Friday, September 05, 2008

Death to Faux Hill...

How do you write an epitaph for a blog? How do you eugogolize something nascent and ephemeral; something which exists only on a server somewhere in middle America? I guess you can't really... nor can you scatter its ashes across Spadina and Lonsdale, which if you asked this blog where it would want to be buried - that's where it would say and, like a good Jewish mother, would guilt you into doing what it asked...

When I started Confessions of a Faux Hiller... I was a young, impressionable twenty-something who lived with his parents. I was also unemployed and worried almost daily about my ability to recreate the lifestyle to which I was accustomed. As a newly graduated Bachelor of Arts, who had lived for four years in the elegantly decaying city of Montreal, the Faux Hill of my return, seemed at the time like a foreign entity. Not only was it an affront to my neuroses, it was a seemingly scary place, where even though people knew my name, it never quite exactly felt like home. Confessions existed in an odd binary. Although it documented my life, I (and this may seem high handed) tried to question the Faux, its values, and its structure, even though a part of me was perhaps secretly, and perhaps not so secretly drawn back to the well groomed trees in the Forest I loved to hate.

In the ensuing couple of years my friends and I have grown up and gotten a couple of real jobs. Most of us even moved out of the Hill, or are currently trying to. I personally became a published writer, was turned into a TV character, made some enemies, and made a lot of value-judgments. I even got a fair bit of hate mail. Some of much G didn't make up...

Recently I thought that the Faux Hill joke was played out. Perhaps there was nothing more to make fun of. Maybe the blog had jumped that proverbial shark. Yet - when I moved [temporarily] back home in August and spent half of my summer getting into parking altercations with mummies I realized - that although there was still much to make fun, it wasn't my life anymore. The Village had stayed the same - it was the blogger who had changed.

There will always be much to laugh at in the Village:
- In the Faux there is a hot dog stand selling Kobe Beef hot dogs at $6.00 a pop. "This is how we do street meat on Spadina," you may say.
- Or one could laugh at the fact that the Faux Hill orthodontist has valet parking...
- Or one could giggle at the girl who budded in front of me at the Starbucks line this morning. She was wearing sweatpants, accessorized with a Burberry purse and Fendi sunglasses. Has no one told the poor thing that Burberry was cool circa 2004?

Even my friend Jennif-Er got in on the act: "Faux Hill is ridic," she declared. "13 year-olds have blackberry's. They messenger each other across the intersection. My Club Monaco blouse is like Value Village to these people." She paused. "Oh and if you're going to talk about me - come up with a better alias."

And although all of the above is funny, perhaps even blog worthy... The reality, is that I'm no longer that 22 year-old who sat worrying about his future and wondering why so many people wear Lululemon. The Village will always be funny - I just don't particularly care anymore. I'm now 25 (within a shade of turning 26), I live in Annex, and I'm becoming some sort of professional. I've even sold out and have begun my MBA. It's hard to make sardonic value judgments about a place that you don't actually live in anymore. The raison d'etre of the blog - no longer exists.

So... goodbye Faux Hill. I hardly knew yee. And while over the past three years we've had a lot WWSD moments and not enough Gaygetzym, in the end, its best to bow out when you're still funny.

"Don't cry for me Faux Hillary - the truth is I'll never leave you;
I'll through my wildest days (ie that time at Mashu Mashu...)
I've kept my promise; don't keep your distance."

And in the interim I've gone rogue: Rogue at Rotman.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gay Dictator

Sorry Kids... I had a bit of acute writer's block... but I'm back!

One night recently while out at Fly (Toronto's venerable gay nightclub) I stood in the centre of the dance floor surrounded by a couple hundred sweaty men wearing extra small Abercrombie t-shirts, all of whom were shaking their fist at the new Madonna song. Things gay men love: Madonna. Things gay men dream about loving: Justin Timberlake. In fact there's a veritable gossip industry of gay men secretly hoping that JT is a fudge packer, "my boyfriend knows someone who knows some dude who sucked JT off in Cincinnati…" Put Madonna and JT together and their "4 Minutes to Save the World" is basically a gay man's four best minutes next to an orgasm.

