The Great Culture Count-Down

29 September 2014 — Five minutes on the clock, from the moment you start to play or sing. Choose a work of appropriate length because, if you are still performing when the clock reads 0:00 …  you will be gonged. Literally. One is right there on the stage, as part of the supplied battery of percussive instruments.

Culture Days clock, Koerner Hall


Sounds like a reprieve of a long-ago American TV show, The Gong Show, in which hapless contestants could be gonged off-stage for being bloody awful, rather than lengthy.

But it isn’t. This event is something much more warm-hearted — and with much better artistry — than that.

It is early Saturday afternoon & I am seated in Koerner Hall. This concert venue has been the performance jewel of the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) since 2009,  when an inspired restoration/expansion project united heritage & new architecture in one teaching/rehearsal/performance complex.

Not only that, I am sitting here free of charge — me & everyone else in the audience — compliments of the RCM’s involvement in this weekend’s Culture Days.

How neat is this? All sorts of events around town, and I zeroed in on this one. Noon to 3 p.m., says the promo, a stream of 5-minute acoustic performances of all types will take place, so come on in, plunk yourself down, & listen up.

The RCM, for all its Victorian heritage, had invited musicians via the latest social media — first come / first registered was the deal, no auditions, and yes they could also just turn up and hope to substitute for someone whose cold feet left a hole in the line-up.

I love Koerner Hall. I love the architecture, I love the sound, I love the experience, I cannot think of a better focus for my Saturday walk, and if it means more blissful sitting & listening than blissful walking — so what? Do you, Gentle Reader, care? Will you slap my wrist? Confiscate my boot laces? I think not.

I walk north & west, through Queen’s Park (park), then across Queen’s Park (road) onto Hoskin, then north on Philosopher’s Walk. Yes — headed for the Alexandra Gates at Bloor, where I watched that man practise inukshuk-building during my Bye-Bye Summer walk. West on Bloor, and there it is, the front-entrance façade of the RCM: solid old Victorian pile plus its 21st-c. addition at the far (west) end.

Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Bloor St. West

Some of the city’s old/new architecture combinations work really well, and this is one of them. Toronto-based KPMB Architects didn’t try to ape Victoriana, they created a wholly contemporary, & complementary, L-shaped addition along the west and south sides of the heritage building.

You see the south side from Philosopher’s Walk — most notably the glass walls of the Koerner Hall lobby & its glass balcony stretching out to the Walk below.

Koerner Hall balcony from Philosopher's Walk, RCM

From Philosopher’s Walk you can also see how the new structure joins the old, in a 3-storey wrap that transforms the old external wall into one side of a new enclosed space.

RCM side entrance, from Philosopher's Walk

At the lowest level, it becomes a skylit pedestrian courtyard, complete with a “sidewalk” café.

interior courtyard, RCM

Look up for the equally skylit walkways between old building & new. They always put me in mind of the bridges over Venetian canals, maybe it’s the shimmer of the glass, of light upon the glass.

the RCM walkways, old building to new

I make a silent “Later” promise to the café, and instead follow the ramp upward, past cases of heritage instruments, to Koerner Hall itself.

ramp to Koerner Hall lobby, in RCM

My camera, as you will shortly discover, cannot do justice to the Hall’s interior. Since it is a space that deserves justice, I grabbed these twinned shots from the KPMB site, photo credit Tom Arban.

Koerner Hall, photo credit Tom Arban

Yes. Here I am, all tucked up in such beauty, open to whatever music may come my way.

The MC — a Conservatory staffer, by the sounds of it — is good: friendly without being gooey, informed without being stuffy, able to welcome each participant with encouraging words while also making sure those 5-minute performances keep right on rolling along.

What a mix, from music students to various levels & types of performers, amateur and professional; jazz & folk & classical & baroque & even nursery rhyme; solo & group; a cappella & accompanied; clarinet & piano & cello & violin & voice & guitar.

One performer is, but so gently, gonged.

Culture Days, in Koerner Hall

No, not this one. This shot just shows you how the process works. (And now you know my camera’s inadequacy, in such circumstances. Note, too, that cameras are permitted today only, as part of Culture Days.)

Some moments stick in mind. This introduction, for example: after welcoming two pianists about to play a four-handed selection on one piano, and asking the young woman which piece (part of Lizst’s Hungarian Rhapsody), the MC turns to the young man and asks, “And what are you going to play?” Poor young man! Took him a beat to recognize the joke.

Then there’s the audience participation after a jazz musician announces she will play something by Oscar Peterson (an RCM grad, by the way). Her choice provokes the MC to ask us: “In what neighbourhood, of what city, did Oscar Peterson grow up?” Do you know? Were you here beside me, could you shout, “St. Henri, Montreal!” ? If so, you might win the concert tickets. Well, you’re not here, but it turns out that quite a few people who are, also know the answer.  The prize goes to the loudest set of lungs among them.

Two more moments, each involving a last-minute substitute for a no-show. First, an extraordinarily self-possessed little girl, her party dress ruffles bouncing gently as she walks on stage, clutching her child-sized cello. “I will play two variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” she announces, and she does. We melt.

The other last-minute substitute is a young man who says he will sing a work by the bel canto composer, Vincenzo Bellini. His pianist begins, the young man begins — and we all snap upright in our chairs. He is a powerhouse, his voice soars to fill the 1,135-seat venue in a way that not even the day’s choirs have been able to achieve.

Not only that, he is singing … what is he singing? What is that range?

A standing ovation follows, the only one of the day. The MC calls him over for a few post-performance words — not part of the routine, but called for. We learn that he sings Male Soprano (“Close to Counter-Tenor, but there is a distinction”); we also learn about his specialized training. “Where did you study? Are you a Conservatory grad?” asks the MC. “Actually,” replies the young man, “I graduated in Commerce from U of T.”

His music has already brought down the house. This answer does it all over again.

Finally, finally, I pull myself out of that chair and start downstairs toward the café & the Philosopher’s Walk exit.

pedestrian courtyard, looking toward Philosopher's Walk exit

Late-lunch time, I decide, and stop long enough for a bowl of black bean chipotle soup.

And then out.

side patio, RCM, on Philosopher's Walk

Past a performer’s music case, propped up here while she buys her espresso; past the father corralling his helmeted daughter onto the back of their tandem bike. Back down Philosopher’s Walk, and home.

