City Living: Patti Smith

Having recently finished Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir on her relationship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, we were excited to find more (and local) opportunities to be transported back into the world of the Chelsea Hotel, Janis Joplin and when art was simply a way of life. For those who’ve heard the name but aren’t familiar with her story, Patti Smith is a singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist whose debut album Horses earned her the name “Godmother of Punk” and made her a key influencer in the 1970s New York punk rock movement. 

“Because the Night”, which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen, is Smith’s most widely known song, and reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978. In 2005, she was named a Commandeuse of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, and in 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

This winter/spring, Torontonians will be able to experience Patti Smith through her various art forms when the Heart in Hand Theatre company presents Cowboy Mouth, a play co-written by Smith and Sam Shepard, and through her exhibit Patti Smith: Camera Solo, at the AGO beginning next month. 

Inspired by reading Just Kids, co-artistic directors of Head in Heart Jessica Huras and Esther Jun set their sights on producing Cowboy Mouth, a one-act play by Patti Smith and Sam Shepard (playwright, actor, and television and film director) with whom Smith had a love affair in the 1970s. Starring Huras and singer/songwriter and member of Broken Social Scene, Jason Collett (Arts &Crafts) in his theatrical debut, Cowboy Mouth will be on stage at The Cameron House (408 Queen St. W) from now until Thursday, February 14, with an exclusive preview tonight at Soho House. 

For more details visit the Heart in Hand website.

Jessica Huras and Jason Collette star in Cowboy Mouth.
Original photo of Sam Shepard and Patti Smith. 

The production of Cowboy Mouth could not be more timely as the AGO gears up to feature Patti Smith: Camera Solo, an intimate exhibit featuring photographs, personal objects and a short film by Smith, from Saturday, February 9 to Sunday, May 19. This marks the first presentation of Smith’s work in Canada and will highlight the connection between Smith’s use of various art forms. The exhibit will feature approximately 70 black and white photographs taken with Smith’s vintage Poloroid camera, and will include the film Equation Daumal, directed by Smith and shot by Jem Cohen. 

For more information on Patti Smith: Camera Solo, visit the AGO website

Patti Smith, Self-Portrait, New York, 2003

Photo Friday: Frump-less Floral

Floral need not mean frumpy, à la grandma’s plastic-covered
couch. In fact, it has been one of the spring’s hottest runaway trends. Enjoy in today’s Photo Friday.

Rave: Creative wedding gift ideas

If you’re like us, most weekends this summer are already booked with weddings, leaving you with the daunting (and expensive) task of buying many, many wedding gifts. Choosing something from a registry is definitely the easiest option, but not always the cheapest or most personal gift to give. And while we know the newlyweds will appreciate the gift (after all, they chose it themselves) there’s something a little unsatisfying about spending $100 on coffee mugs. So if it’s more meaning and less money you’re after, here are some creative wedding gift ideas.

Artwork: This idea works best for a couple you know well, as you’ll need to know their style and preferably what their home looks like. Whether it’s a photograph or a painting, there is no shortage of places to buy inexpensive, yet beautiful, artwork in Toronto. With a philosophy that “everyone should be able to afford a piece of art”, Art Interiors (446 Spadina) is the perfect place to start. They also offer a gift certificate option if you don’t feel confident choosing art for someone else. 

There are little galleries all around the city as well as art work for sale in lots of restaurants

Vintage: Buying vintage is another way to give a special gift without breaking the bank. While your friends may be registered for Riedel wine glasses, they are most likely not going to be given vintage champagne flutes. One of our favourite stores, BYOB Cocktail Emporium, has everything cocktail related under the sun. From vintage glasses to gimmicky wine decanters, this is the place to go for a unique yet useful gift.

There’s something special about receiving a one-of-a-kind gift.

DIY: Another vintage inspired option is to simply refinish something, be it a table, chest, old mirror or bookshelf. Everyone has a soft spot for a homemade gift, and if it’s done well, it will look even better than something new. 

Turn something old into something new and you have the perfect gift!

A part of the wedding: If DIY projects aren’t your thing, there are other ways to turn your skills into a wedding gift. Whether you’re a DJ, photographer, or in a 90’s cover band, lending your services to the bride and groom will help cut costs on both ends, and will add a personal touch to the wedding.

On second thought… maybe stick to DJ’ing.

Honeymoon: Our last idea comes in the form of a gift certificate. Plan something fun for the bride and groom, whether it’s a nice dinner or day of snorkeling on their honeymoon, or simply a his and hers day at the spa after the wedding. They will have done so much planning (and spending) themselves that they will love the idea of you completely taking care of something indulgent for them. 

