Tag Archives: Toronto

My Toronto Blue Jays Stories Volume 1

So the Toronto Blue Jays clinched the American League East Division Title yesterday. For the first time in 22 years. I quietly enjoyed watching their champagne showers from my couch at home. I don’t remember what I did the last time they won their division, but it was 22 years ago, which made me 18. At that age I probably would have celebrated with my own champagne shower….. or sparkling wine shower…… who am I kidding? I probably quietly enjoyed it from my couch at home.

The Blue Jays have been incredible this year. I don’t blog about sports very often (because when I do, my viewer stats bottom out for whatever reason, until I just figure ‘hey…. they don’t like sports blogs’), so I don’t know if I’ve properly explained my passion for the Toronto Blue Jays. Let’s just use the word avid. With all respect to band wagon jumpers around the city (because you’re all welcome), there isn’t anything you can tell me about the Blue Jays since the year 1981 that I don’t already know, and before 1981, I was basically a toddler. I also know my fair share of stuff from before 1981, because I studied my Blue Jay history. My wife would be quick to point out that I haven’t been monetarily compensated for any of this knowledge. I would add the word YET to that sentence.

So I’ve watched a lot of games. I was thinking about my blog the other day, and feeling a bit bad for not posting anything in a while, when I realized that this dream season the Jays are having, and me not blogging isn’t just a coincidence. I’m just having a tough time thinking about other stuff. So maybe to remedy this situation, I should write about some of my life experiences as they relate to the Blue Jays. I’ve got some good stories. I tell them all the time. I’ve just never written them down. So today, I’ve decided that my next 10 blogs will have a Toronto Blue Jays theme to them. I hope their playoff run lasts long enough that they’ll still be playing until I’m finished this project. Otherwise the last few that I write will be no-fun-at-all. Without additional delay………..

Saturday October 24, 1992 – Where were you?

I’ll tell you where I was….. Working at White Rose. It was a nursery. I had a part-time job loading garden soil into the backs of people’s cars. That’s what I remember about it anyways. We did all manner of dirty jobs at that place. Sounds crappy, but it wasn’t somehow. We were too young to care how unsafe our working conditions were. There were a bunch of people our age working there, and it was great fun. Two nights earlier, the Toronto Blue Jays had a chance to win their first World Series at their home stadium, then called ‘The Skydome’, and I still call it that because that’s the name it was given (don’t get me started on corporate naming rights). My parents were at that game too. I had written a good paragraph about their adventure that night in the following post https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2013/10/14/the-night-my-father-died/ That’s kind of a sad post, so scroll down to paragraph 12 if you’re not in the mood for a good cry. For those that didn’t click the link, the Jays lost on Thursday, and Game 6 would be played in Atlanta with the Jays up 3-2 in the series.

So this particular Saturday night might just be the first time in my life that a major Toronto sports team (apologies to the CFL Argonauts who I love dearly, but not the same way) could win a championship. The Blue Jays for those who don’t know were an expansion team new to Major League Baseball in 1977, so by 1992, we were ready. I wasn’t quite ready, I was stuck at White Rose until 6pm. I had found out that since the game was being held in Atlanta, the vacant Skydome was allowing fans to come in and watch the game for free as long as they brought some non-perishable food items for a food drive they were having. I wanted to be there, watching on the big screen with 50,000 screaming fans. With me getting off work only an hour before game time, and living in Mississauga, how was I going to manage this?

I give my friend Chris full credit for making this happen. Neither of us drove. He got his father to give us a lift to the train station. As I recall, the last train that we could catch to get us there was leaving the station at about 6:15 or so, and I know it was probably 12 minutes away. Chris and his dad rolled into the White Rose parking lot with food items to donate at 6 on the dot. I hurled myself into the backseat like it was a getaway car, and off we sped. We arrived at the station and ran up to the platform just as you could see the approaching train’s headlights off in the distance. A couple of minutes later we were on that train, closer to our goal, but not in the clear yet.

Before I continue, I have to explain the importance of this, because as I’m remembering it, I’m tensing up with excitement, but as I’m reading it back to myself, I’m not sure that I’m playing it up enough. At that point in time this was one of the few things that mattered to me in the world! I was 17 years old. One of the only Canadian kids who preferred baseball over hockey. It was my chance to watch my team possibly win a World Series. At 40, I still haven’t seen the Leafs win a Stanley Cup, and we’re not close. I fully understood this moment and how important it was, and how I’d be talking about it 10, 20, 50 years later. I had to get into this stadium, and we were cutting it real close. By getting on that train, we had pissed away our opportunity to just watch it on TV at home. We were downtown now. We weren’t old enough to go watch it at a bar, and what bar wouldn’t be completely rammed to capacity anyways? I’m sure we had no money, just a couple of jars of peanut butter or Kraft Dinner or something. There was no PVR, there was VHS, and while I’m usually happy to start watching a game after it’s happened these days, not the clinching game of the World Series!!! There was no backup plan! How did this story start? It started with ‘Where were you?’ If I didn’t get into the Skydome, I would be NOWHERE.

Chris and I got off the train and booked to the Skydome in hyper-speed. I think we had strategically chosen a gate near the top of the stairs, thinking that it would get us up into the nose-bleed section (the 500s). We maybe figured that those would be the only seats leftover. As we got to that gate there were like 200 people in front of us. The game was going to start in just a few minutes. It wasn’t looking good. There is a huge set of stairs that lead down to some more gates. We thought it prudent to check out the lineups at a couple of the other ones to see if it was more promising, so we started down the stairs. About 10 seconds later someone came on a megaphone and announced that Gates 5 and 6 were now the only gates left that were letting in people………….These were the gates that we were approaching…… the ones at the bottom of the stairs……

