Hub and Rub: Strange bedfellows

It’s hard to imagine two less likely neighbours. The Riverdale Hub is a community resource centre for women. Next door, the newly arrived Mystic Spa offers body rubs and “erotic massages”.


I thought I’d better get this shot while I could. The Mystic Spa will probably be closed down as quickly as it popped up. A front page news item in the local neighbourhood paper says the “spa” operators are breaking bylaws and are unlicenced.

Why Orangeville today?

Brian Hickey is a foodie who includes old-fashioned, populist items in his interests. He heard that an authentic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich could be had in Orangeville. Should we try it for lunch?


Brian drove us in his zoomy car, through rolling hills and verdant countryside, choosing a route for scenery, not speed. It didn’t take long to get to Orangeville but my hope to see a pretty little Ontario village looked unlikely on the outskirts. Boring food chains and franchises, built yesterday. Could have been anywhere. But wait!

Orangeville has a heart, a central core that surprised both of us with its charm. There are classical old storefronts, sidewalk cafés, planters and hanging baskets of flowers. Great sums have been spent restoring original civic buildings, all very typical of small town Ontario. To their credit, Orangevillagers have even created a landscaped boulevard for a few blocks of their main drag. Very civilized.

Before I get to the point of our trip, let me say that I would like to go back and spend more time. There’s a nature conservancy nearby that a local proudly told us was complete now. A boardwalk goes all the way around. It cost bundle. I’d also like to complete a tour of Orangeville’s unique, colourful wood carvings. They are stationed around town, commissioned by the city and executed by local carvers. Each piece, heroic in scale, preserves an old town tree trunk. The ones I saw are painted figures of townspeople … a postman, a beloved school teacher, musicians.

Enough! What about the Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches? 8 bucks. The original Philly is made with shaved beef, onions and cheese on a fresh-baked, nicely crisp bun and there is a choice of cheese. Cheez whiz or mozzarella. We ordered one of each, cut in half and both tried both.

The verdict: Very good! One sandwich is satisfying enough for a lunch (but we split some excellent fries, too). The texture of the beef is very nice. Our cashier said the cook was curious about which cheese I preferred. My answer won me a big smile and a thumbs-up from the cook. Cheez Whiz!

Oh, and go to the chocolate store for an ice cream cone.

Bazaar Bizarre: the movie

It took a while to figure out how to convert Sony’s video format for Vimeo, but here’s a look, and listen… Saturday night at the South Asian Festival.

Love the costumes on the musicians, especially those wild turbans! Glad I got the confetti explosions… did you notice them?

Playing at food photography

Lori called to me from the restaurant door as I passed. Could I take some food photos for the Budapest Restaurant website?


Now that everybody shoots dinners for Facebook, why not? How things have changed since the days when advertisers spent small fortunes hiring teams of photographers, art directors and food stylists!

My efforts (above) would never have cut the mustard back then, but today they’ll do the trick. I hope everything looks good enough to eat, because the food is delicious. I ate the pierogi as my reward and had a coffee milkshake for dessert.

Handheld Sony WX350 point-and-shoot camera, available light. Yes, Photoshop too, for cropping, sharpening and adjusting.

Related news…

As photography becomes easier, it is also becoming harder. Copyright rules in Germany now allow chefs to ban photography of the dinner you buy! [Story link]

Perfect Festival weather

We missed having Danica along (she is in Windsor) but Jolanta and Brian Hickey joined me at the South East Asia Festival on Saturday, starting out in sunshine and staying for the best ambience after sunset.

Very hot, humid weather set the scene well for a South Asian event, then darkness brought relief as breezes cooled us a little. A perfect summer night and a huge crowd.

There was plenty to see, do and eat but there is no question, the streetcar float was the star this year. You’ll see the creators, Andrew Horne and Rob Elliott pushing it along. Andrew flashed a Victory V as they passed. Police walked ahead, clearing the way for musicians providing live music. The “Bazaar Bizarre Streetcar” was lit up, inside and out, illuminating fun animal characters crammed inside. The “streetcar” roof was alive with Toronto critters … pigeons, raccoons, squirrels and rats. Topping the menagerie, colourful helium balloons bobbed in the night sky. Confetti bazookas went off a couple of times, sending showers into the air. Big crowd pleaser!


Low light makes for grainy photos, but the festive feel is there. We had a good time checking out vendors, dining at the Gautama buffet and catching some performances. When we went for coffee at the Flying Pony, Jol bought an Andrew Horne postcard reproduction of one of his paintings. He promises to get a larger size print for her soon.

Thanks, Brian. Two more shots from his camera …


Sneak Preview: South Asia Festival

Tomorrow, streetcar service will look a little different on Lower Gerrard. Regular service will be rerouted to open the street for festival goers, but the Bazaar Bizarre line will be running at around 5:00, 7:30 and 9:00 pm.


Andrew Horne, proprietor of the Flying Pony Gallery Café and artist/collaborator Rob Elliott joined forces to create the first-ever float for the Gerrard India Bazaar event. It’s fantastic. I hope to get a movie of it, hand-propelled through the crowd.

Across the street, Len of Lens Work has commissioned Al Runt to tattoo the exterior with his trademark weirdness. I may even get to paint a section. Al said I could when I met him today.


See you there. Saturday and Sunday, August 15th and 16th, 2015

Ralph Luciw honoured

I can do no better than to quote Brian Hickey, a mutual friend: “This award was a long time coming and is very well deserved.”


Ralph is often a guest at the Hickey household’s special occasion gourmet gatherings. That’s where I met him first, but I knew of him as early as the 1970s. When I was working on the Honda motorcycle account at a small advertising agency, Ralph was Honda Canada’s senior executive in charge of all national car advertising.

His career accomplishments are even greater than I realized, before reading the press release about his Hall of Fame induction. That doesn’t surprise me. Ralph is not one to puff himself up. He’s a distinguished gentleman, pleasantly modest.

Here’s the press release text:

Luciw, of Regina, (now living in Uxbridge, On ) SK, is honored as a competitor, builder, and significant contributor. It’s no stretch to say that hundreds of Canadian drivers got their start in racing because of Luciw, who founded the Honda-Michelin Challenge Series in 1976. The low-cost series also brought many companies into racing as sponsors. Before he launched the series, Luwic raced in hill climbs and rallies, in addition to building and racing what was possibly Canada’s first Formula Vee.

Luciw also worked the media relations desk at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, when it was known as Mosport International Raceway, promoting many series such as Can-Am, Formula One, Formula Ford, and Rothman’s Porsche. In 1987, the Canadian Automobile Sport Club honoured Luciw with the John Reid Trophy for his outstanding contribution to motorsport.

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