A surprise adventure for the bride and groom? A+ gift idea.

The main idea is to try to be creative. With a little thought and research you will be sure to find the prefect memorable wedding gift. And if all else fails, there’s always a good old custom throw, right?

Fashion-able: Wedding trends for 2012

Founder of The Wedding Co. Show and editor of The Wedding Co. Magazine, Catherine Lash swung by the fourth floor to discuss wedding trends for 2012.

This year, brides are incorporating a splash of colour. Gowns are still prominently white but brides are adding a beautiful sash, a vibrant pair of shoes, or a stunning necklace with a soft-coloured gem.

Photo by: Michelle Yee.
Necklace from Rue Pigalle.

Veils: Brides are no longer hiding behind a long flowing veil. They are wearing just a hint of a veil covering only part of their face or embellishing their hair with feathers and flowers.
Photo: Michelle Yee.

Cakes and sweets: The cake no longer stands on its own. It is now the centerpiece of the sweet table, full of gourmet candy and comfort food.

Photo by: Rebecca Wood
Sweet table by: Cake Opera Co.
Wedding planner: Melissa Andre

Handcrafted: Handcrafted doesn’t have to mean made-by-the-couple. (Although, we love it when they add their own personal touch.) Couples are seeking professionals who design details for weddings that have a handcrafted look and feel to them. 

The Communal Table: Long gone are the round tables with tall centerpieces. Couples are seating their guests at long communal tables with stunning low riding flowers running down the centre so they can see the person across from them and engage in great conversation, just as a communal table should.

Wedding Etiquette: Perhaps a less-considered trend, but one that The Wedding Co. strongly believes in. Couples have to remember to be gracious to all their guests, from the invited to the unexpected. So if you are not having a formal receiving line, a welcome and a thank-you to each guest is the sign of a good host.

Stop by the Wedding Co. Show taking place at The Carlu (444 Yonge St. at College Street.)

Friday, January 13 – 5 to 9 p.m.
Saturday, January 14 – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, January 15 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A $20-ticket includes a copy of the premiere issue of The Wedding Co. Magazine and access to the show for all three days. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.

Fashion-able: The Halloween Mustache

It’s one of our favourite days of the year – the day when we can wear whatever we want and eat candy without judgement. 

We’re big fans of costumes, especially those that require a little brain power to come up with (costume puns are the best). But for those of you that have procrastinated and left the costume to the absolute last minute, here is a quick solution – the Hallowee’n ‘stache. Everyone loves a good mustache, right?

This is a super easy DIY project and, like Jen Loves Kev, you can use this party trick to make photos from any occasion a little more fun. All you will need is:

Black bristol board
Shish kabob sticks (you will need one for each mustache you make)
Pen or pencil

Start off the mustache-making by tracing a 1/2 inch curved swoosh (almost like an XL-sized Nike swoosh) on a pre-cut 3” x 2 ” piece of black bristol board. Cut the outline of the swoosh, and then fold into the remaining half of the bristol board piece. Trace the cut out pattern on to the bristol board, unfold the piece and cut out new traced part. 

This is where you would trace the swoosh on the other side of the bristol board, making it a full mustache. 

This will make both ends of the mustache even, like pictured above. Once you’ve traced your desired ‘stache pattern, keep using the first template to trace more mustaches and replicate them.

Next, take the shish kabob sticks, and attach them to the mustaches. Using small pieces of tape, attach the sticks to one side of the mustache. Stick placement is important – off to the side is best. 

Make sure you secure the shish kabob stick securely to prevent any accidents

As you can tell, we love a good ‘stache On The Fourth Floor. Have a very Happy Halloween!

Media, Darling: Karon Liu

Karon Liu is The Grid‘s (formerly Eye Weekly) resident food writer and he considers himself to be the luckiest guy in the world since his main task is to eat. Prior to The Grid, he has written for Toronto Life, National Post, Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun, and his photos have appeared in More, Zoomer, National Geographic Traveler and on

Can you spot Karon’s hand?
In addition to backpacking, stargazing and trying new foods, Karon also enjoys writing about himself in the third person.

What was your favourite class in high school? Why?
Photography class was my favourite because it broke up the monotony of staring at a textbook all day. It was the one class where I didn’t fall asleep. I learned how to develop my own film, manipulate photos without Photoshop and find my way around the darkroom when the red lightbulb would break. I also have many fond memories of hallucinating in an unventilated darkroom full of chemicals at 4 a.m.

