Toronto 2010 Day 1

I left my hotel and started walking down Spadina (still can’t remember whether it rhymes with “In a (lot of trouble)” or “(Va)gina”) and saw some pretty sweet graffiti.

Sweet Grafitti

Sweet Grafitti 2

Eventually, I hit Queens Street, which looked pretty major (and I later found out is indeed a major street), so I turned down there. I found a Steve’s Music Shop. It’s a lot smaller than the one in Montreal (only two sections, one of which was “drums”, and so I guess the other section is “not drums”). I saw a store clerk on an acoustic kit explaining some DrumNBass concepts to somebody, and another customer in the corner playing on the electric kits. There was a good chance I was going to meet Tiff today to jam with her, so I bought some drum sticks (yet another pair of Regal Tip Jazz), and when I finished going through the sticks, the clerk had finished talking to the other guy and was at the counter.

“Just these sticks?”

“Yeah… uh… do you know where I can like rent a room with a drumkit and just jam?”

He spent a lot of time to basically just say “Rehearsal Factory”. Nice guy, but it didn’t seem like he had his thoughts collected altogether, or maybe he was feeling awkward or something. While he was packing up, I mentioned “That was the Amen Break, you were doing, right?” and he beamed “Yeah! You got it!”

I walked out and continued down Queens to hear some pretty nice live jazz music being played at a bar called “Rex”. I walked in, and saw that there were these two girls by the door at a table with a little poster saying $10 cover charge. I didn’t want to pay it, but the girls and I made eye contact, and now I didn’t want to look like a cheap bastard so I was caught. I walked up to one of them and asked for the menu. They looked at me like they had no idea what I was talking about.

“A food menu? (no response) For food? (still perplexed) I want to know what kind of food you guys have…”

“Ooooh!” she finally understood, and clarified that she’s not “with” the restaurant, and that she’s only here to collect money as a fundraiser of some sort of the performers. She said I can go to the bar and ask for a menu, and if I want to stay, to come back here and pay the cover.

So I went to the bar, and asked for a menu, and the bartender gave me one plastic-wrapped single carboard sheet. On one side was the alcohol. On the other, it was basically appetizers, burgers or pasta. I said I wanted a burger, and to add on mushrooms for 75 cents. He told me I should get the Rex burger instead, which comes with cheese and mushrooms. I said fine. I still don’t know whether he saved me money or upsold me, but I get the feeling it was the latter.

I went back to the lady and gave her $10 and then took my seat by the bar (where the bartender eventually did upsell me for a $2.25 coke).

The bands sounded great at the time, and I took some recordings, but upon reviewing the recordings, they sound terrible. I couldn’t tell at the time, but on the recordings, the brass section was definitely out of tune. Also it seems like my videocamera has trouble capture the bass frequencies, so maybe if you were there live, it was the deep bass that was masking the mistakes of the higher pitches.

The burger was excellent, as my Twitter posts will attest to.

The performers were all students at a school named “Humberg” or something like that, and given that I thought they sounded great at the time, they really seemed gifted. I don’t think I heard any odd time signature stuff, but some of the jazz grooves the drummers played were pretty complex.

When the performances were over, I kept on going east on Queens Street and eventually hit the Eaton Centre. There was a robotic Elvis there, with a sign that said if you wanted him to move, you had to put money in the bucket. Some kids put money in the bucket, and he essentially did robot/popping moves for $5 and then held still. Not that great.

Robot Elvis

I went into the mall, found the mall directory, looked up “arcades” and found nothing.

I kept going down Queens, and perhaps down to King (they are parallel to each other) and eventually located the “Toronto Sculpture Garden” which was one of the sights on my checklist. It’s basically an empty garden.

The Toronto Sculpture Garden

I kept walking west, as next on my itinerary was the Television Museum. Turns out it’s closed, and/or doesn’t exist anymore.

I had the sinking sensation that the travel guide I was using may have been out of date.

I headed back towards my hotel and on the way, near Eaton Center, found these 3 break dancers. They would just stand there until someone put in some money, and one of them would do one set. So like someone dropped in a 5 dollar bill, and that resulted in 10 seconds of dancing. They weren’t even all that good. One of the 3 guys was still learning how to do windmills (‘cause when they got tired of waiting for money, one guy started tutoring the other). The only good powermove was a two-handed-jackhammer/turtle. Otherwise it was like basic six step into freeze. I just stood there and watched, and eventually they pulled out a sign that said “Staring contest?” on one side and “If you want us to dance, drop some cash” on the other. One guy shouted “Or, we could do a you dance, we dance type of deal” and honestly, I was tempted, ‘cause if it’s just gonna be six step combo into freeze, I might actually stand a chance, but I chickened out and left.

I got back to my hotel room and dropped some stuff I bought (the drumsticks, toothpaste, drinks, etc.) and finally met up with Tiff.

We went to the CN tower, and looked around, but Tiff somehow got the impression that I was bored. I guess given how little detail I feel is worth recounting of this meeting, she may have been right, but I didn’t really mind at the time, since it was just one of those social things you gotta do to spend time with someone, I felt.

There was an arcade and a “3D motion theatre” in the CN tower, but we didn’t get a chance to go.

I went back to my hotel room. In Japan, they’ve got drink vending machines on every corner. In Toronto, they got hot dog stands on every corner. The price seems to range from $2.50 to $3. I bought one, and they’re pretty good.

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