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Toronto is the best city to live in, according to the Economist

The Economist has periodically named Toronto one of the world’s “most livable” cities, but to our knowledge this is the first time the magazine has flat-out declared us the best. A new report on “safe cities” from the Economist’s intelligence unit finds that Toronto is the best overall city to live in, worldwide, when things like liveability, business environment, safety and democracy are all taken into consideration. The one thing we don’t excel at, according to the report, is cost of living, where we’re currently near the middle of the pack among other world cities.

Who’d we beat? Every major city in the world. Literally all of them. Especially New York.

Who beat us? Nobody in the overall category, but other cities do outperform Toronto on all of the individual metrics used to calculate the overall ranking. We’re number eight in safety, behind Tokyo (ranked number one) and Sydney (six). Our business environment is ranked fourth, below first-place finisher Singapore. And Melbourne is still the Economist‘s pick for the most liveable city in the world, while we languish at number four, like always.

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Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $550,000 for a Pan Am penthouse with a party terrace

toronto-condo-of-the-week-47-lower-river-street-intro

Address: 47 Lower River Street, PH31
Neighbourhood: Waterfront Communities-The Island
Agents: Deirdra M. Johnson and Marilyn J. Moore, Real Estate Homeward, Brokerage
Price: $549,000

The Place: This penthouse was meant to have two bedrooms, but the original owner only had one of them built. As a result, the unit has a spacious living-dining-kitchen area, bathed in loads of light from a 50-foot wall of windows. The building is located in the West Don Lands, just a javelin toss away from the Pan Am Games Athletes’ Village, where 10,000 of the western hemisphere’s fittest people will bunk in July. We featured another of 47 River Street’s penthouses last year.

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People

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The birthplace of the Lee’s Palace mural: inside Al Runt’s studio

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Rick McGinnis)

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Rick McGinnis)

For a certain kind of aging hipster, Toronto isn’t complete without a mural by Al Runt spilling over the wall of some club or restaurant, thick with his cast of fornicating, fighting, day-glo creatures. Runt—known to his friends as Alex Currie—has been filling walls with his cartoonish streetscapes since the mid-‘80s, when his Rabelaisian murals at Lee’s Palace and the long-gone BamBoo set the tone for downtown fun. For a while, he seemed to disappear. “No one really wanted me,” he recalls. “There was a period when I couldn’t get a show. I just fell out of favour.”

Runt and his creatures were revived five years ago when Lee’s Palace commissioned him to repaint its façade for the third time. Since then his work has appeared on storefronts in Kensington and Parkdale. Last summer, he finished his latest mural. It’s on the side of Electric Mud, the city’s most celebrated barbecue joint. And this year, the Runt renaissance will continue. His work graces the cover of the TTC’s 2015 Ride Guide, a freebie transit manual relied upon by tourists and locals alike. Currie is also making his cinematic debut in RUNT, a documentary by Augusto Monk that showcases three decades of the painter’s life and work. Here, a tour of his studio.

1 On Currie’s desk is his current project, a can design for hipster tipple Pabst Blue Ribbon, which he hopes will help raise his profile outside of Toronto. “It’ll be fun. At least I’ll get a few cases of beer and some money.”

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Events

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Watch Owen Pallett reinvigorate pop music with a pair of Saturday shows

Owen Pallett

(Image: David Waldman)

Owen Pallett is Canada’s most sought-after musician: he’s created orchestral arrangements for Taylor Swift and R.E.M., played strings for The National and Franz Ferdinand, and collaborated with Arcade Fire on the Oscar-nominated soundtrack for Spike Jonze’Her. Pallett’s baroque pop is intricate and innovative, forgoing traditional verse-chorus formulas for beautifully theatrical songwriting. His otherworldly soundscapes feature a limitless roster of fresh sounds: tweaked-out harpsichords, alien-like textures, and sci-fi-inspired beeps and boops. But it’s onstage that he really shines—he bounces hyperactively between instruments and effects pedals, weaving vocals and violin with an arsenal of looping machines. See him in action this Sunday at Lee’s Palace, where he’ll play back-to-back matinée and evening sets.

Sat. Jan. 31. $15. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., 416-532-1598, leespalace.com.

