Tag Archives: Chinatown

09 Oct

Thanksgiving in the Universe’s Center

Pictures and observations from Monday’s visit to the Center of the Universe:

1. On this occasion, rather than take the usual #12 bus to Burlington and transfer to a Lakeshore West train, I took advantage of the special holiday express train running between Niagara Falls and Union Station. Unfortunately, had I not been fortunate enough to get a ride to the train station, I would not have been able to take this train as St. Catharines Transit buses, as per their normal holiday schedule, don’t start running until after 11:00 am. Since this train comes through St. Catharines so infrequently, couldn’t they have made an exception and run a couple of shuttle buses to the station? After all, what is the point of having this great public transit service if you can’t get to the station by public transit?

This is exactly why I’m not one of those people eagerly anticipating the promised arrival of regular GO train service to St. Catharines. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s some planning going on behind the scenes for new and/or improved service to the station, but as things currently stand with St. Catharines Transit, when the buses are actually running, it would take me longer to get to the station than it would for the train to get to Burlington. Not a big win in my books.

2. Parking fail at the train station:

3. Scenes around our humble station:

4. Spotted this sign for a cannabis company at the Exhibition station, an unfriendly reminder that the legalization of weed is only days away.

5. Bums passed out inside Union Station:

6. Also at Union Station, a woman clutches her teddy bear outside the washroom:

7. As a long-lost friend of mine would say, “no visuals please.”

8. We all need our “proten” :

9. Dear Black Guy Pissing in the Alley: I realize many local restaurants only offer washrooms to paying customers, but just a block away was the Dragon City Mall as well as nearby Chinatown Center, both of which were open on the holiday Monday and have public washrooms. Consider using them before grumbling at passers-by who give you a dirty look.

10. Inside Chinatown Center was the familiar and sometimes overpowering odor of recently applied rodent-killing chemicals. It was the same smell, incidentally, that reeked throughout the mall in Brampton I was at with a friend back in April.

11. A nail place for gays?

12. This “Hello Kitty” sign struck this Jets fan, who remembers the “Hey Kitty” game in December 1985 all too well. For those who may have forgotten, trailing the play behind Randy Carlyle, Bernie Nicholls of the Kings called out to Carlyle using his nickname. After hearing “Hey, Kitty,” Carlyle obliged by feeding Nicholls a perfect drop pass. From my vantage point up in section 44, I had a bird’s-eye view as Nicholls then went in alone and potted one past Daniel Bouchard.

13. Someone with boxing gloves on the top of her backpack. Spoiling for a fight perhaps?

14. Walking southbound though along Spadina, a Muslim woman walking alongside her husband grumbled angrily after having to submit to the indignity of getting out of my way. Excuuuuse me for being there.

15. As they say in Texas, El Paso …

16. Did someone just assume the city’s gender? And shouldn’t it be Ms. Toronto instead of Miss Toronto?

17. Stress testing the railings?

18. More political incorrectness on display. What is this world coming to?

19. What is “klezmer” and why do I need to be worried about it?

20. Spotted on Queen’s Quay were a pair of homeless bums who apparently don’t have the means to put a roof over their heads, but do have the means to support a pair of dogs.

Later, I spotted another homeless guy camped out under the Gardiner who again didn’t have the means to put a roof over his head, but did have the money for a bike better than mine and to also support a dog.

21. Across from Union Station on Bay Street was this “starving writer” parked on the street begging for money. I know as well as anyone how tough it is to break in as a writer, but that’s why you need another occupation to pay the bills. For every “star” author that hits it big, there are thousands who don’t make a dime off of it. Bottom line: Do it because you love it, not for fame and fortune.

22. While waiting under a big digital sign at Union Station indicating that it was platform 5, a woman asked the guy standing behind me if this was indeed platform 5.

23. Just put up your feet on the seat.

24. While in line at the washroom in Burlington, I noticed that someone who was in one of the two stalls had left his suitcase unattended by the entrance. How trusting of him.

25. Boarding the #12 bus in front of me at Burlington were a couple of Middle Eastern guys giving the driver a sob story about having gone the wrong way and conveniently having thrown away their receipt. I understand why the driver let them board rather than risk a confrontation and/or be accused of racism, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

25a. The aforementioned freeloaders remind me of a case at our photo club, where one guy keeps showing up and feels very much entitled to enjoy the benefit of club membership without paying for it. Then the executive who say nothing to him complain about declining revenues and membership.

25b. Sometimes people are too polite for their own good.

26. Soon after taking one of the last available seats on the bus, a guy sat down in front of me who had a distinct odor of shit that hung in the air all the way back to St. Catharines. The niceties of public transit.

27. The mother of a young boy seated across the aisle who got on at Nash and Barton was complaining that her phone had been acting up ever since she dropped it in the toilet. I understand that accidents happen, but why was she taking it with her to the toilet in the first place?

28. Free clothing left outside the LCBO at Fairview Mall:

29. Did this mean that regular gas was free?

30. For more pictures on the day, check my album on Facebook.

08 Nov

Exploring C.U. – Kensington Market, Chinatown

On Monday, I set off for another tour of the universe’s center, this time focusing on the Kensington Market and Chinatown districts.

As usual, I caught the GO bus from Fairview Mall, and it moved well until we hit some thick rush-hour traffic near Burlington. En route, those of us on the upper level were entertained by someone snoring quite loudly. Wherever he was going, I hope he didn’t miss his stop.

The bus was also uncomfortably hot as the heat was seemingly turned up to full blast. I suppose I can understand, since after all, it went down to +2 C overnight. Don’t want those tootsies to get too cold now.

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After getting to Burlington, the train came in short order and it was a comfortable and less steamy ride into Toronto. On the way, we passed a couple of trucks parked behind a building with their corporate slogan, “Courage to Go Far” emblazoned on the side. That is a slogan that definitely hits home. Even though it’s been 27 months since our defection from the Old Country, I still sometimes wonder how we did it.

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Following a little tour around Union Station and the ACC, I set out north on Bay Street, then followed Dundas to the west, where I came across many interesting sights.

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The Village Idiot Pub.

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The Art Gallery of Ontario.

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I noticed a couple of these Car2Go vehicles during my travels. Apparently you sign up for a membership, pay for the time you use the car, then just leave it in a legal parking spot when you’re done with it.

It reminds me of a similar service back in the Old Country. There, a thief steals your car, takes it for a joyride, then strips it for parts and leaves it wherever it suits him. The difference is that the thief doesn’t have any membership fees to deal with and I doubt police even deem it to be a reportable offense. I know, old grudges die hard.

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More sights along Dundas. It wasn’t too far from the latter shot where I saw some old guy pushing a walker wearing a Chipman hat. Ewww. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I spotted someone later in the day wearing a Chipman jersey. Even worse was that he had it customized with Teemu Selanne’s name and #13 on the back, a revulsive connection between the Jets, a team that no longer exists, and the Mark Chipman Personal Hockey Club. Pardon me for a moment while I barf.

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My first stop in Kensington Market was at this statue of the late Al Waxman, who starred in the King of Kensington, the only show the Canadian Brainwashing Corporation ever produced that was worth watching. Besides hockey.

To my surprise, there was no button to press to play the show’s famous introduction. He’s a man of the men. The people’s champion. Here comes King. You get the idea.

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Touring Kensington Market. To say the least, it is an interesting place.

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Now which political party do you suppose the proprietor of this seedy establishment supports?

I could only shake my head when spotting the “Welcoming New Patients” sign in the window. Since when are we supposed to refer to potheads as “patients” of something?

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More scenes around Kensington Market.

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Free sofa and mattresses, no doubt filled with lots of multi-legged guests just waiting for you to welcome them into your home.

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Returning toward Spadina, I spotted this bum catching a few winks on the sidewalk. Throughout the day, I would also spot others doing likewise.

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Union Station seemed to be a hotspot for beggars as well, though at least they were not aggressive like they are in the Old Country. One guy who had a sign in front of him looking for money for food also had a dog. So he’s got money to feed and care for a dog, but he doesn’t have money to feed himself. Just so I understand.

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Following a brief meal break at an uber-crowded Tim Hortons where patrons had to beg to be let into the washroom, I continued south on Spadina before getting some more shots around Kensington Market.

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Personally, I don’t think this building is quite big enough for all the jerks out there.

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Elsewhere in Kensington Market.

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I ducked through an alley and got these shots of the work of various “street artists.” Vandals, actually.

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Another shot along Spadina. Off to the right shows the streetcars that run in both directions in the median. For anyone looking to visit the area, you can catch the #510 streetcar right from Union Station instead of hoofing it like I did.

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The People’s Book Company. Sounds like a venture affiliated with the NDP.

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Other scenes along Spadina.

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Those of you who know of my affinity for poultry understand why I took this shot.

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They think of everything in the Center of Universe, even providing free outhouses for passers-by.

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Entering the Fashion District.

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Continuing south, I got this shot at the overpass over the tracks. At right is the Rogers Center, formerly known as the SkyDome, and in the distance is the CN Tower. I haven’t been up there yet, but maybe I will in a future trip.

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Blue Jays Way. No, I am not, nor have ever been a Blue Jays fan, but I took the shot for the benefit of a couple of others, one of whom owns the cap I keep warm whenever I go out.

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In front of the Rogers Center.

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Grey Cup banners facing Beggars Row at Union Station. I wonder how many, or how few Torontonians know or care that the game is being played in their city.

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Before getting back on the train, I made a point of going past the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Though most of you know him from the presidential election, I first heard of “The Donald” back in 1983 when he bought the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. <shameless self-plug>For more on the Generals and the USFL, check out my most recent book, Fallen Generals, at http://curtiswalker.com/books_generals.aspx.</shameless self-plug>

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My last destination was Nathan Phillips Square and the now-iconic “Toronto” sign reflecting in the water that will soon be ice.

I then returned to Union Station and boarded the Lakeshore West train to wind up a long and action-packed day. I wouldn’t want to live there, but Toronto is a city with many sights to see and I look forward to returning for another visit.