This morning I awoke with a troubled heart. My Dog Keeba has reached a grand 18 years old, but these last few days her health has been going downhill quickly and I realize the inevitable lies ahead. And, aside from my personal woes, when I turned on the news I saw that Lytton, a small town of 250 people in BC, which less than 48 hours ago made national headlines after hitting the country’s highest heat ever recorded at 47 degrees, it burned to the ground in a matter of minutes last night when a wildfire raged through. No doubt a sure sign of Global Warming in my mind!
Then there is the shameful subject of our country’s role in the compliance, ignorance, and what amounts to genocide of over 1000 and counting Indigenous children, decades ago tore from their tribal lands and family members to die under the hands of representatives of the Catholic Church. On reflection, I was a child myself living in Canada’s capital in a safe white privileged middle-class home and school environment when these atrocities were taking place. I grew up oblivious because history failed to teach the truth in our classrooms! It was not until I took a class on Aboriginal Studies at UWO and befriended survivors, students in my study group who had defied the odds, and then later on the streets of Toronto in my associations with the homeless and some troubled individuals told me bits and pieces of their personal experiences that I began to get a glimpse of understanding. However, nothing would prepare me for the truths that are just now being exposed.
So, whilst today is a day of sadness, and with respect all of us have our own additional tribulations and the world is riddled with injustices, it is Canada Day and I am Canadian! So, I do hope you enjoy because Covid appears to be losing its battle here in Toronto and that in itself is worth celebrating.
Recently, I viewed a U-Tube video depicting two police officers brutally arresting a senior, shoving and plummeting the struggling man to the ground before dragging him up a set of concrete steps. Within thirty seconds of watching I told the person who was showing me these disturbing images to turn them off; angry and convinced that this was an atrocity which I couldn’t continue watching. It was then that I was told the other side to the story. Apparently, the cowering suspect was a convicted pedophile who had committed heinous acts, skipped his court appearance, ran from the police, and was to be brought in to face charges.
That same day I watched a video of a ‘porch pirate’ boldly stealing a package from someone’s front door. He was caught when an eagle-eyed neighbor took down the man’s license plate and called the police. As far as I could tell he was guilty of theft, but it brought to mind an incident closer to home. I’d been waiting for a delivery from Amazon a while back and since I wasn’t going to be home had asked my buddy to watch out for it; as I live in housing where opportunist criminals are a part of the social network and the contents were quite valuable. That afternoon he saw a box outside the door across from me and so walked over to bend down and glance at the address in case it was my order delivered to the wrong unit. It wasn’t, but given that my friend is a young black man I imagine had someone witnessed and perhaps videotaped his actions you and I might be viewing and perceiving the situation differently.
Point being, be skeptical and aware of the possible parallel truths behind the content of what you watch and what you believe on social media.
“Someone who seems selfish might just fear scarcity!” Random Horoscope Read – 12/13/20
Things didn’t go as planned on Saturday November 14th, the day after my father’s birthday. I miss him so and the candle was bright that night!
I could hear the young man shouting, “HELP, HELP, HELP,” from inside his apartment at the end of the hall despite the fact that there are numerous paramedics and police officers at his door and other’s standing under the resident’s balcony in case he attempts suicide. Wouldn’t be a nice thing to see if he dares. Brought back memories of 2 years ago when a distraught woman who I knew personally and living above me decided to block her apartment entrance with a heavy dresser and jump from her balcony ending her life in plain view on the bloodied concrete below. Never will I forget that sight and I can only hope she is in more peace than those who bore witness to the incident!
Back to Saturday afternoon in TCHC. Apparently he was taunting, screaming and throwing knifes out the window. Threatening to shoot if anyone tried to enter, which is why the cops knocked upon Cathy’s door (she lives across from this man) and told her to take the dog and get out of her apartment for her “own safety”. I peeked my head out and was instructed to stay inside! When I heard the swat team arrive it was the last straw and decided to cancel an impending visit with my amazing 7 year old granddaughter. My anxiety was at a high level and since the last incident involving this person and the police lasted hours and hours I felt it was for the best.
All resources were at hand and eventually after barricading inside for 3 hours the situation was diffused and the patient carried off in a stretcher, calm as could be with cigarette in hand. I recall meeting his parents when they helped to move him in 5 months ago and they seemed so thrilled he’d found a sanctuary. My heart goes out to all involved. After the fact, in need of fresh air and better vibes, out the side door I went running into 3 more cops who were rather sarcastic when I told them in passing that this whole thing had screwed up my family visit.
