Friday, January 26, 2007

All Politics is Local

Talk to any old political hack, and being employed by a politician, I talk to many, all will tell you that at the end of the day there is one truism in politics - all politics is local. The veracity of such an outlandish generalization was indeed proven to be true when I became a good friend with the infamous New Brunswick Moose Lady while working on a [National] political campaign. The Moose Lady's political endorsement was to be given to the politico who supported her bid to fence in the New Brunswick highway system [shout out to my peeps Cathy "moose lady" McCollum, what up sistah?!]. Foreign policy? She didn’t really care. Quebec as a nation? Even less interest… Mention the moose campaign to the participants of the 9:30 spin class at the Village Fitness and the most likely reply would be: "Moose? You're talking about the yoga pose right?" Uhm… sure.
Every so often the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, the two major papers of note in this berg, devote a fair bit of coverage to the city's homeless problem. Following said expose [perhaps Jan Wong embedded as a panhandler at King and Bay? Royson James squatting underneath the Gardiner!?] the chattering classes will click their tongues at dinner party's, Margaret Wente will write a column about how she couldn't care less about the homeless because as a Baby Boomer blah blah blah, and some local celebrity, perhaps the wife of a prominent business person, will show up at a soup kitchen and lend her name to a new save the homeless mission. WHEE!!
In the long-term no one gives two shits and the city's homeless problem becomes an endemic feature to the downtown landscape, because the people with political clout in Toronto live in the Faux and or RosedAle. There are no homeless people in these two affluent neighborhoods - they are on the fringe of the downtown and as such exist as manicured bubbles cut off from the urban environment, isolated from the social woes South of Bloor.
For the first time in my memory, however, I have noticed a [disturbing] trend. There are now two panhandlers who sit on opposite sides of Spadina and Lonsdale asking passerby’s for spare change. The juxtaposition between the morning spin classes at the Village Fitness, where one can hear shouts of: "give it one more shot ladies, push it harder!" interspersed with Nelly Furtado's Promiscuous, and a the cries of a panhandler, "spare some change" is jarring. So jarring that I've seen a couple of people spill some non-fat latte on their lulu's.
The first morning I noticed the newest Faux Hillary's, my preliminary and honest reaction, was: "homeless people? in the Village? how disturbing". But why disturbing? Disturbing because there are homeless people in general, or disturbing because there are homeless people in my pristine hamlet of society. Truthfully, I'll admit it was the latter. I’m pretty awful.
If all politics is local - and I venture to say it is - then looks like we're bound for the next round of homelessness exposes [someone get me Christie Blatchford please]. With both the editor in chief of the Globe and Mail and Andrew Coyne, National Post columnist, frequent fliers at the village Starbucks, the two panhandlers in the Village may prove to have the biggest impact on the collective conscious of this city, after all homeless people don’t raise property values.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Living the Dream

A young boy growing up in the Faux has two options in life: Doctah, or Lawyah. I am neither. Not only that but I have sex with men. I'm my own walking and talking shunda [ scandal]. I've managed to not go back to school for almost two years now, and family friends are starting to talk, "Nu... so when are you going to school law school?" Lord knows I'm not a doctah like Bold. The fact that a person can be succesful without a law degree doesn't really dawn on the clucking masses of botoxed beauties, who see the world in black and white (or Gucci versus Louis). One family friend caught me running out the door to a meeting and asked when I was going back to school; not 'if' mind you, but when! "You're going to law school eventually, right?" She asked. When I said No, she looked ashen, near tears and probably thought about how best to consol my mother. [Did I mention the gay sex thing? Sim Sim Sima's got bigger worries then me going to law school; I can tell you, she's giving herself ten years to process the eventuality of me introducing her to her cambodian granddaughter, then we'll talk consoling her, ok?]. Law school and a Faux Hill centre hall home is essentially the local version of the American dream.
For me, however, not so much. As such my job in politics - the one that I really like and doesn't involve lawyering or doctoring- has, however, recently provided me with the last laugh. The Chief Financial Officer of my campaign is a partner in a large downtown law firm. The campaign office closed down recently due to campaign transition but I've been given a nice office at the CFO's firm in order to finish up campaign related business. So I'm now faking it. Every day I wake up, subway downtown, sit in the office, stare out my window and wait for my thank you letters to print. When I'm bored I walk through the hallways nod at my "fellow" staff, wink at the receptionist and make a latte at the firm's esperesso machine. Living the dream, sans law degree and also paying law school tuition. WWSD indeed.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's Because I'm Jewish. Jewish and Gay.