Not much walking — but a great afternoon.


160 cm & 1:30 p.m.

25 September 2014 — Goodness, the things your body can tell you when you explore Toronto’s east-end parks! All these metrics (both senses of the word, now that I think about it) and a trip down Memory Lane to boot. A literal, physical, located-in-geographic-space Memory Lane.

But all that comes later. The day’s amusement starts with Blue Dog.

Main & Gerrard wall mural

The picture is not upside-down, the dog is upside-down and perfectly happy, as you can see. So am I, because it is Saturday, the weather is sunny & a balmy 24C, and I am working my way south from Main & Danforth toward Lake Ontario.

I don’t expect Blue Dog, but there he is at Main & Gerrard, part of a wall mural sponsored by two adjoining businesses. One makes perfect sense: it’s a very trendy dog spa. The other … well, how surprising. And delightful. A decidedly old-style electric motor shop has its name on the wall as well.

I turn from Main St. onto Kingston Road , start following its curve south-west, love the way all the shops have their doors & windows open to the beautiful day and, on impulse, wander into one of them — a very stylish garden accessory shop. I buy nothing, but I am rewarded anyway.

Are you ready? Quote of the Day. Maybe of the Year.

“Don’t judge a book by its movie.” This is neatly printed on a rather chunky block of wood, presumably the perfect blunt object with which to wallop loutish movie producers.

And on. Down some leafy residential streets, last blooms still glorious but trees & shrubs starting to change colour.

Onto Woodbine now, and a straight drop toward the lake — but I stop short at Queen East & walk through Measurement Park. It is the goofiest theme for a park I can imagine, and I find it irresistible.

Measurement Park, Eastern  Av.

You got it. A lot — a whole lot — of bright blue poles, each calibrated to 270 cm. I discover I am 160 cm. I read once, somewhere, why someone decided to drive the creation of a park of measuring sticks; I now forget why, but I am so glad it exists.

For all it’s called Measurement Park, it is a kind of sub-park, tucked into the N/E corner of Woodbine Park — which stretches south from here to Lakeshore Blvd. East and butts up against Coxwell Av. on its western flank. I follow it south, enjoying the open grassy stretches but looking forward to the shrubs & pathways to come.

boardwalk in Woodbine Park

Heart of the city, traffic on all sides, and look. Trails in the woods. This part is boardwalk, there is wetland underneath, and that is because …

… around the next curve, there is a great big pond. It is big enough for a rowboat or canoe, with reeds & grasses to the south side and waterways through them for boaters to explore. All that is still hidden from view, but the pond’s central feature is already drawing me in.

I can hear it, I can see the tip of it, a plume of water that soars into the air, and dances its way back down again. I come round the curve, and there it is.

Woodbine Park jet d'eau

There’s something visceral about the sight & sound of dancing water. Tattoo Man feels it, I feel it, anyone of any age or origin responds.

And the pond’s generous curve of benches invite you to sit, and enjoy your response for a while.

benches by the Woodbine Park pond

Which I do.

Then, bright-eyed again, I walk on along Lakeshore Blvd., noticing how the trees are morphing from one season to the next. Soon these leaves will be fully orange, then they’ll bleach & drop to the ground … but, for the moment, they sway in the breeze, richly dappled in the dappled light.

trees along Lakeshore Blvd East

I spend a moment in Skateboard Park, just the other side of Coxwell, watch young teenage boys leap & spin & hone their skills. Slap-SLAP go the wheels on impact.

But I stay only for a moment, because now I want to go tell the time. With my very own 160 centimetres.

Millennium Garden sun clock

See? It’s the sun clock in Millennium Garden, at the N/W corner of Woodbine Park. The central column is incised with the months of the year — not in calendar order, but in sun time-telling order. The great arcs above are incised from 1 to 12. Two arcs, of course: one each, Standard Time & Daylight Saving.

So you line up your toes on the appropriate month …

toes to September, sun clock Millennium Garden

… and, hey presto, your head tells you the time.

it's 1:30!

My wristwatch & my head-clock agree: it is now 1:30 p.m.

Time to get moving! On westward, on along Queen St. East. Brief stop for a latte; slightly longer stop in Jaws Antiques, whose extremely crowded front window also advertises the owner’s Retirement Sale. Jaws? I bet there is a shark or two inside. I swear I saw everything else, starting with, right inside the front door …

doorway roosters, Jaws Antiques

My nest goal is Maple Leaf Forever Park.

I didn’t even know it existed, until today — and only now, thanks to my wonderful crumple-cloth map of the city. (A $1 bargain in the Cabbagetown yard sales a few weeks ago.) It turns out to be the garden park immediately behind the one-time home of Alexander Muir, the schoolteacher-patriot who wrote The Maple Leaf Forever. His home, now called Maple Cottage, is still preserved, as is the trunk of the silver maple tree that inspired the song. Both are situated at the intersection of Laing St. & Memory Lane, which you follow to reach the park.

I read the plaque:

plaque at Maple Cottage

How fitting that, as I take the photo, a wasp hovers over my hand. How pleased the Grand Orange Lodge of British America would be, to know that a WASP (aka White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) guards the property!

Whole other mood when I hit Queen & Broadview. The N/E corner is home to Dangerous Dan’s Diner, a neighbourhood icon & as Gastronomically Incorrect as it is possible to be. These are the people who once advertised Cholesterol Burgers. They are also the people who will sell you posters guaranteed to scare your health-conscious friends into a heart attack.

Dangerous Dan’s posters

Just $1.50, or 5 for $5.00, what a deal.

Speaking of health conscious, how about a bike trail? With art work thrown in.

Dundas E. bridge over the Don River, bike trail below

I peer through the lattice-work railings of the Dundas St. bridge over the Don River, and there it is.

One last impulse stop, one last bit of art work, and again a big change in mood. I follow several others through the open doors of St. Batholomew’s Anglican Church, just opposite the new Regent Park park near Parliament. St. Bart’s is very high church (oh, you have to be Anglican to follow this), self-described as Anglo-Catholic, but also proud of its open doors, and open arms, for all members of this highly diverse community.

St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church

This window glows in the darkened entrance-well. The others who entered with me sign a prayer request, then gather up pamphlets. “A contemplative space in Regent Park,” says one. “The ancient faith for the contemporary world,” says another.

I walk on home.