Afterthought – When it was mentioned to me later that this kid was white and therefore privileged and deserved more than a free ride to the hospital after all the trouble caused, I agreed. In hand cuffs at the very least! Had he been black the outcome may have been different. Very possible! It is what it is!
Streetgirl was out looking for Jeff today, since she hadn’t seen him for weeks and was starting to worry. Whilst walking she took fall photos with her new camera. A gift from a friend and much appreciated! Such a beautiful day, but once again her homeless buddy was not on his spot at The Ramp. Yet, she couldn’t bring herself to set off towards his humble abode, a tent tucked deep in The Hills. She feared to find him dead inside. One more of her crew biting the dust in 2020. Hoping not!
Instead she took out her sign, unused for months now, and tried her panhandling skills once again. Money is difficult to come by these days as are blessings from strangers with everyone isolating themselves. Half an hour later and all she’d garnered in her cup was a toonie and a chocolate bar. Then she spotted Kid walking across traffic towards her, hand stretched out for a shake despite the hazardous times.
“No hands man. Just give me a hug,” she says in advance and he did!
“I missed you so much. I gotta tell you something,” Kid says with a smile, “I got Me and Frankie off the heroin. Cold turkey!”
The young man’s bright blue eyes are clear and his skin is clean, no runny nose, deep scratches, or pimples. She is so proud of him. It must have been a hard feat considering the demons he has battled from childhood. Just shows what the spirit can do when the mind puts it to the test.
Last night Slinky woke me up banging around in the kitchen trying to reach a big moth that flew in the window and was now circulating the light on the ceiling. Turned that off , thereby shutting him down for a minute and reached into the fridge for juice only to knock the container of milk over. Cleaned that up and went back to sleep, waking in the wee hours to pee and that’s when I stepped into a pile of cat’s puke (must have got a taste of the empty pack of hot sauce on the counter which I had forgotten to put into the garbage while on his adventures – serves him right for walking where he shouldn’t:) He’s fine now, sleeping like a champ. As for me, sure glad things only happen in 3’s!
I promised Alex that I would not publish a photo of him while he was alive but sadly he died spring 2020. Took this in 2012; walking the streets that he called home in the vicinity of Lawrence and Allen Road (The Jungle) where he was a fixture panhandling on the Ramp for the past 15 years and known for his sense of humor and love of people (especially fond of the ladies). May you rest in peace my friend!
What looked like a full pack of cards lay sprawled out upon the lawn. Most were face down and I couldn’t resist drawing up a singleton to turn over and test my luck. Six of hearts! A low ranking number, but a prize in the roll of the dice and the flush suit is my personal preference when playing the deck. Seemed a positive sign so I stuffed it into my shorts and there it stayed until now. That was a week ago. Since then my daughter has given birth to a baby boy. I had the fortune to be by her side at the hospital during the emotional and blessed occasion and to spend a few days with my granddaughter as well, which may seem a normal occurrence, but not so straightforward during the pandemic.
Today, after retrieving that six of hearts from my pocket I Goggled the significance of the lone card. The first interpretation (out of over 300,000.000 results) was spot on! According to sevenreflections.com, it is a “birth card” and the “card of a Soul. It represents the Law of Love – the Christ principle, which itself entails sacrifice and selflessness. It stands for a family – Father-Mother-Child principle, for beauty, harmony, order, and completion. It is union and cooperation, adjustment and responsibility.”
“Eww, wee, what up with that?”
Heard that phrase on ‘Saturday Night Live at Home’ back in April in a skit featuring talk show host Diondre Cole a.k.a. Kenan Thompson, comedian and long-time cast member. Gave us a laugh and then wormed its way into my ear. Been my go to COVID jingle ever since!
So, just cause we haven’t posted for several months doesn’t mean our minds are not working, the wheels are turning; important matters are at hand! Mom’s dealing with the new normal as we count the days till 2nd grandchild arrives and she prays she can be there. Living in TCHC is not the same during a world wide virus attack and cause I am now a grand old 17 years she has to carry me up and down the elevator whilst wearing a mask which is hard on her back and difficult for breathing too! But I’m worth it don’t U know? As for Streetgirl, she’s hasn’t been out panhandling for ages and sure does miss the blessings from strangers. And Alex.a.k.a.Capone passed away. An icon on The Ramp which wasn’t pleasant to hear. However, Streets is an artist and inspired by such events. She’s working on a post called “Altruism be Damned. It’s a Pandemic.”
Stay safe and keep tuned!