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Culture

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Magical Mystery Tour: a map of Toronto’s fictional murders

Dead bodies are turning up all over the fictional cityscape. We’ve mapped out the grisliest murders in 10 titles

Magical Mystery Tour

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People

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Q&A: Jasmeet Singh, the biggest GTA celebrity you’ve never heard of (unless you’ve heard of Jus Reign)

(Image: Claire Foster)

(Image: Claire Foster)

It was only around five years ago that Jasmeet Singh, then a bored summer school student living in Guelph, posted his first YouTube video. Since then, his on-point commentary on race, his parodies of pop culture and his comedic deadpan have earned him a significant following: 425,000 subscribers on YouTube and another 780,000 on Vine, where his six-second videos have been looped almost half a billion times. Singh, better known on the internet as Jus Reign, uses nearly every social media platform in existence to rant, criticize, and crack jokes—often at the expense of white people who can’t tell a turban from a niqab. We talked with him about racism, turbans and making a living on the internet.

How did Jasmeet Singh become Jus Reign?
I was in university, and I was doing summer school and I was really bored. I used to make a lot of short films and sketches in high school, so I decided to make a YouTube account. I was 19 when I made my first video, “25 Random Things in my Room.” I started doing more and more content, and it just started spreading.

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Culture

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See Douglas Coupland’s futuristic pop art at MOCCA and the ROM

Tomorrowland

(Image: Rachel Topham)

Douglas Coupland’s art dwells on the same subjects as his novels: urbanism, technology and a culture accelerating toward uncertain ends. He distills loaded ideas into supercharged symbols, like the colossal toy soldiers at Fleet and Bathurst commemorating the War of 1812, and an orca sculpture in the Vancouver Harbour that resembles a pixelated JPEG. His work over the past two decades has been poppy and prescient, forecasting Internet ubiquity and commodification. Yet despite his skepticism, Coupland is a diehard utopian, energized by the knowledge, innovation and communication that technology affords us.

The new exhibit Everywhere Is Anywhere Is Anything Is Everything is the first major retrospective of Coupland’s visual art, divided into themes like “Pop Explosion,” “21st-Century Condition” and “Growing Up Utopian.” The ROM and the MOCCA have transformed into helter-skelter funhouses, filled with Coupland’s candy-coloured painted panels, towering Lego cities and an installation he calls “The Brain”: a room of 5,000 toys and trinkets he’s collected over 20 years from Craigslist and garage sales. The show swamps your brain with pop culture references, optical illusions and politicized polemics. His message? For all the fear and frenzy, there’s still plenty to be hopeful about.

Jan. 31–Apr. 26. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen’s Park) and MOCCA (952 Queen St. W.), couplandto.ca.

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Real Estate

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House of the Week: $720,000 for a small semi near Trinity Bellwoods Park

House of the Week: 151 Claremont

Address: 151 Claremont Street
Neighbourhood: Trinity-Bellwoods
Agent: Lisa Colleen Munro and Ken Cramer, Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage
Price: $719,000

The Place: A two-storey, brick semi in Trinity Bellwoods.

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Features

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The Relentless Robert Deluce: Porter’s founder wants jets on the waterfront. Who’s going to stop him?

His plans to bring jets to the Island airport have made him Public Enemy Number One. But Robert Deluce isn’t used to failure—and he has a network of powerful allies to help him get what he wants

The Relentless Robert Deluce

Deluce in the breakfast nook of his Rosedale home

One morning this spring, a ceremonial ribbon-cutting will be held on the Toronto waterfront. The event will mark the official opening of a 240-metre pedestrian tunnel, the long-ballyhooed fixed link connecting Eireann Quay, the bulbous toe of Bathurst Street, to Billy Bishop Airport on the northwest quadrant of the Toronto Islands. The $82.5-million tunnel will reconnect the Islands to the city for the first time in 157 years: in 1858, a violent storm swept over Lake Ontario, ripping what had been a sand and gravel peninsula from the shoreline and creating a 15-islet archipelago.

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Culture

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Mama’s Boy: brazenly bratty, 25-year-old filmmaker Xavier Dolan is Canada’s next great auteur


Xavier Dolan

When the lineup for the 2014 Cannes film festival was announced last April, the Canadian media transformed into a patriotic hype machine. The reason? Three Canadian directors had films in competition: the Academy Award–­nominated Atom Egoyan for his thriller The Captive, the body horror auteur David Cronenberg for Maps to the Stars and, sidling uncomfortably up the flank, the 25-year-old Quebecer Xavier Dolan for his family drama Mommy.

