Toronto News ~ Toronto Focus
I'm as cynical as anybody. I understand Starbucks is in the business of selling highly priced hot beverages and hooking us all on caffeine, but I was very impressed by what I participated in yesterday.
As part of their Month of Service initiative, Starbucks got 750 of us to gather at 8am yesterday morning in the cold, pouring rain so we could beautify, clean up, sustain and improve the Jane and Finch community. Yes, they gave us tee-shirts and an unlimited supply of coffee, hot chocolate and Starbucks grub, all part of their corporate branding strategy, but we were also greeted by volunteer carpenters and an abundance of materials and collectively spent several hours building educational gardens, cleaning and painting (both interior and exterior), and building structures such as park-style seating greenhouses, a rainwater catchment system, composters, fencing and retaining walls.
Other than the 90 minutes we were spike-less (I was building these cool benches), it all went off without a hitch, even in the pouring rain. At the end of it all, before I left, I walked around the Jane Finch Centre to see what 750 people high on caffeine could accomplish in one day. It was awfully encouraging.
Good job, Starbucks.
[photo by Becky Hewlett]
Have you heard? It's going to snow tonight. The local media is ecstatic. 680 News, for example, opened their Storm Centre.
It was about seven years ago that I first wondered aloud as to what opening their Storm Centre would entail.
I wonder what setting up the Storm Centre entails exactly. As far as I can tell, it's business as usual with more time devoted to the top story of the morning, our little snow storm. Media outlets like 680News thrive when their listeners in are in a state of fear. Listening to them you'd have thought we were all buried and trapped in our homes living off the food and drink we have stored away. In reality, it's not that bad. Really.
The Storm Centre guy back then was Scott Simpson. I had a chat with Scott Simpson and got an exclusive inside look at the 680 News Storm Centre. We'll call this "680 News Storm Centre Exposed", because that sounds a lot more exciting. The words below belong to Scott.
Setting up the storm centre basically entails somebody telling me, "Simpson, you're on standby for Storm Centre tomorrow." That means I try to get to bed early, but end up tossing and turning until 4:15am when I call the newsroom ... I say, "It's not even snowing. The Weather Network says we're only getting 5cm." They say "Well, it's hit Chicago and they've cancelled a ton of flights. Come on in, you're our man."
That's about it. I get in, I see if any schools are closed, I find out what's up at the airport, maybe call Gary Welsh from Toronto Transportation to see what gear they're sending out, load up the admin side of the web site, and climb on the news wheel ... There's no time to run back and forth into and out of the control room, so I sit at a desk (the proverbial "Storm Centre" which, internally, is dialed up as CHFINEWS, even though they haven't done CHFI news from the newsroom in ... erm ... well, I don't think they ever did. Legacy tech, natch.) and broadcast from there, getting up now and then for fluid management.
So I sit there at the desk, and every half hour they throw to me, I read a sponsor or two, and try to tell it like it is .... sometimes it's a brain-bending five-hour whirlwind of bus cancellations and school closures (how many Montessori schools *are* there in the GTA, and why can't they get their kids to class when it snows?!) though, thankfully, most days I end up saying "Well, there's no big storm here ... but if you're travelling by air, you're screwed." I would rather be the voice of "everything's fine, get out and live your lives!" than the voice of doom and gloom when there's nothing to freak out about. I don't want to get a reputation as Chicken Little. If anything, I downplay the severity of what's going on out of the fact that I don't drive.
I saw Bowling For Columbine and some other stuff that has convinced me that keeping listeners "in a state of fear" is a terrible thing to do. I also don't like "neighbourhoods in a state of shock" or "outraged residents" or such things. I have two rules: tell the truth, and never be boring. They rarely clash, because the truth well told is usually a really interesting story.
There you have it, a Toronto Mike exclusive. Since Scott's left, I think they've gone all "state of fear" on us. Now be afraid... very afraid. White substance is falling from the heavens!
John Hastings is a Toronto Comedian and he's doing his very first headlining appearance as a stand-up comedian at the Downtown Yuk Yuks on January 12th to the 16th.
