Friday, September 01, 2006

Now is your chance to come to Toronto Appreciation Day!

As the Toronto Appreciation tour comes to a close, I can't help but think that I am forever a changed man. I can no longer take this city for granted because so many other people do. Sure, Toronto has its problems, what world class city doesn't? Pollution, crime, garbage, these things will exist in any city, let alone one that has millions of residents! I will not rest, I cannot rest, until this city gets the credit it deserves.

We still have one more Toronto Appreciation Day in Hamilton on Labour Day Monday, September the 4th. At 3 PM come to Lot J at the Ivor Wynne Stadium, where The Toronto Argonauts will be playing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It's bound to be a great time!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Enough is Enough

Toronto Appreciation Day was going well in Montreal. I gave my speech to Montrealers, including a few words about keeping a sense of pride about yourself and not letting the city get tatty (see the entry about the Cross below). I did some informal polling and presided over what was a fairly positive public discourse on Toronto and its place in Canada. Of course there were a few vulgarities and misguided rants but overall I felt things were going well. Then the comedy troupe The Dancing Cock Brothers. showed up.

They had heard about Toronto Appreciation Day through a blurb in Montreal weekly the Hour and asked to play a song. This is precisely the public square kind of thing I have been inviting Canadians across the country to do so of course I immediately agreed this was a smashing idea. Until they started singing.

Three of these guys are Montrealers and a fourth, Ryan Hipgrave, is an ex-Torontonian. Their song Goodbye Toronto, Bonjour Montreal is about how the three Montrealers help Ryan when he falls off the wagon so to speak and wants to move back to Toronto. How ironic when Montreal is obviously the drunker and less productive.

Here are some of their snotty lyrics:
Ryan (recovering Torontonian): "We have MuchMusic, Bravo and Citytv –
Three Montrealers: But nobody knows how to play good hockey."

I’m a civilized guy but I really think that this kind of so called satire is just destructive and has no place in a country like Canada. I wasn’t just disappointed, I was increasingly angry with their waggly faced sneers about how much cooler and hipper Montreal was.

I am sorry to say I lost my cool and physically attacked one of them. Kyle is the Montrealer smart mouth that I tackled as you can see in the photos and then I more or less took on the entire troupe with some ground wrestling. Me and Mats Sundin and Zidane are gentlemen and skilled tacticians first but you push and you push and you see what you get. You get a little of the old push back. My parents are from Belfast and have instilled not only a strong work ethic in me, but also what is called Northern Irish Diplomacy. Sorry Kyle but that’s how I roll, don’t let the suit fool you. I may look like a soft handed office pimp but I guess you know different now. Bitch.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Cross

I started this Toronto Appreciation Tour to make a difference, and it's definitely starting to show.

A few weeks ago we arrived in Montreal. Everyone knows that while the symbol for Toronto is the CN Tower, the symbol for Montreal is its cross, the post modern, post Catholic thing-a-mabob perched atop Mount Royal. I guess you could say Montreal’s Olympic stadium is the symbol of Montreal as well but its been dangerously crumbling for a while now and I don’t want to be inflammatory about such matters.

But back to the cross. I was horrified to notice that Montreal hadn't maintained even the most basic maintenance.

Yes that's right, a bunch of light bulbs were out on the cross. An Irish couple I know who recently moved to Toronto visited Montreal two weeks before I went and they told me that the bulbs were out at that time as well. As such I understood that this situation had been left unchecked for far too long.

"Not good enough," I said to myself, not as a Torontonian, but as a Canadian who has great affection for Montreal in a big brother sort of way. God, or the Greater Power as some call him, agreed as you can see from the lightning in the photos. And no that's not a photoshop job that's real lightning.

In true Toronto style I rolled up my sleeves and got to work, bypassing the wine, jazz and beautiful women as we so often do here in Toronto so that Canada can run smoothly.

That cross is a not only a symbol of Montreal but of Canada and it reflects on all of us. Now, the Toronto Appreciation Tour is always a popular topic for media wherever we go in Canada and I made a decision to leverage our coverage to make some changes.

The day after I arrived I went on This Morning Live on Global television and had four talk radio appearances. At each opportunity I pounded home the message that we as Canadians have to take care to keep up appearances for our international friends that visit. But more than that we have to maintain our cities and tourist attractions for our own sense of dignity and self worth.

Maybe that makes me "uptight" or a "busybody" from Toronto but by goodness when I see something that needs doing I just up and do it.

The immense media pressure I exerted did not go unnoticed. The light bulbs were replaced the next day. It took me 24 hours to get the city to replace those light bulbs and I can't tell you how that gave me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Immensely so.

As a side note here is my hilarious but true joke about Montreal. It is in the spirit of Just for Laughs comedy festival that was on during our stay in Montreal.

Q: How many Montrealers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It takes one Torontonian.

That’s what we do in Toronto, we keep Canada running.

No need to thank me Montreal, thank Toronto and our can-do attitude towards playing hard but also working hard.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Canada Day!/Toronto Appreciation Day!

Canada Day, Toronto Appreciation Day in Ottawa. The stage was set. And what a smashing success it was. Good, good stuff.

Ottawa and Toronto share a mutual respect, because generally people who hate Toronto often hate Ottawa for the same reasons. Like "Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze" etc.