How did you get your start as a writer?
After graduating with a journalism degree from Ryerson, I did a few internships and freelance gigs before becoming an editorial intern at Toronto Life magazine. They had just started a food blog called The Dish and I was pitching stories and taking every assignment that was handed to me. I didn’t know much about the restaurant industry at the time, so I had to do a lot of cramming. I continued to write for Toronto Life’s site for the next two years and then I moved on to The Grid, where I’m currently a staff writer.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Hiking in the Himalayas and avoiding work of any kind.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Sending folders and packages full of press releases, CDs and USB keys. Writers and editors usually throw them out immediately, or keep the USB key and delete all the files in it. If I need additional information, I’ll ask.

Sunrise or sunset?
Sunrise when I’m on vacation, sunset for the rest of the year.


My sister’s chocolate chip recipe.

Chamomile. Add hot water, some honey and you’ve got a party.

Yes. It’s why I broke up with Oprah.

Shower or bath?
Moist towelette.
Tie between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park.

I prefer C-plus.

First job?
Working in the stockroom at The Gap in the Toronto Eaton Centre. I believe every teenager should work at least two years in the retail or food service industry to appreciate the value of a dollar and learn how to deal with jerks.

Books, coworkers, friends, newspapers, an afternoon stroll, pretty much anything can spark an idea for an article, photo spread or what I’m going to have for lunch.

LGFW: Media, Darling: Stefania Yarhi

Stefania Yarhi is an independent writer/photographer and CEO of (recommended reading according to NOW Magazine). She says, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.” But we know she’s a lot nicer than that. 

Twitter: @textstyles


What was your favourite class in high school?
I loved my art class. Number one because our teacher Ms. Fularski put all of herself into the program. We studied everything, we played with every medium and she organized a trip to Italy and France. The encouragement I got to pursue my creativity in all forms in that class was enormous.

How did you get your start as a fashion blogger?
I signed up on Blogspot, borrowed my friend’s camera and just started posting.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Wishing I had followed my passions…
Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Email, seems no one’s ever on the other end of the line.
We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Misspelling my name! I know it’s not the most common, but really something that takes two seconds shows an extra effort. One I’m likely to pay back.

Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise, especially if it ends your night.
Scent? This will most absolutely offend someone: Pussy. An essential oil from the rasta man in Kensington market.
Cookie? Yum?
Flower? Orchids, blue ones. Not that I’ve ever gotten any.
Ticklish? Yes, and no, I’m not telling you where.
Shower or bath? Shower.
Film? Moonstruck, without a shadow of a doubt.
Crush? Javier Bardem, close second Channing Tatum.
First job? Working for Mama’s Pizza in the food court at the Ex.
Inspiration? The fashion industry.

A visit from…Michelle Jobin

We were thrilled when our friend Michelle Jobin stopped by to tell us all about the new Lomography store that’s opened up across from our office. We’d heard a little bit about this old-school style of photography, but didn’t know all the details. Good thing Christmas is coming – we’re putting this cool camera on our list.

Analogue Love

We’ve reached the point where the latest gadget (iPhone 4, Kinect for Xbox 360) causes endless lineups and a total sales feeding frenzy. Must have the latest and greatest digital device. Why bother looking back on the seemingly clumsy ways of the past, right?  

Thanks to Lomography, you won’t want to count old-school out yet. This Austrian-based company offers series of film (gasp!) cameras that make snapping pics incredibly fun and innately creative. It’s a cult camera culture that promotes ideas such as “Take your camera everywhere you go”, “Don’t think”, and “Don’t worry about any rules”.  It’s a warm and fuzzy approach to photography, perhaps, but also a very empowering one.

So prepare yourself for a little analogue love, Toronto.

That’s because into this tech-friendly climate in a particularly tech-lovin’ city, Lomography has decided to boldly go back to the future and open a Toronto Gallery Store at 536 Queen Street West. Its grand opening event on November 4 was packed with photography enthusiasts and the just-plain-curious, eager to see the first Canadian Lomo outpost.

Snacking on gourmet poutine and smoked meat sammies, guests browsed the slick space that brings some much-needed style to Queen and Bathurst. With 100-plus products on hand, Lomography helps amateurs and pros alike put the emotion back in the experience of taking pictures. The emphasis is on casual, snapshot photography, not perfection. Essentially, a very democratic way of looking at art.

The shop is not just a place to pick up a great camera like the Fisheye2, Diana F+, or Holga and film. They offer great workshops to take the mystery out of Lomography and get the community connected. An extra plus – watch out for on-site picture development coming early in 2011.