every channel, that was when I decided that perhaps it was a good idea to keep myself indoors or at least west of Spadina for the rest of the weekend. It wasn’t broken glass or the inarticulate shouts of yet another loud and angry anarchist that worried me. (Hello? Living on Queen West means you hear a loud and angry anarchist at least once a week – and they don’t frequently break windows.) No, it was fear of being arrested for standing on the wrong corner and daring to frown at the goings on.

Which is precisely what happened the next day with a sudden shift, a take-no-chances explanation for a stark increase in aggression. From the police, I mean. While officials point out that there were no major injuries or security breaches, others prefer to point out their use of excessive force, indiscriminate arrests and even tear gas – something so uncommon here that many reputable news sources incorrectly cited it as the first time ever in Toronto (it was in fact used at an anti-poverty protest when Mike Harris was premier several years ago.) Apparently even rubber bullets were used, and all this in crowds that a fair guess from my window would put at, let’s say, a healthy mix of legitimate protesters, a smattering of the curious and/or foolish, and maybe 5% hooligan? Maybe? Then later, to add to the afternoon fun, about 200 people were surrounded and held at Queen and Spadina by police without explanation for a nice four hour standoff in the pouring rain between them and anyone who was standing at that intersection for any reason at the time of their arrival. In the end we ended up with figures of over 900 people held, 600 arrested, and five courtrooms set up specifically to process all this shit over the next couple of days.

And so after all that, here we are, the Monday after, and we’ve already begun the process of returning to our unfazed selves, and picking up the glass as well as the tab.

I’m not saying we don’t need police, generally speaking. Or even particularly at these events, should poor judgement bring them upon us. I’m just suggesting that perhaps this wasn’t the brightest display of foresight from the governmental powers that be. And if we really did need to have this ginormous clusterfuck of a security breach right downtown because we couldn’t house all those people anywhere in cottage country, then we could at least have done so with a little more grace and civility.

So today I’m in support of the demonstration outside of police headquarters against their excessive use of force on civilians, because frankly that should not be left unchecked. However, while criticizing the mismanagement I will admit that this was obviously not an easy situation to, well, de-clusterfuck. So I’ll refrain from calling it ‘police brutality’ and stick with ‘an ugly lesson to be learned,’ if only to avoid being a hypocrite the next time I want someone to save my ass from someone bigger than me. And to be fair, and in the interest of demonstrating that my support lies not necessarily with either the state or the anarchists but rather the rest of us in between, it would behoove me to leave out a full expression of my disdain for the other end of the disruptive stick that gave us this weekend bashing.

That’s right Black Bloc. Your strongly worded letter is on its way.

(Except later, because right now I’m tired, and I have a job to go to tomorrow, so here are some pictures instead.)

heavy police presence in Toronto. G20

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Nuit Blanche: Installment the First

It looks like I’m just going to have to get used to the fact that every once in a while my laptop will need a vacation from my apparently toxic presence.

A few weeks ago I was sure it was dead – not just “oh here we go with it’s quarterly crash, better set aside a few hours this weekend to reformat it”, but full on “holy crap, reformat isn’t even an option on the startup menu anymore – and is that the blue screen of death? OH CRAP EVEN THE BLUE SCREEN CANT LOAD!!!NOOOOO!!!STOP MAKING THAT NOISE!!!” sort of dead. So off it went to my geekiest friend for her professional opinion. It seemed a lost cause, a victim of my apparent EMP genetics as well as succumbing to hard usage – too many long,  motherboard-fryingly hot hours of webcamming and multitasking is more than this little thing was built for. The verdict? “It just sort of works when it wants to now.”

Well apparently it wants to now, having taken a few weeks off. But rest assured I will never buy a new laptop again – a year max is apparently all I can squeeze out of these things. So for now I’ll web when I can, avoid leaving it on overnight, and await the next inevitable tantrum. If I disappear again, you’ll know this machine has suffered a swift, Office Space-esque death at the hands of whatever blunt instrument is most handy.

Anyways! Here’s what I’ve been meaning to talk about all this time, but instead may as well have been hanging out in a soggy, webless cardboard box.

