Photo: Milos Paprica @madvillan
Until moving to Waterloo for school, I really took living in Toronto for
granted. I didn't understand why people at school got excited about going to Toronto. Every town, city, region etc, has its own little gems, hidden away for locals to love and guests to discover. What I didn't realize is that Toronto is jammed pack with little gems. I'm mostly aware of the food ones, but things like Kensington market, the TTC, and Rob Ford are some of Toronto's most iconic entities, things that come to mind to the people not from here when they think of Toronto. Kensington market is a great place. From what I have observed, it is mostly recognized by people not from the Toronto area as a place ridden with pot heads, alcoholics, drug addicts, that old car that became a planter, weird stores, and a good time. Kensington Market is a lot of those things. What a lot of people don't know, or may not realize, is that Kensington Market is free of multinationals. That means there's no fast food chains, no stores you would find at your mall, no corporate supermarkets, and no Wal-Marts. Wal-Mart did however try and make it's way into the area but the Rio-Can developer was defeated by locals(Alamenciak, The Star). Yes, Kensington is a great place, home to a 'You gotta eat here' joint(The Grilled Cheese), and great small stores, but the rest of Toronto has so much more to offer. Our former mayor made it onto Jimmy Kimmel. I love Rob Ford, and I want people to know. Another one of Toronto's icons would be non other than the TTC. And I hate the TTC. If you're from out of town, riding the red rocket is somewhat of a novelty, but if you're a local, you know just how gross it can be, especially at peak hours. The TTC gets me going sometimes. We don't have enough subways. We just don't. We are a heavily populated city, and we should have a better transit system. I have had to wait for 4 subway trains to come through young station before getting somehow lifted in and squashed into some guys armpit. FOUR TRAINS. To be packed in like sardines? Ridiculous. And that was good fortune, a lot of the time people miss their stops due to being crammed in so tightly and not being let out. Recently, after taking the subway to the greyhound station to go to Niagara I stewed on the bus, thinking 'I hate this city. I hate living here, it's ridiculous, blah blah blah etc etc'. And then I came to my senses. This is one of the best cities in the world and I love living here. I have lived here my entire life and I'm still exploring and experiencing it. I was reminded that Toronto has people like Milos Paprica, The Cookie guy. Last year I went to Toronto graffiti artist Spud bomb's LUST show for the upcoming pride week. There was free poutine, and there were free cookies provided by a guy named Milos. I grabbed an individually wrapped cookie on my way out to have as a snack later and decided to look up the information on his label. I started following him on instagram(@Madvillan) where he gives away free cookies to strangers, and created the hashtag 'Sweetening up people's day'. How many cities have a guy who gives out free cookies he makes himself to strangers just to make people happy?! Not many. And as I sat in that greyhound bus, next to a guy that smelled like stir fry, I realized just how much I love living in a city like Toronto. It takes being a local to know about someone like Milos, or about something like Glory Hole Donuts or Hey Meatball! or the hundreds of other great little gems Toronto has to offer that I still haven't found. This city is crowded, expensive, sometimes kind of gross, but I can find any ethnicity of food in this city. I can go to graffiti artist shows, and win free cookies, and run into characters of Degrassi, and find great stores and never ever be bored in this city. Being crammed into a subway car into some guys armpit for a few stops is a minor give, for a major take. Toronto, I love you.
Here's the link to watch the City News video where I finally won my cookies from Milos and was on TV!: http://www.citynews.ca/2015/01/29/toronto-man-bakes-cookies-for-complete-strangers/
You can also read about the cookie guy when he was written up in the star: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/12/27/torontos_cookie_guy_delivers_sweet_treats_to_strangers.html