Truthfully, I preferred it when I worked further downtown. At least there I could afford to shop! In Yorkville (as the area around Bloor and Avenue is called) the stores are more Chanel and Versace than Wal-Mart and Dollar Giant. Being near the Eaton's Centre was great. I liked being within walking distance of the SkyDome (you can call it the Rogers Centre from now until Kingdom come, but it will always be the SkyDome to me!) and the Mirvish empire known as the "Entertainment District". I just love the feel of that area of Toronto.
But that being said, the one time of year that it's cool to be in Yorkville is during the Toronto International Film Festival, commonly referred to as "TIFF." During TIFF the entire area changes and starts dripping with celebrities. My big story from TIFF was always in 2002, when I saw Nick Nolte eating lunch at an outside cafe outside the Club Monaco store on Bloor. I went back to my office and was talking to a coworker who also saw him, and we both agreed that he looked like one of the homeless guys who sleep on the back ledges of the Club Monaco store. A few days later a certain famous photo of him was taken:
Tonight, for the first time in seven years, I wandered around Yorkville during TIFF. I was only there for about an hour, and it was the wrong time of day for celebrity-spotting. In fact, the most exciting thing I saw was - I think - Jon Hamm. And I've never watched Mad Men, so not all that exciting for me.
So, I had a lot of time for observations, and here are the ones that I remember:
- Walking around Yorkville during TIFF, everyone looks like they could be somebody. 90% of them, aren't.
- There are a lot of Escalades with tinted windows during TIFF.
- During TIFF, I think that the population of Toronto (usually around 2.5 million) becomes much closer to the population of New York City (around 8.5 million). Seriously, I have not seen so many people crowded on to one section of sidewalk since the last time I was in Manhattan.
- No offense to my American friends, but it is SO easy to tell the Americans when you're walking around Yorkville right now.
- I don't like cigar bars. This has nothing to do with TIFF, but I just didn't like the giant cloud of smelly cigar smoke that got puffed into my face.
- I did not see Ben Affleck. Despite being told that he's a jackass, I'm still disappointed.
- I also did not see Ben Mulroney, despite hanging around a building with ETalk logos all over it.
- I do miss being in Toronto. Hopefully as my kids get older it will be easier for me to just go and hang out again the way that I used to. Roger Ebert has made me a fan for life with the way he's been tweeting Toronto's praises in the past couple of days.