This next part plays out in my mind like a movie. I’m quite certain it didn’t happen in slow motion, but when I replay it in my mind, that’s the only way I see it. I can see the lady’s mouth slowly saying the words. You know in the movies, there would be a little bit of slow motion spit coming out of her mouth as she said it, and a really bitchy look on her face as she delivered the disappointing news, but she had probably been putting up with people’s shit for 2 hours and was happy to be shutting her gate down. Then there’s the crowd of people whose faces were looking ahead, have now swiveled towards us with sheer panic, and their stances turn athletic, and Chris and I look at each other like you do in one of those zombie apocalypse movies where there’s only two humans left, and you were doing okay sneaking around, but then someone dropped a candy wrapper on the ground, and 500 zombies suddenly see you at once, and decide they want to eat your brain, so you say to each other “RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Chris and I had about a 30 foot lead on these people as they started running after us at top speed DOWN TWO MASSIVE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS toward Gate 5 and 6. I honestly can’t remember if I actually feared for my life at the time or not, but the possibility of getting absolutely trampled to death was a real thing. As I was flying down these stairs, if I’d had a loose shoelace, or god forbid, dropped my non-perishable food item on these stairs, it would have been curtains! As it were, we maintained our 30 feet advantage, and got into the Skydome with relative ease strangely enough, but when I tell you that we were the last 2 people who got in, I’m not exaggerating by very much. I do remember the security guards closing the doors not far behind us, and most of the zombies were left wanting. We were in, and it was totally sweet. What was to come was truly one of the highlights of my life.

We were really lucky to even find two seats together. We had a pretty awkward view of the (then, state of the art) Jumbotron, but it didn’t matter. We could see the game, and the atmosphere was electric. I had almost forgotten until now, but that clinching game was 11 innings, so we were there for hours. In between innings someone would always run out onto the field and try to outrun the security guards. Abhorrent behaviour at a real baseball game, but at the viewing of a baseball game on television, I was pretty happy to have the between inning entertainment. Lots of people took rolls of toilet paper from the bathrooms and launched streamers. I cringe for those that had to drop a deuce at the stadium that night. It was bad behaviour all around I suppose, but they were serving beer to a bunch of people who at the end of the day were watching a big TV.

The Toronto Blue Jays won their first World Series that night. Chris and I, along with everyone in the 100 level charged out onto the field after the game to celebrate. Security didn’t seem to mind, so they must have been expecting it. It was the first and maybe the only time (other than the following year when the Jays won again) that I’ve seen people so euphoric that they were high fiving and hugging complete strangers. It was like you knew every single person in there, and were happy to see them. Real hugs too. People that I had never met hugged me like I was a long-lost relative they hadn’t seen in years. There we were, partying it up on the same field where our heroes made their living, and where a year later they would be celebrating again (this time on home turf). It was a strange privilege that a few thousand people got to experience just for being in the right place at the right time. The party spilled out onto the streets of Toronto, and while a year later I was in Toronto for that incredible street party, Chris and I decided to head home. The train ride was full of ecstatic Blue Jay fans. I even walked home from the train station even though it was about an hour’s walk. Cars driving down a major street in Mississauga were beeping their horns at me, and we were all screaming together at the top of our lungs well into the night.

It was absolutely one of the greatest thrills of my life, and everybody should get to experience it the way I did. I hope sometime soon they will.

WTF Toronto??? The Pan-Am/Kanye Edition

There is a petition in Toronto trying to stop Kanye West from performing at the closing ceremonies at the Pan-Am Games. Yes, the same city that voted in and tolerated Rob Ford for 4 years, can’t tolerate Kanye West for one night. Ughhhh, there is so much incredibly wrong with this, that it hurts my head, and I don’t even know where to start.

Let’s start with some background since my readers who don’t live in Toronto make up approximately half my audience according to WordPress statistics. The other half should already know the story…… The Pan-Am Games are currently being held in Toronto. Never heard of them? I wasn’t too familiar with them either. It sounds mean, but they are basically the red-headed step-child’ of the Olympics. Toronto very badly wanted to host the Summer Olympics, but were beat out by Beijing a few years ago, and we’re just not wintery enough for the Winter Olympics which are better off in other Canadian cities such as Calgary and Vancouver who have hosted in the past. So we got the Pan-Am Games. Cool! Why not, right? I think it’s good for the city, great for the athletes, and shitty for traffic, but not everybody can be a winner. Now you might have sensed that I’m not 100% into the Pan-Am Games as an institution, and the only reason for that is that it’s not the Olympics. In the Olympics, the top athletes in the world compete against each other, making it a must-see spectacle. The Pan-Am Games are a step or two down from that, and while some of the best athletes in the world are here, a lot of them aren’t. It even takes a backseat to the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in some sports. Plus it’s just North and South America participating. That said, it’s still pretty cool I think. I mean every thing sucks if you compare it to the best thing in the world, right? It’s still a good event worth having.

The sports that I follow are a little disappointing in terms of athlete turn out. I’m a big baseball fan, but it’s baseball season, so the best players have to go to their day-jobs, and we get to watch a mixed bag of minor-league players play for a medal. I’m a big basketball fan. It’s the off-season, so we should be able to have dream teams from each country here, right? No. Pan-Am is not a priority for the basketball community. I only barely recognize 3 or 4 names on the American team who probably have 500 players better than any of the ones we’ll see here. They’re treating it like a game of pickup ball on the driveway. Tennis is a sport I’ve watched a lot of. The three Canadian Men’s tennis players we sent are ranked 308, 459 and 540 in the world. Great opportunity for those guys, don’t get me wrong, but there are about 10-15 professional tournaments held each week all over the world that can draw higher ranked players than that. Pan Am is probably better for gymnastics, swimming, track and field and other sports like that, but I wouldn’t know if the top athletes in those sports are here or not. I don’t want to sound spoiled. It is still a really cool thing, but if people outside of Toronto have no idea this is going on, I wouldn’t be that surprised either.

Now Kanye West….. It was announced yesterday that Kanye West was slated to perform at the closing ceremonies. Cool, right? He’s a global superstar (and sorry to be the one to say it, but as I touched on earlier, I don’t know how many of the athletes here are global superstars, at least in the sports I follow), so we should be happy, right? No. Apparently this is so distressing to Torontonians, that there’s a petition to remove him, and the number of signatures keeps changing, but as I type it was up to 22,000. The news of his performance was only confirmed yesterday. This is mind-boggling to me. That we care so much about this. At a time historically, when inclusion and acceptance seems to be at an all time high, and all eyes are back on Toronto for the first time since the Rob Ford scandal, THIS is what we want to make news about??? We’re so bent out of shape that an artist we don’t like is performing at the closing ceremonies, that we’ll all sign a petition to prevent it? This saddens me somehow, but I think to gain further perspective, we have to do the dirty deed of finding out why people don’t like Kanye West.