Bye-Bye Summer

23 September 2014 — Saturday’s walk takes place on the last weekend of summer. It’s the very last full day, in fact, with autumn officially arriving on Sunday.

How agreeable that we should say good-bye to the season with summer-worthy weather. (After days in the low teens, I might add.) Sunshine, light breeze, thermometer hitting 22 or so — perfect for this weekend’s festivals. I decide to start my walk with the Bloor-Ossington Folk Festival in Christie Pits Park, then continue eastward on Bloor & see what happens next.

Also what happens before! I’m still a few blocks from the park when I spot this enigmatic message neatly written on a church wall at Bloor West & Ossington.

church wall, Bloor W at Ossington

I’m intrigued that the “no” is in the same hand as the rest of the sentence. Was it an after-thought? Or was its position a design decision, nothing to do with meaning at all? (Come to that, what is the meaning?)

Almost immediately, I see another, more comprehensible message. Artists who fail to make the cut for Nuit Blanche (the all-night, city-wide art extravaganza being held October 4) are invited to strut their stuff in Les Rues des Refusés. What a concept! I must visit the website & check it out.

Next up, Blue Lady:

Theatre of Human Health

She — well, this doorway — leads to The Theatre of Human Health. I don’t try the door, but later wish I had.

Finally, I’m at Christie Pits Park. Not a lot of action this early in the day — some cheerful white tents with music-related art, crafts & accessories; one performance tent, with what is probably the day’s first performance taking place; one rehearsal tent where I linger a bit, watching the guys try things out.

Bloor Ossington Folk Festival, Christie Pits Park

Then I amble on eastward along Bloor. I suppose I should be striding, or even power-walking, but today’s weather invites an amble, so that’s what I do. There’ll be time enough for scurrying when winter hits.

I’m just nicely into Korea Town (over by Euclid), when I notice this corner convenience store. And yes, the first thing I see is the name.

Six Penny mural by #kizmet32 #aphok #tiles

Next I see the artwork. Very nice. I particularly like the cats.

Walk on, walk on, and I’m at Markham St., just west of Bathurst. The block south from Bloor is lined with restaurants & arts-related shops, and today everybody is out on the street as well. It’s a big Sidewalk Sale, with free entertainment thrown in. This steel pan musician, for example.

steelpan on Markham St

I buy a slice of warm cornbread at the stall set up by Southern Comfort Restaurant, and cruise the block as I nibble.

The whole city is outdoors, it seems; we all want to take as much advantage as possible of the warm weather while it lasts. Restaurants & cafés still have their doors & windows thrown open to the street; the winter-time barrier between Inside and Outside has yet to be imposed.

Bloor West & Brunswick

Just opposite, right across Brunswick Avenue, more street-sale activity. Just one man this time, with long rows of books, his back to a neighbourhood tavern landmark, the Brunswick House (The Brunny).

sidewalk books outside The Brunswick House

No, I do not follow the sign to Poutineville. I have had poutine. Once.

Soon I’m getting into University of Toronto territory, passing its sports centre, Varsity Arena. The big signboard highlights the football team, but on the field today, all the action is soccer. And lots of it, too, male & female.

soccer practice at Varsity Arena

I overhear a (male) coach pep-talking a group of female players. “If you play tomorrow like you’re playing now…” he begins. I am dying to know the rest, but a huge truck grinds past and it is lost. Damn!

Just past the Royal Conservatory of Music, just before the Royal Ontario Museum, there stand the Alexandra Gates — guardians of the north end of Philosophers Walk. It runs between Bloor and Hoskin Av. to the south, tracing its way along the ravine that still marks where Taddle Creek ran until they buried it below ground. The Walk is much less substantial than it used to be, for buildings (Uof T, ROM, & RCM) have encroached on either side. Yet despite everything, it is still magic, still a retreat from the noise all around.

At the moment, the Bloor St. end of the Walk is marked by more than those 1901 gates. A human being has tucked up against them, engaged in an activity that predates them by … oh … a millennium or two.

making an inukshuk in the sun at Alexandra Gates (1901), ROM & Bloor St W

He is making an inukshuk. Another man has squatted to engage in discussion; I think of joining them, but decide not to. I quite like the mystery, the gratuitous delight of the scene. It is street theatre.

More street theatre the other side of Avenue Road, but in a very different mood. I see another of the city’s ghost bicycles — the white-painted bicycles that mark fatal cyclist accidents. This young man died less than a month ago: 31 August.

ghost bicycle, Bloor W near Queen's Park

And yet more street theatre just east of Yonge, with yet another change of mood. Music! Brass-combo jollity! And all for a very good cause.

outside The Bay, on Bloor E at Yonge

Of course I drop something in the trombone case. As do many others.

One last photo a few blocks farther down Bloor — and how fitting, near the end of my walk.

window display, Rogers Cable, Bloor E

I don’t know why a cable company showcases walking stick-figures, but it does, and has for years. Any time I pass, I stand and watch for a bit. I catch myself falling into the scene, scuttle-scuttle, back-and-forth.

And then I scuttle-scuttle home.

Up, Down, & Straight Ahead

19 September 2014 — Once the whole city is your art installation, then any direction you look adds more to the exhibit.

Under that Queen St. West scaffolding, I first look up, & catch the joke of construction worker boots striding across Heel Boy! (last post). Then I look straight ahead, and take in this Elicser mural on the community centre wall.

Elicser mural, Queen West near Gore Vale

I’ve seen it before, & noted the haunted quality of the faces, typical of Elicser’s work. Now, framed by scaffolding, they take on a caged look as well. It makes me somehow, just a little, uneasy. (A friend and I later discuss how much influence context can have on the way we interpret an image.)

The uneasiness disappears as soon as I look across the street and up. ‘Way up, to that level where jagged rooftops allow artists to play peek-a-boo with their street-level audience.

She looks delightfully free & happy, don’t you think?

Queen West nr Euclid

The next up-image is almost at Bathurst St., where my eyes rise above both streetcar & Tim Hortons signage (how iconic can we be), and snag upon … Law Bird.

Queen W at Bathurst

Well, that’s my nickname for this recognizable bird. (Alas, I don’t yet know the artist — somebody please tell me.) The bird is pretty well the same each time, but his message varies. First time I saw him, he said: “I fought the law, and won!” Hence the nickname. Here, with “a criminal mind,” I suppose you could say he is still on a legal theme.

