news [archive 25]

25.09.2006: photos are coming in from the two ungdomshuset demos over the weekend, and i'm left wondering what went wrong between saturday's demo and sunday's demo? the one of saturday looked amazing and i'm gutted we missed it. the photos are all full of a hundred of smiles. it's a complete contrast to the following day. btw, there's also some good (danish) video footage on lorry news, including an interview with an ungdomshuset spokesperson and the police (who claim that had to stop the protest because people started covering their faces). all these links are a bit redundant though if you know how to use indymedia and are interested enough to bother.

25.09.2006: i've had a bit of a rough weekend, getting wet and rather miserable, but that's okay. it's all part of embracing autumn, right?

so it's been slow but not uneventful. on saturday was my first voyage inside a tattoo & piercing parlour, interestingly enough. and you should be able to gather from my ambiguous statement what i was actually doing there. then in the evening we went over to graduate house, a rather nice and contempory yet factoryesque student accomodation, to meet up with amanda. what followed was three episodes of eerie indiana (i can't believe i forgot about that show and how great it was) and then some random girl's birthday party. it was a strange experience, venturing into a group of very different people (er, music students). her flat was primarily inhabited by a grand piano. a fifth floor flat with a door which was way too small, how did they even get it in? after the pinata smashing it was time to leave. first we tried the ferret and ferkin, but our multiple forms or ID weren't to their satisfaction. up until now i've managed on my UK drivers license, and i still don't believe anywhere will take a photocopied passport, so it looks like i'm going to be limited to where i can a drink. there's zero chance of me taking my passport out, and since i'm a visitor i can't apply for an ontario ID card. but no worries, the pub around the corner took us in after i explained our previous trouble in a polite and understanding manner at the door. so score one for the karaoke night, which was surprisingly entertaining. one girl did eminem, except the dj had to keep changing the speed of song, and another guy sang green day's 'boulevard of broken dreams' unphased while the dj sang wonderwall over the top. are karaoke djs normally that unforgiving?

then yesterday was the 'word on the street' book and magazine festival in queens park. whose great idea was it to host such a festival in late september? books and rain clearly don't mix, but at least it wasn't raining all time. when it did we managed to hide in the now magazine tent and listen to the talk on the greening of toronto (featuring various columnists, book writers, and someone from greenpeace). it was interesting to get a feel for the environmental scene here, if that's what i actually got. around the park were plenty of good stalls, including ones by drawn and quarterly, don't touch me comics, shameless magazine and various others i can't remember.

but then the rain came. it came properly. we sheltered infront of a h&m for the worst of it but still got absolutely soaked. the last thing i needed. and this meant we had macarone cheese for dinner.

and i finshed my maze. behold the greatest maze i've ever created:

comments more than welcome, please.

24.09.2006: there's ugliness on the streets of copenhagen, and it's hard to tell whether we left at a good or bad time. with the future of ungdomshuset being thrown into uncertainty there's been a lot of street action, small and large protests and plenty of "crazy and inventive happenings". missing out on this action definately has its pro's and con's, as i'm sure the 260+ people who were arrested today (in what might have been one of the biggest mass arrests the city has seen) will tell you. it was some seriously bad shit. ekstra bladet have a couple of articles that are in danish, but they do link to photos. on the danish indymedia site there's also an account of the demo in english (a good worthy read). and by the time you read this there'll probably be more information on the ungdomshuset site.

the media coverage doesn't seem to have been too bad, with some criticism being directed at the police (or at least eluded to) to balance out the usual "the police are innocent of all allegations and the dirty hooligans asked for it" (or some bullshit). i'm just hoping the rather nasty turn of events aren't used against ungdomshuset - hey man, they were only throwing fruit.

but anyway, there's probably little you can do in terms of support or solidarity (unless you want to find your local danish embassy and protest outside or occupy like they did in norway - the one here is just at the end of our road, convenient), i just thought it'd be more worth my time mentioning it than what's going down in budapest, which you can read about on the news dot bbc (actually you can't, so visit indymedia instead).

ungdomshuset blir! etc..

23.09.2006: last night was a viscious but invograting blast from the past, in the form of the toronto digital hardcore fest. it was a brutal line up starting with unitus, who sound like a full album of player's 'angel of theft' (and the 'singer' reminds me of grilly - so don't forget to check out his bobby mcgees remix, it's fucking top). next up was schizoid, who actually runs d-trash and organised tonight's gig. his mentalist scratching and live guitar are the shit. third, and all the way from detroit, were phallus über alles - just fucking wicked and i had to buy their album, so you're justified in downloading it. they were very friendly too. and then finally hansel who were crazy and fantastically incoherent. extra excitement was to be had by playing the 'guess the atari teenage riot cover' game during each set.

the past also surfaced in our company, one of julie's coursemates who's originally from rugby. i travel 4000 miles around the world only to hang out with someone from rugby and talk about crazy daisy's (daises?) and coventry. i even drew a map of rugby featuring only the clock tower and the road that bends around it on the table to demonstrate where o'hagans was. how often can you get away with doing that?

after the bands we made our way down spadina and west along queens until we arrived on the velvet underground. the bouncer was nothing but an ass, the type of guy who wanted to become a teacher to have power over others but wasn't clever enough, so he became a doorman instead. apparently in canada regular ID doesn't actually counts as valid ID. we were busy declaring our polite indignation, when he cut julie off with "ah! ah! ah! ah!". if i was a bruiser i would have taken him out and left it at that. no one deserves to be talked down to like that, especially when they're being perfectly reasonable and civil. then he told us it only costs 10cents to get a photocopy of our passport, like we were being cheap in not doing, and that would be accepted. so let me get this right, they accept a fucking photocopy of a passport but not a student photo ID card along with a bank card and danish residence permit? well he let us in anyway, he didn't give a shit, he just wanted to flex his power and assert some authority. i'm guessing he failed the tests to join the police force as well.

apart from the cock at the door this place was happening. the tracklist from when we entered to when we left was as follows:

  • mia - bucky done gun
  • peaches - fuck the pain away
  • missy elliot - work it
  • nin - closer
  • beastie boys - root down
  • ramones - i wanna be sedated
  • guns n roses - sweet child of mine

i think the last track tells you why i was happy to leave. the dj was impressing me, properly mixing the songs , until the fuckwit played that awful song and totally ruined my high. whatever that's supposed to mean.

