it's not quebec, by a long shot, and i imagine it's still really hard to grow up here without dreaming of somewhere else. still -- there's a remarkable transition underfoot i don't really know how to explain. it's coming from all directions and it contradicts some of the things i've held sacrosanct for a long time. the city used to have a typical functioning downtown -- you buy all you need, hardware, groceries, books, paint, people selling things to people. maybe something special if you know the right way to ask, or speak the right second language. then the invasion of the big box, the grey belt. the entire city has a dull halo pinning it to a sour earth. but here's what i don't quite get. all the stores shut down, the real stores, and you get a generation of skuzzy bars in the downtown, things start declining. paint starts peeling. the downtown hollows out. naturally, right?
but there's a shift. the big box stores handle all the practical needs -- and everybody has to drive -- but suddenly the downtown has begun handling all the intimate needs; conversations, art, poetry, meals, walking, and wine. a dive filled with barflys just shut down near my home, and gets replaced by a yoga studio. a pawn shop reopens as an artist run enclave. a fast-food joint gets remodeled as a real restaurant. is it gentrification? or is the town working out some kind of delicate re-balancing with the monolithic monsters just outside the gates? maybe we're working up to a guelph, maybe one day towards a kingston? i don't know. but i do know that suddenly people are talking about shutting down mainstreet once a week in the evenings for an art and social night. that people are talking about surrealism as if its something that can be done here.
what is it? i don't know. but cats on the prowl. funny little tom town.
02 August 2007
this is my nephew, who came up to visit with his cousins and siblings to have a bonfire cookout in the backyard. it was their first camping experience, and i'm glad they got to experience the wildlife of st. catharines. ryan, pictured, stepped out of the safari for bit though, and came up to look at some books. he pulled out the collected poems of wilfrid laurier and began finger painting dactyls with the saliva of gob stoppers. the book, which is actually a compendium of papers stuffed in a manufactured envelope, a jack-daw, formally, fluttered about the room, thrilled. it crash landed on a northrop frye text, cowering beneath a clown mask, shivering in the slumbers of exaggerated smiles. ryan saw through the ruse and fed papers and open-tipped markers down the stairs, that both might meet each other as needs dictate.
he turned, on cue, and with an ironic twang sang to me the proletariat theme-song of youth, 'i'm a big kid now.'
here is another photo of him and his sister, in leopard-skin glory, just before bed.