Category Archives: Events

The City That Opens Its Doors

It happens more often than not: you’re walking down King Street West past the Toronto Dominion Centre without realizing you’re seeing the work of one of the world’s great architects (in this case, Mies van der Rohe); you notice the Design Exchange on Bay Street, but don’t know that it housed Toronto’s original Stock Exchange from 1937 until 1983 and is still home to Canada’s first fluorescent light; or, lastly, didn’t know that Redpath was Canada’s first food trademark as you drive past the Redpath Sugar Factory every day on your way to work.

One weekend a year, Torontonians stop and look (and learn) when Toronto throws open its doors. Doors Open Toronto, the hugely successful program that allows the public in to view hundreds of buildings that are typically off-limits,was the first of its kind in North America. Modeling itself on the European version aptly named “Doors Open*”, Doors Open Toronto began ten years ago with a simple motto: open buildings for a day or two (no more) and tell the public they’re welcome to visit. The idea was that if you look more closely at the city in which you live, you’ll gain a better appreciation for the city itself. And has it worked? I’d say. More than 200,000 people participated in 2009 and organizers expected 250,000 attendees in 2010 (read: prepare yourself for very long lines!). For history and building geeks like yours truly, it means a weekend of traipsing through Toronto at breakneck speed, not eating, and maxing out both your DSLR’s SD card and water intake simultaneously.

Mercifully (and due to copious amounts of Vitamin Water), I made it to hit six venues at this year’s Doors Open Toronto and, because I know you are dying to know, I’m adding a quick recap of each building. You’re welcome. 🙂 My feet were certainly tired and gnarly after running around for 48 straight hours, but for an event dedicated solely to heritage, architecture, and design, I don’t at all mind messing up my perfectly pedicured paws.

A quick recap of Day One:

Redpath Sugar Factory, 95 Queen’s Quay East, Toronto , ON M5E 1A3
I grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, whose moniker came from the Imperial Sugar Company (which has long since passed on to sugar heaven). Therefore, it stands to reason that I’d live less than a mile from Canada’s sugar factory on Toronto’s harbourfront, drive by it every day on my way to work, and that it would be open for Doors Open Toronto! We learned how sugar is crafted (it’s from sugar cane, in case your head has been under a rock), how brown sugar is made (shockingly, it’s made from spraying white sugar with molasses — once for light; twice for dark), took a guided tour through the museum and parts of the plant via a video virtual tour, and got to lick sugar off our feet after a trip into the Redpath sugar shed. Said shed holds a whopping 65,000 tons of sugar and, even with my ginormous sweet tooth, I doubt I could consume that amount of sugar in a lifetime. Lastly, we got to meet the Redpath Acts of Sweetness Ambassadors (should out to Janet whom I’d previously met at CupcakeCampTO!) and have our picture made taken with the Redpath Acts of Sweetness truck.

After a brief pitstop at home to pick up my camera that I’d forgotten (gasp!), slather on sunscreen, and change shoes, I was on to the:

City of Toronto Archives, 253 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON
Toronto has plenty of of stories of intrigue that highlight its past and present, and many of those stories are event dedicated solely to built heritage, architecture and design. The Archives have more than 1.2 million documents in their Indiana Jones-looking warehouse that visitors to Doors Open were able to view. Also open to the public for the first time was the Archives’ Conservation Lab. They demonstrated how they scan the documents, and for the sake of argument, we’ll just say that they’re way more sophisticated than my Canon point-and-shoot. 😉

TTC Greenwood Maintenance Yard, 400 Greenwood Avenue, Toronto, ON M4J 4Y5
I’m a TTC geek. Yeah, they’re the expensive^; yeah, a lot of them are arrogant; and I’m definitely not a fan of waiting 25 minutes for the Queen streetcar, but, since the day I arrived in Toronto, I’ve had a serious love affair with those bright red streetcars and pretty much anything that has to do with the TTC. They get me where I need to go safely and, for the most part, with a smile. When I learned that the TTC had not one, but two, shops open during Doors Open, I was more than psyched.

