What’s Up, Toronto?

Although The Spill Magazine was my first official writing gig, its first issue came out as an early e-zine. My print journalism premier outside of a school-run publication appeared in the first (and, sadly, the last) issue of What’s Up Toronto Magazine, published in July of 1994.

My career at What’s Up Toronto may have been short but it was memorable. Looking back, this could be seen as the beginning of my professional transcription career as it was the first time I was tasked with transcribing interviews conducted by other writers. It was also my first time taking concert photos, which was loads of fun. What’s Up Toronto‘s publisher Alan Rapp was an accomplished photographer and had planned on making the magazine a very visual publication, different from other indie magazines that were sprouting in Toronto at the time.

The most memorable (and longest) night at What’s Up Toronto was the night of the Gandharvas concert at The Horseshoe Tavern. I had already written my review of their album A Soap Bubble and Inertia; a dreamy, poppy sort of album with a lot of multi-layered, instrumentally rich songs (as I remember it now). I don’t remember who the opening act was, but I do remember that the Gandharvas were on stage for about ten minutes before I realized that this was the same band I’d heard on that little pink-labelled cassette. On stage, the band stripped away the layers and played that distinct alternative rock sound that made the mid-1990s what they were. It was the first time a band had completely thrown me for a loop.

What’s Up Toronto was running on a shoestring budget, so luxuries like outsourcing photo processing were out of the question. After the concert, Alan and I were in his kitchen, which doubled as a makeshift darkroom. Clumsily recreating a scene from the movie Cocktail, we spent the night juggling containers and chemicals (this was back in the days when digital cameras were little more than expensive novelties, remember), desperately trying to get the pictures developed before the sun came up and erased the evening’s work. Good times.

What’s Up Toronto Magazine didn’t survive past its first issue, but Alan didn’t let that stop him. What’s Up Toronto morphed into Enternet, a graphically-based BBS that, at the time, ran on one of the most advanced bulletin board systems available. I kept writing for Alan and Enternet until the World Wide Web pushed BBSing into history. Alan is now one of the folks behind LifestyleRadio.ca, an online community catering to those with “alternative” lifestyles.