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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Danforth Ink

Artists and our little community seem to go hand in hand, so it was no surprise to Pioneer to find out that not only is Jesse Sherman of Red9ine Studios a great artist but he’s also a long-time Danforth resident. You probably wouldn’t know it when walking by his custom tattoo studio at 1974 Danforth (which he also lives above with his new family), but Sherman has a sterling reputation around Toronto as one of the best. This isn’t just a shop you pop into for a quick tattoo: to get inked by Jesse, and most of his co-artists, takes time and planning.  Pioneer had a chance to sit down and talk with Sherman and his wife Victoria about life, work and the Danforth.

Q. How did you end up here at the sweetspot of Danforth East?
A. We’ve been open since 2007, but I’ve lived in the area for 15 years. I used to have a space at the barbers across the street but I really wanted to create my own artistic space to work in. We liked this neighbourhood, so we invested and built this space literally from the ground up.

Q. Is your clientele mainly from the neighbourhood or elsewhere?
A. No, only about 5% of our clients are from around here. We are definitely a destination studio. People seek us out. Sometimes we get customers walking in and looking for something immediately, so I send them down to my friend at the other tattoo shop at Danforth and Bastedo.

Q. Do you think it hurts to have two tattoo shops on the same stretch?
A. No, we complement each other for sure. Everyone is looking for something different when they are thinking about getting a tattoo. Our process is about creativity and it's just a lot slower. There's more thought put into the end result.

Q. How did you get into tattooing?
A. I started out as a graffiti artist and I had always been really interested in tattooing as art. It wasn’t about getting tattoos, but about the artistry and process behind putting ink to skin. A tattoo is like a badge, a memory of a time in your life. It’s sort of sentimental. I like to step back now and look at the tattoos as a whole, not so much as the tattoo artist but to appreciate the art of the actual design.

Q. Victoria, when do you think tattoos became so mainstream?
A. I don’t think it was all because of Miami Ink/L.A. Ink. It’s such a generational thing. There are a lot of people our age who have tribal tattoos because they were popular in the 90’s, you know?

Q. Do you guys feel a change in the neighbourhood since you’ve been here?
A. Definitely! When we first moved into this location, there was nothing to eat around here. But now we’ve got so many more restaurants and bakeries. We’re partial to Celena’s, because they also have a young family, so we like to support our own!

Q. What’s the best thing about Danforth East?
Jesse: The subway – I love being on the subway line.
Victoria: For me it’s the sense of community. You see your children starting to go to school or daycare and you start getting more involved. You see families at the park or parents you know at ballet class and you feel like your part of a community.

If you want to check out more of Jesse and Victoria's beautiful art, you can find them here or visit the shop and flip through some of Jesse's books. You might even see Pioneer there, getting a permanent piece of Monarch Park Ave on her ankle... (but that'll be our secret!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Daddy Pioneer just had a birthday, and his big wish was some oysters on the half shell, but where to go on Danforth East that has great oysters? Unfortunately, one of the first things going on our upcoming list of #ThingsDanforthEastNeeds will be an oyster bar/seafood shack to call our own. So, where did we end up? A little outside the turf, but hey, as we always say: we live here, but sometimes we like to leave!

Without the two screaming JPs in tow, we gleefully skipped all the way over to Broadview and settled in at The Auld Spot pub just east of Chester subway on Danforth. Although we feel a little bit like a traitor, a visit to this local is definitely worth it: nothing on the wine list is over $9/glass, the food is great for a pub, and the tartan banquettes and cozy lighting suck you in until you almost forget that your babysitter has a curfew.

Pioneer ordered the soft and flaky salt cod cakes which were just perfect for a starter while watching Daddy Pioneer devour a dozen PEI oysters. The salads that followed were enormous and refreshing - something we did not expect for a house green salad and a basic Caesar. We were tempted by some dessert, but Daddy Pioneer thought it was probably a wise choice to stay away from mixing shellfish, chardonnay and creamy dessert confections, so we called it a night.

As a side note - although we partook in the birthday celebrations on Monday eve, the BEST day to have oysters at the Auld Spot is on Tuesdays when they are half price ($1.50/half shell). Surfs up!

(check out more here on The Auld Spot Pub on Urbanspoon)

As a secondary side note, we should mention that owners Nathan and Nicole are actually Danforth East-ers and live a stone's throw from Pioneer HQ. As we always knew, we are at the centre of the Universe!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Getting To Our Fighting Weight

Pioneer has been bemoaning the winter weather lately, not because sledding down the "big hill" at East Lynn Park on a superwaxed retro wooden sled is not fun. Because it is!!! What's eating us is the misery of being a runner during a Canadian winter. While it's always super fun to head out for a run after a light dusting of snow, what's even more fun is to run in the snow during a snowstorm. It dawned on us the other day (while doing the aforementioned cursed activity) that there is no need to be tortured like this. There are three AMAZING local fitness facilities within reach of most Pioneers out there.

The first I want to mention is Legacy Spinning. During that last, long cold winter run, Pioneer was reminiscing about those early days of discovering Legacy and remembering that although we don't love riding a stationary bike for an hour, we definitely love being indoors and love Andy's brand of motivation. If one thing can be said for owner Andy D., he knows how to get you on your seat and keep you there for as long as you can stand it. A lot of women and men that we've talked to are disciples of his fast-paced, loud and intense spin classes and people are often lined up out the door to take part. Pioneer hopes we still have the inside "track" so we can burn off some of that holiday cheer.

We do want to talk more about Tidal CrossFit, as our second option, but unfortunately all we know is that it's a gym and it's next to Legacy. The basic premise of CrossFit is full body conditioning through high intensity, functional movement (ie weightlifting). Pioneer will get back to that one further on in the New Year.

And, last but NOT LEAST:

Winston is the official BOMB Wellness Life Coach.
BOMB Wellness has changed Pioneer's life, and we are so excited to be able to announce that they are celebrating their first birthday this upcoming weekend. As any of us yummy mummies know, it is really really hard to actually LOOK like a yummy mummy while wrangling babies, pre-schoolers and puppies. With the help and support of Kevin and Victoria at BOMB, this mummy-tummy has lost 4 inches and gained a whole new wardrobe of clothes we haven't worn since we were actually young and hip (woot, woot skinny jeans!!). Kevin might not seem like the scary bootcamp drill sergeant, but he gets the results without the yelling. He's there during the last ten seconds of suicides to push you to the end, or there when your form needs to be corrected for maximum impact. From beginner to advanced, this is a bootcamp no-one should be afraid to come to.

So, this weekend you have no excuse to not try this place out. They are offering free classes from 12 - 3 on both Saturday and Sunday with an half hour class of each of their core offerings: slosh pipe, TRX, strider, Fighting Fit and the infamous bootcamp. Activities for kids will take place in the basement yoga studio on both days, so don't be afraid to come with the little ones in tow....we can attest that they will be well taken care of!

Click here for more info on the BOMB anniversary events.

Let's sweat!