The Greenwood Maintenance Yard is responsible for the maintenance of half of the TTC’s subway fleet: 1/3 of the T1 fleet, 126 H6 cars, and 44 H4 cars. I spent two hours there and every single TTC employee volunteering that day was heart-achingly kind. It could be because they don’t interact with the public every day like the operators do, or it could be that Brad the TTC guy had a little chat with them all in light of the TTC’s recent (and numerous) publicity gaffes. Just sayin’.

The public was treated to learning how the subway doors open, how the brakes work, how the lines are repaired and about one billion other cool TTC subway facts. I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed this site, but I’ll let you judge for yourself next year. 🙂 The only thing I didn’t like about the TTC sites was the fact that the Jane/Finch site was giving away little cardboard streetcars, for which I would kill, when Greenwood didn’t give anything away![ed note: I was planning to go to the TTC store in Union Station to see if they were selling them, but the store closed the weekend of Doors Open Toronto! Gypped yet again!]

For more TTC Greenwood Maintenance Yard goodness, check out my very exciting Flickr set for minutes upon minutes of excitement on the subject.

A quick recap of Day Two:

Stantec — Former MacGregor Socks Factory, 400 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E7
The beautifl building occupied for decades by MacGregor Socks has been transformed into a heritage timber post and beam building. Stantec, a health care and educational architectural firm reclaimed a piece of the city’s industrial history by designing a flexible, high-quality workspace that clearly fosters collaboration, sustainable design elements, and, in the spirit of Doors Open Toronto, a commitment to city building. The small, open space facing Spadina Avenue is used as a space to support local artists; each quarter, a new artist is chosen and Stantec pays 100% of the cost of the installation. <3!

We were treated to tours that included information on the raised floors (you can even see the miles and miles of wires flowing underneath the flooring!), the natural lighting that washes that entire building in sunlight, original bricks and flooring and Stantec’s water conservation strategies. One of the things I found fascinating was Stantec’s encouragement and support for using public transit: they have showers in the building, they supplement 100% of TTC passes, and they provide access to two Zipcars in case employees who take transit need to duck out for meetings. A company that *truly* believes in reducing carbon footprints and not just talking about it in a brochure.

The Historic Walls at ï»żCAMH, 1001 Queen Street West, Toronto ON M3J 1P3
The CAMH Historical Walls are the perimeter brick structures which were built by unpaid psychiatric patient labourers during the 19th century at the former Asylum for the Insane ( now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)). The southern section dates from 1860 and the eastern and western walls date from 1888-89. We were treated to a guided tour of the walls where the work and contributions of patients who lived and died behind the structure were highlighted. The bricks include the oldest physical examples of psychiatric patients’ labour from 19th century Ontario, now 150 years old, and obviously of immense historical and architectural value. Etchings carved into the walls 9and visible to the naked eye) by asylum inmates, and other unique physical markers representing patients’ history – including bricked in windows and an old railway track – were pointed out and, of course, I took photos. Seriously good stuff.

The Gladstone Hotel
After running around like a chicken with my head cut off for two straight days, I was exhausted. I’d never been inside the Gladstone Hotel, so I made my way over for a tour. Luckily, self-guided tours were possible, so I took the opportunity to photograph the inside of this historic hotel on my own, read parts of the (very) long guide, checked out the joint, and bolted. Built in 1889, the Gladstone is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto. Its architectural details are Greek, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance and these periods brought the hotel back to life in 2002 when it was gutted and completely restored.

Doors Open Toronto is one of the highlights of my time in Toronto. To borrow a quote from Toronto Star writer Christopher Hume, “suddenly this is Toronto the Bold; Toronto the Daring; Switzerland run by New Yorkers.” I couldn’t agree more.

*and now called European Heritage Days
^ the most expensive in the world, actually

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Copious Amounts of Sugar: CupcakeCamp Toronto

Cupcakes: those yummy, tiny little personal-sized cakes that are, without a doubt, the most popular sweet in the world. How do I know this? I know this because there are no fewer than 16 cupcakes shops in downtown Toronto alone (and those are just the ones I know about). I also know this because of an event I attended today; an event that was all about cupcakes, sold all 150 tickets, and had more than 40 volunteer bakers. The event? CupcakeCampToronto!

