A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘koreatown

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes a house on downtown Toronto’s Jersey Avenue, a near-laneway, that is on the market at nearly eight hundred thousand dollars.
  • Centauri Dreams warns that with the passage of Dawn and New Horizons and Cassini, an era of unmanned space exploration will come to an end.
  • Crooked Timber’s Belle Waring considers Western/Asian cultural differences on gender.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper seeking to detect exoplanet rotation rates and other data via eclipses, and links to another noting the discovery of N2H in a ring around TW Hydrae.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the results of a genetic analysis of the dwarf mammoths of Wrangel Island.
  • A Fistful of Euros looks at how the Second World War started Ireland’s break from the Sterling zone.
  • The Frailest Thing considers the good of tech criticism.
  • Joe. My. God. celebrates a decade of same-sex marriage in Spain.
  • Language Hat looks at how promoters of a literature or a work can get things they champion translate.
  • The Planetary Society Blog has two posts celebrating its role in the New Horizons probe.
  • Towleroad notes that YouTube star Shane Dawson has just come out as bisexual.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at an incipient Cossack separatism.

[PHOTO] The old Metro Theatre

The old Metro Theatre

The old Metro Theatre, the last porn theatre in Toronto, is set to reach the next stage in its evolution. I blogged in August 2012 about how there was some interest in remaking it into an arthouse movie theatre, but that fell through. A June 2014 report suggested that the place was set to be made into a gym. As observed in May by the Toronto Star‘s Katrina Clarke, the Metro Theatre will become a rock-climbing gym.

Where there were once sweaty naked bodies, there will soon be sweaty, not-quite-naked bodies.

The longstanding mystery surrounding the future of Toronto’s last porn theatre was solved on Wednesday when the owner of a rock climbing business announced he’s moving into the Little Korea space.

“We’re taking something that was a little bit seedy and scummy and making it available for families, kids, friends to go and hang out,” said Matt Languay, owner of the soon-to-be-built Basecamp Climbing Gym.

The Metro Theatre was built in 1938 and became a skin flick theatre in the 1970s. Its former owner, Karim Hirji, whose wealthy family bought the Bloor St. W. business back in 1979, had been trying to sell it for more than a decade.

“I’ve passed by The Metro hundreds of times and just sort of seen it as this empty, vacant space,” Languay said. “It’s kind of a spot that people walked by instead of looking at.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 10, 2015 at 12:02 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Fabricland Marks a Changing Neighbourhood’s Last Cheerful Stand”

Torontoist’s Kaitlyn Kochany reacts to the Fabricland in Honest Ed’s, erected in the basement and set to last along with the store. It’s a nice essay about a changing neighbourhood and a homey topic.

Toronto’s newest Fabricland—and at 16,000 square feet, also its largest—is located in the basement of Honest Ed’s, at the corner of Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street. Go past the kitchen supplies and the jumble of tiny gold Buddhas, and head downstairs to where the Polish cookies used to be. Now, there are rows of buttons, neon thread, and pink urethane cushions available for sale. If you’ve been inside any other Fabricland, you know what to expect: the lighting is fluorescent, the music is canned, and the fabric is plentiful.

There are fabrics for clothings, for home decor, for handicrafts, for finishing touches. There are gossamer tulles and heavy brocades. There are fun furs and feather boas, a million different buttons, and the same depressed-looking knitting section that every Fabricland store offers. There are some surprises, like a quilting cotton printed with a map of the Canadian rail corridors and sleek examples of public transit (which gives the impression that Calgary might have a bullet train!), and a huge roll of zebra-print fleece. The salespeople are friendly. The clientele is mostly women, mostly middle-aged. There are no windows.

There’s a certain brio inherent in opening a store with a limited lifespan: this Fabricland will close at the end of next year, when Honest Ed’s vacates the corner block it has dominated for 67 years, and a new condo development moves in. We’re used to thinking of pop-up stores as being in service of the new and the hip, but this particular short-term tenant is trend-proof. The pattern books suggest items like blousy jackets that would look at home on the set of The Cosby Show, and wide-legged pants particular to the late-1990s raver style. Leafing through one of those books is like hopping into a time machine you have to assemble yourself. There are a few designer gems, like Rachel Comey and Donna Karan, but those require some serious digging to find.

If it sounds like I’m being hard on Fabricland, I’m not. Growing up with an interior-designer mother, I spent more than my fair share of time wandering among the bolts of Stratford, Ontario’s Fabricland. (Fabric stores often rival hardware stores for places that are utterly uninteresting to children.) Fabric is the raw material of creativity: a seasoned eye can look at a bolt of fabric and see a couch, a new pair of pants, or a quilt. But these stores offer no toys and no books, and there are only so many patterned flannelettes one can fondle before even the most well-behaved child will slide onto the floor and throw a temper tantrum just for something to do.

