I thought I’d never see the day that I would be so excited to see December 2 2014. You see, I’m not a huge fan of winter. I love the summer and the warmth of the sun on my face. Snow, cold and short days are not my cup of tea.
But today is not a great day because of of winter. It’s great because today is Day 1 of a new Toronto. John Tory is now officially the Mayor of the city of Toronto.
And that’s a good thing. No. That’s a great thing. His predecessor was nothing short of a huge disappointment. He may have had good intentions. He may have been a great councillor and returned everyone’s calls. But Rob Ford is not mayor material. He is not a leader. Nor a builder. And not someone who cared about creating a city that everyone could be proud to live in. He was, in my opinion, divisive and interested in cutting everything from the budget to public services that we all rely on.
John Tory has an opportunity to not just reverse the mess that Ford left Toronto in but he also has this opportunity to help build a great city. A city whose transportation system is once again the envy of the world. A city with a waterfront that we can all be proud of. A city we can not be ashamed of. A city that the late night comedians once again ignore.
It’s been a while since I’ve met up with Tomas. We used to work out of the same space over a year ago. It’s kinda my fault that I haven’t been over to see him at his new space. Anyways, I have this sense that things are going amazing for him and his company, MADE Clothing.
Here’s a conversation I had with him over a year ago while I was working elsewhere. I hope you enjoy his insights into entrepreneurship.
I’ve spent most of my life living north of the 401. Even the past 8 years that I’ve lived south of the 401 I’m still close enough that if I listen very carefully, I can still hear the eastbound traffic.
That being the case, it’s near impossible for me to trek downtown to catch most of the festivals that Toronto has to offer. You see, Toronto’s festivals mostly take place downtown: Pride parade and events, NXNE, TIFF, Fringe Festival, Carnival/Caribana, Buskerfest, JFL42, Nuit Blanche and, until recently, the Toronto Jazz Festival.
And I’d like to thank the Shops at Don Mills for bringing “Toronto” to the “burbs”.
This year, Toronto’s Jazz Festival is returning and playing at the Shops’ Town Square. And Sunday’s afternoon performance by Montreal’s Lorraine Klaasen under a clear blue sky was amazing!
Backed by a four piece band, Klaasen sang numerous popular songs from her catalogue as well as songs from popular Southern African singers, including from her mom, Thandi Klaasen (one of South Africa’s most beloved singers).
If you didn’t know her (and I didn’t when I joined the hundreds of music fans on the green lawn in front of the stage) you would have thought you were listening to Soweto’s most popular music export. And while that’s partially true, Klaasen currently calls Montreal home. Just last year she won the Juno award for World Music Album of the year!
While I arrived late for her show, I enjoyed the last 5 songs of her set. Her songs kept everyone dancing (the people who braved the heat and sun) clapping and dancing in their chairs (the rest of us who didn’t want to drop from dehydration!). I would 100% recommend Lorraine Klaasen to anyone who is a fan of music.
She launched her career at a very young age, accompanying her mother to live performances all over South Africa and neighboring states of Mozambique and Swaziland. Later she got into musical theater and toured across Europe, eventually arriving in Canada where she settled in Montreal.
Klaasen’s musical repertoire has been steadily infused with a blend of Quebec, Haitian and French African influences, along with several African languages (Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Lingala) and her band musicians’ Caribbean roots to create an eclectic sound.
Lorraine Klaasen was nominated and subsequently won the 2013 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year for her album Tribute to Miriam Makeba, released in 2012.
On Sunday I spent the afternoon like many Torontonians did: at a barbeque. However, this particular barbeque was interesting. Toronto Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow was the guest of honour. My friend (who also happens to be the dad of two of my other friends – META!) was hosting an afternoon barbeque in support of Madam Chow.
She was dressed in a simple, yet elegant, yellow summer dress. She didn’t talk too long but did promise to bring respect and vision to City Hall. What struck me most was that Madam Chow didn’t speak like a populist. She didn’t promise to spend money nor stop spending money. She actually talked about building a city where people could get to work on time; a city that was clean and where the air was breathable; a city that cared for it’s young and elderly; a city that we could be proud to call home no matter if we lived in north Etobicoke or near the bluffs in Scarborough.