“Hey, I made up a poem,” Jeff tells me, “put in on your blog.”
Open up your hearts, open up your wallets, and give this poor fellow a hundred dollars.
On the first light almost as an afterthought a handsome and much younger man handed Streetgirl a small plastic bag stuffed with weed. Continue reading “Quotes from Streets: Weed Day!”
Pyromania is an impulse control disorder in which an individual repeatedly fails to resist the desire to deliberately start fires, in order to relieve tension and gain instant gratification. Setting fires induces euphoria in a pyromaniac who may tend to fixate on institutions of fire control like fire houses and firefighters.
January 2020 -The siren rang while I was sleeping; admittedly, I recently taped over the alarm inside my door to tame down the tone which was deafening, but I still hear it. We residents have become resistant when it comes to the threat; there have been many false alerts these past few years. However, when I heard over the intercom firefighters were battling a blaze on an 8th floor balcony and that we should all stay in place until further notice, I was concerned. That’s my floor! Certainly it is the work of the man who lives upstairs somewhere above my friend’s apartment at the end of the hall! Continue reading “Fire on the Balcony!”
December 9th,, and I was going to take the Lawrence West Subway to Eglinton West and stop to say hi to Sue who would be panhandling at the Ramp before going home; she recently confided that she could have cancer and that sucks! However, the sidewalk out front of the station was packed and a stressed commuter informed me that southbound trains were not running the two stops to St. Clair West; a growing mass waiting to board shuttle buses blocked the entrance.
Time to take a detour! Went up the street to wait for the 109, short bus route and an easy option, as it stops in front of my building, but often delayed on both ends, particularly where the construction and destruction of the expansion makes for traffic chaos. If it didn’t show up fast I’d walk the way which I normally do. Continue reading “Untold News!”
The rest of the dream has eluded me, so I begin at the end; pressed against the side of a horseshoe shaped snow covered cliff and dangling precariously. Carefully, I turn my head to look upon a deep dark inlet below. It’s a long drop! If the crash didn’t kill me, the cold cove water would. I sense by the feel of the curve of the slope under my body that I am near the top, but encased in a winter coat that could prove slippery and lead to my demise I must continue with caution. Continue reading “Last Night’s Dream!”
My granddaughter was trying my glasses on her new pug puppy. Look closely and you will see her smiling face!
I graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1997 with a B.A. in Social Sciences. At least I think that was the year; lost the framed diploma along with my other certificates of educational achievements and most everything else I treasured back in 2010 when I became homeless due to alcohol and drugs, mental health issues, and self-destructive life choices.
I’ve been a fan of Front Street since stepping off the overnight VIA Rail departed from Montreal for the first time, summer 1980. I had come to Toronto to perform at the Zanzibar on Young Street, or to visit my eldest brother who lived downtown with several other post-graduate students, can’t recall which. If it was the latter, being hungry after the overnight trip, he likely bought me lunch at St. Lawrence Market. Sitting on a stool eating peameal bacon sandwiches was trendy at the time, as was the exploitation of the female body; an expanding business manifesting from burlesque, striptease and topless go-go girls, to the full blown lucrative phenomenon that was table dancing and I was a key player. One arresting teenage mistake, followed by a jury trial, resulting in a criminal conviction paved the way down that deviant path (but that’s another story). Continue reading “Hogtown – Stepping On The Go!”
“Keep following that vortex of Hope!” Encouragement from a concerned stranger.
“Fill your belly. .. make merry. Let days be full of joy. Dance and make music day and night.” From the original Old Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Afterthought: On Freebies – I apologize to my Mother if I arbitrarily portrayed her as a lush, chugging down Beer, Boilermakers, and Mudslides and making merry day and night!
I want to say hooray, but after watching CTV News on Sunday, I was surprised to hear a woman praise the prices. Continue reading “Pot Shop’s open in T.O.”
When the 3rd period is too much to take!
“What better way to pass the day than drinking a tall glass of whisky and beer on ice at Buddy K’s.” (Most commonly called a Boilermaker/ Originated in Butte, Montana, in the 1890’s, then-called a “Sean O’Farrell” and drunk by copper miners after shift in the heyday of America’s first major industrial city. No ice cubes back then though!)
That’s what Mom said Saturday evening back in March, as we were winding down after a week of watching over Granddaughter at our humble abode while Big Sis was away solo-backpacking in faraway Thailand. Fortunately all went well with the little one, which is not always the case when living in TCHC where anything can happen to spoil the mood at any given moment.
