Tag Archives: persians

Coney Cuisine Capital of the Great Northwest!


Whenever I visit my hometown, my first stop after the airport is either Coney Island, McKellar’s Confectionery or the aptly named Thunder Bay Restaurant. You see, there’s this thing Thunder Bay has about coney sauce. Anything you order can be served with a huge helping of gravy, and yes, they pour it all over the burger too, in fact, over everything on your plate. And the burgers and hotdogs always have the most delicious coney sauce, ever! Locals love to debate which place has the best. You can even buy it in jars at the local farmers markets.

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There’s nothing like it anywhere. Some of the confectioneries drawn on the map still have lunch counters and serve french fries in paper bags! The best!

Here’s a close-up of the part of town I lived in:

THUNDER BAY sliders colouring

I’ve only included places that are still in business. The places I frequented as a kid are long gone

Note the portrait of Gus Kelos on the wall, by Thunder Bay artist Ray Swaluk. Gus would balance dogs on his arm as he readied them for customers

Inside the McKellar Conf. Note the portrait of Gus Kelos on the wall, by Thunder Bay artist Ray Swaluk. Gus would balance dogs on his arm as he readied them for customers. Legendary!

Westfort essentials

Westfort essentials: Coney Island and The Salsbury Grill. What I remember most about Coney Island is their phone number – it was almost the same as my parents. We frequently received calls!

Merla Mae is another favourite!

Merla Mae is another favourite!

Thunder Bay’s cuisine is not limited to this coney stuff, either. I’ve done a lot of work based on the other local delicacy, the persian:

THUNDER BAY PERSIANS MAP

I have many more projects about my home town in the works!

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The Walleye!

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Thunder Bay friends! Check out page 23 in the January issue of Walleye! Nice review of my Persianland project in my hometown’s arts magazine. Also, I am now offering giclée prints of some of the pieces from the show in my Etsy shop:

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Thunder Bay Prints in my Etsy Shop

Persianland! The capital city of doughnuts.

Persianland! The capital city of doughnuts.

Three new prints in my Etsy shop celebrate Thunder Bay! The first depicts a map of the city locating all the best bakeries that make Persians – a doughnut unique to the region. The next two are scenes from Chippewa Park – the long-gone rocket slide and bullet ride.

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Persianland – Last week!

Legend has it that sometime in the 1930s a Mr. Bennett baked the very first persian in honour of a guest visiting from the Middle East. A conflicting story declares the delicacy was named after its American cousin, the pershing, which, not unlike another sort of fat-bomb, was named after General Pershing. Others claim that Five Star Bakery originated the special treat as a means to sell day-old cinnamon buns. Debate over the secret ingredient in the icing — whether it’s raspberry, cherry, or strawberry — also continues to this day. Although persians now abound throughout The Lakehead region, confrontations over which bakery produces the most authentic pastry have created a permanent melee throughout The Great Northwest

Legend has it that sometime in the 1930s a Mr. Bennett baked the very first persian in honour of a guest visiting from the Middle East. A conflicting story declares the delicacy was named after its American cousin, the pershing, which, not unlike another sort of fat-bomb, was named after General Pershing. Others claim that Five Star Bakery originated the special treat as a means to sell day-old cinnamon buns. Debate over the secret ingredient in the icing — whether it’s raspberry, cherry, or strawberry — also continues to this day. Although persians now abound throughout The Lakehead region, confrontations over which bakery produces the most authentic pastry have created a permanent melee throughout The Great Northwest

Just Desserts

A History of The Gay Pastry Rampage

The political act of pieing was popularized in the early cinematic works of Laurel & Hardy and Queer activism has been rolling in the métier of renegade pastry ever since. Cooper’s Donuts in Los Angeles was a popular late-night hangout for trans* folk, queers, and queens. Tired of routine police harassment, one particular night in 1959 they fought back and police were faced with a scourge of coffee cups and doughnuts.

In 1966 a similar riot broke out in San Francisco, at Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin. Leading the way were transgender patrons who fought back against daily police harassment. A hot cup of coffee thrown into the face of a police officer led to an all-out pastry-toss:  furniture was broken, dishes were smashed, and a nearby newsstand was burned to the ground. Post-riot picketing outside the cafeteria, mobilized by local queer groups The Street Orphans and Vanguard, compelled the city to establish support services including the National Transsexual Counseling Unit.

Pastry continued to lead in the fight against oppression, post Stonewall. In 1977, a Minnesota radical gay group, the Target City Coalition, struck the Archbishop of St. Paul–Minneapolis with a chocolate cream pie as a rebuttal to his role in preventing the introduction of an anti-discrimination gay rights ordinance. Weeks later Thom Higgins pied celebrity singer and anti-gay-rights activist Anita Bryant on live television, in Des Moines, Iowa. Bryant’s pie-covered face was broadcast internationally and appeared on the cover of the New York Times. Her singing career faltered and to this day her name is synonymous with bigotry.

See the rest of my work at Colour Coded:

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Colour Coded runs from Sept 13 through Nov 1st at The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 34 Isabella Street, Toronto. Open Tuesday – Thursday 7:30 – 10pm, Friday 11am – 2pm

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Facebook event page here.


