Brunswick Ave. remains the street of writers

“Once, Brunswick Avenue was my world. I lived there for seven years, at three different addresses, in the 1970s,” wrote novelist and York alumna Katherine Govier (MA ‘72) in the National Post, Oct. 22. “Coming from Edmonton as a grad student in English at York University, I sublet a professor’s house in Don Mills. Soon I got smart and moved into a third-floor apartment at 398 Brunswick. I had heard that ‘famous’ writers lived on the street: Marian and Howard Engel, Sylvia Fraser, Dennis Lee. But for literary chat I settled for James, the guy downstairs, a would-be playwright who feared that learning grammar would spoil his style.”

At her final place, 411 Brunswick, Govier recalled: “My upstairs neighbours were Paul Kennedy, later to become host of CBC’s ‘Ideas’, and his wife, writer Patricia Bradbury. Joy Kogawa came to visit me for a weekend and stayed for a month, starting to write Obasan. Myrna Kostash also bunked in. In her ‘women’s’ column for Maclean’s, she caused a huge furor by saying she didn’t want to have kids and get ‘a vagina as wide as a barn door’. When Myrna left, Matt Cohen moved in. Rick Salutin lived one street over. Ian Adams was at the corner of Lowther, in a place he later rented to Elizabeth Smart. It was the ’70s: You didn’t watch television; you watched the street.”

York grad Johnson shows his stuff in key Argo position

York alumnus Jeff Johnson (BA Hons. ’02) received extensive coverage in the daily sports pages Oct.. 24 after a strong game for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Johnson showed that given a chance, a Canadian can get the job done at a so-called skill position usually reserved for their more highly touted American counterparts, wrote The Toronto Star’s Rick Matsumoto. The 28-year-old Torontonian will get an opportunity to further prove that point Thursday night at the Rogers Centre when the Toronto Argonauts attempt to officially nail down first place in the CFL’s East Division.

Johnson, who has primarily been a backup tailback in his five-year CFL career – two with Hamilton and the last three with Toronto –  took over from the injured Sean Millington Saturday and produced his finest game as a pro in the Argos’ 49-23 drubbing of the Alouettes at Olympic Stadium, said the Star. His success led to speculation he’ll get his first opportunity to start as the Argos’ running back. General manager Adam Rita said the Argos will likely bring in an import running back as a precaution in case American star John Avery’s hamstring injury doesn’t respond in time for the playoffs. “But for now we’ll be going with J.J. [Johnson],” said Rita. “He’s more than paid his dues.”

  • The Toronto Sun said Johnson could move up to the No. 1 slot if the Argos’ medical staff feels Avery needs additional healing time. Discussing the game, Johnson said he kept the ball because it had been a while since he scored a touchdown. “It has been so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to get in the end zone, so I’ve got to keep the ball, hold on to it.”
  • Argos quarterback Damon Allen praised Johnson in a post-game interview for “What you saw today is really how he practises,” Allen said. “You really have to give him credit. He’s been waiting for his opportunity for a long time and when he got a chance to play he really stepped up and made it big. I call him the unpolished diamond. We polished him off today and he was really shining.”

Football Lions miss out on playoffs

While Jeff Johnson was tearing up the opposition defence in the Argos’ run for first place, his former university team, the York Lions, were ending their season early. The Toronto Star reported Oct. 23 that the Lions pride was injured by their 38-3 loss to Ottawa. For the first time in five years, the York University football team won’t be going to the playoffs. The Lions, a team ravaged by injuries, needed a win to reach the OUA quarter-final round. The Ottawa Gee Gees, with their sixth win in eight games, handed York its fourth straight loss –  this time a 38-3 whipping –  as the Lions offence again sputtered, unable to score a touchdown in its past eight quarters. Quarterback Bart Zemanek still managed to walk off with two York single-season records in pass attempts (242) and completions (124), surpassing the marks of 239 and 121 set in 1999 by Billy Barbosa (BA ‘03). But Zemanek, bitter at York’s elimination, was in no mood to celebrate personal achievements. “Maybe one day when I look back at my career, they’ll mean something and I’ll enjoy it but all I can think about now is the sour taste, and that we didn’t accomplish what we wanted,” he said.

