Toronto

We met @JohnToryTO…

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So this happened yesterday (sort of):

@JohnToryTO
@JohnToryTO

“What happened?” you might be asking. Well, that’s my family in the cover image of the Twitter page of Toronto’s future mayor, John Tory. From left to right is my nephew Omar, niece Iman, Kahzmir (DS8) and my beautiful wife Minaz. Oh yeah, and beside her is Tory. 🙂

It’s kinda funny that they are on Tory’s page. Not that we don’t like him. He’s probably the most likeable guy running to be our mayor this October. He’s also smart, a dedicated public servant, and been successful in almost everything he has done in business.

Why is it funny? We probably would not have even thought of voting for Tory if he was running for the PC Party of Ontario. But as a mayoral candidate for the city of Toronto? Sure, why not?

The photo above and the one’s below were taken at the Taste of Lawrence Festival a few weeks ago in Scarborough.

@JohnToryTO with @karimkanji
@JohnToryTO with @karimkanji

And here’s the obligatory selfie….

@karimkanji and @JohnToryTO
@karimkanji and @JohnToryTO
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The beautiful sounds of Lorraine Klaasen at #TOJazzFest

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I’ve spent most of my life living north of the 401. Even the past 8 years that I’ve lived south of the 401 I’m still close enough that if I listen very carefully, I can still hear the eastbound traffic.

That being the case, it’s near impossible for me to trek downtown to catch most of the festivals that Toronto has to offer. You see, Toronto’s festivals mostly take place downtown: Pride parade and events, NXNE, TIFF, Fringe Festival, Carnival/Caribana, Buskerfest, JFL42, Nuit Blanche and, until recently, the Toronto Jazz Festival.

And I’d like to thank the Shops at Don Mills for bringing “Toronto” to the “burbs”.

Shops on Don Mills courtesy of  Napkins and Nannies
Shops at Don Mills courtesy of Napkins and Nannies

This year, Toronto’s Jazz Festival is returning and playing at the Shops’ Town Square. And Sunday’s afternoon performance by Montreal’s Lorraine Klaasen under a clear blue sky was amazing!

Backed by a four piece band, Klaasen sang numerous popular songs from her catalogue as well as songs from popular Southern African singers, including from her mom, Thandi Klaasen (one of South Africa’s most beloved singers).

If you didn’t know her (and I didn’t when I joined the hundreds of music fans on the green lawn in front of the stage) you would have thought you were listening to Soweto’s most popular music export. And while that’s partially true, Klaasen currently calls Montreal home. Just last year she won the Juno award for World Music Album of the year!

While I arrived late for her show, I enjoyed the last 5 songs of her set. Her songs kept everyone dancing (the people who braved the heat and sun) clapping and dancing in their chairs (the rest of us who didn’t want to drop from dehydration!). I would 100% recommend Lorraine Klaasen to anyone who is a fan of music.

Lorraine Klaasen plays Toronto Jazz Festival
Lorraine Klaasen plays Toronto Jazz Festival

Here’s a bit of her bio from her Wikipedia page:

Lorraine Klaasen was influenced by South Africa’s musical giants of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe, Dorothy Masuka, Sophie Mgcina and Busi Mhlongo, contemporaries and friends of her mother, Thandi Klaasen.

She launched her career at a very young age, accompanying her mother to live performances all over South Africa and neighboring states of Mozambique and Swaziland. Later she got into musical theater and toured across Europe, eventually arriving in Canada where she settled in Montreal.

Klaasen’s musical repertoire has been steadily infused with a blend of Quebec, Haitian and French African influences, along with several African languages (Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Lingala) and her band musicians’ Caribbean roots to create an eclectic sound.

Lorraine Klaasen was nominated and subsequently won the 2013 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year for her album Tribute to Miriam Makeba, released in 2012.

For more on this amazing singer check out her website at http://www.lorraineklaasen.com/

Klaasen and her mother were the favourite musicians of the late Nelson Mandela.

I met Olivia Chow…just inside Scarborough

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On Sunday I spent the afternoon like many Torontonians did: at a barbeque. However, this particular barbeque was interesting. Toronto Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow was the guest of honour. My friend (who also happens to be the dad of two of my other friends – META!) was hosting an afternoon barbeque in support of Madam Chow.

She was dressed in a simple, yet elegant, yellow summer dress. She didn’t talk too long but did promise to bring respect and vision to City Hall. What struck me most was that Madam Chow didn’t speak like a populist. She didn’t promise to spend money nor stop spending money. She actually talked about building a city where people could get to work on time; a city that was clean and where the air was breathable; a city that cared for it’s young and elderly; a city that we could be proud to call home no matter if we lived in north Etobicoke or near the bluffs in Scarborough.