One of my best friends, El Huerd, has decided to take up squash. I got a bit excited as well... I happen to play a bit of squash.

"Are you any good?" He asked over the phone. "We can't play if you're very good. You'll beat me."
"El Huerd," I said, "I'm jewish and gay... what do you expect?"

Unfortunately I rarely play squash, for both of the above reasons, but also because I don't have access to a court. Brynnah, however, was in from New York and she is a member at the very tony Toronto Lawn and Tennis Club (established 1876). It's an old boys Toronto club. Read WASP. I love when Brynnah takes me there because I feel like establishment Toronto and because I'm hoping to meet my gaygetz there. In theory I picture something like this happening:


Int - Toronto Lawn and Tennis Club Bar

In walks Faux Hillary. He is sweaty from a game of squash. He orders a post-game drink, sits at the bar, and turns face-to-face with Caleb, a blue-eyed scion of Toronto society.

Quite the game you've got. You really know how to handle a ball.

Well then you should see me work my wonders on a raquet.


The wedding would be a tasteful affair in one of the adjoining Toronto Lawn banquet rooms, overlooking the squash court. Perfect no?

Early last week Brynnah and I arrived at the Toronto Lawn and started warming up. About one point into our game someone knocked on the glass door. Success I thought! I've been noticed already. It was the squash pro. Hot.

"You can't wear grey shorts in here. All squash players must wear all white."
"Mine were dirty." I lied. I don't own white shorts, because Sim Sim Sima always argued that white shorts were impractical. Which they are. You think we have a maid to do our laundry? What do you think we are rich?
"You'll have to wear the loner shorts, or we'll have to ask you to leave." The pro stayed in the doorway, pointing to the reception desk, watching and waiting.

And so... as I walked back to the court, wearing a pair of shorts tagged with the word: Loner (aka loser) I thought, part jokingly, part seriously - "it's like they knew I was Jewish. Jewish and gay."

"What is this? The corner of Spadina and Lonsdale?"

I've often tried to paint a portrait of the Village. I hope its been a vivid one. As I've said before the Village it is really constructed of one intersection - the corner of Spadina and Lonsdale. Spaddin and Lonsdale, as the centre of the village, is like the Portage and Main of the Faux Hill; it is the place where Philipino nannies would go riot, the place where a spontaneous show of affection for Lululemon may occur, if the men and women of the Faux weren't so concerned about rising house prices. [ "Did you see what that hole sold for on Vesta? 1.2."]

The corner is also where the youts of the neighbourhood go to hang out. On a typical Friday or Saturday night the benches outside of Royal Bank see more action then Paris Hilton (so sue me if that was an easy joke...). The action isn't really relegated to a particular restaurant or bar or even a coffee shop - people simply stand on the corner, clicking away at their cell phones and shouting at friends and foes across the street.

Anyway, I found myself down in Puerto Vallarta for a week trying to escape my life - while reconnecting, in a big, big way, with Sim Sim Sima and Len. Bold stayed home. [Here's a piece of advice: you wanna escape gay men and jews, don't go to Puerto Vallarta.] Luckily a good friend of mine from high school was also there with her parents and we were each other's sanctuary for the week. A couple of nights her younger sister (who was completely schooled in the Village and thus knows everyone) dragged us out to this tiny hole in the wall bar. Shockingly as I looked around, damn near blinded by copious amounts of Tiffany Jewellery, I realized that the place was mobbed with the denizens of the Faux and York Mills. I hadn't seen that many Jews in one place since my bar-mitzvah. It was the type of seen where boys I went to elementary school climbed outta the wood work. After about an hour of watching people stand around and shout across the street at each other I asked if we were actually going to move to a bar; "why would we do that?" Was the reply.
So I looked around, realized I was spending my night on a street corner, and thought, "what is this? The corner of Spadina and Lonsdale?"