I can only assume that Johnny Party stopped by on Friday to inform me of the art opening down at the Power Plant because he presumed the Canada Council or somebody would spring for a bar and spring rolls in honour of the winners of an international art contest, the Venice Biennale.Either that, or he hates me.
Turns out it's five bucks a cup, not a bite to eat and tickets required to view the preciousness beyond the velvet rope -- a triply wrong place for me.
But oh, the night is redeemed just east of the Harbour Castle Hotel sidewalk taxi stop. My dream of boarding the food ship Captain John comes true. "You're gonna love it in there," we are assured by the sailor-hatted panhaldler whose grandfather is curled up on the sidewalk.
"Red greasy rug" was my only premonition of the inside of Captain John's. Imagine my pleasure stepping onboard and having my slippered feet greeted by my grotty intuition! It's all too unreal and unusual for antiseptic Toronto. More like being in a boat in Havana. On the open deck we can watch party boats and the Island water taxis and pretend we're going somewhere.
Saturday afternoon, I am prepared to go somewhere in the middle of a dirty, sweltering this-can't-be-September day, thanks to my friend the Actress, who's ready with 13 skeins of hairy mohair colours to make the rainbow green. I'm all set to Knit For Peace, one of the UN Global Ceasefire and Non-Violence Day happenings.
I thought maybe everyone would be working together on a cannon cover or something. But it's fine. Down in Christie Pits I squeeze in at the picnic table. The knitting men, new to the craft, wonder whether these needles are addictive. All right, so I'll be up all night working on a winter dress to cheer up my raccoon-ravaged doll, Reina Luminosa.
Denny is a great knitting teacher. She describes each stitch as a refugee fleeing a war-torn land to a land of peace in the other hand. She says young people in England are knitting on subway cars and in pubs.
At the next picnic table, they're doodling cartoons. Musicians are playing. I feel like Madame Dufarge in a Tale Of Two Cities. Knitting is important. Let's see George Bush create a few cable-knit sweaters before he can go ahead and destroy what's left of the world. That oughta slow him down. Give all the warriors arts and crafts to occupy their twitchy trigger fingers.
Over to the Bloor, there's a video in honour of Car Free Sunday documenting the incredible tenacity of the Bus Riders Union of Los Angeles. In L.A., 90 per cent of transit users take the bus, yet the transit authority persisted in pouring money into barely used commuter trains. In L.A. only poor people don't have cars. Poor people are mostly black, Mexican, women, old people, immigrants. Their courageous fight for decent service and reasonable fairs on what is still a publically owned transit system is inspiring.
There are 13 Toronto street parties planned for Car Free Sunday. I find it a tad ironic that I need a computer to find them. If it's on the street, then that's where I have to hear about it. Between drenchings, I make it to Augusta, where outside of La Palette, a restaurant that uses a rickshaw bike to bring in supplies, I meet a dashing trumpeter who shows me how to Twist for Peace. He has me convinced that one can twist to virtually any sort of music until the Samba Squad show up and make my old legs jump.
As the deluge sluices down my face onto my shoes, I spy up and down Clinton and Palmerston for a sign of their street fiesta. Folded. No bother. I meet my nicknamed and no-name friends on the street all the time -- and there's never any shooting. Cars and wars -- it's always the poor who get hit.