We’ll Always Have August. And September.

October 8, 2015

bluejayshat

I have this feeling I may be a little preoccupied for the next few days, leading up into and through the long weekend. That’s probably a good thing too, as I’m sure you must be as tired as I am of hearing about ranked ballots specifically and just plain ol’ uninspired local governance in general. A break will probably do us all a little good, right?

Let me take a minute here to venture into somewhat more alien territory for me to be writing about. Baseball. There far more people, far better qualified to do so than I am. If you can’t explain exactly how you arrive at WaR, maybe you should just stay silent and enjoy the game from the cheap seats. But as many of you long time readers will certainly attest to, a certain ignorance of a topic has never stopped me from writing about it before.

I’ll just say this.

Regardless of what happens going forward, while understanding that anything less than a World Series championship will be seen as a failure for many, we should all take a silent moment of contemplation to appreciate what we as baseball fans have already witnessed before this final push commences.

After what was shaping up to be yet another lackluster season, just like all the 20+ seasons prior, we then experienced a kind of run few fans get to experience. Not just in a season but ever. Beginning in late-July right up  until the game the division was clinched last week, we got to follow a team that flirted with an .800 winning percentage. That’s nearly two months of watching a team win almost 8 out of 10 games, 4 out of every 5. It’s a rare thing. It’s a joyous thing. It’s fucking magical, is what it was.

Fingers crossed such winning ways continue. The next 11 will be the most difficult to notch. But when all is said and done, I think it’s going to be August and September I will remember most from this past season. We got to shrug off our well-earned shroud of disbelief and bury the certainty we’d developed that somehow this wasn’t going to work out, that it would all inevitably come crashing down in a flaming heap of disappointment. Again. For another year.

touchemalljoe

Embrace, baseball fans, and enjoy. Before you know it, it’ll be November and spring training will be just 14 weeks away.

giddily submitted by Cityslikr


More Of The Mayor’s Magical Musings

January 24, 2011

“To be a world class city, at least a North American world class city, we need an NFL team.”

— Councillor Doug Ford, older, allegedly smarter brother of Mayor Rob Ford.

If there’s another statement that would better reveal this administration’s horrifying ignorance about what makes a city vibrant, livable, “world class”, it would have to be grunted by a speaker who’s covered in their own feces. Assuming the mayor agrees with his brother’s view (a fair one to make, I think, given the cover of the newspaper the story appeared in), we bear witness to yet another dimension in the realm of the mayor’s magical thinking. You can cut taxes and not cut services. If you absolutely have to have public transit, subways are always better than any alternative. Professional sports franchise equals civic health.

Look down there at Detroit. After decades of on-field futility, their Lions showed signs of life this past season. Can recovery be far behind for the city?

It seems the mayor and his brother headed off to Chicago this weekend on a fact-finding mission to take in the NFC conference championship game. Because, it stands to reason, that if a world class city needs an NFL franchise, having a winning franchise will make a city even more world classier. Why, winning the Super Bowl just last year, turned every Hurricane Katrina induced disaster around for the city of New Orleans.

Hopefully while in The Windy City, the mayor and his brother managed to find time to take in some other sights outside of Soldier Field that contribute to Chicago’s vitality. Just down the lake from where they would’ve seen the Packers defeat the hometown Bears, there’s the Art Institute. A little further from AIC, there’s Millennium Park with its Frank Gehry Pritzker Pavilion, built on former industrial railroad land. It’s all part of a renovated waterfront that reclaimed the lake. A familiar sounding problem, Mayor Ford?

Or maybe the mayor and his brother rode around for a bit on the Chicago transit system, just to see how other cities of comparable size move their people around. Not being knowledgeable enough myself to know how it matches up to ours, I’ll assume neither is the mayor. It’d be nice to think that he took the opportunity to help enlighten himself further on the pressing issue of public transit.

And while they were at it, I wonder if the mayor and his brother sought the advice of anyone who could give them a hands-on account of how the privatization of parking in Chicago has worked out. Since his budget chief has mused publicly about the necessity of the city being in the parking business, the mayor certainly needs to take some time to weigh the issue fully to see if other places benefited from such a move. Some due diligence done on either side of a football game.