1. He’s not Canadian. This is not the real reason, but it was mentioned on the petition, so let’s delve. In an article, they suggested Drake, Walk Of The Earth (I honestly have never heard of this band until today), Feist and Deadmau5 among others. First of all, let’s give the organizers some credit. It probably wasn’t that easy to find someone as prominent as Kanye. Maybe some of these people weren’t available either. Also, Pitbull is not Canadian, but I’ve heard nothing about us wanting him to not perform, so let’s stop pretending it’s about that. It looks to me like they are getting artists from some of the different Pan-Am countries, and I see nothing wrong with that. Why does it have to be an all Canadian affair? So it can be a snooze fest like New Years Eve at Nathan Phillips Square every year? I don’t think that’s what’s bugging people.

2. Canadians like polite people. Kanye isn’t that. He’s as arrogant as they come. If you aren’t really into his music, then it’s easy to dislike him for his shenanigans. It’s all very calculated if you ask me. He’s extremely self-aware. Just for a second I’ll compare him to Muhammed Ali. Most won’t like this comparison, because in hind sight, we only like to remember Ali as being the most entertaining boxer of all time (some say the greatest), and for what he contributed to the Civil Rights movement. Kanye so far doesn’t seem to have the same redeeming features. Ali was the master of selling a fight though, and he went to some pretty crazy extremes to keep people talking and interested. If it seemed to make sense to Ali that he would need to behave like a complete asshole leading up to a fight, he had no problem doing that. He could be super arrogant too, and at the time, not everybody liked it, but they also may not have understood what he was doing which was generating excitement. He was definitely ahead of his time. I’m not sure Kanye will ever be looked back on with the same forgiveness and adoration despite his misdoings, but make no mistake, Kanye IS DOING ALL OF THIS ON PURPOSE, and it’s working. You hate it because you know it’s true.

3. As much as most of his other antics are forgivable, people get really mad when he cuts of an acceptance speech at award shows. I’m with the general public on this. It’s just too much. I choose to ignore it, but some can’t. I will say this though. Beck was not hurt by that in any way, and I would argue that some people unfamiliar with his music probably gave him a listen after that. Oh and Taylor Swift??? Yeah, things worked out OK for her.

4. His music. I’m not buying this argument either. I know a lot about Hip Hop music, and I also know a lot about other forms of music. The people that question Kanye’s talent and artistry are simply people who do not know Hip Hop music. I know he’s an easy guy to hate, and there’s a lot of crap you can bring up, but as Hip Hop artists go, he’s just about as good as they get. He’s a phenomenal producer, and a compelling rapper. Self made as well. He got into the game as a producer making other people look good before his own career took off. The general public attacks this guy way more than the manufactured American Idol pop music that everybody seems OK with. It’s wrong. Say what you want about him being a douche, but if you can’t look yourself in the mirror and say that you are a knowledgable Hip Hop fan, than you shouldn’t judge him because he doesn’t play a guitar or whatever. People need to talk about what they know about. Listen, I’m not a huge fan of Rush even though I’m Canadian. I’m just not that into Progressive Rock, but I would never bad mouth them, or question their talent, or dismissively say ‘they suck’, because I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about. Rush is awesome, they’re just not for me. Kanye is awesome, he just might not be for you.

5. He married Kim Kardashian. So you take the prime ego-maniac of our generation, and marry him with the queen of reality television. That bothers people. Why? I know almost nothing about the Kardashians. I hear a lot of people say ‘That show is so annoying’. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen it. If you’re tired of celebrity gossip, then maybe you need to stop watching and reading celebrity gossip. It’s a choice. If you know too much about Kimye, it’s because you’ve chosen to. You are the problem. When I think of Kanye West, I try to think of him as an artist only. I could care less if he punches paparazzi or not. I know very little about his wife. That’s also no reason to not let a guy into your city.

So now we understand why Torontonians seem to dislike Kanye, and I’m OK with all of these reasons, but where you get off trying to tell organizers who shouldn’t play at events in this city? This is going to sound bad, but 95% of Torontonians wouldn’t give a shit about the Pan-Am Games if they weren’t here at this exact moment. Will you watch again in 4 years in some other city? Nope. While it’s great that you passionately support amateur athletics for a couple of weeks every 4 years, you really only do it so that you can feel good about your country when they win a medal. When these games aren’t on, it’s business as usual for 95% of you unless you have a relative or friend who is an amateur athlete with dreams of competing in something like this. You’re just enjoying the good times in your city while they last, because someone else went and did all the hard work to organize something great, and all you have to do is sit there and enjoy it. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even go see an event, but what a privilege it is for you to be able to, and after all those people went through all that trouble, you’re going to sit there on your couch and criticize their choice about who’s going to entertain you at the big party they’re throwing for you? Get off your high horse people!!! You’re embarrassing yourself and your city!

And The Paranoia Begins…..

I went out for a beer last night with a friend of mine. One of those friends who you share old stories with, and then near the end of the night when you start doing the math, you realized that most of the things you talked about happened more than half your life ago which makes you feel old and weird. Nevertheless, these little beer nights seem few and far between for whatever reason, and the last thing I wanted was for either of us to get killed, but I’ll get to that later.

We’re at a bar that I’ve been to a few times before. One of the best beer selections I’ve seen, and they keep the pricing very reasonable considering the rarity of some of the beers they have. Great beer, low price is a fantastic business model if you ask me. I’ll give them all the money I can spare. The food wasn’t as good as I’d remembered, but you can’t have it all. The waitress was cute, and did a good job answering our questions. We had a nice spot right near the front of the restaurant beside a window. Life was good, and we were having a good time catching up, when the paranoia sets in.

