Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bill King On Drake, Basketball And A Changed Toronto

Drizzy cheers for his home team Raptors

Drizzy cheers for his home team Raptors
Welcome to the 6!

In all honesty, I haven’t a clue if Drake is the second coming of Marvin Gaye or whoever. I do know Marvin Gaye was a voice endowed with grace, power, and agility - gifted by the Gods of all Gods. Drake is the voice of our times as defined by cult millennials.

Once we were protective of our innermost insecurities, too affected and pressured to cry a river over being “dissed” by an appealing female and too proud to admit we didn’t have five coins in our pockets to take the young woman out for a round of put-away golf.  We are living in the big “reveal.”  Lay it out there and they will sob!

What really makes me smile is how much we have changed as a city and Drake bears a hint of responsibility. It’s all about inner city and the suburbs – it’s all about sports – one sport, basketball.

We have lost our hockey pride – that love affair with losing season after season. We actually have teams that win without looking over a shoulder and back at the ‘60s. Say it loud, basketball is the new hockey, and baseball keeps chugging along and cramming bodies into stands as long as there are wins.

Why the big shift?

 Let me explain. After recently riding the subway just a few stops between Christie and Sherbourne, a straight line across the city, two schools of kids boarded. The first group ranged in age between 10 – 12 years old. This was the United Nations car. So much of what happened in front of me could fill the pages of a novella. A young white boy wearing thick lens glasses looks admiringly at a young black girl with beautifully twisted corn rolls circling her head. They were friends. The boy was more than smitten; he was near paralyzed, lost in dream infatuation. To the right of me a young black girl rests her head on the shoulder of a Chinese boy her age. The act seemed so natural and human it would send legions of howling Trump supporters chanting –“let’s Make America Great Again – look what happened to Toronto.” At least twenty-five kids of every face and color milled about laughing and hanging on each other. Verdict – this is Drake’s Toronto.

This is the world born of immigrants – that rainbow of color now here to stay. Few will ever know who Marvin Gaye is - if so, will discover mid-life and marvel at the polished artistry then push the reset button and summon familiarity.

The second group of young people were in their latter teens, under control and underwhelmed yet nearly as diverse as the ten year olds. They are the ones promised the good life yet facing near impossible obstacles. Who can afford a down payment on a million dollar home in Toronto and why? This is not going to be a win, win situation for those soon to enter the family market.

Toronto has made tremendous strides shedding the ultra un-cool image of “Hogtown.” I always loathed that reference then one day the abattoirs were banished and the air cleared. The stink lifted and developers went condo crazy. I have no idea what the finishing touch will be yet I’m sure it’s not going to be a Renoir; something more akin to a Jackson Pollock.

As summer approaches and life returns above ground, Toronto will endure street closures as we repair hundred year old water mains, cyclists will hug hundreds of miles of curb space, cafes will become loitering areas and we will complain about the intense 80 degree heat. Every weekend will be swallowed by a festival, a savory retreat on Toronto Islands, the sound of grass murder, the sawing of oblong planks and the crack of a nail's head. The streets will not roll over and play dead as once was the case; they will thrive and socialize well until early morning.

Our greatest fear – the world will wake up and want a piece of us – perhaps the whole pie. We endured the insults, the oversights and now cautiously welcome the accolades. Welcome to Toronto CMW - We are North!

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