Archive for the 'Neighbourhood' Category

I miss you, H&M

I’ve spent my fair share of time complaining about Vancouver, but one thing I like is how well-dressed everyone seems to be here. Sure, there’s a proportion of be-yoga pantsed rich girls, who seem to think that overpriced sportswear can and should be worn in non-sports settings, and dull MEC-fleece wearers, but unlike in Toronto, where I would mentally mock the ensembles of my fellow transit-riders (especially the trying-too-hard to look hip hipster set), here I’m constantly admiring the outfits of people on the bus and around campus. Yesterday I saw this adorable hipster couple on the bus downtown, and the girl looked crazily like a young Sophie Marceau; she was wearing this great chunky plaid tweed thing coat that zipped really far on one side, like a double-breasted coat but without the second row of buttons. Instead of mocking, I’m coveting. I don’t think it’s because I’ve gotten less critical. I think it’s probably because of the weather — you don’t have to dress as warm, so you can spend more money on cute. (I explain every thing about Vancouver in terms of climate.)

So it’s nice when people compliment my own clothes. I was totally doing my lazy “Clinton says it’s sophisticated” combination of black and brown — brown boots with brown-and-black argyle hose and a black skirt. In the afternoon on my way home from Starbucks (oh, Christmas Seasonal Drinks, how I love you), one woman stopped me to ask me where I got them, to which I wistfully replied “H&M, it’s a store in Toronto.” She said she had been trying to find a pair like that for her daughter, she saw some patterned ones in a catalog that were like $200. Mine…cost maybe $10. Then, more awesomely, I was walking a little nervously down Seymour around 9; I clacked confidently past these stoned gay guys and then I could here them talking about me. “Nice hose,” one of them said. “You think so?” “Yeah, the hose really works with the boots.” I grinned under my hood as I hurried up to meet the guys at the movie.

Less charming: the two separate incidents of dudes “Hey baby”ing out their car windows at me in four blocks. I just don’t get it.


I’m back from my first Thanksgiving at home since I was in high school, and also Alex’s first trip to Calgary, ever. I think we may have overwhelmed him with the food though, what with the Galaxie burger and large Italian meal on Saturday and the whole turkey dinner thing last night. Also, about 80 bottles of wine. We were setting the table, and my dad was all “We’ll probably need at least two bottles of wine, don’t you think?” And I was all “I’ll die of shock when if we don’t, with six people.” (Tim’s parents had left him alone, so he came over too.) I think we went through like five. Or six.

Coming back from somewhere always makes a new place feel more like home. After our thrilling trip down east Hastings, I was pretty down on Vancouver, but I’ve decided that every city has its problems and being hugely negative about a city I’ve lived in for a month is probably not going to amount to a very happy masters degree. Obviously, Vancouver has its problems and I don’t want to be blind to that, but everyone here isn’t a jerk and a hypocrite just because of the complacency and smugness that Alex and I (and Rach, when she lived out here) have all felt.

Probably having an actual nice time having dinner with Kev and Will and Will’s friend Celia helped us to soften up toward the city. Also, my desire to not be that person who keeps whining about how everything is better in Toronto. “Where are all the falafels? In Toronto, you could get falafels for like, 2 dollars, and they were good.” “Why is all the pizza crappy?” “Why don’t they have as many movie theatres?” “I wanna go to Bookcity!”

Meanwhile, there are lots of things that don’t suck, like the coffee, the fresh local produce, the moderately-priced restaurant options, the still-pleasant weather (there was frost in Calgary) and the fact that the city is undeniably gorgeous. Maybe if it’s still nice we’ll make it out to Stanley Park this weekend?


