Shutting it Down!
I’m shutting down this tumblr blog and combining it with my other blog to create an even more fantastic blog (if that’s even possible)!!! Follow it/me now at:
See ya soonsies!
Winter Underwear. A Great Stocking Stuffer!
Winter is coming. Bundle up bitches! Although we usually spend our winters in warmer climates with cooler people, on occasion it is fashionable to spend some weeks (hours) freezing our asses off in our home and native land. Canada. Besides, the cold can be tamed easily with a bottle of the finest scotch. It is while sipping this warm brown liquid (okay so we use funnels) that we began thinking. Seriously, right?!?! Perhaps, since we are in the cold anyways, we should take up a winter sport of some sort. Mother said licking icicles from our bedroom window didn’t count. So, skiing, we decide would be the sport most suited to us. From what we gather (while looking at pictures in Sports Illustrated), it’s a wonderful way to while away the hours, lose weight and get some fresh air. Plus it gets your blood racing faster than you staring at us as we walk buy you in the lodge. Ski lodges too are the perfect place to pick up guys. Like yum! Bum! Men usually out number women three to one here. Which means, two of those guys are gonna have frozen popsicles in need of warmth and if you’re gorgeous like us, you can be sure that one of those guys is gonna wanna take your ski pole for a test ride down their mountain slope. Swoosh! Goosh!
This of course means we need to go shopping! For new ski clothes of course. Holla Dolla! While clicking through our favourite online shopping site (we only shop in person in warm weather) we somehow stumble upon (totally by accident, serious) another type of wonderful retailer , an underwear company called ES (http://www.escollection.es/web/). ES have decided, for some strange reason (like Cady strange)that one of the best times to market underwear and swimwear hardcore is in the winter. Well, we do wear underwear year round so why not? Undies also make great Christmas socking stuffers, so maybe they are on to something. Plus, it is summer somewhere right? Especially in Barcelona where this five year old company is based.
Finishing off the bottle of scotch we switch to rum soaked hot chocolate as we take in the eye candy displayed before us. Their website is fully gay. And fully fetch. Fully. Homoerotic is an understatement. It’s the only statement. Like this statement; “Hello…we only sell underwear to gay men. Gay men with gym bodies and chiseled features. You can buy them too if you want. Yay gay!” Done. First thing we notice is that we have no idea what the initials ES stand for. We search the site, high and low, and only find crotch. Balls! Giving up we decide to make up our own brand names. Take your pick»> Excitingly Sexy, Enormous Sucking, Engorged Sack, Eeek Smegma, Enjoy Supper, Extra Special, Euw Snaps, Extra Saucy, Enormous Sausage, Epic Shaft or Emo Shank. Either way, we’ve trademarked them all.
The ads are shot in the Pyreneese Mountains between the borders of France and Spain in a small nation called Andorra. Like, it’s so small our jet can’t even land there. Fer, reals! Company owner Eduardo Suñer, a passionate sportsman, once said: ““Sport, mountains, positive attitude, healthy life and green environment. A love for Mother Nature, that is what we wanted to say with this campaign and with our new products.” Actually no…what this ad campaign REALLY says is, “Holy fuck look at the bodies on these guys and why aren’t some of them even wearing clothes? Seriously!” Seriously?
Most underwear and swimwear ads come out in the spring and summer for a reason. It’s a time of year when most of us are used to seeing buff half naked yummies hopping about like wild grasshoppers in heat shoving their big (most likely grass-stained) baskets in our face. We ain’t complaining. But placing an underwear ad shot in the outdoors, during the frigid winter months is perhaps great marketing. Less competition is one thing on their side. The other is, the element of surprise. It’s like shooting an ad for a designer gown…underwater. It makes little sense but it sticks in your mind (and perhaps will make you wet). You know what else will stick in our mind? BASKETS!
Have you also ever noticed that the bigger the basket displayed in ads for underwear or swimwear, the more we want to buy said pair of underwear or swimwear? It’s like if we buy them, our own package will look exactly like the ones on the glossy (perhaps now sticky) pages GQ…or fab magazine. Or that perhaps we’ll even look exactly like these MEN in these ads? Well, sweets, we know WE look like these men in these ads…you on the other hand, may not be so fetch.
Let’s get it straight. A sexy pair of underwear will NOT make your member grow. Especially in winter. If you got a small willy, it will not fill out these skimpy pieces of spandex-laced cotton in the manner displayed. If you have a potbelly they will NOT hold your gut in and magically give you a six-pack. If you are overly hairy like Ron Jeremy they will not provide magical electrolysis to make your beaver-back smooth like a swimmer. If you got an ass flatter than Sarah Jessica Parker, they will not suddenly plump them up to JLO status. In short, though sexy, underwear will NOT make you look better than you already are. In some cases they might expose you for the fat, lazy, outta shape slob you are. Tragic, we know. Please don’t be fooled.
In the end, we each end up buying about 25 pairs each. We couldn’t resist. Or maybe it was the scotch. Besides it’s on daddy’s credit card. Speaking of money and finance and all things boring, have you ever heard of the Men’s Underwear Index? Well, sit down, grab a bevy and let us tell you about it. The Men’s Underwear Index (or MUI) is an unconventional measure of how well the economy is doing based on sales of men’s underwear. This measure assumes that men view underwear as a necessity (not a luxury item), so sales of this product should be steady - except during severe economic downturns (flaccid), when men will wait longer to buy new underwear. The notable decrease in underwear sales is said to reflect the poor overall state of the economy. So, when underwear sales pick up (erect), the economy is considered to be improving. Former FED Chairman Alan Greenspan subscribes to this theory, but its critics say it may not be accurate because women purchase a significant amount of underwear for men. Other critics argue that men do not buy new underwear until it’s threadbare, regardless of how well the economy is doing. We follow this philosophy somewhat. But we believe it only applies to straight men. Gay men just throw a wrench in the figures. Seriously. If we looked only at gay men, you would think the economy was always doing great. Take a peek inside the underwear drawer of almost any gay men and you’ll find at least 30 pairs of underwear, almost all of them different. We of course have underwear walk-in closets. If you look in a straight man’s underwear drawer you’ll most likely find only about 10 pairs…all the same. And all boring as hell.