I told him if he wanted a plug he had to write an essay on what he loves and/or hates about Toronto. Here's what he sent me.
I John Hastings love Toronto but like any great love affair a tiny hate sprinkle keeps my love for this city of large towers and bizarrely performing sports teams interesting. I hate the fact that nobody defends this city to the outside criticism that gets thrown at “Big Smoke” on a second by second basis by the people who do not live here. I am a comedian, which is a job that I have, and one of the tasks of that job is to go to every ridiculously tiny town and listen to someone who considers lack of teeth to be a point of pride bash my adoptive home.
Now these naysayers of my apartments location never mention massive traffic, a mayor who looks like a baby with his period or the extreme amount of taxes we face (the taxes in this town are so extreme I as a comedian who does not own a couch is aware that the taxes are outlandish). These summer teeth dolts mention things that do not make any sense when you think about the context in which the complaint is delivered. For example last while in Highland Hamlet Ontario (Not the real name of the town, the change was to protect the innocent it was to protect but due to the fact that I cannot remember the precise name of the town) and while there a man who was chewing tobacco and smoking a cigarette at the same time came up and asked how do I live in Toronto there seems to be nothing going on there. He said this as a resident of a town that did not have a grocery store and what was my response to this attack on my home. I stood there and nodded and said I know what I mean. I should have slapped the cigarette out his mouth and said listen up you hick in my town we burned police cars just because it was weekend in June but no as I previously stated I stood there, I starred, and said I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.
I have no idea what causes this lack of defensive attitude in our people but we need to take a stand and explain to the rest of the country that we Toronto are the big dog in the yard and stop biting our ears of we are going to start biting back. Now how do we send this message? We burn down Oshawa first off I never trust a town that has three Wal-Marts that you can see from the highway yet no houses. As well nobody I am sure will miss it and finally I will roll into Blyth Ontario only to here somebody on snow-mobile say “Be complimentary that joker is from Toronto and last time I made fun of that big stupid tower Tie Domi showed up at my house and punched my dog”. For more gems like this come watch me yell at Yuk Yuks this week the 12th to the 17th 224 Richmond street all shows are at 8 and then 8 and 10:30 on Friday and Saturday.
On December 21, 2010, two celestial events coincided; a complete lunar eclipse and an annual Winter Solstice. Here's my favourite shot of the lunar eclipse over the CN Tower here in Toronto.
I should preface this entry by saying I've always been a big Don Cherry fan. Hey look! Almost seven years ago, I wrote a whole entry about how much I like the guy. Following the first period during Hockey Night in Canada I don't go anywhere until after Coach's Corner.
But really, Mississaugan Don Cherry is a hockey commentator. What's he doing introducing Rob Ford at the inaugural meeting of the new city council? It's ridiculous of Rob Ford to invite him and Cherry's remarks are downright embarrassing.
Here's what Don Cherry said, as transcribed by the Toronto Star.
“Well, actually, I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything, I thought I’d get it in. (laughs, claps, oohs) What’d ya expect, Ron MacLean here, to come here?
“I am befuddled because I thought I was just doing a good thing coming down with Rob and I was gonna do this here and it was going to be nice and the whole deal. I’m being ripped to shreds by the left-wing pinko newspapers out there — it’s unbelievable. One guy called me a jerk in a pink suit so I thought I’d wear that for him too today. (applause)
“In those articles I was made fun of because I go to church, I’m easy to do it that way, and I was called maudlin for the troops, because I honour the troops. This is the kind of (inaudible) you’re going to be facing Rob with these left-wing pinkos. They scrape the bottom of the barrel.
“Again, why I was asked (to speak) and I asked (Councillor) Doug (Ford) why, and they said we need a famous good-looking guy and I said I’m your man right off the bat.
“I was asked why a landslide. I was in their corner right from the start. Doug phoned me that morning and I told him you’ll get a landslide and why? Because Rob is honest, he’s truthful, he’s like Julian Fantino — what you see is what you get. He’s no phony. And I could go on right now all the millions and millions and thousands of dollars he’s gonna save and everything.
