Archive for October, 2006

Tired but there

October 31, 2006

TONY (in response to 3 questions) — 8:15am

“I’m really tired today.”
“I think I slept only maybe 2 hours.”
“In a doorway.”

Tony & The Globe and Mail & the vanishing Unicef box

October 30, 2006

At the very top of page 1 of today’s Globe and Mail, the banner reads: “Unicef box vanishes on Halloween.” The banner points to an article about the new GiveMeaning box that replaces the now-defunct Unicef boxes. Both are cardboard but the similarity just about ends there.

The full article is on p. A14. Anthony Reinhart has written a wonderful piece about GiveMeaning’s new Halloween box. The article is accompanied with a nice photo of GiveMeaning’s founder and CEO (the photo is only available in the paper-paper). Disclaimer: Tom has been one of my very best friends for nearly ten years.

Tony wih GiveMeaning box

GiveMeaning is a registered charity.

Every child who collects money in their new GiveMeaning Halloween box is able to chose”their” favourite Canadian charity from a list. That charity gets 100% of the money collected by that child. Plus, every one who contributes money to the box gets a little paper slip of paper with a special Web site address. By going to that special Web site, contributors can track where their donation went.

At his regular place on the street, Tony is distributing the new, red Halloween boxes (as are two terrific cafes (Alternative Grounds (already mentioned in a previous posting) and Tinto, both in the midst of Toronto’s Roncesvalles enclave).

When I first asked Tony to distribute the boxes to parents passing by, he responded with: “Happy to do whatever I can do to help.”

Tony visits his diabetic friend

October 29, 2006

[Tony is standing next to his milk crates near the regular cafe; he’s using a blunt utility knife to cut two sections from a tube of heavy foam rubber]

“I’m tired of freezing my hands on my handle bars so I’m putting foam on them. I gotta see my diabetic friend [unlocks his bike].”

“Tell me about him.”

“Well, I know the guy for maybe 22 years. Actually, I met him in jail. He’s a black guy. He straightened up and then he got sick. So I go see him to be sure he takes his medicine and just to look in on him too. He’s old now, late 70s I figure.

“And I gotta get some breakfast.”

[An hour passes while Tony gets his breakfast and visits his diabetic friend.]

“He’s OK. Wants me to got out with him this afternoon but I don’t know what I’m doing then.”

“What does he want to do this afternoon?”

“Probably he wants to go girl hunting. You should see him, he gets girls no problem. I saw him the other day with a girl for sure 50 years younger than he was. She told him that she liked older men, and that I [Tony] was too young for her. So that made me feel real good.

“Now I’m going for lunch.”

Tony’s story – Part #1

October 24, 2006

“What’s your story?”

“I’ll list everything. My wife passed away 7 years ago. Our apartment was at Bloor and Dundas. I had 2 children who I thought would help me. Instead they said: ‘There’s the door. ‘

My daughter has very serious problems. That’s all I want to say about that. My son has been done out of everything he had. It’s a bad story.”

“What was your last job?”

“I was a limousine driver. I drove Donny and Marie Osmond and George Segal around Toronto. Mr. Segal was very good to me but there was political stuff going on in his group and I got fired later. He took good care of me until I was fired.

Polly is his daughter. She’s a [film] director now. She’s done 3 [movies] so far but I don’t know which ones.”

Introducing Tony

October 23, 2006

Welcome to Tony’s new blog. Tony is homeless.

This blog is — as much as possible — Tony’s, as transcribed by me (Philip). Tony lives in Toronto. Today and in the future, I will annotate (but not change) his words and add my voice when context (narrow or broad) seems to be needed.

I’ve known Tony for about 5 years. I estimate that he’s about 55 yrs old. Tony spends most days coaxing a dime or a quarter or a dollar or a fiver from folks walking by, familiar and not.

From what I can tell, Tony finances his life one meal at a time, plus the cost of a bed for the evening when he can collect enough money. Most mornings, I find him perched on a stack of milk crates, near my favourite coffee shop. Tony’s cap acts as a nest for loose change, and his small cardboard signs attempt to catch your eye and your heart. I see him most days at around 8am when he’s generally “working on” breakfast.

I hadn’t seen Tony for several days. I discover that he was in jail last week. After finding him this morning, I proposed to Tony that we start a blog with him as the prime author. Tony has full editorial control and he can review any posting beforehand if he wishes. Even though Tony had never “set eyes” on the Internet, he proposed that we should “just go ahead”.

Thus, a Homeless Man Speaks.


“I got locked up last Monday [Oct 16] because I punched the boyfriend of a woman in July [2006] butI forgot my court date [earlier in October] when I had to defend what I did protecting that woman.

“Monday afternoon I was sitting here as usual [near the coffee shop], minding my business and there were a bunch of cops cars driving down the street. It was a like a motorcade. The cops went to an apartment up the street and carried out a baby. The mother [not the woman that Tony had protected in July] had been beaten up by her boyfriend and the cops came and took away their baby. Then one of the cops walked down the street towards me and asked if I was “Tony”. He was just double-checking because he already kind of knew me. The cop gave me a bench warrant since I had forgot my court date and told me to come with him to the police station. I asked the cop if I could lock up my bike first and that was no problem.

“They all know me in the police station and the jail, so they treated me fine and I got food and everything. But I didn’t make bail on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. I got out on Friday [Oct 20]. I still got my orange jumpsuit [Tony pulled back his coat to display his eye-catchingly orange jumpsuit underneath]. I can’t pick up my clothes from the jail until tomorrow. But they’re dirty so I’ve got to wash them anyway. I’ve been sleeping behind bush near [an intersection in the neighbourhood]. I’ve got plastic sheets as a sort of a roof but it’s got a few holes. There’s mud and you can’t keep clean.”


PS: Your comments will get to Tony, so feel free to ask questions, etc.

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