One Night in the Big City: Part 1 (The Long-Awaited Sequel to Part 2)

My Friends,
   Apologies in advance cause this is a long one.  Here goes…  

   As the title implies I spent yesterday afternoon and evening in Toronto visiting my younger brother who was in from Montreal.  Leaving Union Station and making my way north on Bay St. as I am wont to do upon arrival in the city, an advertisement caught my eye:

“The official tapwater of Toronto?”  I automatically assumed the worst: that most precious of utilities, tapwater, was now being branded and therefore privatized.  And while the ad mentioned that the t.eau (ya know, like T.O. … its a homonym) is free I resigned myself to the thought that they would eventually jack up the price and we would be paying exorbitant fees for what was once more or less free.
   Thankfully, I did a little bit of homework before going on a rant about the corporate plutocracy we live in and found out that the water and its “ownership” has not changed, just the name.  Apparently its an effort by “Toronto-based social change agency,” Manifest Communications to promote Toronto tapwater.  I suppose that’s a worthwhile goal but something tells me that running water is an idea that sells itself and doesn’t need promoting.  However, this concept of a “social change agency” seems very interesting to me and could be arguably put to better use than making running water the drink of choice for pretentious urbanites.  (Every Torontonian city-dweller in the world is already inclined to think that their city is the best city EVAR, so should we really enable them to boast of their tapwater as well?). 
   I think that social change agencies, insofar as they seek to affect people’s perceptions, could be at the heart of some of the positive changes that this world needs.  Change cannot happen without being accompanied, and likely preceded by new awareness and new ways of thinking.  So I think I will do a little more research into what the social change industry is all about and hopefully have more to report at a later date.

   This slogan caught my eye in Dundas Square, as it was emblazoned on the Nike t-shirt of this little fat kid who had probably never won anything in his life (I can say that ’cause I used to be a little fat kid).  Really Nike? Really?

Now Nike has had some interesting slogans during its tenure which have afforded me various degrees of motivation.  Let’s take a look at a couple of classics before getting back to this particular one.

The Good: “Just Do It”
   I have always liked this one because it is simple and catchy.  However it is vague enough to be applicable to any undertaking you may wary of attempting.  Don’t feel like going for a run in the morning? JUST DO IT!! Don’t want to get off the couch and find a job? JUST DO IT!! That guy in the van says he has some free candy back at his house?  JUST DO IT!!  In truth, I find “Do It, Faggot!” more motivational and lulzy but good luck trying to mass-market that slogan in these politically-correct times.

The Bad: “Can You Say Kick Some Butt?”
  If memory serves, this gem of a slogan came to prominence briefly in the early 90’s.  Back then I thought it was the coolest thing going.  I even had a tracksuit with this plastered on the top AND the bottom so that passersby would know that I was one little fat fuck who most def could say “kick some butt” even if I couldn’t actually, ya know… kick any butt.  However, not all slogans are created equal, and this one hasn’t aged well.  I think it is because of the inherent redundancy in it; if one can read the slogan in the first place they can most likely say the words in it (unless they are mute, because fuck you, mute people).  It’s akin to me typing, “Can you read this sentence?”  All it serves to do is establish that we can read what we are reading.  Well done, Nike; colour me motivated. 
   I would probably only wear this slogan ironically now, if I was the kind of pretentious fuck inclined to wear things ironically.  Interestingly, I couldn’t find an image of this slogan on google.  Some things are best buried forever I suppose.

The Ugly: “I Will Step On You To Win”
   Threats of violence to achieve victory are perhaps not the road we want to go down.  I understand that they are trying to convey the passion of fierce competition but when does it go too far?  In a few years I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a t-shirt that said, “I WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE DICK TO WIN,” or “I WILL HEADBUTT YOU WHILE THE REF IS NOT LOOKING TO WIN,” or even “I WILL SEXUALLY ASSAULT YOU IN AN AGGRAVATED MANNER TO WIN.” 
   Thankfully, we are not yet at the point where rape during a sporting event is a 1-minute minor infraction.  But for the sake of argument, let us take stepping on the opponent to its logical end.  First, it presupposes that you are going to bring your opponent to the ground to make easier the job of stepping on him.  In some sports it is indeed required to bring an opponent to the ground, so we can assume that the initial takedown is fair play.  However, the “stepping on” part is still problematic because these sports typically require specialty footwear like cleats which would perforate the back or face of those unlucky enough to situate themselves in oppostion to me and mymymymymy boogie shoes.
   Even worse, what about hockey players? Forget perforations, we would have parts of people’s faces littering the ice.  It is for that reason that “I Will Step on You to Win” is a sentiment I can not cosign.

Nancy Sinatra has no such qualms

Talking to a Girl at the Bar is Easy by Comparison…
   How do we know when someone is homeless, or at least a beggar?  Ratty clothes? Unshaven? Toting a cart of some kind, the contents of which are covered with a tarp?  Now think real hard for a second; if you saw someone in the city who satisfied these requirements would you be a 100% certain they were poverty-stricken?  In most cases it wouldn’t matter but I found myself needing to ask a homeless person some advice yesterday and I didn’t want to just make the assumption that he was homeless when he could have just been one of those billionaires that dons rags to mingle with the common folk out in front of Tim Hortons.
   Basically, it all started with my trip around the world next month.  I was thinking that I wouldn’t mind picking up a puppy somewhere along the way as a travelling companion.  Kind of like the Lone Wanderer in Fallout 3 or even Mad Max.

Pretty much exactly how I envision my trip

The problem is that being essentially homeless for 6 months I don’t know that I will have the ability to care for an animal.  And so it was, this thought was lurking in the recesses of my mind when I happened upon the aforementioned homeless-looking man in front of Tim Hortons in the vicinity of Front St. and Blue Jay Way.  He was holding a leash to which was tethered a beautiful adolescent husky.  More than that, the husky looked healthy and not malnourished.  I wanted to strike up a conversation with the dude about how he kept his dog in such good health despite being homeless and all, but that’s a pretty difficult conversation to strike up.
   For one, I like to approach people with positive assumptions. (i.e. “That’s nice of you taking your little brother out to the playground.”  “Oh, he’s not my brother, he’s my son”  …that kind of silver-tongued bullshit).  Even if you are wrong they will be flattered.  Approaching people with negative assumptions is a conversation ender and homelessness is a pretty negative assumption to make.  So I kept staring at the dog and making eye-contact with him hoping beyond hope that he would start the conversation by asking me for money, (they do that from time to time I hear) so that having my assumption proven I could proceed to hand over some change in exchange for some nuggets of pet care wisdom.
   But the dude refused to play ball.  We kept up this charade of mutual coyness for a minute or two until our dreamy gazing was interrupted by an Asian dude coming out of the Tim Hortons.  The homeless man held out his palm to the Asian guy immediately causing me to get jealous; “Was I not good enough?”  “Did it not look like I had money to spare?”  “Did this homeless guy have the yellow-fever?” However, the Asian dude proceeded to grab the dog’s leash and walk away leaving the homeless guy to pack up his stuff and shamble on.  I reasoned that the Asian guy tossed the homeless guy some skrilla (money) for his dog-watching services while he went in for coffee.  Being a dutiful employee the homeless man must have felt it unbecoming to pester me for money while he was on the clock.
   I’m not sure if there was a lesson here.  There certainly isn’t one about judging books by their covers: my initial assumption regarding his dereliction was accurate.  And I would hope the lesson isn’t that you can pay homeless people to do anything.  However,  the possible lesson in this instance is but a trifle to the real issue: I still don’t know how I will take care of a pet once I am in transient mode.  I may have to figure this one out for myself.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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