Dr. David says he's over it: price tags put on parking spaces, mini coopers at thirteen grand, bras for a buck or two hanging off of swingset stands.
The Great Glebe is on sale. Ambam and Jojo join Wookie for early strolls through pedestrian traffic down uptight streets into huckster herds galore, howling "what a haggle, what a steal!" for four dollar dogs hot off the grill and ritzy serves of lemoned water - that's another toonie or two to go. the bank's an all in a day type deal this morn - feisty moods, sweaty and sweet, mr. alan's shopping in the hood.
free-thinking royals on fifth ave. balancing civic expression and freedom of speech with signs that read :: [ "No matter where you're from, you're welcome in Canada," ] ... for $25. Inclusion ain't cheap. bourgeoisie at a price - fedoras for fifty bones - "Google it, you'll see what I mean," they say, to dappers on the streets of Bytown who wiggle through dress codes for cheaper than this. there's a Biltmore at home, anyways. on second ave. "it costs $0.50," for the book, but "$0.25" is the highest she can go - the eyes roll over, a sigh lights the air and a muttered "fine" fills the merchant's mouth. it's just the beginning of the day. a stroll turns into storm on clemow ave. "those books are one dollar," barks the elderly and so "thank you" I reply, most patient as possible, uninterested in her three copies of angels & demons, seeking some Scott instead. "Didn't you take one?" the old one demands in motivating language and peeking into my pockets, // literal diplomacy at its finest for an accused book thief. And so a head tilt protrudes and with disbelief, a "come on" is blurted out and silence ensues.
it's nine in the morning and my city's up on hangers - posters from Warsaw - what is their story? "So like, my sister, went on like, this theatre exchange kind of thing or whatever in Poland a couple of years ago and brought these back. Want 'em?" contemplating their being put to good use, and with neighbours stepping on these Reeboks, toothless walks by an Ashbury sweater and recounts Peter puking in the toilet and passing out with his pants down, an unfit recap for the girls. a glare is shared, but it means nothing around here. the Great Glebe Garage Sale:
where grandiloquent is a metaphor for loose change.
Images courtesy of Lukasz Lukaszek
Synchronicity: When an unnoticed occurrence begins to manifest within the backdrop of your day-to-day. You become conscious of the trend - hanging in the blind spot - only discerned through a series of vaguely causal chains. And then suddenly... it is everywhere.
Graffiti art in Ottawa is the ruffled feather of a beautiful bird, semi-migratory and ethically hawkish. It can be at times intelligible, intolerable, unconventional, profitable, political, and for those who take to the streets with running shoes and aerosol cans, liberating.
Who are these composers, writers, vandals? They leave teardrops and halos, horns and crosses. They sign their names in an indecipherable fashion to the untrained eye. They run with cliques so influence, geography, and prestige can be flaunted.
AGNS, RACER, PAT BUCK, MARO, MOPES, BUSTA,
NESPA, FALL DOWN, DRIPPING SOUL, MYRAGE,
BOSKO. NFNC, SKC, OMB, & 925.
Artists, outlaws, acclaimed citizens.
At all hours traversing this town, seeking out shadows and fresh canvas. The usual places are known to all, spots are first come, first serve, and generally recyclable. Most are part of groups sharing tags, territory, and often personal ties.
They start young, having grown up in local burrows watching construction and gentrification redefine municipal lines. There is a formative drive to see their name, their art, up on the Ottawa forum. Many who start tagging are a part of, or have friends who are involved with, the hip hop community. The music, dancing, drugs, and rhetoric highlight anti-authoritarian motives, but unpermitted street art can be about more than defacement.
Breaking the rules is frequently inherent when starting out, though Ottawa does host several open spaces (Tech Wall and the infamous HOP). Even here, a certain code-of-conduct is instructed via interaction. Unspoken, there is no rule book for tagging, but respect plays an integral role. Don’t paint over what you can’t improve; and don’t get caught.
All real estate follows a central rule. Location. Ottawa offers much in terms of architecture and unique (if not bizarre) district planning. Yet the dismal lacklustre of dirty concrete echoes the sentiment that even the grimiest canvas could look better splayed out and bespattered. Artists aforementioned claim that their initiation came by dropping their autograph anonymously among their communities and daily stomping grounds. A form of community expression, many spectators would agree it improves the scenery.
Prestige comes with productivity and skill, with renown given for their reach, upkeep, and area saturation. Though first attempts seem heinously manufactured, eventually each writer discovers a voice, sometimes even their own. Note: Emulation is flirtatious, but imitation can be rejected despite naive intention.