on the way home we bumped into another asshole. and this one i can't figure out at all. he told us he was homeless and wondered if we could help. i presumed he wanted money so i gave him my change, only to watch him sift through it in his palm and throw away the pennies and dimes. if i wasn't drunk and i was brave i would've asked for them back, or at least picked them up and kept them. he did this infront of me. then he asked me what he was supposed to do with it. "you're the one who asked for it", i said. i think in retrospect maybe he wanted to sleep on our sofa or something ridiculous. i imagine in his head something like that sounds reasonable. we asked him if he dumpster dived but he had no clue, and then said "hey, i know some alleys, let's go do it now". you need the image of his face, a strange and sedated enthusiam, like the guardian angel guy in natural born killers. weird, lost and very creepy.

the church on bay and bloor has an LED display board outside, one of the messages it flashes up says "don't give up, moses was a basketcase too". it's one of those things you have to stop and see twice to make sure you didn't make it up.

22.09.2006: i've started my own art gallery. actually, it's more like an art wall in our apartment:

that awesome 11" x 17" page that your looking at (which i mounted myself, hurray) is the original bristol board page36 of jennie one, written by brian wood and drawn by becky cloonan. they fucking rock. (much thanks to my parents of course). if you want to add to my wall, then please enquire as to the nature of my address - your work will be seen by millions.

so since i've been here a while i thought i'd give you a quick list of things that are different about canada:

  • the comics here are half the price of those in europe
  • price tags rarely include tax, so when you get to the counter the chances are you wont have enough money. actually that hasn't happened to me, but this is the reason why you end up with so much fiddly fucking change. you don't know how much it's going to cost until you have to hand the money over with a queue of people waiting, it's just too much pressure to try and make the exact money so you give them notes and you get more fucking change
  • the toilet bowls have rather more water in them
  • what looks like Q magazine is acutally the oprah winfrey magazine
  • switches are off when down, and wall plugs don't have them
  • men have higher voices and woman have lower voices
  • everything can come with peanut butter
  • they drive on the.. oh, forget it

"different to where?" was probably your first question, but nevermind about that. now, when you you wake up in an unknown city that happens to be canadian you'll hopefully be able to identify where you are quite quickly. and with none of that being chased around by bald men business, hopefully.

today i tried to join in with julie's stats class and it was fun.

21.09.2006: when i returned to the store, all that remained of the crazy homeless woman was her cheese flavoured maize stacks, ground into the pavement between the trash can and the newspaper box where earlier she'd been wedged - her bag split open and spilling out around her, now not even food for the squirrels.

inside, while waiting in the queue, i was chatting to a woman. she claimed "canada's not what it used to be". and when i enquired she said, "well it never used to be a police state". i told her then she shouldn't go to england. she said, "we lost our freedom back in the 70s along with our democracy". and "these kids today have nothing to look forward to, what are they going to do when they need a pension?". and "the politicians only care for themselves, they take 90k a year and for what? photo ops". "it's population growth, that's the problem", she told me. i bought my 16 pots of chocolate and vanilla dessert and she bought her bag of hard candy.

so i've turned myself into a house husband. i've been freed from the slavery and chains of necessary employement, but created another cage around myself that i again need to break free from. i'm not sure how yet, but i'm working on it.

give someone too much freedom and they simply don't know what to do with it, evidently.

didn't some asshole once say that?

but what's most unfortunate is i didn't get this far using a model that you can copy. my plan isn't one you can necessarily follow. that's a shame and i apologise.

anyway, maybe i should walk around the city playing a guitar with a crimethinc sticker on like that woman i saw the other day in yorkville. or perhaps i should have just asked her name.

either way, watching primer again (yes, i saw it once already but didn't tell you) definately wont help, but it will keep me occupied. but now i've got a satisfactory grasp on the series of events i really do need to see it again. please see this movie so i can talk to you about it.

22.10.2006: it's that time of year again when my eyes water constantly. sometimes late at night when i'm walking home i'll just let them stream. it's that or rub them raw. is this something that happens to everyone or just me?

last night me and amanda went out for a few drinks and to see 'the prestige'. the drinks weren't planned but with the showing we wanted sold out there was nothing to do but cruise the bars for three hours. really what we did was sit in the wayne gretzky bar and half watched the ice hockey. i was tempted by the ten tier chocolate cake (a dollar a layer) but couldn't. it wouldn't be right. besides, my heart had already been taken by the thought of guiness chocolate cake at the place around the corner. one day, for sure.

so this cinema we went to, i swear it's the largest cinema i've ever been in. the cinema-going experience was completely different. even with the enormity of our screen hall we still struggled to find seats (amanda was right about us needing to go early, it's just insane) and then before the film started we were subjected to constant adverts. this is before the lights go down, this is the whole time before the film. just too much.

as for the film i really i enjoyed it, pleasently surprise etc. and i found myself appreciating the characters much more once i'd figured out what was going on. the clues are all the way through the film, and when it came it to the end i wished they'd left out 'the reveal', it was unnecessary (oh primer, look what you've done to me) and totally against the magician ethic, if that makes any sense. i had loads i wanted to write about the film but me writing it down isn't going very well, so i'm not going to. like, blah blah blah obsession, blah sacrifice, blah blah etc.

i read the first four books (all the library has) of 'y the last man' in one day and it was brilliant. now i'm working my way through promethea (the sixth issue is fantastic, i love alan moore's 'ideaspace'). i also read iain banks's 'the player of games' and a couple of joe sacco books. the library less than three.

20.09.2006: autumn's waking from its long hibernation. a yawn and a stretch and now it's pissing down upon us, although mostly at night, like it's supposed to. the leaves are like spilled cornflakes across the pavement. if only the rain coming down was milk, then no one would need go hungry.

and what i have been up to? last two days i've mostly been drawing mazes. i figured i used to love drawing them whilst a kid so i probably would still. and i do. labyrinths are awesome and i'm going to create the best one ever. that's my new project - mazes.

apart from that i've been reading and trying and failing to not buy more books. did i really deserve that subscription to mcsweeney's? it was only $50 for the year, but should i have really? i don't know, especially when it'll only encourage me to buy the previous issues (reminder to self, beguiling is the only place that has a copy of the elusive twelth issue).

anyway, i have mazes to draw.

