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Howard Pressburger of Wiener’s Home Hardware is the creative mind behind CBC ComedyCoup’s Nuts and Bolts

In Reviews, The West Annex on November 9, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Howard Pressburger, the creative mind behind CBC Comedy Coup's Nuts & Bolts

Howard Pressburger, the creative mind behind CBC Comedycoup’s Nuts and Bolts

By Louise Morin | Have you signed the petition yet to launch Howard Pressburger’s Nuts and Bolts into the round of 15 on CBC’s ComedyCoup? The deadline is tonight to sign.

ComedyCoup is a  fan-driven comedy incubator and competition.For the past month, comedy creators from across Canada have posted thousands of videos, images and artwork on the ComedyCoup website, and asked fans to vote. The winner receives $500,000 in production financing to create a half-hour prime time special.

Pressburger is the star and creative director of Nuts and Bolts, which he wrote with partner Shana Sandler and producer Josh Tizel. The comedy is shot entirely in Wiener’s Home Hardware at 423 Bloor Street West in the West Annex, where Pressbuger has worked for over a decade. The synopsis:Nuts and Bolts logo

“Hotshot advertising executive Howard just wanted what everyone else did: fame, wealth, and power. But when he loses his job, his wife, his money and his house, he ends up back in his hometown. Determined to put the nuts and bolts of his life back together, Howard takes a job at the local mom and pop hardware store, where he discovers that the true essence of humanity just might be found near the toilet plungers. Based on true stories and anecdotes culled from Howard’s (yes, he’s a real guy!) years of working at a real life hardware store, Nuts and Bolts proves that mundane things are more important than you ever imagined and purpose can sometimes be found in little paper bags.”

You know Howard Pressburger. He’s the warm, very funny, very knowledgeable guy at Wieners Hardware who knows the store backwards and inside out. Some may not know that Pressburger is also an actor with a number of professional credits to his name including a role in Ken Finkelman’s locally shot Good Dog. If you’re like me and have been a fan of Pressberger’s blog omfghardware, you’ll love the sensibility of Nuts and Bolts: warm and wry meditations on human nature as seen through the lens of a hardware store.

After you’ve signed the petition, check out the Nuts and Bolts ComedyCoup homepagefacebook page, and twitter feed to see video, episodes and some great old photos of the hardware store.


What’s the best store in the West Annex

The weekly wrap for February 11, 2011

In Coming events, Reviews, Royal St. George's construction, This week in the neighbourhood on February 11, 2011 at 6:41 PM

Custom bike painter Noah Rosen of Velocolour shows off the plaid fenders he made for Don Cherry's bike at Curbside Cycle

Picture yourself in plaid. Custom bike painter Noah Rosen of Velocolour has finished the plaid fenders for Don Cherry’s pink bike, and you can have your picture with the bike tomorrow at Curbside’s Bike Love Sale, 412 Bloor Street West. [Curbside Cycle]


Bikes on ice. Later on Saturday, head over to Dufferin Grove Park for Icycle 2011 bike races on the rink. [Duncan’s City Ride]


Councillor Vaughan to hold meeting with West Annex community, Royal St. George’s on Wednesday, February 16th at 7:00PM.  Meeting to decide various issues including how to route 500 construction vehicles through neighbourhood, interruptions of power and other essential service, immediate removal of portable. [Ward 20]

The Children’s Storefront reopens. Destroyed by fire in October of 2009, the beloved drop-in centre for kids and parents has reopened at 286 Bloor Street West. []


A great brunch. Eddie loves his meal at local fave By the Way Cafe. [T.O. Bites]


No more dorms. U of T abandons residence in favour of luxury condos geared to wealthy and foreign students. []


In defence of graffiti. Jake Tobin Garrett examines the mayor’s troublesome war on urban art. [deconstructed city]


Every Friday, the Weekly Wrap collects articles from around the web about or of interest to residents of the West Annex.

For previous weeks’ columns, visit the Weekly Wrap archive.

John Cadiz Life Stories at Ideasincorporated, 1081 Bathurst Street, until February 20, 2011

In Coming events, Reviews on February 7, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Launching the boat (1989) by John Cadiz, at Ideasincorporated

By West Annex News | After decades of struggle, the Bathurst Street strip south of Dupont is finally taking off. With the trauma of a major fire and the seemingly endless construction on Bathurst Street and the CPR underpass finally behind it, the revolving door of shops that have come and gone over the years has finally stopped spinning. A critical mass of interesting galleries, indie coffee houses, shops and restaurants have come and stayed. Suddenly signs of gentrification are everywhere on this once perennially scuzzy strip.