[PHOTO] Signed at 615 Bloor Street West, in Hangul

This colourful portrait is painted on the side of Umji Bunsik, one of my favourite Korean restaurants at 615 Bloor Street West and a famed maker of famed pork bone soup. Visible in the close-up, to left by the palm tree, is a passage in hangul that I’m told by a Korean-speaking friend is two street names, “Christie Ossington”, referring to two major north-south streets just to the west.

Signed at 615 Bloor Street West, in Hangul (1)

Signed at 615 Bloor Street West, in Hangul (2)

Written by Randy McDonald

February 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the renewal of Toronto’s Metro Theatre

The Metro Theatre, located at 677 Bloor Street West squarely in the middle of downtown Toronto’s Little Korea, is a classic porn theatre, Toronto’s last porn theatre. Decades after transitioning from a perfectly respectable children-suitable movie theatre to something seedier, subject of a breathless review in blogTO in 2009 and complaints from urban renewal folk about the blight in a generally prosperous neighbourhood, a 2011 Toronto Star article suggested that the Metro Theatre persisted because of the inertia of local real estate markets.

The Metro persists not because of a loyal following of devoted connoisseurs or an eccentric philanthropist with a soft spot for vintage erotica, but because Hirji has priced the property out of the market in an attempt to recover his considerable losses.

The 5,450 square-foot space — with two classic 300-seat theatres — is listed for sale at $3.59 million, or $658 per square foot, which even the property’s broker admits is overpriced by almost half.

“The asking price is on the high side,” says Joseph Kang, of Keller Williams Real Estate Service. “$2 million would be a reasonable price.”

Steps away from Christie subway station at 677 Bloor St. W., The Metro will be “a prime development site,” says Steven Alikakos, senior vice-president of DTZ Barnicke, a commercial real estate brokerage. “[But] the costs of turning the space into something usable are just too much to make it work at $3.5 million.”

Building a residential development would require buying the adjacent corner grocery, Alikakos said, and even then the developer would only be able to build eight storeys. “You can’t make money on eight storeys at the price he’s trying to sell it.”

Metro Theatre (1)

Metro Theatre (2)

The Metro Theatre is being relaunched as Toronto’s next art-house theatre. (With some adult films.)

“I hope this will become the independent art house cinema in the west of Toronto,” said Jonathan Hlibka, who along with business partner Nadia Sandhu hopes to revitalize the 1930s-era theatre.

When Toronto’s appetite for porn in public gave way to VCRs, the theatre began its long decline. Most of the posters of scantily clad bodies lining the entrance of the theatre are faded, the marquee is missing a few light bulbs and there are no film titles displayed.

The Metro, as it’s known, has been on the real estate market for a decade, and is listed at $3.8 million.

Hlibka and Sandhu see potential there and plan to show indie, art house and foreign films four nights a week, while the theatre will continue to show adult films in the afternoon. The pair will also hold events and parties to bring the community together.

Hlibka had been in talks for about a year with the theatre’s owner, Karim Hirji, who came from Tanzania in the 1970s and bought the cinema with his father.

The theatre will open to non-adult films around Aug. 24 with the Irish film Snap. The grand reopening will happen sometime in September.

Metro Theatre (3)

Metro Theatre (4)

Will this work? The quiet consensus, as reported by the CBC, seems to be that this is as good an approach as any.

Ryerson University professor Paul Moore, who has studied the history of movie theatres, thinks the idea might work. The Metro, he notes, was never a mainstream theatre but was instead independent at its opening in 1939, showing a “scandalous” B-movie called, Delinquent Parents: The Unforgettable Drama of Modern Youth and Selfish Parents.

Though he says it won’t be a theatre that will appeal to families or children, it will fulfil a niche in Toronto by having foreign films downtown.

“It’s going to be for hipster, university students and esthetes that are interested in global cinema and adults and downtown cosmopolitan types that are interested in cinema,” he said. “And I don’t think that a downtown hipster kind of person is going to be that worried about this being a pornographic cinema in the afternoon.”

The market for pornography in movie theatres was gutted when the VCR came along in the early 1980s. Adult theatres have also suffered for the same reasons independent cinemas have — competition from the Hollywood blockbuster, the mega-plex, and the internet.

“The ones that are left are serving an art house clientele or a very niche neighbourhood community-centre kind of model,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 21, 2012 at 3:04 am

[URBAN NOTE] On the relaunching of Toronto’s Metro Theatre

The Metro Theatre, located at 677 Bloor Street West squarely in the middle of downtown Toronto’s Little Korea, is a classic porn theatre, Toronto’s last porn theatre. Decades after transitioning from a perfectly respectable children-suitable movie theatre to something seedier, subject of a breathless review in blogTO in 2009 and complaints from urban renewal folk about the blight in a generally prosperous neighbourhood, a 2011 Toronto Star article suggested that the Metro Theatre persisted because of the inertia of local real estate markets.