Nuit Blanche! Yes, it (was) that time of year again when Toronto busts out with its free, all-night, contemporary art ‘thing’. Birthed in either Paris, St. Petersburg or Berlin (apparently there’s still somewhat of a bitchfest over its origins), it has spread to the worlds cultural centres as a means of artistic expression, both individually and en masse, themed social gathering, and urban identification. In layman’s terms: look how cool we are.

Last year was an unplanned, last minute tagging along to a series of fantastic albeit sometimes inexplicable installments, with poor caffeination/sleep logistics resulting in an early night. Anytime prior to midnight is a poor showing for an event lasting until sunrise, and frankly I was annoyed at myself for lack of planning.

This year was different! I went on my own, plotted ahead and mapped my course, determined to catch everything from the Inuit film festival at the Habourfront Centre to the peep show tent in the Casa Loma stables. Unfortunately the whole shebang is now so popular that many of the exhibits had lineups over an hour long. And so, I was forced to whittle in the moment, having to quickly choose between secret waterfall gardens and giant bouncy wedding cakes, post-apocalyptic tribal installments and giant pools of vodka. In the end some choices were good, some choices were blah, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves with a look at what I saw and a list of what I missed.

Here’s the first dose, just steps away from my door and through the annex, on my way to the subway through the core. Filled with museums, institutions, and galleries, my own back yard made for an interesting start.

First up! ‘Through a Glass Darkly’ at St. Thomas Anglican Church featured an interesting co-display of religious environment and song, set to the background of Galilean artifact, intended to draw visitors into the dynamic between science and soul. Or something like that.

Next we had ‘Where Have You Been In These Shoes?’, a collaboration with Diaspora Dialogues at the Bata Shoe Museum. Basically you got to walk in, have pictures taken of your shoes, tell random passerby a story about where you’ve been in them, and have on the spot poetry created by dialogue artists to share your experiences with the crowd. The display grew as the night progressed and more participants added their shoes and stories to the collection.

‘Music Inside Out’ was a ton of fun. Crowds wandered through the ornate entrance to the Royal Conservatory of Music, down the lush gardens to the newly added Telus Centre for Performing Arts, contrasting the old world look of the original building with the modern glass structure lit up in neon for Nuit Blanche.

There were a number of installations here, but my favourite was the haunted piano. It was nothing highly advertised, no signs pointed the way, just an unobtrusive volunteer who would tug at your sleeve as  you passed an elevator, inviting you to go on up – by yourself of course – to take a look. The elevator doors opened to an empty rotunda, a dark ballroom at the end of the hall with eerie music floating quietly, and you had to walk alone through the room to see the keys operating themselves in a disjointed, arythmic song.

Next up was the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum. The ROM recently underwent a somewhat controversial addition of a crawling, crystalline structure to the more traditional architecture of the main building. Many think it an eyesore, but I happen to like it.

The lineup, however, was not so enjoyable. At least the surroundings outside and on the way in were entertaining.

The installment here was a display of photos from the years of Vanity Fair 1913 – 2008, opened to the public with waived admission for the nights event. It was nice, but not worth the hour long lineup – I had more fun outside than inside! I didn’t personally take any pictures of the photos themselves because it seemed discouraged, but here’s a look from others’ points of view.

image from blogto.com

image from styleblog.ca

Since I spent so much time here, I decided to skip the ‘Overture to Parallel Nippon’ at the Japan Foundation across the street. Apparently it was some sort of architecture fest mixed with sound and visual, and it seemed like quite a party from across the street. But as for me, I headed down into the subway at this point, at the renovated Museum station, southbound for the downtown core.

Next up – City Hall, Yonge Street, the Financial District, and the busiest hours of the night!

LOST – New Trendier, Toronto Edition

So every year, around the middle of February, Toronto seems to undergo a thaw. Not a permanent one, no. March always comes back and kicks us in the ass again. It’s just long enough to remind the optimists that spring is just around the corner, and just long enough to remind the pessimists that this corner is over a month long. Yes, February is just that much crueller in my neck of the woods. Could it be?!? Could it be spring?!?! Ha! Take that suckers!