A guy in his mid 50s comes in with a sandwich board looking sign over his shoulders that says “What Is Love?” He stands right near the front door, which is basically right near us. I’m waiting to see what sort of disturbance he’s going to cause. We were in downtown Toronto, which is really safe by large urban metropolis standards, but there are still quite a few weirdos out there, and on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of weird parts of town, this bar was located between 8.5 and 9. At first I thought maybe this guy was homeless, but with the sign and all, he’s clearly got a bee in his bonnet. Perhaps he’s protesting something. Or maybe he’s selling flowers. He took the sign off his shoulders to take a little rest. I didn’t see any flowers under there. Have you ever had someone sell you flowers in a restaurant? Not on a Wednesday. He seemed like he was waiting for someone, but he didn’t grab a table (it was seat yourself). Then he went outside for a second. Not for a cigarette, just to do it. Then he came back in and stood. Near our table no less. All of which caused my friend and I to have the following conversation which I sort of remember sounding like this…….

Me: Do you see this guy?
Him: Yeah. What is Love?
Me: Baby don’t hurt me….don’t hurt me….no more….(you won’t get that unless you’re between 38 and 43, so let’s move on)
Him: What do you think?
Me: I think we’re gonna get stabbed. This is the beginning of Fisher King all over again.
Him: Yeah, you might be onto something. Although he doesn’t look too crazy. More like a recluse.
Me: I know. Those are the ones. The ones that look really crazy get arrested more often because people see it coming. This guy? What is Love? Nobody will see it coming, and then on the news the police will be all mystified. The neighbors will be like ‘he was so quiet’.
Him: Should we get our next round somewhere else?
Me: I don’t know. Let’s wait it out for a bit. I’ve still got half a beer left. It’s really good. Do you want a sip?
Him: Sure. Why is he carrying the sign around? Was there a march we didn’t know about? What is he protesting?
Me: He’s protesting happiness man…. He’s gonna off everybody in here that looks happy, and he’s gonna start with us.
(Waitress approaches…..by now the guy has taken a seat, but he’s facing us, and he’s opened a laptop)
Me: Oh, hey…..
Waitress: Do you guys want another beer?
Him: Uhh we’re just debating that right now. We’re kind of concerned that the guy behind you with the sign is going to open fire on the entire restaurant. What’s with that sign?
Waitress: I know, right? He’s been in here before, I think he’s waiting for somebody.
Me: I feel like there’s a button on that computer that is going to blow up this entire street if he presses it, and he’s just deciding whether to or not.
Waitress: I’m pretty sure he’s harmless.
Me: Lower your voice, he might be the type that could hear a pin drop from a mile away. We might be one ill-advised comment away from getting it…… In the meantime, bring us 2 more.
Waitress: OK. (Leaves)
Him: So, what are we going to do if the shit goes down? At least we’re close to the exit.
Me: Keep your bottle within reach.
Him: Maybe we should change the subject.

So the story ends like this…… This fairly attractive black lady comes in and she has to be 15 years younger than him. She gives him a full on kiss on the mouth, picks up the sign even, and walks with him toward the back of the bar where there was more privacy. I debated whether to include her race because it doesn’t matter, but I do think it adds to the ‘that was the very last thing I was expecting’ vibe of the story. She seemed as normal as can be. There were guys in their 20’s in this bar whose dates weren’t nearly as attractive, but she came for this strange older dude with a sandwich board strapped to him. I always think I’ve seen it all. When the waitress came around I asked what they were drinking. Him tea, and her tequila neat. I should have bought them a round just to hear their story. I’ll bet it’s fascinating.

I don’t know how this whole thing reads for someone who doesn’t know me. I really wasn’t overly concerned, but was more just having jokes with my buddy. That said, there’s always some element of truth. I was staying mentally prepared just in case this guy was a psycho, because you NEVER know. On the opposite end of my learnings, the theme of not judging a book by its cover was present here as it always seems to be in life.

Why I’ll Leave Toronto If Rob Ford Gets Re-Elected

I think this will be my last Rob Ford related post. I’m a little appalled that his name has even snuck into my blogs as often as it has. I guess the whole thing has been a pretty big news story around the world, and living in Toronto has given me that front row seat that I would NEVER have purchased. I don’t want to make it seem like Toronto isn’t big enough for the two of us, but I made a decision a while back that if he should somehow get back into office (which is not entirely out of the question believe it or not), that I will move out of the city. It’s a fairly interesting blog topic, and I’m not sure why I didn’t write about it before now. I saw footage of a press conference the other day. I’m not going to include the link here, but it was so bad. He should have just read off his paper, but he was trying to use his brain and improvise, and is ill-equipped. I don’t even think he was intoxicated. They were asking what he thought the top issue was in this election. He said jobs. Then he later said transit. Then he back peddled, and spent 30 awkward seconds trying to convince the media that if you don’t have a job, then you don’t need transit. If a 5-year-old was saying that I would give him a dirty look. The mayor of our great city? I’m outta here.

Before I discuss the Rob Ford angle, I want you to understand my situation a little further. I have a wife and a young son. We live in a condo that we will soon outgrow. Was I going to move anyway, and I’m just threatening this as a happy coincidence? Possibly. I do live on the very west-end of Toronto. Five more minutes by car, and I’m totally out of the city. To purchase a house in Toronto is going to be more expensive than doing so further away. I’m acknowledging this because some people who know me may not think that leaving Toronto is such a huge stretch in my current situation. That said, I do currently work in Toronto (on the west end as well), and my wife works right downtown. From that perspective, I’d certainly be willing to stay in Toronto if I could do it at the right price. So me leaving is not a done deal. But…….. If this election happens, and Rob Ford gets back in, I’m telling you right now…… The house hunt starts in earnest, and Toronto locations will not be considered.

Why? Am I such a close follower of politics that I would choose a place to live based on who was in office? No. Am I that embarrassed about my city being the laughingstock of the world for the last 4 years, that I would need to leave? Yes, but no. Is there anything being done at city hall right now, or in a future Rob Ford era that I think is going to make the city completely unlivable?? Probably not.

