Thursday, 19 October 2017

Film Culture

I don't mean to post this as I love video stores, and I love Bay Street Video and Queen Video all the same. However, the culture of these two stores are very different.

I knew and have been to Bay Street Video from years back. I love the huge selection of videos they have available, both the ones to rent and to buy. It's housed in the back of a first floor of an office building, with a Tim Horton's and some sort of clinic in front of it. I hadn't been there since I was in my early 20's. This time when I walked in, it was really quiet. Besides myself, all the patrons and service staff were older white men. I felt that the culture was very unwelcoming to me. I felt that I wanted to ask about recommendations, to share my knowledge about film buffery, but that I couldn't because I wouldn't be taken seriously. Because of this, I felt like I was in my late teen's and early 20's again, wanting to be taken seriously. I looked at the amazing selection but then left without getting anything or talking to anyone.

Contrast this to Queen Video. They used to have a place on Queen Street, but now they're on Bloor Street. They have a street-facing storefront (I know, more expensive rent but hopefully worth it for them). Lots of selection (put in a not-as-browser-friendly way as Bay Street Video). Their staff are at the back but it's actually the patrons that make the difference - they are of varying genders, races and ages, and the staff too. I feel like I could approach someone and wouldn't be rebuffed as a film buff. In fact, the first time I went in there I did ask staff a question and got something.

I know the culture of film is one that at times can be very snotty, and the more knowledgeable yet snottier you are the better, but for a video store, in a world where video stores are quickly going out of business, is snottiness really the value you want to be promoting?


I moved to Toronto (downtown Toronto) about four months ago because my partner got a job here last year and commuting from Peterborough ultimately didn't work out for both of us. It was an easy transition but a difficult move. Last winter, I spent more and more time here and there was almost no need for a transition because during this summer, I spent more and more time in Peterborough than I thought I would because of my job.

I grew up in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and when I moved to Ottawa for school, I was so happy. I really didn't want to be stuck in the magnet that was the GTA. I did imagine myself moving to downtown Toronto in my late teen's/early 20's, almost wanting to buy a condo in the then-hot Distillery District. In fact, I had saved up some money and I was deciding between using the money to study for a year abroad in Iceland or to make a down payment for a condo.

I am ambivalent about moving to downtown Toronto because, as my sister reminded me, I did talk about it a lot. But that was almost a decade ago. Coming here to live feels like settling. I'm deciding to stay because I've realized that you can find worlds and worlds within this city, but I was thinking whether or not I should even post this on my travel blog because I come from here. I guess I can post here to talk about how the city has changed in my eyes because the last time I spent some time here, I was a kid.

When I was commuting between Peterborough and Toronto during the summer, I felt like I had the best of two worlds: Coming from the hustle and quick pace of Toronto, my bus would drop me off at a very quiet place where on a 30-minute walk you're likely to encounter few(er) people.

One thing I did notice is: there are these micro subcultures within the neighbourhoods and blocks but also within the blocks so that within an a 30-minute walk in downtown Toronto, I feel like I've passed 20 different cities. It's incredible.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Travel is Classist

I haven't been posting on here much at all because I've just been plain busy and also I've been contemplating some things about this blog that have shifted the focus of it. I'm also considering migrating this to Wordpress or tumblr (about time!)

Stuff like this:

When I came back from Iceland, and even Germany (the first time I ever went to Europe alone I was 14), and even like the States in my childhood, I would spurt out OMGTRAVELISTHEBESTEVERYBODYSGOTTODOIT. I even went into the International Education field because I wanted to help people travel.

As I contemplate travelling again, I think of migrations.

Migration is what brought my family here as settlers to this state known as Canada (founded upon genocide and racism, always billing itself as peaceful and a contrast to the United States).

Migrations exist, and because my family is in a class for me to study geography and absorb whatever professors said as truth, I look at things in scales. Migrations happen in different scales.

I think it's so [funny] that there is great migrations making global news right now - people of globalization migrating and sorta region/country-hopping for business and then people of war who are migrating to save their lives.

I've been mobile for better parts of two decades, sometimes by choice and sometimes not.

In any case, the post of this draft has been dormant for the better part of a year so I'm just going to publish it.

A few more things:

There's also this:

There's also this: Bani Amor is out to decolonize travel. Which is great. But how about class? How does that play in?

Friday, 29 July 2016

Goodbye July, Goodbye

I'm glad I stayed for the last Thursday of the month. Each last Thursday of the summer, Alberta Street in Portland puts on a street festival that is part open streets fest, part explosion of homemade crafts fair and part busker fest. There was "invisible ice cream" being sold for $1 with a cone, home massages, some people gathering a capoeira-sized crowd to bet they could jump over four kids, adopt-a-gnome painting, vaudeville bus troop playing with devil sticks and many, many drum routines.

Now I know why there's a book making fun of the weird things Portland does that says that drivers seem to come to a halt and are too nice. At first, as a pedestrian, I was annoyed that there weren't any 4-way stop signs and how could you ever cross to the other side if there's constant traffic and no stop lights, either? Then as the days went on, I learned to cross using the zebra markings. Instead of a stop sign, cars had to look out for these markings and to look for pedestrians and would, most often than not, stop for the pedestrian. No need for those overhead blinking lights, no stop sign or lights needed. An example of this was when I was waiting at a temporary bus stop (because of the Last Thursdays on Alberta thing) that was stationed next to these zebra markings. Even though I was quite away from the curb, not looking out to the street, and was just there, 75% of cars stopped to see if I was crossing. This would never happen in so many other places! This is what I call can still exist, they just have to not be so menacing as in like other places where many times they literally don't see you.


My time is coming to an end here in Portland. I'm going and finally sleeping in my own bed again! Many other cities have quirky bars and good baristas and arts festivals. What will stick with me after I leave (oh, I also went to Cannon Beach, which was amazing), is the way that they pronounce Couch St being "Kootch", and the many bridges, all of them different styles, crossing the Willamette River. I think there's 12 bridges. Makes for iconic commuting journeys were I to live here one day. Which I am glad to say that I do not.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


From today:
I blend in here pretty well linguistically, no one suspects I'm from elsewhere and my accident sounds the same despite the "Yups" instead of "You're welcomes" (which I still think is rude after noticing it decades ago) and the strong twang on some accents. And also people from elsewhere who studies accents always think I'm American.

Anyway, I haven't said how hipster Portland is yet so I have the perfect example from today to demonstrate. Anyone who reads this probably knows that I collect business cards, that I'm a latte (and jerk chicken) snob and that I like to keep a list of best places/must tries and I look this up from fora online. Well.

There's Nob Hill neighbourhood with a bunch of shops. One recommended is The Meadow full of chocolate, spreads, salt licks and salt flakes (flavours like black truffle and Icelandic lava included). I thought the whole thing was pretentious with a few flakes costing $6-8. Anyway, I asked for a business card and the clerk said they didn't have one but he could make one up on the spot. He proceeded to grab a sheet of paper. He then placed the paper in a typewriter on the counter and typed down the address, cut up a square of the paper with the address on it, and handed it to me. Yes, I was quite in shock. I've had people stamp me a business card because it's a stamp shock, but not type one up on a typewriter. Something that came out of the show Portlandia.

Then I went to Barista a few doors down. I also asked them if they had a business card. Again, no, but there's a website. The cashier didn't know the contact email address. He said, "I think it's info@...." he then asked his colleague, who didn't know either. The great sell was when he covered it up by saying, "We actually don't know anything. We just know how to make coffee."