In the Toronto Sun Oct. 23,  Lions head coach Tom Gretes said of the team, “We need to find an identity. We need to find out what we’re about. Making the playoffs is great, but we need to go beyond. We need to make that next step.” Discipline needs to be addressed and Gretes hopes the year of experience among the inexperienced group will pay dividends when York gathers next August. A healthy Andre Durie will cure a lot of the team’s ills, the Sun said, but the classy running back requires two surgeries to repair two ligaments in his left knee, a setback that occurred in the first half of Week 2 at Queen’s. “If anyone can come back it’s Andre,” teammate Ricky Foley said. “He meant so such to this team. I think even subconsciously it affected us because you knew when he played he could score on any given play.”

Personal blogs on brand-name products fill niche, says Schulich prof

Michael Marx loves Barq’s root beer so much he keeps a blog, or Web diary, dedicated to it. His is just one of a number of personal Web sites to feature brand name products that are receiving attention from the corporations that make those products, reported the The New York Times Oct. 24. A public relations firm recently sought out two bloggers to write about the Vespa, the Italian motor scooter, for a blog the company sponsors. Neither blogger is paid and they agreed to certain guidelines before taking the assignment. Robert V. Kozinets, an associate professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University, told the Times he thought consumers would be wary of bloggers sponsored by a company. “Consumers are skeptical of things told to them by companies,” Kozinets said. Most consumers are searching for unbiased opinions, a niche that blogs can fill. A testimonial from one blogger can speak directly to readers in a way advertising does not.

York music instructor Seguin triumphs over noise

A trumpet rang out the start of another Windsor Symphony Orchestra season of chamber concerts at Assumption University Chapel Friday morning, The Windsor Star reported on Oct. 22. But this time it had to compete with an uninvited soloist. At the morning concert, Philip Seguin, an instructor in the Music Department of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, had his performance of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto interrupted part of the way through by a high-pitched whine. Guest conductor Tim Hankewich stopped proceedings until the source of the noise was found. It took several minutes, after which the 130 in attendance applauded in appreciation. Seguin resumed, seemingly unfazed by the disruption. Seguin, a regular member of WSO’s brass section, made the most of his opportunity to step forward in a solo, imbuing the piece with crisp, precise lines in the fast movements and a warmth of tone in the andante, said the Star.

A colourful pattern of life

In an Oct. 22 review of the latest book by Art Gallery of York University curator and critic Philip Monk,  National Post writer R.M. Vaughan said that Spirit Hunter is ostensibly a collection of meditations on American artist Jeremy Blake’s Winchester Trilogy, a series of video installations based on the fabled Winchester House. But the book is really about Philip Monk and his attempts to find larger meaning in a life spent looking at, thinking over and writing copiously about art. While Spirit Hunter certainly does its day job by giving Blake’s project a thorough once-, twice- and thrice-over, the book really comes alive when Monk allows himself to wander off the prospectus and speculate on the things that worry him most: increasing American aggression, the way past violence haunts the present and the unavoidable conclusion that, art be damned, the world really is coming to a speedy end. It is in these passages, these moments of panic and poetry, that Monk’s latent humanism shines through. Concluded Vaughan: “All these years of being intimidated by Monk the Inquisitor, and I find out he’s just a humble country parson fretting over the chickadees in their nests.”

York duathlete raises money to compete

You probably have never heard of the duathlon, suggested The Toronto Sun Oct. 22. Not many people have. The duathlon is a downsized version of the triathlon and while it is not recognized as an Olympic sport, athletes from many countries –  including Canada –  are taking part in large numbers. One of the eager participants is York’s Hannah Spence, a second-year student at Glendon who took part in this year’s world championship consisting of a 10-km run, followed by a 40-km bicycle ride and concluding with a 5-km run. It cost her $3,000 to take part. Now, how can a student afford a $3,000 expense, you may ask? “There is no financial support from the government,” Hannah said. “So, it’s up to us to look after our own expenses. I earn some money as a waitress in my spare time, otherwise I couldn’t afford to compete. We have to buy our own uniforms. But I love the sport and I’m looking forward to next year’s world championship which will be held in July in Cornerbrook [Nfld.].” Spence will be competing in only her third world championship, happy that she doesn’t have to take part in a triathlon because she hates swimming and the idea of jumping into a cold lake. 

