Paris vs. New York

20 01 2011

“Don’t you think when you first come here, you come because this is the capitol of everything possible?”

Two great cities. Two amazing films. One hell of a traveler’s itch.
A collaboration of short films rolled into one about finding love, losing love, and about the cities that we love. Released in 2006 Paris Je T’aime is the first of the Cities of Love segments followed by New York, I love You, released in 2008. The films’ concept follow the lives of local Parisians and New Yorkers in showing us what (may be) the real deal of the respective cities. Each short film is about eight to ten minutes long and at some point intertwines with the rest of the other short films creating a story quilt of a city.

In Paris Je T’aime the shorts are created via its 18 arrondisements (originally 20, however 2 of the shorts did not blend in with the rest). In the 5th arrondisement, we follow young man sparking an interest to a young Muslim woman while in Le Marais (4th arrondisement) a young man believes he has found his soulmate through another young man who works at a print shop. Both shorts develop a sense of ‘love at first sight’ theme that goes beyond borders on rules about love.

Some romance are darker and deeper: In the 12th arrondisement we are lead to a married man who is falling out of love with his wife but made a decision that will change the course of their marriage. We then follow a young couple in the 10th arrondisement where a young blind man believed that his actress girlfriend falls out of love and breaks up with him.

A not so star-studded, Hollywood-flooded film it makes up for its collection of amazing directors: Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuarón, Wes Craven, Vincenzo Natali, it is no wonder the collaboration is critically acclaimed.

As you wander through arrondisements, chapters of peoples lives, and a platter full of Paris’ beauty, you wonder, ‘Who wouldn’t fall for the city of lights?’

“They say a lot of things about Paris…they say it’s a place where people come to discover something new about their lives. They say it’s a place where you can find love...

Like its Parisian version, New York, I Love You delivers stories through its boroughs. Unlike its Parisian version, it is not a big slice of apple pie; I guess New York figured, “They already know what we look like!”.

The film version focuses more on its real apples: The New Yorkers themselves. You think you know them? Not until you see the characters in their (literally) intertwined lives.

Take a look at “Camille“, a young and struggling musician finds a muse through a woman he has yet to meet, but will they ever? In “Love of Violets” a lady checks into a hotel where she befriends a bellboy to find a lot of similarties of him in her. In “Prom” a young man gets his wish fulfilled on a special night while on “Alchemy” a cassanova learns his lesson that sometimes his suave just doesn’t work.

In a city of millions one way or another these city slickers will cross paths. Don’t take your eyes off the screen because you’ll miss at where they did somehow. Unlike the former film, this version is more fast paced – a typical American style of film. Had it been set like its European version, which has a slower pace, then it would have been a snooze fest. But then again, New York itself is a city that never slowed down.

A great concept and I await the release of other versions in the Cities of Love series. What could be next? Wikipedia says that Rio, Shangai, and Jerusalem versions are in the works already and that Moscow, I Love You was already released in Russia in 2010. How about Madrid? Well, have you seen ‘Kilometro Cero’?

After seeing both films, it isn’t hard until you find yourself looking online for a plane ticket to come back to the first city you fell in love with. Perhaps they’re Paris or New York too.


The Green Apple

11 08 2010

Tony takes us on a eco-tour of New York City amidst the beautiful chaos and concrete jungle – a wonderful and different side of the Big Apple

Words and Photos by Tony Gazso

I made my way past the crowds of people. Out-of-towners and New Yorkers alike. Up past the joggers, and the sightseers. And as I go, the crowds thin. Slowly, but surely, I leave more and more of them behind until I’m lost in the woods. Wandering through dirt paths along a stream. Underneath a hidden stone archway, I climb to the top of a waterfall and sit on the rocks looking down as the ravine continues below. At last I am alone with my thoughts. The occasional person passes through, but for the most part, it’s just me. I hear the water as it runs down the rocks to the stream below. Birds chirping, even the occasional raccoon high up in the trees. Am I relaxing at some forest retreat in upstate New York? No, I am in Central Park.

In a city that never sleeps, everyone needs some quiet. And New York City has no shortage of it, if you know where to look. Central Park is a very busy place, especially on weekends, but the vast majority of people visiting the park, visit the southern half. That is, after all, where all the “sites” are. At least that’s what people think, but it’s the north end of the park that’s the quiet end. Even on a busy, summer weekend, very few people go to the North Woods. It is the quietest spot in the park, and not many people even know it’s there. It’s easy to forget you are in New York City, which is something most of us New Yorkers need from time to time.

