Dear Lord Black,
Did you know that more than 40 per cent of former inmates re-offend within the first three years? The sad truth is many of the men and women who’ve paid their debt to society re-emerge to find themselves in a world they no longer recognize.
And so, to celebrate your perilous crossing from con to ex-con, I have taken it upon myself to furnish you with a primer on how your city has changed in the 40 months since you entered the Florida hoosegow. Because believe you me, it’s changed.
The first question is, Where should you live? Definitely not the Bridle Path. I know you own a house there – but it’s the neighbours I’m worried about. Remember how it used to be 80-per-cent Russian mobsters? Now it’s 80-per-cent Russian mobsters and 20-per-cent Chinese Communist party officials riding the crest of the petro loonie. If they see you stepping out of a Rolls-Royce, they’ll mistake you for the chauffeur and try to poach you. (There are no non-competes in the chauffeur sector.)
But there’s good news. Because the housing bubble that torpedoed the world economy four years ago? It’s still going strong in Toronto. Every neighbourhood is just like the Bridle Path: insanely unaffordable. So ditch the family compound and go where the cool kids are going by snapping up a 14-foot-wide row house in Outer Weston. Be prepared to go way over asking, and count on $250K for the reno ($350K if you want to deal with the “moist” basement). But take heart. Outer Weston is trendy. So are property bubbles. In 15 years, it’ll be cool just to say you were there.
As far as city politics goes, you might want to think twice about calling yourself a conservative. Gone are the men of fine breeding with a righteous concern for “the poor.” They’ve been replaced by an angry mob of inner-suburban chieftains.
A warning: These people will not like you. They won’t like your fancy words, your fancy clothes, or your fancy food, and they won’t understand why anyone would read a book about Maurice Duplessis, let alone write one. But most of all, they will wonder why on earth someone with your kind of money isn’t in Arizona playing golf.
Restaurants have also changed. Back before you were spirited away into the clink, you could still have fun dining out in Toronto. You’d get all spiffied up, the maître d’ would pretend to be happy to see you and then you’d sit down and look at the menu and the whole ritual would play out.
No one does that any more.
The thing to do now is hit one of those tiny new places that resolutely refuses to take reservations. Get there at 7 p.m., then get in line behind the thirty-five or so others who got there at 6. And then wait.
Which is to say, stand there in your Japanese raw denim jeans and retro tasselled loafers (you probably have several pairs) and fire off tweets announcing that you will imminently be seated at the trendy restaurant you’re standing in front of. When you finally sit down, don’t even think about doing something so painfully outmoded as ordering a main course from the waiter (who will be tattooed and wearing a toque). It’s all about sharing plates now.
Speaking of sharing, it’s all about socialism now, too. Corporations are evil, because they’re motivated by greed and bent on world domination. (Except for Apple and Google, which have a legitimate shot at world domination.)
And should anyone be so banal as to carp obstreperously about the so-called “one per cent,” do not furnish them with some ad hoc defence of risk, the virtues of hazard, or the importance of equipoise in government expenditure. Just order three more sharing plates – they go for about $25 a pop – and be happy you can afford to live here.
Special to The Globe and Mail