Next, straight ahead, on my side of Queen St., a bird of a different feather.

In fact, not a bird at all. It’s a cat.

Um, a dog?

cat-dpg "animal project, Queen West

What do you think? Your choice may or may not say something profound about your personality, but the creators of this doorway don’t care — they just want you to consider the question. They also announce this is part of some “animal project” that they don’t further define. Not that I can see, anyway. Looking for more information causes me to look down, read their sidewalk billboard — and notice a bowl of water. Passing dogs will surely notice it as well.

I cross Bathurst, keep heading east on Queen, look up and see this trio of rooftops. It’s always worth looking above the Plastic Line — i.e. the base level of modern store-fronts, the urban equivalent of a ship’s waterline — to see what heritage architecture may still linger, and whisper a story from the past.

I find this story … poignant.

Queen West at Portland St.

How lovely these buildings once were! The lines so graceful, the slatework so nicely defined, the ornamental ironwork a delicate final touch. Now, remnants only.

But it’s all right. I honour the glimpse, take a moment to hope that someone buys the trio in time to restore them, but recognize they may fall and other things arise. Some of which I’ll like, some not, and it’s all part of the necessary energy of change.

And that is only is a moment’s reflection, because then I look straight ahead, literally straight ahead of me on the sidewalk, and see this young couple striding along. The first thing I notice is the tracery of her tattoo, how it curves perfectly up her neck.

on Queen West nr Augusta

Only after do I take in the whole picture, and find it all so pleasing. I like the simplicity, the fresh energy, and the harmony. These young people are — literally! — in step with each other, and their day.

Soon I’m at Queen West & John Street, and look down — both metaphorically (down = south) & literally (below eye level).

I don’t know, until I read the poster, that I’ve come upon the John St. Pedestrian Initiative. I just think I’ve stumbled on three really swell Muskoka chairs, all slicked up for some happy cause.

John St. Pedestrian Initiative, at Queen W

Aren’t they fun? Wouldn’t you like to drop your bottom into one of them, and snuggle in for a while?

This is exactly the point of the Initiative, I discover — claiming some of the road to provide space for pedestrians to relax and enjoy their surroundings. Which, when I look straight ahead along the line, is exactly what people are doing.

John St. between Queen & Richmond

I cock my head at all that, and think, “Well, that’s it for today.” I know a suitable Final Image when I see it …

… and, for many blocks after, my camera sits in my pocket. My fingers don’t even itch.

Then, up on Dundas St. by now, near Sherbourne, I look straight ahead, and dig into my pocket one more time.

Dundas St. East, nr Sherbourne

Daddy is bringing his little boy home from school. It would be an endearing sight anyway, but what really touches me is that shiny new backpack. New school year, new supplies, new hopes & plans.

I hope this child has a wonderful school year, full of discoveries & delight.

Wheels & Heels

16 September 2014 — It was a terrific walk, the one that started with the MOCCA show at Queen St. West near Ossington (see previous post) and eventually had me tromp-tromping all the way home. I think it amused me so much because I was still caught in the after-effects of the MOCCA proposals, still viewing the entire city as one great big urban art installation.

So here we are, me and patient you, picking up where we left off, back on Queen just a bit to the west of Trinity-Bellwoods Park. This particular art-installation “room” is all around the park, and it seems to have a theme.


Bicycle art Queen W. nr Shaw

See what one more wheel can do? Four wheels = 2 bicycles chained to a post. Add a 5th wheel, and it’s art. (Number 5, by the way, is individually & very firmly locked in place. This is no throw-away.)

Barely a block farther east, more wheels. Lots of them, on bikes & a cab, but this time they’re backdrop to a better joke.

it's the roof-top sign...

See the ad on top? Mr. Toronto Cabbie is advertising Dr. [Bollywood] Cabbie.  I almost lean in the window to ask the driver if he has seen the movie, if it’s given him any ideas, but he’s busy on his smart phone and I chicken out.

I discover a cross-lane called Logie Place, and it’s full of wheel-wonders. First up, a Birdo mural.

graffiti artist Birdo, in Logie Place

I love his colours, and I love his creatures. I love the way their component parts seem to come from a whole bunch of boxes of unrelated bits that don’t fit together. Except, when you throw them together, they do.

From wheels to wheelie-bins, lined up by an old shipping container that now serves other purposes & sports its very own green roof, along with a mural and other comments.

repurposed shipping container, Logie Pl.

From this E/W lane into a N/S one, heading north.

No garage art, so I look up and I am rewarded. Up there, riding high on someone’s rooftop deck … a circus pony.

alley view of house deck near Lobb Av.

True, I cannot stretch this image into the Wheel theme I’ve had going, but so what. Every art installation throws a surprise or two …

Circus Pony House is on the corner with another little cross street, so I turn east with it.

And discover Lobb Avenue. Which has attitude. The give-away is not the stack of canoes in Circus Pony’s side yard …

side yard canoes, Lobb Av.

… it is the series of neat little metal plaques attached to Circus Pony’s side fence.

fence plaque, Lobb Av.

I am charmed. And — you see? — we are back on-theme. Back to wheels.

“Lobb Ave Extreme Parking Association,” indeed. I read the next plaque, and wonder whether it is a promise to pedestrians, or a further admonition.

on Lobb Av. fence

Are cars parked more carefully on Wednesdays, giving pedestrians no reason not to be calm and invective-free? Or are pedestrians required to be not only calm but especially polite on Wednesdays, no matter what the provocation?

I read the 3rd plaque eagerly, thinking it might shed light.


plaque on Lobb Av. fence

Poor Yvonne, perhaps her nerves couldn’t take it any longer.

The best art installations, of course, carefully marry signage to visuals, using the right words — in the right quantity & right location — to expand upon the visual, add another element, get those neurons firing like crazy in the visitor’s brain.

Which is exactly what happens when I duck under the sidewalk scaffolding around a Queen Street community centre just west of Bathurst, and look up.

I laugh and laugh.

What I see is as good as the cabbie/Dr. Cabbie joke, but it’s an even bigger treat because it is not self-contained. It is the by-chance result of 3 independent factors, and it comes & goes in an instant.

Sign, construction worker’s boots, & a viewer.

Queen between Gore Vale & Bahurst

From wheels to heels. I’m still having the best time — and I haven’t even reached Bathurst St. yet!

