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.