Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Green Room.

Winnipegers stick together. It's what we do.

Whether it's repping Lara Vincent's line of head-dresses or giving a courtesy "Hey, how have you been?" to the newest Toronto-based ex-pat when I see him on the streetcar, Winnipegers always get an extra minute of my time.

Recently, I got the chance to spill some ink about a Winnipeger-turned-international-entrepreneur. Matthew Corrin left the city to head towards the bright lights of New York, a popular destination for former-Winnipegers. There, he was hired as the public relations and marketing manager for Oscar de la Renta. But Corrin wanted his own brand, so he returned to Canada (Toronto, this time) and opened an eatery.

Before opening the first Lettuce Eatery in Toronto's TD Centre four years ago, Corrin had never even worked in a restaurant. That didn't seem to matter: his ultra-clean, perfectly-chic, uber-healthy, and very, very, current concept was a quick hit. They called it the Starbucks of Salads.

That was just the beginning. Last week Corrin told me he's going global. He's re-branding the company as Freshii, opening five stores in Chicago, another in L.A. and even starting to open locations inside gyms. He plans to have 1,000 locations by 2014. There's even talk of opening up in Russia.

If you're the kind-of girl who counts her calories, reads Skinny Bitch and tucks Lulu's into Sorel's on your way to pick up a double-Venti-latte, get ready eat a whole lot of Freshii: this company is made for you. Maybe they'll even open a location in Winnipeg.

Until then,
Let them eat Lettuce.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Every day the music dies.

The drugs were about to hit when the interview began. And once we stepped into public, there were not glances, but full-on stares from every direction. Clearly, we were making a scene.

On the sidewalk we ran into a friend with a record player, and inspected her collection. We cracked the player open but all that would play was the flash of blue and red lights from the vermin across the street.

Still, everyone was staring. We filed onto an overcrowded streetcar, hoping that our disguises would save us from small talk and explanations. We had places to be, and if we didn't up the dose, sobriety would return.

In the dark corner of a bar named after the female anatomy we finally got our filthy fingers on another round of drinks. A bottle of wine to share. Two beers for me. Champagne for the table.

Before the soup had arrived I was outside taking a cigarette break, damning the lesbians that wouldn't let me smoke indoors. Dinner was rushed and delicious, as if I hadn't eaten in days.As the bill arrived we tailgated to another bar, demanding two more rounds of drinks. I wondered aloud why everyone else was asking the questions.

The evening ended with a redhead on my balcony, neither of us entirely sure how we got there. I woke up in my bed alone, wearing someone else's clothes, wondering what the hell happened to Sid Vicious. Both cases ended in self-inflicted death.

*Excerpt from Fear of being the only ones dressed up for the costume party and Loathing she who invited us. Please direct all anonymous comments to Ice Age Heat Wave.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The bedroom every six-year-old girls dreams of.

It's Eloise, everyone's favourite plaza-prankster. But tough times are hitting the city and Eloise is skipping past the bell-boy, hailing a cab and mouthing a snarky Bon Voyage to New York, leaving her once loved hotel-home for the glitzy lights of the city of love.

This summer the cameras will start to roll in Paris and Barcelona for the movie-adaptation of the 1957 Thompson classic, Eloise in Paris. Uma Therman will be stepping into Julie Andrew's roll as Nanny. And If that weren't enough made-for-TV-magic, there's a surprise designer stitching together the extra-excessive and endlessly adorable wardrobe of Eloise.

WWD reported this morning that superkid Christian Siriano of Project Runway fame will be creating the costumes. One more reason to buy some Ben and Jerry's and spend and hour and twenty minutes on the couch with your kid sister.

Sink into those cushions, and enjoy the excess.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nerds and nipples.

John Mayer loves Twitter. It has even been suggested his obsession with the social networking site has caused trouble in his relationship. A few days ago, he tweeted a six word story, a concept I wrote about in January.

I've decided to step into the shoes of the great wordsmith who penned the words, One pair of candy lips and your bubblegum tongue, and write my own six-worder from John's perspective.

The result:

Saw "Rachel Getting Married": Not happening.

Add your own in the comments.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wednesday Night Lights.