Schulich’s Executive Education Centre provides ‘just-in-time’ learning

In a business world that seems to get faster every day, executives and entrepreneurs often don’t have the luxury of taking a couple of years to earn an MBA, reported The Globe and Mail, Oct. 24. But that doesn’t mean they have to stop learning. Recognizing the growing need for professionals to stay on top of trends in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, educators are rolling out programs to fit into the busy schedules of even the most harried multi-taskers. At York University’s Schulich Executive Education Centre in Toronto, it’s dubbed “just-in-time” learning. SEEC’s compact courses range in duration from a day or two to several weeks and cover a broad spectrum of topics, from finance and marketing to human resources and supply chain management. With globalization and technological advancements heightening the need to upgrade skills, attendance at the centre has roughly quadrupled in the past decade, says Alan Middleton, SEEC’s executive director. Demand for programs keeps growing. “The world is just changing faster. Our skills are getting out of date quicker,” Middleton explains..

 Canadians spend more than necessary to service household debts

The majority of Canadians with household debt are missing out on an opportunity to save on borrowing costs through consolidation, according to a study for Manulife Bank, reported the National Post Oct. 22. A typical family with a residential mortgage loses an average of $1,000 a year by mismanaging their debts and short-term assets, states the study, conducted by Maritz Research. Canadians “need to make sure that all their eggs –  debts and short-term cash assets –  are placed in one basket, otherwise what they owe and what they own aren’t working optimally to lower their costs,” said Moshe Milevsky, an professor of finance at York’s Schulich School of Business and one of the study’s authors.

Successful York alum out to build Canada’s biggest film studio

When York alumnus Sam Reisman (MBA ‘77, BA ‘74) started out in a career in real estate decades ago, he didn’t expect to end up in the movie business, reported the Toronto Star on Oct. 22. The Toronto developer and merchant banker planning a $275 million movie studio on Toronto’s port lands is, depending on who you listen to, the saviour of the local film industry, or the worst thing to happen to the business. Reisman is the local boy who shocked the film industry by knocking off some major international competition for the opportunity to build Canada’s largest film studio. Now, some critics are questioning the terms of the deal that lets Reisman’s Toronto Film Studios Inc. build and run a mammoth set on a 12-hectare publicly owned site in the Toronto port lands under a controversial 99-year lease. “I’m not sure if my behaviour would be terribly different if I had lost. I’m not sure I would be so gracious. All of this controversy is directly a result of competitors,” Reisman said in an interview with the Star.

The CEO of the privately held Rose Corp., which owns the Toronto Film Studios, may be enjoying the fruits of his win now, but he knows there is serious work ahead. By next August, he is responsible for putting a shovel in the ground toward building the largest movie studio in Canada, including a stage so immense it will be able to house a replica of the Parthenon. After building close to 3,000 homes, Reisman decided the banking business was more lucrative, transforming his company into a boutique merchant bank that bankrolled developers. The company is also an investor in different projects internationally, and has a portfolio of resorts and country inns throughout Ontario. He named the company after his wife Rose, on the suggestion of his partner at the time. A former theatre arts teacher, Rose Reisman completed four degrees at York (MBA ‘85, MFA ‘82, BFA ‘77 and BA ‘75) and went on to become a successful cookbook author and TV personality.

It’s a love-love relationship

A feature item about Daniel Nestor in the Oct. 22 edition of the National Post asked the fourth-ranked doubles tennis player in the world which was his favourite tennis club. “I’ll get into deep trouble if I single one place out,” Nestor answered. “I use the new Rexall Centre at York University to prepare for tournaments. When I’m getting ready for the clay-court season I play at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club. I’m also a member at the Donalda Club and Mayfair West.”

On air

  • Shamnini Selvaratnam, a third-year student in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and vice-president of the York Federation of Students, spoke with CBC Radio in Victoria Oct. 21 about student debt for an ongoing series on personal finance.
  • Bernard Wolf, economics professor with York’s Schulich School of Business, spoke with CBC Television’s Business Weekly program Oct. 22 about the recent settlement between General Motors and its auto workers.