Sat, January 1, 2005
Better times ahead in 2005
By Joe Warmington -- For the Toronto Sun

She doesn't have a home or a job, but as we head into 2005 Sharon Taker has one distinction she's kind of proud of: "I am the best-looking bag lady you ever saw," the 43-year-old joked last night.

As I think about it, I think she's right. And not many people can boast about having thousands of people in their home for New Year's, including terrific Jennifer Valentine, Liz West, Gord Martineau and Dwight Drummond.

But not many live at City Hall. "I love it," says Sharon, who has slept at Nathan Phillips Square since May. "I love seeing all the people."

Her worldly possessions are packed into a shopping cart -- complete with skates, which can come in handy when you sleep just metres from a famous ice rink. "Please make sure you wish my daughter Deborah happy New Year and Uncle Bobby and Auntie Cynthia."

Times have been tough for Sharon but she wasn't complaining last night as the music blared and people celebrated. "I love Glass Tiger," she said. And there is one thing she is sure of: The year 2005 will be better than 2004.

Once again an interesting New Year's Eve on the town -- with lots of fun, weird stuff and memory of the horrible situation on the other side of the world.

At the wrap-up party for the show Aladdin, actor Derek McGrath told me how difficult it is to not think of the tsunami victims and those still trying to survive. The cast and crew, including Bret "The Hitman" Hart, Jennifer Dale and Ross Petty, put out a donation box to send funds for relief. Just about everywhere I went people were thinking about this tragedy -- at the Comedy Extravaganza at Massey Hall, starring Sean Cullen, Jessica Holmes and musician Ian Goodhue, Habanos on The Beach and Grossman's Tavern, McVeighs where The Wild Irish Rogues entertained a group of women in from Dublin, at Healey's, where Little Jimmy Bowskill lit up the stage, and at the Hard Rock Cafe, Club 279, where legendary bluesman Paul James was jammin'.

Across the GTA, Sri Lankan native Somasgegaram Veerasingnam was driving his truck all night, which he said was just as well since he can't shake the pain. "We lost friends," he said of a washed-out village back home where he knew numerous people.

People still tried to enjoy, but the tsunami was prevalent on people's minds and I sensed a subdued New Year's. It was as if people didn't exactly know how to handle it.

And then there was Spider-Man. Yes, a guy dressed up as the action hero scaled a crane at a construction site at Yonge and Dundas -- saying over a walkie talkie that it's time for the government to act on how it administers its family law. "We just want to see our kids," said supporter Ron Davey, who with fellow Fathers 4 Justice advocate Kris Titus said there will be more "non-violent" stunts in the future.

And, to wrap up, how's this for a New Year's resolution for the world. I said it after 9/11 and I'll say it again after the South Asian disaster -- why don't we as a world try to all get along in 2005, forgive what happened before and all work together for peace and happiness. It can't be that hard. And if I can be so bold, love who you love even more and stop complaining about how bad we have it in a world that seems to only offer a short turn spinning on the big blue ball. Now that would be something to shoot for in 2005. It's all so simple and it could start today. Hey, I'll give it a try, if you will.

Happy New Year everyone.