In true form, it was way above average today. Mild. Misty. Tomorrow? This weekend? Ass cold again. And all this up and down has caused some rather nifty side effects. I noticed when leaving the house this morning that the track field across the street was covered in a thin layer of mist. Looks rather cool, thought I. The return this evening was rather more dramatic.

As a refresher, please recall the ordinary view from my back window.

toronto-winter-morning

normal day...

 

Now here’s the fun part. You see those buildings? In the background there? Yeah, they’re not that far away. I may not live *right* downtown anymore, but those buildings are closer than this picture would imply. The towers on the left, for example, I could get to in maybe twenty minutes on the street car, even ten on a good day. I could walk with no trouble. The large tower in the centre, on the other hand, is eons down the road. It’s somewhat of an optical illusion, because what you can’t tell from this perspective is exactly how MASSIVE this tower is. It’s the CN Tower, a staggering 1,815.4 feet tall, once the tallest freestanding building in the world up until Malaysia went and put up some shitty radio tower that nobody even knows about.

---------------------The CN Tower ----------------------^

IT'S HUUUUUUUUGE!!!!

 

The point is, you can normally see this thing for miiiiles away, especially now that it’s been affixed with neon tubing or whatever that is. For us city dwellers, the minute you can’t see this tower is the minute you are out of our beloved metropolis and very, very scared.

So yes, please imagine how I felt when this sight greeted me upon my arrival home this evening. Please imagine, just for a moment.

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

 

WHERE ARE THE TOWERS?!?!?

I know it’s foggy out, I get it! But they’re GONE! I couldn’t see ten feet in front of me when I was at street level, but you’d think I’d be able to see a massive neon tower from three stories up!

I haven’t even seen that Stephen King mist movie, and I’m still not going anywhere outside tonight. I don’t care if it’s outright balmy and it’s my Canadian duty to celebrate. I’m confused! Confused, scared, and a little bit lost!

Wake me up when I can find my way around again.

Winter Wonderland

Okay, it’s not *quite* Wonderland out there, especially because to us Southern Ontarians, Wonderland is a place with a lot of fun rides and over priced chili fries.

This would suck covered in ice

This would suck covered in ice

But somehow, I’m not super pissed about the snow this year. I’m actually sort of….well I’m afraid that if I say I’m enjoying it I’ll get skewered by a foot long icicle – ’tis the way of the winter justice. I am surprised, however, by how minimally pissed I am at this most recent dumping of chilly, frozen flaked water all over my city.

It could be for a number of reasons:

– I have purchased, for the first time in many years, a ‘sensible’ pair of boots. Wedge heel. Fuzzy. Muklukish without being ugly. On sale. None of this ‘winter heel’ business for me anymore.

Fashionable, yet not retarded

– I have a nice coat. Not just a warm coat, but a nice, long, extremely pretty and in-style coat that makes me feel like I’m in Casablanca. Except, you know, with ice.

coat

Not this nice, but pretty close

– Up until this morning when I had to take a $5 taxi ride two blocks to the subway station, I had the transit schedule all figured out. This one might take some readjusting, but generally speaking I am able to leave my apartment right before the bus pulls up to the stop just across the street. Less than five minutes outside in the mornings? I can dig it.

Boourns!

– Indoor shopping. Toronto is used to the cold, and so there are a myriad of ways to get your shopping done, even grocery shopping, without ever having to step foot outside. Malls connect to the subway system, and once you get right into the core of the city, the PATH winds through most of the major buildings and transit, all without even looking towards the doors outside. Now if I can just find an indoor laundromat…

This is indoors, suckers! Mahahaha!

Toronto's PATH system: because the outdoors is for losers

– In the event that I do not find an indoor laundromat, I have discovered one that is even closer to my apartment than the one I’ve been using hitherto. I don’t even have to cross any intersections, which can be kind of dicey on my street. It’s a little more expensive and frankly not as nice, but it’s smaller, not as busy, plays classical music, and has no attendant. You’d think that would be a downside, but I prefer to not have people around when I’m out running errands or washing my undergarments.

– Toronto does have some rad winter stuff going on. And by the time I’m back here I’ll have someone who’ll actually be excited to attend such events even though we do, as Josh puts it, “turn everything into some weird abstract art thing.”

