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.
tiling. I am pleased to report that the two subway stations that I use
are represented in their sample graphic:
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:
- Jonathan Day-Reiner (groundglass.ca)
- Sam Javanrouh (Daily Dose of Imagery)
- Matt O’Sullivan (thenarrative.net),
- Davin Risk (lowresolution.com)
- Rannie Turingan (photojunkie.ca)
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!
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.