The Metro persists not because of a loyal following of devoted connoisseurs or an eccentric philanthropist with a soft spot for vintage erotica, but because Hirji has priced the property out of the market in an attempt to recover his considerable losses.

The 5,450 square-foot space — with two classic 300-seat theatres — is listed for sale at $3.59 million, or $658 per square foot, which even the property’s broker admits is overpriced by almost half.

“The asking price is on the high side,” says Joseph Kang, of Keller Williams Real Estate Service. “$2 million would be a reasonable price.”

Steps away from Christie subway station at 677 Bloor St. W., The Metro will be “a prime development site,” says Steven Alikakos, senior vice-president of DTZ Barnicke, a commercial real estate brokerage. “[But] the costs of turning the space into something usable are just too much to make it work at $3.5 million.”

Building a residential development would require buying the adjacent corner grocery, Alikakos said, and even then the developer would only be able to build eight storeys. “You can’t make money on eight storeys at the price he’s trying to sell it.”

Metro Theatre (1)

Metro Theatre (2)

The Metro Theatre is being relaunched as Toronto’s next art-house theatre. (With some adult films.)

“I hope this will become the independent art house cinema in the west of Toronto,” said Jonathan Hlibka, who along with business partner Nadia Sandhu hopes to revitalize the 1930s-era theatre.

When Toronto’s appetite for porn in public gave way to VCRs, the theatre began its long decline. Most of the posters of scantily clad bodies lining the entrance of the theatre are faded, the marquee is missing a few light bulbs and there are no film titles displayed.

The Metro, as it’s known, has been on the real estate market for a decade, and is listed at $3.8 million.

Hlibka and Sandhu see potential there and plan to show indie, art house and foreign films four nights a week, while the theatre will continue to show adult films in the afternoon. The pair will also hold events and parties to bring the community together.

Hlibka had been in talks for about a year with the theatre’s owner, Karim Hirji, who came from Tanzania in the 1970s and bought the cinema with his father.

The theatre will open to non-adult films around Aug. 24 with the Irish film Snap. The grand reopening will happen sometime in September.

Metro Theatre (3)

Metro Theatre (4)

Will this work? The quiet consensus, as reported by the CBC, seems to be that this is as good an approach as any.

Ryerson University professor Paul Moore, who has studied the history of movie theatres, thinks the idea might work. The Metro, he notes, was never a mainstream theatre but was instead independent at its opening in 1939, showing a “scandalous” B-movie called, Delinquent Parents: The Unforgettable Drama of Modern Youth and Selfish Parents.

Though he says it won’t be a theatre that will appeal to families or children, it will fulfil a niche in Toronto by having foreign films downtown.

“It’s going to be for hipster, university students and esthetes that are interested in global cinema and adults and downtown cosmopolitan types that are interested in cinema,” he said. “And I don’t think that a downtown hipster kind of person is going to be that worried about this being a pornographic cinema in the afternoon.”

The market for pornography in movie theatres was gutted when the VCR came along in the early 1980s. Adult theatres have also suffered for the same reasons independent cinemas have — competition from the Hollywood blockbuster, the mega-plex, and the internet.

“The ones that are left are serving an art house clientele or a very niche neighbourhood community-centre kind of model,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm

[LINK] Some Saturday lnks

It’s Saturday, yes, but I’ve been busy and I’m here and you’re here, so here we go again.

  • blogTO’s Christopher Reynolds points to a new Korean neighbourhood in Toronto at Yonge and Finch, apparently known as “North Korea” due to its northerly location as opposed to Koreatown (“South Korea”) at Bloor and Christie.
  • The Bloor-Lansdowne Blog has a picture of a basketball game in Dufferin Grove park, one of the several Toronto parks with very heavy communtiy involvement.
  • Crooked Timber suggests that convergent US and EU unemployment rates show that labour flexibility laws don’t really mean that much in regards to unemployment levels generally. Thoughts?.
  • The Invisible College’s Richard Normam writes about the scale of the economic collapse in Zimbabwe, as witnessed from Harare.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Robert Farley blogs about China’s apparent willingness to copy, without any credit at all, Russian military technology (here, carrier-based fighters).
  • Normblog reacts to the recent conviction in Montréal of Rwandan Désiré Munyaneza for crimes against humanity comitted during the Rwandan genocide, and its relationship to the principle of universal jurisdiction.
  • According to Noel Maurer at The Power and the Money, Brazil is considering building a high-speed rail link between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The economics might well work here, at least.
  • Spacing Toronto’s Jake Schabas blogs about the forgotten hamlet of Elmbank, a Toronto suburban community obliterated by industrial expansion.
  • Window on Eurasia reports that some Abkhazians are afraid of being absorbed by their Russian sponsor.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 30, 2009 at 9:08 am