Try and guess who wrote what!
By Sam Linton and Leo K. Moncel & No One Else
Yeah, we know it may be a bit controversial — a bit “out there”, but we’re not afraid to say it: Toronto is a cool place to live. What, are we too controversial for you? Too REAL? Well, before you start flooding MONDO with angry letters demanding the resignation of these far too eXtreme columnists, allow us to list five places in T.O. which we think help make it a cool place to be. If you think you can handle it.
Any BMV Books (10 Edward Street, 471 Bloor Street West, 2289 Yonge Street)
Now, according to my dad’s cousin’s husband, this chain is a monstrous, multi-headed hydra (a redundant descriptor, admittedly) that sells books cheap because they were stolen from other, better book chains that maintain honest business practices (coincidentally, my dad’s cousin’s husband owns a Book City franchise). All I know is that they’ve got cheap books, cheap comics, and cheap DVD/TVD. In my book, that spells “honest business practices,” no matter how dishonest those practices may be. Familial obligations aside, I could never be angry at the chain that turned me on to Love & Rockets via their low, low prices on selected overstocked titles. These are the prices that have me labeling BMV as “a cool place,” no matter where that place may be (three city locations; see above). Books are cool, DVDs are cool, and low prices are just slammin’, so ipso facto, BMV is cool, right? Right.
P.S. So as not to sound like a total product placement, I should reiterate that BMV may, according to gossip, be a party to unethical business practices which harm the local small-businessman/woman. (Legal disclaimer: I am not saying that this claim is substantiated, and am thus not engaged in libel. I am merely repeating gossip, like so many supermarket tabloids.)
The Beguiling (601 Markham Street)
If you love the comics as much as I do (and really, I’m only around medium on the full continuum of comic geekosity,) you’ll love the Beguiling. See, the Beguiling is for everyone. Me, I like my Dave Sim (Cerebus) and gambling with the homemade stuff off the big rack in the front. But then I’ve got a friend who likes more offbeat stuff like Dan Clowes (Ghost World). And then I’ve got a friend who’s big-time into Marvel and all of that business. And we all agree that the Beguiling is where it’s at! The store wisely segregates the snobs from the yobs by putting the smarty-art comics and hell, even real book-books, in the downstairs section, and putting Marvel whammo comics and merchandise and manga upstairs. And it’s all in a house-turned-store behind the Honest Ed’s in the best bloody neighbourhood in the world.
The Giant LCBO on Yonge (Summerhill & Yonge)
Who’d have thought so much happiness could be found in one building? O, giant LCBO on Yonge just north of Summerhill, you make my heart sing and my liver cry out in agony! Seriously, this building is like my Mecca, in that I always make sure that I know what direction it is relative to me in case I need to kneel down and pray towards something. (That’s not offensive, right? Equating liquor with religion? Nah.) It’s the store with so much booze it takes a former train station (The North Toronto Train station, restored) to hold it all. I don’t even have to get anything to drink; I can just go there and kill a good hour or two walking down the hallowed halls, imagining cocktails, and putting beers, wines, and spirits on my mental “someday… someday…” list. Plus, it’s probably one of the classiest liquor stores in one of the most fairly high-end neighborhoods of the city, so there’s little chance of having your booze stolen from you right as you exit the store (happened to a friend of mine, I swear). Not that I’m a particular fan of high-end in general, but when it comes to liquor stores, better really DOES mean better. I mean, dodging desperate homeless people and sketch-machines does make for an entertaining Friday night booze purchase, but it’s not the kind of thing you want at a place where you go to worship. Anyway, if you can stomach going to a neighborhood full of spy gadget stores and pet beauty salons (catering to male and female rich idiots, respectively), I would always recommend a trip to Liquor-Mecca.
Mountain Equipment Co-Op (400 King Street West)
Seriously, it’s awesome. First of all, the building. Big glass front and then high, high ceilings. It’s a big trick to make you feel like you’re outdoors so that you think that you need all the stuff they’re selling right now. I had to buy a backpack and they were all laid out across the wall – some shiny and bright, others tough and sturdy, some rustic, some stylish, but all were beautiful. After an hour I chose the “book bag” backpack despite the feeling I should’ve got a more outdoorsy one, since I was at M.E.C. and am quasi-outdoorsy myself. The bag went for $32 and fulfilled my three criteria: space for laptop and binder, a compartment for a tupperwared lunch, and zippers that looked real sturdy. Then I perused the place for about an hour, just awestruck by all the stuff one could purchase for adventures one could have. I didn’t leave without getting a headlamp (the clerk knew a lot and ensured me this one would be suitable for night bikin’) and two dark chocolate bars, organic and free trade, to be a gift for a co-worker who cares about those things and very much loves chocolate.
The ROM, The ROM (what what) The ROM (100 Queen’s Park)
I know, the Michael Lee Chin Crystal may have left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people (not me! I love big ugly postmodern trainwrecks!), but c’mon, it’s The ROM! Many was the Saturday I spent there as a lad, looking through all the secret collections and hidden documents hidden from the general public under the benevolent auspices of the museum’s Saturday Morning Club. Mighty times they were, mighty times. Now, I’ll grant you that I was ten at the time, so any building that housed both dinosaurs and knights was pretty much guaranteed to titillate me in ways a pre-pubescent child would not readily have reference for. And although I’m not ten anymore, the glimpse of a full-length tyrannosaurus skeleton through the windows of that new crystal is still enough to give me that warm tingle of excitement, and the promise of knights is still definitely enough to get me inside the building. Then there are the giant totem poles going up the stairs, which of course are just gravy.