On the first go-round the rather homogenous scene was a quaint although enjoyable re-enactment of your average episode from Queer as Folk; don't think I didn't sing-a-long and potentially think about the time I saw JT walking down Cumberland, because I did. But by the time the DJ played the SAME song a little over two hours later, and I'd seen enough sweaty pits to question if Secret really was "strong enough for a man…" a part of me looked around at my fellow gays and thought, really? Is this the best we can do? Gyrating in too tight t-shirts, mildly evocative of a homoerotic advertising campaign, to the world's most infamous geriatric fag-hag? A friend told me I was being a Bitter Betty, afterall my A+F 1892 t-shirt was being dry-cleaned. Speaking of: is there a reason I didn't get the memo outlining Fly’s dress code? It's like there is some sort of gay newsletter that I conveniently forgot to sign up for when I came out of the closet.

By the time I had run into an old friend I knew it was time to leave. A couple of people asked me if I knew how to score (that would be drugs, mom, not sink a punk into a net), some man errantly grabbed my ass on the dance floor; listen, I'm more of "high - how are you?" type of guy and less of grab n' go… and I wanted to pick my friends brain on the federal fiscal imbalance, which over the din of Kelly Clarkson's "Since you been gone," apparently sounded like, "fucking in an ambulance." But... I did angrily think of past boyfriends while doing the one armed fist pump which is the only dance move most gay men can muster.

Although I'm merely a fly on the wall at Fly (I've been waiting three paragraphs to whip that line out), the whole event was a little bit too done for me; to use a Karl Lagerfield-ism, isn't Fly a little bit démodé? Gays are here and we're queer and lord knows that we're pretty fabulous - something we spent the nineties proving that with Queer Eye, Nate Berkus, Tyler Brule and current gay god of fabulousness - Tom Ford - but is a room full of gay men in dubious fashion choices the best foot forward our community wants to take?

The oddity of Fly is that today's homosexual community is, (and sorry about the cheesy euphemism), a veritable rainbow of people and cultures… Queer West, gay marriage and the like have revolutionized the community's focus away from its circuit party imagery while broadening its scope and make-up. Fuck, even the New York Times Magazine devoted a recent issue to gay marriage… so the time’s - they are a changing. Yet sometimes I get the lingering feeling that some of my fellow 'mo's are still clinging to the past like a forty-year old former twink grappling with botox… Sister's we ain't fooling anyone.

The trend in some homo circles is to disdainfully trumpet the death of Church and Wellesley. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in the Village," can be heard ad nauseum from most line ups at most Queer West venue's. For myself the traditional iconography of the Village has never really resonated with my own life; see previous article about Village Mentalities... for a long-winded rant about why Je Deteste Le Village.

But a part of me wonders if the death of the Gay Village really matters?

To betray an earlier thought, it seems as if a physical Village is still an important place for any community, especially a minority group. A village begets social services (for the gays: the 519, ACT, et al) and more importantly a village stands as a physical beacon, the face of a community. For better or for worse, the Gay Village in Toronto has acted like any other ghetto in North America – it’s given us a sense of permanency to our people; a home when no one else would let us be queer and fabulous.

But having accepted that - we're left with my and others rather disdainful view of the current status of our Queer Village. While the popular argument has become that the gays, and I include myself, don’t need the Village anymore, perhaps we shouldn't throw out the adopted Malawian baby with the bathwater. Without a physical beacon of rainbow coloured flags - do we, as a community, risk losing our place in the sun?

Every fall - there's talk in the States about how gays are becoming less and less visible as characters on scripted American TV shows. GLAAD statistics often become an opportunity for the community to rally around "continued unacceptance" in middle America of the homosexual lifestyle. While this may be the case - what if it's also, in some way tied, to the death of the Village? As the traditional Village motif "dies" and becomes no longer relevant for the majority of the gay community - then what becomes our defining image? How can we sell ourselves if we ourselves don't even believe or practice what we're selling? Unless the gay community can redefine its Village and offer up something that isn't stuck in 1999, and can be seen on reruns on Showcase, we may continue to lose the ever present PR war.

