“Sir, you brought me a drink! That’s so kind. What do you know about the Red Cross?” It was my second day pounding pavement for a fundraising company contracted by the Red Cross, and I’d waylaid a businessman who was carrying two fountain sodas. “Oh, you’re thirsty? Here you go!” He pushed one of the drinks into my hands before chortling and walking away. I gaped after him, speechless—the one thing that donor recruiters like me are never supposed to be. If no pedestrian was holding a drink, I’d look for someone wearing red, and declare that their scarlet-striped tie meant they were fated to chat with me about the Red Cross. Or I’d tell a texter not to worry, that I’d gotten his message and was ready to talk about donations. Stopping people (the recruiter slang for it was “street,” as in “Add more energy to your street”) is the first step and conversation the second in a face-to-face fundraiser’s snag-a-donor plan, and I learned quickly that “A moment for the Red Cross, ma’am?” is a terrible pick-up line. If nobody will talk to you, nobody will donate. I signed my first donor, a middle-aged woman at Bloor and Spadina on her way to an appointment, after fawning over her red umbrella and before I’d finished even half my speech.
Ripped from the Possibly Well Intentioned But Oh My Gaaaaaaaaawwwwwwd files, three Toronto men have created a fun twist on the popular “Neknominate” viral meme game by performing a random act of kindness (it’s called RAKnominate…like, where RAK equals “Random Act of Kindness”). Hoping that the transparency of their good intentions and the purity of their souls might inspire others, three dudes—Andrew Gronross, John Pitman and Andrew Mason—took it upon themselves to treat a Toronto homeless man named Jeff to a proper day on the town. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Simon Cowell protégés were everywhere at the Dilawri Foundation’s second annual Bliss Ball in support of SickKids Hospital. Katharine McPhee, Carly Rose Sonenclar and X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger performed; X Factor host Mario Lopez emceed; and the event had the slick production values of one of Cowell’s high stakes talent shows. Guests pulling up to the Sunnybrook Estates were greeted by a gospel choir and, as they sat down to eat Mark McEwan’s food, David Blaine circulated to perform table-side tricks. After dinner, Lopez (who seemingly hasn’t aged since his days as A.C. Slater) transitioned to the live auction, which started off slow but became more big-hearted—and open walleted—after a few more glasses of wine. The biggest surprise: guest speaker Chris Noth spontaneously offered up a weekend stay at his own pad in New York. Noth threw in a night on the town with him, Blaine, Lopez and and his Good Wife cast members, intoning in a baritone worthy of Mr. Big, “You don’t have to bring your husbands, ladies.”
In this edition of The Weekender, Doors Open Toronto, the Rolling Stones play the ACC and three more things to do in Toronto.
Doors Open Toronto (FREE!)
Architectural voyeurs get a once-a-year chance to peek inside more than 150 of the city’s most storied, striking and sacred buildings. This year’s lineup includes perennial favourites like Commerce Court North and the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, plus a special focus on renos, revivals and retrofits, like the former Maple Leaf Gardens conversion and the Don Jail-Bridgepoint Health mash-up. May 25-26. Various locations, toronto.ca/doorsopen/2013
I got into a cab a few days ago outside First Canadian Place and found a $100 bill on the floor. I quickly stuffed it into my pocket, but I’ve been feeling guilty ever since. I’m a manager at PwC, and I definitely don’t need the money as much as my cabbie probably does. I ended up spending it on overpriced martinis that night, making me an even bigger heel. What would you have done?
—Taxi Cab Confessor, Harbourfront
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All that lip fuzz sprouting in honour of Movember is now six days old, which means it’s likely long enough to look a little scraggly. While growing a ’stache for charity is a cool thing to do, sporting unkempt and unbecoming facial hair is decidedly not. Luckily, we have a solution: this complete grooming kit from Stern Bremen. It contains sharp scissors for trimming (be sure to keep your moustache level with your top lip line or just above it); a brush and comb for untangling and taming; and moustache wax to cultivate that sleek, shapely look. The only thing left to do is to decide whether to go for a chevron, a toothbrush or a fu manchu. $75 (US). Click to buy »
A couple from Etobicoke dropped 52 grand on a single bottle of very rare scotch at the Vintages auction at Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto on Friday night. The couple—Dave and Laurie (they declined to give their last name)—purchased the bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, a 55-year-old single malt with a run of only 11 worldwide, in support of Wounded Warriors, a not-for-profit organization that assists wounded Canadian soldiers and their families. The entire Janet Sheed Roberts line is being auctioned for charity, and to date it has raised $393,839.25, including a $94,000 sale last March in New York and a £46,850 return in Edinburgh last year. Of course, in the world of charity booze auctions those figures are relative peanuts: the Cire Perdue, a 64-year-old Macallan single malt in an ornate Lalique crystal decanter, set the world record in 2010 for a Scotch sold at auction by netting a gaudy $460,000.