The issue is the voters. When Rob Ford got elected the first time, people didn’t know he was a raging alcoholic who did drugs (and by the way those aren’t even the main reasons why he’s a terrible mayor, but I don’t want this blog to go off the rails, so I’ll spare you the details). They wanted a fiscally conservative right-wing mayor. He seemed like the guy, so they voted him in. I say ‘they’ because I most certainly did not vote for him even then. In fact, I voted for a guy I didn’t even like, in order to try to block him from getting in. My reasons? Simple. I don’t like a guy that can’t look people in the eye. He didn’t seem intelligent. Small stuff like that. That’s OK. I give people a pass on voting him in the first time. They didn’t know he would be a train wreck. They didn’t see it coming. I get it. Now, it’s a little bit different. We know he’s a train wreck. We know that he’s in no shape to run this city. I’m not going to lie to you….. If I was the manager of a McDonald’s and he came in all shifty, and didn’t look me in the eye, I wouldn’t even hire him to sweep floors. So how is he being taken seriously in the next election?

Right-wing voters will seemingly only vote for a right-wing candidate. That’s been my experience anyways. George W. Bush got re-elected. I don’t think anybody thought he was the sharpest tool in the shed. So Rob Ford can get re-elected. He tells right-wing voters what they want to hear. Not in the most eloquent way, but he manages to get the point across somehow. I don’t even care about political ideals. Give these idiots their fiscally conservative mayor, just not the guy who smokes crack. It’s not even the crack. It’s the constant poor judgement. CONSTANT! Judgement is one of the most important things for a mayor to have. His is poor.

Speaking of poor judgement, why would I leave Toronto if Rob Ford is re-elected? It would mean that at least one-third of the population has poor judgment. It would mean that one-third of the population thinks it’s OK to let someone with an absurd track record of poor judgement run one of the biggest cities in North America. It means that if I’m not a Rob Ford supporter, and my next door neighbor isn’t a Rob Ford supporter, then my other next door neighbor is. Sorry, but I don’t want you around my kid! My son isn’t even 2 yet. Do you think as a parent that it would be a good idea to raise my son in a city where at least 30% of the people lacked any kind of good sense whatsoever??? No! It’s a horrible idea. It saddens me, because I love Toronto with a passion, but there are too many goofballs inhabiting this city. I don’t trust the general population. If you think he is a good idea, then what else do you think is a good idea? What other horrible ideas do you have? What other mind-blowingly unacceptable things do you find perfectly fine? I’d be scared to rummage through these people’s basements. What kind of jobs do these people have in the community? The more I talk about it, the more it freaks me out. I’m done.

Crack, Alcohol, Dishonesty With A Twist Of Ignorance – A Mayor’s Cocktail

I wish this were reality TV. The thing I like about reality TV is that I don’t have to watch it. I can change the channel, or just not watch TV. If I want to watch the News, or listen to the News, or read about the News, I cannot escape the reality TV that is the Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s life. When someone says to me that the Kardashian TV shows are stupid, I’m always quick to say that I wouldn’t know, because I don’t have time for that bullshit, and neither should they. I want to say the same thing about the Rob Ford saga. I really don’t have time for this bullshit. The only problem is that THIS is the News. I DO have a choice to not watch the news, but it’s a choice to be misinformed, unlike the choice to not watch the Kardashians….. a choice which made properly, I believe salvages some of my intelligence. Rob Ford is in my living room every day. He’s in my living room drunk, belligerent, defensive, dishonest, stammering, mumbling, and that’s just when he’s not allegedly on crack. There isn’t a day that goes by when this isn’t a huge story. I’m really tired of it.

I’m well past the point of caring if this man smoked crack or not. He either did or he didn’t. If he wasn’t representing our city, I wouldn’t even have a problem with it. It’s his life. It’s not about politics either. He could be doing a good job at City Hall for all I know. He says he’s doing a good job, and that must be enough for most of his supporters. A strong group of which don’t seem to care that he’s a walking embarrassment for the city. They were obviously the ones that voted him in. A surprising number of them are still really strong supporters of him too. They feel he’s being picked on. If anything, I think it’s making them relate to him more. I think it’s because there’s the whole Right Wing vs. Left Wing at play here. Of course individuals HAVE to be one or the other (God forbid we actually just voted for whoever we thought was the right person). Everybody LOVES to be on a team. This team is called Ford Nation! Yes, they actually have a team name. He repeatedly claims to be saving money for tax payers, but I don’t think you can save me enough money to compensate for the humiliation I feel when a hack like Jay Leno can make jokes at our expense.

The problem for me is that if there’s one person that truly represents a city, it’s the Mayor. Ours can’t stay out of trouble for more than 30 seconds. He’s only been in office for 3 years and at least 2 years and 11 months have been a shit show. So much so that the rest of the world has taken notice. For the EXTREMELY IGNORANT people who say ‘any press is good press’, let me remind you that he’s not an actor or a singer. He’s the Mayor. Bad press is bad press. It makes us look bad. We don’t need bad attention. The incidents that have occurred both major and minor are increasing in number. Where does he find the time to get into all this shit? It takes a lot of time to get into this much trouble! How does he do it?

I want a Mayor that can look people in the eye. I want a Mayor that can talk like an educated person. I want a Mayor that doesn’t get super hammered in public (just for the small percentage of his life that he happens to be Mayor, but if he wants to get smashed every other St. Patty’s day for the rest of his life, then fuck it, why not?). I want a Mayor that doesn’t smoke crack. I want a Mayor that handles adversity with grace, rather than getting into grade five-esque shouting matches with reporters. I want a Mayor who after causing a city such a heaping amount of embarrassment would have the good sense to step down. Most of all, I just want to be able to watch the news in the morning without having to see this moron, and his ridiculous shenanigans taking up precious valuable space in what’s left of my brain.

What Else Can Drake Fix?

