Eye Magazine [Toronto] : Reader' s Choice Awards 2004

BEST TV SHOW
(LOCALLY PRODUCED)
DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION

Tuesdays, 8:30pm, CTV


BEST POT SPOT
ROACH-O-RAMA
191A Baldwin, 416-203-6990

Despite their publicists’ obvious distress and anxiety at the scene, Degrassi stars Miriam McDonald, Lauren Collins and Adamo Ruggiero (that’s Emma, Paige and Marco in Degrassi-land) seemed to enjoy their photo shoot at Kensington Market’s Roach-o-rama, voted our readers’ favourite pot spot. Once they got comfortable on the couch, everyone calmed down, so much so that by the end of it, Ruggiero felt enough at ease to change out of wardrobe in the middle of the store, obviously aware that no one at Roach-o-rama was uptight enough to give a shit.

These kids are obviously not regular Degrassi kids in real life — they love H&M clothing (our Readers’ Choice runner-up for best deal for women’s clothes) and have been busy touring North America doing mall visits and shoots for other publications, like People magazine. But they aren’t just television stars — Ruggiero finished high school in Mississauga this year and is off to York in January to do a double major in Communications and English.

But as Ruggiero explains, getting through high school while starring in a hit TV show wasn’t all glamour; he was going straight to work after school, typing his essays up on the set, doing homework into the wee hours and getting up early to do it all again the next day. McDonald, who along with Ruggiero also starred in the kids’ TV show System Crash, is still in high school, but doing it the easy-actor-way through tutors and a flexible academic schedule. McDonald’s family moved from Oakville to Toronto when they realized they were spending more time in the Dot than the Ville while she was working. (Meanwhile, Collins, like her fashionista character Paige, didn’t seem like one for small talk.) Now that they’ve wrapped up shooting for the season, both actors have plans for auditions and school work — these kids are way too responsible to spend their time slacking off at Roach-o-rama.

While being a little cramped for a photo shoot (not to mention the filming of eTalk’s behind-the-scenes look at the shoot), Toronto’s favourite pot spot — with its adjacent Hot Box Caf eatery — is a great place for all that paraphernalia you know you need, a lovely mug of warmth like the Bavarian chocolate latt and a cozy little space to smoke in at the back. Boasting a selection of more than 100 kinds of papers and a very attractive display of glass pipes and bongs, they also carry all the innocent-hippy stuff like hemp clothing and beauty products, making it a good stop for picking up a couple Christmas prezzies and taking a break during the weekend afternoon stroll through Kensington. And if you see one of these Degrassi kids there, please do the right thing: don’t tell their publicist.
CAROLINE LOCK

BEST MP3 PLAYER
iPOD

With all due respect to The Buggles, video did not kill the radio star, it just delivered a few punches to keep him honest. No, if anyone’s going to deliver that fatal blow, it’s the iPod, whose users are increasingly forsaking traditional AM/FM frequencies and tuning into the best new radio station in the world — the one that’s instantly created when you activate the shuffle feature. Not only does the iPod shuffle play the music you want to hear, it has the uncanny, somewhat disturbing psychic ability to play it when you want to hear it — on a recent, especially gloomy day, my walk in the rain was spontaneously soundtracked by the perfectly depressing triple shot of Tindersticks’ “Tiny Tears,” Lou Reed’s “The Kids” and Feist’s “Let it Die.” Now if only we could teach it to predict lottery numbers….

STUART BERMAN

BEST USED BOOKSTORE
BMV BOOKS
2289 Yonge 416-482-6002
10 Edward 416-977-3087

Seekers Books
509 Bloor W 416-925-1982

Used books occupy an odd little place in the book demimonde. Since neither publisher nor author gets any proceeds from books sold there, each used bookstore is an island, entire of itself, dependent only upon that third of life’s sureties: people who read will always need to get rid of old books and, in the course of doing so, be lured into buying other ones cheap. We all know that Eliot’s (584 Yonge) is the place to go for used books so new they haven’t been published yet (book reviewers get paid so very little), and that Seekers, in addition to being the best place to go to engage in conversation about the white man’s Buddhism or drugs with names like Yohimbe, also has some fine deals on paperback literature. But you may have overlooked BMV, possibly because its big, vaguely corporate-looking sign is off-putting to the sorts of people who buy the sorts of used books they sell at places like Seekers. But BMV is your catholic choice — it’s got it all, from literature to Literature. If you, like almost every reader in this city, are looking for something to read on the subway this week on the way to and from work, this is the place to go.

BERT ARCHER

BEST SPOT FOR PUBLIC SEX
HIGH PARK

There are almost 400 acres in Toronto’s biggest urban park, and probably each one has been christened. A favourite spot for all the usual park stuff like picnics and dog-walking, High Park turns out to be our readers’ favourite outdoor getting-it-on spot as well, far surpassing both the subway and the Hanlan’s Point nude beach. Looks like all those rolling hills and run-off pathways provide more than just a discreet place to pee, and the view’s probably not too bad either. What’s nicer than a good romp in the bushes? Not having to take a boat back.
CAROLINE LOCK

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