March 26th, 2009


[PHOTO] Some Yonge Street Strip Clubs; or. Dens of Iniquity

Toronto's famed Yonge Street is well-known as a major artery of commerce. Yonge Street--especially on its lower lengths, north of Queen Street and south of Bloor Street--is also well-known as a place where sexual desires can be satisfied. Before moving to the Church and Wellesley area, the gay village with bars like the St. Charles Tavern. Even now, there are still a few sex shops scattered along its length, one classily advertising that it has the "One Night in Paris" video, all with racks and racks of DVDs. And there are the strip clubs.

Zanzibar Tavern
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

The Zanzibar Tavern is located at 359 Yonge Street, near the Ryerson University campus curiously enough. (Jokes can be, and have been, made.)

Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

The somewhat hidden Remington's--"Toronto's best all-male entertainment"--visible to the left, is located at 387 Yonge Street, below Dundas Street and just up the street from Zanzibar.

Brass Rail Tavern
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

The Brass Rail Tavern, located at 701 Yonge Street just below the Yonge/Bloor intersection, is another straight male-oriented strip club. I have heard of one wedding party, though, including people of both genders, being held here. It's somewhat in vogue, I guess.

These three strip clubs and others are reviewed in this June 2006 feature from Toronto Life.

[MUSIC] Sinéad O'Connor, "Fire on Babylon"

Sinéad O'Connor has come up with some very wonderful and powerful songs, but my favourite song of hers is "Fire on Babylon," off of her 1994 album Universal Mother. As this Michel Gondry fansite says, "Fire on Babylon" is very intense, "an emblazoned song about an emotionally abusive mother. Sinéad sings, 'She took my father from my life / Took my sister and brothers / I watched her torturing my child.' At the end of the song she almost screams, 'Fire!'"

With her powerful vocals, the raw lyrics, and the dramatic rolling beats and rhythms and strategic instrumental pauses, it's a fantastic song. All of my favourite songs of hers are have those qualities: "Mandinka", "Troy", "I Am Stretched on Your Grave," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "Famine." Her quieter songs, her less angry songs--or, at least, less evidently angry ones--don't appeal to me so much.

I wonder what that says about me.

[LINK] "Shocking Confessions from Sun Slaughterer"

Torontoist's David Topping reports on Jim Schwartz, a man who has
set up a blog to criticize the tabloid Toronto Sun.

He told Torontoist that the idea to give the Sun shit, consistently, started one winter ago. "I was walking to work every day, passing by the Toronto Sun newsstand and seeing ridiculous headlines....So I downloaded all of the Toronto Sun covers for an entire year, I extracted the headlines into a document, and I built a computer application to count the occurrences of each word to generate a tag cloud."

The two most common words used in headlines? "Leafs" (thirty-five times) and "murder" (thirty times). Schwartz registered, posted his findings in April, but didn't do much else with the domain until this past new year. Since January, though, Schwartz posts a new entry a couple of times a week skewering that day's Sun cover (like this one: "The Toronto Sun always posts interesting pictures of politicians. This one is no exception; David Miller looks like he was letting off a Raspberry Tart while the picture was being taken."), or, in rarer occasions, praising it (like this one, of the Sun's birthday edition, which, with a great old photo of the city, was "so close" to not sucking).

Schwartz, originally from the Niagara region, says that "where I grew up, everyone is afraid to go to Toronto because 'it's so dangerous.'" But, he says, "anyone who lives in the city knows it's safe here...I blame the media for exploiting crime to sell newspapers."

[BRIEF NOTE] Borders gone opaque

This news is depressing..

A senior official in the Obama administration doused hopes on Wednesday that the Canadian border will be treated differently than the beefed-up Mexican boundary where drug violence is escalating and countless illegal immigrants flood into the United States every day.

"One of the things that we need to be sensitive to is the very real feelings among southern border states and in Mexico that if things are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border," Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, told a Canada-U.S. border conference.

The daylong Brookings Institution event featured dozens of participants from both countries discussing ways in which the movement of goods and people across the Canada-U.S. border could be facilitated. Napolitano's remarks closed the event on an almost depressing note.

"We shouldn't go light on one and heavy on the other," she said of the Canadian and Mexican borders.

"This is one NAFTA, one area, one continent, and there should be parity there. I don't mention this to suggest that everyone in this room will agree with that, I mention it to suggest it's something I have to deal with, and so I ask for your sympathy."

[. . .]

She later had a sobering message for Canadians hopeful that, under Obama, there would be freer movement of goods and people across a Canada-U.S. border that looks almost Utopian compared to the chaos at the American-Mexican boundary: it's a real border and things aren't easing up anytime soon.

"It's as though there's not a border at all," Napolitano said of the close relationship between the two countries, particularly among those living in border communities.

"People are used to going back and forth, and the hockey teams go back and forth ... people just don't think of it as two different countries. But the reality exists that there's a border there too."

Canadians do think that they have a close relationship to the United States, probably that it's a closer one than Mexico's, what with a shared language and historic patterns of migration and long-standing economic integration and the clustering of our population so close to the border. A cross-border community does exist, as Napolitano said, and until recently was marked by the sort of easy travel that made the community that much more integrated. I myself remember with fondness the procedures that let me cross, with a relative minimum of fuss, over the border to camp in the Five Fingers area or visit the statue of Nikola Tesla on Goat Island in Niagara Fall, NY. As I blogged last 4th of July, the idea of accessing the United States easily appeals to me. Knowing that this is gone, and likely won't return unless we enter a general North American passport union (and at what cost?) makes me sad.