But I will …

The Great Urban Art Installation

13 September 2014 – I’m on Queen St. West near Ossington, gazing all around me in total astonishment. I think, “Hunh! That show affected me more than I realized.”

Because suddenly I’m not just registering all the elements of a busy downtown street, I’m seeing them as component parts of one huge art installation.

Not art in the city, displayed this way or that, but the whole city as art. One great, big, enveloping, planned-random-moving-static-classy-tatty-animal-vegetable-mineral-aural-visual-olfactory-tactile  … Great Urban Art Installation.

Well! Thank you, MOCCA.

It’s not a café, as the acronym might suggest (& why don’t they add one), it’s the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. The current show is TBD — as in, “To Be Determined,” as in, “the definition of a contemporary art gallery is not fixed.” MOCCA invited ideas from designers & architects worldwide; their one-page proposals for 21st-c. gallery strategies are neatly pinned to one wall. Nothing much to look at, but — as my Big Moment there on Queen West proves — the ideas pack a wallop.

I blink in amazement at a streetcar cruising by, then at the colour, structure & content of a window display. I am in an altered state — legal, but definitely altered —  and I round a street-corner north from Queen, to see what I can see while Under The Influence.

Where I blink again. Look at this perfect stage set, tucked at the end of a short service alley.

alley n of Queen W nr Ossington

It is real, created & used by real people, but that doesn’t prevent its also being a perfect stage set for passers-by to appreciate. Yet another component of the Great Urban Art Installation.

courtyard, alley n. of Queen West

It’s all there, isn’t it, and when I turn to walk back out — look, there’s more.

One more backdrop, its subject matter nicely consistent with the “No Dumping” reminder on the facing wall.

wall mural, alley n. of Queen West


Highly satisfied, I duck back to Queen West.

My altered state is receding to normal, but I’m still on for art & decide to revisit a nearby lane.

It so wowed me on first visit in December 2013 that I called the resulting posts The Humbert/Queen Art Collection,. That’s what it is — a laneway of art just west of Ossington between Queen West & Humbert, that adds up to a collection. The lane is lined with garages and almost every garage door features a mural. It has no official name, let’s call it Garage Alley.

I start at the Queen St. end. The first mural is as remembered.

mural Queen West just w. of Ossington

In fact, it’s better than remembered — many more ceramic critters have been added at curb-height since my last visit.

detail of ceramic critters, curb in Queen W. alley west of Ossington

Next I’m laughing at something that has no artistic merit at all. It’s just a black signature — one I will see several more times — with someone else’s editorial comment added in red. Neatly printed and all, any Grade 1 teacher would approve, but that’s not the joke.

grafito detail, Garage Alley

Remember my previous post, with the bakery sign proclaiming that “mini-donuts are the new kale”? Here’s a socio-cultural kale cross-reference, more proof that the whole city is one big art installation, with everything informing everything else.

The experience is entirely different today, tilting my face to warm September sunshine instead of blinking my way through fat December snowflakes. Different too, I am sorry to add, because a lot of the murals that shone so brightly in December are now defaced. (I’m told there are some proudly “illegal” painters who deliberately deface “legal” work.)

But there’s still amusement to be had, still good moments — all a reminder that this great urban art installation is a work in progress. Enjoy the moment, or deplore the moment, but accept that it is a moment. Next moments will keep rolling in.

So I try to put aside what I feel has been lost, and instead notice what’s here right now. For example, some juxtapositions.

On this side of the alley, a fiercely energetic face on a hoarding. (Neatly lettered beneath that circonflex eyebrow: SAD GIRLS.)

hoarding, Garage Alley

On that side of the alley, the back of a very sleek downtown-infill home. Accessorized with two gleaming black cars, but also with a bicycle. So urban.

back of home, Garage Alley

And near-by, the back of another house, also with bicycles. There the similarity ends — we’re in Fire Escape territory here, not Fine Architecture.

back of a home, Garage Alley

But I like it, and the mandalas catch my eye, so I stop.

Then, suddenly, this modest stage set is transformed. Somebody cues the music! First I hear lingering chords on a piano, modulating from louder to softer & back again; then a contralto voice comes in, crooning to the chords. It’s definitely live, it comes from within that house, and I am happy indeed that I stopped long enough to have this treat.

I walk on, thinking again that season of the year is yet another component of the Great Urban Art Installation; thinking soon the cycle will turn again, & the stage set will revolve one more time to winter snow & storms.

Then, poof, my thought bubble is paired with the perfect visual.

gaffito in Garage Alley

One last image, as I near the north end of Garage Alley.

Why should the garages have all the fun? Let’s put some of it on wheels & roll it around.

truck & garage, Garage Alley

Soon I’m back down on Queen West, and no, that’s not the end of the walk. I keep having a very good time, and I’m going to show you more of it.

Next post.

Of Cabbages … & Cans

8 September 2014 — Apologies to Lewis Carroll, but not a King in sight at this year’s Cabbagetown Festival. No Walrus or Carpenter, either.

Which did not mean we lacked for wondrous sights. Repurposed tin cans, for example …

resophonic tincan instruments

… though by the time I got to that, I was pretty well ready for anything.

Another weekend, another festival, this time right in my own ‘hood. First the kick-off Cabbagetown Film Festival (video shorts) on Friday evening; then 2 days of yard sales throughout the area, plus tents & activities on closed-off Parliament Street, and more tents in Riverdale Park West, this time showcasing juried art & crafts.

Like many a veteran of this particular yearly event, I pace myself. Films Friday night; yard sales Saturday; Parliament St. & the craft fair on Sunday. No camera on Saturday (please, I have other priorities), but Sunday I’m out early — early enough to catch people setting up on the Carlton St. stub leading into Parliament, and on Parliament itself.

Young woman arranging vintage furniture & accessories beneath vintage British Empire flags, for example …

street fair stands on Carlton St.

… right next to a Buddhist monk checking the Tibetan items at their display, beneath a string of prayer flags.

And just around the corner, a cow!

Not quite Hey Diddle Diddle, this one very much grounded, stiff & motionless except for her ready-for-action teats. With a pail below. It’s all a promotion for Canadian milk, and if you’re game to pull those teats, you too can earn a sticker proclaiming your success in both official languages.

pull those teats! on Parliament St

Despite the early hour, Bossy already has a taker. He’s looking as stiff as the cow by now, because he’s been holding the pose for ages while a series of eager amateur photographers keep shooing onlookers aside so they can get the shot.

