Friday, June 29, 2007

From Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves in Three Generations

Tuesday found Faux Hillary out of his league. Or not quite out my league, but certainly far away from my comfort zone (read Spadina and Lonsdale).

I found myself attending a function at the city's much vaunted Drake Hotel. The Drake is a bar, come hotel, come scene in and of itself. It's opening is credited with transforming a once wayward stretch of Queen Street into hipster central. The beautiful patio opening one summer when we were all watching the OC and everyone was adding the word "the" in front of everything, hence the obsiqutous, the Drake. Remember that summer; thank god that's over. For a summer everyone and their monther (except for Sim Sim Sima, she's has NO time for bars) was talking about how much of a genius Jeff (owner of the Drake) Stober was.

The Drake is one of those places that isn't actaully cool anymore (some may argue it was never 'cool' at all). The Hipsters have moved on from Queen and Ossington, further west, and wouldn't be caught dead inside of the Drake; regardless though there's enough of grit left on the streets surrounding for the city's I-Banker crowd to feel like they're doing something unusual rather then spending yet another evening staring at the fake titties and faux hair at Hemingways. That's the thing about the Drake, it provided a nice bit of cleanliness in an otherwise dirty area. It was never really marketted to actual hipsters - instead it's sorta like Main Street USA in Disney Land - come be a hipster for a night, but with clean bathrooms, more cocaine and less incense. Drake owner Jeff Stober even lives in the Village if you really want to understand his headspace about the whole thing.

But back to the event...

First encounter of the third kind, Faux Hillary runs into an old friend. The climber, as we'll call her, is, to put it mildly, intense. A day-trader at a downtown investment banking firm she once drunkenly slapped me with her Gucci bag and slurred, "how much do you make, I can get you a job where you'll be making $2000 a week." The Climber, a beautiful leggy blond, was truly out and about to show off her latest and greatest boyfriend, none other then the unemployed schlub of a very old money Toronto family. The type of family whose name adorns buildings at U of T but whose third generation is known not for their philanthropic spirit or shrewd business decisions... but still, a name is still a name.

Before leaving I had the good fortune to run into an even older friend, apparently a friend of the Climber. The Snob, if you will, works with the Climber at whatever banking firm pays that much money a week. Having not seen the Snob since elementary school we did the brief update on our lives (I enjoy throwing in the gratuitous mention of being gay at this point so as to spread that shit around the gossip world, "Do you know who is gay?" "I'm not surprised, didn't you think he was gay in elementary school?" "Ya but didn't he have a girlfriend?" "Do you think she knows now?" "Well maybe we shouldn't say something?")

The Snob asked me what I was doing, "i work in philanthropy at a not for profit." The Snob smiled... "Oh that's so sweet. I'm working for all the money and you're at a not for profit. That's so... cute."

Cute indeed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Third Estate

I went out for frozen yogurt with my friend Momo last night. We had planned to go for drinks, but realized we were both exhausted by our respective jobs. Frozen yogurt seemed to be the best answer.

"Why is there so much garbage here?" Momo asked as we sat on a bench right at Spadina and Lonsdale.
"Because the children don't know how to pick up for themselves. That's what the nanny is for." I replied.
"Or in my case... three philipino's." Momo was referring to her boss's family who has not one, not two, but three nannies (apparently they got the bulk discount at the Philipino Nanny Depot [is that awful of me to say?]).

As Momo and I sat eating our fro-yo witnessing the parade of Channel fanny packs, Gucci aviators and the like I realized I had seen the same characters here before. This makes sense because the Village isn't really a popular destination for most Torontonians or tourists. The Faux is not like the Beaches or Yorkville - you'd never take an out of town guest on a tour unless said out of town guest was a human anthropologist interested in studying the obnoxious behaviours of wealthy Torontonians. Subsequently the Village maintains its sorta introspective bubble. To quote a friend, "I'll cry if I don't live here when I grow up."

Broken down, the Village, much like acien france the Village has three "estates":
1) Residents - the botoxed beauties who live here, the husbands, Andrew Coyne and myself
2) Wannabe residents - these are people who don't really live in the Village but have ingrained themselves into the scene. These people like the Village more then the residents - they LOVE it. They're regulars at Sotto Sotto and pick up their dry cleaning at Parker's even though they live at Yonge and Lawrence.
3) The Help - ie construction workers and nannies, the subdued proletariat if you will.

The third estate is a rather confusing segment.

As I was walking to work the other day, a construction worked stopped me on the sidewalk.
"Is there a Tim Horton's around here?" He asked. I did'nt know what to say beyond... a hell's no. This is Latte Land my friend... ask one of the local Starbetic's what a double double is and you're bond to hear this: "that's the new mani pedi deal they're offering at the Forest Hill Spa right?"

