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Toronto: a Newcomer’s Ballad

animated Toronto street view

Hey Ma, my plane’s just landing now
And cellphones aren’t allowed
So, I figured I’d just write to you
In English—aren’t you proud?

This city’s bordered by a lake
“The true North strong and free”
The people? They don’t seem too nice
(But Ma, don’t be worried)

I hear them talking from my seat
They say the subway sucks
Apparently the crime rate’s low
But Ma, there’s so much drugs:

Their ex-mayor was high on crack
The whole place smells like weed
Their councillor Norm? He seems off, too
So does his friend, “Drizzy

And Ma, my rent, it costs so much
I don’t know what I’ll eat
I worry I won’t find a job—
I’ll end up on the street

But Ma, you helped me earn degrees
A Bachelor of Arts
A master’s in statistics too
I think that’s a great start

I worry ‘bout my English, Ma
My accent sounds so thick
The people might not hire me
And what if I get sick?

Apparently the healthcare’s free
If you’re a working man
Or married to someone born here
–Neither of which I am

But I hear they’re real accepting here,
They hosted Pride one time
And also when that raccoon died,
They made him a small shrine

I hear Canadians are nice,
They like to say “sorry”
I think that that’s also a song
(The artist escapes me)

Ok Ma, time to wrap this up
I’m getting off the plane
I promise that I’ll keep in touch
And write to you again


Toronto: a Ballad

A city bordering a lake
The true North strong and free
T.O is like nobody’s dream
With people more salty than seas.

I mean, like, can you blame us though?
Our subway system sucks
The Maple Leafs just can’t be saved
And everyone’s on drugs.

Our ex-mayor is high on crack
(and probably some weed)
God only knows what Norm is on
And Drizzy has his speed.

Since last call is at 2am
When subways are all beat,
The 905ers flood the clubs
And then they flood the streets.

Maniac drivers aside,
We also deal with snow
And rain and slush and icy roads:
An absolute sh_t show.

The rent’s so high you can’t move out
And live so far from school
You sleep through almost every class
And bum notes like some fool.

I guess we have the AGO
And Eaton’s down the street;
We also had that dead raccoon
With flowers at his feet.

And when we hosted Pride one time
Despite the pouring rain
Some happiness fit for the 6ix:
A rainbow, once again!

We also have some skating rinks
And cherry blossom trees
Despite all of its quirky traits
This city’s home to me.

Don’t Judge Me

Guest Post by Jordan Wall

I’m a big fan of YouTube, both as a form of entertainment and a time killer for the last half-hour of work before the weekend. On its main page, there’s a list of suggestions and one of them was a documentary. Well, okay, here I go talking like I’m this well-educated person about to describe a documentary. I bet you’re picturing me wearing a monocle and sports jacket with elbow patches, sipping a glass of cognac like your average scholar when in reality it’s reality TV. The show is called “Beauty and the Geek” and it advertises itself as a social experiment, so it’s kind of a documentary. I’m not that far off.

In “Beauty and the Geek” gorgeous women who think the president’s name is Osama bin Laden are paired with quirky geniuses who define their parents as their “mature roommates.” Contestants participate in challenges that put them outside their comfort zone in hopes that they come out of it not only with $250,000 but with self-respect.

I’m not really sure why YouTube recommended this to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a beauty or a geek myself. However, I was having difficulty categorizing which one I actually am because the show couldn’t do it either. For instance, one geek knew 120 digits of pi and had a perfect SAT score, while another played Dungeons & Dragons and owned 10,000 comics. Instead of labeling one a genius and the other a hobbyist, the show lumped them together and defined them as “geeks” despite their differences.

The show defined “beauty” based on outer beauty instead of inner, since producers probably thought people would rather see a blonde sociopathic bombshell over a plain Jane, Mother Teresa type. Regardless of their intentions, it was abundantly clear that labeling and defining what a geek and beauty are is so vague that it begs the question, why even label them in the first place?

I did more research on labeling, and by research I mean watched more YouTube. It’s so hard to read just an article when there’s a video integrated into it. Gee, should I read through this article or just watch the gist in this two-minute video? I think we both know the answer to that. That’s why I didn’t integrate one here because I want people to like me to actually read this.

YouTube led me down its slippery slope of completely random videos to another reality show that was searching for the next big band with a prize of earning a record label. Normally, I’d skip right out of this to a laughing baby or Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Contest video but this band was different. It was called Big Toe featuring Mark Goffeney, lead singer and armless bassist who played with his toes. He blew the judges away with his ridiculous dexterity. They revered him as a hero for being able to overcome such a giant hurdle, to not only play the bass but to play it at such a high level. He was the John Paul Jones of armless bass playing.

To Goffeney, life and labeling is all a matter of perspective. He was born this way and doesn’t want to be seen or treated differently than anyone else. In fact, when he’s not rocking out, he’s working as a school bus driver. He doesn’t see himself as disabled, just differently abled. At first glance, people didn’t think he was capable of brushing his teeth, let alone driving. He made it very clear he doesn’t want to be labeled as “disabled”; he just wants to be labeled as Mark.

I’d hate to make it sound like I’m innocent in all of this labeling and finger wagging, as I too have judged books by their covers. Yes, I know, we finally found a flaw in Jordan.

I dated a woman solely based on looks, thinking that she was the perfect woman. I put her on a premature pedestal as the one I’d grow old with. Yeah, don’t do that. On the surface was a pretty face, underneath was a disturbing human being.

One night she surprised me by cooking her specialty, “anti-pasta” which I thought meant antipasto, a traditional Italian appetizer of cured meats, artichokes and olives. To my chagrin it was literally anti-pasta, all the ingredients one would put into pasta, sansnoodles. I was served a plate of meatballs and a side plate of mozzarella cheese and red peppers flakes for dipping. I sighed and survived my meal with the assistance of a big glass of wine, or maybe she knew it better as anti-grape.

I thought it was just a simple misunderstanding until she was getting ready to go back to her apartment. She was noticeably struggling to put her wool socks back on. Upon further inspection I informed her that those weren’t her toe socks, they were her mittens. She eventually got the memo and was out the door with no other pitfalls in sight. Would it surprise you if I told you that that was our last meal together? I hope not.

I now know better than anyone else that we can’t put labels on people based on first appearances. People are a lot more than meets the eye and physical appearances alone should never be used as a barometer. Somehow a lot of us didn’t pick up that life lesson in kindergarten, as it’s still a problem into adulthood. So instead of judging a book by its cover, just turn to the best chapter and read from there.

And for God’s sake, clarify what your date means when she says “anti-pasta.”