15 January 2017 – We’ll start with the rocks, not that I was particularly looking for them. It’s just that rocks, like glimpses of colour down alleys, attract my attention.
I’m north of Davenport, just east of Christie, in the highly regarded neighbourhood of Wychwood, and I am slightly bored. Everything here is expensively arranged with muted good taste, and I am slightly bored. Then I see this little stack of rocks by someone’s front steps, and I am suddenly very, very happy.
I suppose they still fall within the category of “muted good taste” that so far has been annoying me, but now — observing these natural objects, artfully placed to complement each other — I am not at all annoyed. I enjoy their beauty. And their peacefulness. Rocks just are. They quietly, calmly, transcend time.
Around the corner onto Christie Street, and bang! a long stretch of art that must live a more dynamic relationship with the passage of time.
The retaining wall along the east side of the street is covered with a long mural dedicated to Jane Jacobs, the American-born writer & activist who moved to Toronto in 1968. She went on to have profound, lasting influence on our, and the world’s, understanding of urban issues — ethics, governance, culture, the lot.
Her thoughts have stood the test of time; the mural could do with a little help.
Though, somehow, I find myself moved by the decrepitude. Can’t explain it, it’s just my response as I walk on south, down the hill.
Each bit battered; each bit still bright, compelling. A survivor.
The mural is interrupted halfway by some side steps, then on & on, down the slope.
Yet another “face” as I near the southern end …
and finally the face that matters: the impish face of Jane Jacobs herself.
Followed by a short quote, which in very few words manages to demonstrate the many dimensions of her core interest: our cities, and how we live in them.
Cities have the capacity of providing something for everybody,
only because, and only when, they are created by everyone.
This is not an entirely aimless walk, I do have a destination: the mid-afternoon Hot Docs showing near Bathurst & Bloor, so there is a south-east general direction to my meandering. For the moment, it is still south.
On down Christie, now approaching the railway underpass just north of Dupont, where I am again struck by an example of art + age. With the Jane Jacobs mural, age took its toll in what it removed: chips & chunks of the wall itself.
Here at the underpass, age is an addition.
And again, as with the long mural, I am quite moved by the combination. It is still art … just with the added dimension of time. A commentary.
East on Dupont now, thinking it perhaps time to pick up my pace. Pause briefly at this bit of plywood. Behind it, something has been knocked down, victim of age if you like; something else will be erected in its place. And here on the plywood, a very temporary moment of art.
It will not withstand any test of time. But meanwhile, it’s loopy, and it’s fun.
To the corner, right turn, south on Bathurst. Shop windows now, and various amuse me, none more than this one:
There! We have answered George Carlin’s 1985 riff (“Losing Things”) on the ultimate destination of lost socks. As of 2015 at least, they go to the laundromat at 1050 Bathurst St. Which is also home, so some online chatter later tells me, to various shows & pop-up shops.
Then I notice the time, right there on the Lost Sock wall. Going on 3 o’clock! And me due to meet my friends at 3:15!
I hustle on down the street; we meet, slap-bang on time; and settle down to enjoy Bird on a Wire, the re-discovered documentary of Leonard Cohen’s 1972 European tour.