Toronto cracks me up sometimes. It’s arguably one of the greatest cities in the world. When I say ‘arguably’ I also mean that if that was your argument, you would totally win. Torontonians on the other hand are sometimes just a little too sensitive for my liking. Maybe its just the media, but I don’t think so. When I watch television, and have the opportunity to see famous people being interviewed by the Toronto media, I’m always kind of embarrassed by it. These are usually actors or musicians that are in town on the business of promoting some sort of project that they’re working on. Sometimes it’s athletes playing a game in town. Most media members of course will offer the obligatory questions surrounding whatever they’re plugging, plus any juicy, gossipy relationship questions depending on how interesting they think the answer will be. Finally they HAVE to ask “What do you think of Toronto?” Seems harmless enough, right?

Here’s what I hate about this. Why do we as Torontonians care what anyone thinks of us or our city? Our city is awesome! I know this, and I personally don’t need to hear it from anyone else to know that it’s true. Our media however, has this goofy tendency to constantly ask famous foreigners for affirmation regarding this. An American actor who probably just got into town 2 hours earlier, and has only seen the inside of a Starbucks shouldn’t have to make a whole city feel warm and fuzzy. That’s not his/her job. It’s like we’re unsure of ourselves and our place in the world and we need to know what the rest of the world thinks, when we should really be confident and just KNOW we’re awesome, and not worry about it. The people in this city suffer such insecurity. It’s sad. I once heard an interview with Gene Simmons from KISS who was in town for something, and somebody asked him if he liked (either Toronto or Canada), and you could tell from his reaction that he’d already been asked that about 10 times. This is not a direct quote, but he basically said ‘okay okay, we like you, relax’. I was a bit embarrassed for us when I saw that, but I remember thinking that finally somebody came out and said it. If you are from here and you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch for it next time you see a celebrity being interviewed on TV. They ask every time, it’s uncanny.

So in keeping with that theme, we had an announcement last week that Toronto Rapper ‘Drake’ is joining the Toronto Raptors (NBA Basketball) as a ‘Global Ambassador’………………….(cue tumbleweed)………I’m going to say that again………………Drake is joining the Toronto Raptors as a ‘Global Ambassador’. That’s a job. They gave it to a rapper. In Toronto.

Let me give you some context. The Toronto Raptors are an NBA basketball team. In terms of winning basketball games they are a poor team. In terms of fan interest, and ticket sales, they do quite well. They’re the only team in Canada which helps because they draw their fan base from the whole country. As abysmal as their performance on the basketball court is on a pretty consistent basis, they don’t have any problem selling tickets. Recently, they were awarded the 2016 All-Star Game which means there will be a great party, and it’s great for the city. They have a President who has been doing the job for 6 months, and even though the only real flaw with this franchise is their on-court performance, they have chosen to bring in Drake to fix all of their (non) problems.

Now I like Drake. You could say that at various points in my life, I have been a rabid Hip-Hop fan, and while now wouldn’t be one of those points, Drake is one of my favourites (spelled the Canadian way this time). He’s a good Rapper, and believe it or not, I’m a guy that would know the difference. As far as his credentials to “help reinvigorate the fortunes of a stagnant franchise” (quote courtesy of the Globe and Mail)…… I just don’t see it. Unless of course you want to go with the precedent of Jay-Z joining the New Jersey Nets (as an owner, not a Global Ambassador….. meaning he had to pay). The Nets were awful, and have since moved to Brooklyn, and become mediocre.

Here’s what I think is happening. Toronto has once again sold itself short. Here we are, hosting the NBA All-Star Game in a couple of years, selling all kinds of tickets to games even though we aren’t that good (and that isn’t easy), and just being awesome in general terms….. but we think that somebody famous is going to come in and ‘turn it all around’. Turn what around??? Do you think that people won’t come to the All-Star Game if Drake isn’t an employee of the Raptors? Everyone goes to the NBA All Star Game, including Drake, no matter where it is! What’s he gonna do?? Mention the Raptors in his Rap lyrics?? Is he going to wear a Raptors Jersey at his shows?? Are you suggesting that the Raptors marketing staff that are (hopefully) loaded with sports marketing professionals, know less about marketing a sports team than a Rapper?

Or is Drake just good at fixing things??? If so, can we get him to end the American Government shutdown?? Maybe he can go to the Middle East and resolve all the conflicts. Maybe he can negotiate the release of all the hostages being held around the world. Maybe he could visit the Anne Frank house, and piss in a mop bucket to take some of the heat off Justin Beiber. Here’s the best part…. Who can we blame if it doesn’t all go down like it should?? Can we actually blame Drake if he does a bad job as our Global Ambassador??

I have 3 messages regarding this
1. Toronto…. you are awesome, you don’t suck….. why do you care what famous people think about you?? Stop seeking approval. You’re like a teenager. Grow up.
2. Toronto Raptors…… you do suck…… have you ever asked yourself why the Boston Celtics have the same uniform that they’ve been wearing for the last 50 years?? For 50 years, they’ve played basketball…. and played it well…. they have a tradition of winning basketball games. All the publicity stunts, jersey/colour changes, Rappers and Global Ambassadors can’t make up for winning basketball games. Stop embarrassing yourselves.
3. Drake….. This actually isn’t your mess, I would totally take that job too. I hope you can Rap us all the way to an NBA championship!

Theories on Toronto, Pride, Politics, and Canada Day

Haha…. LOADED like a baked potato this blog promises to be. (Complete apparently with Yoda style sentences). For those that don’t know me personally, or are new enough to the blog, I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I couldn’t be happier about that, especially on Canada Day. Happy Canada Day by the way, to all Canadians reading this, and Happy early Independence Day for all of my American readers, as I won’t blog again until after that is over. It’s like 2 friends having birthdays 3 days apart. We should really celebrate together, but each of us wants our shine. Oh well.

This past weekend, Toronto has been host to Pride Toronto which is an annual event for the Gay and Lesbian community. I’ve never taken part, but I’m really happy for those who do, and I’m proud to live in a city that’s open-minded enough to throw a kick-ass party every year for this group. My stance on Gay/Lesbian rights is the same as my stance on human rights. They are human, therefore, they should have the same rights as other humans. It’s pretty cut and dry as far as I’m concerned. Even when I was young and didn’t have the same level of perspective as I do now, I never had a problem with Gay people. I always thought that it meant more women for me! I find it fascinating that Homophobia even exists. As a heterosexual man growing up, I was way too concerned with chasing women to even care whether everyone else was or not. What goes on in your house is your business. So I’ve always had this theory that Homophobes are possibly Gay also, but haven’t liberated themselves by being honest about it. Just a theory! If you dig deeper it makes a lot of sense. Who in their right mind would really be angry enough at the world to try to stop other people from being happy? Misery loves company, so the answer is people who are unhappy, although I’m sure it’s not that simple. I think as long as you can’t be yourself, you will probably be unhappy. Therefore we should live in a world where everyone is welcome to be themselves free from prejudice, and just see how that plays. It’s probably better, but what do I know?

