To start, here's my recurring complaint about the TTC. Toronto needs to get a grip on its transit system - the subways are run-down and filthy, and surface transportation on its vaunted streetcar network is intermittent and frustrating. Instead of pushing elaborate expansion schemes like Transit City, the TTC needs to clean up its existing facilities and improve its service. Relying on the TTC to get around is becoming an ordeal.
People dress funny in Toronto. I frequently saw young skinny men clutching man-purses in manicured hands, slouching down the sidewalks with their pantlegs rolled up to mid-calf, giant aviator sunglasses hiding their bloodshot eyes and unkempt hair hanging out from under cheap fedoras. If you want to stroll the streets of your own hometown in the latest cutting-edge Toronto fashion, this is the look. Of course you have to weigh less than 150 lbs to pull it off.
Or you could try this look - a canary-yellow fedora and matching trenchcoat sported by a young hipster in a coffee shop on King St:
Mayor Miller's Toronto is relentless in pushing its environmental agenda - sometimes a visitor feels like he's trapped in some green ghetto where the environuts are constantly watching for infractions. Yonge Street was closed to traffic from Gerrard to Queen for the Livegreen Toronto Festival - a sort of trade show for companies hawking "green" products and services. Of course this completely disrupted north-south traffic, causing backups where cars sat belching CO2. It was pretty clear that there's a lot of money to be made in the enviro-guilt market if you can somehow market your product with the words green, eco-friendly,sustainable, responsible, or local attached to it:
Various groups were tripping over themselves to establish their green bona fides. There were the green doctors:
the green bankers:
the green brewers (whose beer is sold in green bottles!):
the green artists
No green bakers or candlestick makers, but there was a contingent of green lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered. I had no idea that being gay made me environmentally friendly. Well, there is a green stripe in the flag, after all.
An alt-rock band entertained the true believers. Hippies generated electricity with stationary bikes to power the amplifiers.
Meanwhile, over at Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall, the party faithful were gathered for Toronto-Cuba Friendship Day. A sparse crowd of lefties was demanding that Canada end the U.S. blockade of Cuba (how Canada is supposed to do that was a little vague). The communists were out in force extolling the virtues of the Cuban Workers' Paradise.
All this leftist agitprop can tire a guy out, so the next morning I decided to replenish my spirits with a big greasy breakfast at my favourite Toronto diner - Fran's on College Street. I've been eating breakfast there for years ever since my dad used to take me when I was a kid when we'd been to see the Leafs play at the old Maple Leaf Gardens.
I strolled past various leftist territorial markers
and took my seat beside a table of skinny young men discussing how eating meat was bad for the environment. I ostentatiously opened the National Post and ordered my usual Fran's breakfast - The Maple Leafs Forever - an artery-clogging feast with the carbon footprint of an entire African village. I tucked into this monster with enthusiasm while my neighbours at the next table ate their whole-wheat vegan waffles. They didn't look like they were enjoying their breakfast like I was mine.
So, fortified with factory-produced eggs, red meat and non-fair-trade coffee, I headed home to Eastern Ontario and relative sanity. You know how the saying goes - nice place to visit ...