“But I’d just like to tell a little story that was in the Sun, I think it was in the back pages, just a little thing and (City of Toronto ombudsman) Fiona Crean for 18 months has been trying to get something done with City Hall.
“I think some of you know the story. There was a little old lady and all of a sudden she gets banged on the door and two guys were there and said ‘We’re cutting your tree down’ — you know this is a little thing but this is to me a big thing — ‘We’re cutting your tree down.” And she says ‘Well, I don’t want it, that’s my favourite tree, a 100-year-old’ – ‘No, it’s down. Cut it down.’ And then they send her a bill for $5,000 for cutting it down and for 18 months her son and Fiona were ‘City Hall, City Hall, please help us’, 30, 40 calls, unbelievable, nothing, laughed at.
“Rob’s in the mayor (job) one day, an apology comes and a $5,000 cheque and that’s why I say he’s going to be the greatest mayor this city has ever seen, as far as I’m concerned, and put that in your pipe you left-wing kooks. Thank you very much.”
Us left-wing kooks sure got the message, Don. And way to label bike riders "pinkos" you Neanderthal. Please do us all a favour and stick to talking hockey and supporting the troops.
But really, we can't blame Don Cherry for being Don Cherry. He never should have been making such a speech at the inaugural meeting of the new city council. He never should have been invited by our new mayor, Rob Ford. That's the true embarrassment here.
And on that note, I invite you all to revisit my recent "The Leafs vs. Rob Ford: Which is The Greater Embarrassment For Toronto?" entry. Voting is still open.
Please take a moment out of your busy Friday to cast a vote below. Simply leave a comment telling me which is the greater embarrassment for Toronto: the Maple Leafs or Rob Ford.
For those of you who read but never comment, this is your chance. Don't worry, your email address isn't published on the site and I'm totally fine with you using an alias.
Rob Ford surprised nobody with grandiose statements made on day one as Mayor. He announced that he's canceling the Transit City LRT construction plan so the city can concentrate on building subways. Sure, we've already spent millions of dollars and new subway lines might not be finished until 2020, but Rob Ford's stopping wars.
Transit City is over, ladies and gentlemen... the war on the car stops today.
This was day one. It's going to be a very interesting time, and I'm just wondering how long it will be until this idiot implodes or our city explodes. I still can't believe we voted this guy in when everyone I know who likes him lives in the 905.
But wait, can Rob Ford actually do what he says he's done? Can he kill Transit City on his own? Nope.
But Ford's proclamation on Wednesday does not seal the fate of the transit plan, which was seven years in the making.
Ford acknowledged that in order for him to fulfil his promise of putting an end to Transit City, he would need council's support.
"Everyone's going to have a discussion on that, but I'm the mayor of the city, I have to lead by example, and that's exactly what I'm doing," he said.
When asked how he would persuade council to support him, Ford said: "That's up to the councillors."
Rob Ford can say Transit City is dead, but it's going to council and he's only got one vote out of 45. One of 45... just keep repeating that to yourself - it helps.
Meanwhile, I'm wondering exactly how much gravy was on that train Rob Ford kept yakking about. Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne has said that $137 million has already been spent on the project, and an additional $1.3 billion committed in Transit City-related contracts. That's a lot of gravy!
How many of you with home addresses in the 416 sincerely believe Rob Ford is the best man to lead this city?
Ryan from Rogers TV sent me this video of Rob Ford predicting he'll one day be mayor of Toronto. This video is from 2006.
I'm a little concerned, because he also states he wants to be Prime Minister. Uh oh...
I guess I've been lucky. My first born is now 8-years old, making this my 7th Halloween going around the neighbourhood taking him trick-or-treating. I've always taken note of how seasonably warm each of these nights were, and been grateful.
They're calling for a high of 7°C tomorrow, but it'll dip to 2°C by the evening. That's friggin' cold.
Oh well... this is Halloween.
From the National Post, here's how Toronto voted in the mayoral election, broken down by ward.
The suburbs wanted Rob Ford, downtown wanted Smitherman.
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