The Blogerati Files: On The Fence

This week in the Blogerati Files, J. Kelly Nestruck's On The Fence

Describe your blog in 10 words or less.
Unfocused ramblings on theatre, politics and journalism.

Why did you start your blog? Blogiversary?
I started my blog to archive a column called "On the Fence" that I wrote for the McGill Daily when I was in university. When I moved to Toronto to work at the National Post, it morphed into a way to keep in touch with my friends. It has since morphed into a clearing house for my random thoughts. My blog's birthdate is February 9, 2003.

How long have you lived in Toronto?
It will be three years on May 1.

What's the funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you in Toronto? Did you blog about it?
Probably the strangest was three summers ago when I left my cell phone in a cab and pitcher Pedro Martinez found it and returned it to me at the SkyDome (or whatever it's called now). I suspect it was the good karma Pedro got from that act of good samaritanism that helped the Red Sox beat the curse of the Bambino and win the world series the following year.

Yes, it was blogged ad nauseum.

What are some of the changes in Toronto that you have seen in your lifetime?
Well, I've only been here a brief time, but the city seems to be constantly changing - as a vibrant city should. I moved up to the St. Clair West and Oakwood area last summer and I'm amazed at how many storefronts have changed in that time.

My favourite change to Toronto in recent years was the opening of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District. That place is like my dream theatre complex - when it is completely completed, there will be ten different places you would be able to stage a play on site. With the recent disappearance of Artword and the Poor Alex, it couldn't have been built at a better time.

What era, day or event in Toronto's history would you like to re-live and why?
I would like to go back to the late 1960s, early 1970s and watch some of the first shows at Theatre Passe Muraille and Factory Theatre. I'd love to see The Farm Show and Rick Salutin's 1837: A Farmer's Revolt, see what the era's collective creations were really like.

Who's your favourite Torontonian?
Let's say John Mighton, a playwright I really admire who is also a mathematician. He founded J.U.M.P. (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies), a math tutoring program that I volunteer with - you can learn all about it at Half Life, his most recent work, may be my favourite Canadian play - you should catch it when it is remounted at CanStage next year.

Can we believe everything you post on your blog?
You should always be skeptical of blogs, I think, or any media. But, yes, I try to be as honest as possible.

Has blogging changed you or enhanced a personality trait?
I waste too much time blogging. It's an on and off love affair. It has helped with my written debating skills, for sure. It has also led to an inflated sense of self-importance.

Do you have a favourite post from your blog?
That's like asking to pick your favourite child. Maybe this one.

Have you had your 15 minutes yet?
Well, I coined the term "posting the cat" a year and a half ago... It's like "Jumping the shark", but for blogs, e.g. "When Andrew Coyne abandoned his blog for four months, he really posted the cat." The Globe and Mail had a column about this and I think that was my blog's 15 minutes. Still, I won't be happy until my blog gets a reference in the OED. It's one of my life goals.

Ever met a stranger who already knew you through your blog? How was that?
Yes. It sort of cuts down on conversation. "Oh, I already read that on your blog," they say. I encourage my friends not to read my blog, so my actual physical presence won't feel like a rerun.

Lose any friends or muck something up because of a post?
Back when I started blogging, I would occasionally talk shit about certain journalists and theatre reviewers and whatnot. And then I met them and liked them and felt like a jerk. I suppose working as a professional journalist, I've become a lot more reticent to bad-mouth the press - or at least I've become more diplomatic about how I criticize... So, yeah, my blog has become more boring over the years.

Who are your fav blog?
Paul Wells for politics. Also Crawl Across the Ocean and Tart Cider. Said the Gramophone is my connection to new music. Raymi the Minx is brilliant. I helped found, so it has a special place in my heart.

What's happening in Toronto right now that the rest of us should be watching?
Trees are budding. People are wearing less clothing.

Have you ever had a question you wanted to ask random people throughout the world?
Yeah: "How can you be sure?"

If your blog were a food, what food would it be?
It would be a bag of Old Dutch B-B-Q chips and some chicken schwarma from Boustan on Crescent St. in Montreal.

If you could gather all of the bloggers of the world together into one room and tell them one thing, what would it be?
"Chill, dudes and dudettes. It's all right."

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