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The Goods

Health and Beauty

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Creams of the Crop: our favourite all-natural lotions, potions and goops

Creams of the Crop

In Toronto, we want our meat house-cured and our coffee micro-roasted seconds before we drink it. It was only a matter of time before the artisanal ethos wormed its way into our beauty regimens. In workshops across the city, modern-day apothecaries are using organic ingredients like farmers’ market honey, rosewater and bergamot oil to concoct products as luxurious as the latest miracle cream—without the unpronounceable chemicals. Here, our favourite small-batch grooming products.

01
DEODORANT
Leaves of Trees

Most natural deodorants leave pits smelling worse than a folk festival campsite. Roohi Qureshi, a doctor who crafts grooming products in her spare time, has one that actually works. It contains peppermint oil to deter bacteria and kaolin clay to absorb moisture, and holds up during the sweatiest spin class. $15. Leaves of Trees, 177 Queen St. E., 647-391-0177.

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: how do I keep my neighbours’ kids off our soon-to-be frozen pond?

Dear Urban Diplomat: how do I keep my neighbours' kids off our soon-to-be frozen pond?

(Image: Bradley Gordon/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My partner and I just moved from ­Lawrence Park to Bradford. Our new place is on a huge lot with a small pond. We were chatting to our neighbour, and she said her kids skate on the pond in winter. Um, no. That’s a huge liability. What if one of her kids falls through the ice or cracks his skull open? How do we tell them to keep off our pond without ostracizing ourselves?

—Skate and/or Die, Bradford

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The Dish

People

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Ten things Jamie Kennedy can’t live without

This month, the city’s most famous locavore releases his first cookbook in more than a decade. Here, the 10 things he can’t live without

Ten things Jamie Kennedy can't live without
01
My knife
I’ve been using a general-­purpose Global chef’s knife for a decade. I like the way it feels in my hand: a solid everyday work tool.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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The winners and losers of the absolutely outrageous, viciously competitive, record-breaking market

The Winners and Losers of the Absolutely Outrageous, Viciously Competitive, Record-Breaking Market

For buyers and sellers and those who simply consider real estate a spectator sport, this was the nutty year when the average price of a detached house hit a million. And you’re lucky if those seven figures buy a rickety bungalow next to the tracks. Open houses now require bouncers to control the mobs, buyers eye one another like competitors in a boxing ring, and every week there’s another story of a bidding war that stretched all night and made the seller a killing.

In the following pages, we present a portrait of the manic market. We surveyed the city’s top agents to find the pockets where the fight to own a house is fiercest, and gathered stories from people who’ve wandered into the real estate trenches and barely survived.

The Informer

Columns

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Jan Wong: the appeal of racist Rob

Rob Ford’s habit of hurling N-bombs—and every other racist invective—hasn’t cost him the minority vote. It might even explain his lingering popularity

The Appeal of Racist Rob

(Image: Getty Images)

It’s hard to find an ethnic group Mayor Rob Ford hasn’t denigrated. Let’s recap. So far, the slurs have included, but are not limited to, “fucking kike,” ­“nigger,” “fucking wop,” “dago,” “Paki,” “Gino-boy,” and, my personal favourite, “Oriental people.” He apes the accents of “fucking minorities” (his term), most famously Jamaican patois. His wife, Renata, is a “Polack.” Oh, wait—that was the word Rob’s brother, councillor (and now fill-in mayoral candidate) Doug Ford, used to describe his sister-in-law.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Cocktails On Fire: the city’s best flaming beverages

There’s nothing subtle about the flaming accents on our new favourite sippers

Where to Drink Now: Cocktails On Fire
Circle Red 1
Sugar and Spice
At Jake Valianes’s ­Prohibition-themed Linwood Essentials, the drink to get is Matilda the Unholy One, which combines ­cardamom-infused mezcal and Peat ­Monster scotch with Cherry Heering, chocolate liqueur, pine­apple and lime. $16. 930 Queen St. W., 647-828-9663.

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The Informer

People

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Kevin O’Leary on leaving the CBC, learning from Don Cherry, and befriending Dragons

Love him or loathe him, Kevin O’Leary knows how to get your attention—and he’ll have lots more of it in his new role as CTV Bell Media’s roving (and raving) capitalist

Kevin O'Leary on leaving the CBC, learning from Don Cherry, and befriending Dragons

(Image: courtesy of Bell Media)

Why the move to CTV?
Greater reach. CTV has many media assets, so when I look at how many eyeballs I can reach in a week, it’s difficult to compete with them. My TV work—a hobby gone berserk—gives me an opportunity to talk about the things that matter to me.