What I’m trying to say is that I’ve yet to see much evidence that Vancouver is somehow a better place to live, in any meaningful way. People kept saying it was nicer, but maybe it’s nicer for the type of people that people I know would know? More pleasant? Laid back? So what? [...] What about the mountains? So one hikes. One could have hiked in Toronto, or nearby. Is it the proximity that makes it nice? It’s nicer because it’s easier? Because it’s easier to be nice? One hears about how nice Vancouver is to live in, and for the lucky ones maybe it is, but I don’t understand how that translates to better. There is something objectively wrong with this city, and in the face of that one is countered with attitude.

Alex on Vancouver.

I’m quoting so heavily because he managed to capture what I haven’t been able to write about the city. The honeymoon was over when we took the bus across East Hastings, but that was what tore it for me. I started a post about that day partially composed, the way there were just throngs of people milling around the sidewalk with their shopping carts outside these abandoned storefronts, but the whole thing just came out sordid and naive.

It’s like no one gets the irony of living a stone’s throw away from a Main & Hastings and feeling like a great citizen of the world because you buy Fair Trade Coffee and organic produce. I’m all for ethical consumerism, but I don’t have any illusions that it’s not still just consumerism. Alex does a better job than I could with the bizarre study in socio-economic contrasts that we’ve landed ourselves in.

Even Annie Hall got sick of California eventually.

On furniture and public sex and electronics

Like Rachel, Alex and I also made an Ikea run this weekend. Our big purchase was a pair of Rambergs, as we don’t have any clothes storage at all. (I was keeping my clothes on hideous plain wood open shelves, which I decided it wasn’t worth it to move.) We also picked up a Noresund table which will serve as a nightstand. This was pretty momentous because it’s the same line as my (amazing) bed. For those keeping score, this means that I now own furniture that actually matches, to go with my current ragtag bunch of misfits.

I was pleased that delivery actually only cost $39, but seriously, Ikea Coquitlam? It’s called a shuttle bus. See, in Toronto, if you go to Ikea North York, which is visible from Leslie station, a special Ikea bus that runs every 15-20 minutes comes to pick you up and drops you in the parking lot. I guess Ikea Coquitlam doesn’t think they need a shuttle because the C35 runs right by the parking lot. This would be great if the C35 ran more often than every half hour! It basically just takes you over some freeway that has no pedestrian access. The ride to the station is like 5 minutes. Wouldn’t a shuttle, I dunno, increase your student shoppers? It was basically an all-day affair. I know I won’t be going back.

Part of the weird freeway bus trip involved going through this gate and over some railway tracks under an overpass thing. So we’re going over the bumpy tracks and I notice these two people, under the bridge. They were … well, I’m pretty sure you can guess. Especially when I add that the girl had no pants on. So, I averted my eyes and made a shocked face at Alex, who was between me and the coitus. He was all “we’re on the train tracks.” Because he thought I was making my OMG face because of the train tracks and not the couple fully going at it a few metres away.

So that’s Ikea. It rained for the first time since I’ve been in Vancouver (almost two weeks) today. And something happened to my TV in transit. See, my Wal-Mart DVD player stopped working a while ago, and I started just plugging my computer into the TV to watch DVDs. However, Alex and I recently discovered that since I got here, the TV now makes everything that comes from my computer crooked and unevenly cropped. It works with the VCR. It works with regular TV, as far as we can tell. (Our cable won’t get turned on til next week, but we can pick up CBC on broadcast and its edges are straight.) But it’s not just my computer, because it’s doing the same thing to Alex’s, and we even tried two different kinds of cables. For normal people, it might be something they could work around, but I’m a film student! It’s my job to watch movies. I’m in movie withdrawal.

Public Displays of Freedom

So I was so excited about my new computer that I forgot to eat dinner. I’m not the kind of girl that forgets to eat dinner.

Also, the next entry in the World Cup follies: today, there was a girl on the subway in Brazil colours with a fucking whistle. Which she blew. On the subway.

Strike = good public relations how?