On along Parliament, more set-ups going on, including this young musician with an ear to his guitar.

musician & his guitar, on Parliament


I close my eyes to yet more yard sales as I head east on Wellesley St. — no no no! my goal is the craft fair!

Riverdale Park West, entrance to Craft Fair

And in I go.

Tidy lines of tents, collectively displaying the quality & range of items you expect at a well-established, juried art & crafts event. I see lots of what I expect to see — clothing, art work, accessories, jewellery, pottery, foodstuffs. And, within those usual broad categories, I see variations I hadn’t expected to see.

Montreal-based L’Atelier du Presbytère, for example, recycling vintage fabrics into handmade clothing and other textile creations.

in Cabbagetown Arts & Crafts Fair

Those two women are comparing notes in French; both languages are in brisk use at the booth itself.

Practically straight across the aisle, and with the same respect for old techniques & materials …

Horst Herget tintype photography

… tintype photography, by Horst Herget.

And farther down the same aisle, yet more vintage. This time early Canadian maps, which Helen Hawketts reproduces on cushions & tea towels for her Country Cupboard collection. Muskoka, Kawartha Lakes, Toronto & more. I am quite mesmerized, I always am by maps.

Helen Hawketts & her textiles

I finger the tea towels, locate my very own street on the 1873 map used for the Toronto towel, finally put it down and keep walking.

And bounce right out of vintage country into the 21st century — even if it is still all to do with designs on textiles.

Meet JJ.

JJ Dukharan, cre8cure

He lifts an eyebrow in acknowledgment, but keeps on working. Another young man hands me their card: JJ Dukharan, co-founder of cre8cure, whose artists want their designs to lift spirits as well as adorn a piece of material.

Around a corner, into another aisle, this one with a concentration of artisanal foodstuff vendors. Some very new-style offerings, some very traditional for events like this — and at least one that positions its traditional treat with new-style flair.

new style marketing for old style junk food

Better than kale, and organic too. What more could you ask?

But I resist, heavens I am strong, and I am rewarded with something I absolutely, totally did not expect to see. Not least because I had no idea such a thing existed.

Are you ready? Here’s the explanation for my tease at the top of this post.

Iron Uke resophonic instruments

It’s the resophonic TinCan Banjo/Ukulele/Guitar display. Of course it is. (Now you’re going to tell me you knew that all along.)

I’m still giggling about that as I head down a paved park path, planning to leave the fair and start for home. Then I see this beneath my feet and hop to one side, waiting patiently for some others to hop to one side as well, so I can take a photo.

on the path in Riverdale Park West

It’s not linked to any booth, that I can tell, so I can only give you my own best guess. Looks to me like a sardonic take on the aboriginal Four Elements, adjusted to 21st-c. realities. (Or maybe that’s not it at all. But the design is still striking.)

My forward momentum has been checked & I suddenly find myself back-tracking into the heart of the fair. No! not for a mini donut [sic], good grief. For that 1873 Toronto map tea towel.

I swear I will use it, creator Helen Hawketts insists they are durable as all-get-out, but first I just want to admire it for a few days.

Image, to Question, to Story

2 September 2014 — I think this is a post about relationships, about dynamics. About how images can trigger questions, and then stories to explore those questions. Different questions for each viewer, and so different stories.

On Sunday, we went to the magnificent Alex Colville retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario here in Toronto (until Jan 4). Colville painted hyper-realistic scenes that are absolutely specific to their time & place, yet they arouse in viewers questions that swirl throughout time & space. What led to this moment? What is just out of sight? What next?

Colville said he was always addressing the question, “What is life like?” and he pulls viewers into that mystery.

It has inspired me to do a different sort of post. (You understand I do not compare myself with Colville.)

Usually I weave words & images to tell you the story of my day. I’m delighted when you run with it in your own minds & imaginations, making it yours through your response to it — but still, I have started with my images, for which I supply my story.

Today, i am not telling a story. I riffled my bank of images with a different eye. I wanted images that stand alone, that provoke questions, invite stories. Here are a few …

basketball court, David Crombie Park Toronto

Down on The Esplanade this summer in David Crombie Park, my eye was first drawn by the glorious mural on the backboards, but then by the young woman.

I remember watching for a while. She was entirely focused on her coach and his instruction, her intensity creating a force-field around the court. Who is she? What is her dream? What is she not doing, in her life, in order to do this?

Mexico City, now, a hot day in one of the city’s main zócalos (plazas).

plaza in Mexico City

At the time, I was fascinated by the great blocks of ice, glistening & sweating in the sun. Only later, I wondered about the young man, also glistening & sweating. I hope he is not spending his life subservient to blocks of ice.

Also Latin America, now Habana Vieja in Cuba. I sat on shady steps opposite the Convent of San Francisco de Asís, watching Cubans respond to the statue commemorating a legendary street-person, El Caballero de París.

This little girl would have no memory of him, why did she run to give him a hug?

statue to Caballero de Paris, Habana Vieja

I returned later, to see flowers tucked into the Caballero’s hand. It must have just happened, the blooms were still fresh despite the heat.

floral tribute, Caballero de Paris, Habana Vieja

Friends had told me that people often left flowers, but … who paid tribute this time?  Why?

Story-moments are everywhere.

I know I have already shown you this woman blissfully reading her book in Riverdale Park East, but that was in the context of my story about my walk up to Taste of the Danforth.

Now let’s think about her.

in Riverdale Park East, Toronto

What do you suppose she is reading? Why here?

Or, let’s think about this classy pooch, in a classy red convertible.

dog at Parliament St beer store

He was in a beer store parking lot. Will his owner be just as classy? Will said owner have purchased the classy product of a micro-brewery?

Enough with dogs. Time for a cat.

in Danforth Av. shop

The little statue is in complete contrast, not just to the sleek 21st-c. cash register, but to the coolly elegant & very modern Danforth shop as a whole.  Whose idea was the cat? Is there an older owner behind the smart young assistant greeting the public? What does the cat mean to each of them?

You know my fascination with decorated bicycles, “bike art” I call it.

I liked the whole look of this bike on Dundas St. East — painted vehicle plus fresh new colour-coordinated flowers plus matching helmet.

bike on Dundas St. E.

Look closely, the word “love” is all over the helmet. This cyclist loves her bike (I am guessing gender); she has or seeks love in the world. I hope she is happy.