When I first met Mr. Mercanti, I thought he was on drugs. His thick beard and well-worn biker jacket made him look like a fashionable madman. I watched him light a cigarette, and peek through the blinds into the party we were both attending.

“I’m… M-M-Mmichael,” he said, offering an open palm.

Tripping over his words, he asked me a series of question about a girl I didn’t know. I had no answers and he disappeared without finishing his smoke.

Then on Wednesday night, lured by free liquor, I had another encounter with Mercanti. The Queen St. boutique Carte Blanche opened its doors after business hours to throw a party for its newest jewelry collection, Speech.

It turns out Mercanti isn’t a drug addict. He’s a jewelry designer, and Speech is his label. The label’s name is a battle he’s always fighting: his speech impediment. Walking past bloggers taking pictures of shoestring-thin models and carefully dressed hipsters, Mercanti again extends his open palm.

“R-Rruss… Th-thanks for coming,” he says. Mercanti is the kind of man who remembers your name. He’s both nervous and sweet, greeting guests then hiding amongst them. Being in the spotlight is clearly not in his nature. But Mercanti may have to get used to it; his jewelry has been featured in Teen Vogue and Dejour Magazine, and having Carte Blanche as a retailer will further boost his profile.

Every designer has a story, but few tell it as well as Mercanti. He nods towards me, then laughs quietly and looks at the floor, tucks down his chin and again disappears into the back of the stuffed boutique. And then it occurs to me: there’s a lot of you can say without having to speak.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lundstrom. Photocred: TheDavidPike.

For two weeks each year fashion writers in Canada actually have something to write about.

Toronto Fashion Week. It's not New York, Paris or Milan. But it is growing each season, largely thanks to big-name sponsors like LG, which replaces L'Oreal as the title sponsor this week. And with the new name comes a new tent, erected in City Hall's front lawn, and outfitted, for the first time, with two separate floors for Toronto's fashion savvy to mingle on.

Don't expect to see Amber Rose, Tinsley Mortimer or Julia Alison parading around the tents, but Toronto Fashion Week does have its own micro-celebrities. Well, that is if you consider TFW regulars Fefe Dobson, Dan Levy and the cast of Degrassi micro-celbrities (which I, of course, do).

And microcelebs are the source of what we all know any fashion week is really about: gossip. Despite the conservative style of the great white North, every Toronto Fashion Week has a few events worthy of an excited text-message tip-off to Shinan Govani. And most revolve around your girlfriend, Robin Kay.

After the drunken speech that had many calling for her head in the fall, the president of the Fashion Design Council of Canada may keep things low-key this week. But for Kay, low-key has never been much of an option. She was caught pushing coke in the late '70's and spent 18 months trying to make stripes work. Then there was the divorce, the bankruptcy and the rehab. And finally, a job running fashion week. But Kay's sparkly clothing, messy hair and inevitable intoxication have made her fashion week's most flamboyant folly.

Tuesday night, as I sat watching the unveiling of the recently resurrected and re-branded Lundstrom line, I couldn't take my eyes off Kay. She was oddly well-behaved, which I'm hoping is an act that will end as the week goes on. Thankfully, by the time I got home a Kay-related Tweet had been posted: Kay was spotted in the tents, wearing a Tiara.

What's left to be said? Long live the queen.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dear Facebook: It was nice knowing you.

This morning I watched the first nail crack into Facebook's coffin. A re-design. Not just any re-design, but one that shows Facebook admitting it's no longer the innovator. Do you remember when Myspace started adding Facebook-features like photo albums and status updates? Probably not. Because by that time, everyone was closing their accounts.

Now Mark Zuckerberg and his team have unveiled a design that looks like one massively over-cluttered Tweet. And once one social networker starts ripping off another, it's clear who's ahead. Twitter may seem like meek competition in comparison to the massive global network Facebook has grown. But the early adapters are now tweeting their lives away while your mum's updating her carefully picked profile picture.

Facebook, let's face it: you got old. But maybe that's a good thing. Social networks work best with a niche. Pre-tween scenesters favour Myspace, the rich and uber-elite seek selective privacy on A Smaller World and the gays use Dlist to plan their sexual schedules. Maybe it's time for the Face-book-fourties. Your dad can use it to plan fishing trips with high school friends and your mom can use it to gossip with her virtual quilting club about their American Idol picks. 

