When life gives you SARS, make sarsaparilla

Okay, it’s a dumb title. It sounded clever to me in the shower. (And yes, that’s the way you spell it.)

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve received about a dozen emails asking if I’m doing anything differently as a result of the SARS outbreak. With all the coverage of Toronto and SARS in the media, I suppose it’s easy for someone to think of Toronto as a city beseiged by plague, but from it doesn’t seem that way to me.

I live a mere two blocks away from Queen and Spadina, an intersection of two of Accordion City’s most interesting streets that forms a nexus of several neighbourhoods: the bohemian boutique-y neighbourhood to the west, a yuppified boutique-y neighbourhood and the financial district to the east, the club district to the southeast, the warehouse loft conversion district to the southwest, the waterfront to the south, the University of Toronto to the northeast, downtown Chinatown to the north and Kensington Market, Little Italy and Little Portugal to the northeast. This corner is under the ever-watchful eyes of Max’s hot dog cart, which is open twenty-four hours a day, closing only for Christmas (Toronto’s hot dog carts easily trump those of New York City — ours are real sausages as opposed to their piddly Oscar Mayer offerings; while they boil or steam theirs, we barbecue ours; in New York, you’re lucky if you get more than just ketchup, mustard and relish, here in Toronto, we get dozens of toppings). If you want a gauge of Accordion City’s leisure mood, just come to my neighbourhood on a Saturday afternoon or evening.

The weekend was gorgeous, with spring-like temperatures, budding trees and cloudless skies. I spent Saturday afternoon wandering about my neighbourhood and part of Sunday afternoon in High Park. Both were filled with teeming crowds, and I didn’t see a single N95 mask.

SARS didn’t scare away anyone from the opening of the X-Men 2 movie this weekend. The theatre was pretty crowded. (I saw it on Friday with Paul and Hector and on Saturday with Paul, Deenster, her boyfriend Chris, Possum and Cory Doctorow. Great fun.)

I did a little busking over the weekend, and I’m pleased to report that the accordion is still more infectious than SARS.

Not everyone was out enjoying the gorgeous weather, but they were outside, in a manner of speaking:

Photo: Internet cafe in Chinatown Centre.

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz. I wonder where the LAN party is? The Internet Cafe at Chinatown Centre, a large Chinese shopping mall a block away from my house, was packed on Saturday.

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