Friday, November 15, 2013


Homies, I’ve been pretty upset about this whole Rob Ford debacle. It's become more than just the man—although he is, undeniably, a trainwreck—and more about the culture he's creating around him. A culture where council has to meet especially to curb his powers, where American talk show hosts are making sport of his various vagina-related soundbites, where even the Ford Motor Company needs to pull us all aside and say, "Um, we're not with him." You know: the culture in which we currently live.

I went to the Save Toronto rally this week, sign in hand, feeling sort of foolish for even showing up, because it's not like he's going to look out the window, see the 1,200 people who have turned Amy Winehouse into a protest cheer just for him, and think, “Hmm, I ought to step down now.” I went because I wanted to vent some of my frustration, to showcase my disgust, and to be in the company of others who felt the same. It was a powerful but ultimately short-lived catharsis.

When I went back through the photos of the event, I noticed that a hashtag was popping up in a few different places: #morethanFord. It came from Torontonians defiantly refusing to be defined by the mayor’s clown-college theatrics, and refusing to let their city be defined by him. It was on Instagram, where parents snapped photos of their kids playing in city parks, and on Twitter, where folks tweeted reminders that fun, important stuff was still happening in the city. In the spirit of #morethanFord, here are some of the things that I, personally, love about this place.
  • The sound of the trains roaring past my apartment late at night; even though Toronto is, technically, a lake town, most of us live far enough from the water’s edge that the blue haze to our south is more of a concept than a geographic reality. But the sound of trains, which I've loved since childhood, is a comfort that crisscrosses the city more democratically than the sound of lapping waves.

  • That city council is finally starting to wiggle, even just a little bit, on it's no-bike-lanes-on-Bloor stance. When the city is mired in a transit boondoggle (LRTs? Subways? Both? Neither? I suggested everyone gets their own helicopter, but it seems nobody's listening to me), even baby steps on a formerly contentious urban issue is a breath of fresh air.

  • The Grid's recent article on child-friendly plates at fancy restaurants. We're a city that eats, a lot and often, and training our kidlets to be curious and open-minded eaters—and guides to how to accomplish that—are important for creating a next generation of tripe-buying diners. Plus: nary an overhyped taco on that list!
  • I'm a little obsessed with a pair of Parkdale boutiques, Crown Flora and Cambie Design, along with Mjolk in the Junction and Good Egg in Kensington. To me, they represent the pinnacle of a certain type of aspiration: constant access to beautiful, well-designed, functional things. And while they are often quite expensive, these shops also let me feel locally connected to tangible beauty, which is a certain type of pleasure.

  • The glory of this city as the seasons change is so wonderful. There are flaming red trees in unexpected places, bare bushes that are tipped with ethereal-looking white buds, hardy grasses, and drifts of crunchy yellow leaves. There are blushing sunrises, spooky moonrises, and golden sunsets that make me catch my breath. There are hordes of good-looking men and women who have embraced flannel shirts, knit toques, and wool socks—hoser chic, if you will—to brave the last minutes of patio season. And there's the collective knowledge that it's going to get bad before it gets better, so we'd all better get our big boots on now.
So there we go. Five things that I love about this place, regardless of what His Honour has been up to. Five things I can hang onto, regardless of how inappropriate and unwise it is for Ford to remain in his seat. And five things that will still be around long after Rob Ford is nothing more than a nauseating entry in Toronto's vast and varied biography.