Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Spacing Magazine, Subway Buttons, Busking and the "Public Space Invaders" Short Film Festival

Spacing is an Accordion City magazine about its “urban landscape”. Spacing’s

motto is “Whose space is public space?”, an apt question in light of

the privatization of what was once public space. Consider the

joylessness of the not-really-public Dundas Square (complete with

security guards) or the blandness at Islington or Finch stations and

compare it to the family-friendly bustle of Greektown, Bloor West

Village and the Beaches or the crazy-quilt fun of my own stomping

grounds of Queen Street West, College West and Chinatown.

[via BoingBoing] Spacing has produced subway station buttons that reproduce the look of each station’s wall

tiling. I am pleased to report that the two subway stations that I use

are represented in their sample graphic:

Photo: 'Spacing' magazine's subway buttons.

Spacing’s web site also has a photo essay of the tiles of Accordion City’s subway stations.

The current issue of Spacing features photos from photobloggers from Accordion City:

Ryan Bigge, who interviewed me for the Globe and Mail a little while back, contributed some writing for the issue.

Also on Spacing’s web site: a topic that’s near and dear to my heart: busking!

I wish I’d been featured, but I haven’t busked in the past few months.

An excerpt, which covers how differently buskers are perceived in

Europe and North America:

In Europe buskers are so well respected that tour guides often show

them off to their passengers. Studebaker, who has taken his show on the

road a number of times, has witnessed the difference, and the

excitement in his voice gets even more hyper when he is asked about the

response overseas. “If you date a girl in Europe and she takes you home

her mom would say, ‘cool, he’s got a good job.’ Here it’s more like,

‘what, he’s a bum?’” Yet, most buskers are not homeless, rather they

are determined, struggling artists who are on the streets to make money

doing what they love, performing their chosen art for an audience.


lack of admiration for buskers is not always the audience’s fault

either. The ratio of good artists to bad is not always favourable. For

every Michael McTaggart (better known as Subway Elvis, an Elvis

impersonator from Tennessee who played on TTC property in the 1970s

before it was legal to do so), Jeff Burke (a 26-year veteran of the

bassoon who plays covers of Nirvana and Black Sabbath in subway

stations and performs with bands from jazz to world-beat to hip-hop),

and Graeme Kirkland (the legendary jazz drummer who used to draw crowds

playing buckets outside the Rivoli) there are the guys who clink toy

xylophones and acoustic guitar players who play bad renditions of Bob

Dylan or The Beatles with no emotion whatsoever. Still, without any

buskers in our public spaces the only free outdoor performers we would

see would be those who are hired to play on that big slab of concrete

at Yonge and Dundas. We would only be able to see “acceptable” forms of

entertainment and, the bottom line is, entertainment in our public

spaces would be owned by private interests.

My aunt from the Philippines used to say that she’d cover her face if

she ever saw me busing on the street until I explained to her just how

far a goofy little hobby can take you. Even my parents like to brag to

their friends: (a) our son’s in computers! and (b) he plays accordion

on the street! And people like him!

Graphic: Public Space Invaders logo.

[via Torontoist] Tonight, Spacing is hosting an event at the Drake Hotel called “Public Space Invaders”. It’s a festival of “short films focused on transit, public art installations, monster

homes, surveillance cameras, urban exploration and city life in public

space.” The doors open at 8:00 p.m., films start at 8:30. Admission is an el-cheapo sliding scale of $5 – 10.

2 replies on “Spacing Magazine, Subway Buttons, Busking and the "Public Space Invaders" Short Film Festival”

Matt and the buttons were also featured in the saturday National Post Toronto section, pg TO4. Sorry I haven’t found the online link.

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