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Years ago when I was much younger (barely walked away from high school into the real school) I got a call from Honest Ed’s people to meet with him about possibly showing THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) at The Royal Alex.

I met with Mr. Mirvish and his manager Yale Simpson at the King Street Restaurant where I was treated to a fine meal.

Out of the blue Mr. Mirvish said, “If you are going to give something away charge a nickel.”

I knew at once what he meant.

The years passed. It was 1981 just before Christmas. I was having a coffee at a restaurant at Bloor and Bathurst when Mr. Mirvish walked in.

I decided to treat him to breakfast.

I called the waitress over. She said, “All he has is a coffee.” I said, “Give me the bill for the table.”

When he discovered what I had done Mr. Mirvish walked over.

I had heard him saying to the man with him that business at the store was really, really slow. Nothing they could do seemed to work.

“Why did you pay my bill?” asked Mr. Mirvish.

I said, “Years ago I met with you and Yale Simpson. You treated me to dinner. You gave me the best piece of advice I ever got. You said, ‘If you are going to give something away, charge a nickel.’ I realized that if we just give something away for free people do not get excited. If we make it a bargain they do. When I saw you walk in I said to myself, ‘Here comes a rich man. No one gives him anything. When people come to him they want something. Well, I will give him something. I will buy his breakfast.”

Ed still had his looks and his charm when he smiled is something he never lost. He did not smile this time. No, his face burst into an absolute glow. He had the look on it of a Jewish boy who came downstairs on Christmas morning to find a tree decked with ornaments and under it that one gift he really wanted.

The next day in the newspapers ads appeared offering a dozen eggs for a nickel. The next day something else was offered for a nickel culminating in a turkey offered for a nickel. The crowds lined up early each morning at Honest Ed’s for each day’s bargain. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of what we know.

Eventually Ed dropped the nickel. He gave the turkeys away.

We lost Ed a while back. This year we lose Honest Ed’s.

Someone else at Bloor and Bathurst is giving away Christmas turkeys. More power to them. It is a great thing to do.

Ed was special. He was one of a kind. I told him a couple of times when I met him by chance that he is one of my heroes. “I should not be. I never knew what I was doing,” said Ed.

That’s what makes a hero. We tend to think heroes know what they are doing. Real heroes don’t.

This year despite the fact that good people in this city as well as all over the world applaud my work the City of Toronto has decided to make me either do things their way (which will take all the fun out of it) or, if I fail to do that, take my landlord to court.

I thought of showing Zsa Zsa Gabor’s classic THE QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE plus Orson Welle’s TOUCH OF EVIL to mark her passing this week. Then I decided it would be better not to.

“Thus, according to Elizabeth Glibbery, the Toronto and East York Manager of the Municipal Licensing & Standards Division, it operates as a place of public assembly, for which the building is not zoned. “[Reg Hartt] inviting in people who may not be known to him (strangers),” Glibbery told us, when asked how a group of people gathered at the Cineforum differs from a group of friends gathered to watch a DVD at any other apartment in the Toronto.”

In Toronto it is illegal to invite strangers into our homes.

Petunia and The Vipers have written a song. Listen to it here:

Jane Jacobs: The official spirit of Toronto is “Stamp Out Fun:”

It is ironic that in that clip Jane speaks approvingly of Honest Ed’s Mirvish/Markham Street Village. We’re going to lose that too.

Here Jane speaks about me when I asked her to welcome animation legend Bob Clampett to Toronto:

This year we marked the 100th birthday. The city sponsored a Jane Jacobs walk. The city sponsored a recreation of her living room in an art gallery.

Laura Lind, in EYE Weekly (1992) when the City first tried to shut down THE CINEFORUM wrote, “Reg Hartt’s Cineforum is everything Jane Jacobs wrote about.” Jane told the city then, “Leave Reg Hartt alone.” Am I upset the City is determined to shut me down? Hell, no. That is what makes this place everything Jane Jacobs wrote about.

They listened then. They are not listening now. Toronto’s Urban planners sent me an email saying, “Don’t contact us.”

Jane’s last book was titled DARK AGE AHEAD. It came out in 2004 two years before she left us. It ought to be reissued as DARK AGE NOW.

In a few days the last vestiges of HONEST ED’S will vanish from the Toronto landscape.

Along with it will go all that gives this city character.

It is indeed a DARK AGE NOW.

What the hell, if you’re a friend drop by and see Zsa Zsa Gabor in THE QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE. If you are not a friend it is time you became one. THE QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE was never meant to be anything more than fun. Like Zsa Zsa herself it is a lot of fun. It is a great movie to say “Good-bye” to her with. In memory of Honest Ed, admission is a nickel donation.

–Reg Hartt, 12/19/2016.

THE QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE 7pm Monday thru Thursday at Reg Hartt’s Salon, 463 Bathurst below College across from The Beer Store. You can bring your own food and drink. It is high time we put an end to the City of Toronto’s war on fun. 416-603-6643.


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