Working a suburban ward lined with strip malls, there are just a few choice places to be a "man of the people," and the Valley Fields Family Restaurant is one of them. We met last week, and as the Councillor sipped ice tea and waited for his large plate of fries, he smiled and told me that he just got tickets to the TIFF premiere of The Men Who Stare at Goats and would thus need to duck out in about half an hour.
The right-wing Councillor for Don Valley East was first elected in 1994. He moved into the neighbourhood when he was 8-years-old, after his parents bought a three-bedroom bungalow, their first house. We chat and easily finish the interview in 20 minutes, and then his girlfriend pops in wearing a black sequined outfit before they step into a silver convertible and head for the red carpet.
Trying to write a memoir about depression when you're depressed is, well, downright depressing, but for Wong, who just submitted her manuscript to the publisher, putting fingers to a keyboard is the only thing to do.
Wong's books revolve around her own experiences -- in Beijing Confidential, she writes about the guilt she felt later in life, remembering how as a diehard Maoist she turned in a fellow university student who requested help to flee to America in the middle of the Cultural Revolution -- and in Red China Blues, how her idealism turned to hardened realism as she chronicled corruption and tragedies like the Tiananmen Square massacre as the Globe & Mail's Beijing correspondent from 1988 to 1994.
An intricate shaded tattoo of a grapevine starts on his right foot winding all the way up the side of his body and down his arm. On his back a tree grows up his spine and across his shoulders. He got the tattoos in his fifties because he loved the artist, Daemon Rowanchilde, and chose them partly because they're symbols of inherent strength without the nasty aggression.
A proud trainspotter, Munro's been riding the rocket for kicks since he was a kid. He parlayed that love into a life of transit activism, crafting a reputation at City Hall for his reasoned ideas and ability to recall any streetcar on the line. It also makes him Yoda to up-and-coming urban planners and transit fans in the city, penning columns for Spacing Magazine and getting phone calls from reporters and city planners hours after publishing his latest blog post.
After leaving for L.A. to pursue her star-studded dreams Miller returned to Toronto because she missed her family, landing a job at Much Music and not looking back. The newlywed married musician Dallas Green of Alexisonfire last year and together the couple probably gets more party invites in a month than most of us get all year. So when Miller punches out every night, where does she go? Home of course, to bake and watch TV.
Growing up in Milton, Willats's passion for social justice issues was ignited at 17-years of age. She was at a town hall meeting convened by the late, crusading anti-abortion, anti-queer Baptist preacher, Ken Campbell to block a visit by a gay man and a lesbian to her high school to "rap" about homosexuality. "I was not identifying as homosexual, and I thought I didn't know anybody who was queer, but I really reacted to the hate in this guy, I just couldn't understand that level of hatred," says Willats.
The Montreal native moved here in 1984, along with his girlfriend (now wife), a new Chartered Accountant designation, and the energy to "work hard and play harder." In 1990 he joined Maple Leaf Gardens Limited and rose up the ranks, financing the 1998 deal to buy out the Raptors and the Air Canada Centre.