Ex Post Fac:TO 2013 – The year it all went pear-shaped
Another year gobbled up by the passage of time, another ‘Best of 2013‘ post for you to contemplate. I think Torontonians will collectively look back on 2013 as the year that it all went pear-shaped. From crazy mayors to crazy weather it was one hell of a ride, but at least we were all buckled in together and some good things managed to happen too. I think we can agree that it can only go up from here. Is that me being optimistic? Short answer, YES. Now look at these images from the past and weep tears of sadness and joy.
Rob Ford’s Crack
Our mayor smokes crack cocaine. Now there’s something you don’t often hear unless you’re from Washington or Toronto. At least the Feds arrested Marion Barry thereby ending his tenure as Washington’s crack smoking mayor, but in Toronto we have taken a slightly different, albeit very Canadian approach to his royal HIGHness. The never ending circus surrounding Rob Ford and the now infamous crack video reads like a script taken directly from The Wire. While I wake up every day waiting for the other shoe to drop, Rob Ford still holds tenuously onto the reigns of the city. Dear gawd let it all be ended come October 2014 so that I have something happier to photograph for next year’s review. I’m tired of hearing about Rob Ford’s crack.
Trans March Triumph
Well halle-freakin-lujah! Trans people, activists and their allies were finally ‘allowed’ by Pride Toronto to take their march down Yonge Street. The Trans March which had divided the community both metaphorically and literally in previous years rallied as one and there was much rejoicing. No more being relegated to the sidelines of Church Street to get lost among the gay glitterati gathering for the annual rainbow throw down.
Rofo Attends Big Gay Flag Raising…
…and gets a standing ovation for his troubles. I’m sure it was really, super, ridiculously difficult for Mayor Ford, under pressure from older brother Doug, to step out the front doors of Toronto City Hall to um, do his job. Did the crowd have to give him a standing ovation though? Yes he showed up and read the proclamation and finally kick-started Pride Week festivities, but he looked really uncomfortable doing it. Doug happily took a rainbow flag out of the crowd and pranced for the media smiling and waving. Rob just stood there looking like a petulant child who got thrown into the corner at the family BBQ for misbehaving.
Paddle The Don Turned 20 Years Young
On a beautiful spring day the floodgates opened and 750 paddlers took to the Don River for the twentieth time. The annual Paddle the Don event allows participants to experience an often overlooked view of the city and at the same time raise money for conservation efforts along the river. This year’s event was opened by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne who surprised organizers and participants by jogging there from her house. With my hands full of camera gear I was given two expert paddlers who navigated the river so professionally that I felt like Cleopatra being boated down the Nile. They even gave me a hat!
Say Goodbye To Honest Ed’s
The latest in a long line of iconic Toronto locations to be sold to developers, Honest Ed’s has long been the home for tacky crap at rock bottom prices. At first you may be drawn in by the circus-like signs and bad pun advertising, but then you’ll stay for free turkey giveaways and The Stop’s Night Market event. It’s not just a giant, junky store full of historical Mirvish theatre posters that’s at stake. Gone will be the Victorian splendor of Mirvish Village which hosts a myriad of popular local joints like The Beguiling, Victory Cafe, Suspect Video and The Central just to name a few. Like the sign says ‘There’s no place like this place, anyplace’.
Ai Weiwei Conquers Toronto
Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei graced our city with his beautiful brilliance. Deemed as one of the most powerful artists in contemporary art, his exhibit According to What? at the AGO topped many of the year’s ‘best of’ lists. That exhibit was preceded by the installation of his sculptures, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, in the reflecting pond at Nathan Phillips Square. Nuit Blanche revelers were also treated to the mesmerizing Forever Bicycles installation and multiple screenings of the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.
In 2013 Russia’s National Parliament with the backing of President Vladimir Putin enacted laws that would endanger and criminalize the lives of members of the LGBTQ community. Toronto’s own community rallied in support with the formation of #TOwithRussia. The group aims to inform, organize actions and lobby the Canadian Government, IOC, Sochi Olympic sponsors and allies to send a message that human rights violations will not be tolerated.
Remembrance Day Diss
After crack allegations were proven true and his privilege to attend the Santa Claus Parade was revoked, Rob Ford made his first public speaking engagement at Remembrance Day ceremonies in front of Old City Hall. He took to the podium like a disillusioned champ and spoke to the crowd about honour and service. A few people booed, many cheered and the mayor attempted to do the rounds and shake hands with the veterans in attendance. One vet was having none of it and called the mayor a druggie to his face, after which Rob slinked back to his chair. Derp de derp.
End Of Days Weather
Floods and ice storms and cold snaps, OH MY! It was a wild and woolly year for weather in the GTA. The great monsoon in July brought water of near biblical proportions streaming into the downtown core putting King Street completely under water and stranding a few hundred passengers on a GO Train with a snake. Then winter brought us rain that froze and weighed down everything in sight. Falling trees, hydro wires and the hope in our hearts that 300,000+ homes would get power restored in time for the holidays and before people froze to death in the -21 degree cold. That’s -30 with windchill.
Toronto Police Services has had what you might call an interesting year. Late night surveillance on the mayor and his buddies, the horribly shocking shooting death of Sammy Yatim and the death of one of their own 22 Division officers in a car accident. The funeral for Counstable John Zivcic incidentally came on the same day that another police officer was found guilty of assaulting Adam Nobody during the G20 conference in Toronto. All feelings towards the TPS set aside, funerals suck. Seeing a mother grieve is not something I wish to experience regularly…or ever.