On the other hand, maybe this whole call for an NFL team was simply a dog whistle that only the mayor’s supporters could hear. After a week of sometimes bruising public consultations over the proposed budget where it became crystal clear that the mayor wouldn’t be able to maintain his campaign promise of holding the line on taxes without cutting services, they needed a diversionary tactic. Hey! Look over here! The NFL! Remember? The mayor loves football. Just like you and me.

As cynical as that would be, it’d still beat the mayor and his brother actually believing that having an NFL team in Toronto puts us on the road to world classiness. The simple-mindedness of that is a little too much to bear on a cold Monday morning after a weekend where the Raptors lost their 7th game in a row, the Leafs further mired themselves out of playoff contention and the Blue Jays traded away their center fielder in what was little more than a salary dump. By professional sports franchise standards, Toronto’s sitting on the corner of Shithole & Crack  Alley, smack dab in the middle of Nowhere’s Ville on a rail line that no longer stops here on its way to Classy Town.

abracadabraly submitted by Cityslikr


Life On The Streets

September 27, 2010

Off the top of my head, this weekend saw the following list of events in, on and around the streets of Toronto: the Waterfront Marathon, Word on the Street, PS Kensington, a grand opening at the Evergreen Brickworks, Harvest Day at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, the last weekend home stand for the 2010 Blue Jays. And that’s just off the top of my head. Next weekend comes Nuit Blanche and Picnic at the Brickworks. That’s before I put any thought into it whatsoever.

City’s that are in the kind of dire, downward spiral shape as Toronto’s being depicted by four of its mayoral candidates seldom display the vibrancy on show this past weekend. They’re usually too busy dealing with matters of urban decay to put on a host of festivities. Or maybe Toronto’s simply whistling past the graveyard; playing and cavorting while the city burns. Rather than expend its energy and precious resources making whoopee, it should be concentrating on fixing the basics like streetlights and potholes. That whole Rudy Giuliani Broken Windows approach to city building.

False dichotomy aside, the question begs to be asked. When was the last time you came home from a place you’d never been before and that really caught your fancy, and the impression it made most on you was, the street surfaces were impeccable? That’s not to say infrastructure maintenance is unimportant. It’s just not the difference between merely a livable city and one that is exceptional.

In an interview last week, architect and author (Cities For People), Jan Gehl said, “The number one attraction in any city isn’t the buildings, the parks, the sculptures or the statues. It’s people.” What we witnessed and took part in here over the past weekend was gatherings of people. Thousands and thousands of people running, mingling with authors, drinking overpriced beer and eating overpriced pulled pork sandwiches. Together. We congregated at various locations throughout the city not only to enjoy the events but to be a part of them with others. That’s what happens in dynamic, lively cities.

So when Rob Ford pronounces that events like the Waterfront marathon should be moved from the streets and into parks for the sake of relieving traffic congestion, he displays a staggering, life-killing amount of ignorance about what makes cities actually work. Never mind that he seems preeningly boastful about not even knowing that the marathon was happening on Sunday – a suggestion to Councillor Ford? Maybe if you used some of your office expenses to keep your constituents updated with what’s going on around the city, you might learn a little something yourself – his knee-jerk pro-car stance reveals a mind utterly out of step with the trajectory of how 21st-century cities should be evolving. He is a 1950s man campaigning 60 years behind the times.

Ditto, all those candidates simply mimicking his regressive, throwback views. You’re floundering because you’re simply offering up a pale imitation of the real, Paleolithic deal. The city’s already outgrown your antiquated ideas of how to help it, build it. The people out on the streets, participating in all the things Toronto has to offer, are waiting for you to catch up.

chastizingly submitted by Cityslikr


Angry Rant #2 (He Said #2. Hee, hee. Hee, hee.)

July 11, 2010

(In a bid to be seen as less partisan and as fair and balanced as the next guy, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke periodically hand over blog space to some Angry Torontonian who has something to vent about. We take no responsibility for the content of said rants and look upon it like a public service on our part. You’re welcome, Toronto.)