So let's call a spade a spade - gays - as is we're no longer cool. And boys - it's time for a re-brand.

Why not take a page from popular American retailer J.Crew, which successfully re-branded itself as your go-to shop for preppy yet stylish apparel. What about a GayCrew catalogue? Think realms of gay men in nice, tailored, age and size apPREPriate clothes? At the back of the J. Crew catalogue there's usually a wedding spread - why not a gay wedding spread? Gays already own most of Provincetown, what about a nice civil union in khaki’s, tailored blazers and monogrammed polo’s, at Hyannis or Martha's Vineyard?

Why stop there? What about coordinating matching madras shorts and dildos? See – in the twenty first century – gays can still be saucy, sassy and sexual, only now with a little bit more class and coordination.

So how do we go about achieving this much needed re-brand?

Generally a re-brand requires visionary leadership, an authoritarian
figure with enough chutzpah to take a broken vision and realign it with the contemporary mood. Will some manicured nails be broken along the way? Perhaps. Will there be an effigy of Abercrombie apparel at the corner of Church of Wellesley. Most definitely. But, the future, our future, is not built through niceties. Tough times require harsh measures. What the gays need is a gay dictator, who will set us, if not just a little bit more straight, a little bit Gay Crew.

Seig heil

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cry for Us...

Dateline - The Globe and Mail Toronto Section - us Faux Hillary's are angry about new money tearing down old houses and rebuilding crap. Cry for me.

"According to local developer Sasha Josipovicz, there have been 50 new custom-built homes in Forest Hill over the past five years. The reason, he says, is that Forest Hill lacks a pure architectural style, making it open for development. "Everything is neo this and neo that, faux this, faux that, a look I call Swiss chalet - a lot of turrets and gothic windows. Most of it is hideous."

- New post to come... "Race and Ethnicity"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One Hundred Thousand Dollars!

When I was fourteen I took swimming classes at the Faux Hill Collegiate. I very vividly remember getting changed in the mens locker room after class one afternoon listening to the two university aged instructors talk about what they wanted to do "when they got older." I'd imagine that on some psychological level, I was also sorta interested in what type of meat lay under the swimming trunks of a 20 year-old university student... but on I'm also pretty certain that, homosexual tendencies aside, I was intrigued enough by talk about their prospective salaries(this is Faux Hill after all, we start talking about money at a young age).

Declared the hotter one: "Low six figures - that's all you need to be happy."

Ah the naivety of a pre-graduate still living off his parents... Reality check? $100k? In today's world 100k buys my muscle jock, Red Cross instructor, a nice sports car... and maybe some hair plugs.

To wit it appears as if in the Faux Hill not only is pink the new black, but low seven figures are the new six figures. A friend of a friend, Chuck, recently declared, "One cannot really live unless you're making 1 million dollars per year." My first reaction: WHAT is this kid talking about? CRAZY talk?

So today's topic: income, which makes sense as it we're bordering on tax time and this Faux Hillary is having his father's accountant file his income taxes (if you think Sim Sim Sima can completely cut the cord I've got another thing coming to her, even if she doth protest that I'm not a real adult yet, please).

First some statistics to wet your appetite.

Warning - the following may shock, and potentially appal you - strong stomach's only:

- In Toronto in 2000 the media family income was: $83,346; that means 50% of families in Toronto make more, 50% earn less
- An annual income of $89,000 was enough to put an individual among the 1.2 million Canadians who made up the top 5% of the country's tax-filer population in 2004
- An income of $181,000 was sufficient to put someone among the 237,000 people in the top 1% of the tax-filer population.
- The richest one-hundredth of a percent (0.01%) of taxfilers, Canadians had to have income of more than $2.8 million

Thank you StatsCanada for ruining my life.

Such research was spawned after a couple of dinners, brunches and gala's (things I quite like: a gala!) where the subject of income came up repeatedly like an awkward albatross around everyone's neck. So... with my Philip Marlowe hat on I figured it was time to do some private dicking [Ed: get your mind out of the gutter. I don't always make inappropriate jokes, although I was tempted to write: "you should see me work a glue gun" to someone in an email, bested by attempt at poor Passover humour: "I'm really just looking for someone to part MY red sea..."]

