news [archive 30]

12.07.2007: all i have today is photos, and a request for you to check out oiwan lam's story. she's currently facing a jail sentence (12 months, or a HK$400,000 fine) for linking to a photograph on flickr that has been deemed innapropriate (or whatever word you wish to use), breaking the obscene articles tribunal of the honk kong television and entertainment licensing authority. the issue becomes further complicated by flickr's recent self-proclaimed role as censor, blocking certain images and users from whole countries (including china, germany and austria). this bullshit has been well summed up by jake appelbaum, who was the artist responsible for the 'questionable' photo. it looks like yahoo may be responsible for a second jail sentence relating to human rights and censorships.

anyway, my own photos. these first ten are from the newmindspace castles in the sky, last saturday:

also on the same evening, two lovely photos of the ugly cn tower:

i have more, but i'll save them for next time i've done nothing and have nothing to say (this is not strictly true).

11.07.2007: leaf (local enhancement and appreciation of forests) and the toronto public space committee (who are awesome, check their site) had the lauch party for their new project last night, toronto tree tours. since we're so great and linked in (to the urban forest community?), we got to along too. and despite what it looked like, i wasn't there just for the "finger food". y'know, someone has to eat all those samosas. the pineapple and cherries were incredible also.

so that was a lot of fun, doing a minor amount of hob-knobbing and grabbing a free lunch. oh yeah, also going on a mini tree tour of trinity-bellwoods park, which is why we were there really. i like what they're doing, how they're linking the urban forest to the city's history, personal stories that people can relate to and enjoy, and generally educated people about the trees around them. i also suspect they've been influenced by joey comeau. and their website requires a wiki-style interface so people can put in their own stories and favourite trees. this can even be amalgamated with google maps, and it'll be the funkiest app ever. they will win awards and party so hard they will forget to thank me for suggesting it.

while in the park we got a chance to enjoy the drummers in exile, a once-spontaneous drum circle that plays in the park's bowl every other tuesday and attracts quite a crowd. it's one more for the kids though i think ("kids"), i recognised a lot of people from saturday's newmindspace street party. again i was just made to feel old. still, it's nice there is actually a few cool scenes here in toronto, even if they are only during the summer. the drum circle has been going for eight years and have been shut down at least once. these days they have to pay a $658 license for the priviledge of using the public space for their public party, and they have to be quiet at 11pm. the curfew is fair enough, but $658? fuck that.

trinity-bellwoods is also home to the white squirrels, who i thought were either a joke or urban legend, before i remembered having actually seen a brown squirrel with a white tail. no wait, wasn't that in mt.pleasant cemetery? either way, it turns out white squirrels are even more collectible than black ones. neat.

10.07.2007: what i was meaning to say, what i wanted to capture, was that the three day weekend is exactly what you've been looking for. it's almost as good as the four day weekend (which in turn.. etc). call it a compromise. and who can honestly deny it to you? you could also call it a transition state, or a gateway drug. over my long weekend i sometimes forget i'm not a bum. sure it makes monday even harder, but it's only the dead time you're supposed to be living without anyway.

so who are the twelve people who subscribe to my feed? i'm one of them, who are the other eleven? who are you? i've admitted it, you can too.

i linked to an article the other week about facebook, it's obscene privacy policy and ties to some seriously shady characters, only you probably couldn't be bothered to read it. no worries, because now you can watch this short presentation instead. shame about the background music though, what were they thinking?

and whilst we're on the subject (the vague subject), turns out the FBI have been using people's mobile phones as surveillance devices, remotely activating them and listening in. i always knew it was possible, but for some weird reason i never thought they'd actually do it. the wombles have a good article relating it to activism and dissent.

and continuing whatever the subject was, paul kingsnorth did a nice wrap of tony blair's time as prime minister, summing up his triumphs and disasters. the 'liberty and freedom' paragraph is especially chilling:

"One CCTV camera for every 14 people. 3000 new laws. Restriction of the right to protest, gather, express your views in public. A law outlawing 'religious discrimination.' 'Crackdowns' on personal vices (fag with your pint, anyone?). 28-day detention without trial. Deportation without trial. Insane Health and Safety laws. Britain, contrary to mythology, has never been a 'free country', but it is less free now than for a long time, and getting worse. The most illiberal prime minister for 75 years."

although, i think the liberty of being able to drink your pint without "catching cancer" is a bigger liberty than one that allows you to drink and smoke and generally, y'know, fuck it up for everyone else. go go patio culture.

what i said last week about watching bad movies.. well, obviously i was going to see the transformers film, it's like there was no choice or something. which is exactly the reason why i shouldn't have gone to see it. plus i absolutely loathe don murphy. but i did, and i can happily tell you it's rubbish. a "rubbish" that deserves full capitalisation, if only i was into that kind of thing. it's a real shame they put zero effort into plot, dialogue or characterisation. the music score is also horrendously bad, almost as bad as the product placement. you could play turn the film into an ebay drinking game. there's the obvious deals with general motors, then a sick amount of nokia phones. and that subtle twist of the usb disk so you could clearly see it was a panasonic? pure filth. they make these films shit on purpose, there's no denying it. at least the transformers are good though, despite the fanboy outrage over changing the vehicles and paintjobs (oh get the fuck over it, it's peter cullen), and that's what you want right? those cgi people really worked overtime on this one.

09.07.2007: so here's me trying to reconstruct the weekend, from all its scene-like fragments. or rather i could just list them at random, a 'build your own weekend' in the flavour of me.

there's me lying in someone else's big bed, early to late morning. i'm finishing my book (the big over easy) to an orchestra of rain. outside the open ivy covered windows it's dark and sodden and rapidly getting wetter.

or walking through kensington late one night and hearing the best band ever, their noise bouncing down a narrow dark alley, scraping shit from the bricks. at its end, there's a huddle of hipsters and a crazy three piece, walled in by tight housing. they're not the best band ever, they're called red something, but at that moment, under the tree, they were awesome enough to pretend so.

at the future cafe sharing cake and a couple of beers. trying to find an extra fork. and then going back to watch some tv, who would have thought?

late night shopping at chinese supermarket, buying cheap plums and pocky.

at the future cafe again, me sitting there sipping my ice decaf latte all bourgeois and shit, staring out the opened wall into the dull grey heat. hot like you're taking a bath in your own sweat. it so desperately wants to rain, but after its vicious efforts earlier it's been left empty. then ten minutes later staring out through sheet rain, thick like i could reach out and grab a handfull of it. it plips and splashes into my latte. the people on the patio, under their umbrellas, they continue their conversations, drinking their beers, edging closer to the table all cosy like. everyone else is either running to escape or has already given up, walking along completely soaked. the odd person is looking smug under their umbrella, but they're still wet from the waist down. two crazy but dull-looking people take two shots of tequila. salt and lemon. it doesn't seem proper in the sunday rain. i'm tempted by the free cake leftovers sitting tantalizingly on all the tables around me, but then i realise i don't actually want cake. not all the time.

did i mention we're house sitting again? so i'm cycling all over harbord village, lazily, probably looking for julie. all those thousands of trees, our most intimate urban forest.

and i had a good income day so i treated myself to an old issue of mcsweeney's. this in contrast to my self-enforced poverty due to my complicated financial situation. in part also stubborness. i can't afford lunch, but really you know i'm doing ok.

it's live earth so we go to yonge and dundas to take the piss out of the stalls promoting various cars and motorbikes, to stare in disgust at the offsetters, and to get friendly with the bicycle repair people. there's also a huge art show at nathan phillips, which keeps my interest for all of ten minutes.

and then i found a gun, but it wasn't loaded. and more like it was a gun, but definately isn't anymore. which raises the question, why would you keep an ornamental gun in your bathroom?

rediscovering sage.