After our purchases today, the MUI would most likely skyrocket indicating that we single handedly paid off the US Chinese debt and brought about a small period of 1980s style decadence complete with big hair, big shoulder pads, movies starring Tom Cruise in tighty-whities and mounds of cocaine high enough to ski off of.
ES Collection, see you on the slopes…you can fully sit with us.
Above images of the property of ES Collection. The witty captions are our own.
OMK, Okay! We so love hello Kitty. We love it more than shoes, guys or trimming our bush, or putting our hands on our hips! Fer sure. So when we found out there was an actual living, breathing, purring Hello Kitty House, we almost passed gas! And OMK, it almost has enough bedrooms for us to live in. FYI, we need at least six bedrooms plus a guesthouse out back. FYI.
So, okay! First off, it’s pink. We love pink. Second off, it’s cute. We love cute. And third-off, it’s very fetch. And we love fetch. But is it too fetch? If that’s even possible! Like, could we realistically live in this house full time…or at least use it as our summer cottage for a month or two at a time? Sadly no. There’s cute and the there’s too cute. Sorry Pussy…you’re too cute.
But who cares, because these aren’t real homes anyways. Fer real! These structures can be found n the resort town of Shanghai. They are actually rentable homes away from home. If your home was maybe Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. While other tourist areas around the world might rent inner city apartments, Villas, ice castles, log cabins, or tropical huts…here you can rent a big piece of cutesy. Aaah! Stay for a week, a month or longer. Though we wouldn’t advise staying for more than 30 days, the next we take a trip out East, we are most certainly staying here. We like making Pussy happy.
It’s Wednesday. And on Wednesday we wear pink. So, Shanghai Hello Kitty House, you can fully sit with us. Or we could all sit inside you. Whatever’s easier.
Interior Design Show 2012
HotorNotTdot Rating: (designed to be) Hot
•text, photos and photo-recreations by
Rolyn Chambers (email@example.com)
Inspiration for design comes from many sources. Nature, science, anatomy are just a few. Jewelry design is no exception. The human imagination takes forms around us and alters them to create exceptional items that catch the eye. But design can also borrow from the designs of others. What if jewelry design were inspired by furniture design?
Every winter the Interior Design Show takes up shop in Toronto. Every thing from furniture, accessories, appliances, art, flooring, wall coverings, and fabrics are displayed for both industry professionals and the public. It can also be, for my purpose, a great source of inspiration for jewelry design.
•Native Trials (nativetrails.net)introduced their line of kitchen and bathroom cupboards made from reclaimed wooden wine barrels.
•Elte (elte.com), a design shop in Toronto, showcased a gorgeous Preston dining room table. Its dark wood slab table with six floating stools attached at the base with circular wrought iron will have your guests talking.
•Living Lighting (livinglighting.com), a huge chain, hung huge dazzling crystal beaded chandeliers to impress guests and press.
•The blonde wood and stainless steel hardware of Andrew Richard Design’s Silhouette outdoor furniture line is stunning in the sun.
•Jody Racicot, founder of Modern Revision (modernrevision.com) creates whimsically retro items for eclectic homes. His bug-like wireless stereo speaker unit, HiFi, crafted out of blonde maple is pure joy to look at (even though its for listening to.) “The only thing I regret about HiFi is that it should have been able to walk,” Racicot’s artist statement reads. “Even one or two steps would have been nice.” Now that would have been a merger of old school design with new school technology.
•Upcountry’s (upcountry.com) King Street showroom has always lured me in, even when I haven’t the cash or the credit to spend. Their new stainless steel and leather furniture line by British designer Timothy Oulton, showcased at IDS2012, completely ravished my senses and left me needing more. Credit be damned.
• Flux Chair made of plastic turned many heads. Shipped flat like an unassembled cardboard box, it assembles in less than 5 seconds with no tools… or screws. It’s going give IKEA a run for their Krona.
Strolling along the exhibit booths these products and others stirred up my creative juice. Could they be somehow transformed into jewelry? Of course, I would just have to put on my bejeweled creative cap.
Rolyn Chambers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Toronto Fashion Week-
Robin Kay, Her Wrap’s Okay
HotorNotTdot Rating: Hot (and furry)
Photo-Collage & Text by Rolyn Chambers
Stealthy, silently, I rummaged through the over-packed racks of my favourite Value Village. Something special was needed to match the white and red tuxedo style jacket I had made for the opening of Fashion Week. As I inspect the selection, Starbucks pumpkin spice latté in hand, I pondered a bit. Was it the clothing, the designers, the spectacle, or the free swag that drew me every season, for the last ten or so years, to Toronto’s LG Fashion Week? Actually…neither. Robin Kay? Heard of her? As head of the Fashion Design Council of Canada (FDCC) since 2000, she is responsible for the creation and operation of Canada’s ultimate fashion showcase. She’s why I went, year after year. And every year my reason for going, because of her, changed as well.
In the beginning, I went fresh faced, wide-eyed and fashion struck. I met Robin for the first time on my very first opening night. It was my first year writing my column, Deep Dish, for Fab Magazine. It was a magical experienced altered somewhat by the bright white lights of the runway and a few free, albeit weak, drinks. I can’t recall what interesting outfit she had draped over her small frame that night except that by the end I noticed her caressing a fur wrap. Brown. Perhaps beaver. I’m sure it was Canadian. I can tell you though, that while our conversation was short, I knew there was much about this woman with the slightly slurred speech and glossy eyes that she was not letting me know. And I wanted to know.