I do have another theory involving Pride, Toronto, and Politics. Our Mayor is under a lot of fire, and has been for various things over his entire term. People from outside Toronto will have probably heard about the ‘crack-smoking’ video, but if you’re from around here you know that this guy can’t move 5 feet without stepping in shit, and the crack video is at least the 10th stupid thing he’s done. He thinks that the left-wing media is out to get him. The thing is he’s absolutely right. The media IS out to get him. Now that’s not to say that he’s not a complete embarrassment as a mayor. He is, but what came first? The chicken or the egg? I think he started to suck really badly right off the bat, and that’s why they’re out to get him, but make no mistake… they ARE out to get him. I’m a little amazed that they haven’t got him already.

Mayor Rob Ford’s first massive blunder in my opinion (and I said this to anyone who would listen at the time) was blowing off Pride Week the first year he was in office. He wanted to go up to the cottage, which he says is a family tradition dating back to god knows when. While part of me respected his commitment to family (although a friend of a friend of a source’s brother’s nephew said that these are a bunch of business associates from the family business, and it’s relatively formal and catered…. not just cooking franks on a BBQ and throwing the frisbee around, but I don’t know the source, or his brother’s nephew so take with a grain of salt), this guy had to understand what he was turning down. This is one of the hugest events in the city that he’s mayor of in the entire year. Not to mention it’s an event that celebrates diversity in a city that’s renowned for having lots of it. You don’t want to snub this group (many of whom, I’m sure are ‘Left Wing Media’ during the day) during their proudest moment of the year! It’s the wrong thing to do, both politically and in real life. You’re the mayor, you could come down to a couple of events and say a few uplifting things about supporting the struggle for equal rights, and how proud you are that so many of your voters have risen through such adversity. Nobody’s asking you to wear leather chaps and run up and down Church St. with a water gun. Just show up at a couple of places and say a couple of things. Supportive things that don’t sound like they were written by a speech writer, but that came from your heart!

Now if he had done that in his first year, I’m not suggesting that the whole crack smoking thing just ‘goes away’, but that was the first chance for a right-wing politician to really make a good impression with a lot of left-wing voters, and he screwed it up. Who knows how different things could have been for him if he just had the foresight to make some friends in the early going. I think if he could have put his best foot forward in that situation, there may have been some more people out there who would have been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on some things. These are the moments you can’t get back though.

15 Minutes Of Furious Blogging

Oooops…… I forgot to blog yesterday. I mean, I didn’t totally forget. I put it off until later in the day, and then when later in the day rolled around, I forgot. I was totally focused on not forgetting earlier in the day when the opportunity to do it wasn’t there. Therefore, it’s not really forgetting. Nevertheless, there is no Monday blog. Instead there’s a Tuesday blog, but I actually have less time to do it today than I did yesterday, so it will be everything that I can type in the span of 15 minutes, or whenever the “Let’s Go” text message arrives.

I’m gonna have to go point form, or this will never get done!

– On the subway the other night I saw 3 people with 2 bikes. It wasn’t busy because it was later in the evening. I remember them talking among themselves, and it was…………………………..

SHIT…. the “Let’s Go” Text arrived early. Gotta stop.

OK I’m back. This is now officially a Wednesday blog. Here are some random thoughts to fulfill my blogligation (get it????? blog & obligation???? Am I over-explaining again????)

– I’ve grown SOOOOOOOOOOO tired of people using “Wait for it” to set up their punchlines. Can we stop doing that now please? It’s gone on way too long. It’s just silly now.

– I was in a store today and some lady was there cashing out a purchase with her daughter, who was probably 10. The daughter complained that she was tired, and the mom said this…… “Oh I know honey….you’re not feeling well, and couldn’t go to school….. so I take you shopping….. I’m such a bad mother!” It was kind of funny, but I did actually agree with her. If your kid can’t go to school because she’s sick, then why are you making her walk around with you all day? She might as well be at school then.

– I live in Toronto. If you are reading this later on, just know that right now our mayor Rob Ford is suspected of smoking crack on camera (among other stuff…. he’s just a train wreck). Later, I’m certain he’ll be in jail for god knows what. I’m sort of proud to say I didn’t vote for him, but to be perfectly honest, it was a weak crop of candidates. What I’m not proud of is that this has become international news, and Torontonians are super embarrassed (as they should be… I mean, we voted him into office). When I see Jimmy Kimmel has a Rob Ford skit on his show, and Jon Stewart has a Rob Ford rant on the same night, it’s probably not the kind of notoriety we’re looking for. Don’t think I didn’t notice Jay Leno make reference to it and say “There’s nothing to do in Toronto anyways”…. to which I reply ‘How would you know, you goofy fuck!! You haven’t been funny since the 80s! Eat shit and die!” (Maybe I’m a bit sensitive). To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how Americans can even laugh at this when George W served 2 terms as their president, and that guy can barely spell his fucking name…… eghhhh, I’m going to get off this topic…. I don’t like what it’s turning me into. I feel so aggressive. Needless to say, I hope the Rob Ford era ends shortly. I love Toronto, and I can’t help but find this humiliating. I’ve lost my sense of humor regarding this matter. Fuckin Jay Leno!!!

– I can’t follow that with anything. This wasn’t 15 minutes. It took forever. I hate politics, and late night TV. I hope the Miami Heat lose, because I hate them too. ūüė¶ So much hate…. I gotta stop or else I won’t be able to sleep.

On a lighter note…… http://www.paymevegas.com coming soon!!! Haha… You thought I was bluffing??