Born in San Francisco, the second annual CupcakeCamp Toronto was held today at a way cool space called 52 McCaul. The gallery was amazing — open, bright, and full of wicked original street and contemporary art. While the space was fantastic, the word “fantastic” doesn’t even begin to describe the cupcakes. For a mere $10 donation, part of which went to the Daily Bread Food Bank, more than 2,200 cupcakes were brought by bakers from across southern Ontario. The cupcakes were in every imaginable shape and size. There were mini cupcakes, regular-sized cupcakes, cupcakes in chocolate “glasses”, cupcakes in flower pots, and every conceivable flavour: half baked (part cookie dough, part cupcake), blue curacao, strawberry daiquiri, “cheeseburger”, lemon curd, monks tea*, s’mores, blood orange with olive oil, and about 30 other delicious flavours. There were even cupcakes with bacon and Spam** sprinkled on top! Starbucks donated coffee, and bottles of water — an absolute requirement — were only $1 (proceeds which also went to the DBFB).

My personal favourites were the lemon rhubarb red velvet and orange dreamsicle cupcakes. I reeeally wanted to try the s’mores cupcake, but by the time they came around in group nine of eleven (!), I may or may not have hit the proverbial wall and gone into the proverbial sugar coma. Seriously — I never thought I’d see a day where I’d eat too much sugar, but today was that day. I started to feel weird, left early and, by the time I got home, my head was pounding. I was on a serious sugar high! I just wish there had been doggie bags because, even though I practically OD’d on sugar this afternoon, a key lime cupcake sure does sound good right about now!

Check out my Flickr set from CupcakeCamp Toronto here.

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PodCamp Wickedness: The Unconference

You’ve heard of unconferences, right? Those participant-driven geek affairs that have effectively saved the world from having to take out second mortgages on their homes in order to enjoy a good conference now and then.

Unconferences were actually born back in the mid-80’s when Harrison Owen developed the concept of Open Space Technology. The term “unconference”, though, wasn’t popularized until BarCamp and BloggerCon came onto the scene in 2005-ish. They’re typically centered around new and social media events and are organized for its participants, by its participants, and definitely aren’t filled with a bunch of stuffy, talking heads. The community is ultimately responsible for the success, or failure, of an event, which requires that you be an active participant rather than just an attendee – but active in making real progress and not just status quo. The sessions facilitate this type of interaction: they’re experiential; they often foster lively discussions and collaborative solutions that ultimately create truly sustainable communities; and require new tools, new perspectives, and better collaboration.

PodCamp Toronto is just one of these unconferences. You’ve probably heard of, and hopefully listened to, a podcast; PodCamp, though, shouldn’t be confused as being for podcasters only. In fact, PodCamp is for anyone interested in new media, including bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, and social media networking whores. What you definitely won’t find at PodCamp are suits and ties, that’s for sure. One of the unique things about PodCamp is the use of the “law of two feet”, meaning that if you aren’t getting anything out of the session you’re in, it’s not at all considered rude to walk out and go to a session you might deem more useful. Don’t you wish we could do that all the time^^? But I digress.

I attended nine sessions over the two day conference^ and, because I know you’re dying to know what I thought, I’ll review some of the wicked highlights here. You’re welcome.

1) Integration, Integration, Integration: Communications in the New Social Media Ecosystem by Dave Fleet. An excellent and lively

Photo credit:

discussion about social media and how it integrates with traditional media. Dave talked about the three types of media: owned, paid, and earned, as well as about the “ecosystem of communications” and how to manage the sum of those media reactions. We all decided that Molson had done an amazing job embracing and weaving social media in with its traditional media, especially with the Molson Canadian Hockey House at the Olympics, but decided that their success could also be due to their delicious Canadian beer. Anyway.

2) Lunch! My friend Chris, with whom I attended, and I ate Chinese-style burritos at Chino Locos. Pan-fried noodles and guacamole, anyone?

3) The Inside Scoop on Social Media Analytics by Aubrey Podolsky. An analytics girl, I am not. I’m fairly certain my blog isn’t going to make me a zillionaire, so what’s the point? I don’t pore over stats about who came to my blog and how many times, because I just don’t care. That said, I thought it would be good to get some high-level ideas on how people measure as I realize it’s a vital part of growing the channel. This particular session didn’t cut it for me with the exception of one thing: the deck style he used was amazing! It’s called Prezi.com and is fabulous! I saw two people use that style of presentation deck over the weekend and I could hardly get home to download it fast enough. PowerPoint, you’ve met your match.