To Quote Abbe Sieyes:
What is the Third Estate? Everything
What has it been hereto in the political order? Nothing
What does it demand? A Tim Hortons!

Marx is probably rolling over in his grave right now.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Village Pride

An anonymous poster a couple of posts down accused me of being a "bad person and class traitor." I don't like to think of myself as a bad person; caustic, yes; embittered at times, sure; emotional, check - but bad person? Them's fighting words.

Today - being father's day, we held a giant brunch. My family friends the Whiterock's - their house a wine cellar - showed up a couple of hours late, hightaling it from Muskoka only to complain about the traffic (I love when people complain about cottage traffic...). Thankfully they brough their son, Whiterock Jr., and his [asian] girlfriend. This is amusing because scandalized guests can turn to my mother only to state the obvious, "Did you see his girlfriend? She's asian." Once, one of my mother's friend used the word Oriental to describe her. It was simultaneously so awkward and so amazing. As I stood in the kitchen washing dishes I thought that the brunch would be a FABULOUS (note the use of the word) time to introduce my non-existent significant other to the extended family. "This is 'so and so...'" I'd say, "we fuck." No amount of Gucci could replicate the look of shock I'd expect from some of my parents friends.

I longed for escape; as the party droned on Whiterock Jr ends up prostelatyzing guests about his weird blend of pseudo populist, neo conservative vision for Canadian politics, while I watched the fresia melt under the sun. Once everyone had left I wound up in the Village, natch, sipping iced tea and sweating. It was a usual sunday in the Village - the fashion monotony was broken up only by a seventeen year old in a black tank top, black shorts and black Uggs. UGGS. WINTER BOOTS. FYI - it's 35 degrees outside.

What happened next is a first for the Village, at least in my own experiences. It was something which actually brought a smile, yes a smile, to my curmudgeonly face: hark, in the distance, appearing almost out of nowhere - two men walked together hand-in-hand, down Spadina cutting a swath through the Village.

And so I thought, maybe the Village has a bit of pride after all?

Happy Pride Week Y'all.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Impatiens - are flowers that most people plant in their yards come summer. They're cheap and colourful and are easy enough to maintain, with your underground automatic sprinkler and or gardener they're really no trouble for the busy Faux Hill executive. I always thought Impatiens were spelled impatients, as in lack of patience. I imagined that the clever pun loving botanist who named them had a good chorttle at his own expense upon coming up with the name. "By george I'm brilliant - when you plant impatients you don't have to be patient - these flowers provide instant colour!" Have I mentioned that I used to work in advertising? I've never felt so stupid when I looked on wikipedia the other day and realized the error of my ways.

Impatience, however, has been on my brain of late. Having been recently dumped - by someone who argued that he wasn't quite ready to be in the relationship I wanted, arguing I was looking for a husband, he wasn't (don't you love 2007 though, FYI? GAY MARRIAGE!!), was a bit of a harsh blow. When I finally sorted out the emotional upheaval of having my heart broken - the only lingering doubt was a fear for my own future. Why was I so impatient to settle into adulthood?

So like most other things - I blamed the Faux for latent feelings of neuroses. It's cheaper then therapy and really... WWSD? Actually I'll let you know what Sim Sim Sima would say, "therapy? total waste of money." Hi mom!

After much introspection I've identified two problems with the Faux Hill lifestyle and its effects on the spawn of its residents. (I know only two!)

1) The Faux raises the fear of failure [say it ten times really quickly].
Growing up amongst upper middle class affluence is a frightening prospect when you're 25 and trying to figure out your future. A certain fear of never being able to replicate your parents' success and buy the centre hall mock Tudor house you've been raised in is a very cognizant nightmare. Brynnah, now in New York, once wrote me an email when she was interning at a PR firm, "what if I end up making $35,000 for the rest of my life and living in Pickering." I know these aren't huge issues and perhaps sound spoiled (oh wait they are). People are in fact dying in Africa and all... but to quote my mother, "It's easier to have nothing and make something of yourself, then to." A good friend and I were walking in between our respective houses in the Village the other night because yes we both still live at home and as we walked through the manicured streets, we exchanged pleasantries with neighbours, before she finally turned to me in near tears and said: "is this where you thought you'd be at 25?" What she meant was, did you think you'd be living at home and waking up every day wondering if we would ever find happiness and job fulfillment (questionable at 25)? There were no words of comfort of course; what do you say when you're feeling the exact same thing and you realize that at 25 your parents were married and owned a house.

Problemo numero uno leads to the second issue:

2) The indecision of wealth. I sat with my friend Jer at Starbucks the other day. He admitted that at 24 he had no clue what to do with his life. I told him that like everyone else we know he was just indecisive. There were too many options on our table; our cup doth runeth over with suggestions. By the end of our convo he decided to spend a year in Australia, hoping a period of travel would provide some answers or at least delay the inevitable rush to law school. He admitted that everyone we knew was doing "something" travelling or studying abroad that he couldn't quite commit himself to anything.