20.10.2006: i'm angry because i thought it was media democracy day tomorrow, when actually it was two days ago. thank you adbusters, with your incorrect information. so i missed it, despite it being based in toronto and me knowing it was about to happen.

my problem is that these exhibitions are supposed to inspire me, but all they do is make me think i should put my camera away. not just because theres's no hope of me ever coming close to this brilliance, but mostly because i'm thinking "why do i want to weild a camera when i could using my hands to actually help people?". that old cliche. hey, if everyone's taking photographs who's going to be throwing the molotovs?

anyway, to console myself i took some photos of our spice jars

and from tomorrow to the end of the month i've got a whole new bunch of images for my site layout, but only because my .net skills weren't good enough to get a regular cycle of 20 going. i now have 31. stupid date object.

18.10.2006: the thought that's been worrying me is "how long can i keep this up?" i live off my website, simplisitcally and frugally, but it's a life with more possibility than i'd otherwise have. i mean, am i not halfway around the world doing as i please? the problem is that it's not sustainable. it has an essence of playing with fire, or biting the hand that feeds you (one of those phrases that never quite mean what i want them to). one strike and you're out. so the harder i push, the more i take, the quicker i'll fall.

have i been lucky or am i being paranoid?

it's hard to tell, but just incase i've made efforts to 'clean up my act'. i actually read the relevant programme policies and everything, even taking note of the woolly grey scale rules that don't make any sense. go figure. so here's me touching lots of wood. luckily we bought the cheapest ikea table and it's not even finished.

anyway, a while ago i finally got around to reading seth's "it's a good life if you don't weaken", and i'm glad i waited until i did. it's set in toronto and i recognised nearly all of the landmarks he drew, even the minor ones. most of them are within a couple of blocks from my apartment so i'm guessing he must have lived around here somewhere. well i thought it was exciting anyway.

and also seth related, i just finished reading mister x. so i know where alex proyas got his inspiration for 'dark city' from. although that's not really using the word 'inspiration' correctly. maybe it's inspired how he stole the whole concept, the city and the main characters. something like that. anyway, it was all very confusing with the art changes and similar sounding names (all part of the plan?). in retorspect mister x is clearly grant morrison. he strikes again.

i've been really enjoying geosense. i figure if it's helping my world geography then it's not wasting my time.

17.10.2006: it was half past one when the alarm woke us up. a loud shrill ringing that penetrated our apartment from the communal hallway. a hysterical alien noise that confuses and disorientates, that drags you from your sleep and your bed and out into someone else's cold night.

we were the first people from the building, i was commando and foolishly leaving behind my camera, which wouldn't have taken a second to grab. for the next five minutes people came out of the building in an irregular stream, seemingly unbothered by the screaming fire alarm, until we were about nine people standing there shivering on the sidewalk. the crazy guy who lives above us didn't leave his flat and nor did a woman on the top floor, the tell-tale television flicker visible through her curtains giving her away. six out of fifteen flats isn't bad, right?

i joked about three fire trucks racing down our street, but i wasn't too wrong. the distant wailing turning into blazing red and white lights and the smell of diesel or petrol or whatever it is these trucks use. it was all about the drama.

we all failed miserably to turn this into a positive, a good get to the know the neighbours session (there's a lot of new people in our building), but it was late and cold and perfectly understandable. and if you're wondering, i managed to grab my camera while letting the firemen into our apartment to check it.

i talked to our landlord this morning who came over to investigate, apparently it was leaking water which caused the alarm. i'm not sure how that makes any sense, but i'm satisfied. i quite enjoyed the whole farce.

in other news i accidently bought $13 of cheese (mostly parmesan), very unlike me, and if you're in any doubt as to the quality of the patti king in kensington (which you shouldn't), those pattis satisfy like no other.

16.10.2006: i'm hoping you didn't notice, but a while ago i switched technologies. for too long i've been running this show manually, doing everything by hand, and it was finally time for change. so i've updated all my code, changed some pages to ASP.NET and started rocking the XML (mucho thanks to dan). i'm still doing it by hand but now it's streamlined (and sexy too). the only possible benefit to you is my new RSS feed, so aggregate away.

but the change over process wasn't without it's difficulties, and i have a lovely example of the kind of unpredictable problems you can expect with search engines when you mess around with your site. the first potential issue (and cause of all evils) is that ASP.NET requires a different file extension (.aspx instead of .asp), so when a page is updated it's technically a new page on your site. to avoid the usual problems you'll want to place 301 redirects on the old files to the new ones. now i didn't have to do this because i've only changed my homepage, the filename of which is actually hidden as it's the default file for my root domain - i.e. if you access my server is set to give you index.asp. you can normally configure your default files and their preference, however my hosting service doesn't give me that luxury. how my server is set up is that if index.asp is present it'll serve that over my new index file. the obvious thing to do is simply delete index.asp, after all it shouldn't be directly linked to (another reason why i tell my clients to link their 'home links' to their root domain), but for some obscure reason google seems to think that it should. and it went even further last week by only showing a link to my index.asp and not the root domain at all (if you know how link popularity works you can guess how many positions i lost).

it's weird though, because this was only when you ticked the "pages from the uk" box (actually it's neither a box nor a tick, but nevermind). it's just google being strange and they appear to have solved the problem (for my site at least, not all), but at the time i wasn't sure what to do. my first instinct was to upload index.asp (traffic from those SERPs were reaching a "page not found") but put a redirect on it to the root. this obviously was never going to fly, there's a nasty cyclic reference there. my second thought was the slightly more sensible redirect from index.asp to the new file, but i didn't want to do that either. i don't want google to know about that new file, once they know it's there i have the same problem again - they have my root and my index file (and cache them both seperately? no thanks).

so i left it alone. i haven't noticed a serious drop in traffic so it wasn't disastrous, but you can see how it could be. i've emailed my hosting company asking if there's any way i can have more control over my server but they're yet to reply. if only i could use ASP and .htaccess at the same time i'd be all set.