Returning home that night, I played my brief interview of Robin I had taped on my Fisher Price tape-recorder. Pressing the bright green “PLAY” button I listened to her somewhat nasally voice and drifted off to sleep. My rest was eventful. I dreamed. I fantasized. My mind took me to places perhaps I did not want to go in reality. But, off it went. Curled up in my down comforter, I fantasized that we, Robin and I, had made sparkly, sticky love underneath the tents of Bryant Park. She in a David Dixon gown made of Cashmere toilet paper and I in the most tapered of Bustle jackets…sans pants. Brooklyn, her daughter, filmed the entire thing and posted it to Youtube. Much to Robin’s chagrin. Sex-tapes were for Hollywood starlets, not grown women who were building an empire. And then I woke-up.
The following year, I decided to not only report on Fashion Week but to also be part of the event. I was by no means a fashion designer but I was known for always wearing unusual DIY custom pieces to certain events. With my arts background I put together a gallery show to illustrate this. Held at the now defunct Spin Gallery on Queen, 20 mannequins were assembled along with 40 of my collection of over 100 unique children’s toy tape recorders. It was all very odd, but the FDCC endorsed it making it an official part of Fashion Week that year. The exhibit, Stylish Report, ran for two weeks and had its big party on a Thursday of Fashion Week. To my surprise and delight Robin attended with two ladies in tow. As I watched her walk from mannequin to mannequin, clutching yet another fur wrap tightly to her body, I read her body language as she judged each garment. I approached with three glasses of white wine, to see what she thought. Murmuring something about my creative energy, she “hoped to see more of this sort of thing in the future.” Softly, I petted her wrap. I was happy.
Fast-forward a couple years. I’m at an after party thrown by Ginch Gonch underwear at some hotel on King. The Fashion Week shows that night had gone well, and we were celebrating with a few drinks. By this point my friend, lets call her Mamy, had consumed more than her share of free Cosmo-Keiths (what happens when you combine Cosmopolitan martinis with Keith’s beer in a large glass) and was rapping, free style, on one of the tables displaying the brightly coloured underwear. The Ginch Crew, perhaps a little delirious were giving out free underwear…but only if you put them on. In front of everyone. Well, really? I’m not sure what they expected to happen. An underwear party? Any orgy? A wet gotchie contest where contestants doused their cloth covered privates in Mohitos? In the age of cellphone cameras and Facebook? Whatever they hoped would happen, I really wasn’t feeling it, having it, or doing it. So instead of stripping off my slacks, I simply (after a shot of Jack at the bar) slipped them on over my pants. I looked ridiculous but with Amy rapping about how good my bulge looked, I felt like a rock star.
It was at this moment that Robin Kay stumbled in. I was mortified. Me in underwear worn over my pants like some crazed superhero and my friend Mamy, rapping from high atop a table in this upper-crust hotel. Without missing a beat Mamy, who had been rapping about the girth contained within my gotchies, switched to exploring, in spoken word, every detail of what Robin was wearing. Including her fur wrap. This time large and black. A toothless smile formed on Robin’s face as the air in the room suddenly grew cold. This did not stop Miss Mamy of course who proceeded to throw underwear at puzzled guests like they were prizes at some sweaty rave. I greeted Robin as best I could only to have my conversation cut short by Mamy who insisted Robin try on a pair of underwear herself. Yes, this night was quickly going nowhere good and I needed to make a hasty exit.
A couple seasons after that, I was working at the now defunct Circa Nightclub and proposed a partnership between Fashion Week and the new art inspired club. We had already secured the much sought after Greta Constantine show and I was personally working on the Lucian Matisse after party, the Kid Robot fashion show and a Munny doll fashion art exhibit. It seemed a perfect fit. We met with Robin and her daughter Brooklyn one afternoon on the third floor of Circa. Fully prepared I launched into my proposal alongside our team, which consisted of Peter Gatien’s wife Alessandra, our Marketing Director Ashley Macintyre and a few others. Robin, in a Stevie Nicks type knitted wrap, sat and listened intently. She asked a few key questions and the meeting ended well. Circa was now officially a part of Fashion Week that season. But the meeting brought up some questions.
“Was she drunk?” one of my colleagues asked. “I mean, it’s only 2PM!”
My initial response was to come to her rescue. No, she wasn’t drunk I protested. Or thought. “I think she’s kinda’ like Anna Nicole Smith or Courtney Love,“ I said jokingly (kinda’). “Maybe she speaks that way because she has some sort of chemical imbalance. I mean, do you think she would actually attend this meeting, with her daughter, drunk?!?!?” Rude!
“Was she high?” another colleague asked. “I mean, it’s STILL only 2PM!”
No! Well? Noooooo! I mean, Robin kicked her drug habit years ago in the 80s. The woman spent almost a year in jail for dealing after all. Perhaps its just residual surges of rancid poppy seeds in her system. She can’t be expected to control that. Rude!
That year though, in October of 2007 an anonymous someone sent about an email attacking Robin Kay hard, demanding her head (and thick tongue) on a platter. DRAMA. The letter cut deep and garnered a few backers with its online petition. The email slammed Robin, her handling of the FDCC and Fashion Week in general. It was a full mutiny of her fashion bounty. As Fashion Week began that year, it as all everyone was talking about. Who cared if Stacey McKenzie would be walking? Who cared if Phillip Bloch would steal the limelight? Who cared if Yazmin Warsame would make an appearance? Who cared where Jeanne Beker would be seated? Who cared which model from whose agency would fall flat on her ass in which show? Who cared if Shinan Govani secretly carried a micro recorder hidden in his Andy Warholian mop? Who cared about the threat of Jay Manuel spontaneously combusting at any moment? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who? What?!? We were all dying to see if Robin would pull another of her trademarked Edwina Monsoon ala TV show Absolutely Fabulous. But, she held it together, held her head high, and pulled it off. In the end Edwina always did. Sweetie.