Colour Coded Opens Tonight

A special delivery from Thunder Bay, just arrived!

Special delivery from Thunder Bay

OPENING TONIGHT!

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Colour Coded, an exhibition by Jamie Q and Ian Phillips, Sept 13 through Nov 3rd at The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 34 Isabella Street, Toronto. Open Tuesday – Thursday 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.

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Facebook event page here.

I’ll be posting on Instagram , follow me here:

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Persianland! – Part 2

Another sneak peek at my Persianland project.

The Chippewa Park Rocket Slide in Persianland colours

 

This piece was particularly fun to do… It’s at a park in Thunder Bay where I used to play when I was a kid. It conjures up a lot of memories. The Rocket Slide is long gone, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about drawing this. I first searched through Chippewa Park websites and Facebook groups to see if anyone had posted photos of the slide. I found this:

Chippewa Park, September 1969

I already remembered that the support poles were red and white candy-cane striped, and that the rest of the rocket was blue, and despite having once known the person on the slide, this photo wasn’t much help. I couldn’t quite remember what the top of the rocket looked like.

A quick search on Flickr turned up a lot of good reference material. It was a peculiar feeling to discover that this rocket wasn’t unique to my hometown!

The background references  the photo below. In the distance you can see the Sleeping Giant on the horizon of Lake Superior, the topic of one of the images in my original Persianland post.

Here I am getting Candy Floss in my father’s hair

Unless I can find a volunteer in Thunder Bay to do a bit of research for me, the piece I am working on will likely require a visit…  I haven’t been there in nearly 10 years!


The Kakabeka Falls Fun Club

It is considered unwise to use a persian as a floatation device in the icy waters of Lake Superior

Persians are cinnamon-bun-like pastries smothered in a thick gooey layer of pink icing. They have become an integral part of the identity of my hometown and are legendary in their following. Although they can only be found in Thunder Bay, Persians are celebrated near and far by former residents of the city, myself included. A series of 10 (so far!) large-scale drawings, my Persianland project is first and foremost a tribute to the community in which I was born and raised…  Thunder Bay!

Persianland is also my response to a multitude of letters I have collected over the years, regarding the colour pink and GLBTQ issues, from the online edition of Thunder Bay’s newspaper, The Chronicle Journal, and the online Thunder Bay media outlet, TBNewswatch. Here is a sample:

“The Boys In Pink

Pink/Blue day was held May 15 in all public elementary and high schools. I am very concerned about this day being promoted to dress in pink for boys. What is society telling these children in elementary school, to dress in blouses and wear hair pieces all day? I can see it being acceptable in high schools, but not at the elementary level. Try arm bands instead. I was appalled and surprised that child protection agencies did nothing to prevent this one.
— Amanda P”

This begs the question: Why is it acceptable to eat pink doughnuts, yet remain threatening for a boy to wear pink clothing?

In response, I have created images that depict scenes which, like the Persian, are iconic representations of Thunder Bay.

Mount McKay overlooks the mighty Kam River

The scenes chosen are similar to those which were once found on cheerie vacation postcards.

Utilizing the colours of Persians—the pastry and the icing—I am painting the town pink.

The popularity of the Persian in the Thunder Bay region gives these images a pop-art sensibility, enabling the work to engage an audience beyond the local LGBTQ community. Although Persians are also available with vanilla or chocolate icing, it is the pink Persian that remains most popular. It is my deduction, therefore, that there is no reason for anyone in the city to fear the colour pink, or anything associated with it. What could be less threatening than a doughnut? In fact, the pink part is everyone’s favorite part—the icing.

The roll of pastry in protest

The political act of pieing was popularized in early cinematic works of Laurel & Hardy. In the early 1970s Thomas King Forcade, the founder of High Times magazine, pied the Chairman of the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, and Aron Kay pied singer and anti-gay-rights activist Anita Bryant in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1977.

My “postcard” images (which are actually quite a bit larger than postcards…) are a light-hearted pie-in-the-face—in this case, a Persian-in-the-face—response to the hostility found in many of the letters published in the local media. Please note that not all of the letters were hostile; there was also a number of enlightened and informed letters, which is why I am taking a nonchalant approach to this project.

The work in this project is created with an intended sense of the absurd and is decidely not hostile. Perhaps this subtlety will reach someone who doesn’t understand the objectives of the GLBTQ rights movement, someone who may not quite “get it” while they are looking at the work, but will provide much food for thought upon reflection.

It is my hope that in painting the town pink, people will join their friends and neighbours in my celebration of not only a city I love, but the colour pink.

I drew the title, Kakabeka Falls,  in a similar style to a famous American doughnut chain

More Local Flavour

Expressions, like “Friends of Dorothy” and the wearing of green carnations, used as signals to those in the know, have come and gone. Locally, “The Kakabeka Falls Fun Club” was at one time an expression used in public radio announcements for social gatherings of the GLBTQ community. Now, with this project, will “Do you like Persians?” become part of the gay subcultural lexicon of Port Arthur and Fort William?

Well, I think almost everyone likes Persians!


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