15.10.2006: underneath the skyscrapers and busy streets of downtown toronto there's hidden 16 miles of underground pedestrian walkways, buried like a secret labyrinth beneath the city's surface. we know people who've lived here for years and never even heard of it. it's called PATH and i can't help but find it intriguing (this no doubt due it's maze-like nature). so on friday we found ourselves in the southern business district and decided to root it out, then try and find our way home underground.

my suspicions were confirmed, it is very odd. it's a huge network of malls, featuring around 1200 shop (smaller shops forced underground by the increasing real estate above) in the basements of over 50 buildings and encompassing 4 million square feet of retail space (not that figure will even mean anything to you). unfortunately it's almost impossible to effectively navigate around, since each section of the PATH are independently owned they don't want to encourage shoppers to leave their section of mall and take their business elsewhere. hence it's hard to find signposts and they're not so useful when you do. and it doesn't help that the walkways completely ignore the grid system above. one time we needed to backtrack through a couple of large sections because we took a wrong turn and then finding ourselves in one the 20 parking garages with no easy clues as to which way to proceed we finally gave up.

this is not the place you want to be stuck during a power cut, as i dreamt last night (thinking about it now, i'm not sure how it works dreaming you're surrounded by pitch black, but nevermind).

anyway, incase you're wondering what season it is:

last night we had another lovely dinner around john and margarets place, up yonge street and just past eglington. it was good to have a family dinner and i hope next time they can come round ours. i'll show them what lentils were really invented for (evil laughter, etc). they're very generous to us (we even get nibbles before dinner), and this time we came away with real maple syrup and an unused set up 'gourmet' knives.

oh, and we found a GPS in the 'garden' infront of our apartment. it was still attached to it's car-lighter power supply umbilical cord thing, so i presume it was thrown from a car or something equally strange. it houses a 2gb sandisk card, which unfortunately isn't compatible with my camera. so if anyone wants it, come get it. i'm a bit scared to switch it on incase some special ops guy suddenly sees it blipping on his monitor and sends some hit squad to come pick it up. some crazy spy fantasy like that.

and last night we were also thrown out of an empty childs playground by three cops on bicycles, apparently we hadn't seen the sign that said adults were allowed in only accompanied by a child. i told him i thought that was if you actually wanted to go on the rides. duh.

14.10.2006: "$700 for two bibles, christianity is good" was what she said, with her eyes narrow and a smile spreading out her lips on the word 'good'. out of context her comment sounds even worse than it did at the time. well reasoned good logic, that's what i like to see. "if you think god's good let me take you to starbucks", was what i wanted to say. but didn't, of course, in real life i'm not very quick witted.

it was my first auction at the goodwill community store, and it got me wondering what kind of goodwill shopper would pay $700 for two bibles. we wont complain though, as the money all goes back into the community. hence why christianity is good, how it's trying it's hardest to make up for the crusades and the state of america, something like that anyway.

but since it's now too cold to sit still outside i went and read in the old cabbagetown library. there's a great reading spot in the corner infront of a big round set of windows looking out onto gerard street. their selection is thin but i can work with it. i decided to read spiegelman's 'in the shade of no towers', as it's not a book you could be bothered to carry home with you. the real reason i picked it up was someone had 'amusingly' etched "DIE" acoss the north tower on the book's cover. i also felt bad because i chuckled when i saw the twin towers' status listed on the wiki as "destroyed" (in red letters). anyone think they could get away with changing it to "annihilated"? or worse, "Own3d"?

sorry, that wasn't even funny.

it's just that there's something about the date today, the 14th of october, that has me concerned. like i remembered it for a reason. like it's someone's birthday. or the date someone died. like i should be phoning someone to congratulate or console them. or maybe i'm just missing something i really wanted to see. hopefully i'll never know.

13.10.2006: some days you can't help but keep finding reasons to be glum. like firefox busts up your div alignment and destroys your website layout. your pagerank goes down. old web accounts wont let you access them anymore. you discover the guy you currently consider one of your main influences is younger than you. through over enthusiasm you ruined last nights dinner and this mornings breakfast. all your posters fell down when you walked into the room. you have to throw out half a tub of delicious icecream because it's the only thing you ate that could have possibly caused your stomach pains during the night.

when i go outside i'll probably get shat on by a pigeon

i saw 'a scanner darkly' last night. it wasn't disappointing but wasn't amazing either. should that make it a disapointment? ever since primer the scale of amazingness has been somewhat stretched. it'll be a while before a film amazes me again, i think. last week we also saw 'the journals of knud rasmussen', a danish film about the last innuit shamen. it'd be easy to mistake it's atmospheric style for it being long and slow, which it is to be fair, but it's also fascinating and touching.. and how the shamen saw the extinction of his culture inevitable, and simply gave in to christianity at the end, that was just depressing.

but yeah, i'm not really feeling this. i'm going to go and read.

12.10.2006: the top of the manulife financial building is telling me it's six degress out side. that's the coldest it's been since we got here. you wouldn't reckon it from looking out the window, but there's a freeze coming. and i can't help but let it get me excited.

you remember what i told you about the guy upstairs? this morning my breakfast routine was interupted by a series of rather worrying noises from upstairs. clanking and such, like a radiator was being pulled from the wall. like he was trying to twist the pipes into a knot. if it wasn't above me i'd be amused, but that shit isn't funny - it's ruining my breakfast. so i call my landlord to "warn" him, but he laughs and tells me it's just the heating switching on. well aren't i the stupid one? then he does that "errr.." that people do when they're about to ask you something awkward, then asks me something awkward. how long am i in canada for? am i working? do i have a visa? this is the moment when all the times you laughed when people told you immigrating was hard come to smack you in the face. he says he'll need to talk to me about it. it doesn't worry me, because i have this covered and these are nice reasonable people, any possibility can be dealt with. but still..

so just now i hear his now familiar voice in the hall and go out to see if he has the necessary spare ten minutes. and you wouldn't have seen this coming, but he asks if i'd be interested in a superintendent job at their main building. i laugh, because the thought makes me more nervous than any problems with our contract would. it'll be funny to see where that leads

but anyway, it's comic book day and i spent less than 5 bucks in beguiling, which is good for me. although i'm not sure why i walk all the way over there when i could buy my comics from the nasty place on yonge. just because the shop is better by an unknowably large factor, it doesn't make the standard comics i buy any better. what i dislike most about the nearest shop is the news channel the tv is always switched to, the idiotic babble drives me mad.

and i missed the shojo manga girl power exhibition at the japanese foundation. i thought it ran until the 14th but it was only the 4th. what kind of idiot makes that mistake?