Bathurst from Vermont north to Dupont is now a worthy destination to plan to spend an entire morning or afternoon, enjoyably wandering from gallery to gallery and shop to shop, fortifying yourself during breaks at the various interesting cafes and coffee shops.

We’ll be writing more in coming weeks about some of these shops, galleries and cafes which have been garnering rave reviews from the media, like Madeleines, Cherry Pie and Ice Cream, Rapido, BurnettJava Mama, Barbara Edwards Contemporary, Ewanika, and opening later this month, a new wine bar The Grape.  All these have joined with neighbourhood stalwarts like Annapurna Vegetarian, La Parette Gallery and the unspoiled vintage diners Apollo 11 and Vesta Lunch to form a vibrant new neighbourhood in the upper West Annex.

Today we’re looking in particular at Ideasincorporated, a gallery at 1081 Bathurst Street and their current show, John Cadiz Life Stories, which features the exuberant paintings of Trinidadian expatriate and Seaton Village resident John Cadiz.

Opening night of John Cadiz Life Stories at Ideasincorporated gallery, January 28, 2011

“I was born and raised in Trinidad” says Cadiz. “My French/Irish/Spanish ancestry, white skin with all its implied privileges, and a strict Catholic upbringing have perhaps afforded me a unique perspective. I emigrated to Canada in 1977 and worked as a graphic designer to support myself. During a rather stressful period about twenty years ago I started to paint. I am mainly self-taught and tend to use events in my past, religion, and Trinidad carnival as props or metaphors, some of which I put into paintings set in more recent times.”

Whether set in his Trinidadian past or in Canada, summoned from his memory or imagination, these painting layer sweetness, sadness, and the macabre together, using humour to leaven the mix.

Venus de Kaboom (2005) by John Cadiz

The macabre is particularly strong in painting like Putting Down Sambo (2008) based on a true incident in which the artist’s father botched an attempt to euthanize a beloved pet, @#$% Gridlock (2004) where through the window of a TTC bus one sees an execution about to take place, but jaded commuters only complain about the gridlock, and Venus de Kaboom (2005) where a female suicide bomber detonates herself to a sexist commentary on her detached body parts from demons, who presumably urged her on to self-destruction.

@#$% Gridlock (2004) by John Cadiz

Others, like The Family Reunion (2007) appears tranquil enough at first glance.  The label beside this painting reads “I thought I’d have a fantasy reunion, a kind of snapshot with the picture taker trying to get everyone to take a bow at the same time with the usual fooling around. The family would be together one last time when we were all happy.”

John Cadiz: The Family Reunion (2007) by John Cadiz | click to enlarge

Not mentioned are the three guest on the porch, looking on at the family’s merriment: an angel, a top-hatted grim reaper, and a character who is perhaps Jab Molassie–a devil masquerade character in Trinidad’s Carnival. While the angel is plainly a mortal–we see the band on the headdress holding up her halo–the devil is real: he breathes fire as he exclaims in patois. The reaper leans back contentedly; he’s found a home to settle into for a while.

Fall (2006) by John Cadiz

Similarly, in the punning Fall (2006), a placid scene of traffic on a multi-lane highway returning to Toronto at the end of an autumn weekend is punctuated by a disintegrating aircraft falling from the sky overhead.

But not all the painting have a morbid twist. In Bettina’s garten (2000) we see a scene of urban Toronto bliss as Monica and her sister-in-law Poonam barbecue in the backyard of their Ossington home, surrounded by a garden planted by their German tenant Bettina.

Bettina's garten (2000) by John Cadiz | click to enlarge

And in Camping with the mon (1998), the artist’s tenderness and self-deprecating humour is evident in his autobiographic portrayal of a camping trip to Tobermory Provincial Park gone wrong. The loving couple both embrace and shield each other’s eyes as a powerful wind whips through their campsite, blowing campfire smoke into their faces.

Camping with the mon (1992) by John Cadiz

There are many other paintings, equally engaging and absorbing.  We’ve been to the show twice now, and plan to visit again before the show closes on February 2o, 2011.

Ideasincorporated began in 2007 when owner Oliver Heinrich bought 1081 Bathurst Street in 2007 and set to work renovating it into a live/work space with his family’s living quarters above and the gallery below. Heinrich’s first show was an installation of works made from materials he recycled from the building’s renovation.

