Friday, 2 February 2018

My neighbours across the water still have their Christmas tree up.

Today.

On Groundhog Day. 

February 2nd.

I know this to be true because the tree is set up for my maximum visualization in the balcony window that is directly facing our unit, and for good measure, the lights on the tree are obviously set on a timer to brightly illuminate their apartment every evening at sundown. (I would take a picture but it is somewhat creepy if not questionably illegal to photograph the inside of your neighbour's apartment. If Jimmy Stewart were alive today to make Rear Window, he would certainly be considered a stalker.)

Seeing that I myself have zero frames of reference for Christmas tree etiquette and I have absolutely no idea as to the proper length of time one should continue to have a Christmas tree up, illuminated, and decorated in one's living room following the appointed day, I can only imagine (or concoct) oddly disturbing conspiracy theories as to why anyone would still want said tree a full six weeks after the holiday. Here are my top 5.

1) These people are deeply devoted to the Christmas season and are absolutely determined not to let it go until some libtard bastard in this Democratic shithole wishes them a "Merry Christmas" the way the supreme leader promised them they would.

2) Because the seasons here range from the "burning fires of hell" to "iguana-dropping cool", there is often confusion as to whether or not Christmas has yet occurred. The Valentines that were on display at Walmart on New Year's Eve should have been a dead giveaway, but I suppose it is possible that somebody's internal calendar is malfunctioning.

3) The dog likes it and it saves them a canine bathroom break.

4) They want to use it in next year's Christmas card picture but haven't yet been able to gather the clan. Planning is everything.

5) They died and the tree is masking enough of the stench that nobody has yet called the coroner.

I invite you all to send me your theories. Post in the comments section of this post or on my Facebook Page.

Shabbat Shalom to all who observe and a continued Merry Christmas to my neighbours.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Reboot is Just Another Name for Old Shit.

I read in an entertainment piece yesterday that there are planned for or currently in production over one hundred reboots of old television programs.

One hundred!

Murphy Brown, Roseanne, Will and Grace, Swat, Charmed, Hawaii Five-O, One Day at a Time, Dynasty, The X-Files, Party of Five, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, MacGyver, Prison Break, The Office, American Idol, and even those wacky Animaniacs are making their way back to a network near you. (Truth be told? I'm really ok with that last one.)

And that's just a beginner's list.

One hundred!

That's more programming than most of us watch in a year.

I've been giving this complete lack of creativity and total disregard for originality some deep thought and honestly, all I can come up with is Kohelet.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under t
he sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
It feels like we have come to the end of television. The reruns are now making their own reruns. I feel like TV is living its own perverse version of Groundhog Day and we, the viewing audience, are being massively played. We sit there in front of our screens like fucking zombies and digest and regurgitate all that is fed to us. We have surely become the Deltas and Epsilons that Aldous Huxley cautioned could be our fate. (You really need to read Huxley's Brave New World.)

But...it is a fascinating concept, this idea of a reboot. What if we could take the events in our own lives, run them through a "Wayback Machine," tweak the storylines to fit our current narratives, add a few characters, and finally live the lives we always wanted for ourselves. What if we had a chance to do it again? Would we do it differently?

Maybe I would have been more aware of the front step that time I broke my foot and almost dropped Younger Son on his head? Maybe I would have insisted that we NOT set out on the interstate in the middle of an ice storm? Maybe I would have spent more time listening to my grandparents and their stories? Maybe I would have taken more time to play and less time to clean up?

Maybe?

But here's the problem with reboots. They are never as good as the originals. We long for the nostalgia of what we knew; some sepia-coloured bygone era that can never be replicated or duplicated. We hope that the 2018 version of Murphy Brown will bestow a shit-laden tongue-lashing to the current holder of the Oval, but we know in our hearts that it can't be nearly as good or nearly as funny as the one she gave to Dan Quayle. As much as that accident on I75 in the ice terrified me, the resulting time together and family stories have lasted a lifetime. We learned valuable lessons from that experience. Lessons that I wouldn't trade for anything.

The problem with reboots is that we tend to look backward instead of forward. We tend to lazily reach for what is easy and avoid that which might challenge or confound us. A reboot is candy for the Deltas and Epsilons in a world where we should be striving to be Alphas.

