Bazaar encounters

For some reason, I measured the wifi speed at the Flying Pony while fortifying myself with coffee and a cookie. Flying? Supersonic!! Fastest I’ve found anywhere.

Off the charts wifi at the Flying Pony Gallery/Café

Jacked up on java and rocket-fuelled wifi, I headed a couple of doors west to GAS (Gerrard Art Space) for the annual Textile Show.

Don’t eat Nancy Johnston’s Gluten-Free Bread. It’s felt. Love Sheila Moore’s Multi-Ccoloued Patch hat!

Check out Marsha Wineman’s embroidered drawings. They are bolder than other sewn drawings she has shown and I like the way they work.

A promising sign

Beach Hill was better for it, when Jimmy’s dingy dive bar turned into Zante Bistro. Then, a family health crisis closed the restaurant after a brief period of success. Months ago, a window poster declared, “Keep Calm, Coming Soon”.

The new, 3 dimensional sign, north side of Gerrard East, near Woodbine

Papered windows hide whatever is being done inside, but the self-confident, new Zante sign suggests progress. The name will remain the same, but the sign is better, don’t you think?

Here is the old sign, for comparison.

Of course, I cannot leave well enough alone. It is a retired art director’s curse to see things to tweak. I would have done without the underline and doodad finials … and maybe simplified the frame to look more like a scroll … with no side frames, but equal bars on top and bottom.

Fred Franzen and Flydog

I’m pretty sure that Fred Franzen follows the “artists don’t smile” school of thought when it comes to photos. At least that’s my experience. He should like this one I snapped at a recent visit to his studio on Dupont.

Father of the Flydog Method for Mural-Making, Fred Franzen, in his studio.

Mr Franzen is the father of The Flydog Method for Mural-Making. Fellow artist and life partner Ruth Higgins was its mother. Flydog has a history 40 years long and dozens of big murals wide. It has guided teams of up to 600 young people working on a single wall and has left its mark on Canada, the United States and the Bermuda. It works.

Fred Franzen, mural facilitating in Withrow Park, 40 years ago. Love the cigarette.

Our meeting was to discuss the release of the Flydog Method, free to the world, for use by everyone who wants it. Fred is 85 now, and it’s time to put Flydog into younger, nore energetic hands. I will be helping in some way. More to come on that.

Click the map image for the interactive original.

Toronto displays over 1000 pieces of street art and murals, many of which are rendered with great skill in well-known, international styles. The time is ideal for some Flydog mural-making, and it offers the promise of some fresh ideas.

A big smile for success

Oversize puppet head of the Ghost Moose character

Clay and Paper Theatre just achieved double its modest fundraising target of $1500. Supporters, Danica and me included, have chipped in over $2000 so far. That triggered a matching $1000 donation from an anonymous donor. The Big Smooch campaign will continue until the end of February, but they are already over the top.

Clay and Paper Theatre founder David Anderson has our respect and admiration.

I knew David Anderson back in Vancouver in the early 70s when my sister Joni was part of his collective. I remember when they were working hard to steam off thick, stubborn layers of wallpaper from farmhouse walls … sweat equity for communal living. My mother Helen liked David, too. He’s a sincere, enthusiastic and creative guy.

When I first moved to Toronto, I recognized David performing counterculture street theatre in yuppie Yorkville. He cut a distinctive figure, with his big, ginger beard and paper stovepipe hat. He busked in the subway, performed at street fairs and, 25 years ago(!!), founded Clay and Paper. Hat’s off to a remarkable artist.

Beach Hill has pizza again

I hope the pizza is good, because I admit a touch of disappointment when I went to see the new business. It’s just the former Beach Hill Pub with a new sign.

I was hoping for a new restaurant, styled like the website.

I say “pizza again” because we had the Marco Polo pizza parlour at the top of our hill when Danica and I moved here. The sign is still on the corner, with the pizza picture cut out.

John Candy did a made-for-TV movie here in 1994. Remember George Wendt?”Norm” in “Cheers”.

Marco Polo’s brief encounter with show biz came shortly before it closed forever. The TV set people had spruced the place up to look quite charming. Now the windows are stucco’d over and the place is residential-rental.

I have one more slice of 1990s pizza trivia to thrill you with. Remember the old joke that went, “He was so bad at business, he went bust running a pizza joint”? Well, McDonald’s tried and failed at pizza. They put specially designed pizza ovens into every store, at enormous expense, and had to remove them all when sales failed to materialize.

A memento from my days attempting to help promote McDonald’s pizza.

I wish I had been the clever one who tilted the McDonald’s Ms to become Zs, Alas, I was handed a graphics package designed in the States and just applied it to a lot of “trinkets and trash”.

McDonald’s was making pizza in two sizes, Single and Family. I stole the a motto from a Hollywood remake of The Three Musketeers that was current and pitched it to McDonalds as a billboard headline. The single was “All for One” and the family-size, “One for All“. McDonald’s didn’t bite, but I still think it was a good use for the line.