One of the things that has always impressed me about Robin is her ability to command a room. Her gift of public speaking, even while a little tipsy, inspiring. Perhaps though she needs a little bit of the sauce to loosen the nerves and get up the courage to stand in front of hundreds of people night after night. Many of them her backstabbing colleagues. But night after night she did. And she usually did it very well. Notes? Not required. Cue Cards? Didn’t need ‘em. Her speeches were creative. Her voice held ones attention. And her messages were timely. Usually.
But Robin has also had some bad moments. Moments when she had one (or six) too many drinks before she palmed the microphone. Lets, be real here. Her love of the sauce (be it liquid or powdered) is legendary. Just do a quick online search of JUST her name alone and the third option Google gives you, after “Robin Kay”, and “Robin Kaye” is, “Robin Kay drunk”. For real. The most notorious of these drunken moments came during Fashion Week of October 2008. I was there. But seriously wished I wasn’t. Robin Kay drunk at a party was one thing (heck who hasn’t been), but Robin Kay blotto in front of some pretty important suits in the fashion industry was another. Speaking with flailing arms, stumbling feet and slurry words (I’m sure I saw drool too) her welcome speech made me want to get up and leave. You can’t make this stuff up. Nor can you find this video anywhere online anymore. It’s like the Fashion Mafia have paid to have it, uhm, removed. My guess is that it’s now sleeping with the fishes, in an ocean of vodka. But we all know the story (it’s legendary) and how it all ended. I just kept thinking; maybe if she had been wearing her fur wrap that night it would have all ended better.
Last season, my last run in with Robin, was equally as brief as my first. Dressed in a very mini mini-dress with a severely high part and very low neckline, platform heels, heavily patterned dark pantyhose, darker than dark eye-makeup, and, yes another fur wrap, she looked hot. As hot as Robin Kay could. My mind immediately went to the fantasy I had of her, on our very first meeting. I wasn’t wearing a Bustle jacket, but I could very well have dropped my pants right then and there. Instead I asked her to pose for a picture. She obliged with a willing smile. Trying valiantly to stand up straight, she swung out her leg to show off her left thigh as her wrap dropped a few precious inches. And then, her boob popped out. The left one. She giggled, swung around and covered her exposed flesh with her fur. Crisis adverted. Though she was still “exposed” no one was the wiser. Ahh. Finally I understood the purpose of that wrap.
The Protector of Rhodes Avenue:
The Reaching Out Child Abuse Monument
HotorNotTdot Rating: Hot (and moving)
All Pictures and text by Rolyn Chambers
A walk along Gerrard St is not usually a beautiful one. For the most part it is one of those streets that weaves in and out of various low and middle income residential areas lined with small unforgettable rundown shops. Today however I stroll from Broadview and Gerard in search of something. I’m not sure what, but an odd feeling inside me tells me there is something along this street that I’m meant to see. Today.
Entering Little India my mood changes. For the better. The people, the stores, the food and the fabulous shiny clothing (which I have purchased and worn on several occasions for various events), all come together to create a unique section of our city. But I’ve been here before. The stores look the same as last, the vibe has not changed, so what is it that has brought me all this way, on this early morning?
As I make my way to Coxwell St, something catches my eye. A monument. Large and silent it sits. But it calls out to me, with arms outstretched. My first instinct is to walk by, as my stomach is taking ownership of my body and thoughts. Nourishment it cries. No, it demands! But summoning up my strength I defer my grumbling belly and walk the 50 feet to take a closer look. My roti will have to wait.
At first it looks like the monument belongs to the church, which it sits behind, on the corner of Gerrard and Rhodes. Glancing at it quickly, one could possibly mistake it for a post-modern image of Jesus Christ. Perhaps, in the past, it has even drawn confused worshipers to it carrying sacrificial wine, commune wafers and years old fruit cake as offering. But within five feet of this imposing figure I begin to notice that this “Jesus” has many hands. But not like Ganesha or Shiva, the Hindu deities (which would make sense in this area.) The hands of this statue are handprints, arranged in rows across the monument like a Burberry pattern of a coat. Burberry patterns though are fashion. These patterns of hands I begin to realize are much less frivolous. They have meaning.
Shy about stepping onto someone else property I keep my distance at first. In addition to the many hand prints formed in the squares on this monument are words. Words at first I read without understanding.
One square reads, “Where there is life there can be healing. Where there is spirit, it can be free to soar. Where there is breath, we can build trust. We can be hole.” A woman emerging from one of the fingers of this particular hand seems to symbolize some sort of evolution. A metamorphosis.
Another square depicting a flying bird reads: “The Truth Shall Set Your Spirit Free for it Fears Nothing.”
Another has two adult hands touching a child’s hand and is scripted with, “May Hope Be Passed Through Every Hand.”
In French, yet another square reads, “Si vous soupconnez qu’un enfant est abuse, n’abandonnez pas.”
Then I read:
“I have been to Nam and I’ve been through child abuse and child abuse was tougher.”
It is this square that clues me in somewhat as to the meaning behind the monument.
The figure that this monument represents seems dressed in a cloak. It is on this cloak that row upon row of these handprints within squares are lined. The cloak is large, wide, and tall. It forms a shield or a blanket that seems to protect or hide whatever is in front of or behind it. A guardian angel perhaps or a security blanket of enormous weight and power. The monument, I determine is about child abuse. The figure perhaps is a protector. The messages and handprints on its cloak, most likely real, are of those who have had to suffer.
