On this last of the hot and sticky evenings I was riding down Yonge to the YMCA, thinking it was unusually quiet. I had the streets to myself — or at least it seemed that way. Even a slight reduction in traffic makes this city seem empty(er). It had been a frustrating day of bike riding. I yelled at a woman in a Cabriolet doing a U turn in the middle of King St. today. I called her a menace, and she heard me. It felt good to stay on message in times of stress, and it was nice to have quiet streets later on. Then when I hit Yonge and Bloor I noticed the big TV above City Optical (southeast corner) was showing the Leafs’ opening game. That explained the calm city — everybody was watching the game somewhere. At the intersection though, people were standing around on the street watching the jumbo TV. It was good — these Jumbo TVs are also a menace, so it’s striking to see something good on them, something that provides a communal experience, something local and something Torontonian. Yonge and Bloor should be our celebrated cross roads, but it’s mostly dreadful. Only Stollery’s on the southwest corner, with their lovely green neon sign, provides some sophisticated relief from the horrors of the CIBC and Bay Towers. I stood on this corner, in a bit of a daze, after work on 9/11 and watched this screen, with a hundred or so other people, the silent display of lower Manhattan still enveloped by dust, some eight hours after the initial attacks.
The TVs at Dundas Square and other places are not local, and they take our minds to some generic shopping experience located somewhere between Nowhere and Wal-Mart. It’s why I think the square is our least Torontonian of spaces. It shouldn’t be that way, and the few times the space is taken over for a local celebration, even if it’s a near-vulgar spectacle, it makes the square ours, if only for a little bit. I don’t know who won the game, but at the risk of overstating the whole thing, I figure we won Yonge and Bloor back for a little bit tonight.