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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Warm days and beach criminals

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This was the weekend that Toronto was set free — the first warm couple of days, when the thick heavy coats are left behind (not that it’s been such a cold winter though). I think it’s that physical lightness that is most noticeable, perhaps even more than the warmth itself. Late on Saturday afternoon I walked from Cabbagetown to the Annex, but stuck to the south side of the street, in the shade, as the sun was blinding when walking west. There’s something about Bloor in the late afternoon between now and late Spring when the street seems like it’s a funnel for sunlight, helping it go east as fast as possible.

At the same time, Bloor was like that scene in Tootsie when she/he/Dustin Hoffman was walking down a New York street jammed with people at rush hour, heads bobbing far into the background. All the fancy dogs were out too, some wearing weird little spring dog-coats. These early warm weekends are great because everybody is out and the cottage people and camping people haven’t started evacuating every Friday — so the city seems extra public and populated. Sometimes Toronto can seem downright deserted on a Saturday or Sunday in July/August.

Today we walked through the Beaches for a while, and along the boardwalk, and sat on the warm rocks by the lake. All was well until we came to the Beaches beach house, which had some fresh tags on it. I side with Staff Sergeant Heinz Kuck of the Toronto Police on this one, who calls these people “criminals.” Tagging is completely selfish. It doesn’t give anything back to the viewer, and has this aggressive “I’m-here-fuck-you” schoolyard bully feeling attached to it. I can understand graffiti murals in appropriate places (like the great Queen Street alley) done by artists with talent, but the stuff like this on the beach house, with dumbass illegible fonts undermines the good graffiti art.

The tag on the left in this photo appears to say “Grit” — maybe done by disgruntled Liberal Party youths? If you’re going to ruin something nice, they might as well say something meaningful and in something other than this moron font that most of us can’t understand. I think the punishment for making Toronto ugly like this should be forcing the criminals to pee in public and have people point and laugh — if they want to mark their territory like selfish mongrel dogs they should be made to act like dogs. Though I wouldn’t want to make actual dogs feel bad — they have more sense than do the taggers.