This is what I was meant to see this morning. After spending about 10 simple minutes photographing, observing and touching this monument I go on my way. Sipping my morning coffee. Not knowing what this imposing figure is truly about. It is not until I get home that I grasp the magnitude of this monument. I Google the “274 Rhodes Ave” and the word “monument.” My research gathers much.
The hands, I discover, are actually created from the handprints of various children through a project called “Give Kids a Hand Vision for the Child Abuse Monument”. The monument being, “Child Abuse Monument.” Children were asked to draw an outline of their hand on a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Then on or around the outline of their hand, they wrote or drew a message. There are also hand prints of adults who were once the victims of childhood abuse.
This sculpture is called “The Child Abuse Monument”, and is apparently one of two. This one that sat sideways on the driveway of that private residence on Rhodes Avenue is bronze and large. The elements have given it a green historic patina. With its arms stretched upwards to the sky it stands ten feet tall and is fifteen feet wide. Created by Michael C. Irving, Ph. D., the owner of the house, it honors the “courage of survivors in a healing art form, while also speaking out to eradicate child abuse on all levels.” Irving, himself a survivor of such abuse, has gone on to become a psychotherapist and sculptor.
The entire project took six years to complete with the collaboration of hundreds of people. The sculpted squares on the body of the figure are personalized with an adult or child survivor’s own imprinted hand. In addition to the sculpted squares with their hand and messages, over one million hand imprints drawn on paper fill the inside hallow of the monument. Some of the messages contained include.
“I broke the circle. So can you.” Avril
“We are all in this. Child abuse affects us all, if one hurts, we all hurt…Life together.”
“Every child deserves Unconditional love.” Jessica
“My life is not a pencil. You can’t ever erase your mistakes.”
“Don’t let the anger and mistakes pass on!!! Care for them. Don’t abuse them! Make a new Generation.”
As I read these messages, I think back to my own childhood. Filled with love. But, I remember thinking I had such a horrible childhood because my parents would sometimes discipline me by grounding me or (when I stole something) giving me a spanking. I remember thinking; my parents were the worst in the world. Looking back I know this not to be true. As I read the messages on this monument I think of all the children who truly do have abusive parents and guardians. I could not imagine my parents ever doing to me what some have done to these children. I remember the horrible stories I’ve heard on the news, of parents starving their children, locking their children in basements, sexually abusing or exploiting their children, beating their kids till death or in one child’s case, being dropped into a bathtub filled with boiling hot water until he died. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that a parent or adult guardian could ever do this to a child. It also makes me angry. But anger is not good in this case. Anger will not solve anything.
I believe, unfortunately there will always be child abuse, because there will always be neglectful and abusive adults. What needs to change is how we deal with it and the ways in which we identify child abusers and protect our children. Yes…our children. They may not be born onto you but I believe that all children, everywhere, are our responsibility. Until they are able to take care of themselves they belong to our global home and as members of this home we must protect those most vulnerable. An observant eye and quick action can make a life better and even more, can save a child’s life.
Right now the monument sits at the home of Dr. Irving because it does not have a permanent location. Dr. Irving envisions a park setting for its final home. Somewhere that parents and children congregate. For more information, or to find out how you can help Dr. Irving find a permanent home for this important monument, or to donate funds in building more of these monuments contact:
Michael C. Irving, Ph.D., Artistic Director
Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project
274 Rhodes Ave. Toronto, Ont.
Canada M4L 3A3
For further information check out:
You can also follow Dr. Irving on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/ChildAbuseMnumt
THE COUNTDOWN IS ON!
Sun Media and 24 Hours News have indeed begun replacing and even cleaning some of their abandoned, dirty and disgusting 24 Hour newspaper boxes! But is it enough for the 24 Hour Makeover Crew to call off the 24 Hour Guerilla Art Makeover?
Find out soon, as their closed doors talks resume……Friday!
Uhm,….actually they haven’t really officially heard from them. But they have heard rumours that they are full aware of whats going on. They’re just playing hard to get. Box Tease!
DID JESUS REALLY EAT THIS?
A REVIEW OF NAZARETH RESTAURANT
(& ETHIOPIAN FOOD IN GENERAL)
969 Bloor St. W, 416-535-0797
HOT OR NOT TDOT RATING: (A very personal and subjective): Not
Photos and text by Rolyn Chambers
A friend of old told a tale of a far off place. A place in the land of Bloorcourt Village. A land where very few tales are told. So when he spoke of this place we all listened, with eyes wide, ears a flutter and mouths salivating. The story he wove was like a fable never heard. Too good to be true we thought. A legend! A fairy tale! A myth for sure!
“At the corner of Bloor Street and Dovercourt Road, near a Pizza Pizza and across from a women’s shelter, exists a most wondrous restaurant,” he said with dramatic sweeping motions of his hand (perhaps indicating the direction we were to travel). “Ethiopian and small it is. But every night villagers from far and wide travel by foot, bike, TTC and sometimes even motorized carriage to gorge themselves on this exotic food…and it’s cheap. It is told than one can dine there for a mere ten dollars.”
He had me at cheap.
“But!” He bellowed loud, with ominous. “Be forewarned! You must arrive early. For line-ups form as sun begins to set at 6PM and can last for 3 movements of the moon. If you are not there early enough you could be waiting for what seems like an eternity.”
Bah, I thought. No restaurant in that part of town could draw so many people to it…no matter how cheap. But, one dark night, on my way home, I happen to pass by this fabled place, and lo and behold, his tale was true. Nazareth, as it is known, was indeed full and a line-up stretched out the door and onto the sidewalk. They waited. Even with another Ethiopian restaurant (which had a slightly more urban decor) just two doors down. They waited. Why? I had to know.
Packing my wallet with magic credit cards, I invite my mother out to sample their wares.