Let's take a look at Sabrina (we're going with Gossip Girl names cause its almost April 21) who was recently in from the States and over the course of several martini's (why have just one?) she told me how much she was going to make as a summer law student at a big American firm: $3,100 a week (quick math: that works out to almost 150k a year). While over brunch a couple of medical school students debated $200k salaries (paediatrics) versus $400k pay days (specializations...).

The difficulty is not of course in hearing such conversations - because everyone likes money. Everyone likes cashmere. Everyone likes Holt Renfrew... the difficulty of course is that such conversations live in a completely detached bubble. Such conversations exist in a realm where $200k salaries are a given, not something to strive to.

A bit of reality occured in the past weekend when I sat with a friend, Blair, in from NYC who'll probably devote most of her life hammering out injustices. We got to talking about her becoming a professor, when someone said [I think it was me too who said this] professors only make about $100k a year. "$100k a year!" Blair said - "that's a lot of money!"

And in a way, Blair is right. Check out this dose of reality, aka, "What Real Ontarians Make":
That would be Ontario's public sector salary disclosure statistics. Note that not a lot of people actually make more then $100k.

Yet for some reason, amongst the Faux Hillary set, $200k doesn't seem like a lot of money. And why should $200k seem like a lot of money when the sadomasochistic in me and Maglet finds the both of us looking at houses on on a given Friday night. Think $1.1 million for a semi-detached "fixer-upper" in the city's better neighbourhoods. How can a Faux Hillary only make $100k and return to his or her roots?

Maybe Chuck has it right? Maybe you do need $1 million a year to keep us all in the Pink of a Holt Renfrew bag? Le sigh... it makes my middling and recent bonus at work seem a bit laughable.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Barding Up the Wrong Tree

B-Dawg made a comment about Toronto upon visiting here from less fashionable CowTown... what's with all of the rain boots? Looks like the Ugg and the flip-flops, herewith the natural footwear of family Faux Hill has a new contender for popularity. FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT. My shekels are on the Uggs for supremacy, not that I'm a betting man.

Barding Up the Wrong Tree

Your Faux Hillary
Now has three seasons: flip-flops,
Uggs and now rain boots


In other news: I feel like sometimes I'm a bit Misundastood (much like Pink); don't think I don't see the humour in my own position. This Faux Hillary may throw stones at glass houses, but I am quite knowledgeable about my own glass house [I may have just bought rain boots today... for example, how classic is that?]. And hey - at least I know that the Glass House was designed by Phillip Johnson, architect, right?

Toodles until next week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


A couple of weeks ago I went out to Scarborough to visit a youth shelter for work. I texted my co-workers to let them know I had arrived safely in the east end of town (EEEEEEEEEAST SIIIIIDE) as I don't think I'd ever gone much east of Kitty's house on Binscarth Ave, RosedAle.

After spending an hour getting to know the resident yout's and taking in the cultural sights of Kennedy Rd. (ie a Giant Tiger) I was ready to head back to the safe confines of Yonge and Bloor, where there are ten Starbucks within spitting distance from my office (nary a Coffee Time in sight) and where the pink Holt Renfrew flag salutes me with pride (both gay and retail-like).

The following two weeks were a blur on the early spring time party circuit; as such I ended up running into old and new friends alike most of whom are citizens of Toronto's vast midtown blocks of upper middle class gentry (Loser Park, RosedAle, Faux Hill etc...) - and all admitted, after we exchanged the requisite pleasantries of our generation:

"How's work/ your master's program/ law school?" &
"How's your boyfriend/ girlfriend/ the pretty dumb guy you were fucking?"

"Fine" & "Oh" ... that they were flat broke.

"We should go out." I'd ask.
"Dinner?" They suggested.
"Yes! But where?"
"Somewhere cheap. Last month's credit card bill...."

Their admittance was part of an alarming trend I had been noticing with both acquaintances and close friends alike.

"I'm poor." The Village's Favourite Oyster admitted to me over cake balls last weekend (think cake, icing and melted chocolate. Cakeballs are a party in your mouth - and sidenote: wouldn't you want to date a girl that makes you cakeballs?)
"Me too," I agreed.
"But how can we be poor? We're from Forest Hill?" She asked.