Kohelet also states: "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

We need to live our lives as if there are no do-overs, no reboots. Live your life in such a way that, if given the opportunity, you would do it the same way all over again. No regrets. No reboots. Demand better.

Shabbat Shalom to all who observe.



Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The Tiny Human is Coming

The new year has finally turned and while 2018 hasn't yet given us much respite from the international follies of 2017, in our little family at least, there is a great deal to look forward to. This year our nuclear unit will be expanding by at least one. (If there are others of which I am not yet aware, I prophylactically apologize.) Younger Son and His B'shert are eagerly anticipating the arrival of a tiny human sometime around the spring thaw. And while I was given leave several months ago to crow, glory in, heap praises upon, or simply kvell in bits and bytes in this space, the truth is that every single time I have sat down to put thoughts to screen, I have cried ugly and heaved sobs of joy. It seems to me that it is perfectly fine to know and understand that there are times when words alone cannot adequately convey emotion, even for the most loquacious among us.

And so....

I have deliberately sat on the public displays of written affection until I could do justice to what this little person's impending arrival means and how I am excitedly and mentally preparing for "Bubbyhood."

An aside...while we are in the know as to the gender, and others out there in the reading universe are as well, I have chosen to alternate between pronouns for the remainder of this post when describing the arriving alien. That bit of news isn't mine to share unless its creators choose to let the world know in their own public forum.

This child will be the first person in our family to have both feet firmly planted in this millennium. There will be no frame of memory or reference for her when discussing cataclysmic events like 9/11, crazy stupid elections, the move of Sesame Street from PBS to HBO, or even the demise of Sears. She will live in a world that has always known these things to have been true and she will hopefully learn the historical lessons they provide. I expect at some point in our relationship for her to hear her doddering old Bubby regale her once again with a tired old anecdote about the past, for her to roll her bored and glassy eyes at me, and then prepare to shuttle me off to the less-crooked home as I scream "Hell yes...Elmo was far more relevant on public television."

He will not know or be raised with the constraints of gender conformity. That isn't to say that he won't identify as his birth sex, (that's ok too!!) but rather that he will inherently know that every avenue is open to him regardless of being male, female, or other. He will be someone who loves musical theatre and someone who loves baseball; the two are not mutually exclusive. He will be encouraged to study STEM with the same verve and vigour as he will the arts. He can act strong and feminine or soft and masculine. The world is a roadmap open to him and the path is his to choose. It is all there for him, free from the obstructions of our gendered past.

She will always be blessed with tech support, know the release dates for the latest Star Wars/Trek movies, understand the differences between Nintendo and PlayStation, be a suffering Maple Leafs fan, and inherently comprehend what the fuck a Pokemon is. She will also be into chick-flicks, shopping excursions to Ulta, love to dress up, be a gloating Buckeye's fan, and inherently understand the colour palettes of OPI. Apparently purple is never just purple. These wondrous things will be bequeathed to her by her extraordinary parents. I choke up at the thought of my children becoming parents, but despite their nerves and concerns, I have no doubt they will be incredible. They both have all those skills inside of them just waiting to be exercised. Their child can be a geeky Scifi lover AND a frilly-laced princess all at the same time. Isn't that amazing? I am left staggered and breathless by the breadth and depth of her eclectic future home-life.

He will be raised with dignity and respect. He will be taught that while he may be at the centre of our universe, he lives in a global society. He will be taught that there are many less fortunate and less privileged than he and that he owes a debt to give back whenever he can. Service and mitzvot will be a part of his world. As Reb Nachman from Bratislav said:

Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo gesher tzar me'od
V'ha-i-kar lo l'fached klal

The whole world is a very narrow bridge;
the important thing is not to be afraid.

She will be blessed with music. Lots of it. Constantly. I will sing to her until I am hoarse or until she tells me to shut up. I plan on introducing her to Broadway on day one so if anyone has a problem with that, too fucking bad. I also plan on passing on my hatred of all things opera, so if somebody else wants to take up the cause of Rigoletto and Figaro, I won't argue. It is my determined mission to help this child sing and dance her way through life. All the rest is commentary.

