Yesterday I left the city without leaving Toronto.
The Greater Toronto Area – the acronym of which I just can’t get over – is cut through by a series of ravines which have somehow been left alone just north of the downtown area, presumably because they would be too expensive to level out and build on (Toronto seems to be ruthlessly pro-development, they’re building new shit everywhere).
I took the subway up to Davisville station, walked through Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, which is indeed quite pleasant, entered Moore Park Ravine, and immediately forgot that I was in the middle of a city of 4 million people. Those ravines are simply fantastic: crooked little streams snaking between boulders, with cliffs on either side tall enough to block out all noise from the city. Once in a while you’ll walk under an overpass or a railway bridge so huge it makes you dizzy, and momentarily remember where you are.
My route took me through Moore Park Ravine to Don Valley Brickworks, an old quarry converted into a small natural reserve, into Park Drive Ravine, looping back across Mt. Pleasant Road through the Vale of Avoca Ravine up to St. Claire metro station. The whole walk took well over 3 hours and left me both rejuvinated and exhausted.
In the evening, I went to an extremely cheap grill party on the 23rd floor roof deck of my hostel (a student apartment complex in downtown Toronto which serves as a cheap hotel over the summer) where hotel guests could eat as much as they wanted for an astonishing $3. The food was pure junk, but at that price I would be an asshole to complain – plus, they served Salt & Vinegar crisps which are all but impossible to obtain in Denmark, so all else was forgiven.
The weather reports here have been eyebrow-raisingly pessimistic all week, reporting cloudiness, rain, or thunder every day despite constant scorching sunlight. I decided to spend my Friday in the Downtown area and check out some of the sights in Old York, such as St. Lawrence Market, St. James Cathedral, and the old post office.
My first indication that I had made a mistake when I got dressed was an oddly leering comment from a couple of random idlers on my way to St. Lawrence Market, something about a “black block” and some trouble last week. I didn’t at first know what they were talking about, so I just smiled and waved them off. A few paces down the street I realised they were talking about the riots during the G20 summit in Toronto last week – I was wearing a t-shirt with the word “anarchy” on it.
In Copenhagen, this t-shirt means very nearly nothing. People will notice my general appearance (no piercings or tattoos, generally well groomed and well dressed) and assume I’m either being ironic or that I have no idea what anarchy even means. Neither is true as a matter of fact, I happen to think anarchy would be a splendid form of (no) government, if it were at all possible to establish with our current crop of humans, which unfortunately it is not – the behaviour of so-called “anarchists” at events like G20 are more than adequate proof of that.
As anarchy is clearly not practical, I’ll happily settle for social democracy; I certainly wouldn’t start destroying storefronts and throwing rocks at the police in futile and misguided attempts to bring down a system that has served us as well as anything probably will for the foreseeable future. I’m an anarchist in the same way I’m a pacifist – it’s beautiful in theory, but unfeasible to put into practice.
Unfortunately that seems to be quite a bit more nuance than people can be expected to infer out of a t-shirt. I shrugged off the initial comments, though they did make me feel somewhat uncomfortable with my own choice of clothes for a while, but then an hour or so later, after enjoying a fairly nice iced vanilla latte from Starbucks in St. James Park, a fat drunk bum on Trinity Square groped me and tried to throw me into a fountain after making fun of that goddamn shirt.
It was intensely unpleasant, but it could’ve been much worse. Good thing he was drunk, slow, and stupid so I managed to stand my ground and dislodge myself from the asshole, because I doubt my precious camera would’ve survived a dip in the powerfully chlorinated water.
Once I’ve wrapped things up here, I’m heading straight back to the hotel to change my shirt. I’m struggling to focus on the beautiful old buildings and the atmospheric places I’ve visited today instead of the bullshit I’ve had to deal with because of my t-shirt, but I fear my Friday has been irrevocably tainted by ignorance.I realise this must seem like a bit of an overreaction, but I’m not used to anything remotely like this, and everything I’ve experienced of Canada so far has been so nice as to make me completely drop my guard.
It’s just a fucking t-shirt.