Magic, Reality, & the Meaning of Life

30 January 2017 – There it is, the meaning of life, aero-sprayed on an alley doorway.

But that comes last, an editorial gloss on my discoveries in this dogleg alley, just south-west of College & Spadina, wandering my way into Kensington Market territory.

I’m in the alley by whim (as I so often am), a momentary detour as I walk home from a Hot Docs presentation of Gabo, an extraordinarily moving & informative documentary about the life & impact of Gabriel García Márquez.

Given the evocative brew of magic & reality in which I have just been immersed, I am perfectly happy to be welcomed into the alley by a pair of very large bunny-rabbits.

Poser bunnies, alley between Oxford & Nassau, S/W of College & Spadina

Poser‘s work, of course.

I notice, too, the neat message (by another hand, I think) in the upper left corner: “Tante Terri, stay strong!” The bunnies are magic, the message is a sliver of someone’s reality.

I barely have time to think about this; I become aware of the growing decibel level of a background voice, clearly drawing closer. I also become aware of a … well … a sound. Hard to define.

Until I look over my shoulder, to see that it is a tire-turned-hoop, rolling merrily in my direction as man-behind-the-hoop yips with delight.

same alley

I yip, too. How could you not?

‘Round the bend in the dogleg, into the public parking segment, & I muse at Lovebot & ANSER, up there with the parking rules & regs.

Muse at the remnants of the artists’ work, perhaps? A very partial little Lovebot, up high, and just the one element of the famous ANSER face below. Did he, or someone else, reduce it to eyes? I think of eyes framed by a veil, with a bindi in-between.

Lovebot & Anser, same alley

Or maybe I’m making far too much of it all. Still, that’s art at its best, right? Art that sets you musing, interacting.

Enough musing; time to laugh.

And what better stimulus than a shocking-pink Poser bunny.

Power-cum-Chagall, same alley

There he is, floating over the city. I think of Marc Chagall’s Over Vitebsk — only a 21-st-c. street artist version, armed with spray-can not knapsack — & I start to giggle.

All this, packed into such a small space!

Everything so unexpected, so engaging, that this final image, as I leave the alley, offers the perfect philosophic framework for it all.

same alley

Meanwhile, Mr. Man With Hoop is still rolling his hoop. We cross paths again as I head out to Spadina. A final shared laugh, a final thumb’s-up, and I’m gone.




12 June 2016 – If you want to immerse yourself in attitude, I always say, go walk down an urban alley.

Which is exactly what I did Saturday with my friend Cyndie, after we’d finished a very stimulating volunteer workshop at the AGO.

Enough about first-time visitors and (for that matter) Lawren Harris! we cry; let’s go stomp around Queen St. West and see what we find.

So we do, and we visit some nifty little art galleries (two on Tecumseth, just south of Queen), and then — as tends to happen, when I’m on the loose downtown — we fall into an alley.

And into serious attitude.

A whole lot of Lady-Attitude, albeit most of it as fantasized by male artists.

Red Lips Lady, for example, queen of the motorcycle …

alley nr Queen & Tecumseth

and Shy Girl (I betcha by the Buck Teeth Girls Club, though I can’t find a signature) …

nr Queen & Tecumseth; by Buck Teeth Girls Club?

and Turquoise Tantrum Lady …

alley nr Queen W & Tecumseth

and Blondie …

alley nr Queen W & Tecumseth

and Missy Pink Bubblegum.

alley nr Queen W & Tecumseth

Next up — just to prove girls don’t have all the fun, & to introduce a whole new attitude to the alley — a great big hit of love.

alley nr Queen W & Tecumseth

Yessir, a Lovebot, his little heart just radiating peace & warmth.

Soon after, a Birdo-bird, but a new-style Birdo. Look:

nr Queen W & Tecumseth

One painterly genre for the entire Blue Jay, and a very trim, very black, stencil-like signature for the artist.

By & by, Cyndie & I return to Queen West.

Now I’m checking out the sidewalk signs. Maybe I’ll find some cap-A Attitude here?

And yes. I would say this qualifies.

Queen St. W.

A puzzling attitude, perhaps, but who am I to argue? It’s their sign.

Still, we do not choose to test its accuracy.



    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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