Over here in Toronto, we're celebrating the coming of the Grey Cup this Sunday. For whatever reason, our city has decided to kick-off the pigskin party by installing a giant zip-line over the top of City Hall. We don't get the connection, but we like it. To show our support for this oddly extreme zip-line installation, we got our intern Brad (you know, the guy that wore a fake face tattoo for a week?) who is absolutely fucking terrified of heights to go try the zip-line out. Here's an article that he wrote about his experience, and right down at the bottom of the page, you'll find a video he took of the ride on his iPhone.
One hundred years ago, Earl Grey, then governor general of Canada, decided that it was about time that Canada’s national football league had their own grand prize. It was a great honor for the players at the time to have a prestigious trophy to strive for, some kind of reward for their efforts in playing the only game they loved. Most CFL players in 2012 double as substitute teachers or movie theatre attendants, so I can only imagine how shitty it must have been to play in the CFL a full century ago. Anyway, the Grey Cup was created and has remained in the annals of Canadian sports ever since.
Flash forward to present day where the Grey Cup championship game is being hosted in Toronto, and our municipal government has decided to host the edgily titled "Adrenaline Zone CFL Festival" to kick off the festivities leading up to the game between Toronto's Argonauts and Calgary's Stampeders. The Adrenaline Zone features cheerleaders and cowboy hats, a steady stream of Bon Jovi dance remixes, and a zip-line that's set up 160 feet above the ground from the City Hall building to Queen Street.
When I got to the office this morning, I thought I’d just spend a nice day at my computer listening to old Leonard Cohen songs and updating VICE.com so all you weirdos can read about hospital bombings in Syria and stories about British people getting too drunk. I was very wrong. Early in the afternoon, a couple of the guys (who I guess are my bosses?) in the office came over to my desk and said I’d be going to City Hall to cover the Adrenaline Zone, and that I should go on the zip-line. I told them that I’m terrified of heights. They said: "Perfect!"
Here's me, looking absolutely terrified and killing time before I had to ride the zip line. Since this was shot in the middle of the day on a Friday, everyone here is either homeless or retired.
Here's a group of Canadian cheerleaders who were, unfortunately, dressed appropriately for November in Toronto.
I suppose there's going to be a lot of culture shock this weekend for visiting Calgarians as they settle into Toronto: a city full of ziplines and cheerleaders wearing puffy winter coats. The Calgary and Toronto rivalry is so heated right now that our mayors challenged each other to a wager that was inspired by their respective fatness.
Cool horse mascots aside, though, obviously the real attraction of this football fair was the zip-line, which I had to wait in line for two hours to ride. I also had to pay $20 and sign a waiver that basically said that if I died, it was no one’s fault but my own. I asked how safe it was, but didn't get an answer from anyone. I’m not sure if I was being ignored, or if I was just asking a stupid question, but either way, I was growing more and more scared by the minute.
After signing my life away and waiting in the long line up, I got suited up to fly through the air with only concrete underneath me. The people in line behind me told me that I "shouldn’t worry," because I guess they noticed me shaking. They said that they had been on a zip line before, in Costa Rica, and they said it was "terrifying." I asked them, "If it’s so terrifying, why shouldn’t I worry?" They laughed. I continued to worry.
When I got to the top, I was shaking even more. I brushed it off as just me being cold at first, but I was actually feeling like I could pass out from fear. I’ll explain something quickly about heights and me: I was raised Catholic but I gave up on God long ago. When I’m at a great height, though, I pray. My legs shake. I get dizzy. I feel the ground moving up toward me as if I’m already falling. Mine isn’t necessarily a fear of heights, it’s a full blown phobia. Still, I managed enough courage to take out my iPhone (which my girlfriend graciously strung to my wrist so I wouldn't drop it) and took this video of my ride across the zip line.
When I landed, my friend asked me if I was over my fear of heights. I said, "No. Fuck no." So thanks for nothing, Canadian Football League. I’m still scared of heights and you have my $20.
Photos by Evan Davis.