You know you live in interesting times when the chief of police is the most powerful person in town. What propelled Chief Blair to the top of our Influentials list was Rob Ford’s Crackgate—a story that consumed the city for much of the last year and whose bewildering narrative is still being written. Of course, Ford wasn’t the only politician who behaved badly in 2013. Chronic dysfunction is evident at all levels of government, from the petty infighting at city hall to the crippling gamesmanship at Queen’s Park and the expense scandals on Parliament Hill. And yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. Some of the city’s most formidable leaders are outside the traditional halls of power: global hip-hop stars, tech titans, gossip bloggers and guitar-strumming astronauts, among others. The people ranked here all did something in 2013 that made an impact on our lives, for better or for worse. Our list demonstrates that sometimes influence is enduring, sometimes it’s fickle and sometimes it rests on a single cellphone video that could forever change the complexion of the city.
All stories relating to Margaret Atwood
Should Canada’s anthem be gender-neutral? Literary goddess Margaret Atwood and former PM Kim Campbell think so. Their proposed two-word tweak (“in all thy sons command” would become “in all of us command”) even has a historical precedent. It does not, however, command true patriot love in NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, who is strangely adamant that no one mess with the lyrics. [Macleans]
1 | She eats bugs
“My dad was an entomologist, so I have nothing against eating insects. Giant locusts are delicious toasted.”
2 | She thinks about killing people
“The murder story I wrote for the New Yorker came out of an Arctic cruise I went on with an organization called Adventure Canada. A bunch of us were talking about how, if you wanted to kill someone up there and get away with it, you would do it.”
Toronto’s Best Tweeters: top Twitter feeds from local entertainers, athletes and media personalities
Toronto’s Twitter-happy celebrity set supplies a constant stream of bon mots, feuds and photo scandals, so choosing our favourite social media mavens meant scrolling through thousands of tweets. We settled on 10 notables whose 140-character missives are both funny and revealing. Some are native Torontonians, others have moved here more recently and one or two have only a tenuous tie to the city (but are just too good to pass up). Here, a list of 10 Twitter virtuosos, and why we chose them.
1. THE PENELOPIAD
Following last year’s acclaimed run, Nightwood Theatre’s production of The Penelopiad is back at Buddies in Bad Times. Written by Margaret Atwood as a response to Homer’s The Odyssey, this play’s all-female cast is led by Megan Follows (yes, of Anne of Green Gables fame), who stars as Odysseus’s wife Penelope as she waits for her husband to return home (an absence that stretches decades). Joining Follows is her Anne co-star, Patricia Hamilton, as well as a flock of actresses who form a dazzling Greek chorus. January 8–February 10. $37–$45. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St., 416-975-8555, buddiesinbadtimes.com
The people driving the agenda for the city are more likely to come from outside local government than inside. This was the year our premier, rendered virtually impotent by a minority legislature, up and quit without warning. And our mayor, who listens to no one and refuses to build consensus on council, has created a city hall power vacuum.
What follows is Toronto Life’s list of the real influence peddlers—the people who, either publicly or behind the scenes, have had the greatest impact on the city. We looked for people whose power was broad enough to be felt across different sectors, or else so palpable in their immediate field that it somehow changed things for the rest of us. We looked for people whose ability to alter public opinion, raise money, rally troops or simply get stuff done was both formidable and undeniable. The result is a carefully calculated and highly opinionated look at power in the city in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
The 10 best Toronto Halloween costumes this year (including what Karen Stintz and Margaret Atwood wore)
Although one Maple Leaf had trouble finding an appropriate Halloween costume, there were still plenty of great disguises this year. We rounded up the best of those donned by local politicians and celebrities, as well as our favourite Toronto-centric costumes from Twitter (including a baby dressed up in a Toronto Life–approved get-up).
