From the Print Edition

The Informer

Columns

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Memoir: I went from ultra-Orthodox yeshiva boy to millionaire poker champion

ari-engel-memoir-house-of-cards

The ancient rabbis had a saying about gamblers. “What crime do dice-players commit?” they asked in the Mishnah. “They do not occupy themselves with the welfare of the world.” It was part of my education at the Orthodox Jewish theological school I attended near Chicago, where I spent 14 hours every day poring over the sacred texts. Every so often, I’d encounter yet another screed against gambling: that it was akin to robbery, that it was a form of usury, and that people who made it their profession were disqualified as witnesses at trial.

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The Goods

Shopping

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The Find: eight face-saving essentials for the bushy-bearded and baby-faced


After years of less-is-more maintenance, the male preening routine now goes way beyond a bar of soap and a washcloth. Behind bathroom doors, guys are layering musky fragrances, using fancy badger-hair brushes and slathering on soothing botanical creams. Whether you’re fully bearded or freshly shaven, here are eight manly grooming products to help you appear naturally refreshed.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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The Sell: a savvy couple use social media to sell their Parkdale investment property

the-sell-savvy-couple-social-media

the-sell-tyler-and-jeremyThe sellers: Jeremy Stewart, a 36-year-old designer and real estate investor, and Tyler Clark Burke, a 41-year-old artist and designer.

The place: A row house near Queen and Dufferin, divided into two units, both of which Burke and Stewart had been renting out since 2010.

The story: After bouncing between rentals for years, Burke bought the house in 2006, a year before she and Stewart started dating. When the pair decided to move in together in 2008, house prices were relatively low. Instead of selling Burke’s property, they borrowed against it to buy a larger home nearby where they could raise their kids: daughter Rooksby, who’s now 3, and son Hugo, 18 months. ­Earlier this year, with interest rates dropping and home prices soaring, they figured it was time to sell the rental property.

The prep: Aside from hanging a few mirrors, Burke, Stewart and their agent, Alice Kent of Bosley, did little staging. Instead, Burke appealed to friends on Facebook, posting a personal note about the property and expressing the hope that someone in her social network would end up buying the place.

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The Goods

Homes

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Zen Habitation: a salon don’s tranquil Rosedale retreat

After decades on the move, Ray Civello has finally settled down. The 57-year-old salon founder began his career bouncing between hairdressing jobs in New York, Toronto, Montreal and Paris before launching his eponymous parlour in Rosedale in 1989. (He’s since opened six more: three in the GTA and three in Chicago.) He spent the next two decades designing, building and flipping houses all over Rosedale and the Bridle Path, first as a bachelor and later with his partner of 15 years, Kelli McGushin. But when their son, Corrado, was born six years ago, the pair started thinking about pressing pause on their peripatetic lifestyle. In 2013, they bought a stately, somewhat dilapidated house overlooking the Rosedale ravine and, with the help of Alicia Garas of Melacor—the decorating force behind all of Civello’s salons and several of his homes—turned the dark, cramped rooms into a pristine white showpiece. They tore down walls to create a huge open kitchen and sitting area (where they spend most of their time) and added tons of personalized details: a golf simulator in the basement, a meditation room for Civello (who tries to practise every day) and a swimming pool for Corrado. “I think I might stay here for a while,” says Civello. “And that’s a crazy thing for me to say. But I just like it so much. We really live in this house.”

The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: should we keep our kid away from his unvaccinated cousin?

(Image: NIAID/Flickr)

(Image: NIAID/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,

My wife’s sister is a hard-core anti-vaxxer. We’re expecting in three weeks, and we don’t want her 18-month-old petri dish of a daughter to come over once our son (yes, we found out the sex) arrives. In fact, we’re not so keen on having him play with her, ever. How should we break the news?
—Vax Populi, Riverside

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The Informer

People

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Ten things Sarah Gadon can’t live without

She’s the new face of Giorgio Armani Beauty, and her upcoming thriller, The 9th Life of Louis Drax, hits screens later this year. Here, the 10 things she can’t live without

(Image: Getty Images)

(Image: Getty Images)

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My new Volkswagen Golf
It’s my first car, and I love it. It’s perfect for city driving and also really easy to park—which is great because I’m not the best driver.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Spring Fling: six bargain bottles of lesser-known whites

Now’s the time to experiment with fragrant, refreshing, lesser-known whites

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As the weather starts to warm I turn to crisp, high-acid white wines to rouse my ­palate out of winter hibernation. There are plenty of unsung white grape varieties that offer the same brace and quench as the more familiar rieslings, sauvignon blancs and pinot grigios—and most are great bargains precisely because they are unfamiliar.

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: can I get my money back if my LCBO bag broke along with my booze?

