Size Matters

By Tim Cerantola

If you think heavy traffic, over-crowded subways or wacky mayors are Toronto’s biggest problems, think again. In case you haven’t heard, Toronto has real problems now. I just found out that the CN Tower no longer has bragging right to the tallest pointy thing on the planet.

In fact, it’s much worse than that. The CN Tower has sunk to 5th place and will slip into 6th place within a month or so when One World Trade Center in New York achieves its full height. This is embarrassing.

The tallest tower honors belong to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. At 828 meters, it is 313 meters taller than Toronto’s beloved 515-meter TV antenna. So what, you say? Hey, when it comes to long pointy things, don’t let them fool you, size matters.

Really, check it out at Skyscraperpage.com. They have a listing of all the world’s present and proposed tallest buildings where, not only will you find that the CN Tower has been soundly disgraced, you will find that it has taken a severe verbal beating as a tower has-been. It’s only a matter of time before they start to refer to our tower as the CN Stub.

Now as a typical “Joe” Canadian and former Torontonian, these latest skyscraper developments strike a sad chord within me. The nerve of those upstart Dubai-ians and their Burj Khalifa. Don’t they realize that since Canada’s decline as the “most polite/nice guy” country on the planet, many of us have placed what’s left of our national pride in our freestanding structures?

Really, the fact that Canada could lay claim to the tallest thing sticking out of the ground was pretty much the main reason why many of us even bother to get out of bed and go to work. I don’t know about you, but every time I drive by that tower, I look up and feel good about Canada.

“Look kids,” I’ll say as my heart swells with pride. “It’s the world’s tallest freestanding structure!” Of course they usually respond with a curt but patriotic, “Who cares about a dumb tower? Keep your eyes on the road!”

To think, for years we’ve been able to say that ours is bigger than theirs. People respect that sort of thing. But when you suddenly find your pillar of pride has come up short, you start to lose your confidence.

Sure, I’ve heard talk of getting our tower an extension. I’ve seen ads for those kinds of things in the back of some magazines – but trust me, those things never work. Just as you’re about to say, “Hey, look at me!” They almost always fall off.

My point is, without the CN Tower to boast about, as far as the world is concerned, Canada is nothing but snow, polar bears and cold air masses. 

As for the city of Toronto, in order to merit the “world class” designation they so desperately aspire to; they’re definitely going to need a biggest or largest something-or-other to show off to rest of the planet. San Francisco has its Golden Gate Bridge. Sydney has its Opera House. Paris has the Eiffel and New York City has too many to name. If Toronto doesn’t do something quick, they’ll be stuck with the world’s 6th tallest freestanding structure. And let’s face it, who gives a rat’s backside about a sixth-banana tower?

If only I were Superman, I’d go over to Ontario Place, pull that white golf ball of an Imax theatre out by its roots, fly it to the top of the CN Tower and then bolt that sucker in place. Not only would that give our tower some much needed extra height, it would add a new tourist draw to the tower as Canada could lay claim to the world’s tallest golf tee. God’s golf tee!

I guess this whole mine-is-bigger-than-yours business got started long ago. Historically speaking, “tower-envy” started in 1372 in Pisa, Italy – upon completion of their famous Tower of Pisa.

Indeed, their skyscraping monolith gave Pisa world tower supremacy. People came from all around just to check out the view from its lofty skypod, rising a full 117 feet above the ground. It was said that from the top, on a clear day, you could see for 3 or 4 blocks.

Of course, it didn’t take long (OK, it took over 400 years) before another tower, London’s 320 foot “Big Ben” ended Pisa’s tower reign. (Said Big Ben to Leaning Tower of Pisa: If you have the inclination, I have the time).

Needless to say, the people of Pisa were saddened. Their tower and hence their town, had lost status along with the tourist bucks that came with it. But that’s when something miraculous happened.

Whether it was dumb luck or whether it was the tower’s most frequent visitor, Big-Fat Tony LoPresti – who sat and ate his lunch on the same side of the tower everyday (he refused to revolve with the other diners). Anyway, the tower started to lean noticeably to one side.

Naturally, the first thing Pisa’s town fathers did was ban Big-Fat Tony from the tower. But then something amazing started to happen. The tourists were returning to Pisa to see their tower. People no longer cared about its height. They came to see it for its unique leaning quality. For the first time in history, size didn’t matter.

OK, I guess I’m drifting here.

The point is, it was inevitable that Toronto would one day lose tallest-tower bragging rights. So, why not give Big Fat Tony a call? Imagine, the World’s Tallest Leaning Tower.

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Filed under Canada, funny, humor, humour, Life, Toronto

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