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Humour in pharmaceuticals

purgodanFake News Break:
Thieves broke into a drugstore and stole several cases cases of Purg-odan. Police believe they mistook the purgative for the much sought-after street drug Percodan.

The search for suspects will focus on porta-potties and public washrooms.

Merchants of Green Coffee

Thanks for the tip, Pamela! Your favourite coffeehouse is probably ours too, now that we know about it. I took a picture of your favourite cat Luna.  She’s in the slide show.

The first slides introduce the neighbourhood, just north of Queen East and right alongside the DVP. Joel Weeks Park is relatively new and contains some nice little animal sculptures. The vicinity around the Merchant of Green Coffee is interesting enough to rate a post of its own.

It was love at first sight when we entered the coffeehouse. Great old factory ambience, big, strong beams and industrial strength flooring. Relaxed, comfortable, airy and spacious.

Then, the coffee! Fresh roasted this morning. Each cup custom ground and brewed. Our two cups were given to us in a carafe. When I went to add our usual milk, a customer said, “It’s worthwhile to try the coffee first, before you put anything in it”. I took the advice and Danica and I were VERY pleased with the smooth, full-bodied flavour of the Costa Rican brew we’d chosen. Plain and simple, these people know coffee. My cup was the best I’ve ever tasted and the price was only $3.00.

We split a fresh-baked pumpkin muffin in an attempt to improve on perfection. I think we succeeded. Obviously, we will return often to the Merchants of Green Coffee and we’ll be bringing friends. It’s within easy reach by bicycle, too. We can take the Lakeshore/Don Valley cycle paths and carry our bikes up the stairs to Queens Street. Wonderful find!

Luna, BTW, is the coffeehouse cat. She is a good mouser. We also met and chatted with Charles, an amiable craftsman with space in the building. Among other things he makes medieval swords and weapons … good ones, actually used by enthusiasts to recreate the old fighting techniques. Oh, and the Jam Factory part of the name that you may have noticed in the slides? The piano on the 2nd floor is a hint. It’s that kind of jamming, not the jams and jellies kind. The big, open space is also used for scheduled life drawing classes.

More info here.

Artist Gordon “Kit” Thorne


Gordon “Kit” Thorne was a mentor to my mother, painter Helen Andersen.

It is useful to place pieces of family history online. Others searching for additions to their family trees may find something that fills in blanks. So it was with my mentions of Kit. An email arrived asking to use some photos from my blog. Of course that was fine with me and I thought I could do more.

Out came the albums and I found 3 more pictures of Kit, dating from around 1960. I sent them off to Kit’s relative and decided to post one here, too. The original photo was small and the focus is soft, but that was typical of the drugstore-developed snaps we made back then.

what-me-worry-200I found this photo of young Bill Andersen nearby in the album. I was probably 13 or 14 when both photos were taken. The bolo tie may have been a gift from Kit, who favoured them. Mine had a cowboy boot embossed on it, I see. I don’t remember wearing it anywhere.

The slightly stunned expression is natural. I had not discovered psychedelics yet.

Back to Kit. His dear wife Katharine died young and heart-broken Gordon Thorne folded her nickname into his own, keeping her close forever.

What that object is behind him, I have no idea. Some industrial relic. It is likely that he and Helen were out sketching that day, using the decaying buildings and old machinery as subject matter. Kit liked such subjects and other down-to-earth scenes. Fishing boats and construction equipment figure largely in many of my mother’s pictures from this period. Kit’s influence, no doubt.

Some small but charming watercolours by Kit were among my mother’s possessions that came to us after her death. We framed them and they hang with Helen’s work on our walls. Old friends, inseparable.

Out in the Beach Hill bush

The Williamson Park ravine is green enough to be pleasant, but not yet so overgrown that it’s dark and buggy. I really like the natural state of the paths through here. It recalls the days when I was a kid, playing in the bush. More fun than a tended park. Much better.

It seems quiet down there, but there’s plenty of drama. Look at the size of some of the downed trees. Many of them block the path… recent falls. Pathways have been made by use, but they are muddy in places. Bridges have been improvised with fallen timbers or old planks. Watch your balance!

Talk about living on the edge. Some very precarious-looking structures prop up garden gazebos and decks along the top rim.

Locals have made trails and even log stairs and stepping stones, so access is easier than it would be in a real bush, but the feel is there. We should have more spaces like this in the city. Maybe we do, and I just don’t know about them.

Neighbourhood markings

Today’s walk began with the discovery that we have a budding Franz Kline in our local tagger pool. His markings mock the post office’s attempt to defeat graffiti defacers by defacing themselves first.


The rest of the tags in the picture are within 20 metres of that post box. Better weather seems to bring out the nocturnal spray cans.

Local business associations organize in their marking efforts, hopefully branding street signs to lure tourist dollars.


Publicly sanctioned murals are another attempt to define neighbourhoods. This one is on the Beach Hill GO train underpass. The theory is that taggers will not deface the work of street artists they respect. Sometimes it seems true for a while, but not always and not for long.


My walk took me through the local ravine and inspired enough photos for a slide show (above), but I spotted a plaque there, that I’d never noticed before. Another marking.


The white stuff may have been left by chalk or by birds, leaving the words hard to read, so here they are:

In memory of William Williamson (1857 – 1949) manufacturer, builder, alderman and Justice of the Peace who contributed much to the life of the City.

This land was donated by his family.

To come full circle, and back to the first kind of markings, I observe that stealthy autographeurs are well aware of silos of authority that they can use to their advantage. Some surfaces will last longer than others. Here’s a prize example … an almost immortal art surface … because city clean-up crews have no jurisdiction over railway lands.


Hydro poles are also good for long tag life. The city doesn’t clean them and Toronto Hydro leaves them alone. Stores, on the other hand, are short-life because shopkeepers are fined if they don’t remove graffiti quickly.


Tokyo is a pure opportunist. He’ll take his place on a public message board, a hydro pole or roadside retaining wall. He’s a hard worker, too. If city crews scrub him and a location is highly visible, Tokyo will be back, PDQ.

Oface is still busy around here, but he must be getting pretty long in the tooth. A new guy, JACK, has appeared but “Jack”? Nobody is using “Snot” or “Puke” or “Wartz” or “Weasel”. Just “Jack”? I don’t see a big future for him.

Unfinished business

It would be a shame not to share the photos we were blithely shooting the other day at The Textile Museum, completely unaware that pictures were verboten for this show.

The point of the show is that many very well-known artists of the 20th century were active participants in textile design.

The last couple of shots were legal, as all photography usually is at the museum if no flash is used. Only the travelling show had the restriction and we were only told as we were about to head for other floors.