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well heeled


i've tried to explain the various differences between montreal and toronto to many people over the years, but i've never really found an appropriate metaphor, until today. the exultation of montreal's extraordinary joie de vivre ignores the difficulty many people have in finding decent work at a living wage. the dismissal of toronto as being conservative likewise dismisses the absolutely shocking variety of experiences available.

but, fresh off a weekend in montreal, i suddenly thought of a very appropriate way to judge the differences between cities. and it's one you would have thought would have occurred to me earlier: shoes.


so what do the shoes have to tell us?

well, in very literal terms, that montreal weather is harsher than toronto's, so shoes don't last as long. as aa result, montreal shoes tend to look like they've had better days, whereas toronto shoes often look as if they're just seeing the outside of the box for the first time.

shoes in toronto tend to show very little wear. in fact, worn shoes are a fashion statement (or a statement of dire economic straits) in themselves. they also tend to be pricier and from a handful of brands that enjoy an irritating ubiquity (yes, i can spot them).


this points to an economic disparity, because people in montreal tend to have less money, a lot less, than their counterparts in toronto, meaning the shoes are both cheaper and forced to last longer.

there tend to be fewer running shoes in montreal, including those odoious puma "sport lifestyle" shoes, which are everywhere in toronto. why? because montrealers are a lot more fashion conscious and have worked out that, unless you're in a gym, running shoes are a bad end point to any outfit. montrealers would rather buy a good looking pair and wear them wherever they go than stroll in shoes which are built for activity. (which, in turn, says something about the practicality of torontonians.)

the most interesting thing, for me at least, is that shoes in montreal, being more worn, show that they are lived in. they aren't simply slipped on before hopping in the car and then slipped off at the end of the day, having never touched any outdoor surface. shoes carry people in that city from one part of their life to another- often involving being outdoors, walking around the city, or taking the rather admirable public transit system. torontonians are a more predictable, sedentary lot, who move from indoor space to indoor space and tend to treat mass transit like a biohazard zone. shoes are in better condition because they simply never come out to play.

Comments

If you want a shorter form of that metaphor, you could say that Torontoan use their city, while Montrealers wear it.
pelao said…
great insights! i spent brief time in each city, both of them great, montreal had a more european oldschool feel to it, whereas toronto was definitely "metropolitan", yet not "abusive"....is the metaphor extensive to handwear as well?

as long as you're here, why not read more?

dreamspeak

ok, so i've been lax about posting here. i apologise. there are reasons. i don't know if they'ree good reasons, but they include:


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dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

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mental health mondays :: separate and not equal

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the united states surgeon general documented the differences between white and non-white mental health care back in 2001 so we can assume that it was already a known problem at that point. two years later, a presidential commission said the same damn thing and groups like the national association for mental health seized on this to develop guidelines on how to bridge the ethnic gap. from the turn of the century through 2007, the number of papers and publications talking about the mental health care gap spiked. the issue was viewed as being on par with obesity when it came to urgent problems.

starting in 2004, researchers undertook a massive project that involved the records of nearly a quart…