4) Is Email Marketing Dead? This session was close to my heart as it may or may not have something to do with my day job. Nevertheless, I’m fairly certain I could have given the session myself, unfortunately. For example, the presenter suggested that you add someone to your email newsletter just by virtue of them leaving a comment on your blog. EGADS! I can assure you that that is *not* best practice and would advise you not do it — ever — unless you want to end up on every blacklist out there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

5) Twitter and Dating by Jeremy Wright and Melissa Smich. No unconference would be complete these days without a session on Twitter and dating, coined as #twating by these delightful presenters. The session was lively and amusing, and included some great tales of major DM fails, but also some major DM loves. Much discussion was had around the creative uses for hashtags. The best part of this session, though? Red velvet cupcakes. FTW.

6) Tod Maffin’s “Awesome-Izing Your Podcast: Secrets from Radio by Tod Maffin. My last session of the weekend was a highlight of PodCamp. A podcaster, I’m not, but a public radio fan, I *definitely* am. I have pretty much shirked all music in favour of all public radio, all the time*, so when I found out one of the grandfathers*** of podcasting, Tod Maffin, was presenting, I kicked the “law of two feet” into overdrive and practically hurdled myself into a frenzy by sprinting to his session as fast as I could. I’m really glad I did, too. His presentation style was totally engaging, his material was clear and concise, and he articulated a ton of detailed information rather than just more of the tree-top ideas I’d seen throughout the weekend. He’s obviously been around the public radio block, so to speak, and offered us a smorgasbord of do’s and don’ts, along with live audio examples that brought it all to life. In fact, if you have any interest in writing, podcasting, public radio, or any combination thereof, you might want to check out Tod’s book, Idea to Air, where you can peruse his awesome tips at your own, non-PodCamp pace.

Overall, my first PodCamp was awesome. I learned a lot of stuff, some great and some not so great. I learned that you should not be a keener and sit in the front row; it’s difficult to take advantage of the “law of two feet” when you’re practically sitting on top of the speaker. I learned a lot about social media, the analytics of it, and how to (better) figure out what’s valuable and what isn’t in the digital space. I learned a lot of goodness over the weekend, but do you know the biggest thing I learned? I want a Mac. 🙂

^Because I am a keener geek. Apparently, the “real” PodCamp networking happens in the hallways while the sessions are going on and is affectionately known as “LobbyCamp”. Next year!
*Also, I’m 94.
** Kidding.
^^ Like work, or people going on and on about the pains of their  childbirth. Gawd.
*** Although he certainly doesn’t look like a grandfather. 😉

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Sexy Cool: The Event

Every once in a while, you get the opportunity to hang out with the cool kids. Count yourself lucky because the iYellow Wine Club “Sexy Cool” event this Thursday, February 25 at 8pm is one of those times. If you’ve never heard of iYellow Wine Club, a Toronto -based social wine club with more than 5,000 members, or attended an iYellow event, you don’t know what you’re missing: socializing with the in-crowd, shaking what your momma gave you to the tunes of some of Toronto’s hippest DJs, noshing on seriously good apps, and, more importantly, sipping wine you can’t get anywhere else (no, not even at the LCBO).

Sexy Cool will feature more than 12 yummy (and seriously sexy) Australian wines, so if you’re feeling like you need to take a break from the frozen wasteland that is Toronto and take a quick trip to the Outback, Sexy Cool’s your gig. Head west to the hip Edward Day Gallery on Queen Street West at Shaw and experience a winegasm like none you’ve had in a while. Trust me — I’ve seen God and it’s in the form of an iYellow Wine Club event.

If you want to witness Angela Aiello single- handedly bringing sexy back, go here to buy your ticket…and be sure to say hi to me as my eyes roll into the back of my head from the sheer wine goodness! See y’all there.

Note: if you’re planning to drink (which I certainly hope you are), take transit, a cab, or find a designated driver. Period.

