Opening Statement



Thursday, 28 July 2011

Back To Toronto!

Here I am back in Toronto from my Mexican trip, sitting on the balcony with my morning coffee. It's an overcast day. I brought all my house plants out for some sun and rain when I got back. It's pleasant. I'm surrounded with greenery, looking out at the city, feeling relaxed and very happy with our trip.

I didn't go outside for the first three days back. Nope. I stayed in my man-cave, the music room, listening to my stereo, reading, napping, kind of in free fall. All that vacationing tired me out! Whew! Life is tough and then you die! My niece Katrina finally convinced me that it's nice out and I shouldn't miss it. She's not working this summer either. In the fall she goes to teacher college. I think it is a good idea, as long as she can pay the bills, she should rest up and enjoy herself, the school year ahead can often be very stressful and draining come summer. Practice now! I always like to take the summer off. Time is worth more to me than money. We only live once. She's saying she`s not working to protest stress and wrinkles to ward off any static. I love the cause. Go grrrrl go! Would be nice to be twenty something again eh?

So I walked about downtown Toronto. I was born here, and a Yonge Street walk is just one of those very Torontonian things I still do. As teens we`d always go on Friday or Saturday to Sam the Record Man`s store; Beatle albums were always on sale for $4. There were a lot of really great clubs and local bands back in the sixties and seventies; Ronnie Hawkins and the Band at the Hawks Nest, jazz at the Colonial, Carole Pope at the Chimney, Triumph at the Piccadilly Tube, to name but a few.We`d party, or sometimes just walk around checking out the action and well known characters on the street, never bothering anybody.

Yonge St. has always had it`s ``Toronto the Bad`` side to it with the massage parlours, porn shops, strip clubs and hookers, but that was pretty much shut down long ago. Later it was a punk rock hang out. The Viletones would play Yonge Station while the big bad bouncers would sell the kids bad drugs at the door, and then beat them up and kick them back out onto the sidewalk once they got stoned. The Dog would spit out the words and chew on glass as the band blasted away at their three chord hit `Screaming Fist`. 

My style was more the Talking Heads, the Ramones and the Dead Boys at the New Yorker, a tawdry old movie house that`s now been converted into the Panasonic Theatre. Toronto Punk and New Wave were always first and foremost about the music and fashion. I think so. Yonge St was pretty much just an ugly version of the Queen St West scene where I lived at the time. We had the new wave bands like the Diodes and Dishes at the Ontario College of Art, and the Talking Heads at the Horseshoe Tavern if I remember correctly. There were umpteen local bands playing at the Beverely Hotel, the Shock Theatre and the Crash and Burn Club, or we`d go dancing all night at the Twilight Zone. It was always a very local scene mostly centred around Queen St West Soho.

Did you know Toronto was one of the big three Punk and New Wave Rock epicentres during the mid to late seventies, along with New York,and London. There was a very good book written about it recently `Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond` by Liz Worth on Ralph Alfonzo`s Bongo Beat Press. It`s a good and very insightful read, but I ramble....

So now here I was post twentieth century, quite middle aged and respectable, just sitting at a window seat in the Second Cup Cafe at Yonge and College, with my coffee and iPhone, people watching. I walked about for a few hours. I won`t belabour this, I`ve done at least one Yonge St blog before. Suffice to say it was hot and sunny. Nice but not as nice as Mexico mind you. I think it`s the humidity from the lake which makes Toronto feel like a sauna during the dog days of summer. The Mayan Riviera had a great Caribbean breeze, not like here.

I bought a bunch of seconds and reminder art books at BMV on Bloor St. West just north of the University of Toronto. This store is amazing! Very cheap and incredibly diverse and well stocked with everything from books to CD`s and DVD`s in the basement. I could spend hours in there. Anyway, I found a stack of books about album cover art from the 1950`s to the 90`s, with info and full colour plates. I collect music and was a disc jockey and radio program director when I was at U of T. It`s been my hobby as long as I can remember, and I have a pretty decent collection of six thousand or so CD`s and box sets, maybe a thousand original LP albums, boxes of old 45`s and cassette tapes etc.

The only problem was I had to trudge home on the subway to my car at Yorkdale Mall carrying this very heavy stack of hard cover books but folk were nice and made way for me, even opening doors and so on. ``Toronto the Good!`` Once home I stayed up late listening to tunes and pouring over my new books matching the cover art with my albums and CD`s until the wee hours.

Long and short of it is I finally got back outside! It had felt so good just to stay home and do nothing after all my adventures in Mexico. Janet and I have been putting a lot into fixing up our condo so it is just the way we like it. 1200 square feet, an ideal place for empty nesters with good security, nice neighbours, a good location. All of our favourite things are here and we are slowly but surely getting it set up just so for when we retire. The irony is that far too often during the year it is like a pit stop between all the things we have to do. I really like just being here and enjoying it, and that`s exactly what I have been doing. Feels great! Now I`m going outside again too. Well done, eh!

I`m trying to set up my Cuba trip to Santiago de Cuba but my Cuban teacher friends are off to Habana and I`ve been there enough for now. Also most of my Cuban Schools Project work is in Santiago, so outside of having a very good time in Habana, which I without doubt would have, it kind of defeats my purpose unless we can co-ordinate our schedules which I am trying to do now. Communications with the Cuban Schools is dicey at best but I am plugging away at it, with no doubt a great story post to follow once I get that rolling, details forthcoming.

My sister Mary Ann is coming to visit from Sudbury for the weekend. We were going to go see the tall ships down at the harbour front but there are no tall ships at the harbour front, so much for that! We`ve got a bunch of other stuff to do too. I can`t quite recall what but Janet is my social director, she`ll know what we`re doing and where we go. Should be fun!

I could go for groceries but it`s lunch and I am sill in my pyjamas. Anyway I hate pushing around the cart with people bumping into me, and then lining up forever at the check-out counter. That`s not to mention having to bring my own grocery bags to help the environment and so on, and then carrying it all upstairs in a buggy cart to our condo. Blech! I think I`ll tidy up the place and we can eat at restaurants while she is here. There`s enough food and drinks in the fridge to get by. Sounds like a plan. ;-)

Bye for now!



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