He will know his heritage, but it will be up to him to define it. Judaism matters in this family, but how to express it is for the individual to decide. He will be taught to never forget how difficult it was for his ancestors and how he now stands on the shoulders of every single family member who came before him.

And...

She will call me Bubby. I choose the name to honour some very fierce and very formidable women whom I called Bubby and others whom I knew as Bubby. It isn't an old-lady name. It is a name imbued with dignity and respect.

I hope to follow in their footsteps. I hope to be the doting Bubby, the feminist Bubby, the vegetarian Bubby, the Canadian Bubby, the rabid Toronto sports fan Bubby, the theatre-loving Bubby, the left-leaning Bubby, the trivia-spewing Bubby, the singing Bubby, the guitar-playing Bubby, the sometimes wacky Bubby, the often uptight Bubby, the hopefully fun-loving Bubby, the chocolate-laden Bubby, the flip-flop wearing and toe-ringed Bubby, the cookie-baking Bubby, the can't sew for shit Bubby, "the hates winter with a passion" Bubby, "the come and visit me in Florida" Bubby, the Diet Coke drinking Bubby, "the don't tell mom I gave you chocolate chip cookies for breakfast" Bubby, "the gets carsick on a subway" Bubby, the cursing Bubby, and most of all the Bubby who will treasure him/her for forever and a day.

All my life's a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls through the nighttime;
'Til the daybreak comes around.
All my life's a circle;
But I can't tell you why;
Season's spinning round again;
The years keep rollin' by.

~Harry Chapin




Wednesday, 20 December 2017

An Update on our Plumbing Problems

A quick update on our internet/cable/hot water dilemma.

When last I left you all, our shomer shabbos, Toronto-born plumber was banging on our very ancient hot water heater in an attempt to repair damage caused by the installer from Telecom B. We were forced by our condo building into making the switch from Telecom A (which, for the record, had NEVER damaged our hot water heater) to Telecom B and in the process of hooking us up, the Cutie Techie knocked something loose from our hot water heater that seems to have been a holdover from the Reagan era. My hero the Jewish plumber was able to provide us with a fix that cost us $350.00 (an emergency plumbing call is not cheap) which I seriously considered billing to either our condo board or to Telecom B. I was talked out of that maneuver by my dad, who as a member of the condo board, (insert Seinfeld reference here) assured me that I might as well cover myself in honey and throw myself into the bear exhibit at the zoo.

All seemed to be functioning fine until this morning when I noticed that the hot water coming out of the tap in the kitchen was rather tepid. The Husband, always one to leap in and solve my problems, told me to just let the water run longer. Thanks, dearest. I'll remember you to the bears. The final straw came when my morning shower was about the temperature of warm saliva. The Husband went to check on the water heater and sure enough, it was stone cold. The circuit breakers had been tripped, so he reset them and while the water heater started up again, it was only temporary. He opened the unit up to discover that all of the insulation that covered the wiring was drenched like a toddler's diaper. While The Husband is a trained electrical engineer, this fix was beyond his abilities. Another call to our Hero Jewish Plumber was in order.

After a three-minute conversation, Jewish Plumber tells us not to throw good money after bad on a dying appliance. He knows exactly the unit we require and if it is in stock, he can have it installed tomorrow morning for the bargain basement, post-Chanukah special price of...wait for it...$1800.00!A few calls later and we are now eagerly awaiting his arrival tomorrow morning. (As an aside, I should say that this kind of service amongst tradespeople down here in South Florida is highly unusual. It was more likely that I actually would have followed through with the honey/bear thing than get a plumber and a new water heater here on twenty-four hours notice. On that count, we are very fortunate and I am seriously considering submitting this man's name for canonization.) The only real good news to come from all of this is that we caught the leak right away and there was no other damage done.

So....by the time this whole mess is finished, we will have spent $2150.00 in order to have our cable company switched over to Telecom B. I figure that the yearly savings from this switch will amount to about fifty bucks a year on our cable bill, but it will take about 43 years before we recoup our investment from the installation.

Explain to me again why this was a good idea!


Monday, 18 December 2017

Internet or Hot Water? Which would you choose?

If you had the option, would you trade a questionably cheaper and marginally better internet/cable TV service straight up for functioning hot water in your home?