Such a question begs for an answer... And so - like my therapist suggests: its time to assign blame (not on myself, as I am perfect), but on someone or something else. So who should we assign blame on this late night? Why are my friends and also me so… pov nation? The answer perhaps lies in society; as, my mother, Sim Sim Sima said upon reflection: "You're generation - has all of these toys. Laptops, blackberry's, those music things you all have (she's talking about IPods). All of these toys are all very expensive. Expensive and disposable." [Sim Sim Sima is reading this and probably crossing her heart because for the first time in ages I haven't blamed her for anything. This is a big day for her ladies and gentlemen, send her some love.] The WWSD hypothesis would argue that my ilk is cash-poor because of our consumption habits [some may say consumption obsession]. Like most of Sim Sim Sima's arguments I'm always a bit wary at first, so I felt like it was time for further examination.

What are the consumption habits of your average Faux Hillary? Well... let's take a look see on the recent purchases from peple in my social circle: one friend borrowed her mother's credit card to pay for her March-break vacation, she was worried about maxing out her own; while another admitted over dinner that he had spent $800 at the dentist and asked his parents to foot the bill. Beloved Brynnah, down in NYC, told me that she didn't even have enough money to mail me the glasses I left in her apartment as it had been a tight month. But hey - we had shared steak and a bottle of wine at a fancy restaurant a couple of weeks earlier. And of course she does have two pairs of Coach shoes. Another friend, whom I ran into at a birthday brunch (at the Four Seasons, natch), had come to the realization that he was a poor law student, albeit - when I commented on his fetching sweater - he was a poor law student in a newly purchased merino wool v-neck from Club Monaco. To quote Rihanna - Please Don't Stop the Music/ or in this case, Please Don't Stop the Spending.

Upon flying back from New York City a couple of weekends ago and receiving a Visa bill that was way out of my league an angry El Huerd looked at me and said, "How can you complain? Who flits in and out of New York City; what are you rich?" He was right of course - and it's the same expression I used on the other Caitlin, often my partner in crimes against Visa, who recounted to me how she spent a lovely Sunday morning making her boyfriend a champagne breakfast, Veuve and freshly squeezed oj from Pusaterri's. "What are you rich?" I asked her incredulously.

And as I write this in my apartment, with the smell of tulips wafting over my desk, a part of me wonders, did I really have to spend $6.99 on flowers? Especially considering I pulled a Sheryl Crow in the morning and scraped the mould off of my bread to make a peanut butter and jam sandwich; as I call the poverty diet. Please. I know hardship.

So are my friends, in our cashmere blend coats, really that broke? Well - compared to the lovely yout's I met in Scarborough, who are given a cost of living allowance of about $2.10 a day, I'd say not quite. But poverty is a relative term isn't it?

Sim Sim Sima in her infinite wisdom is quite once again right - our generation not only loves its toys - but we expect them. Ipod's come and go, merino wool v-necks get stretched out, and lines of credit get extended with a quick stop over in Holt Renfrew's Now or Never Sale. When my father's financial adviser came over to my apartment to sell me some RRSP's he asked if I had any savings, I almost chocked on my proverbial latte. Savings? Does J. Crew cashmere count?

So what's the answer for all of us who are on the precipice of debt? I have no answers, but mom is always available at, but since she's too cheap for wireless - she doesn't know how to use GChat. In the interim, of course, it's become blatantly obvious that for those of us who are in our twenties, freshly starting our careers, our burgeoning salaries have not kept up with our spending habits and expectations. File this mystery as another one of my generations: Great Expectations.

FYI - Lululemon stock went up 20% yesterday on the TSX. Coincidence? Or not?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Hand Out or a Leg Up?

Dateline - my office. Late.

Dear Faux Hillary's. It's late at night. Feel for me - I'm working to make your city a better place. Why? Because I don't have an intern and am swamped with worky.

Pretell why don't I have an intern? Is it because my intern was sent off to Paris, a la LC? Or did I scare away a hot male intern after an off coloured cigar joke [So Rama - sorry I don't have a pen holder for that highlighter - wanna know someplace else you can stick that cylinder? (ed. too far?)]?