Indecision is a mark of privilege I realize. And for a generation of youts whose baby boomer parents have indulged our every whim, no wonder why we have no patience for these intermittent years. Making decisions isn't quite so fun and let's face it - Faux Hillary's just want to have fun.

Another friend admitted that he wanted to fast-forward to his thirtieth birthday party. He pictured his wife and baby sitting around a dining room table presenting a cake to him. He actually contemplated dating a thirty year old whose biological clock was ticking so loudly that on their first date she literally asked him to bare her children. That odd sense of him actually found this attractive - instant family; no decisions had to be made.

Before we parted for coffee Jeremy said something mildly profound "ya know - we're lucky we don't have student debt." And he was correct - as Jer and I sat in a coffee shop drinking four dollar latte's wondering what we were going to do with our lives, I could count the number of people I know who were struggling to pay off their student debt wondering why they had to work two jobs to make ends meet.

That's the problem of course when you're part of a decadent generation (of which I'm only too happy to be a part of - no sense being high and mighty today). Money buys trips to Africa, a year or two spent teaching English in Japan as we try and find ourselves, aimlessly fearing the future and our own indecisiveness. But on the flip side, no one's dying, which probably makes matters that much worth. It's hard to feel sorry for yourself, when life isn't that awful.

Monday, June 11, 2007


"I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She's coming in 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say, "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I blessed the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had"

Ahh... Toto. Thank you for being a one hit wonder circa 1982. The song Africa, as many people have noted over the years, has little to do with the actual continent. Like most people's fascination with the Dark Continent - Toto's lyrics are really about Toto itself; or about the band's keyboardist missing his woman... and really who I am to judge?

Ahh... Africa. Never been. And yet... I get the sense these days that Africa is a theme park for your average Faux Hillary. Africa is the new Europe.

I got an email from a friend the other day, a self-described, typical Toronto snob. She had been unable to find a "real" job since graduation in Toronto. "I'm bored. So I've decided to go to Africa." Note... I'm not sure which country she's going to (Africa FYI is a pretty big place!). There was never a mention about really wanting to go to Africa. No, "I've always wanted to go to Africa. I've decided to use my undergraduate degree in African Studies with a minor in International Development Studies to actually learn first-hand about Africa." Nope. Nothing. Simply... yawn, Toronto is boring :( Africa is fun!

Another friend - CB is currently in Ghanna. I'm not quite sure what she's doing beyond "saving the children". Every once in a while I get a mass email about CB's latest exploits. The latest, "I now understand real poverty," have seemingly had a profound impact on her own life, "I think I finally understand myself," she writes, "all of my anger, my rage of the years... being hear and faced with such conflict and poverty has made me feel so much more in tune with myself; my own issues."

Just as Toto's Africa wasn't about the actual continent, today's Africa isn't about saving the world, its about saving your parents cash-money in therapy bills. At least there's more room for me at the Starbucks patio!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lawn Bowling

My dear friend Chessy [Yiddishe for Caitlin] the original RosedAlian has recently migrated from the family home on Binscarth to Davisville Village. Here she has alligned herself with the local lawn bowling club, established 1928. I'm still not quite sure what lawn bowling is - but I'm pretty sure it's about as gentry as you can get in Canada without going duck hunting with a member of the Eaton family up in Caledon.

This weekend Chessy roped a bunch of us to spend the afternoon power sanding, power washing and power painting. Power bottom jokes went unnoticed by this crowd of private schoolies and National Post writer's. Gay? I spent most of the day leering at one of Chessy's sisters friends (established 1986) whom in my mind was a repressed Upper Canada old boy waiting for an older man to show him the joys of gay sex... Chessy said I could day dream; just not touch. Sigh. He was wearing a polo and madras shorts... I'm only human.

A friend called me while I was the club, "You're lawn bowling? I didn't know Jews lawn-bowled."
"We don't."
"So why you going?"
"Same reason I go to the Toronto Lawn."
"Find a man?"
"Yup. Where else can I meet my gaygetz?"
"Maybe your WASP boyfriend doesn't lawnbowl?"

Embracing my weekend of extremes I attended a fundraiser for the Sex Professional Workers of Canada on Sunday evening. Bitches are unionizing and if you thought CUPE Local 4400 was militant, I suggest you talk to an angry transvestite prostitute. She knows pain; over paid transit workers, not so much.

As I waited, awkwardly, for my friend to arrive, as videos of boys jerking off played in the background I looked down had a Marisa Tomei, in My Cousin Vinnie moment. Really... did I have to wear a lacoste polo, cardigan and loafers? Contemplating what exactly is the correct outfit to wear to a fundraiser for sex workers I realized that at the end of the day - you can take the boy out of the village, but you can't take the village out of the boy.