OK, so how many ways to Sunday do we have to be told here in Toronto that we suck?

First by God with an earthquake and then a monsoon rain and then a blistering heat wave you normally have to go someplace like the tropics to get. Next comes the politicians and police from all over the country and the world, strutting into town and kicking some serious butt and showing them who’s who and what’s what. Take that, you protesting hippie freaks. (And don’t kid yourself, every one of you involved in protesting. You’re all hippie freaks to us right thinking, meat and potatoes, hardworking, ‘other’ Torontonians who have better things to do than ‘protest’ like keep down a job. As our man said, the police were too nice.)

Finally, another overpaid American superstar jock has told us to get lost. He’s taking his act down to the Heat of Miami where he plans on winning himself a boatload of championship titles. Totally his right but it’s at times like these when I wish I believed in the whole global warming garbage. The oceans would rise and wash away all those players’ mansions in south Florida and they would come running back here, begging to play where it’s nice and cozy and dry.

But it could be worse, Toronto. It could always be worse if you lived in Cleveland.

Personally speaking, I’ve stopped watching sports. Why bother? The Leafs haven’t won a Cup since before my dad was born. The Jays play in a warehouse not a baseball diamond. Toronto FC just flat out scares me because, I mean, how can all those people get so excited about a game like that? Hasn’t the World Cup taught us anything? Soccer’s boring!

And forget basketball. Why? Just because of this whole Chris Bosh thing. Another example of the fact that good American basketball players come up here to play only if they absolutely have to or if we pay them way too much. And if good American basketball players won’t play up here we don’t have a hope in hell of ever winning anything aside from high placed lottery picks who all just piss off at the first opportunity. It’s what they call a ‘vicious circle’.

Of course, that means European players love to play basketball in Toronto because there’s no pressure on them to try and win. They’re just in it for the love of the game (or to get away from whatever backwater hellhole they call home). They all look pretty but don’t want to get their hands dirty in the messy business of winning in the NBA. Another case of a ‘vicious circle’ where we can’t win because we can’t keep players who want to win and anybody who wants to play here wants to play here because they don’t have to win.

So I say, why bother? If everybody on the playing field is only looking out for #1, why shouldn’t we? Besides, it’s not as if any of them actually come from here anyways. This is their office. They’re just doing their jobs. We shouldn’t judge ourselves by what our sports’ teams are doing. Just because they’re losers, doesn’t mean that we’re losers.

I mean, we are losers but not because our teams suck but because a lot of us suck. Like most of our politicians who show us taxpayers no respect. They throw themselves retirement parties and expect us to pay the bill! Those people suck. And do nothing unions suck who think it’s their right to pick up our garbage whenever they want. Or drive our buses while loaded. Or fall asleep at the ticket counter. No wonder they can’t keep on schedule. All union members suck.

People who ride bikes everywhere suck. Grow up and get your license already. Police haters suck. You can only hate the police because they let you hate the police. If the police didn’t let you hate them then you’d be living in someplace like Chile or wherever you can’t criticize anybody without going to jail. So you police haters suck.

Gay people suck, and I don’t mean it like that. We shouldn’t be giving them all that money so they can march and prove to everybody they’re gay. Yeah, we get it, OK? Where’s my money so I can parade around and tell everybody I’m not gay aside from that one year at summer camp? In fact, I tried to do that just the other day and the Shriners told me to take a hike. So the Shriners suck.

So you see, Toronto. It’s not that you don’t suck. You do. It’s just that you don’t suck because all your sports’ teams suck. That’s got nothing to do with it so you should just stop worrying about it. There’s plenty of other suck in the city to go around. We don’t need to go out and find more reasons why we do.

So let’s all stop crying over being jilted or whatever by Chris Bosh. Toronto sucked before he came along. Hell, we sucked before the Raptors came along. We will continue to suck long after he’s retired from basketball with all his money and championship rings. Stop blaming other people for why we suck. As my crazy aunt used to say, it’s all so downright undignified.

angrily submitted by an Angry Torontonian