Monday, April 2, 2012


HEY FOLKS! My name is Derk Biondi and I am here to talk about Pinball.
Pinball is considered (at least in my eyes) one of those quintessential American staples, like baseball, apple pie and all that other cheesy stuff. Pinball was, and is, always American. The companies that made pinball such a sensation were all American companies, many based in Chicago alone. Just because Pinball sounds like such an American pastime, doesn’t mean that Canada lacks a mean pinball. Perhaps it is more appropriate to say that Pinball is quintessentially North American. Pinball may not have the same dedication in Canada that it does in the U.S. but it still hangs around. Here in Toronto, Pinball has quite the infamous reputation that still lingers on. Pinball and arcades were amongst the “dirty” businesses; in the same vein were massage parlours and strip joints. Besides a few arcades which were licensed to operate as arcades, local businesses are limited to two pinball machines on location so as not to attract the lowlifes and degenerates that were found in the arcades and other shady businesses. Despite the absurd law, arcades thrived throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. The one arcade in Toronto I have fond memories of was Toronto Coin Exchange’s arcade tucked away in Union Station. One of the few places with more than two pinball machines, it was an awesome shrine that prospered in spite of pinball falling out of public conscious. Unfortunately, the arcade was forced to shut its doors for the renovations at Union. However, pinball still survives in Toronto. Many pinball machines are found “in the wild”, still out there in the bars and restaurants.

I’ve been playing pinball since I was tall enough to reach a machine. Back in the early ‘90s, no matter where you went, there was always a pinball machine or two. I used to go to restaurants with my family; my father would take us to play pinball so we didn’t drive my mother up the wall. Pinball was in abundance back then so I always played whenever there was a machine. Years went by and as the home video game consoles started taking over, the pinball machines started to fade away. I kept playing throughout the years, dropping some change at Union Station, or grabbing a slice and a few games at Pizza Plus in Windsor. The dawning of my “Pinball Enlightenment” came in April 2011 when I visited the Michigan Pinball Expo. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with Pinball and can’t stop playing!

As I have mentioned, Pinball hasn’t become extinct. It has hung on through the years and still exists! Many machines are tucked away in the corners of bars, restaurants, movie theatres and service centres. What I aim to do with this blog is to shed some light on pinball. I know pinball may never reach its former popularity; I just want everyone to know that pinball is alive and kicking, especially here in Toronto! I have found over a dozen machines and I strive to find more every day. I don’t want to keep these machines a secret; I want to share the locations with everyone in hopes that it may start a small revival.

So get your fistful of quarters (loonies and toonies as well), get out there and play that silver ball!


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