“Ethiopian?” My mother asked with trepidation. Her fingers digging into my arm as we walk to the restaurant. “Uhm, I’m not sure if I’ll like Ethiopian food. Ethiopian?”
How could we not I protested. We’re black. They’re black. Of course we’ll like it.
“Yes,” she came back stopping full in her tracks. “But we’re from Jamaica, not Ethiopia.” (This coming from a woman who rarely ate Jamaican food and preferred Filet Mignon to Curry Goat.)
But, I reply leading her into the restaurant, we all came from Africa! These are our people too. She couldn’t argue with that logic. How could anyone?
Arriving early enough to escape the 6PM line we choose a table near the window so we can see the vast view of Shoppers Drug Mart across the street. Laminated and small, we mull over the menu. The prices are indeed cheap. Our server (who is actually the owner) is a bit standoffish and we have to ask her twice two to wipe down our table before we order. But what she lacks in personality she makes up for in knowledge. The items cost so little we assume that they are all small dim-sum sized portions. So we order about $20 worth of food, each, thinking we may need to order more after. Our initial order consists of Tibs (chunks of beef sautéed in seasoned butter), Chicken (stewed with spices), Gored Gored (cubes of lean beef seasoned in a special Awaze hot sauce), Kifto (fresh minced lean meat seasoned with herbs) and a vegetable dish.
“Oh no,” owner-server-lady explains. “That is way too much. Take away three items and you will have plenty.”
We do…and we are glad we do. When the large platter arrives at our table about 15 minutes later, it is (visually at least) cmore than enough for the two of us…if we had at it all. And herein lies the problem. We could not eat it all. Not because it was too much food, but because we were unable to eat it all. I know, sounds confusing. But here’s why.
First, Ethiopian food is shared. It’s a familiarity thing that you might want to get used to before going. If you wouldn’t kiss the person across from you on the mouth, you probably don’t want to share one of these dishes with them either. Second traditional Ethiopian meals are eaten without utensils. No knives, forks, spoons… or even shovels. You eat with your hand (the right hand is most polite). And third, Ethiopian food is scoffed up with a special type of bread. The bread actually forms a large part of the meal and acts as a type of round platter for the food (which is on top of an actual platter.) Then, hurray, more bread is served on the side. This bread is used to scoop up the different cooked meats and vegetables, which are on top of the bread platter. It is the bread, this bread, starring up at us that we have the problem with.
It’s grey. It’s soggy. It’s spongy. It’s bitter. In short, it’s not hot. Literally and figuratively. They called Injera. The ingredients on top of the Injera are great. But because the only way we can pick them up and eat is by using this bread as a shovel, our meal is at a stand still. Literally. With every bit of this grey, soggy, spongy, bitter bread I feel like I’m about to throw up. To put it politely. My mother is not enjoying it either. She’s actually stopped eating all together and with one plucked eyebrow raised she gives me the look. We’re used to Jamaican style hard dough bread which is even more dense than Canadian bread so for her to eat this damp bread is like water torture. I wonder if they could just put it back into the oven for a while. “Are you sure the bread is done?” I feel like asking our server. But I don’t. Instead, because I’m so hungry, I skulk over to the bar.
“I know this is probably totally inappropriate,” I whisper to server-owner-lady. “We are really enjoying all the toppings. It’s all very flavourful. It’s so delicious. It’s all very new to us. But we are having a bit of a problem with the bread.” She puts her hand on her hips, defiantly. Not good. Not good. I continue to pleading. “We are just not used to the bread. Maybe it’s an acquired taste. Maybe. But, uhm, we are finding it a bit…uhm, soggy. So, uhm, we were just wondering if we could…have a fork?”
Big smile on my part. None on server-owner-lady.
“We don’t have forks,” she says bluntly.
“Ohkaaaayyyy,” I respond desperate. “How about a spoon?”
“A ladle? Anything?”
“We are a traditional Ethiopian restaurant,” she says loudly so all the other guests can hear. “We do not have any utensils whatsoever. You must eat with your hands. You must eat with the bread.”
Traditional? Jeesh! Even the Asians give us an option. An out. And we buy everything from them! If the Asians can provide a fork, you would think the Ethiopians could cough up a spoon or two. Defeated and still hungry, I slink back to the table wondering what to do next. My mother looks…not impressed. But she is so hungry by this point that she has begun eating the meat and vegetables on top of the soggy, spongy, grey, bitter bread with just her recently manicured fingers. I join her in the process, because I too am hungry. Starvation-nation hungry. But I feel like an animal. The meats are easy enough to grab but some of the vegetables, like the lentils, mashed yams, boiled spinach and such prove harder and messier to deal with. I feel people in the restaurant are watching us. Whispering about us. Laughing at us as we gingerly place mushy food into our mouths with our now greasy fingers. But we’re Jamaican, not Ethiopian I think to them, hoping they can read my thoughts.
I eye the Shoppers Drug Mart across the street.
“What if I go across the street, buy some disposable plastic cutlery and smuggle it back in?” I suggest to my mom. “Then I could by a birthday cake and put them inside. We’ll leave it on the table and when the server-owner-lady is not looking we’ll whip them out, gobble a couple of mouthfuls and then shove them back into the cake until she’s not looking again.”
My Mom laughs and continues to pick at the plate of food. “Rolyn, I told you this wasn’t a good idea.”
But at the time, the fable told seemed exotic, delicious, tempting and true. Obviously many others do indeed enjoy this place. The mythical line-up had begun to form along the east wall as we near the end of our stay. All were white and all under 40. All waiting to gobble down this grey, soggy, spongy, bitter thing they call bread. I mean Injera.
