Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sticky Step Thirteen: Golden Diamond Chinese Restaurant (formerly Bright Pearl Restaurant, now closed), 346 Spadina Ave.

Sometimes you get a goldmine of photos and sometimes you get nothing, or very nearly close to it. Sadly, that's the case with the next two locations I went on the hunt for. The first is the rooftop patio where the Human-Lizard briefly interacts with three young women (one of whom, Barb, will have a much more important role in the comic as it unfolds) while grappling with a giant worm monster.

Barb and friends on a rooftop patio barely tolerating the Human-Lizard's efforts to protect them.

I just couldn't for the life of me figure out where the rooftop patio in question is in Toronto. Jason Loo, creator of The Pitiful Human-Lizard, may have mentioned to me where the setting was, but if so, it was a part of town I'm less familiar with and I've completely forgotten since. Trying to locate it on my own has proven impossible because there are so many rooftop patios in the city, it could literally be anywhere. What's interesting is that this is a recurring theme with Barb's character, because as I've read through the series and studied each of Barb's appearances, I've discovered that she lives up to the self-appointed title of "street ninja" by nearly always being someplace I'm completely unable to identify.

Barb dismisses the Human-Lizard with a word, and the giant worm monster with a thought.

The second disappointment was discovering that the restaurant Lucas and his parents go to dinner at, Golden Diamond Chinese Restaurant (located in the centre of Toronto's Spadina Ave. Chinatown district), has since closed down. Hopefully it will reopen again in the near future and, if luck holds out, the interior will continue to be the same as it has been since the restaurant went by the name Bright Pearl.

The interior of the now-closed Golden Diamond restaurant at 346 Spadina Ave.

Until then, however, I've had to satisfy myself with just a shot of the sign which still hangs from the front of the building at 346 Spadina Ave. The exterior of the building known as the Hsin Kuang Centre does feature in a later chapter of The Pitiful Human-Lizard and I've taken a bunch of photos, but I'll save those for another day.

The "Gold Diamond" sign still hangs in front of the Hsin Kunag Centre at 346 Spadina Ave.

Next up: Things get crazy at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) when Bodyrocks tussles with Majestic Rat!


Friday, September 16, 2016

Sticky Step Twelve: Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front St. W.

While Lucas battles with a giant monster alongside Mother Wonder in front of The Dufferin Street Tunnel and Parkdale Amphitheatre, his parents, Hugh and Lauren Barrett, are at home across town watching a news story covering Hugh's early career as the Lizard-Man, Toronto's "first superhero."

The Fairmont Royal York at 100 Front St. West.

In truth, Hugh was really the founder and one-time head of a local glue manufacturer, Barrett Strong Adhesives, and the Lizard-Man was just a gimmick he'd come up with to sell more of his stock-in-trade. By applying his glue to the gloves and boots of the Lizard-Man suit, Hugh could then effortlessly scale the sides of various iconic Toronto buildings to draw attention and demonstrate the quality and strength of his product.

Hugh Barrett makes a deal with the manager of the Fairmont Royal York.

In an interview during the news story, Hugh recounts the publicity stunt that propelled him to local stardom. He'd made a wager with the manager of the Fairmont Royal York that he could climb the outside of the hotel all the way to the top. With 28 floors and over a thousand rooms, the historic hotel was the largest and tallest building in the city when it was first built in 1929, and the east wing expansion during the mid-'50s increased that room total to 1,600.

The Lizard-Man: triumpant!

So, before the construction of the CN Tower and the proliferation of skyscrapers to follow, it would still have been one of the most prominent edifices along the Toronto skyline in the late '60s and early '70s and would have presented the greatest challenge for Hugh's sticky gloves and boots.
The Fairmont Royal York seen from the observatory level of the CN Tower.

Of course, Hugh was more than up to that challenge and won himself and Lauren a week in the hotel's Royal Suite, traditionally reserved for Queen Elizabeth II and other members of "The Maple Crown" when visiting the city. They then enjoyed a period of celebrity status which included in-costume visits to kids in the hospital, partying with the stars of the day and continuing to scale the sides of famous Toronto buildings, like Honest Ed's during Ed Mirvish's famous thanksgiving turkey handouts.

Honest Ed signs from a bygone era.

Next up: The Human-Lizard takes on a worm monster and then meets up with his parents for dim sum at Golden Diamond Chinese Restaurant (formerly Bright Pearl Restaurant).


Monday, September 12, 2016

Sticky Step Eleven: Dufferin Street Tunnel & Parkdale Amphitheatre, 1258 Queen St. W.

Alerted to trouble as he walks past Alexandria Falafel and Motel Bar, Lucas Barrett continues down Queen St. West, only to discover the intersection at Dufferin St. completely destroyed by a huge spiky-skinned creature rising up from beneath the city.

The Pitiful Human-Lizard running for his life on the first cover of his own series.