I ask because it seems as if that is the Hobson's Choice we have been faced with all day today. 

This ridiculous situation, that we are STILL experiencing even as I type this, has its roots beginning last March when a few very angry unit owners in our Southern Home were wholly dissatisfied with the telecom provider in our building. Using some anecdotal evidence and a few miserable encounters with Telecom A as the basis for their arguments, these angry Floridians and Snowbirds managed to convince the condo board to investigate switching to Telecom B. After some wheeling and constructive horse trading, the deal was struck to move the entire condo building over to Telecom B. Needless to say that when a few dollars are at stake and the opportunity to stick it to an unattentive and nasty Telecom A is in the offing, a certain demographic of condo owners/board members jumped at the opportunity to endorse the switch.

Of course, not everybody in the building was attentive or even aware of the impending change. Despite countless emails, phone blasts, flyers, and in-person communication, there were and still are many in this building who have not signed up with Telecom B, even though the full impact of the switch-over will be felt in the early days of January. In other words, if you haven't booked your appointment with Telecom B by now, the chances are you may be relying on a dial-up internet and analog television in 2018. I wonder how many of us still have to physically pull our ample asses out of a chair in order to change the channels? And without internet, one can't even Google those statistics.

I was hard-pressed to find ANYBODY in this building who could explain what the shift from A to B would mean to me the consumer. 

"What channels would we be receiving?" 

"The channels will be great", I was promised." 

"Are there channels that will be disappearing?"

"The channels will be great", I was promised.

"Will our internet speed be better?"

"The internet will be great", I was promised.

"Will we still be able to access On-Demand?"

"The channels will be great", I was promised.

"But....you will be saving a lot of money."

"How much?" I asked.

"So much", I was promised.

Needless to say, The Husband and I were extremely skeptical mostly because we have dealt with too many telecoms both at home in Canada and here in Trumplandia before, and they are all equally horrible. So, we both have an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality when it comes to those magicians who deign to keep us internet-enabled.

After a balagan of a sign-up process that saw dozens of seniors convinced that stormtroopers were coming in to confiscate their televisions and led many to believe that they weren't going to be equipped with HD television and would be returning to the three channel universe of the 1980s, we were given this morning between 8:30am-12:30pm as our designated change-over time. Telecom B's technicians swarmed the building today in a vain attempt to prove that they are indeed better than their heated rivals over at Telecom A.

Our cute-assed techie did indeed arrive within the allotted time and he did indeed seem to know exactly what was necessary in order to complete our transmutation. And then....the fun began.

Our wiring is accessed via a box just above our very ancient, but still serviceable hot water heater. In order to get our internet/cable functioning, Cutie Techie needed to work in that box. All of a sudden, The Husband and I heard a squeal coming from Cutie Techie's general vicinity. 

"Umm....I think you have a leak", he said.

 The Husband ran into the room to help and indeed noticed that through the course of his work, Cutie Techie had gently elbowed a corroded pipe off of the hot water heater and it was now spewing water into the laundry room. No damage done, but no hot water for us. 

Two hours later, we now have a new cable/internet service that seems to be faster and cheaper than what Telecom A was previously providing. Yay us! Except that now we don't have any hot water.

We placed an emergency plumbing call to our service contract repair company, who is almost as decent and reliable a company as Telecom A, which has now been jettisoned. Service Contract employee shows up, looks at the job, tells us that he can't fix the problem, suggests we replace our ancient hot water heater, and tells us that he can't guarantee it will be in before Christmas. The Husband is having none of that and promptly starts to scout out plumbers. Six calls and six hours later, a very skinny (no plumber butt required) and very Jewish plumber (he doesn't work on Shabbes) arrives at our door, looks at the problem, can't guarantee the fix will work, and says that it will cost $350.00.

So, our financial savings that were coming from the switch to Telecom B have now all been eaten up for the next three years by a plumbing problem caused by them and the fix from an emergency plumbing call that may or may not work or last for very long.

IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!

A really wise motto to live by.





