The last couple of days I've not taken particularly good pictures. So that makes me feel a little freer to play with contrast and light. Real photographers do this with lenses, stops, apertures and stuff. I do it with software. I play with the dials until a picture looks pretty to me. Humour me; it's fun.
Here's what a quick search of ol' Hugh MacLean on Adelaide Street dug up. Another little tug at the heart thinking about the buildings being razed on Adelaide Street these days.
345 Adelaide Street, Toronto.
I've been meaning to take pictures of the Concourse Building for some time, and I really should come back on a weekend (when it's quieter) to take some better ones. An Art Deco building (like the one my office is in around the corner), its decorative features were commissioned to Group of Seven painter J.E.H. MacDonald and his son.
There is a tall, shiny building slated for this spot. Like many of the classic buildings in the city, the developer gets around tearing it down by putting the facade of the original building on the front of the glass tower. Shame, shame. Would just love to see some of these buildings restored and preserved in their original beauty. Not all the buildings need to be tall. I had a telephone conversation with a Vancouver colleague the other day and she asked me if it was sunny. I said "no" – but it WAS sunny, I just couldn't see it from my vantage point in the midst of all the towers!
This post was going to be all about that building up there, but it was such a pretty night.
A beautiful night.
The other night I’m walking down Adelaide Street toward home and can hear bits of song in a woman’s voice hurling through the air in pieces. On advancing a half a block it’s clear to me it’s the wild-eyed but otherwise attractive, middle-aged woman standing in the middle of the sidewalk ahead. She’s looking back in the direction I’m coming from, waving her hand toward the bank towers and the new Trump hotel in that kind of drunken-like joy you’d see in schmaltzy old musicals.
“I love this towwwwnnnn!” she bellows in her best Ethel Merman. Her voice sounds pretty good actually, and I love where she has placed herself in her mind. I love schmaltzy old musicals. More – I envy her ability to convey this Ethel Merman aspect of her self-defined truth out there for the world to enjoy with her. Granted, many people are crossing the street to avoid her not seeming to want to share in her truth, but there it is. Despite my own wariness, I like it. Anyway, it reminds me of my sister who has been known to do a very funny Ethel Merman; but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t share it with the Bay Street suits on a Tuesday afternoon.
“I love this town too” I think as I skirt by her, and listening to her bellowing behind me I wonder if maybe her gestures at the bank towers and the hotel with the famous rich guy’s name aren’t of irony rather than joy. But joy sings more often than irony does and I’ve never heard Ethel Merman being ironic have you?
It gets me thinking about a discussion I’d been having with my current batch of writing students on ideas around authenticity and expressing one’s truth. I put it out the idea of the human capacity for people to re-invent themselves, and how this is usually a person’s way of redefining a personal truth, or bringing forward one or more layers of a personal definition and pushing other layers to the back, for whatever reason. Personal writers do that with words.
So many times I have seen mentally ill people in the city streets that seemed desperate to share elements of themselves, some truth that strangers are not interested (or comfortable) in knowing. I wonder about the other layers of that lady – the layers underneath Ethel Merman.
It’s kind of like earlier in the week when I’m having an afternoon tea break in a large food court area near my office. I'm watching a guy, who is sitting by himself, practicing for a job interview. He reviews something on sheets of paper on the table in front of him and then verbally practices a response to the imaginary person sitting in front of him. I know that layer he is pushing to the front; knowledgeable, competent, confident, intelligent. A Bay Street Suit. Beneath the table his hands practice their corresponding gestures: purposeful, passionate, trustworthy.
I silently wish him luck as I walk by, imagining a celebration with a significant someone on his great new gig later that night. I get more engaged with my imaginary version of his reality than with the one he is assuming. But then I don’t find Bay Street Suits and the truths they convey all that interesting. I'd rather know what's going on at his kitchen table.
All week I've been thinking about they layers of me I push forward, and those I push to the back – both in my physical aspect and my writing, wondering how I can use them to enhance or grow the latter. I hope my students are thinking about that too.
Adelaide Street take out joints. Smoke's Poutinerie and Burrito Boyz. I have been to the latter; they are pretty good and a great deal and you can make to order on the healthier side. As for poutine – well I am aware that a lot of my wonderful blog friends are not Canadian and might not ever have heard of this French Canadian dish, consisting of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. Yep. As Smoke's website says: "Clogging arteries since 2008."
When I walk inside my office building this morning, a woman is saying, "it's god-awful-ugly out there" and I'd just been thinking about the gorgeousness of the city under rain.
It's still unseasonably mild – especially this morning. What a pleasant day to walk to work! I just know I'll be crying a frozen river any day now.
In the meantime, how pretty is that morning sky in that window over the door? My little journey along Adelaide Street finds a number of buildings with their names over the doors, the stories behind which will vastly outlive the glass and steel condos and offices being constructed behind them.
I love this special tribute to a tree stump. A tree stump monument.
Charming block of eateries on John Street, just north of Adelaide.
This week I'm walking to work the "no-shortcuts" way, walking up to my office east along Adelaide Street from Spadina. It's part of the "Entertainment District" though the street with the beautiful name is rather shabby along the route I walk – it has none of the swankiness of King Street, a block south. There are some great buildings though, and construction underway in spots, and slated to begin in others, and I expect in the next few years the area will house a lot of new glass. I'll enjoy the "shabby" bits while I can!