Could the talk of the Harvard campus become your Aunt's new newsletter? Maybe this will all blow over tomorrow as we adjust to yet another advertising-initiated re-design. 

But I have to say, I smell a Friendster. 
This is what all straight men will look like in the future.

There are only two things you need to know about Andre Benjamin: 

1. He is African American.
2. He is heterosexual. 

You can forget the Grammy's, the millions of records he sold as part of the duo Outkast, the kid he has with Erykah Badu and that summer we all spent shaking it like a Polaroid picture. Now that Mr. Benjamin is settling into life as a fashion designer, these are his two biggest set-backs. Or at least that's what he told the crowd at Holt's when he dropped by the Toronto store on Tuesday to launch his line, Benjamin Bixby

According to your boyfriend Shinan Govani

Being "an African-American," he allowed, was a bit of a challenge, especially since there's a perception that hip-hop stars "will throw their names on anything."

"But," he then added, firmly, "I'm not a gay man," implying that that fact was not an asset. Oh, not in the world of fashion!

It's not often a straight man can cry wolf over his sexuality, but I guess I'll let Benjamin have it. After all, this is the fashion world we're talking about, where Gareth Pugh's boyfriend gifts him a nipple clamp and it makes headlines. Straight males are as common in fashion as gay ones are in sports. That said, many have still managed to become top designers.

And we can't erase all the harm Lil' KimNelly and Beyonce's mom have done to Black fashion design, but Andre can rest assured the white in Anna Wintour's eyes will recall all the best-dressed lists Andre made before he dropped the 3000. He hasn't been doing an excessive tour of the tents like Kanye, but Benjamin has been making fashion headlines for years. He's seasoned, smart and most importantly fashionable. 

Despite Andre's dark skin and tendency to touch female bodies for more than measurements, I think he'll still survive as a designer. The preview of the collection looks simple, clean and wearable. 

Now if only he'd sell me one of these

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack, I don't care if I ever come back.

In the past, I've proclaimed my love for afternoon baseball games as a thinly veiled disguise for my love of drinking in the afternoon. Baseball games are a unique social phenomena. Other than (ironically) a gay pride parade, where else can you get shit faced, take off your shirt and shout at strangers during a public day-time event?

So this weekend when the World Baseball Classic rolled through Toronto, I joined the crowd at the Skydome for an afternoon of well-rehearsed debauchery .I was joining my dad and his friend Brian on a weekend-long sports-vacation extravaganza. We already had a Raptors game under our belts and had gone endured multiple rounds of chicken wings and beer.

As we settled into our seats for a match against our arch enemy America, a young female fan in front of us waved a sign in hand-painted red and white, reading: Canada: We're bigger, and on top. Swelling with national pride and thoroughly convinced baseball couldn't get any gayer, I watched attentively until at least the fifth inning, when my attention span began to break and team Canada began to lag in runs.

Ultimately, we were no match for Derek Jeter and his band of Americans. Actually, during the whole weekend not a single home team had a winning game. I guess that's just what it's like to be a sports fan in Toronto.

That said, if anyone's up for splitting a six-pack in the parking lot and heading to the Jays season opener, I'm in.

*Disclaimer: The pops left town last night, and this blog will return to its regular scheduled content tomorrow (IE: gossip, hangovers, fashion and other art-faggy things).

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Breaking her achy-breaky Hollywood-Heart.

These days the only thing less appetizing than being Miley Cyrus' publicist is working in the PR department at Maple Leaf Foods. Is there any way to save a formerly wholesome product that's been repeatedly spoiled rotten?

All Disney scarlets love attention, controversy and the occasional "beef", but Miley's latest super-arch-nemesis-forever is possibly her most un-likely to date. Since the Grammy's, Miss Hannah Montana has developed a problem with Thom Yorke and his passive-posse of ultra-quiet rockstars.
According to the southern-belle-gone-megastar, Radiohead turned down a request made by her manager r to set up a quick meet-and-greet.

