Arts & Letters Club: Shawn Micallef

Photo policy behind this Elm Street door was not clear and since Danica and I were Ruth Colombo‘s guests, it was better to put my camera away.

My only photo for the evening

Ruth’s husband John, Ruth, Danica and I enjoyed a lovely dinner with other club members, seated at long tables in the Great Hall. Ruth succeeded in starting some animated discussions about topics like Jody Wilson-Raybould and Conrad Black. Great fun.

Great Hall photo of a similar event, pinched from the internet

Ruth recounted a visit that she and John once made to the Sutton Place residence of Barbara Amiel, Conrad Black’s wife. Chinese food had been ordered in and was late arriving, so John suggested to Ruth that she turn on the oven, to reheat the food, if necessary. Ruth went to the kitchen and experienced “a vision of Fahrenheit 451 “. The oven was full of books.

Mr Micallef received honorary Club membership for his talk.

Shawn Micallef, author, columnist and co-owner of Spacing magazine was our after-dinner speaker. Micallef is a flaneur who knows much more about Toronto than I will ever learn on my walks, but I recognized many of the places illustrated in his slides. Danica knew even more, thanks to of her working days in suburbia.

A major theme in the talk was “contrasts” … poverty and pest infestations inside sterile apartment towers, slummy shacks beside beautiful, natural ravines, unsightly strip malls serving delicious international cuisine.

Of course, societal divides between relatively prosperous old-towners and downtowners were contrasted with vast surrounding zones where car is king and neighbourhoods are severed by highways, parking lots and rail corridors. Ford Nation.

Micallef’s talk covered many points described in his book, Frontier City. It was a treat to hear his essentially optimistic but unflinching appreciation of Toronto.

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