There is also the hockey rivalry between the Senators and the Leafs to consider. But here's an interesting notion. If it had been the Senators that went to the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto would have been behind them for the most part. And I think that the Ottawa fans would have been behind the Leafs. Sure there would be some die hards but this is about bringing the cup back to Canada from the States. Edmonton and Calgary, however, would both rather see Americans take the cup over eachother. Interviews we did in Calgary were unanimous. "No way, we want the Hurricanes to win. Screw Edmonton."

Chew on that for a sec. Tastes funny doesn't it. Point is that Ottawa, whenever it meets Toronto in the playoffs, chokes. They are chokers. Choke-a-matic.

That said, Ottawa DEFINITELY showed the most appreciation for Toronto. The pictures don't lie. Hundreds of people and fireworks etc. It was FUN! And I'll tell you what, some people have called Ottawa the comfortable shoe capital of Canada. I now know this to be true. Way to go Ottawa.

Some guy from Calgary pointed out that he didn't come all the f-ing way from Calgary to see a f-ing Toronto Appreciation sign. Maybe he didn't know that Canada day and Toronto Appreciation day are essentially the same thing. Toronto is the engine that drives Canada after all.

Here is some cows - they like Toronto obviously. Its clear. Clair comme l'eau de source the French say.

This is Bath, Ontario near Kingston. I accidentally called them Sink but that didn't "dampen" their spirit of appreciation. That was a good jump.

Oh and here we are near Athol, Ontario (snicker) at a beach called the Sand Dunes. And como lo usual everyone was into it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sanctimonious Icebox? Don't think so.

Well you know a lot of people say that Toronto is a sanctimonious icebox, that's its uptight and too politically correct and you have to play ultimate Frisbee for three years before people will allow you into their social group. And OK sure this is the same city that wouldn't let the Bare Naked Ladies play in Nathan Philips square because of their "controversial" name and yes its the same place that wouldn't let Toronto based Ms Universe Natalie Glebova link to story speak at that same square because beauty contests are too sexist. HOWEVER, Mr Toronto was looking to illustrate that that is simply not the case. I joined the gay pride parade on Sunday, June 25th. Now gay pride is about as unuptight as you can get. Leather boys and caribana queens syncro dance with drag kings and lipstick lesbian hotties. Its a real departure from the Toronto that is mired in Protestant conservatism (and the same city culture that didn't have an outdoor cafe until 1968 -The Diplomatico). The parade hall monitors almost kicked me out which was going a ways towards showing that even a gay pride parade can be uptight when something FABULOUS happened. Aggressive hot lesbians tore off all my clothes. Yes that's right I was ravaged and left as breathless and naked as a Conan the Barbarian love interest.

I began my standard "here's me" dancepanther approach to a stunning brunette with Jackie O sunglasses- that seemed to be going well. My latin dance training was coming in handy. The slow yet sensual approach created a space and began to captivate the crowd. The music was building to some sort of crescendo.Tout a coup a blonde surfgirl grabbed my hips from behind and began a grinding thing. Who was I to complain? Jackie O had a rascally look in her eye and moved to the beat slowly closer to me. Smiling devilishly. With a sudden lunge (keep in mind there are hundreds of people watching along Yonge Street) Jackie grabs my shirt as the blonde surf woman tightened her grip on my hips and Jackie rips off the shirt in one tiger-like tear. A leather boy and a Pippi Longstocking of some description joined in the strip Mr Toronto fray. The music exploded into full bass bashing swing. As my chest was exposed to the sun, I gasped and the crowd went bananas. My shirt was in shreds, my pants were partially ripped and left drooping around my ankles. I was left to gather my tattered clothing and my dignity and limp along the rest of the parade route.

Sanctimonious Icebox? I think not.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Home for a Rest

After my world wind trip out West, I have finally made it home to my beloved Toronto.

The CN tower never looked so beautiful as I drove back into the city. It nearly cause a small tear to form in my eye. I LOVE THIS CITY!!! The more I travelled, the greater this city looks. Yeah, Vancouver, Banff, Calgary, and Edmonton were nice and have their little place in Canada. But TORONTO is KING!

So now I am going to take a little break to rest my weary body from all the (neck) hugs I have received, and enjoy this wonderful city I call home before I travel to the East.

I have to admit; this was a great trip, met nice people, ate well, drank better and had a great time. BUT and here is the BIG BUT.

Mr. TORONTO is VERY UNHAPPY about one thing.

Mr. TORONTO’s PRIZE possession is missing. Mr. Toronto’s now very famous Maple Leaf/Gretzky Jersey is gone (and yes, Mr. Toronto realizes Mr. Toronto is referring to himself in third person). Someone has ‘borrowed’ the jersey right from under Mr. Toronton in Edmonton. Perhaps it is because Toronto is such a safe place that Mr. Toronto has grown less vigilant about his personal property, and missed the culprit in action. Well Mr. Toronto is VERY sad right now and has to go walking in his much-adored town to try and make sense of this evil shirt-napping.

If anyone knows anything about this shirt, please contact Mr. Toronto via this website.

Please don’t keep Mr. Toronto crying, especially since he no longer have a jersey worthy to wipe his tears with.

Monday, June 19, 2006

More Edmonton Pictures!

Go Leafs Go! Er, I mean Oilers, although, we all know who they are looking to for inspiration. S'funny - they chant let's Go Oilers but all the posters say Go Oilers Go. Weird. I'm in Edmonton tonight for the celebrations on Whyte avenue, so look for us!

Everyone was very appreciative of Toronto, and especially my Gretzky jersey. I love the city of Champignons.