The Ideasincorporated gallery at 1081 Bathurst Street, beside the empty lot left after the fire that destroyed the Children's Storefront

Devoted to showcasing the work of local artists, Heinrich had just held his first two successful shows when disaster struck in October 2009: the Children’s Storefront housed in the building to his immediate south, burned to the ground in October of 2009. In fighting the fire, Heinrich’s gallery was drenched with water, the south wall destroyed and the recently renovated ceilings, floors, and electrical wiring ruined. A struggle with his insurer–still not resolved–meant Heinrich wasn’t able to complete the restoration of the interior of the property until late summer of 2010. The exterior still awaits final repairs, so the gallery can be easily missed from the street.

But the gallery is well worth a visit, as are the neighbouring shops and cafes in the amazing, gentrifying upper West Annex.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ For more on the ascendance of the upper West Annex at Bathurst and Dupont, read Karen van Hahn’s Bathurst and Dupont is the newest style mecca” in

The weekly wrap for December 17, 2010

In Eating & Drinking, Heritage & History, Reviews, This week in the neighbourhood on December 17, 2010 at 1:01 AM

“Does the Annex really need another budget-friendly Japanese restaurant?”  Apparently yes. Gizelle Lau loves the fresh ingredients and home made stock at Kenzo Ramen. [Toronto Life]

Kenzo Ramen | 372 Bloor Street West

“We wanted to bring in city bikes from Holland that are upright, fashionable, and can function as your car.” Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy profiles Eric Kamphof, manager of Curbside Cycle.  [torontoist]

“The Green Room . . . a place so dirty that a health inspector found even its license completely covered in cockroach feces.” David Topping calls out the Green Room as one of torontist’s Villains of 2010.  [torontoist]

Beer was still 15 cents a glass and big old homes yet to be gentrified were cheap rooming houses. Jim Henshaw recalls David French and the Annex theatre scene of the early 1970’s.  [Legion of Decency]

Still looking for the perfect gift for that left-wing bike-riding pinko kook in your life? Get your commemorative T-shirts from Biking Toronto and buttons from spacingtoronto.  The buttons are also available locally at the Outer Layer, Curbside Cycle, and Sweet Pete’s.

First came the stagecoach stop in 1876. Eric Murtrie explores Brunswick Avenue at Bloor, and environs. [spacingtoronto]

They tested Model Ts on the roof. Matt Bubbers uncovers the storied history of the Faema Building (and former Ford automobile plant) at the corner of Dupont and Christie.  [ Autos]

“You get to the point when you see so much pain in people’s lives, you have to do something.” Eileen Donnelly profiles Harbord Collegiate Institute teacher Michael Ericson’s work to establish a shelter for Toronto’s homeless LBGTQ youth.  [The Toronto Observer]

“One of Toronto’s oldest cinemas has been nestled in the Annex for almost a century.” Tracey Chen recounts the history of the Bloor Cinema, AKA the Madison Picture Palace.  [Heritage Toronto]

The Madison Picture Palace, now the Bloor Cinema | Courtesy of City of Toronto Archives


Every Friday, the Weekly Wrap collects articles from around the web about or of interest to residents of the West Annex.

Here’s Don Cherry’s new bike

In Reviews on December 11, 2010 at 7:28 PM

Gillian Goerz, sales manager at Curbside Cycle shows off the pink Pashley bicycle intended for Don Cherry

Torontonians who were taken aback by Don Cherry’s bizarre, hate-filled screed against pinkos and cyclists during Mayor Ford’s investiture ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday, December 7 were cheered to read the open letter to Don Cherry penned by Curbside Cycle.  “We’d like to take a little egg off your face and allow you to (literally) do a bit of backpedalling” it said.  “We’d like to give you a bicycle, in a blushing shade of ironic pink.”

Curbside is giving the pugnacious hockey commentator a stylish Pashley Tube Rider — Double Scoop. Pashley is England’s longest established bicycle manufacturer, having produced sturdy, handsome bicycles for rural and urban commuters for over 80 years at their manufacturing facility in Stratford-on-Avon.

Custom bike painter Noah Rosen of Velocolour is donating a paint job* for the bike’s fenders in a suitably Cherryesque fashion.  An online poll will determine whether the fenders — now turquoise — will be painted in a pinstripe, pink floral or pink plaid design in tribute to the belligerent bigot’s sartorial excesses.  Earlier today Curbside reported that the plaid fenders are ahead in the voting. The poll closes Monday morning, December 13th so vote now.