or spending ten minutes trying to work out how best to break get into an unoccupied building, only to find the front door unlocked. then having a blast exploring it, using my camera's flash to navigate the dark halls, rooms and staircases. we later find out this huge building used to be a synagogue and was saved from demolition by a local neighbourhood group. it was going to be knocked down when they built the adjacent old peoples home. the locals wanted to turn it into a community centre but due to lack of funding it's stood empty since. it would make a perfect ungdomhus, only it would have to fit in with the wishes of the neighbours. i'm sure if someone took it over and did it up, turning into a social centre, the odd gig could easily be tolerated. it wouldn't work as a new pope squat though, i can't imagine the neighbours being to chuffed with the idea.

and we're dancing to a dirty combination of drum and bass, house and gabba down at the harbour front, dangerously close to the water, the cool breeze coming off the lake refreshing after the suffocating day. the soundsystem is a pair of speakers on a small trolley and it's totally diy. the celebration started at seven past seven, since it's the seven day of the seventh month of 2007, right? we've walked along bloor from spadina to bay, an army of kids dressed up all colourful, far too many wings, a samba band and whatever/whoever else. then cramming into the subway, probably the loudest and most dangerous subway ride i've ever taken. a packed car and everyone singing bohemian rhapsody. the dude from 'streets are for people' adlibing on his trumpet. we we're told off for stamping, but all things considered the TTC officials were very decent about the chaos that had been brought to their network. it was good to drink beer in public without too much worry of the police, they kept their distance. being subtle helps too. only, at one point, whilst we were dangling our feet into the lake, a police boat gave us a slow drive-by, them shining their search lights over the crowd checking out what was going down. i bet they were just jealous, but there was no trouble. luckily they missed the fireworks.

did i mention making the best mash ever? the trick is in the onion powder and the honey mustard. leek and sage help too. it's all in the posh ingredients. the other benefit of house sitting - the large spice racks.

also rediscovering coffee. real coffee, with cardamom and cinnamon. liquid sugar and ice.

and i broke my new record for cycling along bloor - jarvis to bathurst without being overtaken by a single car. it helps that people in the city are scum and insist on driving to the point of regular gridlock. but at no point start thinking i cycle like an idiot on these roads. i may have a history of cycling like an idiot, but north american traffic is no joke. i was nearly door'd twice on thursday, once by a woman who had stopped right on the other side of a crossing and was looking in her bag as she opened the door. crunch, next time she'll get more than my rude words.

plus other things i have forgotten. there are photos. they will appear.

05.07.2007: i'm not sure why i have to constantly beat on people who are trying to help (see: bono, bob geldof, al gore, off-setting companies), but the eco kettle must be a piss take. right? you can fill it to the brim and then only boil the exact amount of water you need (1-8 cups). a fun quote from the website, "until now, accurately measuring the amount of water to be boiled in your kettle has been all but impossible". are we all so retarded we can't measure x cups of water? not even if we use those cups to fill the kettle? or use the handy cup markers on the side of the kettle? people are just lazy and thoughtless, that's the problem, and this kettle doesn't even begin to solve it. all it encourages you to do is throw your old non-recyclable kettle away and buy a new one. and what is the eco kettle even made out of? where's the section of the website that says it's made from ecofriendly material, it's not made in china and it resuses old computer chips (or something). where's the substance?

and aimee saw two people today with linen carrier bags, "stop using plastic bags" written across them in big pink letters, and both people had plastic bags in their other hand. does that illustrate my point? are people just not paying attention? not even to themselves?

being aware isn't enough, didn't anyone tell you? you have to actually alter your behaviour.

oh just forget it.. whatever. i'm even boring myself here.

04.07.2007: i don't normally like to admit it when i go and see a bad film, but 'live free or die hard' was so good i simply have to mention it. it's an absolutely incredible movie. incredible in the least positive way, like fucking terrible and utterly pointless.

maybe that's how jonathan ross got suckered into saying batman forever was "one of the greatest films of all time" (or "the best film ever made", depending on which forum you believe).

why do i keep seeing these sickeningly pro-american movies? (it was cheap night, peer pressure, etc) die hard isn't as bad as swordfish (if only john travolta really had died. like, actually, in real life), but it does have it's fair share of ob-patriotic speeches ("and this, ladies and gentlemen of the audience, is why we must encroach on your personal freedoms and liberties", to paraphrase somewhat dramatically). it only could have been better if at the end bruce willis had his wounds bandaged with the american flag.

i think what i hated about it the most was the audience. how enthusiatic they were, and how they laughed at exceptionally unfunny things. like people dying in horrible ways, women getting SUVs rammed up their ass (great bit of product placement there, i wish my car was that tough), and other various and overly violent or misogynistic moments. it's just not funny. it's pathetic.

also the title makes no sense. not even in a "cake or death" way.

but you knew all this, why am i even telling you?

oh, there was one good thing about it though, there was a copy of moore's albion sitting clearly in one of the shots. hurray.

and may i ask why the live earth concert in south africa is taking part in the coca cola dome? oh nevermind..

i hope you have a shit "independence" day.

03.07.2007: i'm grumpy today because i didn't get enough sleep. the stupid cat woke me up at 6am with its incessant meowing. it insisted it come sleep with us. it purrs too loud and sits on my feet. i finally managed to fall asleep five minutes before the alarm went off. it scared the shit out of the cat and he bolted downstairs, but then continued to meow at me while i tried to eat my breakfast and get ready. but at least it's not a dog.

grumpy and hungry

i also had to navigate my way up bathurst this morning, one of the least enjoyable roads to cycle on. it's not as inhospitable as yonge or mt pleasant, but it goes up and down like a rollercoaster. and more up than down. it's tough. the school buses don't help much neither.

we had a good monday though, cataloguing trees and eating chips and sushi (not together). in the evening we had drinks sitting in the green room's back patio, revelling in an odd kind of decadence. living in a big house makes you feel rich, and act rich too. i now have no money. and just accidentally bought a load of books off ebay. damn you mcsweeney. but no matter, because i can go 'home' and soak myself in the huge tub.

one of the google bloggers caused a small amount of controversy last week, writing about using adverts to manage your dodgy reputation (relating to michael moore's new film). in a follow up post she wrote the following classic line, "advertising is a very democratic and effective way to participate in a public dialogue", she even claimed that that was google's opinion. whoops. does google really believe in one dollar one vote democracy? have they sank that low? or does their newest blogger (i do feel slightly sorry for her) not understand what democracy actually means? (maybe i don't feel that sorry for).

02.07.2007: yesterday was canada day, but today is a public holiday, because things work out funny in these north american countries sometimes. like when they celebrate important days on the weekend because it's convenient. whatever, what canada day really is, it's a celebration of colonialism, it's a big party where the indigenous aren't invited. you wave flags to say how proud you are of your ancestors for stealing land that either belonged to someone else or should never have belonged to anyone.

,mbv g\xz fgggggggggggggggggggggggb (actual cat words)

any excuse for fireworks. after a few beers in our garden, over curry and cream filled donuts (which rachelle bought), we took the streetcar east all the way to the beaches. the streetcar is slow at the best of times, nevermind when it's canada day and we have to change twice ("rubbish!") and the police are slowing all the traffic down with their stupid road blocks and some idiot has driven their car into a lamppost. we arrived at woodbine beach just as they were finishing, so we saw the best bit anyway, and the rest we saw through the dirty streetcar window and between the buildings.

fireworks are rubbish though. you fire thousands of dollars into the air to explode, and then you're out done by the moon as everyone left the beach, to continue drinking somewhere without the police continously shining search lights over them, no one looked back at the small red dome floating on the lake, somewhere thousands of miles away. as tiny bursts of fireworks exploded across the otherside of the lake, somewhere in new york state, the deep red moon slowly rose, into pink and then orange. it's reflection illuminating every ripple. it's the most beautiful sight you've had the chance to see and you all just walk away. or play frisbee. i could have sat there watching that moon until it set again, trying to burn its beauty into my retina.

the mounted policeman came out of nowhere. like they do. i turn around to see who's trying to talk to us and there's a hulking fucking horse in my face. apparently the beach is closed and we have to go home, we have to disperse (no, but it would have been cool if he'd said "disperse your illegal gathering"). we wandered along the beach and sat down again, watching the deathstar moon rising behind the distant clouds. closing the beach? ridiculous. another police patrol was coming out way so we decided to leave. i asked them if it was always closed, or if it was just tonight, which it was. fair enough i suppose, it's just a shame a few people, those dropping litter, urinating in the lake and doing things obviously that the police don't like, ruin it for everyone else.

