The Blogerati Files: Ghost of a flea

This week in the Blogerati Files, Ghost of a flea .

Describe your blog in 10 words or less.
"Ghost of a flea" is a politics and pop culture blog with a gothic twist.

Why did you start blogging? What's your blog's birthday?
The Flea was first published on October 28, 2002. There were a couple false starts with other blogs before that but they have vanished down the memory hole.

How long have you lived in Toronto?
I moved to Toronto from Manchester, England seven years ago and have lived in the Annex for the last six. I had already lived in Toronto for two years before moving to London, England in the early '90s.

What's the funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you in Toronto? Did you blog about it?
I once saw something that looked like a "V" mothership hovering over Casa Loma; this was some time ago. I do not believe I wrote about it at the Flea... no obvious story hook. If it had had a picture of Kylie Minogue on the side I might have made something of it.

What are some of the changes in Toronto that you have seen in your lifetime?
The place is much bigger, obviously. And the CN Tower looks more '70s now than it did in the 1970s. It is a constant source of wonder to me that so many people from so many different backgrounds can get along so well. Unlike most people I have spoken to, I am a big fan of the condo developments south of Front Street. The more towers the better. The more like Chicago or Hong Kong our skyline becomes the more I feel part of our own little corner of the historical process.

What era, day or event in Toronto's history would you like to re-live and why?
I would love to have seen the unobstructed view from Spadina House down to the lake and some years later to have a stroll through the Annex when it was first built. Men wore hats in those days; in that sense it was a more civilized time.

Who's your favourite Torontonian?
Living: Carol Pope rules. So does Lillian Allen. From beyond: Gwendolyn MacEwan.

Do you have a favourite post from your blog? Do you know your blog's most visited post?
My favourite post is also one of its most visited. I once wrote a short piece in reference to blogs flying this or that version of the Canadian Red Ensign, Canada's flag before we adopted the maple leaf.


It was not premeditated; just a plea for rediscovering some of Canada's traditions while remaining mindful of the changes we have made for the better and the reasons we have made them. The post ended up provoking all sorts of discussion and debate I never would have anticipated and even some criticism that showed not everyone is prepared to read the words you have read before firing off a broadside. In this sense, the conversations that arose from the piece - brief as it was - taught me a lot about the pleasures and pitfalls of this medium.

Have you had your 15 minutes yet?
Not yet.

Ever met a stranger who already knew you through your blog? If so, how did it go?
I have. Most recently it was a chap who saw me and said, "Flea!" Fortunately, I could say "Elvis!" in return.

Who are your favourite blogger(s)?
The list is much too long to summarize beyond pointing you to my sidebar.

What's happening in Toronto right now that the rest of us should be watching?
Walk the labyrinth in High Park and see what happens. Then, in the summer, walk the labyrinth cut into the grass in Trinity Square Park behind the Eaton Centre. There may still be the dog-walker's labyrinth down on the Beach too... The more of these devices we have the closer we get to what Gwen MacEwan called "the Toronto inside Toronto."

If your blog were a food, what food would it be?
Crème Brûlée and a shot of Goldschlager.

Speaking of food, do you have a favourite Toronto lunch spot?
I love the General Cho's Chicken special at Kom Jug Yuen on Spadina. They also make the best hot and sour soup I have ever tasted.

If you could gather all of the bloggers of the world together into one room and tell them one thing, what would it be?
Link to the Flea, obviously.

Have any advice for would be bloggers? What do you think is the best route to raise a blog's profile?
I wrote a "D'oh of Blogging" a couple years ago in response to the occasional request for this sort of advice.

Raising a blog's profile is a different question... there seems to be a large element of luck involved. The important issue, it seems to me, is to decide what sort of conversation you want to have with your readers and what community of bloggers you want to be a part of. Write about your passions, link to people who share them and engage with those people in their writing in their comment sections and - if you are lucky - in person.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks for thinking of the Flea for your profile feature. The world needs more Toronto.

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