And, I think, that’s the type of city and leader Torontonians want: a city builder. I don’t want someone to cut services. I don’t want a Mayor who feels they need to fight to get things done. I want a Mayor who wants to build a city: a place where we can be safe to live, work and play.
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time or even if you scroll through the posts over the years, you will find that I have written about so many things. And most of the time, nothing in particular.
I’ve blogged about real estate, banking, social media, books and much more. I’ve even used this space to re-blog other blogs in the WordPress community. I also re-post articles that I’ve written in other spaces such as Catalyst (where I work) and itbusiness.
Recently, I’ve been itching to write about so much more: theatre I watch, places I visit, politics, music, and even podcasts I listen to. So I figured I’d rename the blog. The url is not changing – karimkanji.com (or karimkanji.wordpress.com). But I thought the title should.
So allow me to introduce you to “observations from just inside scarborough”. I live in Scarborough. Or, I should say, just inside Scarborough. Fred Patterson – co-host of The Humble and Fred Show – once asked me where I live. I replied, “Just inside Scarborough.” Why? You’d have to live just inside Scarborough to understand.
To say that I was glued to this Robyn Doolittle’s book until I was finished reading it would be an understatement. It’s taken me longer to start (and finish) blogging about the book than it took me to actually read it.
Crazy Town us the perfect title for this book. It’s not so much as Toronto being a crazy town as it is a play on the bubble that the Ford family has created for itself over a generation.
Everything that you would expect to be in this book is there. Everything. Including the research process and behind the scenes meetings and conversations between Doolittle and her superiors at the Toronto Star.
What struck me the most about this book were two things that have nothing to do with Ford.
The first is the amount of research and discussions that occur before a word is even typed and subsequently printed. For every piece that Doolittle has written there is literally a team of editors, (sometimes) publishers and even lawyers (especially when reporting on Rob Ford) that need to go over her research and submission. Nothing is left to chance and all sides of the story are discussed and dissected. Reading her book gave me a new found appreciation for the news reporting process that the Toronto Star follows.
The second, and most disturbing, revelation has to do with the seemingly archaic laws in Canada surrounding access to information. Our public institutions (government and public services such as police) gather so much information in the name of the greater public good. However, accessing that information is next to impossible for ordinary citizens such as me. And the media? Well, they have the resources and the knowledge on how to ask and what to ask. Yet even they have the hardest time getting access to information.
As a book, Crazy Town has it all. And by all, I mean everything you could ever want to know about Rob Ford. His parents (enterprising), upbringing (silver spoon), siblings (crazy people usually influenced by drugs it seems), career before politics (nada), his brushes with the law (international and usually involving booze) and his current political life (unbelievable).
This October, Toronto will go to the polls to vote for who they want as their Mayor. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for or not vote for. Unless you ask me. However, I do have one suggestion: READ. THE. BOOK.
Trails and hikes. Going on hikes to discover Toronto’s urban wilderness will be an adventure you and your kids will never forget. Here’s one suggestion for Monday. Search on your favourite search engine for more ideas.
1986’s Graceland by Paul Simon still remains one of my top ten favourite albums of all time. And Stewart Copeland’s distinctive drumming while with The Police made it cool for kids like me to air drum.
So when my sister gave tickets as a present for me to see Paul Simon and Sting (lead singer for The Police for those of you not at “mature” as me) this past weekend, I was more than excited.
While I thought that the sound system could have been improved upon (Neil Young’s last visit to the ACC may have blown a few fuses – I was at that concert too) the two did not disappoint the thousand in attendance.
Both eclectic songwriters performed hits such as Every Breath You Take, Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes, Walking On The Moon, Graceland, Roxanne, The Boxer (which was a Grade 5 favourite of mine), and You Can Call Me Al.