Thursday, December 11, 2008

Downtown train of thought

To downtown on a freezing cold day in Toronto. Take the subway train two stops to Dundas West and switch to the King streetcar #504. After a longish wait I manage to get a seat and the car heads down Roncesvalles which has a light dusting of snow. The crowd thins out on the car as we approach the Queensway. Punters are clutching coffee and mobile phones - "I'm on the streetcar!" I'm reading the free paper "The Metro," a wire-service rag.
We go past an empty Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealers. The graffiti is already taking hold. On past the Palace Arms, weekly rooms, affordable rates. Toronto needs to look after itself for it could go the way of Detroit, although other factors were in play there. The anti-business attitudes of the freeloaders in City Hall do not help. Some time ago I spoke with a businessman from Chicago who said he would never do business in Canada, after, he felt, being insulted on a visit to Montreal. The smug anti-American attitudes of many Canadians does untold damage to trade relations south of the border.
To HSBC bank to change some cash from Sterling to Canadian Dollars. The pound is sinking like a stone under the incompetent government of Gordon Brown. Send for a novice say I, surely better than "bottler", the new Mr. Dithers. He is running up a national overdraft for those yet unborn to pay off.
The girl behind the counter dutifully urges me to open a new savings account that the bank are pushing. I say "at these interest rates who cares? The best thing you can do with your money is spend it." They are so busy propping up failed borrowers that saving is for mugs.
I duck into Starbucks on University Avenue. More jolly Xmas muzak - "I've got my love to keep me warm" - AGAIN. Standby for "Frosty the snowman." Onwards up University Avenue where the Canada Life building is forecasting the weather in lights - if only I knew the code. Past Roy Thomson Hall and the theatre district. My pen is freezing up on the notepad. I duck into the foyer of the Royal Alexandra Theatre and see the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton in the distance. Who will be living in this swish hotel? I guess the real fat cats are immune to the economic troubles, perhaps they will be downsizing.
On to Steve's Music Store at 415 Queen St. W. This is a legendary place for Toronto musos. They don't get up much before midday so the store is quiet, as I purchase a BlueMic SnowFlake - a portable professional USB microphone - $66.67 incl tax. I ask if any tunes are banned as a punter tries out a fuzz box. "No Stairway" is the reply - "I cut the wire to the amp" says a girl. The whole place is like Spinal Tap with endless solid-bodied guitars hanging from the rafters. I walk on to Spadina and ride the streetcar in the sunshine through Chinatown, should be called Vietnam town these days.
I should go out more often.

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