Do you like hanging out behind a garbage truck in the morning as it spills your rotting leftovers into its mechanical jowls? I'd wager you don't. The sooner that river of brownish sludge washes off the road the better, right?
The out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude kind of makes sense. What we throw out can be, and mostly is, gross.
It's also something editor John Knechtel explores in TRASH, part festival and part published anthology meant to "create an opportunity to think about trash, re-conceive it and re-envision it," as he explains at the packed Drake Café launch party October 5.
Also on hand for this 11th instalment in the Alphabet City series, which invited visual artists, poets and designers to weigh in on what "trash" means to society, is U of T architecture prof Pierre Bélanger.
For his contribution to the book he visited landfills in Michigan where Toronto waste is shipped, and brought back images of a dystopian wasteland complete with "auto fluff" as grass.
Globe architecture critic Lisa Rochon's presentation on her SmartCar trip through town armed with a point-and-shoot camera gets to its point quickly: there are too many homeless people in Toronto. No surprise there. Her take on homelessness suggests a flaw in our culture that allows the tossing of humans to the curb like unwanted furniture.
She pushes for more public housing, but you could also say that social housing removes the trash to beautify street corners rather than addressing the issues of disparity that put people in this desperate position.
Rochon also throws some punches at the Beautiful City campaign, saying it should be a "city justice movement" instead of one that "preoccupies politicians in a fixed-block area."
Both Bélanger and Rochon admit they are far from experts on their topics, which should have been a cue for launch organizers, who let the light-on-solutions, heavy-on-critique blabbing run too long, prompting the crowd to begin ducking out early.
All this takes nothing away from TRASH, the little yellow book, which doesn't set out to offer a cure for garbage. Instead, it brings us face to face with our waste, inviting us to rethink the value of what we've deemed worthless and thrown "away." It even finds beauty in dust bunnies.
Knechtel hopes answers may materialize at two pending TRASH fest events, a town hall October 21 and mayoral debate October 28, both at the MaRS Centre.
One suggestion for the folks at Alphabet City, though: next time, look into the waste created by having a book printed and shipped all the way from China.