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People

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Deputy police chief Peter Sloly on running to succeed Bill Blair, and the first item on his agenda if he does: race

Q&A: Peter SlolyAs deputy police chief, you are frequently mentioned as a favourite to succeed Bill Blair. Do you want the job?
William Blair is the best chief we’ve ever had. I’ll apply, but otherwise I’m focused on my role as deputy chief.

What would it mean to you to be ­Toronto’s first black chief?
I would hope that in a city as progressive as ours, my race would be just one of the many factors that would make me suited to the job. I have an MBA, experience as a United Nations peacekeeper in Kosovo and years of expertise in front-line community policing.

You were born in Jamaica and moved here at age 10. You made the Canadian men’s soccer team but played in just one game. How badly did you blow it?
Ha. Well, that was Cyprus in 1984, and we tied 0–0. I was a defenceman, so that’s a success in my books. Eventually, I blew out my back—my L4 and L5–S1 vertebrae are now metal—and I had to re-evaluate my career choices.

I’ll spare you the RoboCop jokes. Why did you choose policing?
I just knew I wanted to serve and protect.

Can you still keep up with the physical demands of the job?
I can run, jump, fight, shoot and ­handcuff—or sit in a chair for 10 hours a day, which is mostly what I do.

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Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: The $1.4-million Rosedale condo that shows the selling power of listing after the holidays

Sale of the Week

(Image: Silverhouse)

Address: 25 Scrivener Sq., Unit 1007
Neighbourhood: Rosedale
Agent: Peter Russell, Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage

The Property: This 1,308-square-foot condo features conveniences more common to larger units, including private elevator access. Both bedrooms and the living room walk out to a large wraparound balcony, and Rosedale Station is a five-minute walk south.

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Events

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Rethink glamour at a pair of Ryerson photo exhibitions

Rethink glamour at a pair of Ryerson Image Centre photo exhibitions

Mia Wasikowska (Image: Alex Prager, Touch of Evil, 2011, digital video still. Originally produced by The New York Times Magazine. Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong)

In a pair of clever new exhibitions, the Ryerson Image Centre documents how photography has shaped Western conceptions of glamour—and how photography can just as effectively tear those notions down. Burn With Desire: Photography and Glamour and Anti-Glamour: Portraits of Women, both opening on Jan. 21 at the RIC, depict polar approaches to the representation of women in photography. Through portraits of Marilyn Monroe, archival Vanity Fair covers and projects by Andy Warhol, Burn With Desire explores how the medium—with its pre-Photoshop attention to immaculate lighting and gauzy romanticism—equated glamour with aesthetic perfection and vulnerable seduction. Anti-Glamour, meanwhile, playfully upends everything its counterpart professes, featuring contemporary pictures that affront viewers with the stark, sometimes ugly reality of gun-wielding femme fatales and brazen bare-breasted figures. The result is a jarring juxtaposition that gives new meaning to iconic images we thought we’d figured out long ago.

Jan. 21–Apr. 5. Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St., 416-979-5164, ryerson.ca.

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Features

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#TorontoIsFailingMe: My seniors’ group safeguards the mall

Toronto’s inner suburbs have become shorthand for crumbling postwar apartment blocks, underfunded schools or gang warfare. They’re among the neighbourhoods with the lowest incomes in the city, the longest trek to a TTC stop, and the highest concentration of immigrants and visible minorities. This month, we’re sharing stories from Torontonians who live in the inner suburbs, told in their own words. Some are shocking, some tragic, some hopeful. Together, they convey an urgent truth: Toronto is failing too many of its citizens. Have a story of your own? Tweet, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #TorontoIsFailingMe to tell us.
#TorontoIsFailingMe: My seniors' group safeguards the mall

Wilma Inniss, front and centre, and members of her mall walking group. (Image: Eamon Mac Mahon)

Wilma Inniss, 77
Malvern

I came to Canada from Trinidad in 1963. When I retired from my job at the ­Ministry of Transportation 14 years ago, a couple of my friends told me about a seniors’ walking group at the Malvern Town ­Centre. I’ve been going ever since, and I now run the program with my younger sister, Gemma.

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Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $585,000 for a heavenly suite in a converted church on Dovercourt

Condo of the Week

Address: 701 Dovercourt Road, Unit 201
Neighbourhood: Palmerston-Little Italy
Agent: Edwin K. Brdlik, Toronto Lofts Realty Corp., Brokerage
Price: $584,900

The Place: A two-bedroom slice of  almost-literal heaven in a former Methodist church that was built in 1906 and converted to condos in 2010. There’s an open-concept living room, kitchen and dining area, with bedrooms off opposite sides.

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