Update: within two hours of my post, Sexy Cool sold out. I don’t know that my wicked blog skills had anything to do with it, but I’m just sayin’ — SOLD OUT. 😉

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Happy Thanksgiving! (Day 26)

I had every intention of penning a verbose message this Thanksgiving, but the immobilization caused by the tryptophanic residue in my bloodstream has currently hurled me inexorably couchward.

I wanted to say a lot today. I am sure that some of you are more than tired of me and my vapid, but cheerful(!), blog posts, and while I’m sorry you’re bored, you must surely have a cold, shriveled little heart that cannot tolerate my gratitude! I feel like I have a lot to be grateful for, like my amazingly loving and supportive parents who, even though I packed up an moved 1,600 miles away, still love me just like I was sitting in their house being the demanding princess I can occasionally be. 🙂 I am grateful for being able to live in Canada and, while I know I won’t be here forever, I have fallen in love with this beautiful country and its fantastic peeps — I wouldn’t trade a single, solitary moment of my time here and will always say only excellent things about the country, even when they continue making fun of my accent. 🙂 But what I really wanted to do today was to show some love to YOU, my blog readers. You, the people who take the time to stop by here and read my drivel, to leave comments, to send emails, and reply to tweets. Those of you who stop by, lurk, and say nothing at all.

When I started blogging a few years ago, I loved it, but did it really just for myself. I never took it seriously. Then people actually started finding me and reading me, and I had no idea that my site would grow into a community of people I love and treasure—not just online, but offline, too.

My blog friends have sent me some of the nicest emails I’ve ever received. They have encouraged me in the midst of relationship issues, the ending of friendships and worries about my future. They have made me laugh and cry all at the same time. Some of them have crossed the line from “e-friends” to just plain friends. Friends I speak with regularly, friends I can’t wait to see again. Friends who fill my email box, my Facebook wall, and my snail mail box with love and care and friendship.

Blogging has reconnected me to old friends and to people I had no idea were reading or paying attention. It has opened my eyes to people and alternate points of view points and goals and books and careers and ideas and plans. And for that, I can never write an adequate post.

So, if you’re here, on this page, I just want to say Thank You. I am thankful for you. I am grateful for all of the little things, with seemingly insignificant moments that make my life so much sweeter.

I wanted to say all that, but all I can really manage at this moment is a giant Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I love, and am so thankful for, you all!

xo.

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Thank You For The Mammaries (Day 24)

Admit it — you love breasts. We all love breasts, really. It’s possible that breasts could be called an American obsession and, in fact, I would venture to say that men everywhere take great lengths to recognize the hypnotic allure of a shapely breast. Big ones, small ones, fake ones, real ones, round ones, square er, semi-round ones — it’s all good stuff. For some women, breasts could easily qualify as their most enthusiastic component, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.  

So what’s *not* to love about breasts? I’ll tell you what — that bitch known as breast cancer. Sure, we all love prostates and ovaries and skin and throats and brains and lungs and all those other body parts that contract cancer, too, but being a woman who doesn’t have, say, a prostate, I worry more about breast cancer than I do about any of the other varieties. Which means you get to hear about this subject today. You’re welcome! Not to mention, breast cancer statistics1 are nothing short of grim. Consider these applicable to the U.S. in 2008 alone:

– 250,230 new cases
– a 1 in 8 incidence
– 40,480 women died from the disease. In one year. And people are pissed about the 4,3652 troops who have died in six and a half years in Afghanistan??
– the highest rate of cancer only after lung cancer

Thanksbeto the Twitter, I found out about a little project going on in Toronto called ProjectPink!. The idea, started by Darryl Koster of BusterRhinos Southern BBQ3 in Whitby, Ontario, was this: talk about how every woman should have a dash of pink in their hair at some point in their life which then manifested into his agreement that he’d dye his hair pink if Torontonians purchased 1,500 BBQ sandwiches4 between now and December 18. Most importantly, though, 50 cents of every sandwich purchased would be donated to the Breast Cancert Society. Sweet! Some of the way cool Toronto bloggers and tweeters I follow — karmacake.ca and cakeordeath.ca5 — decided that if the number was met, they too would put pink in their hair, and so on and so forth, and, let’s just say that a little viral revolution was born. Of course, never one to be left out when it has to do with a mini-revolution, and because I have always, always, always wanted pink in my hair, I jumped on the bandwagon.