We’re fairly sure that having a piano quartet playing in the living room is a normal after-supper digestive for many Rosedale households. Having Gemini award-winner Nicholas Campbell read a monologue from the War of the Worlds, is likely more of a rarity. That experience, however, was part of the fifth annual Art of Time Ensemble Salon this past Wednesday night. Held at a private mansion (the kind with a lion-shaped door knocker and a tennis court-sized kitchen), the fundraiser for the venerable music ensemble drew creative types (painter Rundi Phelan, actor and Paul Gross sweetheart Martha Burns, director Daniel Brooks), philanthropists (Jim Fleck, CAMH chair Ana Lopes, Donald and Gretchen Ross) and the generally fabulous (James Stewart, the mathematician/text book writer who built possibly the most opulent residence in Toronto).
Earlier this week, Wayne Gretzky was in town talking, oddly enough, about investment strategy. Apparently, The Great One isn’t only adept at stickhandling behind the net (his office, so to speak); he can also manage your stock portfolio. After all, in this age of Ted Talks and corporate retreats, one of the quickest and easiest ways for the famous and voluble to get even richer is through speaking engagements—and the topics they cover don’t even have to be married with the reason they’re famous in the first place. Gretzky, for example, clocks a $50,000-a-pop speaking fee and a staggering $1 million per annum from TD Bank to talk about money management. And he’s not alone. Here, Gretzky and nine other Toronto notables who are cashing in on the speaking circuit.
This year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature doesn’t get announced until October, but London oddsmaker Ladbrokes is already setting off speculation in the book world as to which lucky scribbler will be heading to Oslo in the late fall to collect a medal. Yesterday, Ladbrokes released its list of likely candidates, and Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami is the clear favourite, with odds of 10:1. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
A sojourn to Northern Ontario used to mean grabbing a sleeping bag and a can of beans and roughing it in the woods, all in the name of character building. Today, high-end camps offer perks that sound like something out of a brochure for a four-star resort. Here, a glimpse at life as a modern-day camp kid. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, we told you about a T-shirt printed with a Rob Ford caricature and signed by Margaret Atwood that was up for sale on eBay. (It was a ploy to raise funds and attract attention to Fanado, a start-up Atwood founded that helps fans connect with artists). In the final hours of the auction yesterday, the bidding jumped from $85 (US) to several thousand dollars—in the end the T-shirt ended up selling for a staggering $7,100 (US). Atwood may not be a big fan of the mayor, but it looks like she’s found a way to benefit from his hijinks. [eBay]
Ever dream of sporting a caricature of Rob Ford flipping the bird, autographed by Margaret Atwood? The opportunity to do just that has arrived, thanks to an eBay user working on behalf of Atwood who is selling a T-shirt signed by the author and frequent Ford critic. The one-of-a-kind shirt is emblazoned with a striking image of the mayor (which we recognize from Atomic Toybot’s Ford-themed art show this spring), and the sale is a ploy to get attention and cash for Fanado, a start-up Atwood founded that helps fans connect to their favourite artists. The shirt has already attracted at least a few interested bidders and currently stands at $255 (US). Unfortunately, most people—including Ford himself—will not be able to sport the rare design, as it only comes in small. [eBay]
The Trillium Awards, the annual ceremony for Ontario-based authors, took place, fittingly, at the Toronto Reference Library last week. The awards have honoured some of Canada’s most famous writers, like Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, and this was an extra-special night in celebration of the event’s 25th year. Nominees wore pink flowers, while past winners wore white to differentiate themselves in the massive crowd of literati (we guess wearing trilliums would be a little premature for the pink-flowered crowd). As it has since 1994, the event also fêted French- speaking nominees, so hosts Heather Hiscox of CBC News and Karen Thorn-Stone, president of the Ontario Media Development Agency, jumped between French and English (it becomes a rather long night when you hear everything twice). Though Hiscox sounded fluent, Thorn-Stone’s delivery seemed a touch forced—she even quipped, after her first French foray received a round of applause, “Now you’re just making fun of me.”