Tuesday, 21 November 2017

How to Love the Art While Loathing the Artist

I have been giving some thought over the past few months about the relationship the artist has to his/her art. Or more specifically, can we look at the art of people who have abhorrent views or have done abhorrent things with any sort of critical eye? In light of the myriad of sexual abuse allegations that have flooded forward lately from all walks of life and from all sides of the ideological spectrum, I have been asking myself if it is possible to love the art while loathing the artist.

When I was a kid, our family car was a Ford LTD station wagon. You know the type? Cream-coloured with faux paneling on the doors. A truly iconic '70s suburbia ride. While my grandfather was extraordinarily vocal in his opposition to ever purchasing a German-made automobile, there was never any resistance to the very American-made Ford my dad bought. There is no doubt in my mind that zero heeds were given by my family to founder Henry Ford's well-documented and prolific anti-semitic views that informed many of Hitler's own writings and still resonate with many hate-filled and bigoted people today. That Ford station wagon was simply the right car at the right time for our family and the disturbing history of its founding father never entered into the decision making.

In high school, I fell in love with the writings of T.S. Eliot. I still think that The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is one of the most beautiful poems ever written. It wasn't until many years later that I was exposed to his rampant anti-Semitism and his unrepentant Holocaust affections. I am stuck in a quandary. Must I now view Prufrock through a different and far uglier lens? Does the same hold for The Merchant of Venice or anything Roald Dahl ever wrote? Will I be able to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my grandchild knowing that its author probably would have hated the child it was being read to?

I offered this question on my Facebook page yesterday and the discussion was challenging and fascinating. I hope that my friends won't mind if I use a few of their thoughts.

One friend offered the following:
"Art is an extension of the artist-a magnifying glass put to some aspect of their interior world. We can't create in a vacuum - experiences colour every aspect of our lives. the positives and the negatives are inseparable parts of a whole. It is an uncomfortable experience - it creates dissonance. And it certainly makes us think about the work. It is provoking --- not a bad result for an artist."

I happen to agree with her point that art is often about making us uncomfortable. Moving past our comfort zones is what allows us to accept differing points of view and new experiences. It is the artist's job to make us think and to make us feel. Those feelings aren't always fluffy and happy. Sometimes they are ugly and challenging. But what happens when we discover an aspect of the artist that is continually reflected in the art? Woody Allen's seminal film Manhattan comes to mind.

Manhattan was the very first R-rated film I saw. My cousin who was already eighteen bought the tickets for us and I quietly snuck into the theatre. I remember thinking at the time that Mariel Hemingway's teenage Tracy was probably younger than I was and here was a forty-something and more-than lecherous Woody getting it on with a kid. It bothered me then and I was perplexed at the accolades that rained down on the movie. Neither Soon-Yi Previn nor Dylan Farrow was even a part of the conversation about Allen then, but I cannot look at this film using the same gravitas scale knowing now what I do about its director. And don't even get me started about Roman Polanski.

Another friend said this:
"I do believe that it is sometimes impossible to separate the artist from the art, depending on what the intention of the art is. E.g. Richard Wagner, the 19th century composer and consummate anti-Semite, deliberately used some of his music as anti-Jewish polemic. I do not listen to his music." 
She continued.
"On the other hand, it may be somewhat less problematic to enjoy art (visual, musical, etc.) that is not imbued with the ugliness of its creator's hateful behaviours. Woody Allen's movies come to mind, but I don't particularly want to put one cent into the pocket of haters or depraved people. I think we struggle so much with this because, over the centuries, some truly horrible people have created some truly remarkable art." 
The financial argument is an intriguing one. Enriching people who have knowingly and openly engaged in disgusting behaviour should be anathema. Has Mel Gibson ever done proper tshuvah (penance) for his anti-Semitism and his ugly treatment of women? And yet, time seems to have healed Hollywood's disdain for him. He was nominated for several Oscars last year and is currently starring in one of the hits of the holiday season. His reclamation seems complete, but what of his victims? I don't see million dollar paydays coming their way. Does the answer lie in the distance we have from the misdeeds? Will Kevin Spacey or Louis C.K. lay low enough for a few years and bounce back like Mel? Will Hollywood or the entertainment consumer afford them the opportunity because of their gifts? Can I look at a Picasso painting today with a different eye, even knowing what a shit he was to women because it all happened outside my gaze and I can in no way enrich him?