We end up leaving almost all of the Injera intact while managing to shovel about ¾ of the meat and vegetables into our starving bodies by hand. It’s a huge insult to leave any food on your plate, so when the server-owner-lady comes to collect our platter, we know we have virtually slapped her across the face. But, we explained ourselves, so she can’t be too upset. Or can she? I really didn’t care. We won’t be back. Not because the service was bad (it certainly wasn’t great, but for such cheap prices we didn’t expect anything much), not because the restaurant wasn’t nice (it certainly isn’t stunning what with its cheap metal and vinyl chairs, and traditional Ethiopian artworks that looked like they came from The Ex), it certainly wasn’t because the food wasn’t good (some of it was delicious). No, we won’t return to this (or probably any Ethiopian) restaurant simply because we couldn’t handle eating the main component of the meal. The Injera was simply not a part of the meal that we could ignore (like anchovies on a pizza.) The Injera is the utensil that enables you to eat and finish the rest of the meal. Without it, you are left to starve. Or you are left eating your food like a scavenger.
My mother went home after I’m sure to nibble pasta in the farther off land of Mississauga. I take a stroll down the street to eat butter chicken at an East Indian restaurant. With magical utensils!
A BIT ABOUT INJERA
Injera is the Ethiopian staple bread. It is a thin crepe like flat bread that the dishes such as Wots, Tibs and Fitfit are served on. To eat the dishes pieces of Injera are torn off and used to scoop up mouthful.
Injera is unique to Ethiopia, from its distinct taste and main ingredient the Teff cereal. Teff is the tiniest cereal and used as a staple food only in Ethiopia (in other parts of the world its associated with common grass). Teff is believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000 and 1000 BC. Teff seeds were discovered in a pyramid thought to date back to 3359 BC.
Injera preparation usually takes two to three days to make. The teff is milled into powder then mixed in water along yeast and small quantity of flowers. This mix is set aside at room temperature for 2 days so it ferments and rises. During the second day it starts to give tangy aromas as the fermentation releases air bubbles; this is where the Injera’s slight tangy taste comes from.
After the fermentation process is finished the mix is cooked on hot flat iron pan called ‘Mitad’. A circular motion is used to achieve thin consistency. When the hot pan and the fermented teff mix/batter contact thousands of tiny air bubbles escape, creating thousands of tiny craters/eyes - creating the familiar look of Injera.
The side touching the hot mitad pan gets its flat look, while the one facing away towards the air has the a porous structure with thousands of mini craters. This porous structure allows the Injera to be a good bread to scoop up sauces and dishes.
Restaurants will serve your dishes on Injera and they bring a side dish of injera for scooping purposes either rolled up or folded. When you are about to finish your side Injera attentive wait staff will bring your more free of charge. (NAZARETH CHARGES $4 EXTRA FOR EACH ADDITIONAL ORDER)
Eating with Injera - Handling Instructions
Starting Note: - Side A = With Holes
- Side B = Flat & Without Holes
- Use one hand (left/right - ok)
1) Tear of a small piece (size of your palm)
2) Side A - side with holes is the one that contacts with the sauce/meat.
3) Scoop/Grab sauce or meat with the Injera (similar to Indian/Middle Eastern eating)
4) Use your fingers to control; so pieces won’t fall down as you put the scoop your mouth
5) It’s ok to grab/sample more than one sauce or dish on each scoop-trip
6) Finally you can proceed to eat the bottom/table cloth Injera where the sauce was first served, by now it soaked with all the tasty juices and is full of flavors
Side Note: Gursha / Act of feeding fellow diners by hand
Ethiopians (less practiced outside Ethiopia) often hand feed their guests, or guests of honors during dinner/lunch. This is to show respect (often it grabs foreigners by surprise) sometimes the person receiving the Gursha responds in kind and in turn feeds his feeder. Often gurshas are much larger than the regular scoop due to tradition, so you might find your mouth full from front to back. It’s ok to decline a Gursha if you are uncomfortable, people won’t take offense from this.
A BIT ABOUT NAZARETH
Nazareth is an Arab city in the middle of Israel. The city is home to many Ethiopians, including the family of Nazareth, who emigrated to Toronto in the 1990s. In homage to her native Nazareth, Nazareth started the Nazareth the restaurant. Confused yet? Over the years the restaurant has doubled in size (it took over Pam’s Roti next door) and quadruple in popularity, but has always served the same delicious fare at very low prices. Nazareth could charge almost double the prices and still be less expensive than many other Ethiopian hot spots in town. According to my friend, the vegetarian platter is simply a must. Baked like lasagna, it’s a combination of lentils, spinach, beans and other root vegetables with mitmita spices on a sheet of Injera and served warm. For the meat-hungry, kifto is highly recommendable, as are the tibs.
Though it might not be for everyone (including my mother and I), it may just be perfect for you. But just in case, smuggle in a fork.
CROFT STREET: Present History
HotorNotTdot Rating: Hot (Pantone 186 C)
Text and Photos by Rolyn Chambers
You see more of the city during the daytime, when the suns up. Visually at least. Who knew? I started to realize this over the summer. Usually my 24 hours are spent thusly: from midnight to 4AM (on weekends this extends until 6AM) I attend events (i.e. partying) or work from home, the next seven hours are spent sleeping/passed out, the afternoon rooster usually wakes me up at noon (2 PM on weekends) and by the time I do my normal routines (showering, cleaning glitter out of my hair, choosing an outfit, fishing for compliments, checking my email, responding to cease & desist orders, trimming my nose hairs etc) it’s about 7PM before I ever make it out of the house. So imagine my surprise as I stroll along College Street one bright afternoon, in my shades, cupping cup of fresh Starbucks. I see most everything. No dark corners. Nothing hidden away in the shadows. The sun showcasing the street like I rarely ever get to see it.