Cavalcade of Lights

Weird abstract art - still pretty!

 – I have a new weapon against the frozen, treacherous tundra that will be my sidewalks within a few weeks. It’s a phone number. You call it and tattle on all the lazy fucktards that didn’t shovel their snow, letting it instead be compounded into frozen footprints that are out to break my ankles every year. Seriously, I have developed this ridiculous fear of breaking my ankles. I will call that number fifteen times a day if I have to. I’ll call it on my own damn landlords. My ankles are grateful for my city’s well-spent tax dollars.

OW MY ANKLES!!! AND POSSIBLY KNEES!!!

– It’s a white Christmas! Surprisingly enough, we almost never get snow in time for Christmas. It shows up right at the beginning of January and clobbers our asses until Easter. And given that with a little luck this should be my last Canadian Christmas for a couple of years, I’m very pleased that the weather is going all storybook for me this time around.

My place does not look like this...but up the street it does!

– Money has been okay this year. I didn’t have to carefully plan each and every gift according to how many groceries I’d have to knock off the list. I was able to go out and buy exactly what I wanted without a second thought. Which does wonders for those last minute items, especially when Christmas is distressingly close to the rent cheque.

Damn expensive holiday!

And now the big reason:

– I told the Family to fuck off this year. Well not really, but I’ve never enjoyed the whole family holiday thing. And this year I said so.

Last year was a big deal. It was the last year my grandparents would be around before moving to Quebec, and my long lost cousin flew in with his fiancee from Vancouver. So for the first time in….possibly ever, that entire side of the family was together for Christmas. I went, even though I was ridiculously medicated and probably an embarassment. It was a big deal to me, and I went out of my way to get a little something for everybody, even the fiancee I’d never met. This year, I’m doing my own thing.

This year, I am going to a friends house for a Christmas Eve visit with her and the wee ones. I’ll wake up by myself – seriously, how is this some kind of tragedy? I don’t get it. I’m going to make sure I have a super clean kitchen the night before, and will make myself a really nice breakfast with mimosas and eggs florentine. I’ll say Merry Christmas to Josh if he’s around, and then make my way to the same friends house for a big gathering with her and her awesomely Greek family for what she is dubbing “Orphan Christmas.” There will be food, drink, and a related assortment of merriment. And since they’re Greek there will be more festivities for Orthodox Christmas later on. I’ll see my actual family in small, quiet doses on Boxing Day.

It’s not that I don’t like my family. I just don’t understand why every year we all rush through our Christmas mornings to haul our asses out to the suburbs in ridiculous holiday traffic to get to The Big Family Event by 2pm. Everyone bitches every year because the same aunt/uncle always show up late. I adore this aunt/uncle because they do their holidays their way. They open their gifts slowly and take the time to appreciate them, and show up to The Big Family Event when it suits them. The rest of us are usually in mid-crisis by this point. There is screaming and frantic organizing, paper thrown to and fro, gifts exchanged between cousins who don’t even know each other in ‘real life’. Food shovelled onto plates. I usually fill up on carrots and potatos. Every year I leave exhausted, cranky, shaky, carrying buckets of stuff that someone less fortunate could use far more than I, and I usually don’t remember who got me what. Then we all drive further into the frozen suburbs to visit even more extended family and stand around awkwardly. Everyone else seems to know how to do this, but I’m still lacking the ability to care about people I only see once a year. So I leave even more cranky, sleep deprived, with the general feeling of having been poked and prodded unpleasantly, and the lingering fear of “am I the only one who doesn’t know how to do this shit?” I do not enjoy these excursions.

Like this but with more panic and no Cousin Eddie

Also, I know you don’t really have to be religious these days, but what is this need to cram ourselves together in a room to celebrate what amounts to not much more than a giant shopping spree?

a christmas exegesis

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not into the religious aspect of it, then the spirit of Christmas is more about little kids. Seeing them get all excited, hear stories about reindeer and gingerbread things. I’ve got one age-appropriate cousin that I never see, and all other cousins/siblings/etc. are well past the age of Santa. So I don’t see the point, especially when the little one has no idea who I am. My friends kids, on the other hand, run to the door when I visit! “Auntie Em, yaaaaay!!!” I am so all about that this year.