Metro Toronto Convention Centre, October 15. The Mayor’s Ball for the Arts, an annual black-tie fundraiser founded by Mel Lastman in 1998, had been on hiatus since 2002, until His Worship Rob Ford, of all mayors, revived it this year. Playing nice with the city’s moneyed arts patrons was a savvy pre-election move. But Ford’s handlers couldn’t keep a plebeian note out of the proceedings. Among the silent auction items was one dubbed the McMayor, which promised one Big Mac combo per month for a year. Apparently, Ford’s charm offensive worked: the burger deal was snapped up for $80, a chance to host the mayor for dinner sold for $6,000, and a 20-person cruise featuring the big fella went for $9,000. By night’s end, the event had hauled in $1 million—a cause for celebration among the arts community, not to mention an early and subtle shot across the bow to anyone considering a run for the top job in 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
U of T President’s Lodge, September 8. Attendees shelled out $1,250 a head to hobnob with celebrities at the Artists for Peace and Justice fundraiser, the annual bash hosted by Oscar-winning screenwriter, lapsed Scientologist and Hollywood power player Paul Haggis. But the celebs themselves seemed most interested in headliners Arcade Fire, particularly when frontman Win Butler led his bandmates on an acoustic parade through the audience, pausing to climb up on a table covered in “Reserved for VIP” placards (take that, Establishment!). True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård stopped talking Swedish to his comparably hunky brother and nodded to the beat, six-foot-five tennis stud Milos Raonic galomped to the front to get a better view, and Jude Law stripped down to a T-shirt and dance-clapped like a dad at a wedding. The moral of the story: in celebrity hierarchy, rock stars take top rung. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
1 | My Oakley shades
I have dozens of pairs. I know it’s excessive, but I need a different pair for everything I do—mountain biking, hiking, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, kayaking. In London, I’ll probably wear my Radarlocks. The lenses clip in and out, so I can quickly change my tint for sun or cloud.
2 | My Turbo paddle
My oars are custom designed and handcrafted in Smiths Falls, Ontario, by Peter Patasi, a kayaker who represented Canada at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. He makes them with carbon graphite—the same material that’s used in Space Shuttles and Formula One race cars.
3 | My guitarlele
I like playing guitar, but I can’t justify lugging one around when I’m travelling. I got this six-string ukulele hybrid last year in Germany. It relaxes me, even though I’m not very good at it.
4 | My trophy
The Bert Oldershaw trophy, named for one of my mentors, is presented to the winner of the K-1 1,000-metre Canadian kayak championship every year. After my 10th win, they made a replica of the real trophy and gave it to me for keeps.
5 | My favourite author
When Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007, I felt like I’d lost an uncle. If I ever get a tattoo, it’ll be my favourite quote from his essay collection A Man Without a Country: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
Rob Ford continued his sometimes serious, sometimes ridiculous crusade against city spending this week by turning down an automatic raise in his salary. City councillors are getting a three per cent raise to keep salaries in line with the cost-of-living index, but the mayor rejected the opportunity to earn $172,803 instead of the $167,770 he currently takes home. (Of course, Ford and his brother inherited a rather successful printing company, so they don’t exactly need their civic salaries to get by). Not to be outdone, councillor and mayoral brother Doug Ford says he plans to reject the raise, too—even though he already donates the $99,620 he makes annually to charity. [Globe and Mail]
Camera: Jerry Seinfeld regales the city’s well-heeled at a fundraiser for Toronto East General Hospital
April 12. The begowned and tuxedoed set could barely keep their composure in the presence of Jerry Seinfeld during Laughter Is the Best Medicine, a fundraiser for Toronto East General Hospital. His musings on energy drinks, cellphone etiquette and the perils of attending, well, black-tie parties had guests wiping away tears. Post-event, VIPs retreated upstairs. “I wore my puffy shirt just for you!” cooed TEGH Foundation president Teresa Vasilopoulos, earning a laugh from the man himself. After an hour of glad-handing, Seinfeld made a break for his SUV—a minor faux pas, since he hadn’t said hi to Thomson sibs Taylor and Peter, the latter having recently donated $5 million to the hospital. Not the types to accept a snubbing, they hurried out to the curb and snapped a few keepsakes, and everyone left happy—not least the hospital, which raked in $3 million.