other random crap will have to wait

11.10.2006: i feel sorry, just a little, for all of the torontians who have to get up and be somewhere in the morning, getting wet every day. it must be so frustrating how it starts to rain at half seven and stops at nine. and this morning it smelt like metallic. but that was from my bed, where i was warm and dry and cosy, feeling sorry for the people outside. just a little.

not to interrupt what was going to be a good story, but i just met one of those people and he handed me a large and excitingly heavy box with the words "ADBUSTERS MEDIA FOUNDATION" in big capital letters across the top. i was going to ask him about the rain, if he wanted a cup of tea, but all he really wanted was to get on with it and go home. but wow, adbusters have improved a lot since the last package i recieved from them, a bunch of magazines wrapped in thin brown paper and a few useless bits of sellotape and string. the whole thing had disintergrated before it'd even arrived in the country. i picked it up from the post office in bits.

outside now, it's still wet but it's warm. the smell of decaying leaves, mulch. the air is like syrup. and of course i get wet just like everybody else. with only one earphone working and the damp against my skin, i've not got a single reason to be miserable. my right sock is soaked from the puddle i accidentally put it through, but at least i have a sock. whatever that means.

in kensington there's a feint smell of campfire pushing the rain. burnt and beautiful. louie's coffee shop looks out onto the wet augusta, so all the passing people can see my enjoying my croissant and hot chai latte. and least i have a hot chai latte. i felt like treating myself, i couldn't ahve come all this way in the rain just for chilli powder and rosemary. and this sweet chai latte beats every corporate coffee shop offering in town. right now nothing could better it. and in your money for only £1.25

the other reason i came out was to see our reliable landlord (as opposed to are unreliable one), and she informs me that the tennant living above us is actually insane. or rather she confirms it. four months ago he was reported to the CMHA (canadian mental health association), by his ex-girlfriend. she told them he was an islamic fundamentalist and was plotting to blow up peace loving canadians. my reliable landlord tells me he never used to muslim. but she tells me six times how he's crazy. i counted. i just want to know what it is dripping down from his bathroom into ours, and for him to stop trying to break into his own flat. apparently, if you ask him he'll tell you the CMHA took away his passport and all his money. six months ago he lost his job and his girlfriend. like surviving a car crash this should have been the best thing that ever happened to him, apparently not. and on friday people are coming around to throw all of his possessions out onto the pavement. and i'll be waiting, with my camera and a pack of sandwiches.

maybe he has a paid of headphones i can take.

then some girl said she "loves starbucks" and i nearly punched a truck. it honked at me while cutting me up as i crossed the road. yield, you fucker. the white man is for me.

10.10.2006: just after the guy in the electric wheelchair rides past, stopping to slur and ask if i can space some change, there's another guy approaching me. he's wearing a suit the colour of tobacco stains, it matches the smell in the air. the woman on the bench next to mine, she's smoking her second cigarette. an old camera hangs around her neck and a shiny tripod is propped up beside her. i want her to take a photograph because i want to take one myself. but she hasn't moved, not since i got here, she just sits and watches the leaves twisting and rotating through the air as they fall.

but this guy in the yellowish tobacco stained suit, how very seasonal, he asks me with a rasp if i want to buy a watch. he gives me a look like he's a big shot, some awful pose that completely contradicts what he just asked me. i can't help but simle at his obviously unhonest business endeavour, how nicely it matches the seedy colour of his suit. he walks off, either looking annoyed or bored, i still can't decide.

my local park is a strange one. allan gardens, just me and all the other unemployed bums. occasional gangster. part time hipster. and the ground isn't only covered by the crispy leaves and chestnuts, there's a whole range of cigarette butts and bottle tops to match. funny how they're the same colours though, and that the tops are all painted with big red leaves.

it's all good.

19.09.2006: you'll notice the pope did not apologise in the slightest. what he spat from his decrepit lips was "i am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries" (emphasis my own). the bbc news should know better than to endorse such obvious manipulatory language, as should all other publications and media that announced the pope apologised.

later in the day i'm walking to the book shop and there's a muslim arguing with no one in particular outside a grocery store. he's shouting that "islam is coming", that "allah will take over", and "my god will take over the world". as i walked past i asked him what the fuck happened to democracy, but fortunately he didn't hear me.

don't make me pick sides.

grilly's comment, "hehehe.. he thinks it's his god", was better than mine.

but quickly changing topic, people aren't joking when they say eating out here is much cheaper. it's literally half the price. like i said before, i do my budgeting by imagining the dollars as pounds. it's reasonable at the time and you spend half the cash. so to celebrate julie returning we went for sushi at a place just off yonge street. to simplify things we ordered a bento box each. this came with green salad, six veg sushi rolls, miso soup, three spring rolls, six pieces of tempura, brocolli and mushroom salad and rice. that's each. actually more than enough for the two of us and only $9 (about £5 including tax). this wasn't a 'cheap' place either, it's pretty standard.

saturday was a day spent with ourselves. we did very little of any interest to anyone else, walking round town, cooking curry, playing trivial pursuit, etc.

then on sunday was the 'walk for aids', the route of which conveniently went all around our apartment and through neighbourhoods i'd yet explorered. i wasn't originally going to do it, just pop down and take some photos, but i got carried along and was soon at the halfway mark with free chocolate (sorry, "chocolate", hershey's is not chocolate) and water. at first i found it strange being on a such a positive march, we're not shouting our discontent or being glared at by police, but i soon got comfy. what a jolly bunch of people. and the band who stopped at the corner of church and isabella to play a fantastic rendition of sesame street, complete with acapella bridge, was a moment for us all to treasure.

as well as this, a couple living above us held a moving out sale and we bagged ourselves some choice items. our flat now looks like a page from your glossy ikea catalogue (if you know what i mean then deduct one point, if you actually do have an ikea lose four). we took their futon, tv stand (used as a coffee table), fairy lights, large tubular ambient lamp, can of chick peas and various other things. we cleared them out of all their decent items 15 minutes after their sale had begun at 9am. i felt bad but they were grateful and super friendly, infact they're the nicest people we've met in our building and now they're going. it's a real shame. and just to annoy you, they were asking $25 for the futon that's in perfect condition. $25

i'm so fucking bourgeois it's disgusting, don't let me ever tell you otherwise.