Gillian Goerz, Curbside’s sales manager said this morning that the shop has yet to hear from Cherry to make arrangements to accept their gift.

Curbside Cycle | 412 Bloor Street West

Curbside Cycle is located at 412 Bloor Street West in the West Annex, the pinkest of the pink heart of Toronto.  The area is represented by NDP members in both the federal parliament and the provincial legislature, and its city counselor Adam Vaughan is considered Mayor Rob Ford’s number one nemesis and possible rival for mayor in 2014.

Started in a tent in front of the Brunswick House about fifteen years ago, Curbside Cycle draws a city-wide clientele with its extensive selection of bicycles, clothing and accessories geared to the needs of urban bicycle commuters.

Don Cherry is a former professional hockey player and coach.  He played a single game in the NHL, and despite coaching the Boston Bruins of the NHL during the heyday of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, never won a Stanley Cup.   Cherry parlayed this distinguished career into a now 30-year gig as the dominant hockey commentator with the national public broadcaster, the CBC.  Cherry lives in Mississauga, Ontario.


12 Dec. ’10 | This article was revised  to add the recap of Don Cherry’s NHL career.

13 Dec. ’10 | * Noah Rosen has donated the custom paint job for the bike’s fenders.  Incorrect information appeared in the original version of this article.  Thanks to Gillian Goerz for the correction.

The John Lyle Studio

In Heritage & History, Reviews on December 4, 2010 at 11:10 PM

The John Lyle Studio at 230 Bloor Street West in 2006

Strolling along Bloor Street in as late as 2008, just west of the Intercontinental Hotel, one could turn north up a narrow alleyway and after only a few dozen steps come across a little piece of urban paradise, the elegant John Lyle Studio building.  Adjacent to a peaceful, sunshine- and art-filled courtyard, the studio and grounds were a quiet refuge from busy Bloor Street.

Royal Alexandra Theatre | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The studio was built by John Lyle in 1920 as the atelier for his architectural firm.

Lyle was one of Toronto most distinguished architects in the late 19th and earliest 20th century.  Born in Ireland in 1872, he came to Canada as a young boy, and settled initially in Hamilton, Ontario, where he was a student at the Hamilton School of Art.  He studied architecture first at Yale University, and then at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris France.  Upon his graduation in 1896, he worked for a number of distinguished architectural firms in New York City.  He was involved in the design of the New York’s Beaux-Art gem, the New York Public Library.

Upon returning to Canada in 1905, Lyle developed a uniquely Canadian style.  Deeply inspired by the work of the Group of Seven “[Lyle] and his cohorts took as their self-imposed mission the creation of a Canadian architecture, one that reflected the county, its value, history and culture” observed Christopher Hume, The Star’s architecture critic.   “What makes him so timely” said Hume “was his focus on the city.  As part of the City Beautiful movement, he argued for an enhanced public realm of new civic squares, boulevards and grand entrances.”

Union Station | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Among Lyle’s most accomplished buildings are the Royal Alexandra Theatre (1907), Union Station (1921) and the Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public Library (1930).

Lyle continued his architectural practice from the studio until his retirement in 1943.  He died in 1945.  His studio continued to be occupied by various tenants, most recently by Cara Operations Inc.

In about 2004 the studio lands were included in a proposal by Lanterra Developments and MCE Developments  to erect a 32 story condominium tower they called One Bedford.  The construction of this tower would necessitate the demolition of all of the buildings on the north side of Bloor Street from Bedford Avenue east to the Intercontinental Hotel, including the Lyle studio.

Despite being listed in the City of  Toronto Inventory of  Heritage Properties, the developers obtained all necessary permissions to tear down the studio in 2006.  Eleventh-hour protests by local historians and the community brought only one small concession, the preservation of a fragment of the building facade, to be placed on the exterior of the condominium’s inner courtyard.

Lyle Studio fragment pasted on One Bedford

John Lyle Studio facade pasted on the One Bedford courtyard interior

The One Bedford condominium is nearing completion.  The fragment of the Lyle Studio facade on the Bruce Kuwabara/Shirley Blumberg and Sol Wasserman/Vlad Losner-designed tower has just recently been unveiled.  It demonstrates all of the weaknesses of facadism.   Derided by preservationists as vandalism that reduces the original building to a folly, the facade fragment of the once-elegant Lyle Studio appears like a small brown turd under a squatting gray man, diminishing both buildings, the old and the new.

The sad demise of the John Lyle Studio is but another episode in Toronto’s ignominious history of heritage preservation.