A seasoned artist will eventually find themselves settling for a font or iconography over longer periods of time. Rehearsal develops signatures, habits that others can recognize no matter the authorial experimentation. With practice and access to preferred caps/paint, truly resplendent pieces have graced this city in hidden corners, forgotten by urbanity and artist alike. Masterpieces charming masses; no love for the AKA.
As a matter of course, independent business owners and locals in-the-know have begun to identify the value of such capabilities. Artisans who have done nothing but pay for the privilege of paint, are now bought out to plaster beauty. Painters can find themselves offered lucrative contracts to proffer their work with the community. The projects are large-scale and regularly undervalued, but it serves to melt the puzzle-piece outline that envelopes so many turn-over locations.
In the same breath, the city will offer substantial remuneration to pre-certified artists for “public works”. A mural doled out on tax monies in the support of marginalized groups is recouped from $600 tickets given to people spending their below-LICO paychecks on spray paint and fines.
Not all graffiti is community driven. Recollections are blemished by indignant curses, slurs, and grossly misconstrued genitalia. Unfortunately, in recent memory this includes instances of fear-mongering, racial degradation, and hate speech.
Graffiti is a public echo, which re-beats the triggered pulse of the community. It carries political weight, whether intentional or not. Our society demands accountability for incitement towards hate, but can often seek to destroy the means of communication in the process. These phlegms of rage do not reflect who we are, nor the ones who deal in premeditated visions.
This medium has prevailed for millennia due to the passion of cast-aside individuals who risk livelihood, and at times, freedom to offer the rest of us emotions too big for canvas. They who are chased down, tackled, charged, pilloried, and punished for the tenacity to share their talents. Their work rarely lasts longer than that first snowfall, and the only glory that can be reveled in belongs to a pseudonym and the city to which it belongs. For those who notice their shifting backdrop, respect is a small recompense.
// images by Bust It Away Photography
I shop differently than I used to. I also don't pay for many things anymore. I guess knowing of the incredible treasures to be found in the garbage can lead to that real quick.
I went through a phase once of spending lots of money on wellness shit and organic food. I was making a fair bit of money during this time so it worked. Then life happened, I became frugal (raiding clearance sections ayyy), and began to spend less and less. Later I spent all my money on yoga and travel. Money became a limited resource. Lucky for me, some great souls spoke of dumpster diving in a way that gave me the confidence to try it. And so I did, and my first night at it I pulled out three full boxes of organic produce in seconds (high score yo). It’s kind of a super power. Just last night I was walking down Bronson and found a great Columbia sleeping bag in some sidewalk garbage bin which I then slept in that same night
“That's nice”, you say. Indeed it is. Not worrying about money as much has done wonders. Being able to travel almost money-less was a magical experience. I don’t pay for food very often anymore (at least when I have time to cook, lately that’s been a challenge). My line of work in food waste recovery and redistribution on campuses helps out a fair bit when times get tough, but that aside, I know the ways.
Consider this: walking down the produce section, you notice many a blemish on assorted sections of produce. People seem to be averse to said blemishes, so there is a fair expectation that they may be thrown away. So, all those apples and tomatoes are basically garbage that hasn’t made its way to the compactor yet. But wait! See all those other shiny pristine pieces of granny smiths about? Imagine a third or so will be tossed, too. Now stop imagining and understand that a third of those grannies (or some other significant amount) will be tossed as well. Likewise for all the other produce. And those cosmetics. And the packaged food items. And meat and dairy and bread. Basically, a lot of it will end up in the garbage, compacted or recoverable in the bags in the dumpster (heheh).
This is what I see in grocery stores. I see inevitable waste (I see other things, too). And then I go around back when the sun sets and it’s all right there. And I can have it. Only this time I don’t have to pay for it. And I get a workout out of it (diving is quite laborious, let me tell you). It's a predictable series of events happening every day in almost every food selling establishment. And it makes me gag. I don’t need that many containers of yogurt, or 20 different bottles of assorted supplements and herb powders in capsule form. Or eye shadow. A bunch of kale, some root veggies and a loaf of bread will do me well. Think broccoli is scary? Imagine having to decide whether to drag two dozen heads back home or take one and accept that it will be wasted. You get over it pretty quick though; you’d be dead before you can carry that much home.
Maybe they should give it away or something. Maybe to their employees. Could be a thing to try.
// image by Rohit Anand