01.07.2007: "will this do as student ID?"
    "no, that's a drivers license"
    "will this do?"
    "no, that's a national insurance card"
    "will this do?"
    "no that's your debit card"
i asked her where her employer disloyalty was, and she just gave me a dirty look as she took my $6 cover charge. she should have just kicked me out. i missed the only decent song they played, le tigre, and there was only an hour left before they closed anyway. stupid dance cave.

we'd been at 'dance dance & revolution', a fund raiser for the anarchist university, but it had finished early without any actual dancing. it could have been brilliant, and the music often was, but it was depressingly empty (how very predictable). there could only have been about 15 people there, hiding behind a curtain in the backroom of the concorde cafe.

perhaps it was down to bad timing. today is canada day and many people seem to have left the city. cycling home the streets were eerily empty. there's never a street with no cars, what's going on? you could almost picture the tumbleweed. 'almost' is probably stretching it.

the celebrations started on thursday night. the cn tower had planned a demonstration of it's new lights and it seemed a good thing to go see. we found a quiet spot on the harbour front, an artificial rectangle of sand by the water, where the purple tit of the rogers building and the super-dick cn tower dominate the view. they kept us waiting for forty minutes before finally showing off all those crazy colours it can now deploy. some of it was remarkably pretty, some of the more random and colourful patterns especially, but it soon became a little boring. it was left in typical red and white, which it's been sporting ever since. what a waste.

saturday was a day in limbo, no one really knowing what to do. we went for a cycle ride up through the don valley, stopping off at the evergreen market to taste all the samples of posh chocolate, nuts and berries we can't afford. it rained a bit but it was nice rain. i'm not sure exactly what they do at evergreen, but it looks well decent on the surface. then up on eglinton we had ate at licks, which is one of the best vege burgers this city has to offer (a new place very near us is also good, and it even has a selection of vege burgers). we cycled further east and then down pape, to check out the danish pastry shop. what, all we do is eat? i might be good at the right time, but we were disappointed. they didn't even know what hindberschniter are (my pronunciation is better than my spelling). we ate what crap we did buy sitting on a patch of grass amongst the houses. like a lovely picnic.

and right now we're house sitting. we've made some new friends, through julie's internship, and the other day they asked if we wanted to house sit for them. we're just doing two days this weekend, but they need us for three weeks in july. a proper house, with a gorgeous kitchen and sexy shower. it also has a luscious garden which has been meticulously taken care of and a cat called spencer. we've been elevated into riches. all very excting. and it's refreshing to be trusted by people so quickly, we've only met them a few times and have now been trusted with their house.

we're within five minutes of some of the city's best bakeries, our favourite cafes, the best book and comic shops and the best cinema. also honest ed's, the university and lee's palace. it's going to be so cool living in such a different area of town. round here it's all family houses and well kept streets. apparently there's even a community. and soon we'll know every tree in the neighbourhood.

and i just found a copy of 'house of leaves' on the street, the coloured edition, but with the front cover torn off. also a delightful cd, all handmade packaging.

30.06.2007: yesterday was a fantastic day. sure all days are fantastic, but this one really hit the spot. it pressed all the right buttons, it taught me a few lessons and demonstrated this city isn't so lame after all. toronto has a few tricks up its sleeve yet.

but first 'your ghost'. over dinner. dark, like it brings the thunder. it's been a while. and it would ruin your night, if only it wasn't so good you couldn't help but smile.

but critical mass. yesterday was the last friday of the month, and the day i've been waiting for ever since i bought my bike. i've been looking forward to it like all the horrible children look forward to christmas. and i was totally blown away. we really didn't know what to expect. you may have heard me rant about toronto and its apathetic/pathetic nature. people here just don't do exciting rebellious, it's mostly a dead scene. and this is why i was so blown away. the turnout was incredible. one guy gave an estimate of 800 people. i don't believe his figure, but it demonstrates the ballpark we're talking about. even with people cycling densely across two or more lanes we stretched longer than a whole block. we could take two sets of lights at a time. we could kick your ass.

so consider my faith restored. consider me one happy 'rogue cyclist'. laughing at all the angry drivers and the pedestrians standing with their mouths wide open, like they never realised bicycles existed in toronto. they do now mother fucker, and we're coming for you. an army without leaders, a cavalcade with no direction but onwards. we did every major road downtown at random. and in a moment of pure genius we actually cycled through the eaton centre. we are joy on wheels.

we are the most fun you can have on a friday night. we are shouting "happy friday" at you, and one of you is shouting "fuck you all" back (standing on top of his car, middle finger raised). love on two wheels. or four, for those with trailers. major props to the guy with the soundsystem, playing a perfect selection of funk, dub and reggae. sister nancy. and props to the film maker dude whose quadruple welded bike has him cycling two meters in the air.

three hours later we're cycling back up yonge, still going strong, although numbers well diminished. we'd only met one police car, and he'd started corking the roads for us (like we can't do traffic control ourselves). it's too amazing. my heart explodes, goes boom. my wheels whir and grind. we are the perfect collaboration.

going back in time, the morning had been an organisational nightmare. we had plans and they were all molded drastically out of shape by other people with their requests and stupid questions. this is what julie's internship is like. we met a woman who talks so much no one can stand her. annoying like she'd ask you a question and continue to talk so you couldn't even answer her. annoying like you'd correct her but she'll still write down what she thought was right. the poor stubborn woman, she clearly lives on her own, with only her own voice for company. and because of this she drives every potential friend and companion away. i'd tell her so, but by the time it'd be a problem all i'd be capable of would be "just shut the fuck up will you". i used to be such a polite child.

then we met up with louise, who we hadn't seen for too long. our suspicion that the mexican place in kensington (augusta) is damn good was confirmed, and then some. they even have horchata on the menu and, despite it being a "traditional mexican recipe" that doesn't include tiger nuts, it's not so bad. the muffins from urban herbivore are also pretty special, especially the sweet potato and date. kensington makes this city.

plus other stuff, but let's get on with the party.

28.06.2007: it's like an annoying rash that wont go away. or a child that keeps coming back to repeatedly poke you in the belly until you punch it again. or the starbucks and mcdonalds sitting on every street corner. or that annoying riddle which you can't work out because the error's in the question. all the time, wherever you go, it raising its ugly head. any debate you have about climate change and some stupid prick will mention it. 'the great global warming swindle'. it's starting to really piss me off.

i really didn't want to watch it, but we have to do plenty of things we don't particularly like, so i did. and it's funny because, actually, it's really good. it is indeed a fantastic piece of propaganda, up there with the likes of 'an inconvenient truth'. martin durkin should be proud or himself. just as frankenstein created life from death, durkin has created something convincing from things that smell bad. see also: logical fallacies, disproven science, misrepresentation.

so yes, obviously i think the film is a piece of toxic shit, and potentially as harmful. but i'm not going to say you shouldn't watch it, just make sure that before you come quoting it at me you've read and understood the various criticism that it's recieved first. the film's wiki page does a good job of summarising the film's points and everyone else's criticisms (seperately). there's also george monbiot's correspondence with hamish mykura, which details several major problems with the documentary and also attacks channel4 behaviour. it gives durkin the cold and rigid kicking he deserves. and if you want to get really serious, and have time to spare, you can read bob ward's article outlining the film's "major misrepresentations of the scientific evidence and interpretations" or watch chris merchant's rebuttal of the film. it's not entertaining like the original, but it makes up for it by being correct.

unfortunately, despite all this, durkin started his game by playing the infallible underdog card. he must be right because he's under attack for trying to expose the lies from the evil scientists and self-serving politicians. he's the dissenter, the subversive. he's on our side, he's trying to save us from deception. so if you criticise the film you're either part of the 'swindle' or you're gullible and manipulated, and no one likes being manipulated right? but fear not, monbiot has this one covered too. yes, monbiot is the infallible one. bow before him and believe everything he says.

