F 1 D 0 -- 02 10 32 at -4 00

Selling their souls.

I suppose watching all of the cute costumes
tonight that I should think about those who
I've recently seen selling their souls.

It isn't a small group of children with one
mom staying behind and another mom walking
with the group shout "Trick er Treat" that
I'm thinking about.

I was taking Tim home one night. The subway
station closest to where he lives is Lansdowne.

This used to be a part of town where you
could rent a place for less money each month.
It still is.

But now, I see lots of commerce outside the
station. 

Women stand around, making eye contact
with the men who pass. They ask each man, 
"Wanna date, honey?"  

And there are boys, certainly not men, all dressed
in uniform. They wear a grey sweat shirt, with hoods.
And their blue jeans worn so the crotch of the pants
lines up with their knees. 

One guy runs up to another, and shouts, 
"Whasssup?" and the boy he's talking to
is tall and black.  He's not running, but
walks away from the white guy with tall
strides. He looks back, and says, "You 
smell like pork!"

"I'm not a cop, man, I swear! I just need
some shti, and nobody's selling! I swear!
I swear!" Now the two of them are pacing
towards the intersection.

He looked just like an undercover cop to
me, actually. It was like he was right out of
some television show. In fact, even the
language sounded contrived, as if out of
a television script.

Everyone is clearly freezing. Part of this
culture is clearly to leave your winter 
wear at home. 

The women out here sell their bodies for
money, just so they can buy the drugs. The
boys out here far outnumber the girls, are
visibly here for the drugs.

We hear about racial profiling. Where is the
dress profiling? Where are the police, really?

I shouldn't be so prejudiced, I suppose. All
of these people are just trying to make some
money. This one intersection has perhaps 10 males
and 3 females, all trying to just make a living.

Or, in this particular case, maybe a Dying. I
feel they've successfully given their souls away.

Tim, as a kid, while he sees this daily, is immune for 
now. The women will leave him alone, and the men can see 
he has no cash, and won't bother him.

My problem is that kids can learn about this
by watching each day, each night.

There used to be a Beaver Lumber store here. But
all of the Beavers closed up, some of them selling
to Home Hardware. Aikenhead Hardware is gone as well.

It seems that The Home Depot has changed how people
shop for building supplies. 

Now there is a Value Village there. Cindy won't
shop there, no matter what. She associates that 
store with poverty.  Me? I see no reason to buy
something new unless it makes it better. A lot
of the time I feel so much better about a product
knowing I didn't invest much in it.

So we have a picture. So far: Street corner, 
Bloor West and Lansdowne Avenues. Thirteen lost
souls, trying to make money. A subway entrance. 
A Value Village on a big parking lot.

The Bank of Montreal still has a branch here. 
There is a Coffee Time donut shop across the
street. Both of these are open 24 hours, and
have poor people coming in, just to get out of
the cold for a while. 

If we proceed westbound on Bloor, we find a lot
of interesting shops. This is a very Islam part
of Toronto. There is a converted school, which
is now used as Mosque and Community Centre. Across
the street they have an outreach office, that is,
a store front where people can pick up literature
and learn about the faith, the politics, the food.

Just off of the main streets here are a gridwork
of residential streets. Normal nice people live
in them, actually. Even a starter home downtown is
worth $175,000 in the worst condition. So nice people,
mostly young families are in the homes.

Oh, not all of them. Some of the places are rented
out, and you can spot these in a second. They have
perhaps six tenants, one for each room in the house.
The front yard has broken bits from the garbage which
was torn apart by someone or something. Since it isn't
anyone's job to clean it up, nobody will. There is
a sofa on the porch.  Two people stare at me as I 
ride by, smoking slowly. They throw the butts into
beer cans.

There are places to drink here. Not fancy taverns,
to be sure. If they were pretty, nobody around here
would come in, and certainly people don't visit this
area from outside.

Ah, except those who are looking for women on the
street, or boys selling drugs. 

Lots of people have a certain way of driving by slowly.
Perhaps they hope to see a glimpse of a girl and her
pimp.  Not entirely satisfied, they can visit one of
the two stripping establishments. 

The House of Lancaster is called "The House of 
Lung Cancer" by those who live nearby. You can
see the wafts of smoke every time someone comes
or goes. A well dressed man is waiting inside 
the front door. He's missing a tooth.

Club Paradise has just as much smoke, I'd imagine.
Maybe the paradise has to do with the ultra
violet lights inside. The men all have white
shirts which seem to glow. 

Both of these places charge the women who work
there 20.00 for the priviledge of selling the
dances which last the duration of a song. About
three minutes. And both of these places sell a
beer for only 5.75, and expect you to keep drinking
during your visit there.

Remember I told you about the young families
who own starter homes here? They must *love*
these two joints.  They seem full, and there
is nowhere to park on the street. 

Do you think I hate this neighbourhood?
Well, there is a lot to like about it.

Every block has one or two vegetable stores.
Almost every block has a Halal Butcher, where
you can get the Islam equivalent of Kosher Meat.

There are lots of convenience stores. These have
their windows entirely papered with ads for cheap
calling cards. "Long Distance, only 2c a minutes 
across North America!!" "No Connection Fee!" "No
Hidden Charges." Yah, yah, yah.  I love these cards,
but wished they played fair. Most of them are just
like the other things along this street. Without a
soul. So you dial the numbers, and only get half
the promised time. You call customer service, and
he tells you he's not going to do anything for you.
Fooey.

Druggies aren't the only pedestrians here. Everyone
walks around. In fact, you can spot the people here
for a living. They don't walk. They stand there and
just stare at you, look through you. The normal folk
are buying pizza, picking up groceries, drinking
coffee, and living here. It is a place where people
actually live. I like that.

And in spite of all of my complaining, I'm 
wondering if this area would be so inviting
for me in a positive way, if it didn't have
the negative things. 

Dollar stores seem to flourish where money is bad.

Now I find that a funny thought, now that I've typed
it for you. Drug sellers make a fortune. Street women
make good money as well. Why should they love the dollar
stores?

I don't know, but it's true. 

The name is wrong for most of them. As a rule, they
just do dry goods for under 5.00; and that's a good
thing. Why pay a lot for candles when you can get them
for less?  Often the selection in a dollar store excels
other gift shops.

I will say this, mind you.  IKEA sells candles, and
they seem to really be dripless. Cheap candles do burn
differently.

This zone I'm describing is between Dufferin and Lansdowne
stations. If we go west of Lansdowne, we go under a bridge,
and find *nobody*. Oh, there are places to get your car
fixed, but you don't see people walking around. And if we
go east of Dufferin, there are more dollar stores, more
donut places, and no more women on the street. Yes, there
are still people wearing sweat clothes. Maybe they have a
relationship with the donut places.

This area used to have a different make up, years ago.

When I was young, I grew up near Dufferin, close to
Queen Street. This was Parkdale. Ok, that was where
the bad zone was in the city at the time.

But bad or not, Dufferin has schools along its length.
I went to Alexander Muir School, south of Dundas. At
Bloor, we have Bloor Collegiate, and four other schools.
Close together. How close? Their school yards open onto
one another.

I'm irritated that this school area is primarily
a place where people sell their souls, and pass it
on to a new generation. I wish low income residences
didn't invite this bad influence all of the time.

That's all I know.