You may remember those research studies “they” do on kids where they put deliciously yummy candies on a table and tell the poor, drooling four year-old that if they can wait five minutes without eating the candy, they get them all, but if they can’t wait the allotted time, then they’re basically headed for a life of unhappiness and destruction? 😉 Well, I fall into the latter category. I have gotten much better as I’ve gotten older (ahem), but my OCD6 tends to kick in when I’m excited about something and I just simply cannot. wait. Yes, I have zero patience and yes, I have negative 500 willpower. Your point?

What I’m getting at is this: my very favourite colour is pink. You could say that I am somewhat of a pink fanatic; my Twitter page is pink, my NaBloPoMo page is pink, my iPhone case is pink, I only use pink file folders at work and now, thanks to ProjectPink! my hair is now pink. No, I am not channeling my inner Avril Lavigne rocker girrl, despite the fact that I live in Ontario from whence she came. I like to think that I’m just taking this opportunity to promote ProjectPink! in my own little way before December 18, as well as fulfilling yet another item on my lengthy Canadian bucket list. Of course, the pink hair also most certainly qualifies under “Things that would never have happened in Houston, Texas”. 😉 

I’ve gotten mixed reactions. I see people glancing at it like “does she have pink in her hair?” or, alternatively, probably thinking “talk about age-inappropriate!”. The cool, hip people I know are like “omg, I lurve it so much!”. The uncool, non-hip people I know7 are like “hmmm, okay”. When I tell them it’s for breast cancer, they get it, but really, they don’t. It washes out in six to eight weeks anyway, but I honestly don’t care one iota — I love it and every time someone asks me about it, I tell them it’s for ProjectPink!  If I can do a teeny, tiny part *and* have pink hair, then I’m one happy girl!

Now that this long post has come to an end, I can say in conclusion, fuck cancer and support ProjectPink!

P.S. You may have heard that the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently suggested that women begin to wait until they’re 50 to receive a mammogram. Well, my message to USPSTF is this: you should get out of my way because if you persist with these guidelines, you can assume that I’ll promptly be putting on my killer 4-inch heels and coming after you — so watch out! Also, you should know that I think about you when I touch myself. 😉

1 Source: breastcancer.org
2 As of 11/22/09 at 1:25pm EST. Source: antiwar.com
3 OMG. Southern BBQ in Canada?! Cornbread, sweet tea and baked beans? Yes, please!
4 By which I do not mean Canadian BBQ or “hamburgers”. I mean real BBQ sandwiches. You know, like brisket.
5 Does anyone else see the pattern here?
6 I don’t really have OCD, but I like to blame my impatientness on OCD rather than the fact that I just simply have a lack of willpower. 😩
7 You know who you are.

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Four Times The Fun! (Day 23)

Summers in Toronto are filled with every kind of show, festival, art crawl, exhibit, and exhibition you can imagine. In fact, coming to Toronto in the summer is like hitting the motherlode of outdoor activity. Then, November comes — that dreary, wet, gray month — and everyone packs it in and goes a) home and b) inside.

This year, though, we had an unusually cool Summer and, naturally, an unusually warm Fall. I’m practically dying of heatstroke in my now-that-it’s-fall-the-A/C-is-off-and-sweltering  condo, although the warmth means fewer days I’m required to wear my down feather coat in which I look fiercely hot1. But I digress. What does this have to do with Toronto’s activities? I don’t really know — my funny is out for a smoke break tonight, but my point is that I had an awesome weekend that can be summed up in four short words: photography, food, wine, and sex2. What could be better than that, you ask? Well, for me, not much. Not much at all. 

The Royal Ontario Museum has an exhibit of Vanity Fair portraits and photographs from 1913-2008 which I could hardly wait to see. Relentless in my own personal quest for documentation, not to mention a 14-year subscriber to the mag, meant that a trip to brush up against photos taken by Annie Liebowitz, Edward Steichen, Helmut Newton, Nan Goldin, Cecil Beaton and Man Ray <swoon> was a requirement. And were there photographs! Indeed! Seeing the stars in photos doesn’t really do it for me — I find them infinitely uninteresting. The photo that sticks out in my mind turned out to be a small portrait of  Claus von BĂŒlow, who infamously posed for the Vanity Fair photos mere days after he was accused of attempting to kill his wife, Sonny. Von BĂŒlow was ultimately acquitted on all charges and Sonny lived in a permanent vegetative state for 28 years until her death. The film “Reversal of Fortune” eventually told the story of the von BĂŒlow family and is one that has always fascinated me. Also, because, being a 14-year subscriber means that I’d already seen many of the photos they exhibited, so I was kinda b-o-r-e-d3. A trip to Hemingways for drinks and appys followed and a lovely evening was had by all.