(it's propaganda. no, your propaganda. your face is propaganda. your mom's propaganda. that's what your mom said yesterday. what your mom said yesterday was propaganda..)

what some people don't seem to realise is that durkin is not being demonised for "daring to question environmentalist orthodoxy", he's been demonised for being an asshole. and i can justify boiling down the complicated reasons into a single profanity, he's done it himself. and why bother wording it well when other people (37 scientists) have already done such a good job.

i guess to be fair i should also post a link to durkin's response to his critics, and i wont even be condescending about it - you can weed out his errors yourself.

27.06.2007: there's no denying the summer. or hiding from it. yesterday the news was all panic about brown outs (is that a boring version of a black out?), with people being requested to not use their washing machines and dryers. like you'd need to in this weather. but are we so retarded that we can't live without air conditioning? and the city goes on alert when they all start working too hard and drain all the power? so it's hot, go home. go to the beach. get out of the city. get over it.

anyway, it's link wednesday, because the number of links i've saved up outweighs anything interesting i have to say.

over at the (the internet's #1 christian porn site) you can find some awesome tshirts. my favourite is the christians don't masturbate shirt, but i'm also fond of the jesus loves pornstars shit. maybe just for the colours. yeah, christians rock, if only they masturbated too.

amnesty international set up irrepressible a while ago, but i never got around to mentioning it. check out how awesome it is:

their own site can explain it better than me. if only it wasn't so green. orange would be much nicer.

and this article about bono's red campaign explains exactly why the skeptics are skeptical. the red campaign has raised an impressive $18 million. impressive, until you look at the collective marketing spend, which some estimates have as high as $100 million. like we all said, you can't stop poverty by promoting capitalism. now, where are the figures that show how many millions the various 'red companies' have made from it?

oh, and i posted a link the other week to an article on the wombles site about police violence at the G8, well they've got a better article now chronicling all state violence.

26.06.2007: this morning the air is thick. mist or fog or smog. whatever, it's hot. sun rays shoot down through the trees as i cycle through the woods to work. sun beams, enemy lazers, it's all the same.

i like to get to work early though. i don't like people seeing me when i first arrive, sweat dripping from every part of my face. when it's over 25c outside it sure gets wet under a bicycle helmet and pollution mask. sometimes i even worry about nappy rash. the other problem is in avoiding that huge group of people fighting for the lifts, all the foreign language students, where i'm the bad one because i'm trying to cram my bike in there as well. i'm such a fucking nuisance. especially when there's dog mess compressed into the tread of my tyres.

anyway, i'll keep it brief. because y'know, you have better things to be doing. i have better things to be doing.

so last week was gay pride, which culminated in the epic pride march on sunday. we're talking over two hours of parade, consisting of 150 organisations and a lot of water pistols. also getting hit a lot, by calendars, frisbees, bead necklaces or whatever other colourful crap people think it's fun to throw from floats. actually, 'water pistol' is an understatement. most of these guys are packing serious artillery, and one of them decided it'd be fun to shoot the parade from behind us. it's all fun. wet fun.

for the second day running we just wandered around church village, only today it's so packed you can barely move. if only people followed the same rules cars did we wouldn't have such trouble. it took us over ten minutes to walk a block down. the road below church village was still devoid of cars so we wandered down it and found a quiet spot amongst the otherwise noisy and chaotic streets. lying on the grass and staring up the through trees, tracing the line where the leaves meet sky. my eyes making patterns in the infinite blue. falling asleep for about an hour. dreaming of glastonbury.

and another time, using twigs to shove a dead squirrel into an empty cereal box. weekends ago. whenever.

and last night was nice too. i cycled over to the future cafe to meet julie when she finished work. i snatched a few left-over onion rings on the way in and ordered a beautiful and dark red pint (it's nice to have money again). i had my eyes on half a slice of cake for about an hour, peeking over my book and urging the guy to leave. you should know that the future cafe is famed for it's decadent cake selection, people come here to treat themselves sick. just ask ben, he'll tell you how hardcore they are. so i really wanted that half-eaten cake. when he did finally get up to leave i saw my chance. he looked a little bemused at my request to finish it, but of course he didn't mind. it was a toffee apple cheesecake and about as good a cake as you can get, and dense like it's verging on punishment. i couldn't have eaten a whole slice either. infact i did him a favour. that's me, laurence the skank. well, you may see it as skanky, but i just ate the best cheesecake in the world and it didn't cost me nothing (no, not even my dignity). but they must throw away so much cake there, you could spent all day in that cafe refilling your coffee and living off left-over cake. i'm not sure how many days you'd last before your heart gave out, but it might be the best week of your life.

24.06.2007: i've noticed at the end of every weekend i write up everything i've done in one long boring post. sometimes this even stretches to every single meal i've eaten, what it was and where. i would never read this, but then i don't have to, because i wrote it. i think it has to do with me making efforts to do as much cool stuff as possible when i have the free time, and me trying to prove to myself (or whoever) that it's adequate/enough/acceptable. but i want to stay away from the diary style "i did this. then we did this. and then that happened. it was good", which i've been descending into ever since i got obsessed about recording everything, and being able to reconstruct everything in minute detail. obsessed is the wrong word (but it's the first word that comes to mind, right?). perhaps it also has to do with how many people now read this to find out what i've been doing (ouch, being suddenly hit by a large wave of self-awareness and not liking it at all), so that's what i've been writing. i don't know. grilly pointed it out to me a while ago (and he's just as guilty of it as me, although his reasons may be different) and i made efforts to change it without compromising it as a reliable record. but the weekends still trip me up. and this weekend i'm not even done with yet, we're still only halfway through pride (note, today will not be repeat of yesterday). anyway, by complaining or trying to rationalise it, or whatever that is, i've just babbled on even more.

so friday, which is more like saturday, started with us taking julie's bike down to the bike shop on parliament street. her coaster brake has been seizing up, locking her back wheel in place. i thought it would be quite simple to fix, but apparently the guy has to take the mechanism apart and it can't be done until monday. it sucks because i was going to show her the route i cycle to work, that stupid tree that cut my arm up (still not healed), and eat burgers at licks. i was also hoping to get paid, but nevermind.

to console ourselves we had breakfast at a classic looking breakfast cafe i've forgotten the name of, that i'd eyed up the time we walked down the street before (when buying news tyres for julie's 'lemon'). the waitress was super friendly and the eggs florentine were good. the home fries were too "powdery", which is the only way i can think to explain the feeling they leave in my mouth. no one else understands either, don't worry about it. after this we went to see the momma pig and the cute goats at riverdale farm.

at some point i also got the last four books of akira out of the library. i would have taken then all out but the second book was missing. i'm already halfway through them and i'd forgotten quite how stunning they are. katsuhiro otomo is a fucking legend.

in the afternoon we went over to harbord to catalogue some trees. this is julie's internship, and i figured i could help out, or at least take photos of what they were doing. it was pretty cool. i even got to do some mild dumpster diving with some random guy who wasn't very talkative. an art school had thrown out a bunch of random stuff, including some large school desks, some disappointingly empty spray cans and a slightly dirty but otherwise very decent coat. i left the coat in clear view for anyone who wanted it. as for the tree business, it looked a little bit like this:

we were going go out, but after making and eating saag paneer we didn't really have the energy. or inclination. not when i could sit around and read akira and julie could knit.

