16 August 2007

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.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Good piece... I know it's some months ago, but I was just browsing around from link to link... Good wishes, TR