The band responded, saying they simply don't do that sort-of thing. Insulted and embarrassed (she had already text-messaged all her BBFs saying she was about to meet the only band she would ever "cry over"), Miley decided to "tell everyone" in an attempt to "ruin" Radiohead.

But Mr. Yorke isn't the first to be picked on by big bully Miley. Here's a rundown of her former foes:

First there was the YouTube feud between her and the pint-sized Selena Gomez, where Miley decided the whole internet had to know what the deal with Nick Jonas was. Then there was the time she turned down Katy Perry's offers of a kiss, and instead claimed Perry was jealous of her success.

And of course the time she claimed Vanity Fair and Annie Leibovitz had set her up and embarrassed her, with a series of now-famous partial-nudes; photos that the New York Times reported Miley and her family had both seen and approved prior to publication.

Those photos were followed by an even race-ier snapshot of her and her friends making fun of Asian squinty-eyes. She claimed the photos were of a "goofy face" and in no way racist, but that didn't stop an Asian woman in LA from slapping Miley with a $4 billion dollar class-action lawsuite, representing the state's Asian-Pacific-Islander population (who are apparently, very pissed off).

Now, Miley seems to be running out of potential victims. After taking on another teen star, then moving onto attacking the media at large (for making her into a "bad girl") and following it up with an assault on an entire ethnicity, there aren't a lot of people left to hate.

So Thom, I guess you kind-of had it coming. But still, my heat goes out to you.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I slump my shoulders, sigh, and say, "I feel like I've taken a degree in social media complaining."

I see my instructor's ears perk up. I silently hope I'm not again called "defensive" by someone who has their paycheques signed by the school I pay to attend. He doesn't say a word.

On the walk from school to home we discuss the fourty-odd dollars we had just shelled out, only to have a graduate student pry into us with questions we've already heard.

The Internet? We're connected. Blogs? We have our own. Facebook, A Smaller World, Second Life, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Digg, Twitter. The list goes on. We get it. What we want to know: why are we pursuing a degree that reads like an RSS feed?

Are bloggers journalists? Will print survive? Is the blogosphere democratic? Is there a need for a code of ethics online?

Most of us don't care. Those are questions for ancient print masters and poorly paid journalism professors. For our generation of blogger-slash-journalists, who have always had the Internet and always will, there is only one answer to these questions. To quote Billy Corgan: definitely, maybe.

We've never thought of the media as stable, we weren't expecting to make much money and to us the Internet was never a "fad". YouTube must seem like revolutionary technology to 40-somethings who can explain the finer details of the printing press, but the school is missing something. New classes have never known a world without Friendster, HotorNot, Livejournal or ICQ. To sell the blogosphere back to students is like selling a fish water.

And eventually people will stop buying it. For now, we need that degree. Or, we think we do. As the elevator opens at my floor, my friend and I make a biting realization: had we gone to college, we would probably have jobs by now.

As I reach my front door I'm reminded of a class reading. On page fourty of The Elements of Journalism, Nightline's Ted Koppel is quoted, saying, "Journalism schools are an absolute and total waste of time."

Maybe, I have learned something at J-school after all.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Your boyfriend's back.

I have been back for exactly eight days and have yet to write a proper Toronto-centric blog. The reason?

I haven't spent a lot of time in "Toronto" this week. Instead, I've been locked up inside the RCC, another of the Rogers family name-sakes sitting on the Ryerson campus.After four months of field trips, interviews and bad moods, I'm done the first draft of my third year's major project.

After five days of stress and one euphoric press of the "send" button, I'm back to the social side of the city. On Friday I dropped by a seedy establishment to see friends spin records at the release party for the man behind the Mark.

There, sinking into a second-hand seat and sulking into the bottom of a pint of Stella, I'm delivered this week's number one pick up line: "You're far too good looking to be spending the whole night sitting on a couch."

Oh, the perks of being a wallflower.

Unfortunately, the week's number one pick up line is never followed by the week's number one response. In fact, all pick up lines are met with a blank stare, a glance into a drink and a complete failure to move out of a comfortable seat.

Next week in the life of a wallflower: The dancefloor. Maybe.