May 4th, 2006

Thursday, April 27 – TORONTO, CAN. Spedina. When I first heard it on the phone I thought it was ‘Stagina’ but, laughingly, the bus driver corrected me. Paddy’s sharing rent in a condo at the southern end of Spedina on Queen’s Quay, a residential high-rise lined avenue squeezed between the Gardiner Expressway and the inner bay. With the often twice-daily walks of Rookie, the “dalmatian formerly known as Cookie,” I’ve grown familiar with the western waterfront and have even made some new acquaintances as the other dog owners try to engage me in “light dog talk.” It’s a language I’m unfamiliar with.

Toronto is sometimes called the ‘Little Apple;” it is the financial and investment center of Canada; it is home to 90 percent of Canada’s foreign banks; it is known as “Silicon Valley North” and headquarters the Canadian research centers of Apple, HP, and Sun; it has North America’s 3rd largest stock exchange, a population of 2.5 million people (over 5 million including the suburban sprawl); posesses the world’s tallest building (CN Tower at 553.33m); and the world’s longest street, Yonge Street, starts at the lake shore, runs through the heart of the financial district and beyond for 1,896km.

(the cheese store) Spedina has been the core of my existence here. Paddy, with a flair I can only describe as similar to the attention deficit in our society, squeezed in a quick tour of the western side of town today. Walking by numerous cafe’s and fashion design houses we pushed our way through the few blocks of Chinatown, the odor of fish and unfamiliar produce accompanied by cries of commerce and the heavy grinding of passing street cars. A turn of the corner and we were in Kensington, a small hippy-fied market district. This was no grocery store expedition, this was the cheese shop, the butcher, the spice store, the bread store, the produce stand. A colorful few blocks, it is pedestrian oriented and pot-friendly; in the heart is the Hot Box, a cafe where people come to smoke weed. Most tables have vaporizers and in the back it’s not uncommon to see people in dreads lighting up next to the more straight-laced, their chemotherapy bags pumping toxins into their veins. You can’t buy here, but people make it a point to smoke here.

(the butcher’s) Westward down Queen are some of the galleries and stores important to my combined mission of support and tourism. I’ve found myself on odd errands for Paddy which take me across town and through neighborhoods I probably wouldn’t otherwise see. I am quickly building a familiarity with the city. My arrival was timed not only with the Contact Festival and the Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival, but also with Paddy working two jobs, producing the work for her Contact opening, doing her weekly radio art show on CHRY 105.5, and starting a new job at CHUM FM digitally archiving old tapes. So, really, I’ve only seen her in scattered moments. Oh, and she’s been doing this while recovering from strep throat.

(Paddy at Kensington) Speaking of her radio work, here is a sample from one of her demos. It’s of ShadK a Toronto hip-hop artist. His mother wrote and performed a spoken word piece on the genocide in Rwanda. Shadk sampled it and produced a track around it, powerful in that it is a personal story of an unimaginable event. Click Here for the mp3.

She’s archiving interviews for CHUM FM and just the other day she worked on individual interviews of the Beattles from around the time they split. There’s a line where the interviewer asks Lennon “How’s Yoko?” to which he responds “Oh, she’s me in drag. I couldn’t ask for anyone more like me.”

I haven’t decided if I can embrace that as a basis for a successful relationship but at the same time I’ve found too many ‘opposites’ in a person, while often thrilling, have long-term consequences. Hm. The Quandry.

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