There are quiet spots all over this city. Some of them are out of the way places, some are seemingly in the middle of it all. But if it’s quiet you seek in NYC, then I’ll et you in on some of the best places to find it. Queens is one of the best places to find some quiet spots. It always interests me that when people visit NYC, they tend to only visit Manhattan or maybe part of Brooklyn, and they are still amazed by how big the city is without stepping foot in the largest of the 5 boroughs. I may be biased, after all, I lve in Queens, but Queens has some great places, and not too far from Manhattan. Socrates Sculpture Park is one of those spots. Located right on the East River, Socrates is a great place to wander, sit and relax, and take in the ever changing sculpture installations. It’s rarely filled with people, and gives a sense of seclusion, while also giving you a great view of Roosevelt Island, and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The nearby Noguchi Museum is also a great place for a little escape. They have an outdoor area with sculptures from the Japanese artist that beats most other “quiet” spots at the busier museums. If you venture further into Queens, you’ll find the site of the old New York Worlds Fair. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a sprawling, fairly quiet park on the grounds of the fair. If you do head out there, the Queens Museum of Art is worth checking out. This relatively quiet museum features changing exhibitions, but its claim to fame is the Panorama of New York. A scaled model of the entire city that was unveiled during the 1964 Worlds Fair (The museum is in what was the Hall of New York.) The Panorama is updated, and really gives you an appreciation for how big the city is.

“Queens is one of the best places to find some quiet spots. It always interests me that when people visit NYC, they tend to only visit Manhattan or maybe part of Brooklyn, and they are still amazed by how big the city is without stepping foot in the largest of the 5 boroughs”

Moving north, the Bronx is another underrated place for some seclusion. To most, the Bronx brings images of poor, unsafe neighborhoods, but the Bronx is home to some of the most scenic spots in the city. Just north of the Bronx Zoo (a great trip in its own right) is the New York Botanical Garden. The greenhouses attract visitors, but if its an escape you want, wander the grounds. You’ll find some of the most picturesque spots along the Bronx River which runs through both the garden, and the zoo. Van Courtlandt Park is another beautiful retreat. A spot full of wooded hiking trails that are easy to navigate, and even easier to get lost in.

That’s great, but what about Manhattan? Well, the most densely populated borough has it’s share of spots, though they aren’t as large as spots in the outer boroughs. However, if you want to escape without leaving Manhattan, you’re best bet is to head uptown…way uptown to Fort Tyron Park. Located on one of the highest natural spots in all of New York City, Fort Tyron Park give you a great view of the Hudson, and the New Jersey Palisades on the other side. There’s no shortage of things to do here either. In addition to typical park activities, the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) displays a great selection of medieval art. The most scenic part of the NYC Greenway is also up here, just across the Henry Hudson Parkway from Fort Tyron. The Greenway is a bicycle path that circumnavigates the island of Manhattan. The path from up near the Cloisters is almost as high as the park, but takes you downhill to the waterfront just underneath the George Washington Bridge. If not for the bridge, it would be very easy to forget you were in the big apple. Lower Manhattan has some spots where it’s quiet, Hudson River Park, Thompkins Square Park, but while technically quiet, they do have a good amount of people wandering around. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if escaping the hustle and bustle is your goal, then they might not be the best solutions….

There are far more places to go to get out of the city without getting out of the city. Some of which intrigue me, but unfortunately I have yet to visit. Places like the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Forest Hills Park, the Elevated Acre, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. The list goes on and on. I love exploring the city, and do so all the time. It’s best way to find things you didn’t know existed, like a little secluded spot in the middle of the Big Apple. Maybe I’ll run into you while exploring the city. Maybe I even inspired some of you to check out the outer boroughs bex time your in New York City.

Tony is a Cleveland native and has called New York City his home in the last 7 years. A graduate of Arts School, he enjoys nature and owns too many toys for someone his age.

If you won a free trip to anywhere in the world where would you go?
Well, I’d say a trip around the world, but assuming I’m supposed to pick one place I guess I would say a Wildlife trip to a Central/South American Rainforest.

World Music: Jew’s Harp

30 05 2010

Or Jaw’s harp. Somehow I think the latter sounds better. I absolutely love buskers, and in Toronto there are a plenty. This one isn’t in Toronto but I am amazed by this instrument and would like to learn how to play it. The artist’s name is Byon Keiichi, listen to him work that thing. I can imagine a group of people dancing around a campfire to this, move over Lady Gaga.

I like World Music and from now on when I come across an amazing instrument or musician I will feature them. These people and instruments need a lot of credits


Canada’s Northern Art

4 07 2009

“Behind the glass display, tiny intricate figurines will bedazzle your eyes as the naked eye closely watch how such micro statues were made with such details.”



Eskimoan people arrived in the Canadian Arctic between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago,” reads the board that hangs on the wall where a display of tiny artefacts made from ivory, stone, antlers, and sinews are showcased. It reminds us that in a way, every one of us originates from somewhere yet we all come together in the Great White North where everyone co-exists together as a country filled with culture. Tiny replicas of igloos and gameboards sits beside each other behind the glass display while at the corner of one’s eye, a Nanuk’s (polar bear in Inuktikut) fur hangs on the other side of the musem. Tucked away on the southwest side of Queen’s Quay Terminal lies the Museum of Inuit Art where artefacts, sculptures, ceramics and art displays are showcased. It opened about a year and a half to two ago, MIA is devoted exclusively to Inuit art and culture.