Queen St. East now, in the forecourt of Metropolitan United Church (at the corner of Church St., where else).

I wasn’t there for the line-up of chess boards and their followers; I was tracking preparations for this year’s Nuit Blanche, and a spectacular installation was in the process of being erected farther back on the property.

chess at Metropolitan United Church

Nuit Blanche, who cares. These guys were playing chess.

Yet my focus wasn’t on the two players, it was on the kibitzer behind them. Why has he lost interest? Are these guys so evenly matched that nothing is happening? Or so mismatched that the game has no tension? Or has something astounding just happened, one board over?

One last thought: if you find you like working your mind from image to possible story, check out Terry Barca’s posts on araneus1. This Aussie (east side of Melbourne, he tells us) is a master at finding a strong image, then weaving a compelling story around it.



Town & Country

26 August 2014 — Country comes first. On Saturday my partner Nigel & I drive a couple of hours N/E of Toronto to a farm outside the community of Millbrook. More specifically, to the 4th Line Theatre, which since 1992 has developed & presented Canadian historical dramas in open-air productions on that site each summer.

Show starts at 6, we arrive in good time to collect & enjoy our picnic-basket dinners & still have time for a walk on the property.

trail on 4th Line Theatre property

Howling wolf points the way, and we not only get to see & sniff nature’s late-season splendour, we have our first glimpse, albeit it sideways, of the barn-cum-stage.

4th Line Theatre, from field

Friends have given good reports of both the theatre set-up and its productions, we’re eager for both. Tonight’s show, Wounded Soldiers, is the second of the two plays being offered this season —  a vignette set in England in 1915, when increasing numbers of asylums (“lunatic asylums,” in the language of the day) were being converted for military use as war wounded began to overwhelm the country’s other facilities.

main stage, 4th Line Theatre

No photography during the performance, so here’s the audience arriving. Perhaps half — including us — find seats in the covered seating section, the rest take their weather chances along with the cast. (If a performance absolutely must be cancelled, it is at the last minute, and only those present can claim a seat for a future performance. No refunds, and no make-good seats for those who looked at the sky & decided not to show up.)

One big advantage to staging a World War I drama in a rural, open-air setting: your trenches set is seriously authentic! Real turf, real soil, and — in this season of frequent showers — plenty of real mud.

trenches side stage, 4th Line Theatre

Good show, good logistics, comfy chairs (with added cushions), good experience.  Followed by, a pleasant drive home as dusk turns to night.

And now for … Something Completely Different

Say good-bye to the country, say hello to town.

Say hello to Bikini Blonde!

bikini'ed onlooker, Victoria St.

It’s now Sunday, I’m walking over to Yonge St. for Buskerfest, my mind is already on theatrics & performance artists, and for a moment I think BB must be one of them. Except I’m not yet at Yonge — though close — and she’s not, well, she’s not exactly projecting theatrical performance, is she? So I don’t know why she’s here, but here she is.

And it does prepare me for theatrics to come.

One more image to snag my attention before I quite make it to Yonge Street — I look down O’Keefe Lane just east of Yonge, and see this cheerful whack of street art.

O'Keefe Lane, south of Dundas E.

Like Bikini Blonde, it’s a bit confusing. Is it painted on an overpass of some kind? Is that a black cloth draped over the top half? Why?

Then I decide, who knows, so what, it’s all fun. And I finally make it to Yonge St.

Which is chock-a-block with tents and banners and food traffic — that “fooD traffic,” my friends, is a genuine typo. I meant to type “foot traffic” but decide to leave the typo, because it too is accurate. As on Danforth during Taste of Danforth, there is a whole lot of food on offer, in many of those tents, and a lot of the foot (that’s with a “t”) traffic is scarfing back various kinds of exotic food.

All this activity organized by, and in aid of, Epilepsy Toronto — a fundraiser that has grown bigger and better-attended every year since its founding in 1999.

Oh, I forgot to mention buskers, didn’t I. There are buskers.

Buskerfest performer

Wind-Up Lady, for one, whose jerky poses perfectly mimic the wind-up dancers to be found on old-fashioned music boxes.

Also, chance of pace, pouty mermaids.

Buskerfest performers

My favourite is Ghost Lady, though my delight is not so much for her (despite her skill) as it is for her mesmerized little fan.

Ghost Lady & fan

The child tries to copy her moves, and stops between each hop to check again her idol’s latest pose. What did she just do??? Can I do that??? Finally, her laughing mother scoops her up, and proud daddy takes a picture of mother, daughter and Ghost Lady in a tight trio of mutual admiration.

There’s music, too. I follow my ears down a stub of street just west of Yonge, and spend a moment listening to this ensemble jammin’ away like crazy.

Buskefest musi in a café

I think of settling in at a table for a glass of something myself… but no, I walk on.

And am rewarded with some fine solo-performance blues, just east of Yonge this time.

Buskerfest performer

Soon I’ve  walked the Buskerfest stretch, from Dundas Square north to College Street.

I have no particular plan at this point. Eastward? Westward? Northward ho?

Then my ears pick up … Something Completely Different

Boom-boom! Clash-rattle! It’s a marching band, somewhere, all brass & drums.

Then I see it, and can hardly believe it: the start of what seems to be an enormous long parade, marching down the west side of Queen’s Park Crescent, curving around Queen’s Park legislative buildings (the provincial parliament), and making a whole glorious ka-boom of noise as it goes.

Falun Dafa parade, in  Queen's Park Cres.

I cross into Queen’s Park to watch, and am handed a Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) pamphlet as I settle myself curb-side. A lot of people are watching, accepting pamphlets and often the small flowers that are also on offer.

Falun Dafa parade, in Queen's Park Cres

The marching band segments are intercut with groups of women, flowing rather than marching, but equally focused on the event’s political, social & spiritual messages.

This is indeed one enormous parade. I can see that the tail end is still opposite me, on the far side of Queen’s Park, waiting to come around the curve, while the front end has already turned west on College St.

south from Queen's Park to S/W College & University

Multiple layers of imagery, as I look south from Queen’s Park to the west side of the intersection of University Av. & College. First, the peaceful man on his bench in the shade; then the parade on College St.; then the great mirrored façade of Ontario Power, reflecting  the Queen’s Park legislative building on one face (on the right) and the MaRS Discovery District (public/private sector innovation hub) in the curved face to the left.