saturday started with my almost regular trip to the library to play chess, only this time julie came along too. i don't think i'm a very good teacher, but we can work on that. we actually did a bit of a library tour, checking out the tree books in the reference library and yorkville library too. by the time we'd finished the whole of bloor had been blocked off between church and yonge. it was empty of cars, a strange spectacle, but people had yet developed the nerve to take to the road. we had time to get a roti and check out some of the stalls before the dyke march started with the roar of motorbikes. i normally hate motorbikes, but these were awesome. it's that intimidating and confident growl, of a posse you want on your side because they kick ass. riding along bloor, taking up all four lanes, they only could have been cooler had they been flying black flags. we followed the march along bloor and down a very busy yonge, then back onto church where we met up with dave.

the plan was this, we'd buy wine and somehow open the bottle, then poor it into julie's hard metal water bottle and top it up with lemonade - a poor man's sangria. only the ontario wine shop wouldn't sell me anything because i didn't have my ID. they'd never checked it there before. and then they wouldn't even let dave buy it because he'd be buying it for me. i don't mind the guy doing his job, but he doesn't have to be a dick about it. the dude in the LCBO was more reasonable, and they had wine with screw tops, so we were set. we walked around drinking our dodgy sangria and then sat on a curb, watching some vaguely punk girls squirt water in each others faces and writhe around half-naked on the dirty tarmac. it's gotta rock when you share your birthday with pride.

dave had to go back to work, but rachelle soon replaced him as our hang-out buddy. it was about this time we grabbed a whole bunch of free condoms (a total of 46, and a tube of lube), half of them maple flavour (weird canadians, but where's the peanut butter flavoured ones?). there was more wine drinking, and after a quick trip home we headed out to meet rachelle's friends for dinner. more food. by now we'd eaten a roti, corn on the cob, a vege wrap and a spinach pastry. we shared a pad thai and a creme brulee (also a mango colada), and later we'd get a huge pizza, but that's not for a few hours yet. festivals make you hungry.

julie decided to head home but i couldn't, because if i rested i'd be out for the night. instead me and rachelle shared a tuborg which we drank while waiting in the queue to get into a large carpark/stage area. we were there to see the indigo girls, who i probably don't know, despite their name sounding familiar. at least i recognised the last song of the band before, the clicks? the clits? i can't remember. i'm sure the indigo girls were good but i got a bit bored, to pick it up we went for a beer at a nearby pub. it felt good to sit on their patio and soak up the atmosphere. at some point the night had arrived and i hadn't even noticed. all those pretty lights and bright rainbow colours, random cheering and shouting. the streets for the people, and all the tacky bank-sponsored stalls. shouldn't the city be like this always? can anyone disagree with this vibrant and chaotic fun? pride is clearly one of toronto's highlight, let's have it like this all the time.

and sitting here now, writing this up, i can still hear the partying down the street. the thumping bass and squealing house vocals. i can't help but let it remind me of glastonbury. does it make me miss it more, or somehow fill its void? glastonbury festival is happening at the moment and it's the first one i've missed the whole 25 years i've been alive. it's not such a big deal, i'm missing it for the best reason, i'm off around the world adventuring.

anyway, laura was supposed to be having a house party, which would be terrible timing, having it coincide with pride, except she lives right on church street. the party still managed to fall through. we caught up with them at a heaving crossroad, me drinking too strong gin and tonic out of a plastic water bottle and them on the way to american apparel to meet people and steal stuff (they didn't actually steal anything, honest). by now it's 11pm and it's wild outside the clubs. the strip of road where the majority of clubs are is completely impassable. we cut down some backstreets and enter the dreaded store, too bright with all its fluorescent tubes and paedophilic adverts. these kids, they all look the same in their stolen clothes, and they've all practising their bored glares to perfection. american apparel is a proper lifestyle brand.

then we had the huge pizza i'd mentioned earlier, sitting in a park and hiding beers from the security guards. trying not to talk shit. i'm still bemused as to why people admit they generally slide to the right. i'm as polite as ever, naturally. for pudding laura bought a funnel cake, which had been tempting me all day. i like my sweet stuff disgusting, but this stuff just goes beyond. it's a cross between a donut and vomit, tastes amazing. we even get free squirty cream because i asked nicely. back at laura's place i sit in a comfy seat and annoy everyone by playing with the a crazy mini keyboard for kids. i love those things.

so we were in bed by a good time, all things considered (time spent on our feet, sun exposure, alcohol consumption, etc). something like 1am. where's our party spirit? pah.

ooh, perhaps i could start using colour coding. black means it might be interesting to read, whereas grey means it's just me chronicalling my actually rather uninteresting life. shit man, the internet plays havoc on people's egos doesn't it? people write blogs like they actually expect people to read them? it's ridiculous. at least, if you look back at my blogs history, you'll notice i never expecting anyone to read shit. it was just me entertaining myself, talking about milk and peanuts, all worded badly with no paragraphs or grammar, anything to make it as hard to read as possible. there's the contradiction, or the dichotomy or whatever. it just don't make sense.

22.06.2007: i wake up this morning facing the alarm clock, and it's reflection in the baby green chair it sits on clearly reads "die". is this is an omen? since it happens twice at day, at 9:16, probably not. but if i'm dead within the next 12 hours, that's why.

anyway, we thought we'd be 'cultured' (in quotes, because honestly, culture?) so we went to the ballet. actually it has nothing to do with being cultured. julie happens to rather like ballet and i rather like don quixote (which i read quite recently), and also doing new and different things.

but this is for rich people. staring down from our seats into the sea of people who paid well over $100 to get in tonight, and i'm wondering how they can justify that. then there's the people in the boxes, it's $190 for that priviledge. our seats were $30, and we're as near to the stage as you can get, i'm happy. the wine seems reasonable at $8 a glass, only it's a glass that's not even half full. and the raffle is $50 a ticket. or you can get three for $100. it's a whole different species, one that's devolving at a dangerous rate. "your days of plenty are numbered", etc.

the ballet is plenty entertaining though. sancho panza is particularly good, and they even have a real horse (with huge cock) and donkey. the sets are amazing, and from our position you can see how distorted and fantastic they are, the perspectives all stretched and crippled. you can also see slightly behind stage, all the people running around getting ready, pulling scenery around and getting dressed. it's all very interesting.

my favourite scenes are those with the children. near the start don quixote has a dream where a number of child-size knights run and stage and sword fight with him, except some of the knights have tails and one of them a dragons head. then near the end of the first part a group of children dressed as moors act out a short play, which don quixote mistakes as being real (i.e. not a play at all) and manages to destroy the stagecoach they were standing on. the kids are too cute.

at the end, after the rather long and boring final scene which we could only see half of, i had an urge to shout the painfully inappropriate "fuck yeah". maybe next time.

on the way home we stopped for a few minutes to watch two racoons play fight on the lawn of someone's garden. there was a small group of us watching and the racoons didn't seem to care at all. they were big too. i probably should have run back to get my camera, but nevermind.

21.06.2007: the most inane conversation ever:

grilly: *sigh*
   yes!it works!
   hang on...
laurence: what works?
   oh nice
grilly: _*roflmao*_'
laurence: _*
   you beat me
grilly: wait...
laurence: sdf
grilly: _*bollocks*_
laurence: _*_
grilly: i see what you're doing
   you didn't see bollocks though... i did them in the wrong order
   look at theat.
laurence: *f*_u_*c_k*e_
   why didn't that work?!?!
   of course i didn't see what you did with bollocks ;]
grilly: _*_*_*_*_*_**licks armpits*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_
laurence: *f*uck
grilly: yeah anyway
   see you later
laurence: f u *c_ k*e_
grilly: i'm gonna send this whole conversatoin to
   julie when she's next online

(names have been changed)

but what i'm thinking is why would you plant trees that smells like semen in the summer all over the city? why would you even do that? it makes no sense.

thanks to grilly and some fancy proxy switching i can now listen to doom/glitch/spaz at work. getting pandora to work was almost too much effort, since they use IP checking and delivery to make sure you can't use it outside america, you can't even sign up or register here in canada. i managed to find a reasonable anonymous US proxy server (thank you samair) and it streams remarkably well considering. glitch, bastard. well good.

anyway, happy solstice. it's downhill from here..