(Image: smkybear/Flickr)

(Image: smkybear/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,

I paid for a couple of large bottles of booze at the LCBO, grabbed the paper bag, and made it as far as the parking lot before the bag broke. Both bottles smashed, and I’m out a hundred bucks. I told the clerk it was the bag’s fault, but he refused to pay up. I want my money back, since I did nothing wrong. Any ideas?
—Can’t Hold My Liquor, Little Portugal

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Major Flake: a purist’s list of the city’s 10 most decadent croissants

The Informer

Features

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The Bay Street Tinder Diaries: dating in the age of the internet hookup

At 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Earls at King and York is roaring. From the surrounding towers, players descend to blow off steam and seal the deal—with clients and that night’s conquest. This is their playground. And Tinder is their Little Black Book

(Image: Photograph by Dave Gillespie)

(Image: Dave Gillespie)

Valerie met “The Suit” on Tinder. She called him that because he was the quintessential 30-something Bay Street guy—handsome, wealthy, confident and married to his job in finance. Valerie, like others I interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition that her real name not be used. She’s in her late 20s and also works in finance. She lives in a downtown condo and often travels internationally for work. Like The Suit, she’s an aggressive, high-functioning, time-strapped professional, and she found that men who worked downtown were more likely to share her pragmatic approach to dating. Plus, these guys were close by. Giving Tinder conquests nicknames helps Valerie and her girlfriends keep track of who’s who during their daily debriefs. It’s also part of the fun. There was Miami Vice (drove a white Range Rover and had a slicked-back ’80s hairdo), Bromeo (who bragged about his designer loafers) and Sweater Vest—a nice guy who took her to the AGO and invited her to a friend’s housewarming party, but ultimately, Valerie didn’t feel a spark. Which is important to her. She says a lot of guys she meets approach dating like an investment, and she checks a lot of boxes—she’s smart, career-driven and a knockout, with Barbie-blond hair and Brooke Shields brows. But if the passion isn’t there, she’s quick to cut things off. With The Suit, chemistry was never a problem. Sometimes they did the typical getting-to-know-you activities—going to the movies, cooking dinner at her condo. But often, their meetings were transactional. And the sex was hot.

For Valerie, the advantage of conducting her sex life through her smartphone is that it allows for maximum productivity with minimal effort. With a series of quick clicks and swipes, she can schedule dates with a new guy, sometimes two, every day—mostly coffees, which are a good way to see if the attraction she feels from a photo measures up in person. If a prospect seems promising, she might agree to a future drink. If not, he’s eliminated from the “roster,” which is the term Valerie and her friends use to describe the collection of Tinder guys they are simultaneously messaging or dating. These women are part of a generation reared on Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer—ambitious, fearless and wildly confident about what they want. They have no time to nurture long-term relationships. The men in their lives are conveniently slotted in for sex—and Tinder is the tool that makes it all happen.

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The Informer

Culture

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Comic Book Special: Toronto graphic novelists sketch themselves


sketch-comics-intro

Hundreds of graphic novelists will squeeze into the Reference Library on May 9 and 10 for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We picked the seven local stars to catch—and asked each for a self-portrait.

The Informer

Culture

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Comic Book Special: inside Toronto’s best-connected comics workshop


Click to see a larger version. (Image: Photograph of RAID by Dave Gillespie)

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Photograph of RAID by Dave Gillespie)

In 2004, a group of illustrators founded RAID Studio in a tiny workshop above a GoodLife Fitness Club on College Street. Now it’s a veritable hub of the geek world, where artists write, storyboard and illustrate comics for DC and Marvel. Here, a who’s who of the city’s hottest collective.

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Marcus To was the artist on Red Robin, DC Comics’ high-octane series about a renegade Boy Wonder.

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The Informer

People

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The New Dealers: who’s making a killing off medical marijuana

New legislation has rocked the medical marijuana world, taking the traditional grow op from suburban basements to mammoth warehouses. The new pot kings own suits, have smart haircuts and list their companies on the TSX, and they’re dead set on getting rich.

the-new-dealers-01THE EGGHEAD
Marc Wayne, CEO of Bedrocan, a grower and importer of vaunted Dutch medical pot.

Biz cred
Wayne is president of Spiderco Investments and an ex–managing partner of OAM Computer Group. He’s also a past alumni director of the Toronto French School.

Weed cred
Wayne was business development director for the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids, a marijuana research group.

Do you smoke?
“Of course, when I was a teenager, but not anymore. That’s the first time I’ve been asked that question.”

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The Dish

Food Shops

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Piece of cake: a cross-section of the Kochi, Queen West pâtisserie Nadège’s newest creation

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Vicky Lam)

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Vicky Lam)

The newest mini-gâteau from Nadège’s spring collection, the Kochi, is named after the Japanese city and prefecture—a nod to the cake’s yuzu flavour. The diminutive dessert, measuring in at only one-and-a-half inches wide by two-inches high, packs a lot into two perfect bites. We had Nadège Nourian, proprietress of the eponymous Queen West pâtisserie, deconstruct it for us.

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The Informer

Culture

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Ten amazing shots from the Contact Photography Festival


The city-wide Contact Photography Festival returns in May with a smorgasbord of images from 1,500 artists. Here, the 10 most mesmerizing shots: