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Beyond the Pale - A 'pale' is a fencepost. The English Pale was a boundary in Ireland marking out the part of Ireland under direct English rule circa 1450 (which included Dublin and environs). Those that lived 'beyond the pale', outside of English rule, were considered out of control and uncivilised. You decide...

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Letters from the Americas 2005 (part 3) - Toronto


"Leaving on a jet plane..."

MADE UP IN AMERICA

Well, my flight over had all the hallmarks of being potentially insufferable when my prized spare seat was stolen by a young upstart... 

He had just graduated from the Broken Heart University of Singer-Song Writers presided over by the Sisters of No Mercy and the Brotherhood of Tortured Souls. He had the usual uniform of ripped cords, some quasi-rebellious sloganised t-shirt, blood shot eyes and a scruffy shmig (I only realized recently that 'shmig' is Irish slang, I thought it was global, if you don't know what 'shmig' means, it's like 'soul patch', if you don't know what 'soul patch' means,  it's like 'goatee', if you don't know 'goatee' means go look in the mirror, if you have one...maybe have a word with yourself, just sayin'!). 

Back to your man, 'your man' is Irish slang for 'the man', I'm not gonna keep doing this, keep up! I swear to the Lord on High not a word of a lie, under his oxter (nope, I'm not explaining) he was carrying a big momma of an acoustic guitar AND he was dragging behind him (you're not gonna believe this) a big a$$ drum !!! I know, the mind boggles. For a split second I seriously thought he was gonna busk!

Through some form of contorted yoga moves he managed to fit himself and his one-man band in beside me. From his bag of tricks he produces a mathematical textbook that he promptly buried his head in. I kid you not, it was a full on "2+2 to the power of my own superego" school issued book of sums, there were differentiations dribbling out the side of it and standard deviations staining the cover. He momentarily glanced in my direction, but as our eyes locked over my copy of a gossip magazine an implicit agreement was struck, we would continue the flight in unbroken silence.

It was superb, I got to tuck into a book that I can't stop raving about, it's Bill Bryson's Made in America. If you're like me and have a mild incurable obsession with America and love reading history, quirky facts and etymological origins of dialects (who doesn't!) this is the book for you. My only slight reservation is that at one point the book briefly insinuates that the Irish immigrants didn't contribute that much to American society and were drunks, violent, and slow. So as soon as I work out how to open my bottle of whiskey, I'm gonna down it and beat the livin' daylights out of your man! (There's your contribution right there). In all seriousness I would like to point out that in many respects the Irish built America and have now come back to buy it. End of.



5 birds in Toronto
I skedaddled up to Toronto or Toe-RON-oh as the cool kids say. It's a great city, the first question I always ask myself when I visit somewhere is "could I live here", answer, "yes sir-ee". A lot of people over the years had told me it's like New York and that’s why it often doubles for NY in movies. I'd have to say "what kind of mind altering drugs are you people on", I didn't see any similarities whatsoever with NY (I do admit that it does stand in for NY in movies so I could be the one with the warped mind!). Some parts reminded me of San Fran and some of Boston. 


Toronto City Hall
There is a strong sense of openness, the streets are nice and wide giving a boulevard feel, the architecture is modern, sky scraping and in quite a few places, quite inventive, such as the building with all the windows made of gold and the office block with tons of edges, built on the premise that everyone wants a corner office (love it, the north American logic of it all).
Toronto boasts the longest street in the world; it starts downtown at Lake Ontario and stretches right the way up to tickle the nose of the north pole (or somewhere ridiculously far like that). There are islands just a short ferry ride away creatively called Toronto islands, I found them incredibly spooky and reckoned they screamed horror movie, I was morbidly drawn to them. One of the islands can only legally be inhabited by families which have been living there since the dawn of time, no cars allowed, no new families, no new houses, no selling of houses... no return (cue spooky laugh -wha-hah-hah).

I met up with the girls, Sharon and Therese, as they have abandoned their Vancouver home and are now Torontonians (that doesn't sound right, personally I would have gone for Torontoners). They took me under their wing and we explored the city. Having made a similar comment about Vancouver I couldn't help making the same observation about Toronto, the place is VERY sparsely populated as big cities go. I once said Vancouver had a population of 298 people, I think its fair to assume said 298 people migrate east come summer in a kind of City Time Share. However as we collapsed down subway steps to escape from the intense heat I discovered the hustle and bustle is all kicking off under the city in a massive network of malls called PATH. Love it!



What's the point

The city is home to one of the tallest tower in the world the CN Tower, it has very impressive views alright (one may even say it's quite opinionated, that's a joke on 'views' and the fact it resembles a pointed pin, no? go to hell, I think that's hilarious, and yes I'm still the only one laughing at my own jokes, heehee).

My main comments of Canada are alive and well in Toronto, it's clean, the people are friendly, there's a charming French vibe going on, definitely visit and possibly stay :o)

Back in my base, New York City, it's baking hot, but I did manage to fit some rain in my backpack which I unleashed on Toronto so I might wring the last of it out over the Big Apple.

I've a few more days here and then off to meet Dom in Peru, as ya do :o)


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