Escalator Issues are Escalating

Another public transit post??¬† Of course!¬† My commute is where I do my best thinking.¬†¬† Here’s what I was thinking as I went up the stairs at Spadina Station in Toronto.¬† ‘Man I wish that escalator worked’.

It’s not the first time I lamented about the escalator not working at this particular station.¬† I’d say this thought crosses my mind at least 40% of the time, because that’s how often the escalator doesn’t work.¬† I’m not suggesting that there’s any lack of willingness on the part of the Toronto Transit Commission to have this fixed.¬† They have repair men there a lot of the time.¬† Therein lies the problem……but I’ll get that in a minute.

I heard recently that the TTC is going to increase the fares next year, and that they want to outsource ‘bus cleaning’ to save money.¬† This is all going to result in a pissing contest of some sort, and a possible labour dispute.¬† While I agree that they can probably get people to clean these busses for less than the $25/hr that I heard they’re paying them, I know for a fact that there are better ways to save money.


Listen, I’m not just here to rant.¬† I’m here to help!¬† As a frequent passenger of the TTC, I just want what’s best for everyone.¬† I’m sure they have hired consultants who haven’t been able to uncover this money-saving opportunity.¬† Let me break it down (not the escalator, the situation).

Repair guys cost a lot of money.¬† These guys are fixing the same escalator at least 3 to 4 times a month.¬† I doubt it’s ‘just maintainance’, because they have to be smart enough not to do that during rush hour (well maybe).¬† They are fixing it, but rigging it to break down again in a week, so they can come back and fix it again.¬† I know that may seem unfair.¬† We’ve all known mechanics who we’ve probably¬†wrongly accused of this, but this isn’t unfair at all.¬† I’m no mechanic, but I know one thing for sure.¬† ESCALATORS ONLY DO ONE THING!!!¬† How complicated could the machinery possibly be??¬†¬†These guys are taking advantage of the TTC!¬† As they should, because the TTC is too dumb to put a stop to it.¬† I’ll bet these guys don’t have any other clients.¬† They don’t need them, they’re raking it in.¬† The cleaners and the passengers will be paying the price.

This advice is free, TTC!!!  Sorry, escalator repairmen!!!  Somebody had to blow the cover off this conspiracy.

Thoughts and Rants in Jogging Pants…….Saving Toronto¬†commuters, 5 cents at a time!!!

The Euro Cup Car Flag Fiasco

I’ve lived in or near Toronto in Canada for my entire life.¬† There are millions of things I love about my home-town.¬† There are millions of things I hate, most of which will probably be topics of future blogs.¬† If you haven’t been here, Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the entire world.¬† If you’re a fan of different types of cuisine for example, you love this.¬† If you dislike accents, then you probably hate this.

I’m kind of a¬†live and let live, everybody’s equal, you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours, blah blah blah kind of guy.¬† So for me, cultural diversity is interesting and fun.¬† I’ve had a lot of jobs in the past where I dealt with the public either at a neutral site, or in their homes.¬† I’ve been all over the city, and I’ve talked to everyone!¬† I’m not saying I don’t have my favourites, but I think it’s cool that a lot of different kinds of people have made their homes here.¬† I also think it’s sort of amazing that people get along pretty well here.¬† Not that there aren’t problems, but I think on¬†a relative scale it works pretty well.¬† Except for……..

During soccer tournaments.

It’s Euro Cup season people!!¬† Go get that flag that attaches¬†to your car, because it’s time to drive around the neighborhood and honk our horns and celebrate after every game our team wins or ties.¬† This time it’s limited to Europeans, but in 2 years the whole world will get involved.¬† It’s pandemonium in certain neighborhoods here.¬† If the country your family comes from is involved, then you’re involved.¬† If the country your family comes from is not involved, then you’re picking another team possibly because you follow soccer, and your favourite player is from _______, or because there’s some cultural similarity like language (eg. Brazilians pretending to be Portuguese, and Portuguese pretending to be Brazilian when it’s convenient).¬† This is the time to be obnoxious.¬† Don’t celebrate in your living room.¬† Make sure people in the whole neighborhood who don’t give a shit about you or your team know that¬†they played to a 1-1 draw.

Before I go any further, I need to explain that I’m really Canadian.¬† Not that anybody else isn’t, but all 4 of my grandparents were born here, which is really saying something for a country whose independence only dates back to 1867.¬† However, when European-Canadians ask me what my nationality is (and they all do), Canadian is never an acceptable answer.¬† They want to know where in the old world I am from.¬† So I tell them I’m Irish (which is the short answer).¬† Canadian, Irish, or any other strange concoction that I might be…… I just don’t like soccer.

I know it may seem as if I’m about to rant further about how annoyed I am by the behaviour of unruly soccer fans, but really I wanted to say this…… Canadians, and Torontonians in particular need to grow up, and be more tolerant of our neighbors who are fortunate enough to be associated with a country that actually has the first fucking clue about how to play soccer.¬† We get mad because we aren’t part of the celebration, but if Canada was in this tournament (or better still, if this was a hockey tournament), we’d all be going ape-shit.¬† So get off your high horse, and let these guys have their fun.¬† They’re excited!!¬† Rather than try to get angry about their excitement, go out and find your own excitement.¬† Or better still, pick a country to cheer for.¬† I sometimes cheer for Italy because my barber is Italian, and I don’t want him to be upset when he cuts my hair.¬† You don’t have to be from that country to cheer for them.¬† It’s soccer, not a war.¬† If everyone can be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, then I see no reason why we can’t pick a country to back for Euro Cup just to make it more interesting.

So who am I cheering for???¬† I’m cheering for people who are beeping their horns in the streets to do so safely, and keep their eyes on the road.¬† I’m cheering for soccer fans that are talking smack with one another to not let it escalate into violence.¬† I’m cheering for Canada to win some of these qualifying matches so they can play in their first World Cup since 1986 in 2014, and then maybe….. just maybe….. I could go out and buy a flag to attach to my car window and beep my horn through residential neighborhoods.¬† I can only assume it’s an amazing feeling.¬† Other than that though….. I could really care less who wins the Euro Cup.