Neither, dearest readers... Sadly I don't have an intern; the intern I was promised ended up working for a rival nonprofit. (Prompting me to declare that I was going to get so drunk at the other non profits AGM in order to projectile vomit on the ED in retaliation - if you thought the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands was crazy wait until you see the Nonprofit Wars of 2008).

But back to internships... an internship is a right of passage for your average Faux Hiller... and as we move into the summer silly season (college kids will soon be back from university, and decide they're too old for camp so they'll ask their parents to help them get a job), internships are all the rage. The latest topic of conversation at Starbucks is NOT a dissertation on the spring OPI colours, rather on the ins and outs of getting Jessica, Aaron and or Michelle a summer internship at Manulife, TD Bank and or Scotiabank, "Shelley - call Morty Greenbaum, he's a Senior VP at Rogers - he'll help you find your Benji a job for the summer."

Take my good friend Tamara who was recently handed an intern to mentor at work. The intern a young, pretty thing, prompted her latest lamentation, "I work to pay my mortgage and SHE works for fun." The intern, you see, was the daughter of Tamara's boss, a Senior VP at the very large multi-national. For many a Faux Hillary, this situation isn't too far off the course - work, isn't really about making money, so much so as it is about giving you something to do. As distant cousin Paulette told me at a recent family funeral, "I mean, I'm rich - but I still work. I married a wealthy doctor and I can buy whatever I want, but I still go in and teach high school kids every day." Thanks Paulette don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

The internship is generally a creation of nepotism - that great inbred self-aggrandizing cycle which ensures that I probably won't end up in a van down by the river. Nepotism, to many, rails against the very basis of our happy liberal society where parents who send their kids to Upper Canada like to talk about our excellent public school system and public health care system; choosing to argue that in Canada we abide by the grand principles of a Hobbesian/Lockian equality of opportunity feel good mantra. But to quote a very pragmatic G-Sauce - "there are Alpha people, Beta People, Gama People - and not everyone is going to be Alpha." No matter the "public" bullshit you'll hear at Rosh Hashanah dinner - there is no such thing as equality of opportunity - isms like nepotism chip away at principled liberalism. Once everyone is else is doing it (getting their kids interns at Rogers from Morty Greenbaum) the snowball effect of nepotism ensures that the N-Word becomes your average Villagers best friend - NOT the family's Wheaton Terrier (FYI - Jews don't do the Golden Retriever business for some reason; Lab's are way to Goy, what do you think this is Martha's Vineyard?).

But is nepotism truly that awful? Yes... if you're a liberal philosophe, and on a purely emotional level nepotism does potentially erode the great American rags to riches motif that Horatio Alger taught us so well. But! Huzzah - on a purely pragmatic approach there is a catch-all which ensures nepotism doesn't create a world of Interns Gone Wild*.

The escape clause? I point to yet another philosophical holdover from 18th century England. An escape clause so invisible that it actually controls our society much more so then the musings of Locke and Hobbes and the social contractistas.

At a recent brunch at the Four Seasons - My Other Mom [MOM] contemplated making a call to help her daughter get an interview for a job she was applying to. MOM was worried about using the nepotism card, even though we both admitted that almost everyone we know used the nepotism angle. MOM was worried about making things a slice to easy for her daughter. However, I opined that the nepotism internship was really just a leg-up and NOT a hand out. Using a leg-up acknowledges that we don't particularly live in the perfect universe where equality of opportunity levels all playing fields - rather, a leg-up does acknowledge, that at the end of the day a leg-up only gets you in the door (or over the fence as the motif so hints at). Any intern is going to have to sink or swim on their own merits. Truth be told, a Faux Hillary can only ride the nepotism wave so far. The pragmatic escape clause recognizes that Adam Smiths's great invisible hand of capitalism ensures that nepotism can only take us so far.

And for that - I say thanks G-D.

* The only exception to the nepotism safety clause is Ben Mulroney - who for some reason with little talent has managed to succeed in life. It is almost as if he is not bound to the laws of capitalism.