A few days back, the National Post published a review online of The Raven, the new, widely panned movie starring John Cusack as
a raven Edgar Allen Poe. The review, written by Chris Knight—well, it’s pretty wonderful, composed as it is in trochaic octameter, the same meter that Poe wrote “The Raven” in:
In a cinema quite darkened where the trailers have you hearken
To some new enticement of the cinematic lore
All at once you’ll feel a zapping of some force – your will it’s sapping!
But you’ll stay although the film you see is something of a bore.
Even with John Cusack starring it is something of a bore.
’Tis The Raven; nothing more.
You are applauding, and I am with you. But—oh! horror!—oh! any horror but this!—towards the end of Knight’s review, there’s a line that includes notes (to a copy editor? from Knight? inserted by some kind of publishing program?) that aren’t for readers to see, and that do that thing that most bad errors do, which is suck the reader right out of what they were reading.
For this article for The Grid about just how many Starbucks, Second Cup, Timothy’s, Country Style, and Coffee Time locations there are in Toronto (a lot!), I spent a half-day digging through an Excel spreadsheet of all of Toronto’s active business licences. Because operators fill out the licence applications themselves, typos sometimes make their way onto a business licence, a problem that’s probably never more prevalent and certainly never more obvious than with franchises. (Does every McDonald’s owner need to know how to spell or punctuate McDonald’s if they’re not making the signage or printing the menus themselves?) It doesn’t make searching through licensing data to actually count how many different locations Starbucks has easy, but it does make it a little more fun.
Here are some of the businesses that I just barely didn’t miss, all of them legitimate franchisees:
The Globe did a great thing today—they got, and mapped, twenty-five years of cycling collision data. And then they released the data, which makes it much easier for people like me to tell you, say, the total number of reported collisions on any street you can name. Which is what I’m going to do here.
Here are some of the Toronto streets that stuck out from a glance at the map as especially accident-heavy, as well as the number of collisions those streets have per kilometre, with the obvious caveat that these counts don’t necessarily reflect how safe or dangerous a street is (College–Carlton is the street where the greatest number of cycling accidents occur per kilometre, but a lot of cyclists use it), and also that my per-kilometre counts are rough because I used this to determine how long any given street is within Toronto.
Along with my article about a missing Banksy, the other article I wrote for the Globe and Mail a few months back (while I was freelancing, before landing at The Grid) was about a synagogue coming to Forest Hill Village that’s based on one that the Nazis burned down in Poland. (It’s on the stretch of Spadina Road pictured above.) Since it’s no longer available for free online, here it is in its entirety. I still really can’t believe I got away with the title.
Because it’s no longer freely available online, here’s the article I wrote for the Globe back in September, about the demolition of a downtown building that a work by super-famous British street artist Banksy was on.
The latest on the wall: it’s in storage, and so, too, is the stencil of a security guard that Banksy painted onto it. The new towers coming where it was are still on track. (You can follow this thread for updates.) And the City of Toronto staff report about 90 Harbour and 1 York property [PDF] must be the only staff report to ever allude to Banksy—there, at the bottom of page 3, it says that “Staff have been advised that some exterior panels and interior elements were salvaged and stored but at present it is unclear the extent of the salvage or the intent of incorporation.”
I wrote The Grid's cover story this week: everything you've ever wanted to know about where you get food in this city but were afraid to ask because what are you some kind of scaredy cat? (On newsstands today!) There's a lot of different stuff to go explore online:
- For starters, there’s this interactive map of every single restaurant, grocery store, café, cafeteria, food processing plant, ice cream truck and so on and so on that’s been ordered closed by Toronto Public Health’s food safety program since January 4, 2001. See if you can find the one place in the city that’s received more “CLOSED” notices than the Green Room.
- Then, there’s this by-the-numbers breakdown from eleven years of inspection data. Didja know that health inspectors have cited operators for 139 rodent infestations and 111 insect infestations? That sort of thing.
- And if you were looking at the map, and wondering why Chinatown and Kensington Market have such a disproportionate number of closures, and what it takes for a place to actually get ordered closed, the head of the food-safety program, Jim Chan, has got all the answers.
- I tagged along on an inspection of Chinatown staple Mother’s Dumplings, and online on Friday, we’ll be publishing the play-by-play. Don’t worry: it passed with flying colours. [UPDATE: …and here it is.]
- Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, we’re releasing all the data we got from Toronto Public Health as the result of my end-of-year freedom of information request. The data contains the full results of every inspection that resulted in either a conditional pass—the bright yellow signs you’ll sometimes see in restaurant windows—or a closure notice. You can download that data at the foot of the map page, and make your own stuff with it.
Back in October, I started making a map of where all of Toronto’s residents’ associations and neighbourhood groups were. But as it’s gotten bigger and bigger and I’ve added more and more groups to it, I bumped into a problem I hadn’t considered: that Google Maps can only display so many items at a time on a regular map. It’s annoying. So, this weekend, I moved all of the data to Google Fusion Tables, which can handle a lot more data and lets you mess around with how things look a bit better.
The new map is now right here. (You can also use j.mp/torontoresidents to share it; you’ll notice the page is a lot friendlier to someone stumbling across it for the first time than a regular Google Map.) As ever, it’s a work in progress, but at least it’s one that’s getting better and better.
Something I found this summer in a catalogue sitting in the basement of the Art Gallery of Ontario: a portrait of one “Michael Topping, Esq.” by John Smart. The AGO has at least one other piece by Smart, but I’ve never heard of this “Michael Topping” guy before, and neither has my cousin’s wife, who maintains our family tree—but then, my family tree doesn’t even go back that far: the earliest Topping we’ve got was Robert Topping, my great-great-great-grandfather, born in 1833, who became a boiler maker. He lived at 234 Berkeley, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, which nowadays looks something like this. [UPDATE, 2:35 p.m.: Thanks to Quin Parker for pointing out that this is a more accurate Google Street View of 234 Berkeley. Adds Parker: “To me, that tenement looks unsullied by 110 years of Glasgow grime (compare others on street). So old 234 [was] prolly knocked down”]