But then came the balcony scene. Romeo and Juliet’s dancing is, above all, a desire for human contact. Their feuding families, even their government, the prince, try to keep them apart, lest the Montague and Capulet clans be infected. But all the best human things are unhygienic—sex, kissing, a touch from the person you love. A plague clarifies things: there’s little more to love than being held. “The Plague Story We’re Living Through” in The Walrus May 2020


The only thing Alan Dale Smith ever wanted was a real friend. Born in 1950, he’d failed Grade 5 and left school after Grade 10. He’d hear voices that weren’t real, and see things that weren’t there. He tried to fight them, sometimes with the help of doctors, sometimes on his own. He claimed once to have used his imagination to catch one of the voices, imprison it and leave it in Scarborough. He’d received multiple psychiatric diagnoses from several hospitals over the years, including mood disorders and depression. He drank every day, smoked weed and did coke and pills when he could find them. He had chronic headaches and a sour, ulcerated stomach. And his teeth kept falling out. It was just like the anxiety dream, only he’d wake up and the nightmare was still happening. “The Sting” in Toronto Life January 2020


But if Dr. Paul Shuen could only deliver 45 babies a month, he’d have to make as much money as possible on each one. Being born has a price tag, and the billable amount for a delivery varies by the day of the week. For a vaginal delivery on a weekday, a doctor can bill OHIP $498.70; on a weekend, when hospitals are generally short-handed, he or she can charge $748.05. So how do you get pregnant women to give birth on Saturdays and Sundays? Shuen had a plan. He’d found a way to secretly induce his patients, causing them to go into labour on weekends. “A Doctor’s Deception” in Toronto Life July 2019.     Winner of the 2019 National Magazine Awards for Best Investigative Reporting and Best Long Form Feature. 


His clothes meant something—they were my armour against entropy, and however old they were, I’d wear them again each day if they would stave off tomorrow for another night. But, from my wearing them, they fell apart. There was the big red winter coat I loved, which I puked on one night, drunk. From the back of a cab, I remembered him wearing it as he drove me around when I was a kid. The dry cleaner did his best to repair the felt, but it never looked the same, so I stopped wearing it. The houndstooth jacket frayed after a few years, first in the elbows and then everywhere, and the suits stopped fitting or fell apart. The old Gap T-shirt all but dissolved in the wash, and even my excellent Portuguese cobbler couldn’t fix the loafers. I stopped watching Jeopardy! when Alex Trebek announced that he had stage-four pancreatic cancer, and I stopped wondering if I could beat my dad at the game. The old world was coming to an end, having been all used up. “Me, My Dad, and His Old Clothes” in The Walrus September 2019 


In 2009, Hill built his own recording studio, which he called Jukasa, down the street from his house, where Mobb Deep and Alexisonfire would record on one of Abbey Road’s old soundboards, and where Hill’s son Josh, an occasional rapper, would partner with Snoop in 2013 to record “Blowed,” Josh’s one and only single under his stage name, “Chief.” The video for “Blowed” opens with Josh and Snoop smoking weed and dancing with a group of women known as “Pocahotties,” dressed in bikinis, feathered headbands and headdresses. At one point Josh rhymes, Me, I’m Native American royalty / So she feel obligated to spoil me / And that’s kush in my peace pipe / Shorty lucky ’cause I’m not the cheap type. The Tobacco Tycoonin Toronto Life, April 2019


There was never any mention of what appeared to be a massive, multigenerational cover-up of the sexual torture of children in its care—reports of abuse by clergy were circulating in US as early as 1985—which might disqualify its leader from inveighing on sexual matters, or any moral ones for that matter. And there was never talk in history class about how, in the century that was coming to a close around us, the three main Fascist movements (Italian, German, and Spanish) were either movements of the Catholic right or, as in the case of the Third Reich, were effectively enabled and appeased by the Vatican. Our team, in other words, had helped plunge the world into barbarism and violence. “The Toxic Sexism of Catholic All-Boys Schools” in The Walrus December 2018


For most of Western history, men cried incessantly, and mostly for themselves. In one of the first written accounts of a man crying, in the Odyssey, Odysseus is drunk, and a singer, Demodocus, is taking requests. Odysseus wants to hear the one about Odysseus—of his own adventures in the Trojan War, desperately wending his way home. Listening to someone sing of his embattled sorrows, he begins to cry. “Great Odysseus melted into tears,” Homer writes. Nothing made the man cry quite like himself. “The Tears of Brett Kavanaugh” in The New Yorker, October 2018


Suddenly, the three deaths of the three Harrisons, an entire nuclear family, required a wholesale re-evaluation. This was no longer an investigation of a single homicide, but two, and then three. “House of Horrors” in Toronto LifeJune 2018


For years, hundreds of TTC staff scammed the employee health care plan and pocketed millions. The true story of the fraud, the investigation, and the lives left in ruins. “The Great TTC Fraud,” Toronto Life, April 2018.


“And while he could travel faster than anyone he knew, he didn’t have anywhere to go.” Toronto Life investigative feature “The Hacker King.” 



“Ahmed’s odyssey began with a kiss.” The Walrus October 2017 cover story, “No Asylum: A Manitoba border town struggles with the influx of migrants escaping Trump’s America.”


“Regan is the superbug produced by our legal hygiene, the crook cooked up by our civic decency.” The Walrus June 2017 feature, “The Rise and Fall of Toronto’s Classiest Con man.”



“They walked into the casino, Mohammed in his tuxedo and Elana in her wedding gown, their lives laid out before them like a wager.” Toronto Life June 2017 cover, “Love Story.” 



“What I mean is that the unacknowledged legislators of the world abide nonsense when it’s our nonsense, applaud the censor when his pen vanquishes what we never cared for anyway, and can tolerate the atmosphere of totalitarianism when it’s toxic to every lung but ours. Like the right, we too will abandon the principles of liberal democracy if partisanship, in the name of progress, calls for it.” My 2017 Trent University Margaret Laurence Fellow Lecture, “Outside the Whale.” 



“Like his algae, he took what was exhausted, wasted, spent—even the soul of Paul Maasland—and turned it into fuel.” Toronto Life September 2016 cover story, ‘The Killer Inside.’


“Anne Carson’s abstruse, down-tuned music is the soundtrack to poetry’s institutionalized life in the twenty-first century.” From The Walrus September 2016 issue, ‘Is Anne Carson the First Poet with More Fans than Readers?’ 


“And so, as soon as I had finally earned my job as a Canadian literary critic, I had simultaneously disqualified myself from it.” From the July/August 2016 issue of The Walrus, ‘Poetry Slam.’


“He wasn’t just fat; he was maximized, leveled up, the difference between Super Mario before the mushroom and after.” From The Atlantic, ‘How Rob Ford Made Progressives Cruel.’


“The inconvenient truth about West’s criticism is that though it may be in bad taste, his taste isn’t bad.” From Slate, “I’mma Let You Finish, but Kanye West is the Greatest Critic of Our Time.” 


“The Canadian literary world, it turns out, is now intimately connected to the Armour Brigades Program, the largest—and maybe most heinous—foreign trade deal in our country’s history.” From Canadaland, ‘The Shock Absorber.’