We are witnessing a revolution and in my view, it is long overdue. No longer are victims of abuse remaining silent and abusers are being called out for their behaviour. Powerful people in powerful places who have violated their positions for far too long are experiencing a reckoning. But as my lovely young cousin pointed out, what is happening now "feels weirdly specific who and what the outrage machine decides is ok or not ok." Bill Cosby will die a broken man but Johnny Depp is still out there grinding. But their art remains as tangible evidence of their talent and gifts and it cannot and should not vanish. Caravaggio was a miserable human being but his works are on display at the Louvre. Perhaps the answers to these complicated questions lie within what each of us is willing to tolerate. Where is my breaking point and how does it affect me in the here and now? Only each of us individually can answer that.

I believe that I need to hear a measure of true apology and true retribution. It can't be enough to simply say "I'm sorry without hesitation or reservation" but it is a good start. Has Woody or Roman or Mel ever tried even that much? Not to my recollection. But there needs to be more. Much more. There needs to be tangible action taken to alleviate the hurt and suffering and pain. I'm not certain what form that might take, but it certainly isn't shuffling off to rehab for a week and then back to business as usual. Maybe it comes in the form of mentoring programs for young victims who have been damaged by these people. Maybe it comes in other ways of giving back to the community. Maybe it comes with just staying out of the public eye.

I know that for me personally, there are certain individuals who will never be able to be redeemed. Their abusive behaviour is baked into their DNA and their art is forever lost to me. Some have been caught up in the tidal wave of shit hitting the fan and were negligent and behaved poorly once or twice. They may be worthy of salvaging if their future actions earn them that right and my trust.

Until then, as another friend said, "we struggle."


Monday, 13 November 2017

Ready For My Close-Up Mr. DeMille

I haven't written for awhile mostly because I have been fully and completely blocked. You, my single digits of readers, have certainly not needed me to comment on how massive the shitstorm is this fall. There are indeed crappy things going on in the world, but far better pundits than I have been far more eloquent in opining on such matters, so I have digitally kept to myself.

Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday, my online presence ran smack dab into my real life world and it's all because of a pilot project that Toronto City Council decided to initiate right outside of my living room window.

Ready for my close up Mr. DeMille.

A bit of history and a quick primer on Toronto transit politics is in order to fully understand why a  tsunami of press people (ok. Only 4 so far.)  have filled my inbox since early Sunday morning.

King Street is a major east/west artery that runs through Downtown Toronto. The busiest three-kilometre stretch of King is home to the financial district, the entertainment district, restaurants, clubs, bars, banks, theatres, and thousands of condos. The public transportation for most commuters is the streetcar run by our transit commision the TTC. According to the TTC's own figures, upwards of 65,000 commuters use the King streetcar every day, making it the busiest transit route in the city. The TTC contrasts that with the approximately 20,000 drivers who traverse the same corridor daily. The numbers and the fact that streetcars are stationary vehicles that must remain on their tracks, often translate to traffic gridlock across King even at the best of daily travel times. Anecdotally speaking as one who uses this mode of public transport on a regular basis, it isn't unusual for this trip of three kilometres to take close to a half hour to forty-five minutes at rush hour. Most of these delays are caused by streetcars, who are carrying over one hundred passengers, having to wait for single passenger cars to turn left at various intersections. The city and the TTC realized long ago that transit on King was broken and needed to be fixed.

In the Rob Ford era of a few years ago, the "war on car" faction in the city desperately wanted to get rid of the streetcars. They viewed these people movers as anachronisms and the source of all their traffic ills that won't let them Fast and Furious their way across King Street. Financial considerations and a sane person in the mayor's office has at the very least demanded study of the route.

So, that is what Toronto City Council and the TTC initiated yesterday. Dubbed the King Street Pilot Project, the goal is to study the effects of traffic curbing measures on that very same three-kilometre stretch. The idea is that from Bathurst east through Jarvis, all cars MUST make right-hand turns at the next intersection and they CANNOT go through.