Olivia Chow
Olivia Chow

And, I think, that’s the type of city and leader Torontonians want: a city builder. I don’t want someone to cut services. I don’t want a Mayor who feels they need to fight to get things done. I want a Mayor who wants to build a city: a place where we can be safe to live, work and play.

Olivia Chow takes a selfie!
Olivia Chow takes a selfie!

a new direction. maybe

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If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time or even if you scroll through the posts over the years, you will find that I have written about so many things. And most of the time, nothing in particular.

I’ve blogged about real estate, banking, social media, books and much more. I’ve even used this space to re-blog other blogs in the WordPress community. I also re-post articles that I’ve written in other spaces such as Catalyst (where I work) and itbusiness.

Recently, I’ve been itching to write about so much more: theatre I watch, places I visit, politics, music, and even podcasts I listen to. So I figured I’d rename the blog. The url is not changing – karimkanji.com (or karimkanji.wordpress.com). But I thought the title should.

So allow me to introduce you to “observations from just inside scarborough”. I live in Scarborough. Or, I should say, just inside Scarborough. Fred Patterson – co-host of The Humble and Fred Show – once asked me where I live. I replied, “Just inside Scarborough.” Why? You’d have to live just inside Scarborough to understand.

Well, that’s enough rambling.

Hope you enjoy the show!

Just Inside Scarborough - photo from Toronto Star
Just Inside Scarborough – photo from Toronto Star

 

Review: coffee, beer and mosh pits

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coffee, beer and mosh pits

On Tuesday night I had the opportunity to visit the Toronto Reference Library and listen to Randy Bachman tell stories like no one else can. But that is for another blog post. Today’s post – and photos – is from an amazing collection of photos, videos and posters which exhibit Toronto’s diverse and eclectic music scene from the 1960’s until today.

Maestro Fresh Wes
Maestro Fresh Wes

This jam is amplified. So just glide and let your backbone slide. Remember Maestro Fresh Wes from Scarborough? Now my favourite Canadian rap artist stars on Mr. D on CBC. Soon, he’ll be a guest on Toronto Mike’d with Mike Boon.

Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene

Toronto’s Broken Social Scene is perhaps the most influential musical collective and is headed up by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. The group has helped with the musical maturity of acts such as Metric, Leslie Feist, and The Stars. You can actually see the latest incarnation of Broken Social Scene this summer at the Field Trip outdoor concert festival.

coffee, beer and mosh pits
coffee, beer and mosh pits

Classic posters and hand bills in the gallery.

More posters and photos
Guess Who? More posters and photos
Yorkville Music Scene
Yorkville Music Scene

Yorkville was once home to future musical greats such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

Coffee, Beer and Mosh Pits runs in the TD Gallery of the Toronto Reference Library until the end of this month. Visit the website for more information

Cost: Free

7 Things To Do With Your Kid During March Break in Toronto

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March Break
March Break

March Break is finally upon us. That means two things.

First, the weather should be improving. I’m not holding my breath on this one. Second, parents (like yours truly) will be scrambling to figure out how to keep our kids occupied, engaged and alive.

Here are SEVEN ideas (as I type this at 12:55am) for you to try. You can thank me later.

  1. Go to the Royal Ontario Museum. They have a really cool March Break camp. And for those not inclined for a full week of museum programming, they do have drop in sessions.
  2. The Hockey Hall of Fame is always a popular choice. And this March Break features Olympic hockey!
  3. The Toronto Zoo has a March Break camp. But cooler than that are baby polar bears. And pandas. Did I mention BABY POLAR BEARS? 🙂
  4. I’m taking my son to the Arcade Fire concert. Why? It’s his 8th birthday on the 13th. What else should we do? 🙂
  5. Skating. Looking for public rinks that are open? Check out the City of Toronto website.
  6. Trails and hikes. Going on hikes to discover Toronto’s urban wilderness will be an adventure you and your kids will never forget. Here’s one suggestion for Monday. Search on your favourite search engine for more ideas.
  7. There is nothing more rewarding and lasting than reading. And there is nowhere better for that than Toronto’s Public Library system.

Do you have anything else to suggest?

Toronto is Awesome: Reason #14 – Toy Mountain Show

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Toy Mountain
Toy Mountain

This is my 14th submission in the Toronto Is Awesome series. I would love your comments, thoughts and future suggestions for this series.

Every year, since before time began, Uncle Neil and his friends have been putting on a concert to raise money and toys for children during Christmas. Tomorrow, Sunday December 8th, is their next event.

Last year I met Neil and had the chance to go to the Toy Mountain Concert. I was floored. There was toys (thousands of them) all over the place. From the floor to the ceiling. All over the place. And the place was packed with people of all ages. Especially children.

Neil and his friends are truly one of those groups of people that make Toronto Awesome!

Hope to see you at the concert tomorrow. Click on THIS LINK for details.