Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Up North

To a new visitor, Toronto's a mass of contradiction.  Victorian semis you'd more likely encounter in some demure English seaside town rub shoulders with the broad, blocky avenues of a mid-western city.  At the end of the leafy, Arts & Crafts street where you're staying, a couple of prostitutes still in their teens loiter by the 7-Eleven.  Convenience stores at corners, selling a random & paltry assortment of groceries, are decked out with gorgeous arrays of plants for sale, while down the block the medical marijuana dispensaries do a brisk trade.  Portugese bakeries and houses adorned with tiles of saints neighbor hipster coffee bars, upscale boutiques, and stores that sell Brazilian bikinis. You'll be struck by the kindness & unaffected friendliness of residents, and get a feel for the city's rich diversity.  You'll see many people sleeping rough. Tower blocks that litter the landscape show scant regard for urban design & you feel you might be in some far-flung Asian boom town.  It's hard to wrap your head around this place! It defies stereotype.

In the afternoon we walked along Jarvis Street, where clusters of homeless were gathered on the sidewalks. A man ran screaming past the Hand of God shelter, and farther along, a hooker in a hurry - giant platform shoes, a white floppy hat and shorts - rushed a much shorter customer down a side street & through a doorway.  The seams of her stockings were askew, and looked like maybe they were inked on bare legs.

Farther along, we turned a corner onto Yonge-Dundas Square, a gray fortress teeming with reptiles..

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