There are clearly marked and designated yellow streetcar lanes at each intersection that drivers are not permitted to use. There are also clearly marked new right-hand turn lanes at each intersection as well as signage and new right-hand turn signals at each block. A driver might miss it the first time out of habit, but only willful ignorance and arrogance or piss poor driving would cause a driver to miss all of the markers. Taxis must also adhere to the new traffic laws, but they are exempt between the hours of 10pm and 5am. Police and transit authorities will be out in force for the first week of the project in an attempt to educate drivers and by the second week they will be handing out tickets and demerit points. It's $110 and 2 points if you don't follow the law.

Drivers are understandably upset. They often feel as though their commutes should take precedence over those lowly pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. They are not happy about being diverted to streets north and south of King and many are vociferously trying to make their case to council about the possibility of simply circling for hours in the downtown core. They may have a case, but as with all things requiring study, we simply won't know until the pilot project is completed a year from now.

Which finally brings me to our Andy Warhol moment. We live at the corner of one of the intersections of the project and it just so happens that we have a bird's eye perspective of King Street from our living room. Knowing that the project was beginning yesterday, The Husband and I decided to spend a bit of time watching the new traffic patterns. Remember. It was Sunday morning and a fairly light traffic time for the downtown core. There were transit officials and Toronto Police Service personnel at the intersection as promised. What we saw were hundreds of cars flouting the new laws. Some were obviously oblivious to the new norm. Others were wilfull in their disobedience. Many were driving dangerously and many more were just plain angry. We saw one officer almost plowed over and just throw his hands up in disgust. Most cabs were in "fuck you" mode and pedestrians were caught up in a game of Frogger as they attempted to cross with their legs and arms still intact. It was mayhem.

So what would you do if you witnessed such a thing? Why start tweeting of course. I began snapping pictures of cars, cops, and people trying to make sense of the new project. You can follow along here but here are a few samples.




The best and the worst of social media started barraging my mentions. People thanked me for helping educate the public. Others told me I was stupid and had no idea what it was like to drive in the city. One genius decided to show off his masterful intelligence by quoting Henry David Thoreau at me about the art of civil disobedience. Just to be clear. I am not an advocate for nor a dissenter against this project. I was simply reporting what I was seeing. Unlike many, I am willing to give the project a chance and see how it develops.

Well...I suppose my tweets caught the attention of CBC News and one of their reporters direct messaged me asking if she could speak with us and come over to see what we were seeing. After a brief phone conversation, she and her cameraman made their way up to our place and we chatted for about a half an hour. The story led last night's local newscast. You can watch it here or read it here if your day is really boring.

I wish I could tell you that our fifteen minutes of fame is over, but it isn't. Given that today is a work day, the press and the social media trolls are working overtime. I have been quoted and featured in BlogTO this morning and The Husband is going down to do another interview this afternoon with GlobalTV. I am begging off of this one. Frankly, I am exhausted from the frenzy. 😂

People have been asking me what my opinion is on this new project. As a driver, pedestrian, and transit user I am willing to give it a try. Let's give it a shot and see what happens. King Street is a broken transit hub and I give credit to planners and politicians for at least trying to repair it. The project may very well fall flat on its ass, but we won't know that until the data comes back. That's the thing about science. It is rarely just anecdotal. Where I hope our media star-turn will help is in the education of the bastards who are so obviously flouting the law in the name of "civil disobedience." (I'm looking at you Toronto taxi drivers.) Let's at least be honest. Civil disobedience can really only be a thing when one group is being oppressed by another. Are you really going to whine about drivers being oppressed by right-hand turns? Talk about exercising one's privilege. Your "civil disobedience" might actually get some innocent person injured or killed. Is your "right" to drive through unimpeded on King really worth that hell? Follow the law until it isn't the law any longer.

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about how this mess will make his drive into the city, which he deems already a nightmare, even worse. He is probably right, but he is exactly the problem that the city is trying to address. It is better and more efficient to move a hundred people at a time at the inconvenience of one. In order for Toronto to flourish and grow as a cosmopolitan centre, we need to become more reliant on other forms of transportation and yes, that will come at the expenses of the lone driver. We need to get people out of their cars and move them in a different manner. My career as a traffic reporter for the city is thankfully and rapidly drawing to a close, but I hope that this little episode will at the very least, make somebody think twice about arrogantly and wilfully flouting traffic calming measures that are there for the collective good. We are all in this together, Toronto.