For the last seven years I've been trying to leave Toronto, making homes in Tangier, Ecuador, Belgrade, Beirut and London. Our city has always struck me as too finely divided into lines and squares. There are too many parallels. My feet get weary from the even stroll.
We can understand this choice of urban planning: vast amounts of space, rapid settlement, Anglo-Saxon functionality - hence a gridded city. But what of the life within?
To my mind, the city has been growing, expanding, breeding new strains and new species. After all, this is what Toronto is, an ongoing New World fusion of colour. But in a city whose human hue is a rainbow, it troubles me greatly to hear a call for the removal of colour, namely graffiti "illicitly" displayed on Toronto's walls.
Since when did Toronto aspire to become Vienna, a city of high culture without the pulse of living culture? Middle-class snobbery! Leave it to the museums.
Unlike Vienna, Toronto has a pulse. As its visible expression, graffiti ranges from social commentary to public art. Walking through the city after an almost three-year absence, no matter how straight its coordinates may be, I am heartened to encounter its growing presence.
Every mark a human being makes is expressive, whether it's a garden or a jaunty cap tipped to the side.
The decree that graffiti is pollution, a violation of public space or an affront to public taste is outright chauvinism. And a cause for worry.
Perhaps in Vienna, where stiff white shirts on stiff spines walk down neat birdshit-less promenades, it wouldn't be. But here in this city of growing colours, whose hymn is "Let the colours show," it is.
I'm happy to be in Toronto again. I'm happy to see that this city is a uniquely open landscape for creating new forms. Let us not allow a few to stifle this potential. They can always visit those other places.
Perhaps they can go to Vienna. They can let me know how it is.