09.10.2006: it was only two days ago, while using a computer in julie's post-grad computer room (where no one uses firefox, i know this because everytime i use a new computer i get the "firefox is not your default browser" message), that i noticed my email username had been saved by the browser. these are the things you worry about these days, using a public computer only for it to save all your passwords and some idiot to log into your email account (or worse, i don't even want to think about it) and thouroughly fuck you up. how had i been so careless?

but it must happen all the time, like today, while i'm sitting in the croissant tree where i'm using their internet for free (my measly hot chocolate, which i'll top up with milk when i'm halfway through, doesn't qualify me for this, but the password is 625church anyway). at this end of the coffee shop the wall is plastered with circuit boards and dead harddrives. i click through my tabs, clumsily because of the clunky keyboard and over sensitive sticky rollerball mouse, and left open for us all to see is LW's email account. a business student should know better. interesting moral dillema though. why not read his juicy emails? why not indulge my voyeuristic self? it's a victimless crime, no harm done to anyone - no one need ever know. and what would you have done?

anyway, the question i should be asking is why i'm sitting on my own in a coffee shop on thanksgiving. or why i am tolerating this intolerable keyboard/mouse combo? why have i only topped up my hot chocolate once when it's still too sweet? why am i indoors when it's a disco of orange and brown leaves outside?

i have the decency to wipe the butter from my fingers before returning them to the keyboard, although i neglect to wipe them again before picking up my bagel. that mistake might cost me food poisoning.

i can try and change the topic but the seed has been planted - it doesn't take much to tell firefox to try and remember all the passwords it sees. i could come back in a couple days to a pandoras box of potential privacy infringement. or even better, i could check the password manager right now, and there they are, passwords for a wide range of gay social networking sites (and nothing else). rodriguez should have been more more careful, like the person who logged into,, and was. i was disappointed too.

keeping in mind this is a public coffee shop, other sites accessed include, and if only it'd kept the password for that last one. or two.

i can feel a project coming on

08.10.2006: turns out the library was closed. thanksgiving. i could have found this out online, instead of going all the way along gerrard street, but i was grateful for the walk. outsite it's not even october. it's an early june or a late august at worst. it's barely the nip of cold you'd expect in september, with it's promise of the coming freeze. outside is weather that makes me want to climb trees. that tree, i could sit up there with the squirrels for hours, the leaves around me falling one by one into the mulch (it is autumn, after all). and when i finished my book i could throw acorns at the men wearing suits on a sunday, with bonus points if you can land one in their latte.

06.10.2006: the newest and shiniest card in my wallet is my toronto library card. i'm so proud and happy and i can't believe it's been so long since i last had one. it is the magic ticket to a stable bank account and it will sever the final tie between me and my materialism - i need never buy another book. walking into the nearest library just now, not a block away, was a truly exciting and refreshing experience. it was like stealing. i can take any number of books off the shelves (you can take out more than you can carry - fact), place them on the mysterious blak slab, swipe my card and walk out. if you feel inclined you don't even need to speak.

i'm 25 and raving about libraries, how they're going to bring down the system that's binding us into slavery, how they'll smash capitalism with a single blow. it makes you wonder about me doesn't it?

too much .net, that's all. i'll be fine. let me just change the subject.

this guy on bloor, he's throwing his arms around and cursing the air infront of him. his hands are clenched into fists and you can see every vein bulging on his forhead. he's shouting angry words at no one in particular and everyone who he passes. after a minute of me following him a passing cyclist finally gives him some attention, shouting back and ridiculing his obscene and anti-social behaviour. taking the piss. and i'm instantly missing my bike, the freedom and safety it provides, the means of escape from the lunatics you feel compelled to shout down on the street.

all he did was madke the guy madder. perhaps he was on his phone, pehaps to someone who was remotely and unjustly destroying his life. perhaps he was a bad performance artist. perhaps he was just another nutter. we'll never know his story, which puts a sad twist to the end of the entertainment he provided me with.

05.10.2006: i caved in. and after everything i said as well. all that bitching and whining and what do i go and do? i go and register myself a flickr account. i just wanted to prove that i was cool and down with the kids. that i was hip to the social networking scene. so it can sit pretty next to my blank myspace account and keep it company.

for dirty self promotion?

well, all of the above. and you want to know what's worse? i paid for a pro account. the free-user account was so shit i just couldn't stand it. anyway, now i actually have a flickr account i can bitch about it properly. i've paid for the priviledge. so, if you think i'm a dirty whore (does that even work?) and want to have it out with me, just let me know. i probably wont be able to change your mind, but at least i'll be able to knock you off my christmas list.

it's about as obscene as me finally getting around to doing an rss feed (or maybe an rdf, i don't know yet). details on that are to come later.

and there's been another shift as well. it's like autumn cleaning round here isn't it? well, i don't know why but at some point i stopped using trillian. perhaps it's gmail's fault, or perhaps it was during the month i was free from the shackles of the internet, but either way the outcomes the same - i finally lost my hotmail account. all of my old emails and contacts gone. the slate wiped clean. it's not like i wanted them anyway. and at least now the people who are still emailing me at that address will finally get the message that no one is home.

04.10.2006: in the early morning the storm is relentless and unforgiving. the thunder is a continuous unpausing rumble, as ubiquitous as the groan of the traffic, but not a sound that will ever blend into the background hum.

i want to run outside. i want to watch the constant flickering of the sky, like a broken television, the lightning repeatedly striking, ravishing the skyline, lashing out at the gravity defying buildings. nature fighting back against a city that has abandoned and forgotten it. reclaiming that which has been forsaken.

i want to but i'm warm and naked and the rain against my skin is cold and oppressive. i want to but the visions of destruction are much better left in my head.

