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Weekend Radar: Instinct, CONTACT Photography Festival, Incongruous Quarterly Spring Readings, Spring Chef's Farmers Market, 3rd Annual Roncesvalles Area Yard Sale, Jim Henson Tribute, Words Towards a Better Toronto

Saturday, May 15:

PARTIES | Instinct
If you still haven't been to Motel, Queen West's newest bar, you better do it quick. You can practically still smell the new paint on the walls, and as of yet it's only about half full most nights. But before long this narrow bar is going to be prohibitively cool and getting a table is going to be a major pain in the ass. Motel already has a lot going for it: unpretentious but hip decor, cheap pints, and even a pinball machine tucked away in the back, and now you can add hot parties to the list. Tonight YYZ Record's Brian Smiley launches Instinct, a soon-to-be regular indie night that will have the place packed with partiers cheek by artfully-stubbled jowl.
Motel, 1235 Queen Street West, No Cover, 10 pm

PHOTOGRAPHY | CONTACT Photography Festival
The CONTACT Photography Festival soldiers on this weekend with another slew of openings to dazzle the eye and stimulate the mind. If you've ridden the streetcar downtown lately you may have already seen Jordan Bower's exhibition of photos from India and Nepal called What Does It Mean to be a Human Being?, which has been installed on car #4025 since the beginning of the month. To save you the time of chasing trolleys all weekend in search of the stunning images, today the car will be doing 20-30 minute laps around the East End starting at the Lahore Tikka House. From the sweltering streets of Calcutta to the icy tundra of the Canadian North, Photolife Magazine's 2009 Emerging Photographer winner Frank Seiferth's Minus 45 documents his trek by dogsled across Baffin Island. Earlier in the afternoon, the University of Toronto hosts a panel discussion with photographers, academics, and curators to discuss Marshall McCluhan's theories about how photography shapes our world.
What Does It Mean to be a Human Being?: Lahore Tikka House, 1365 Gerrard Street East, Free, 2 pm - 5 pm
Minus 45: 514 The Secret Loft, 263 Adelaide Street West, Free, 6 pm - 11 pm
Freeze Frame on Marshall McCluhan: 100 St. Joseph Street, free with registration, 1 pm

BOOKS AND LIT | Incongruous Quarterly Spring Readings and Party
Ever wonder what happens to all those manuscripts, short stories and poems that get rejected by big publishing houses? It turns out they end up in the Incongruous Quarterly, an online magazine that prides itself on publishing works previously deemed unpublishable. Unpublishable doesn't mean bad per se; these works could be too long or too short, too uncommercial, too experimental, or even too conventional to end up in print anywhere else. Tonight the magazine launches its spring issue with a party at Kensington hang-out Double Double Land that will feature readings from this edition's guest editors Pasha Malla, Daniel Scott Tysdal, and Trampoline Hall founder Sheila Heti, as well as a performance by pop songstress Charlotte Cornfield. And while the pieces in IQ are unpublishable, the authors certainly aren't: Malla's The Withdrawal Method was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, and Tysdal won the ReLit Award for Poetry in 2007.
Double Double Land, 209 Augusta Avenue, PWYC, 8 pm

FOOD | Spring Chef's Farmers Market on the Danforth
The Danforth neighbourhood is known for its good food, but for its local food... not so much. After all, not many people want to eat something grown beneath the Don Valley Parkway. The Danforth's most skilled chefs are going just slightly little further afield today to bring you delicious dishes made from fresh Ontario produce as part of the Spring Chef's Farmers Market. Bakers and chefs from the Auld Spot, Globe Bistro,the Big Carrot Natural Food Market, and the Dough Bakeshop are trucking in tasty veggies, cheese, and meat from just down the highway and will be whipping up some fresh recipes for sampling. If you like what you taste you can also buy some produce, just like at a regular farmer's market. Niagara-on-the-Lake gardener Gary Meyers will also present a garden market, and the Food Network's Lynn Crawford will be pitching in as master of ceremonies.
Danforth, Between Jackman Avenue and Hampton Avenue, Free, 11 am - 2 pm

COMMUNITY | Leslieville Tree Festival
Looking out on Toronto from a highrise balcony in summer, you can hardly see the city for all the trees. Ours is a very green city, and that deserves celebrating. The Leslieville Tree Festival honours our urban forest this weekend in Leslie Grove Park with a market of green and local art, local foods, educational displays, craft activities for the kids, and performances by the Fairmount Crescent Jazz Quartet, Robert Priest, Sam Cash, and the Sub Zero Hip Hop dancers. A native plant sale will give you a chance to stock up on indigenous species for your garden and Ontario Hydro will be on hand to give you some helpful tips to cut down your energy bill. The festival is staged by LEAF, the city's Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests organization.
Leslie Grove Park, Queen Street East at Jones Avenue, Free, 12 pm - 4 pm

