There’s an episode of the Simpsons in which Bart realizes that he has only one day left until school starts in the fall and he’s accomplished nothing he’d intended to do over the summer. So, true to cartoon form, Bart finishes off his checklist of summer activities – including his first romance – in under 24 hours and when school starts the next day he feels he’s had a complete vacation.
That’s kind of like how I feel with summer classes looming so soon after spring exams end. Sure, there are differences between me and Bart Simpson – one of us is cartoon, the other is not; one had one day, the other has a few weeks; only one of us is able to get a date – but the pressure to make the best of my time in these glorious sunny days in the prime of my youth does not go unnoticed. That’s why, in the two or so weeks until UofT’s scaly academic claw drags me back into the depths of cram session hell (as you can tell, I study writing and rhetoric) I’ve decided to do as much as I can to truly make the best of summer 2012. To aid me in my noble task, I have prepared a list of the summer attractions for the summer school student.
Summer 2012, Toronto: Abridged Edition
May 1: May Day
Toronto’s fair-weather revolution picks up in full swing on May 1 as activists – from a wide array of backgrounds but with the common goal of stickin’ it to the Man – will take to the streets to protest the government/the 1% in a rally at City Hall followed by a march to an undisclosed location. Employees of all jobs are encouraged to take a sick day to really show the system who’s boss and attend, if they can, the Occupy Toronto potluck at Queen’s Park. Even students who are not entirely convinced of the movement’s goals and ideologies may be interested in popping by with a camera for some interesting snapshots and the chance to document what may become an event of historical significance.
May 1 – 2: Toronto Blue Jays play the Texas Rangers
An obscene amount of research went into this blurb, including a search for the definitions of “baseball”, “inning”, and “Ricky Romero”. Someone with my lack of knowledge on the subject can’t truthfully say either way if the Jays’ games against the Rangers will be exciting or notable, but the Torontonian in me still roots for the home team.
May 1 – 8: The Tennessee Williams Project
Beginning and ending right in the middle of our mini-vacation, The Tennessee Williams project will feature nine theatre companies producing seven of Williams’ lesser-known one-act plays over the course of seven nights, each in a different neighbourhood. The Project seeks to unite Toronto over the mutual admiration and respect for the works of this giant of American theatre and will, at the very least, provide us with some exceptional local theatre and the chance to see some rarely-performed pieces.
May 4: Star Wars Day (“May the 4th Be with You”)
Nerds of the city awaken from their anime-fuelled slumbers and join together on May 4 to celebrate George Lucas’ ground-breaking sci-fi classic and its subsequent sequels, prequels, comic books, novels, TV shows, and general media empire. The epicentre is the Toronto Underground Cinema, which will host a trivia challenge, costume contest, fan films, and celebrity guests. Tickets are pre-sold, so make sure to grab some quick.
May 5: Free Comic Book Day / TCAF
Two fairly different cultural groups unite over one marginalized medium on May 5 as local comic book stores hand out free comic books, courtesy of corporate sponsors, while the Toronto Reference Library hosts a wide array of indie comic writers and artists to peddle their hip, and often depressing, wares. To draw in the crowds Silver Snail Comics will be handing out original, unique posters and bringing in artist Phil Noto for an appearance and signing – but if you’re really into being starstruck I’d recommend heading to TCAF instead to bask in the genius emanating from graphic novelist Alison Bechdel.
TCAF runs until Sunday but many headlining exhibitors and special guests, including Bechdel, will only drop by for the Saturday.
May 5 – 6: Jane’s Walk
As if choosing between TCAF and FCBD weren’t hard enough, those with prior obligations on Sunday must also choose between a day in comic book stores and libraries or an educational walk in the city. Jane’s Walks are public walking tours led by knowledgeable members of the community that provide attendees with knowledge of the neighbourhood while they promenade through. They’re often specialized to individual topics and offer in-depth knowledge on local culture, architecture, and history, and they’re well worth checking out.
April 26 – May 6: Hot Docs Film Festival
A Toronto tradition on par with not caring about Toronto or traditions, the Hot Docs film festival highlights the work of documentarians from around the world in a series of screenings at venues across the city. As Ally’s stirring review of The World Before Her shows, good documentaries have the power to touch us emotionally while also opening our eyes and educating us on matters we’d never even considered. Hot Docs brings in the best of the best of documentaries and provides us with a rich cultural and intellectual experience for a very modest fee. I strongly recommend seeing at least one Hot Doc before the festival closes on May 6.
Picasso at the Art Gallery of Ontario
One of the amazing benefits of living or studying in a city as cosmopolitan as Toronto is access not only to local art but to international pieces as well. Throughout the month of May, the Art Gallery of Ontario will be showcasing some of the greatest works of one of the greatest artists of the past hundred years, and admission is only $11 for students. If you have even a fleeting interest in art Picasso’s is some of the first work you should be checking out; at the very least drop by the exhibit so you have something to tell your parents when they ask about your summer plans.
May 13 – Mother’s Day
This is as much a reminder to me as it is to you. Though the students in us may protest the incorporation and commercialization of maternal attachment as a means of exploitation of the masses, there’s still no excuse in forgetting to at least call. Many local restaurants and shops will also have mother’s day sales, so even if you’re not into all this – or you don’t have a mother – you can still indulge yourself.
As the past eight months of blogs have shown, school is by no means a social death sentence. We can always find time to go to the theatre or a sports game if we manage, and we can always manage if we need to. UofT students are resourceful and, contrary to our memes page, capable of good grades and recreational activities. Despite all this, the liberty of knowing you have no assignments due and no essays to study for and no novels to read and no lab reports to write is a wonderful feeling to a weary student, even if it is at the cost of the pressure to enjoy one’s self. I’d gladly take it over school-work any day, or at least until May 14.