03.10.2006: i left the house too late. at 7am it was raining so that there wouldn't be a tomorrow. it was raining like i worried the windows might break. the thought hounded me all morning, trapped me in my apartment, until 1pm when i noticed the sun in the sky and the heat in the air, begging for my embrace.

so now it's half two or three or whatever time it is, i don't really know. i'm doing my best impersonation of an asshole, sitting at a table outside cafe nervosa where they serve $9 speciality coffees, and i just turned away a guy asking for money. what could i say? that i couldn't spare him change? i hate myself, but not as much as he hates me. and rightly so. i need my iced latte (not a speciality coffee, i must add) like the prick driving past me needs his porsche. but we're all the same scum. and the only reason i didn't give him any money was i didn't want to take my wallet out. it's that pathetic. and what excuse do the other fuckers here have?

the building site opposite me, ugly fucking thing, it has a sign declaring "this is your lifestyle, this is your address". this whole area is sold on it defining who you are. another one, "show off your individuality" in big letters and repeated without irony. like they never saw fight club, let alone read the book. or probably they did whilst thinking "now there is a good marketing strategy - you are your condo".

on sunday we went tree hunting in mt.pleasant cemetery. again plagued by rain (a good excuse for nachos), but also a racoon and a chipmunk. 'plagued' is far from the correct word. since it's julie that's the tree hugger i was on camera duty:

the one photo i really wanted to come out, of the racoon staring at me, was the one that came out worse. i put it up anyway because he's cute despite his manginess.

then last night we had louise round for dinner, our first proper guest, which was lovely and the best excuse to cook a huge curry. she gets bonus points for brining round apple crumble and custard. top.

george galloway looking rather sharp, a video worth watching if you've hated him since big brother (which i learnt about third hand so wont comment on).

and this is just what we need, twice as many bodyshops. note how jean-paul argon says that despite l'oreal sharing the bodyshop's stand against animal testing, they're not actually stopping their own animal testing. not at all. he can't even say they've begun to cut down. and he doesn't strictly say they're going to either. also keep in mind this isn't even medicine, it's fucking cosmetics, one of most useless and unecessary things that's been inflicted upon our world. and they've already been caught out saying that none of their finished products are tested on animals. well who would honestly test a product on animals when it's finished. the bastards.

and while i'm bashing l'oreal (26.4% of whom is owned by nestle), in 1998 they were awarded the jubilee award - "the highest tribute ever awarded by the state of israel in recognition of those individuals and organizations, that through their investments and trade relationships, have done the most to strengthen the israeli economy".

01.10.2006: all throughout last night was the epic city wide culture-fest of nuit blanche, described by its organisers as a "free all-night contempory art thing". so from sunset to sunrise the city was rocking with indoor and outdoor art exhibitions, performances and spontaneous street happenings. i wasn't there for all twelve hours of it, only a measley five or six, but i imagine it was still at least mildly rocking as the sun rose at 7am.

at half seven we headed out into the rain (now definately miserable) and down to the ontario centre for art and design, where they were holding the first snow storm of the season (utilising a snow machine on the tops of buildings). unfortunately they had to stop the snow, in combination with the rain it was making the ground too slippery. who ever heard of rain and snow at the same time anyway? this wasn't too bad, as the OCAD was the hub of zone b and had plenty to see. underneath the hulking OCAD building people played giant chess, twister, marbles and dominos. others sat around on cushions and drank hot chocolate. down the road was ballroom dancing and inside were a series of exhibitions from a selection of OCAD's alumni. my favourites were kristan horton's 'copo' and nicholas and shelia pye's 'a life of errors' and 'the paper wall', both being shown simultaneously and side by side to sickening effect.

elsewhere, placed in the middle of university avenue is a long banqueting table, fancifully illuminated and laden with 12 triple tier cakes and stacks of plates. big cakes. this is tanya mars and gale allen 'in pursuit of happiness', doing nothing but eating cake in a theatrical manner for twelve hours. big cakes. in our guide the performance is described using such words as "opulent" and "debauchery". did i say the cakes were big?

just down on queens street a flashing disco floor has been set up, inviting people to dance, although it's mainly a single old guy scaring away all but one girl with his strange shifty moves. we leave when they play spice girls.

walking up to the campus we pass a few more exhibitions, huge projections on the sides of buildings, but nothing very startling. the campus itself has been decorated by glowing sticks and candles in paperbags, three girls walk around around the circular playing field, chained together and endlessly pouring coffee beans and rice from bucket to bucket. hart house is full of chaos, rather far too many people. one boiling hot room is full of christmas trees and a strange disco dome, whilst down in the basement at the end of a long snaking labyrinthine corridor is an old swimming pool, lit up by tea lights and a large video of a swamp projected on the far wall. the chamber is filled by ambient and eerie sounds, that rise in volume and pitch until we have to leave. a strange mix of relaxing and unsettling.

a nearby strip of park has been filled with a dense fog. bright spotlights push fingers of blinding light through the trees and everything beyond the metre infront of you is spooky and alien. with people entering the park at both ends, the path only being tiny and the fog being wet, the ground has been turned to mud and the crowd is gridlocked. for the people without boots at least. i imagine this will be amazing at 5am when there's far less people.

around the corner we find a guy playing a hydraulophone, pitched somewhere between an organ and a water cannon. it sounds like an organ, but is played by placing your fingers over the holes of small jets of water. if that makes sense. either way i want one. a few exhibits later we're outside the royal ontario museum, deciding not to go in because the queue is just insane, but stick around as pillow fight league kicks off. two ladies take it to feathery blows, while a sizeable crowd eggs them on, shouting "go for the legs" and booing when either one of them takes it in the face. and later when we're in yorkville it happens again, another spontaneous ring forms and the fighting begins once more. pow

unfortunately we missed the free roasted corn so had crepe (man, posh crepe - parisenne classique) instead. there were some giant floating pills which i found completely uninteresting and a giant neon sign across a church on bloor, "hold that thought". inside the immense reference library was a small exhibition of toronto's grass roots culture, old posters of resistance and counterculture. and then our final stop on javis, sharing the pavement with a local prostitute and staring up at the giant photographs being projected inside the national ballet school. two cars stopped and drove off, the occupants laughing amongst themselves, while we stood there.

my biggest mistake (although it isn't a regret) is that i let the rain convince me into not taking my camera out. so i have no photographs of any of the fascinating things we saw. i also wish we'd been swimming, maybe next time.