SALE | 3rd Annual Roncesvalles Area Yard Sale
I'm not sure if the residents of the west end Roncesvalles neighbourhood have particularly nice stuff or if they're just very well organized, but each year thousands of Torontonians flock to their annual yard sale. Maybe it's the nice spring weather or the sense of community, but walking down the tree-lined streets perusing the locals' wares is a fine way to spend a Saturday morning, and who knows, you might find something worth spending a $1.25 on. There's even a handy map of participating houses to help you plot your route. Ten per cent of all proceeds of the sale will go to benefit The West End Food Co-op, which is currently trying to raise money to open its own retail food store in the are.
Roncesvalles area, Free, 9:30 am - 3 pm

FESTIVAL | Last Spike Revisited: Chinese Canadian Heritage Festival
One hundred and twenty-five years ago this November, the final spike was driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway's transcontinental railroad, the completion of which remains one of the most important events in Canadian history. The famous photograph commemorating the event is a sea of white faces, even though it was Chinese immigrants who had sacrificed their bodies and lives to help build the great "ribbon of steel." Harbourfront's Chinese Canadian Heritage Festival began Friday and marks the anniversary of the Last Spike while also celebrating the oft-neglected contributions of Chinese culture in Canada with art exhibitions, film screenings and musical performances. The Chinese Canadian National Assembly is presenting the visual art of Chinese brush artist and UN Goodwill Ambassador William Ho and Chang-yin Sun all weekend, and Saturday the festival shows the landmark documentary In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, which explores the discriminatory Canadian Chinese Head Tax which devastated Chinese immigrant families for generations until it was repealed in 1947.
Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, Free, Saturday 12 pm - 9 pm, Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

Sunday, May 16:

FILM | Jim Henson Tribute
When I saw Labirynth for the time when I was a kid I totally loved it, but I do remember asking my mom who the scary lady in the leather pants was. Turns out it was David Bowie, who, in mascara and a freaky haircut, looked only slightly more human than his puppet co-stars. That glam rock fantasy film was one of many classic films that Jim Henson helped create, and is the second half of a double bill honouring the Muppet master at Toronto's newest rep cinema this Sunday. First up is The Muppets Take Manhattan, in which Kermit and Ko. head to the Big Apple to find fame, fortune and Liza Minelli. John Pattison, star of Puppets Who Kill, and Fraggle Rock producer Lawrence S. Mirkin (who also worked on Labirynth) will be attendance as special guest speakers.
Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Avenue, $8 per film or $14 double bill, 6:30 pm

BOOKS AND LIT | Words Towards a Better Toronto
Toronto the Better is an association of local businesses that are looking further than their bottom line. Placing an emphasis on social justice in the city, they try to prove that doing business and doing good aren't mutually exclusive. On Sunday the group invites like-minded artists and musicians to the This Ain't the Rosedale Library patio for an afternoon of performances and readings. The Cedar Basket Gift Shop, Toronto's First Nations-owned and -operated store, will be selling books and music with proceeds going to fund much-needed programs for the city's native population. Folk singer Sara Marlowe will be playing socially relevant and sweet-sounding songs, and alt political journal THIS Magazine will raffle off a year's subscription.
This Ain't the Rosedale Library, 86 Nassau Street, PWYC, 2 pm - 6 pm

COMMUNITY | The Danforth BIA Road Hockey Charity Challenge
Road warriors take over the Danforth this Sunday for the 11th annual Road Hockey Charity Challenge. Last year 33 teams participated in the day-long 3-on-3 tournament, raising $25 000 for the Reach for the Rainbow Foundation, which gives Canadian kids with disabilities a chance to attend to summer camps with their peers. This year the event has chosen a second charity to fundraise for, and will be donating to anti-violence organization W.A.V.E.. It may not be quite as fun as watching the NHL playoffs, but these guys are one tenth as talented and will be three times as drunk as their professional counterparts. Little orange ball + day drinking + charity = good times.
Danforth Avenue and Broadview, Free, 9 am - 7 pm


FASHION | The Clothing Show
The Clothing Show is an annual must for those looking for original pieces from local designers and hard-to-find vintage fashions. In addition to its 300-strong vendors including Toronto faves like 69 Vintage, Culturshoc and Dirty Little Secret, this year the show has added Menswear and Eco sections. The Clothing Show is a great place to shop, check out runway shows, and find bargain prices on clothes, jewelry, and accessories for the coming season. Runs til Sunday.
Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, $ 8 advance, $10 at the door, Saturday 11 am - 8 pm, Sunday 11 am - 6 pm

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For Toronto movie showtimes, view our Movie Listings section.

Photo: "Eiver : 19" by alisdair j, member of the blogTO Flickr Pool.

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