So!

I’m thinking that Christmas and winter in general is stressing me out far less this year because I finally feel like a grown up. I’ve got my shit together, I know what I’m doing, and I’m not overly concerned with how I’m expected to celebrate. I’ve got awesome friends this year and an awesome boyfriend next year (and this year, but especially next year.) The coming months are already filled with plans of adventure and I’m really looking forward to it. 2008 started off a bit rough but is ending fantastically. 2009 should kick even further ass.

I’ll see y’all there! And until then, I’m going to keep doing it my way.

Fuckity!

So it’s not like I don’t have scarves to churn out for Christmas or anything. Oh no, I totally have the time to sit here on my couch for an entire evening, knitting and ripping, knitting and ripping, knitting and ripping.

Just in case you’ve wondered where I am, I’m trying to knit lace and it’s not going very well. If I were knitting a standard width scarf it would be easy: a row doesn’t turn out right, just undo it and start again. But when you’re knitting a shawl about four times the width of a scarf, one row is a hell of a commitment. And then you get to the end of the row and think “Where did this extra stitch come from???”

Grrrrrrrrrr!!!

In more positive news, peep my new little widget to the left, linking to my Flickr page! All crafty things for sale will be posted up there until the website is up and running. For now there’s just a few pairs of earrings, but I’ll let you know when new things go up. I gots paypal yo, so just send me a note if you see something that catches your fancy 😉

Should my fingers ever remember how to knit again, you may see some scarves and other fun things up shortly.

Stupid fingers.

Stupid lace.

Also, it’s apparently winter here in Toronto. When the hell did that happen? I feel so unprepared! Ugh. Screw fashion, I’m getting me some ugly ass hiking boots for the thirty feet of sidewalk between me and the bus stop. One good thing about winter means more staying in and less temptation to go out for dinner. That means more home cooking!

Next week: I will show you how to make Cauliflower Pesto Soup, Broccoli Asparagus Soup, and Goat’s Cheese Pasta. Mmmmmmmmm.

For now, back to the knitty, knitty grind.

Nuit Blanche in Toronto! Yeah, yeah, plenty late, whatever.

In case you haven’t noticed, I LOVE my city. While I am looking forward to moving for a little bit – I hate winter, and I think a slower pace in a small southern suburb could do my hectic brain some good – I must say that Toronto is one of the best damn cities in the world. Josh isn’t too sure if he’s going to like the hustle and bustle when we eventually move back, but I think he’ll find his own favourite places and spaces and come to love it in his own way.

One of the best things around here is the culture and access to all sorts of global ideas. Our film festival is well known, as well as our film industry (May once got startled by a zombie walking around downtown – “Sure, there were movie trailors around, but it’s not like that means anything in Toronto in the summer.”) In fact, they’re filming on my block this weekend. We’ve got a fantastic theatre culture – Chicago was actually filmed here in favour of our strong local theatery goodness. And of course some fantastic museums, widely discussed architecture, and arts galore. Our culture is so important to us that a proposed end to tax benefits for the arts was met with enough public outcry to have the whole idea removed from Stephen Harper’s election campaign (America…we have elections too.)

Anyways, we love our arts!

A recent installment cropped up three years ago from its origins in Paris, a fantastic repertoire of local, expressive, provocative, and often interactive artistic installments in the form of what is referred to as “a free, all-night contemporary art thing”: Nuit Blanche (noo-EE blawnsh = ‘White Night’ or ‘All Nighter’.) An all night event, the city is lit up with a sprawl of dozens of installations celebrating all forms of art and thought. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and if nothing else, a great way to see what other people do with their time, and an excuse to grab a friend, her kids, and a hell of a lot of coffee.

I’ll admit, I did not make it through the night. I actually crashed ridiculously early, but if I’m around for next years event, I’ll be pulling a well-planned all nighter. I missed the Horroridor this year, boo!

Here’s what I did see!

A stretch of Church street in The Village (aka The Gaybourhood and it’s fabulous!) was dotted with trees, lighting and fog machines to create an Ethereal Forest. A collection of bizarre medieval dancers pranced around the top end of the street, accompanied by a flutist. Yes, the Gaybourhood, but that probably has less to do with the prancey type theme than you probably think.