20.06.2007: the storm comes. it goes. leaves a ferocious sky. a sky of beached whales, mid-explosion. it more cometh'd than came, but language like that never helped anyone.

it must have been about 3pm when it broke. the sky, that is. it does it just to ruin my cycle home. so my feet slip on the pedals and my wheels slip on the tarmac. so my brakes squeak and fail. so i get wet even though it's barely even raining anymore. so i can't ride through the woods because of the mud, and i can't ride down mt.pleasant because it'd be suicide. so i can't ride any route i know because of fallen trees and aggressive police. so whatever.

there's something about canadian trees. they just love to fall down. is it becomes the storms are so violent, or because people don't know how to look after them? it happens all the time. here's a more extreme example.

on the way back from the cinema, walking across nathan phillips square the sky popped bright pink. boom, those exploded whales. the east was all washed out blues and lavender, settling on the tall buildings in unphotographable and unbelievable tones. and then you step onto yonge street, all those flashing and spinning lights desperately vying for your attention, all desperately failing, and the sky folds over all black and menacing like it's actually the end of the world. it compresses down on the city, or just this evil street, the wind kicking up in bursts so that the air's either creepily still and heavy or pulling everything up off the ground. between the two towers at the head of yonge there's a bleeding patch of red sky, holding out beneath the incoming doom.

proper fucking doom.

we'd been to see paprika, which was fantastic. yes it's way similar to 'ghost in the shell 2' (and all those other films), but it's also gorgeous. given the time difference between the films coming out, it's also quite obviously not a rip-off. i bet satoshi kon was well gutted when he saw GITS2. besides, paprika is based on a book that came out in 1993, so there. anyway, i wont claim it makes any sense (that's part of the fun), or that i understood what the point was, but it was great. halfway through, whilst they're destroying the city, i thought "they should make a movie of akira". i think what i meant was that they should make a movie more like the books, because the last two of them are brilliant.

and i was going to say how cool it is that people comment on the 'take the tooker' flag on my bike. you see, cycling is so much more sociable than driving. everyone hates a driver. on the way to work yesterday this woman cycled after me to ask where i got the flag from and if she can have one too. isn't that great?

also the dweeb who shouted at us from their car whilst we were walking home one night last week, somewhere between bloor and danforth at about 2am. some moronic high-pitched girl, she's wailing "get a helmet" as she whizzes by. did she even notice we were walking? because she didn't notice our lack of lights, our flat tyre, or our helmets dangling from our handle bars. retards. all drivers are retards.

19.06.2007: looks like i spent a whole weekend away from my computer again. go me.

and it wasn't all drinking either. at the artful dodger with laura and sedric, or at labyrinth with people we mostly don't know from the forestry faculty, or janice's place for the barbecue.

we spent all of saturday out of the house, which was quite a feat. in the morning (okay, afternoon) we cycled over to little italy to check out the 'italian' street festival. it was okay, but damn hard to find a slice of pizza, which makes no sense. and we didn't even get gelato, opting for some weird melon flavoured lolly thing instead. anyway, i hear most places that sell "gelato" do so because they don't have to stick to the regulations that govern icecream production.

anyway, we were picking up a few people, and by the time we finally left for our epic cycle ride we were a group of five. we went all the way along the front, past the sweet smelling tate & lyle factory and got lost somewhere around cherry beach. not lost at all, but the paths had all been closed (due to filming, pfft). we didn't fancy the waters at cherry beach, imagining all the crud that gets caught in the hook of tommy tompson park, but the white stuff floating in the air and drifting on the breeze gave it a lovely dream like quality. we decided to push on for the next beach, but somewhere along the way julie's back tyre finally gave in. we had to walk the remainder of the journey, but that's okay because it wasn't far, and when the reward is the beach it's all good. woodbine beach is huge, at least compared to the other beaches i've seen, and it was packed too.

we had a brief swim, some briefer than others, but it was rough cold. cold like it could stop your heart dead, if you were a bit old like. or young. cold like your legs go numb and disappear, leaving you swimming with only your arms. and cold like when you get out it aches all over your body. also it's not really the sea. it's dull green instead of enticing light blue. it has moss instead of jellyfish. but if you can ignore the fact there's no waves, you can pretend it's the sea convincingly enough.

me and julie had to walk back, since you're not allowed to take your bike on the bus. it's okay though, because we kept it simple and went straight to janice's for the afor mentioned barbecue. it was a lot of fun. there was a defense lawyer who told us some interesting things about dealing with the police, two comic enthusiasts who i talked to at great length about all kinds of things (the most hilarious being the punisher/archie crossover featuring josie and the pussycats) and various other interesting people too. the vege burgers had a subtle hint of maple syrup (canadian bbq sauce) and the 'apple crack' (cream cheese and caramel sauce) was dangerous. i also got to play with a frozen sheeps head. skinned, still with its eyeballs. we had to walk home, but after the beer and food and rest it wasn't so bad.

see, i totally forgot about friday, just because i'm used to friday only being an evening. friday was great for hanging out in kensington market, eating big fat burritos (they are so good) and buying issues of rolling thunder magazine. also buying lots of cheese and enjoyable cereal. bike lights to make me legal. we also did some vege shopping in china town, which we always wanted to be able to do all the time. some of those supermarkets down spadina have a fantastic range of produce and it's all reasonably priced. you can even get grossed out at all the squids, dried seahorses and barely live crabs. needless to say our stir fry was bad. in the evening we didn't really know what to do, i bought some gin and some tonic and we eventually decided to go for drinks at labyrinth, with the possibility of dancing at the dance cave. we never got to the dancing part, but the drinking was fun. i especially enjoyed the whiskey sour and the music. the dj was rocking the 90s alt-indie scene.

sunday was typically slow. we spent most of it walking back and forth to the bike shop and trying to fix up julie's bike (which is still having trouble, stupid coasting brakes). the evening was just nice. we went for chai latte's and the sushi in yorkville. so yeah, pretty straight forward.

and boring too huh? sorry. my heart isn't really in this.

last night we were supposed to go climbing, except it was actually sunday night we were supposed to go climbing. we cycled down there to find this out and decided to go another time when we were more people. then we didn't go the cinema either because i didn't have my glasses, which would make a japanese film no fun. the cycle was 'fun' though. i got a bit paranoid when we were stuck riding along with a police car, was he honking at us or that fucking taxi? this week the police are doing a "safe cycling" campaign. what does that mean? i have no idea. their press release is rather patronising ("did you know that riding your bicycle on the sidewalk endangers pedestrians?") but this is the police we're talking about. i'm sure motorists are well aware that opening their doors without looking is dangerous, but what are you going to do to stop them? kick them, that's what.

and about riding on the 'sidewalk', i'd rather hit a pedestrian than have a car hit me. infact, i'm sure most people would rather i hit them whilst they're walking than they hit me whilst they're driving. i've only hit a pedestrian once, and fair enough i was cycling in the rain at night whilst listening to loud music after three pints of guiness and no dinner, but it was her who stepped out from the behind the white van into the road without looking. had i done all the right things i still would have hit her. wait, i shouldn't be telling this story should i? the point is, accidents may be as likely when cyclists cycle on the pavement, but they're nowhere fucking near as lethal. stick your statistics up your arse.

having said that, i rarely cycle on the pavement anyway. only on certain sections of mt.pleasant road and bloor. so whatever.

