Graffiti Tour of Toronto

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One of my favourite things to do while I’m working in Toronto is to go for walks through different neighbourhoods. I’ve been to cool areas, eaten at great restaurants, and shopped at some of the best stores. (If you want directions to a store that sells $10 plaid shirts, I’m your girl.) But as many people who love to wander through cities have experienced, I have ended up in some areas that you would not want directions to. I’ve turned a street too early or wandered a bit too far, and quite frankly, I have ended up in some areas that one should actively avoid.

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In addition to some colourful characters – a homeless man around the St. Lawrence Market took to me, so I had to avoid the area for a while – I’ve come across colourful walls. With that, I bring you my urban art and graffiti tour of Toronto.

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The above photos are from the Kensington Market area from a day when I had a few hours to walk around before I met up with a friend.

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This is one of my favourite walls in Toronto, backing onto a parking lot by OCAD.

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I happened upon this beautiful mural when I got lost a few weeks ago. It was late afternoon on a Friday, and I encountered interesting locals along my journey. I’m not sure what’s more surprising, the number of people I saw drinking around churches, or the fact that they didn’t seem to want me to join them. As much as I love the art, my friends and family have kindly requested that I do not return to the area, regardless of whether or not I’m invited to join the whisky sipping multitudes around the local Presbyterian church.

Journey safely my friends.

Song of the Day: Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood

Concerts I Never Speak Of

You’re now entering into my inner circle. What I’m about to tell you, I’ve only told five people before now. It is time, however, that this secret be made known. I’m ready if you are.

I’ve been to many concerts for many reasons. While I have seen some that I proudly tell everyone about, there are others that I speak of only in hushed tones, if I speak of them at all. In the spirit of getting it all out there, I have seen Nickelback, it was in Sarnia, I was fifteen, and I can live with that truth, so you should too. But that is not the concert I speak of today.

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When I saw seventeen years old, it went to see the Jonas Brothers. I went with the girls who had been my closest friends for the past six years. Midway though grade eleven, our friendship hit a rough patch. Between school and skating, I never had the chance to work it out, and as track season began in the spring, I literally ran away from the problem. I missed those girls, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it right. That is, until they asked me to go to the Jonas Brothers concert with them that summer. We had been fans the summer before — I can picture your scandalized expressions now — but I had been unable to go to the concert with them. When the invitation came for the coming summer, I thought it was the moment I had been waiting for. It came as a revelation: “I can go to the concert to save the friendship!”

That was in February. The concert was in August. I had largely forgotten about the date until I looked at my calendar and realized that I was going to camp with my synchronized skating team at around the same time. Actually, at exactly the same time. Now this was not a skating camp, as in the time when you learn the program. This was thirty-two skaters sleeping in cabins and going canoeing. I actually had to leave the camp early along with several other girls, all of whom were fourteen or under, so I could make it to the Rogers Centre in time. Between camp and the car ride, I hadn’t had the chance to shower. I smelt like campfire and had leftover s’mores in my hair. But nothing could stop me. I was saving the friendship!

When I arrived, everyone at the Rogers Centre looked like they were about thirteen, including my friends who all wore Jonas Brothers t-shirts. I, on the other hand, was wearing a bandana wild west style. (My questionable affair with bandanas, you see, is long standing.) My friends looked lovely. I stood beside them as their greasy friend who didn’t know any of the Jonas Brothers’ latest songs. The car ride home was long and silent. Long, because we got stuck in Jonas traffic, and silent, because needless to say, I didn’t manage to save the friendship.

But in the words of the Jonas Brothers… Hell, I can’t remember any of the words of the Jonas Brothers. We all go concerts we’re not so proud of, and we all try to impress people who no longer find us impressive. We learn from it, we move on.

A week later, I saw Weezer open for Blink-182 with a friend I’ll have for life. All was right in the world.

Song of the Day: Perfect Situation by Weezer

P.S. I plan to have Story Time Wednesday as a weekly feature. Please let me know if there is a specific story you want me to tell!

The Trials of Wearing Bandanas

In spite of the fact that bandanas are rarely seen outside of counterculture, they maintain a nearly constant presence in my daily outfits. I wear them for their practicality — they make rain soaked hair look like a conscious choice — and for their ability to turn any outfit into something remarkable. Perhaps I flatter myself with remarkable. Bandanas, rather, turn any outfit into something worth remarking upon. Such is the blessing and curse of bandanas.

