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.