College Street at night is a wonderful strip. It’s a great pace to go for dinner (especially one of the little pasta places in Little Italy), or go for a drink (the wines of Coco Lezzone are divine), play some pool (ooohhh Andy Poolhall), catch a drag show (haaaiiii El Convento Rico!), see a live band (I never shower before rolling into Sneaky Dees) or a ridiculous DJ set (Mod Club for sure—-whatever happened to those A.D/D promoters anyways?). So I’ve seen it a plenty…but only at night. I’ve even seen some alleys too. But shhhh…mostly for peeing, or upchucking… or groping cute drunk college guys who were either peeing…or upchucking.
But, unbeknownst to me (until now—-because of the sun) exists a laneway with a most interesting history. A laneway unlike any you will venture down (or stumble down or pass out in). May I introduce, Croft Street. Yes it’s such an important laneway, that it’s not even called a laneway. Or an alley. Located near Spadina, Croft St runs north-south between College St. and Bloor St. Most alleys are simply passageways to better streets. Most are the backyards entrances to houses, existing only for residents to park their cars in their garages or a place to store your businesses garbage dumpster. This alley is different. Not only is this laneway well kept with front entrances to unusual lofts and houses, but its history is forever (at least until someone paints over them) illustrated on its walls. And what a history it has had.
Originally, Croft Street was a significant north/south thoroughfare connecting Bloor Street to College. But as the area around it became more developed, it took on many of the functions typical of Toronto lanes, such as the provision of garages and vehicular access to the houses flanking Croft east and west. To this day a number of houses, coach houses, and warehouses remain that reflect the street’s previous life. The Laneway is significant because it is one of the few that the city of Toronto actually gave a name, thus allowing addresses for its laneway housing. In fact the laneway is well known for its cutting-edge home design.
But, get this! Croft Street was not always known by this name. The name Craft comes from a man whose image is painted on its laneway walls. Originally named Ulster Avenue, this narrow lane was re-named in 1908 after John Croft. Croft, sadly, was the sole fatality of the Great Toronto Fire of April 19, 1904.
I know? A fire?!?! I had no idea the city almost burnt down to the ground not once but twice. I thought only lame-ass wooden Montreal had that problem. But yes, the city was almost destroyed for a second time in 1904. But no one actually died during this fire. Which is amazing. But the cleanup that followed was another story. It seems that on May 4, Croft, a 38-year-old explosives expert, was clearing ruins near Front and Bay streets when a charge he had set failed to detonate. As he attempted to disable it, the charge exploded. Croft eventually died of his injuries the following day. A husband and the father of three, he is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. I vow to go visit it and pour some wine I’ll smuggle out of Coco Lezzone on his grave. Out of respect.
All of this information is written and illustrated on the west walls of this laneway thanks to a stunning and surprisingly informative mural, a partnership between the City Of Toronto and the Harbourfront Community Centre. Heritage Toronto contributed an official standing plaque, reminiscent of museums and art galleries. You can even snub your nose at the people on bikes as the peddle by if want a more gallery like feel. Snooty! These murals beautify the alleyway, teach us a bit about Toronto history and encourage City-community centre partnerships, which allow youths to express themselves creatively. Strangely many business owners put this type of urban art in the same category as ‘tagging’, and thus refuse to have anything to do with it. This is not even in the realm of regular graffiti art, which too is head and shoulders above tagging.
The east walls of this laneway are also worth the trip. They have nothing to do with the history of Toronto but the graffiti art displayed here are indicative of the present. Many of the cute rabbit like caricatures painted on Croft’s east walls have been popping (or hopping) up on laneway walls all over the city for a few years now. Created by a graffiti artist who goes by the comical name Poser, his animated rabbits sometimes look like a spray can come to life. Some smile at you, some laugh at you, some snarl at you, but all are there, I think, to brighten your day. The combination of these two walls, one historical (and sanctioned by the city) and one present (and somewhat illegal), make for an artistic, intellectual, political and legal tug of war.
Slap on some shades, bring a along a cup of java and take a stroll down it soon before Mayor Rob Ford in his ridiculous anti-graffiti zeal has it painted over. Just watch out for the occasional bicycler.
A WEE BIT OUT THE GREAT TORONTO FIRE OF 1904
The fire was first spotted at 8:04 p.m. by a constable on his regular street patrol. The flames were rising from the elevator shaft of the Currie Neckwear factory at 58 Wellington Street West, just west of Bay Street (now TD Bank Tower). The factory was situated in the centre of a large industrial and commercial area. The exact cause of the fire was never determined, but a faulty heating stove or an electrical problem is suspected.
The fire began on the evening of the 19th and took nine hours to get under control. The glow of the fire could be seen for kilometres in all directions. Firefighters from cities as far away as Hamilton and Buffalo came to Toronto’s aid.
Even with 17 fire halls, 2 engine companies and 1 hose company proved to be no match. The fire destroyed 104 buildings, but killed no one. It caused $10,350,000 in damage and put five thousand people out of work, at a time when the city only had 200,000 inhabitants. As a result of the fire, more stringent safety laws were introduced and an expansion of the city’s fire department was undertaken.
It was the largest fire ever in the city, although a previous large fire had consumed many city blocks on April 7, 1849 when the city was much smaller and constructed mostly with wood.
WATCH THE SKETCHY CROFT ST YOUTUBE VIDEO
In an effort to rid Toronto of many abandoned and unsightly 24 Hour newspaper boxes, a groups calling themselves the 24 Hour Makeover Crew have released a second video aimed at Sun Media who own these boxes
Toronto is a metropolis unlike many others.
It is not a "smaller Manhattan."
It is not a "less fashionable Montreal."
It is not just "Hollywood North."
It is not what you (resident or visitor)
think you know it is.
HotorNotTdot takes you on a tour of the city through the eyes of someone who knows it intimately.
This is what it really is!