As some of you may be unfamiliar with various bandana styling, I’ve broken down the different ways I wear them.

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This is the style I wear for various athletic pursuits. It has the practicality of an ordinary headband, but with added cool. It makes me feel like I was vandalizing a back alley before I showed up to yoga class!

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See what I mean? It’s for all your athletic pursuits.

The next style is the one I wear most frequently. It’s a simple style, the kind of look modern day Rosie the Riveter would wear to class.

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I must caution you against the green bandana. One of my neighbours saw me wear it once and thought I was a major stoner.

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Unfortunately for him, not quite.

The last look is certainly the riskiest. I wore it to class one day because it covered up my unwashed hair effectively. All day I just knew the people around me were itching to make a comment or ask a question, but no one did. That is, until Patrick in my American Literature class walked by me and said, “There ain’t no Bloods ’round here!” You see, I was wearing my bandana Tupac style.

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ImageI can’t pull it off quite like Tupac does. In fact, the day I wore it, I just ended up looking all kinds of crazy. But such is the way it goes with bandanas and style in general. Unfortunately, I talked to a good looking guy that night who already thought I was more than a little crazy, and while the bandana was on, even the charm and wit I displayed in our conversation could do little to convince him otherwise. It happens.

Until next time, be bold and wear bandanas.

Song of the Day: Front Row by Metric

You Never Asked What I Listen To

I’m coming off of the crazy week long phenomenon that is NXNE. I went every night from Wednesday to Saturday, and saw bands that played everything from dream pop to punk rock to hip hop with some African drumming on the side.

I saw some amazing bands at a number of venues, but the highlight of NXNE for me was Fucked Up at the Horseshoe Tavern. I’ve been a big fan of Fucked Up since The Chemistry of Common Life, and I knew that the Horseshoe was going to be the greatest place to see them. My amazing friend Kelly had joined me for the week of NXNE, and though she wanted to go to another show that was on at the same time, she agreed to join me for the 1 AM show. Before she agreed to go, she asked, “Will I like it?”, and as any good friend would, I told her honestly, “No, no you won’t!” She was apprehensive as we waited to get into the Horseshoe, but one can forget many things after an hour and half in line. When Kelly and I finally got in after a conversation with the truly lovely bouncer who just happens to hate his job most days, (all the best my friend!) we moved about as close to the stage as we could without entering what would inevitability become the mosh pit. I was ready, born ready. It had been years since I had been to a hardcore show.

Fucked Up’s show is the reason why I love that kind of music. The environment was electric, with Damian Abraham and the band giving everything from the moment the show started. The crowd was fearless, and there was a sense of community that comes from only the craziest of shows. As Damian said midway through I Hate Summer, “We’re all fat, we’re all too skinny, we’re all too beautiful, we’re all ugly.”

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The show was everything I hoped it would be. Kelly, however, did not feel so similarly inspired. She said afterwards that she “just stood there looking quizzical.”Beyond the question she asked about what she had just seen — numerous fans crowd surfed to the stage to bear hug Damian before diving back in again — she asked me if anyone else knew that I liked this kind of music. Certainly it’s not something I keep secret in the way I do a few concerts I’ve been to*. The main reason why Kelly and my high school classmates I ran into at the show didn’t know that I listened to that type of music is simply because they never asked! Only those who I’ve lived with (love to Becca, Adina and Livs for putting up with the same song seventeen times in a row) or studied with (apologizes to Clara and Mark for the times I interrupted their studying to talk about Earl Sweatshirt) would really have a sense of my range of interests. So in the spirit of NXNE and the greatest hardcore shows, let’s talk about our taste in music. If you never ask, you will never know who shares your love of anarchist folk or French rap, and you’ll never know the genre that could become your new favourite.

Thanks for coming out to read my first blog post! I hope you stick around to see what this blog will become. In the mean time, check out some of my other NXNE favourites, Decent Lovers, Air Dubai and Dan Deacon.

Song of the Day: Black Albino Bones by Fucked Up

*More on that to come.