Pizza, Popcorn and War Planes

The last long weekend of summer began with the screech of warplanes. People froze on the streets and stared up at the sky, dumbfounded. No, we weren’t in downtown Kandahar.

Air Show. I’d say to my traumatized fellow pedestrians.

Whaaat? They’d say.

I’d say. And then: Email the Mayor! Complain!

The Canadian International Air Show invaded our ear drums and skies for five anxious and unpleasant days.

Unable to get out of the city, I tried to go as far away in the city as I could, travelling east to meet people in neighbourhoods I don’t usually spend so much time in.

I met a dear friend at a Southern Italian restaurant called Lil’ Baci on Queen Street East, just as the sun was in its final sticky yellow burst of the day. After a couple of months of summer we were both full of plans for new films and writing projects. We shared a pizza buffala with a crisp, light crust. I drank a lively fruity white wine. The sun fell behind a tall building and we kept talking.

The planes continued their drone and roar all weekend. I formed a Facebook Group, Harried Citizens Against the Toronto CNE Air Show. People wrote in throughout the five days of audio torture.

One woman wrote: As I walked along the Lakeshore on the way to the Ex today, we passed the seating (VIP, but also grass banks for lesser folks) for the Air Show which was about to begin. A voice over the loudspeaker told everyone to stand for “our” anthem whereupon the American anthem was sung. Apparently Canada had been annexed in the night.

Another person wrote: My boyfriend works nights and can get no sleep for these past 4 or 5 days. So, then there’s also old people with heart problems…there’s small babies and new mothers who are trying to get some sleep and peace, the birds are all freaked and out of wack and yes, there ARE victims of war who live in Toronto and this is NOT fun for them. There was one plane that crashed and came down a few years ago. Should we wait see if one comes down in a residential neighborhood?

A movie was a good escape, no roaring planes to be heard inside the cinema.

There was a long conversation with an old friend from my M.A. days in a tiny vine-covered patio behind a bar on the Danforth. Habermas, teaching, our shared Ukrainian/Albertan origins. A mediocre Caesar salad, cider, the sky turning purple over our heads.

Breakfast with another friend, another day, on his porch, and food to remember his last trip to Italy: prosciutto, melon, caprese salad made with tomatoes donated by his generous Italian neighbours.

The planes screamed overhead as I bicycled home.

If you too were tormented by the planes and the propaganda (or sympathize with those that are) write a letter to the Mayor of Toronto about the air show:

CC your letter of protest to these councillors and CIAS people:;;;;;;;;;


  1. When I went to visit my west end GF I was SHOCKED by the noise of the planes. It reminded me of a night my family spent camping in the US somewhere beside an airport. My mother spent the whole night trembling and rocking herself in trauma. She remembered the warplanes screaming over her head and dropping bombs and killing the people trying to escape in their little rowboats across the Baltic Sea. She was only 3 at the time, but she was traumatized by plane noise for the rest of her life. I thought the airshow would be hell for her – good thing she didn’t live in the west end.

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