I don’t usually do two posts a day, but can I just say: Thanks, TTC workers! I really wanted an extra day off work. I don’t like money. I mean, sure, I could have walked. It would have taken two hours, on Bloor St, in 30-degree weather, but good thing I had that alternate transportation. Oh wait. I didn’t! That monthly pass I bought? Totally apparently not a guarantee of transit. Sigh.

It just seems like such a dumb move for the workers to pull. I’m reasonably sympathetic to the whole night-shift scheduling issue, but hey, shutting down transit with NO WARNING on a smog day which hit a HEAT RECORD? Not really the way to make the public more pro-union.

It’s Memorial Day in the US, which is where we do most of the business, so I just called in to make sure someone was there and begged off. Alex (stuck at my house) and I got iced coffees and hung out in Dufferin Grove before it got too hot.

Asi es perfecto

I had a pretty wicked weekend. For people like Alex and me (ie, those who wander around the city looking at stuff), Doors Open Toronto is like Christmas. Saturday, we wanted to go to the Cadbury chocolate factory on Gladstone, but it was lined up for like, two blocks, so we just went to St. Anne’s across the street, which was gorgeous. It’s a Byzantine-style Anglican church, with murals done by Group of Seven members.


Then we walked along Dundas, bought some Vietnamese subs, and went to OCAD.

Alex and art

Next, the new bio building at U of T. The one with the indoor bamboo grove.

Indoor Bamboo Grove

Oh yeah, and we saw a giant Falun Gong protest/parade, that involved a truck illustrating how Falun Gong members get their organs stolen. There were like, six women dressed in scrubs, holding prop syringes, with bloody arms, and then this guy standing at the end holding up some money. I was impressed.

(Edited: Alex pointed me to this great photo of the surgery living diorama thing.)

Also, with the escalators at the Mars Research place.


Sunday we did the Carlu, the Arts & Letters Club, Commerce Court, and the TD Centre, where they let you see the 54th floor boardroom, including a giant table that they can’t move and had to be lifted in in five pieces.


Tellers Electrolier Black Glass

Afternoon Delight

The Good News Train has been pulling into my station in a big way these days. In the last week or so I have:

  • received my tax refund, which is possibly the biggest single amount of money I have ever deposited into the bank at one time
  • bought the aforementioned adorable shoes — which were 10% off, because I happened to go to the store on John Fluevog’s birthday, and they gave me a cookie!
  • gotten an email with my TA assignments for next year (!!)
  • touched a MacBook, which I’m most likely going to buy soon
  • gone to see Lady Vengeance
  • eaten ice cream for breakfast — I made Alex get dressed and run down to the ice cream truck* that serendipitously was parked right in front of my house; he got to the sidewalk before he realized he didn’t know what size or kind of dip cone I wanted, so he shouted back up to me, who was sitting in my bathrobe at the window
  • made strawberry pancakes for dinner

However, it’s not all roses. For one, it looks like Taylor (aka Michael McDonald II) is going to win American Idol. I shouldn’t care, but he makes me so irrationally mad. He’s clearly like, 40 years old in every way. And he “woo”s for himself.

Furthermore, I just heard like my neighbourhood rep theatre the Paradise is shutting down, along with the Royal and the others. This makes me sad, as I was hoping I could go there to hide from my sauna-like apartment this summer.

We’ll always have the night I went to see La Dolce Vita by myself and then walked home at midnight in the snow. That’s what the movies is all about.

*I should point out that ice cream trucks in Toronto are different from the ice cream trucks we had in Calgary. Back home, an “ice cream truck” was a refrigerated van full of ready-made ice cream bars and popsicles — most in kind of grotesque colours that I didn’t really dig even as a child. Last summer I realized that “ice cream trucks” in Toronto are basically mobile Dairy Queens — they have soft serve and a plethora of ice cream options, made to order. This resulted in me getting ice cream basically weekly, which resulted in me gaining weight, which is not helped by genius moves like eating pancakes for dinner.