Which are?
Number one is to support Canadian entrepreneurs. Two is advocating for smaller government. Government is incredibly inefficient, and I don’t like the fact that they’re vilifying business and intervening in our sectors. And lastly, as Canadians, we don’t expose our kids to the issues around money early enough. Children should be educated about the merits and risks of money starting at the age of five.

Did you do that with your own kids?
Yes, with varied success. I asked them for a percentage of the money they got on their birthdays and then set up accounts for them in trust. They look at the accounts and understand how ­money’s made. I plan to cut them off once their education is done, which my mother did to me. Otherwise they’ll never launch. I see all kinds of entitled kids from wealthy families now and they’re very screwed up.

How did you square your capitalist philosophy with working for the CBC, a government-funded institution?
The CBC is a jewel. It has always had one important mandate—telling ­Canadian stories. Along the way, that mandate got changed and the CBC found itself competing with the private sector. That hasn’t ended well, as we know.

You seem to be trying to nuke the stereo­type of the nice Canadian with your prickly persona. Is that your goal?
I’m not trying to change the persona of a country. My whole attitude in talking about business is to take the emotion out of it. I try to say, look, here’s the cold hard truth about a business idea, and if you think I’m being cruel, I don’t care, because it’s more important that you learn the truth and you learn it early.

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The Informer

Features

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Gridlocked: how incompetence, pandering and baffling inertia have kept Toronto stuck in traffic

Gridlocked: The Botched Union Station Reno

(Image: Peter Andrew)

Getting around the city, by public transit or by car, has become a perpetual nightmare of sardine-tin crowds, endless queues and construction bottlenecks. Gridlock is the lightning-rod issue of this mayoral race, with candidates sparring over which transportation fix—underground subways, surface subways, LRT, more buses, more bike lanes, no bike lanes, more speed bumps, no speed bumps—is best. But to voters, who’ve endured a generation-long succession of false starts, bad decisions and political interference, it’s all empty promises. Toronto’s epic infrastructure fail has put commuters in a fury and brought the city to a halt. Here’s a list of the most egregious scandals in recent memory—and who’s to blame.

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The Informer

Features

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The Family That Won’t Leave

Like hundreds of other Hungarian Roma, Jozsef Pusuma and Timea Daroczi came to Toronto seeking asylum. The refugee board believes they’re bilking the system. The Pusumas say they’re avoiding certain death

The Family That Won't Leave

For the last three years, the Pusumas—Jozsef, Timea and their daughter,
Lulu—have evaded deportation by taking sanctuary in this church

Every refugee story is different, but they all have a shared feature: the decisive moment a person realizes he or she can no longer stay at home. It can come after a slow build-up or as the result of a single cataclysmic event, but at some point there is an irrevocable break.

Until 2008, Jozsef Pusuma and his wife, Timea Daroczi, had a relatively peaceful life in Budapest. The Pusumas are Roma, the ethnic minority sometimes known as gypsies. They lived with their toddler, Lulu, in a small house on Jozsef’s grandmother’s property, a nice place with a few chickens in the yard. Jozsef worked as truck driver, Timea as an office administrator at the Ministry of Education. On weekends, friends and family would come over to barbecue and drink beer, turning a Saturday night into a small party.

Every once in a while, Jozsef would get a call from the office of Viktória Mohácsi, Timea’s sister-in-law and a former member of the European Union parliament. For years, Mohácsi had been documenting the surge of anti-Roma violence that was spreading across Hungary. When Mohácsi needed help, she often asked Jozsef. He would take addresses from her and drive into the country to visit Roma families who had reported attacks. He would listen to their stories of violence and take notes while they told him, a fellow Roma, things they would never tell the authorities.

In the late 2000s, with Hungary deep in recession, parties on the far right made the Roma a convenient scapegoat, spouting virulent anti-gypsy propaganda that helped them gain popularity. In 2010, the Jobbik party—a far-right group with anti-Semitic and anti-Roma views—won 12 per cent of the vote. In 2013, Zsolt Bayer, one of the founders of the ruling party, Fidesz, wrote in a newspaper column that “a significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people…. These animals shouldn’t be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved—immediately and regardless of the method.” The rise of racist politics only legitimized the growing tensions between Hungarians and the Roma. In 2008 and 2009, at least six Roma Hungarians were killed and 50 injured in a series of attacks across the countryside. Militias marched through Roma communities with flaming whips and torches. According to a 2012 survey, 60 per cent of polled Hungarians believed that criminality is in Roma blood.