18.06.2007: since i don't have enough time right now to tell you all of the exciting dull stuff i did over the weekend, here's a bunch of links to stuff you'll probably find fascinatingly uninteresting.

gipfelsoli infogroup have released an great article on police misconduct at the G8. i think what i mean by "police misconduct" is mostly police brutality (and if you search for [brutality] in google, you'll notice all the websites are about police).

and here's a good article on why not to like facebook. the conspiracy theorists will love that one. the bad news is it's too late to delete your profile and all your stupid personal. it's too late, they have you already. me, they have nothing on. only all the speculative crap other people have tried to attribute to me. i never met you anywhere, i don't know you through anyone, we never went to the same school, we are not in a relationship, we do not live in the same town.

check out gordon graff's sky farm (scroll down a little way). that's one hell of a green roof. i'm not sure how serious they are aboug building one of these downtown, but it does seem kind of cool. probably it's just fucking ridiculous. what's wrong with having normal farms surrounding the city? hmmm? but then, after reading about south central farm, having one huge food farm in the middle of town would be incredible (i'm talking about environmental/educational benefits, not social/community ones, obviously). i'm not sure how all the carbon monoxide (and other toxic car related chemicals) fit into the mix, but that wont be a problem once we've got all non-public transport banned from downtown and everyone is rocking the bicycles. that and other pipe dreams.

and finally, someone in berlin is setting fire to cars, and someone else is recording it all. who are these militant anti-car 'heroes'?

i can't believe i missed toronto ses. nevermind.

15.06.2007: i well gashed up my arm:

and as per usual it's my left arm. i must hate my left arm. it must really hate me.

and if you're the kind of person who worries when i write about fucking myself up, you really need not, it's nowhere near as bad as it looks in the photo. tis but a scratch, etc. all i did was fall off my bike. actually, it was more like i fell over on my bike. i wasn't even moving. i was trying to get over a branch and the back wheel just span and slipped. i would have been okay had the branch not been connected to a rather large tree. but y'know, shit happens.

14.06.2007: so, my spain journal finally concludes - hurray for barcelona. it took me a whole month to get it out, but there it is all complete and shiny. and if you can't be bothered to read it, you just want to see the pictures, i've also created a spain holiday photos page. would it hurt you to scroll through the words? i guess it might.

i'm still enjoying our organic food box, delivered every wednesday. yesterday we got chard, more rhubard (to make a crumble), a melon, some apples, more bok choy, potatoes, spring onions, a tomato (yep, just one) and various other stuff i can't remember. last weeks asparagus and oregano were great, and the potatos went into the best mash i've made in ages. the box is expensive at $36, but it's cool.

anyway, i'm not gonna write much, else you'll never read my spanish stuff. but not that i'm deluded into thinking you'll read it anyway. nevermind.

13.06.2007: "you actually believe humans evolved a conscious?", his sudden disbelief catches me well off guard. for a second i wonder if i can see craziness in his wide and excited eyes, but then i'm just trying to figure out what it was he thought i meant. sure my wording was bad, after three pints the right words never come out, but what's so absurd about the human brain having evolved a higher cognitive ability than animals, one that provides us with a basis for making conscious and moral judgements?

i tried to clarify my point, but our mutual friend dived into the arguement and, much to my horror, it was a religious one. no one said the word "creationism", but no one needed to. it took me all of three seconds to decide now was the time for a toilet break, even though i didn't really need to go. see, i like this guy. he's not an idiot, he has his reasons for his beliefs and i respect them (in a kind of 'life after god' coupland kind of way). and up until now we'd had some good conversations. about pussy feet and the western toxic lifestyle. dan brown.

the conversation about anarchism though, and how it couldn't work because it destroys family values and creates a paradox over education, that was the early warning sign i missed.

so i stood in the basement corridor of the future cafe, leaning against the wall and wanting more cake, half reading the posters and trying to decide what to do. give me a right-wing christian piece-of-shit and i'll argue til they're blue in the face and die. i'll kick their corpse around, begging their stupid god to come smite me. but a nice guy? a nice creationist? who knew they even existed?

back outside, on the gorgeously lit patio, the debate was still going. i was thinking how nice it had been before dave had thrown a pencil at me, sitting there beneath the tree, just me, my zapatista book and a beer. listening to other people's stupid conversations - how you can now throw sheep at people over facebook and how myspace isn't as good as it used to be (i actually heard this). but now midnight was already approaching, and it was definately time to leave. we left them to it.

and the way i've told this, it doesn't sound like it was a great evening, but it was. i just had to go and write about the stupid bit at the end, the bit that makes me sound like an intolerant asshole. the bit that makes it sound like it ruined the night, when really it just made it more interesting. what more could you ask for than spontaneous company and a long nights worth of drunken chatting, when you had no actual plans?

on the way home riding julie's 'brakeless' bike, or both of us riding her bike, balancing awkwardly and never quite ending in disaster or arrest. i'm still ranting about religion and evolution, how he acted so surprised that i honestly believe in natural selection, like it's so damn weird of me. but i was mostly ranting to stop myself from thinking about falling off, and then falling off.

and coming home from work yesterday i saw a garter snake. i thought that was cool enough to mention.

a garter snake..

12.06.2007: it's brutally hot outside. hot like god exists and actually, he's decided he really loves fags. hot like i can only explain by being offensive. hot like joan of arc.

i tried sitting on the stone steps at yonge and eglinton, but they were baking. my ass gets enough rough treatment from my saddle, without being dry roasted. although i think 'dry' might be a little optimistic. in the end i just sat on my adbusters and tried to ignore the burning sensation. you could fry eggs on the sidewalk.

but i'm getting used to cycling again. i've learnt the ruts and bumps of my dirt trail, so i can now ride it confidently at speed. and i'm more comfortable on the roads, i've learnt how to cycle side by side with these monsterous cars. and i've no qualms about taking up a whole lane either, with all these parked cars i'm all you can fit into one lane anyway. my 'take the tooker' flag helps too. i'm super visible. and my new bell, ding ding ding.

you may have noticed i hate linking to youtube, but this norwegian kid is too awesome, or at least the two videos i watched were. you'd link too if you had nothing else better to say. faen!

11.06.2007: sunday was busier than what i'd have thought. we were up early for the st.james town festival and parade. what parade? we chased it around the streets, a route we'd half guessed at, and made it back to the community centre just in time to see it return. to see it mostly as a way to promote various political candidates. and not to mention the scientologists. but all the stalls were cool, and it's a shame we couldn't stick around to see any of the performances. did you know we live in the most diverse neighbourhood in the most diverse city in the world? people around here speak over 90 different languages.

but we had to get up to kennedy, the station at the east end of the bloor subway line, right in the middle of scarborough. this was where the smaller half of the take the tooker bike ride was starting. we sellotaped flags to our bikes and set off back the way we came (actually we'd take the nicer route), cycling into the heat haze. an endless heat haze. cycling down these roads is better with a posse. it's much safer, if you get in a fight with a car driver there's people behind you to back you up. and fuck shit up. and if your chain comes off, someone will have a tool.

we met the other tookers at spadina, for cheers and photos and worrying almost-nudity (actually, the naked bike ride was on saturday, i just missed it as it went up yonge street). and lucky us, it was the annex bloor street festival, so we wandered around that for an hour or so. the highlight was easily ninja high school. think junior senior but better (and younger). think bis but with more shouting and less instruments. think the best band that would result from taking the music away from a hardcore band and giving them a sense of humour. i also ate stout icecream, made from guiness and magic, and coffee toffee icecream, which rocked almost as hard.

by then it must have been what? time for a nap, and time to make honey roasted parsnip soup. but how do you get all the stringy bits out? that's why you need a sieve i suppose. nevermind.

if you have a spare 50 minutes you might want to watch 17 years since the tiananmen square massacre: the tank man.

what 'impressed' me was the claim (which i don't doubt) that china has at least 35000 internet police monitoring chinese internet users. imagine them in one huge room, a giant cube farm, the combined tapping noise of all their keyboards. it's terrifying. the documentary then goes on to explain how it was yahoo who helped screwed over shi tao, a chinese journalist who had forwarded to an american website the government instructions on how the chinese media should cover the anniversary of the tiananmen square massacre. yahoo provided the chinese government with detailed information about shi tao's email and IP address. i mean, providing a self-censored version of your search engine to china is one thing (google and yahoo both do this), but being an informant as well? sheesh.

this is old news that i'd not heard before, but it ties in nicely with the report that privacy international released two days ago claiming that google has the worst privacy practices of all the internet service companies they investigated (a reasonably comprehensive list). google was the only company to be placed in the black category. it makes you wonder. a lot of what privacy international say is true, and google is scary in its potential - the amount of data it has and their obvious ability to use it - but the worst? matt cutts gives a very good defense of google (more like "finger pointing") on his blog, and to summarise it because you can't be bothered to read it, google have never leaked user queries (like aol), handed over data to the justice department (like aol, yahoo and msn) and are also going to be anonymizing query logs (like none of the other search engines).

i presume they also haven't handed over data to be used by the chinese government to hunt down and incarcerate journalists.

not to say you shouldn't be wary of them, just be wary of all of them equally.

but getting back to tank man, it's true that his image is more powerful because he has niether a face nor a name. i think his name was marcos.