Ghost Truck, or “I need some more excitement in my life”

On Thursday, I’m getting ready for work and I glance outside to make sure they haven’t picked up the recycling yet. I do some running around, gather my cell phone, iPod and subway book, then look out again to make sure it hasn’t come in the interim. That’s when I saw this:

Mystery Truck

It had a cherry picker. I love cherry pickers.

“I’m going to get to see something awesome up close,” I thought as I grabbed my camera. I hurried to get my coat and shoes — and recycling — to take downstairs. When I got outside, the truck was gone.

I looked up and down the street, but the big yellow truck was nowhere in sight.

I get good advice from the advertising world

Oh, so since the last post, I also got into York. Yay!

Where do I want to go? I don’t know. Decisions, necessarily coming soon. Eep.

In other news, I’m really glad Metric is doing so well for themselves; I’m not the kind of fan who turns her back on a band just because they’re on M.O.D., but seriously, Metric fans? Teenaged Metric fans? The worst.

Koolhaus is a horrible venue anyway, with its just being a big featureless warehouse and its overpriced drinks, but it doesn’t help when obnoxious teen girls shove their way in front of me and then stand on my feet with their hair literally getting in my mouth. Once she and her friend finally realized I couldn’t move back any more and I was going to keep elbowing her everytime her hair touched my face (I know), they stood behind tall guy and talked loudly through a couple of songs about how everyone around them sucks. “The people back here, they don’t even know” (the words to “Too Little Too Late”). Yeah, you’re the only true fans. Shut up.

Also, and this is confidential to the lead singer of Islands, which apparently rose out of the ashes of The Unicorns: get. over. yourself. Seriously, picture Jason Schwartzman in a white Monkees shirt, without any redeeming talent. By the end, he was basically “I don’t suck, you suck!” It was sad, because the band itself wasn’t bad and there were a couple of really good songs in the set — sort of fun, poppy stuff, with two violins and a bass clarinet in the mix — but seriously, all the bad connotations of “indiepop” with none of the good. Why didn’t they just let Holy Fuck play a longer set? Total wrong venue, but at least they weren’t all “Aren’t I swell?” and I didn’t want to punch them.

Okay, now that I’m done bitching, I should point out that Metric were killer. They know what they are doing and Emily Haines is so wicked it makes me profoundly happy, so that mostly made it worthwhile.

The perfect antidote was Ted’s Collision, which I can’t believe I’ve never been to. Dave’s talked it up every time we’ve seen him for months, but from some reason Alex and I never made it, even though it’s near all these places that we go all the time (Soundscapes, Utopia, the bank, etc.). I think we worried it would be painfully hip. I can handle hip — this week I ate at Shanghai Cowgirl twice in as many days — but not painfully hip. The Drake makes me uncomfortable. Ted’s Collision is so not the Drake. It was like the place I always want to hang out — candles in bottles on tables, ELO on the stereo (Kev and I had a special moment across the table over “Mr. Blue Sky”), Big Rock on tap. We somehow wound up staying out til four at the aforementioned Shanghai Cowgirl.

The rest of the weekend was much more lowkey. Saturday night we ate cheese and watched Radio Days (which was meh: good performances, lovely cinematography, and baby Seth Green; but it was almost too saccharine and stereotypically coming-of-age for Woody Allen) and some Six Feet Under.

Funny story, while we were watching David get forced at gunpoint to smoke crack (I know, what was that?), we heard some shouting outside. Like in the street, right outside my house. One guy was yelling at and needing to be pulled off another guy, by the two other guys. He seemed to be walking away, then all of a sudden he throws his coat down on the street and starts yelling and pointing a something in his hand. A something that made the other two guys jump back. Alex and I kept peering through my half frosted-over window. I was working through how quickly I could get to my phone, which was in my bag. The porchlight went on across the street. Then they started to scatter; we craned our necks to watch them run down the street. Then the police car that they were running from passed by, hopefully to catch them.

It was like, midnight on Saturday night. We could have been walking home. We would, of course, have walked the other way; but.

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