I?ve just caught a fun sound sculpture by Montreal artist Alexis O?Hara, but as I attempt to continue westward on Queen Saturday night, the title of an Ann Sexton book keeps replaying in my head: The Awful Rowing Toward God.
I want to get to the next installation, but the whole street is one big tedious four-fold queue that creeps along like a Soviet-era bread line. Where's my circus?
Admittedly, I'm tired and in a grumpy mood, but am I the only one who thinks it's totally tasteless to call this event Scotiabank Nuit Blanche? I mean, yes, I'm a realist about arts funding and I know corporate involvement can be absolutely crucial to such huge and expensive endeavours as this, but couldn't we be spared the humiliation of this in-your-face brand puffery?
Are there no genteel corporate entities who might want to sponsor some art without turning it into a massive pitch? What's next, the Halliburton Group of Seven? My sour musings as I inch along Queen are not improved by the numerous supplications to take part in surveys. Out of sheer inertia I agree to answer one.
They want to know how much I might be spending tonight. Is it likely I'll be buying dinner while I'm out? What do I estimate my travel expenses will be? Do I bank with Scotiabank or "other"?
By the time I get to the elegant old portal of Trinity Bellwoods Park, I'm ready to kick in the teeth of the shrink-wrapped, life-sized Bambi that's been installed there, but I take a deep breath, reel in my vandal impulse and try to "feel the art."
And indeed I do. I like this. I get this. In fact, I want to eat it. Not just because its entirely made of chocolate, but because there don't appear to be any huge Scotiabank Bambi placards to choke on. The confection would probably crumble so sweetly, but I drag myself away.
About an hour later, I've been flushed with the masses past various other Yoko Ono-gone-wild exhibits, including the fish-filled a-chair-ium that the Great Hall has been turned into. By this time, I've done a little smoke yoga and had something to eat, so I'm on the cusp of actually enjoying myself, even if it's just by trying to figure out what's actually meant to be art and what isn't.
My friend Roisin, who has just arrived from London, England, is finding the whole evening delightful - if only for the apparent lack of crowd control.
That's when I see the shadowy masked figure lurking in front of a shop decorated with Arabic letters.
Holding what appears to be a wired-up trigger in one shaking fist, he shouts "I am an agent of the Ku Klux Koran."
"Not funny!" somebody yells back, but most passersby, to my friend's astonishment, seem entirely unfazed by this conflation of racist sect and sacred text. "I am a weapon of Hamas destruction,' he hollars. But now that I'm closer, I can see who it really is.
"Ah, that's my friend People's Republic of Poetry," I tell Roisin. "He likes his art very offensive."
I wave. "Hi, Wally," I call to him as we continue on. Not long after, as I find out the next day, he was politely detained by the police, questioned and examined for about 15 minutes. When it became clear that his terrorist gear was merely a costume and that his impromptu incursions along the strip merely artistic commentary, he was let go and told to enjoy himself.
Too bad he's unofficial, I think to myself. With the right paperwork, he could've acquired a spiffy new logo: the Scotiabank Suicide Murderer. Only in Canada.