“Even better when it’s free,” Buddy quipped, in regards to her choice of beverage. Continue reading “A Dog’s Eye View – Freebie!”
“I am in the same shoes as you,” he says “struggling too.”
“Life is hard,” the panhandler responds.
The man with greying hair wants to talk and Streetgirl is empathetic. One should not righteously receive so much from others without taking the time to return the favor in kind.
“I’ve worked in real estate for 26 years and I haven’t sold one property this past year. I may lose it all,” his eyes begin to well as he holds back tears. They reach out and grasp hands for a second, blessing one another as the light changes and he must move on.
“I know you are going to sell a house real soon,” Streets assures him waving goodbye and hopes that is the case.
From my archives – Winter of 2015
Seeking solace and a blessed place to say her prayers, Streetgirl flew her sign yesterday, straddling the curb and strolling up and down the island. Those same paths that her panning peer, so-tagged The Veteran, had ambled thousands of times. It was chilly, but they’d been out in far worse weather and enjoyed it too; a freedom of sorts. If it was Joe he would be wearing a toque, thin shirt under a jacket year-round day and night, and sandals without socks; even though someone had given him a pair of boots two months before his passing. Thrilled to tell the tale, how he’d been snoozing in the sun behind the gas station when a guy came by and offered to take him to Canadian Tire to buy a winter coat and footwear. One of so many kind gestures afforded him by strangers. That night they dumped his dirty smelly old one down the garbage shoot in our building as a ceremonial gesture and he donned the gift until the day he died. Continue reading “Quotes from Streets: Farewell Friend”
“There are not enough Josephs in the world!” John Deacon
“Joseph was a soldier. Him know him gonna fall one day!” Delroy, my Jamaican neighbor sitting in the lobby making the motions as he speaks fondly.
Farewell Joseph. My heart is broken! Never again will I hear your knock at my door and this saddens me so I can barely breath. Rest in Peace.
With the legalization of Marijuana in its current state, Canada has opened the gate-way to becoming one of the world’s leading contributor of single-use plastic pollution.
“Cause you’re the joke of the neighborhood…Why should you care if you’re feeling good…Take the long way home,” SUPERTRAMP. (1ST concert Mother went to in the summer of 1979, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa.)
I feel sort of sorry for some People. Continue reading “A Dog’s Eye View – Take the Long Way Home!”
(From the archive – 2012) I am lying in a comfortable double bed; obviously not mine since I sleep on a mattress on the floor in my current dwelling. Someone is curled up beside me. Our bodies do not touch, but I immediately sense a naked backside and catch a glimpse of pale pudgy skin and well-worn boxer shorts. Not a lover. Perhaps a friend? I myself might be naked, not sure, but I am carpeted and warm in a white duvet and there is a soft pillow under my head. Laid still, with dawns light breezing through an open window and fluttering sheer curtains, I survey the environment.
Continue reading “THE DREAM”
A five dollar bill visible in one hand the woman pokes her head partway out the window and says, “Quick question. Who is the composer?”
Never been strong on trivia, perhaps due to perceived trauma Christmas 1980, 20 years old and playing the brand new board game sensation “Trivial Pursuit” with the family, led by an intellectual and dominating father and two older smarty-pants brothers; she was bound to lose. However, today the unmistakable ominous first four notes of “Symphony No. 5” coming from inside the car jogged Streetgirl’s mind to emit an immediate unwavering response.
And the music lover passes the money with a smile, “You win.”
Looks like an ideal spot for a nap by the lake, doesn’t it? Not! This is a hammock hung by a Canadian Aboriginal homeless man on a steep slope of trees and bushes along the edge of the highway leading to the Allan Road Ramp where he panhandles on a daily basis.
I took this photo late November 2012. Looking at it today, I am still stricken by the incongruity of the Nike symbol on the shoes, the Canadian flag hanging so prominent, and the Allen Expressway in the back ground; bold statements in a harsh environment. Continue reading “We are Canadian”
Since posting about the current relationship between Minks and COVID on Oct 11th the story has grown and I felt compelled to update! At this very moment the culling of millions of minks is creating a financial catastrophe for the citizens of Denmark and causing Global concerns! Media photos of thousands of dead animal bodies are disturbing to say the least! However, according to the country’s health minister while the COVID originally transmitted to the weasel-like mammals from Human beings, it has now mutated and People are catching it back. Effecting hundreds already and escalating the response!
“You want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable,” says the Wizard to the Tin Man to which he responds, “but I still want one.” From my favorite movie of all time The Wizard of Oz!