09.06.2007: i've never cycled like that before in my life, down yonge street from eglinton to bloor. i'm amazed that i survived. it's one long evil stretch of asshole traffic, cursing and spewing. in the space of ten minutes i was cut up twice by cars turning right. and it's funny, because being a bike you go at a much faster average speed than the other traffic. maybe that's why they hate us cyclists so much.

but now i'm all set. i have my bike for $85, my helmet (that's not a legal requirement) for $35, my lock for $23 and my pollution mask (being knocked off my bike is a statistic, but being exposed to pollution is guaranteed) for $35. please note that while i'm legally allowed to not wear a helmet, i am required to have a bell. it's ridiculous. all i need now is to know if i'm allowed to jump red lights where there isn't a right turn or crossing, or if i need to jump up the curb for them.

anyway, call me critical mass ready, and let's go.

i only went down yonge because i was meeting people at the graduate pub on campus, otherwise i'd have taken the dirt track down through thr don valley. thursday, don't forget, is the new friday. after some beers and shopping it was late when we finally got around to cooking. we made pizza to go with the oregano we found in our food box (much better this week). only i don't think the dough cooked enough and i spent most of the night in mild pain. it's no problem.

friday. we eat at an all-day breakfast place in kensington. i go shopping and see one of the luminato exhibitions. unfortunately i think i've missed the robotic chair that puts itself back together. damn. i read my new books in the library, then read my library books at home. amongst other things.

saturday, today. back to the library to take back my books and play chess. i watched a man playing against himself for five minutes before asking if he wants a game. as we sit down opposite each other i notice he was reading a chess book. a book about openings. i realise this might have been a bad idea. we played a good game but more often than not i was forced to make moves i knew were bad. he plays a mean game and i play offensively because it's all i can do. and after he's beaten me, after i held out long enough to be respectable, he asks if i want to go over the game. unsure as to what he meant i agreed, sure. he then goes on to reenact our entire game, move by move, showing me where i could have made better moves, pointing out my pointless attempts at strategy. it was both brilliant and amazing. how could he reconstruct it like that? i learnt a lot, and that's what's important.

it was around twelve so i headed over to the indigo store at bay and bloor, to the picket against heather reisman and her heseg lone soldier foundation. indigo/chapters doesn't exactly support israeli apartheid, but if the owner does is that enough? sure people aren't going to actually boycott the bookstore, and sure it wont force them to cut what ties they have with palestinian occupation, but it's a symbol. and it's a vehicle to educate people, raise awareness, that kind of thing. and apparently it's also something that antagonizes the zionists. there are more of them here than people from CAIA (coalition against israeli apartheid), and one of them calls me a nazi. they accuse me of supporting terrorism (was it hamas or hezbollah that bombed that UN post? oh no wait..) and being anti-semitic. i've never wanted more to pull the "but some of my best friends are.." line. and then again when i'm asked "have you ever been to israel?", like that matters anyway.

but i understand this isn't a black and white issue, it's complicated and convoluted, so why is it being forced into such strong rights and wrongs? it's been polarised. you're either on one side of the street or other, and on whichever you're still a terrorist. and like this, there is no room for dialogue or debate. there is no reasoning. here i'm a racist wherever i stand. and it just confuses everyone who walks past. whose side are you on? you can't win either way. i have no answers.

then there's the two guys who told me i've been brain washed. they look remarkably like the 9-11 conspiracy people and unfortunately they're on our side of the street. the police keep trying to push them away but they continue to shout abuse, the odd person will fall into their trap and it'll descend into insults. a policeman tells me when they turned up they were on the other side claiming to support hamas. i half suspect he doesn't know what he's going on about, but i joke that maybe he should make them stand in the middle of the road - it'll get rid of them quicker. i get my first smile from a cop, and he admits that he can't admit it, but he did have the thought himself. there are six police here, and they're being nice to us, it's a new feeling for me.

i went to check out the other indigo/chapter stores. there are seven demos today and the others are much calmer. outside the world's biggest bookstore there's four people and they're having a good time dancing to the salsa. futher down yonge outside the eaton centre i bump into our communist friends and i go on a mission to get them more flyers, then join in with handing them out. some people respond well, most people just take it because they'll take anything. the other person claims to "love chapters", like in this city, with so many fantastic independant book stores, you need to love a corporate chain. but it was fun, and i met some more cool people. i also had my first popeye's experience (the fast food place that doesn't have anything with spinach), but i'd rather not talk about that.

for dinner and for fun we cycled to the indian quarter, along gerrard, another white knuckle ride. the street car is both your friend and enemy. but the indian bazaar smells great. i'd describe it properly but it's almost exactly like what you'd expect. we couldn't find the restaurant we wanted but settled for a vegetarian buffet place that was good enough.

anyway, now we're going to watch lola rennt.

07.06.2007: since activism is such a dead scene in toronto, we realised we'd have to do our own thing to show our dissatisfaction (being very diplomatic here) at the existence of the G8, and their lies, broken promises and injustice - why should the richest people in the world dictate the policies of the poorest? especially when they can't even get their own policies in order. or their polizei, for that matter.

but there being only two of us, and us being such law abiding citizens (or actually not citizens at all) we were rather limited as to what we could achieve. i'd already found the german consulate and scoped it out (security, work hours, etc), and thought about all the things we could do to 'entertain' dr. klaus rupprecht, but nothing clever came to mind. in the end it just comes down to chalk and the pavement.

so there we were, half ten at night, and the moment i stepped infront of 77 bloor street west, the square of pavement infront of the building that they "own" (or whatever), an alarm goes off. this is the moment we should have whipped out the spray cans and butchered their glassed front in anarchy signs and swearwords, if we were a mass and that hardcore, but instead we hid around the corner by the bank and waited to see if any security would appear. just one, we could have taken him, i could see his reflection in the glass as he peered out to see if any trouble was going down.

we reassessed the situation and decided to chalk the area of pavement classed as public space, the bit nearest the road, that you're definately allowed to draw all over. on our hands and knees we started a two meter wide blue "G8", crossed out in thick red. it was a bit wonky but it was cool. the security guard didn't seem to mind, he'd walked slowly back along his corridor and out onto the street to watch our pathetic spectacle. "it's one less report i have to write", he said thankfully when i told him we'd decided to avoid his nice tiles. "hope it doesn't rain", he said. "where's it being held this year?", he said, like he hadn't been warned about any potential anti-G8 action against the german embassy. could toronto be so lame they couldn't even be bothered to warn the security guards?

"stoppen sie polizei violence" i chalked in white, because the german word for violence is too hard to remember (gewalttatigkeit). "abort capitalism" in yellow because i like the word "abort". "we're still winning" because that's what other people have written and i couldn't think of anything better. then a medium sized anarchy sign in purple, because anarchy signs are cool.

we gathered our stuff, leaving no mess but chalk dust rubbed into the pavement, and told the security guard to take care, being nice and friendly and all. and as i was walking away i thought to myself, damn, i need a photo of this. so back home we got on our bikes and cycled back along bloor with my camera, and what did we find? the friendly security guard had stabbed us in the back:

surprise surprise. they make the lowly cleaner scrub the pavement, which they don't own, and it's clearly not even the cleaners job. public space? freedom of speech? democracy? and you wonder why people have to resort to spray paint to get their message across?

lesson learnt..

were not wasting paper [or grammar]
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