Anyway, I met up with May and her kids here, and we were quickly joined by the illustrious Lindsay. They are not as frequent characters as Talea, but Talea was not in an outside mood, especially in prime touristy-crowd territory.

May did the prep work and came prepared with a list of things to check out. Linds brought energy and a general goal to meet up with friends of hers later on at the art gallery. So off we went!

This piece was called Conversation #2. No, I don’t know what it means or why there are mushrooms, other than for what I believe was an ‘organic’ sort of feel. But it was neat! Also, I love books, hardcover books especially. I just love the feel of them. I covet them.

This display was called Time-Piece, and showed the rapidly shifting phases of the moon on a translucent screen. I’m not quite sure why, though.

Zombies! In Condoland! There is a particularly swanky area downtown known as College Park: a rather dashing collection of exclusive, costly, and all around desireable condominiums along a tree lined path through a lantern lit park on the edge of a neat little pond. Posh. We filled it with zombies, because Toronto is that awesome. May’s littlest one spent most of the night leading up to this display calling up from her stroller “Monshers? We go monshers?” Yes, yes, we’re going to the monshers. “Monshers!”

This display even had the option of getting dressed up and made up with a five-minute zombie makeover station. Alas, the lineup was far more frightening than the results. We did not partake.

Instead we wandered farther south towards Yonge Dundas Square.

Josh’s reaction to this photo: That’s a big ass city, yo. And it is, and I love it. It’s a pain in the ass that a big city comes with lots of people, with the crowding and the noise, and the shoving and the lack of hygiene, but it’s the price one pays. Unfortunately, the square itself didn’t have anything more intriguing than a wandering, blinding spotlight out to give random passerby their fifteen seconds of fame, as well as an OBNOXIOUS motherfucker who stopped his SUV right at the corner. Um, hi, the busiest intersection in the city and “Oh hey, don’t mind my gas guzzling suburban ass – I don’t feel like parking this monstrosity, so I’m just going to put my hazards on and sit here holding up about seven city blocks worth of traffic while my poorly highlighted wife comes waddling across the street trying not to touch anything.”

Dickwad.

Beyond that was Ryerson University with their “Sitting Ducks” display.

Yes, they’re fake, but we’ve all seen ducks swimming around a pond. Have we all seen an odd assortment of floating decoys placed around a man-made fountain by overzelous artsy folk, eerily night-lit with smoke and strobes? I have. It was pretty cool.

On the other side of Ryerson was the House of Leaves (not necessarily any relation to the very brilliant novel – if you can call it that – by Mark Z. Danielewski)

Just pages and pages stuck to the walls, crawling over window panes and rustling in the outdoor narrow pathway between two buildings, and for no real purpose other than it looks utterly fantastic and feels definitely surreal to walk through.

I don’t know who Pat is, but I thought this picture was cool enough for everyone to see.

At this point, both the kids and myself and probably everybody else were getting very tired, very quickly. We made it to the Art Gallery of Ontario, still under construction and with no obvious art installation in sight. Rather than searching, we headed back north instead, back towards College . Not up Yonge St. to Zombie filled Condoland, but up University Ave., through the hospitals, schools, institutes and research facilities that make up the Toronto Discovery District.

Along the way, we did manage to make one last stop at the Ontario Power Generation building, with their quite awesome waterfall display – made entirely of plastic bottles. Makes you think twice about where all the water comes from.

At this point, especially after fighting the crowd that you can only get a brief glimpse of here, we were pretty much done. A night well spent, and there is a subway entrance right at this intersection anyways. Linds and her friends bid us adieu and carried along on their merry way, while May and I took the kids down into the station for the short ride home. My transfer was before theirs, and I still nearly fell asleep – it’s amazing how a night of walking around the city will exhaust you, and I was asleep about five minutes after I got in the door.

Speaking of walking, this chick was doing it wrong. I leave you with one last photo, quite possibly the best of the night.

Haha, she’s been walking around so long on those ridiculous little shoes that her toes are on the pavement! Oh, such a blister she will have!

Noob.