The monolithic Gourmet Food and Wine Expo rolled into Toronto this week, which usually means two things: I’ll be tipsy the majority of the weekend and will inevitably spill red wine on,and ruin, a perfectly good silk blouse. Good news, though — neither of those things happened this year! Yay me! Rather than going three nights in a row this year, I refrained and attended only on Saturday night to help my friend Angela Aiello of iYellow Wine Group fame. Ange happened to be on a press trip to Chile (yes, she leads a tough life, doesn’t she?!) and therefore needed lots and lots of help to ensure that iYellow got the mad props it deserved during the show. Props, indeed! The show was packed — literally — and ended up selling out. I tasted quite a bit of good food (lobster! thai shrimp!), wine (madeira! riesling! icewine!), olive oils (can’t remember the names!), but my favourite food/drinkstuff was a “mini ice cream cone”: think ice cream cone lined with a hard chocolate shell, filled with a (very strong) french vanilla liqueur and topped with chocolate whipped cream. Zomg. It was sinful. The party itself was basically controlled chaos and you could hardly move without stepping on the 4″ heel of the whorishly dressed well-dressed girl in front of you. In fact, when I gracefully departed around 10pm, things were just getting into full swing. The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo was a definite “see and be seen” scene. And one that should *not* be missed.

That takes care of photography, food and wine. And now, the sex. (Warning: parental units, the squirmish, and/or the +60 set, you may want to skip this part altogether) Ahem. The Everything To Do With Sex show is apparently as Canadian an institution as maple syrup, roaming moose and igloo-living. There may be shows like this in the States, but shows like this in Houston, TX, there are not. Therefore, being the consummate Canadian tourist, I felt like it was something I could not miss during my time in Toronto. 😉 Also, because what else does a Texas girl do on a Sunday in November? 

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I arrived, but was surprised to see *every* kind of person there — young, old, gay, straight, preppy, goth, fat, thin, tall, short. There were the typical vendors you’d expect to see at a show about being intimate, like masseuses, photographers, hair straighteners, body painters, tattoo artists4,  and the ubiquitous firefighter’s calendar (!!!). Then, of course, there werer those unexpected vendors such as Cowboys of the Caribbean, Straptease, the Sexerciseme Ball, and Orgasmatron. I saw things that angelic Texas girls like me could only imagine (and then some) including, but not limited to, penis-shaped ice cube trays, chocolate-dipped penises5, things that vibrate in time with songs on your iPod (incidentally called “iBod”), and other varied and assorted accoutrements, at which time I decided that the motto of the show should be “come one, come all6“!

Photography wasn’t allowed, although I can assure you that as soon as the fashion show began, cameras were whipped out at breakneck speed. Always playing by the rules, I, of course, took only one photo inside (and only after I asked permission), so I have nothing to show you other than the chocolate-dipped privates. 😉

Needless to say, my weekend was filled with food, wine, friends, and debauchery. My prior method of operation has always been “fear and loathing” of November; after this weekend o’fun, however, it has officially changed to “bring it on, baby”! 
 
 

 

 

1 By which I mean the Stay-Puf Marshmellow Girl. Yes, I know it’s an image you can’t get out of your heads, but try to restrain yourselves, gentlemen. 😉
2 Not what you think!
3 But not from the company. Lisa, you rock as a ROM date!
4 Called the “Nude Buddha Tattoo Studio”, natch, and where people were actually getting tattoos. If I was planning to get a tattoo, I don’t think I’d wait for the portable booth set-up at the Everything To Do With Sex show to get it. But maybe that’s just me.
5 Made out of strawberries and bananas — clever, if you ask me.
6 But is actually “Admit it. You’re Curious”.

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