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Coming to the Bazaar: Rangoli

Rangoli designs are colourful, often symmetrical, geometrical designs associated with festive occasions in India. They can be made of anything … spice powders, flower petals, chalk, fabric … whatever is at hand. They can also be huge, covering floors and streets.


I looked them up when I learned that there would be a Rangoli contest this weekend at the annual Festival of South Asia. Gerrard Street will close to traffic and open to arts, music, dance and food. Starts Friday evening, then July 16 & 17, Noon to 11:00 pm.


Sometimes symbols don’t mean what you think they do. Ask the Tenor who blindsided his team, unaware that “all lives matter” was a phrase being used to dilute the meaning of “black lives matter”. 😖

What’s wrong with daylilies?

Maybe they should be called day-after-day-after-day lilies. My neighbour’s display has lasted longer than the name implies. Why don’t some people like them?


They add a dash of bright colour, they take care of themselves and they don’t seem to need much water. All good, no?


OK, maybe they aren’t the most delicate-looking blooms, but they break up the green, which itself has a pleasing, grassy texture. They look almost tropical, don’t they?

Another idea worth stealing

No, not the palm trees, although we might need them, too, if our heat wave persists. No, it’s the bike lane on the sidewalk I like.

bike-lane-sidewalkFrom Brian Hickey in Tel Aviv today

I disapprove strongly when I see, all too frequently, scofflaw cyclists riding on sidewalks in Toronto. Bicycles on sidewalks are a menace to pedestrians … unless provision is made for them.

It’s a fact of life that frightened cyclists will selfishly head for the safety of sidewalk riding when car traffic is too threatening. They could dismount and walk their wheels, but too often, they don’t.

Rather than fight a losing battle against bad behaviour, why not accept the reality and design our streets accordingly?

Moroccan Couscous with Chicken and Vegetables

Your Royko Recipe for July


Moroccan Couscous with Chicken and Vegetables

This recipe comes from the March 1995 issue of Bon Appetit. It looks as great as it tastes. And, despite the jalape±o and spices, it won’t make you sweat.

3 1/2 lbs. chicken, cut into pieces (or, use boneless chicken breasts)
4 cups canned chicken broth
3 1/2 tbl. butter or margarine
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1/2 lb. plum tomatoes, quartered
1 cup flatleaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 whole jalapeño pepper
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. saffron threads, crushed
5 small white turnips, peeled and quartered
(if you don’t like turnips, substitute new potatoes)
4 large carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise then crosswise
1 small acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2inch pieces
3 zucchini, quartered lengthwise then cut in half crosswise
1 15oz. can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup raisins
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups cooked couscous

Combine chicken and broth in a large Dutch oven. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally (about 20 minutes). Using tongs, remove chicken from cooking liquid; reserve liquid. Skin and bone chicken; cut into bite-sized pieces. Can be prepared a day in advance; refrigerate chicken and liquid separately.

Melt 2 tbl. butter or margarine with the oil in a heavy, large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender (about 10 minutes). Add tomatoes and the next 8 ingredients and stir for 30 seconds. Mix in reserved chicken cooking liquid, turnips, carrots, squash, zucchini, garbanzo beans with liquid and raisins. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes). If you’re using potatoes rather than turnips, they take longer to become tender, so add them before the other vegetables and cook for 15 minutes; then proceed as above. Add chicken pieces to sauce and cook until heated through (about 3 minutes). Discard jalapeño.

Meanwhile, bring 2 1/4 cups water, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Arrange couscous in centre of serving platter. Drizzle couscous with 3/4 cup of sauce to moisten. Spoon chicken and vegetables over it. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

Serves six.

Israel and Istanbul

Breakfast in Tel Aviv
I knew Brian Hickey had arrived safely, to visit his friend Paul in Tel Aviv. A little Israeli flag appeared in my blog log. Who else would that be?

Email confirmed it, with bonus pictures. Breakfast in Tel Aviv.

Even better, Brian sent a picture from Istanbul, where he stopped for a look-see on the way. Hey! They’ve got super long streetcars, plastered with ads, just like our new ones. Toronto may be catching up with Turkey.

Let’s steal the idea shown above. No parked cars, just sidewalks. If we could have just a few streets like those, public transit could be fast, popular and even driverless.

tram in istanbul

I wonder if bicycles are a major mode of transportation there. Thanks, Brian!

Runt rocks the Pony

Alex Currie’s nom d’art is Runt. I admire his tenacity, consistency and energy. He says he will paint on any surface … sometimes three times. He first covered the front of Lee’s Palace in the 1980s, then refreshed it in 1992 and again in 2010.


Last night, Runt was shouting conversationally at the opening of his Flying Pony show, Glow Job … so loudly my friends and I moved to the back gallery to hear our own conversation. When he caught up with us, he was giving a piggyback tour to a young child. I asked about his new fashion line.

“I want to become a brand,” Runt asserted.


Mission accomplished. No matter what he makes, Alex Currie’s work is readily identifiable. Bright colours. Building-munching, big-toothed, goofy monsters. Gleeful anarchy. Naughty bits.

For this show, he used a lot of glow-in-the-dark paint, lit with ultraviolet. Even in daylight, the fluorescence worked. Some lucky kids, young and old, are gonna get monsters on their walls.


Runt changes scale easily, spending days painting storefronts or minutes on small, saucy caricatures. Thus, there is Runt art priced for everyone. This show offers some originals for as little as $25. Many others are in the $150 to $300 range.

Or socks, for 15 bucks.

Is Runt a serious artist? Damn right! “Say, BUY SOME ART!” , he directed his piggyback passenger. “BUY SOME ART!”