Behind the glass display, tiny intricate figurines will bedazzle your eyes as the naked eye closely watch how such micro statues are made with such details. Colours of pigment are commonly used for a dimensional look, though sometimes the colouring are caused by aging when the figurine is made from ivory. Ivory is made from the tusks of Walrus or Narwhal and is common to be found in Inuit Art. The artist will sand the tusk to a size so small and micro that sometimes it takes awhile until you get the big pucture. “Sometimes, they’d have a contest up North, where they’d make things like these and the smaller they are the better,” says Jane, of the people who maintains the museum. Across from these tiny figurines, a few pieces will intrigue a person, Jane explains that these are replicas of an Inuit game called Cribbage, a difficult and somewhat confusing type of European card game. Entering the next room, a large sculpture made of whalebone, ivory, clay, stone and inlay greets the visitor, a composition made by Manasie Akpaliapik where his works are based on Inuit myths, songs and stories that reflect concern with balance between the earth and life that is necessary for us to survive.

Mother and Child is one of the most important themes in Inuit Art and the museum showcases a broad of style and fashion of them. A typical sculpture of an Inuit mother and child is where the mother holds her baby inside her Aumak. Aumak is a parka with oversized hood a mother wears devised to keep the infants safe from harsh weather conditions. Sometimes, the infant will just pop its head out of the Aumak or sometimes its full body can be seen held between her mother’s arms.

The prized collection of micro figurines are followed through the next room which exhibits artifacts that will literally take the breath away of any visitors to the museum. These objects can size up smaller than a grain of rice but the details on them reflects the hardwork the artist has put upon it. This itself, is worth the trip to the MIA.

A collection of Contemporary Arts displays right before entering the Gallery. Contemporary Inuit Art starts as early as 1970s as an attempt to straddle Inuit culture and that of other people. Shaman in Flight by David Ruben Piqtoukun is an excellent example where not only he uses stone, inlay and wood (typical mediums for Inuit Art) but also steel, a typical modern art medium. The Museum also showcases other forms and mediums such as ivory carvings, Puvirnituq (stone printmaking), tapestries (the Tapestry section is under construction at the moment), Ceramic Arts, and a room where you can listen to the hums of Inuit songs and hymns. (Call for any information on any of their current Exhibitions)



Sometimes, they’d have a contest up North, where they’d make things like these and the smaller they are the better,”

 The Gallery has a collection of more then 300 pots, stone carvings, and ivory figurines. Curate by Ingo Hessel, the collection has been growing since its inauguration and certainly adds the charm to the beautiful site of Harbourfront. Unlike most museums in Toronto, a visit to the Museum of Inuit Art is one of its kind and authentic to its experience in learning the lives of the true North Canadians.

Canada’s growing influx in immigration especially in Toronto infuses the melting pot of our culture. We as a society acknowledges culture from all over the world; from Chinese to Indian, Native Africans to Pacific Islanders, European to South American – but we fail to notice background of the Inuits of Northern Canada. Canada’s Inuits have been around longer than any Immigrants to Canada yet there is still the struggle for people to understand and appreciate the Inuit people. Walking out of the Museum of Inuit Art and Gallery gives a new perception of the cultures that these amazing group of people have contributed to Canada since thousands of years ago – and still counting.





all photos taken by me with the permission from

Museum of Inuit Art and Gallery 207 Queen’s Quay West

Admission Adults $6, Students & Seniors $5, Children under five Free

hours of Operation: Daily 10-6

How to get there: From Union Station, take the 509 and get off at Queen’s Quay Terminal, from Spadina Station take the 510 Streetcar and get off at Queen’s Quay Terminal

Toronto: The Unknown City

19 04 2009

The city of Toronto celebrated it’s 250th annivery on March 6, 2009. This is a book I highly recommend, a read that is just going to make you love Toronto even more bringing you its secrets that even some of the locals never knew about (believe me, it is like a history book to me)

Toronto, named by UNESCO as the world’s most multicultural city, attracts thousands of toursts annually to its fascinating neighbourhoods and thriving cultural scene. But in its 250-year history, Toronto has also become a place of many intriguing secrets.

Toronto:The Unknown City delves into the lesser-known spaces and stories of Hogtown, offering tantalizing tidbits of local lore, offbeat facts, and surprising anecdotes that will captivate visitors and locals alike. From sealed-off public spaces to lost railways, tales of true crime to behind-the-scenes movie gossip, this book is packed with revelations. There’s also a guide to one of the world’s most eclectic dining scenes, plus celebrity stories, sports snippets, a backstage tour of the threatre and music worlds, fabulous shopping tips, and much more. Titillating and tempting, Toronto: The Unkown City lifts the veil off Canada’s largest metropolis to reveal the mysteries, marvels and monstrosities that lie beneath.

A book that will truly inspire locals to understand the city of Toronto even further, and for tourists, this might just help you blend in. Revealing secrets, locations and facts about Toronto not everyone knows about, read this and you could boast being a walking-talking-Toronto-guide.

Other books available in the Unknown City series: Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, New York, San Francisco, and many more!