Emerging from the street, the enormous monster actually reflects a city-planning oversight that had plagued Toronto motorists since the dawn of the automobile, and which had only recently been corrected. For over a century, traffic along Dufferin had been forced to detour around the CP Rail line that also intersects at Queen and Dufferin Sts, resulting in what had come to be known as the "Dufferin Street Jog."

Trouble rears it's ugly head at the corner of Queen St. West and Dufferin St.

The jog was first seen as a problem during the 1960s, when traffic picked up to such a degree that Dufferin St. became a much more heavily used artery into the city's core. In the end though, it took the city nearly fifty years to correct the traffic flow snag in 2010, by completing the 72-meter-long Dufferin Street Tunnel, running under the railway line and directly adjacent to the Queen Street underpass.

Phone booths are a rare thing nowadays, so Lucas resorts to changing in the bushes.

While Lucas is off getting changed behind some nearby shrubbery, Mother Wonder rockets down Queen St. West like a TTC streetcar, ready to tackle the titanic beast. The Human-Lizard quickly enters the fray, but no sooner does he leap up on the creature's shoulder than things take a turn for the horribly unexpected.

Mother Wonder's got this, while Lucas is still tucking in his shirt.

The sudden jolt from a Wonder punch causes one of the creature's spikes to slice through Human-Lizard's arm, cutting it clean off and sending the now critically maimed Lucas hurtling to the street. While he lays bleeding out, thinking his super-hero career is over before it's even really begun, Lucas is shocked to see his arm reattach itself and heal at incredible speed!

The Human-Lizard looks around for a helping hand next to Parkdale Amphitheatre.

Meanwhile, Mother Wonder makes short work of the rampaging menace and, checking in on the now-completely recovered Human-Lizard (minus the bloody sleeve of his uniform, of course), thanks him for the assist in taking the monster down before heading off to her next super-heroic feat: Taking care of the family back at home.

Mother Wonder giving the beast a taste of it's own medicine.

Before the Dufferin Street Tunnel was completed, the area where Mother Wonder and Human-Lizard tackle and overcome the giant, spiky monster was nothing more than a few unkempt trees and a large, unsightly billboard.

Parkdale Amphitheatre with, and without, giant spiky monsters.

Shortly after though, it was revitalized into a more neighbourhood friendly green space with wheelchair accessible terraced seating, surrounding the pocket park now known as Parkdale Amphitheatre.

Parkdale Amphitheatre at 1258 Queen St. West.

Next up: A trip down memory lane with Lizard-Man . . . on top of the Fairmont Royal York hotel!


Friday, September 9, 2016

Sticky Step Ten: Alexandria Falafel & Motel Bar 1233-5 Queen St. West

As Lucas leaves his apartment dressed in a Blue Jays jersey, possibly to take in a baseball game while grabbing a bite at the hot dog cart just outside Rogers Centre, the last of Majestic's scout rats flee en masse, down the street.

Lucas leaving his apartment at 1381 Queen St. West.

Lucas proceeds in the same direction (with his Human-Lizard gear stowed in his knapsack, as always), but whether he's tailing the rats or just heading downtown to catch that ball game is never firmly established because as he approaches the corner, Lucas closes the distance between himself and fresh trouble brewing on Queen St. West.

Lucas walking down Queen St. West, directly in front of Alexandria Falafel and Motel Bar.

As he passes by one particular storefront, a huge crack in the sidewalk appears, throwing Lucas off-balance and heralding the arrival of serious trouble just up ahead. Could this be a job for the city's newest protector?

Lucas loses his footing right in front of Motel Bar at 1235 Queen St. West.

Located at the corner of Gwynne Avenue, Alexandria Falafel at 1233 Queen St. West has been keeping the visitors and residents of Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood fed for years now. Open late, it primarily caters to the after-last call crowd as patrons empty out of the surrounding bars in the area.

Alexandria Falafel at 1233 Queen St. West and the corner of Gwynne Avenue.

One such establishment, Motel Bar, just happens to be right next door to Alexandria Falafel. So titled as a play on the names of other hotel-turned-watering holes in the Parkdale area, like the Drake and the Gladstone Hotel, Motel Bar is slightly different from your typical hole-in-the-wall dive bar.

Motel Bar at 1235 Queen St. West.

In addition to offering up live music for patrons Sunday to Thursday, it also doubles as a vintage record store, as well. The vintage doesn't end with the vinyl, though. Inside, the walls are adorned with old record sleeves, cathode ray tube TV sets and even an original motel sign recovered from Toronto's long-lost strip of cheap, seedy motels along Lakeshore Road.

Motel Bar's namesake, an old rusty sign recovered from Toronto's seedy past.

Next up: The Human-Lizard helps out Mother Wonder (well, sort of) while battling a mutant monster by the Dufferin Street Tunnel and Parkdale Amphitheatre!