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The Informer

Columns

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Memoir: no doctor could diagnose my strange affliction—so I did it myself

In my late 20s, I became crippled with debilitating dizziness and headaches. I visited eight doctors—and no one could figure out what was wrong with me

Memoir: My Strange Affliction

A decade ago, I lived in a beautiful apartment near Avenue Road and Davenport, an elegant one-bedroom that contained most of the frothed-up dramas of my highly decorative 20s. I did up my living room in blue Albrizzi lacquer, with a deep feather loveseat upholstered in fuchsia velvet. It was honeytrap decor: my place wasn’t so much a party apartment as an after-party apartment. I filled my fridge with prosecco and my medicine cabinet with designer drugs and my closet with $1,000 dresses I had no business buying. I spent most nights waiting for a guy who usually called at midnight.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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French Immersion: Cluny is a belle époque fantasia of marble, mirrors and giant portions

Cluny, an ambitious new bistro in the Distillery District, elevates the neighbourhood’s ho-hum restaurant scene

The Critic: French Immersion

Top: Cluny’s dramatic coffered ceiling, intricate tiled floor and crusty house-baked loaves laid out on a central bread station add up to a supersized Parisian bistro; Bottom (left): A rich veal meatball, pierced tomahawk-style with a rib-eye bone, is offset by a bright tomato sauce; Bottom (right): The menu offers six options for steak frites

Cluny Bistro 1 star½
35 Tank House Ln., 416-203-2632
How our star system works »

Fifteen years ago, arts degree in hand and no prospects in sight, I took a job as a background extra in the first X-Men movie. It sounded exciting, especially the $250 a day, which was a suspiciously high compensation for someone with no acting experience. I arrived at a set in the defunct Gooderham and Worts distillery on ­Parliament, and followed my fellow extras into a warehouse where we were given scratchy woolen prison outfits and had our heads shaved. It turned out we were playing inmates in a concentration camp for a flashback scene with the villain ­Magneto. This left me uneasy, and I considered grabbing my stuff and fleeing—until I remembered the money. I spent the next three days in ankle-deep mud, drenched by rain machines, wondering what the whiskey barons would have made of all of it. The movie’s final cut includes a split-second shot of what I believe to be my forearm.

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The Informer

Culture

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Material Girl: the psychedelic, day-glo designs of art star Julia Dault

Material Girl

(Images: Laing by Jenna Marie Wakani and Anthea Simms; Art Works courtesy Julia Dault/Jessica Bradley Gallery)

The Toronto-born mixed-media marvel Julia Dault is New York’s latest avant-garde phenomenon. Dault had her big break in 2012, when her work was shown as part of the New Museum’s Triennial. The art world was so bewitched by her dizzying designs that gallerists jockeyed to represent her and the Guggenheim held a dinner in her honour. Among the collectors who now own her work are the fashion mogul Joe Mimran, Wall Street bigwig J. ­Tomilson Hill and the British millionaire Charles Saatchi.

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The Informer

Culture

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Shticks and Giggles: a laugh-lover’s guide to the city’s explosive comedy scene

Shticks and Giggles

Comedy Bar at Bloor and Ossington is the city’s undisputed hub of hilarity.

Toronto’s JFL42 comedy fest returns this month for its third annual 10-day laugh riot. For the uninitiated, the “JFL” part stands for Just for Laughs, and the “42” refers to the number of acts on the lineup, which this year includes Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Seth Meyers and a handful of local comedians. If, like most of us, you require comic relief all year round, this is a great moment to live in Toronto: the city’s indigenous comedy scene has flourished of late. We’re currently flush with neurotic kibitzers, daffy sketch troupes and enough nostalgically divey comedy clubs to fill an entire season of Louie. Here, a guide to navigating all the funny.

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The Goods

Shopping

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The Bespoke Club

The Bespoke Club

At Louis Vuitton’s VIP salon, bag buyers get to choose the shape, leather, colour and hardware. From $8,100. 150 Bloor St. W., 416-968-3993.

Torontonians are suddenly clamouring for personalized shoes, hand-sewn jackets and one-of-a-kind accessories. A primer on the extravagant rise of made-to-order fashion

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The Informer

Culture

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Andrea Martin’s current obsessions: five things the Working the Engels actress is loving right now

The SCTV vet and newly minted author shares her cultural inspirations

Current Obsessions: Andrea Martin

(Image: courtesy Global TV)

On the hit Global series Working the Engels, Andrea Martin taps in to the madcap energy that made her a star on SCTV—her character, the recently widowed Ceil Engel, is perky, ditzy and riotously self-involved. But Martin’s range goes well beyond comic character work: in the past two years, she’s starred in two Broadway shows—including Pippin, which earned her a Tony—and written a memoir called Andrea Martin’s Lady Parts, out this month. Though she credits Broadway pal Nathan Lane for the title, the rest of the collection is pure, unadulterated Martin. Here, she reveals what keeps her inspired.

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