Later, at home, I tell Nigel about the contrasting events, busker theatrics followed by spiritual/political messaging. In return, he tells me that he and our visiting flautist friend Grėgoire spent the afternoon in Little India — where yet another street fair was underway.

Toronto in the summer. So swell.


On & Off Yonge St. (To Reykjavík.)

21 August 2014 — Cinematographically speaking. A recommended movie, set in Iceland, caused me to walk the Dundas-Eglinton stretch of Yonge St. that took me to the theatre.

Yonge St logo n. of Dundas

I cover 8 kilometres or so, not bad, though the merest nothing compared to the 1,896 km. of this road’s total length from Lake Ontario to Rainy River — and an even tinier nothing compared to the 4,205 km. between Toronto & Reykjavík. (And that’s just flying distance. Wait ’til I tell you the walking distance!)

Yonge is an an important N/S artery & the city’s accepted centre-line, but still a curious mix of low- and high-rise. The latter shoots up around major E/W intersections, while the former stretches out in between, housing endless little shops in older, largely 2-storey buildings.

Yonge St. nr Charles St.

I’m north of Dundas, south of Bloor at this point, and frankly, it’s pretty tatty around here. Full of life and commerce and activity, but tatty. Lady Red Dress is the classiest element by far, and she’s just passing through.  At speed! (How can she walk that fast, in heels that high?)

Cross Bloor and I’m on the edge of Yorkville, heading toward Rosedale, moving up-the-market I am. Past the handsome Toronto Reference Library, into Frank Stollery Parkette, a tiny but effective wedge of greenery & benches on the west side of Yonge at Davenport. I revisit the Bell boxes for their murals, and read again the inscription beginning, “Ancient wisdom of the land …”

Frank Stollery Park, Yonge & Davenport

And look, kitty corner across Yonge, one of the painted traffic signal boxes that are now popping up — copying the Bell initiative, I think, and what a good idea. I cross to check it out, discover it’s by visual artist Elicser, and am slightly embarrassed I hadn’t guessed that for myself. Still … a shirt-&-tie-guy by Elicser?

Yonge & Davenport traffic signal box, artist Elicser

Soon Ramsden Park on my left, Rosedale subway station on my right, all known territory, and then I stop short, because I’ve never noticed this entrance before. It could be in Europe, a quiet, cool iron gate with understated shrubbery behind and near-anonymous, discreet signage. Somehow, the rust on the gate simply adds to the aura of faded, stylish mystery.

1920s building, n. of Ramsden Park

The mood is broken by two delivery men wrestling large plastic mats through the gate. Whatever offices this building now contains, the inhabitants choose to protect their floors from twirling computer chairs.

By now the older, low-rise sections on Yonge are beautifully restored — not still deteriorating, as they tend to be, farther south — and they house suitably elegant boutiques and spas. I leave Yonge for a bit, walk north up a parallel lane just behind the shops. Not so elegant here! Still, I love the remaining hay lofts.

haylofts in Paul Hahn Ln, n of Ramsden Pk & w. of Yonge

Drab looking, but sweet smelling. Someone near-by is cutting grass, and the scent of new-mown grass fills the air.

I laugh when I rejoin Yonge at Roxborough. A block farther south, I’d admired the vivid blossom a passing woman has tucked into her black fanny-pack, and wondered idly where she’d found it. “Bet she pinched it,” I’d thought, perfectly happy for her to have done so.

Hah! Here’s the source: a café patio, its screening a mass of blooms.

resto patio, Yonge & Roxborough W

They’ll never miss the one that disappeared onto a fanny-pack.

Soon I’m nearing St. Clair, with another cluster of towers rearing into the sky. I duck into a lane between two smaller, older structures as I approach, for a moment at the gate to St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Cemetery. It is surrounded now by buildings, but still imposing its own peace, its own sense of enternity, within its grounds.

St. Michael’s R.C. Cemetery

I enjoy the break from busy sidewalks, but the man next to me is using the relative quiet to hold an intense cell-phone conversation about his overseas real-estate investments.

Back to Yonge, and Book City. I always stop at a Book City, there are always bargain bins on the sidewalk to tempt your eyes, fingers & wallets.

Book City s. of St. Clair

No purchase this time, but I often tuck something into my pack after one of these stops.

And now I’m north of St. Clair, into a stretch with no shops at all, just open-cut subway tracks on my left and, across Yonge, the western edge of sprawling Mount Pleasant Cemetery. I think of entering it and walking its curving paths for a while, but decide to stick to Yonge as planned. (Very loosely planned.)

Just south of Davisville, I walk beneath the overpass for Kay Gardiner Belt Line Park. Phyllis & I often walk over it, linking our way from the Belt Line Park into the cemetery and on south.

beneath the overpass for Kay Gardiner Belt Line Park, Yonge St.

And then it’s just a few more blocks to Eglinton, to the movie theatre complex … to Reykjavík.

The movie is called Land Ho! It’s rightly described as a “small” and “gently amusing” film about two 60-something former brothers in law, American and Australian, who head for Iceland in search of their lost youth but in the course of events come to terms with their age instead.

I am gently amused, and I lap up the travelogue background, of course I do, it’s what drew me to the film in the first place. Memories flash back of my own time in that country.

memorial in Reykjavik

Not a shot from the movie — one of my own photos, the lovely little sculpture on (I think) Túngata dedicated by the people of Latvia to the people of Iceland, in thanks for their recognition of Latvian independence. “We are a small nation,” reads the inscription (in English as well as Icelandic); “We shall be as great as is our will.”

I do not walk back home. By now it’s quite late in the day, I hop the subway south and jump out again at Dundas, to walk from there.

And there he is, Living Sculpture guy, a street corner regular who was mysteriously absent earlier in the day. Now he’s in full stop-&-go action, revolving from pose to pose on his stand.

Living Sculpture performer, Yonge & Dundas

I line up with others to take his picture, and then head home.

Walking Distance, Toronto to Reykjavík

As promised.

When I googled the distance online, I found myself on a site offering a lot of travel-related factoids between the two cities. They were presented in a drop-down menu that included — to my fascination — the heading “walking distance” as well as “flying distance.”

Who could resist? So I clicked. And it said:

“Really Far.”

Well, I asked for that one, didn’t I?



    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "Walkers are 'practitioners of the city,' for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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