30.09.2006: last night we went back around janice's place, for reasons i can't help but go into. the initial plan was for them (her and the germans) to come to ours before going out to find a bar. we'd also arranged for various other people to meet us here to come along for 'the ride'. so they took a taxi at around half nine from riverdale only to be taken to earl street. this is not a disaster, earl place used to be part of earl street before they were divided (it's a no-through road). but of course there is no 135 earl street and the stupid-ass taxi driver insisted that they were where they wanted to be. he showed them his map, phoned in to head office, and all that useless crap. so, standing five meters from our apartment, they got back into the taxi and let him take them home. after some minor reorganising it turned out the only way to save the night was to gather at theirs. except no one else made it, but that's okay because her neighbour was enjoying the yard and willing to share

so we were sitting around a bin fire, seven people in flickering orange. drinking some beers, playing some guitar, stroking the cat (who has a mutual disregard for the dog), listening to the noise of the racoons hiding in the surrounding darkness. and not a single word spoken about being bohemian.

and a second comment about the taxi drivers, the one who took us home went completely the wrong way and when we questions him (taking us north instead of west) he said he'd presumed we'd tell him if he was going the wrong way. i told him we'd just moved here, so no we wouldn't (it's been a month, btw). so the journey home took longer than necessary and he had the cheek to give me a dirty look when i didn't tip (i actually thought i was tipping 25c, which is nothing, but he'd let the meter roll over before i paid him). really we should have been demanding it cheaper. it's the same how we didn't tip when they charged us for the wrong (and more expensive) nachos. i'm sure they hated us for not tipping, but really that's their fault for over charging, in reality we tipped when we shouldn't have done. but anyway.

just now we were down at kensington market, amongst vegetable shops and pouring rain, me trying to decide whether it was romantic or miserable. it could have gone either way, because kensington is cool even when wet. the reggae beatboxes may be muffled by the rain, but they wont be silenced. and nor will the graffiti be washed away. at worst my new spices will get damp and our vegetables come pre-washed.

the rain does put a potentially large bummer on the rest of the night though, but more on that tomorrow.

29.09.2006: lying in bed at 5am, having been lying there sleepless for the last seven hours, after having mentally reconstructed every level from every computer game you played when younger, you'll start to wonder exactly what it is in your head that you've broken. watching the LED digits ticking over every minute, watching the hours pass until the sun rises. then at 8am, eyes shut pretending and your mind blank but still concious, you'll be wondering if this is how your doomed to experience sleep for the rest of your life. until 10am, when you'll realise you've just woken up after almost an hour of sleep and decide it's probably not worth staying in bed a moment longer. that's your lot.

actually, i think that was me.

but not last night. last night we were treated to dinner around janice's house and i saw my first racoons. they were rummaging through the garbage outside a convenience store and were remarkably braver than squirrels. this is undoubtedly due to their size and vicousness, apparently their claws can rip through anything. you wouldn't think it to look at them, they're big furry and cute things. it's only their eyes, dark and receded, that give you any clue that they might be dangerous. on being circled they decided to escape and clawed their way up the electricity mast, stopping halfway to huddle around a street sign. racoons are too cool.

the other thing i learnt is that 'hydro' is actually electricty. not that this country is retarded or anything.

but i'm one to talk. i've spent most of the morning trying to patch my site up. it's amazing how quickly you can accumulate broken links without even realising it. google was reporting 27 they'd found within the last few weeks, and i couldn't be bothered counting how many xenu reported (you beautiful piece of software you).

anyway, this isn't going anywhere.

26.09.2006: "as a fundamental cornerstone of democracy, every country shall have these handy cobblestones covering public areas around government buildings, news media institutions and business districts".

i do miss copenhagen though. as much as i'm enjoying embracing north america, i do miss the feel of europe. cobbled streets instead of concrete. bicycles instead of cars. a flat and low horizon broken only by the spires of churches. i miss not being able to understand the shit people talk on the street and i miss the independant coffee shops with bad coffee and good backgammon. the brightness of the cold days. the abudance of pedestrian-only streets and street performers instead of beggers.

but today is your classic autumn day. one of the best we'll have. i know this because it's beautiful, and i'm sitting outside a cofee shop in the sun, trying to summon as much of europe as possible, and it's working. i mean, a passing car honks loudly at a turning cyclist, who returns the gesture with his hand shaped like a gun, a barely audible 'pop' coming his lips as he cocks his hand up, before shouting "asshole" and transforming the barrel into his middle finger. i mean, despite this. and i sit under my parasol, thankful for it as a pile of bird shit slowly builds up to my left, spat by spat. and i eat my treacle tart at the same pace. i only bought it because of the strong smell of almond, enticing me and coercing me to buy something sweet. i sniffed around for a non-existent almond slice and settled on the tart instead. it's only when i visit the washroom do i realise what the smell is. that intoxicating sickly sweet smell is nothing but chemical cleaner. clearly nothing is sacred. spat.

the clouds over bay street haven't moved for half an hour now, maybe more.

later i'm sitting here in yorkville reading 'down and out in paris and london', getting romantic about the ideals of being poor in paris whilst trying to convince beggars i have no money. if i had any would i be sitting here, watching the sun shirk off to someplace warm below the jagged skyline and the stone beneath me making my butt numb? i guess i would. and when the guy just over from me slides from his bench and slams to the floor, landing painfull on his left leg and not getting up, i finish my paragraph before going over to him. then pause, looking down over him, his eyes shut like he's asleep and no one else in the world giving i shit, i think perhaps i should just let him be. but then he blinks and i ask him if he's okay and if he needs a hand. with a warm smile across his face he says he's never been better. it's the nicest smile i've seen all day, and it makes me almost believe him.

then just down sherbourne i take a detour to see why the street parallel to ours has police cars at either end blocking traffic. two officers walk slowly across the tarmac, placing yellow markers, scribbling with chalk, and laying our their crime scene investigation. the yellow markers form a trail from the college entrance across the street to a high fence ,where they come to an abrubt stop. most of them mark spatters of blood.

it was probably just one of those ninja squirrels.

15.09.2006: check me the fuck out. i'm back in the (non)real world and ready to gorge myself upon it. or some crap like that. so, here i am in toronto and loving it. we have a lovely apartment downtown (right here) and all else is well.

if you're wondering what i've been to then it's all been record in excruciating detail, and can be read here, complete with photos and everything. now, i know it's long and i doubt anyone will actually bother. i mean, it's seriously long. so i've selected some of my favourite photos from the last month. they look like this:

i've also got a few photos of our new city, which in turn look like this:

anyway, i'm back. that's all you need to know.

were not wasting paper [or grammar]
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