Beach Hill losing its loft?

Where the UK Sailmakers flag once flew

A place where sails are cut and made is called a “sail loft”. I learned that when Brian Chapman opened one at the top of our hill. His flag “sign” was a distinctive asset to our little retail strip.

Brian died suddenly just over a year ago. The loft stayed open, I presume to finish existing orders, but the shop is being packed up and emptied out now. I will miss that flag and so will a lot of Toronto sailors.

The sail sign in happier times, and Brian Chapman.

Bike lanes now more useful

Woodbine Avenue drivers curse at the bike lanes installed on their road, especially in winter when they are little used.

Woodbine Avenue between Gerrard and Danforth

The city has fixed that by letting the sidewalks freeze over with thick, slippery ice. Pedestrians are much happier in the bike lanes, which are mostly clear except for the parked cars.

Sketching the Line

The Toronto Transit Commission and billionaire Jim Pattison belong to the huge club of art users who like artists to work for free, just for the thrill of exposing their efforts to the public. Touching idealism or practical patronage?

Sketcher Brian Lee Mcloughlin sketches … a fellow sketcher?

Maybe both. Posters could provide a boost for a young artist’s career. Similarly, free rides could boost transit ridership and free billboards erected by Mr Pattison could boost sales for all kinds of goods.

So it goes

The clock tower stands with phallic persistence while preparations are made to erect a much, much taller condo around it. Sorry for the irresistible language. Until 1987, the tower identified the site of a popular gay bar called the St. Charles Tavern.

Yonge Street icon will be preserved

The tower dates to the 1870s and was originally part of a fire hall. A newer hall was built in the 1920s and the old one saw use as a car dealership and a restaurant before gay old times from the 1960s to 80s.

Low rise buildings with decorative ceramic and brickwork will fall

Yonge Street, between College and Bloor is living on borrowed time. Soon it will look like any other urban canyon, anywhere. For now, it’s a somewhat seedy mix of tenant businesses … retail weeds growing where concrete will soon be poured. 

Colourful bookstore abstract signed Pfaff is only 4 years old. I like it.

Psychic readers, pop-up liquidators, a used book store, a strip joint, and sex toy shops dot spaces between indie fast food hopefuls, all trying to make a buck before the wrecker’s ball swings in.

One Bloor Condo public art

An unusual sculpture stands across the street when you come out of the Hudson’s Bay subway station. The bottom part looks bent or damaged, as if someone had stubbed a giant aluminum cigarette butt on the sidewalk.

This is my favourite part of the “Safe Hands” sculpture by Ron Arad.

The upper part of the sculpture is not dented and squashed, but the cylinders are apparently hinged together and can sway. I didn’t notice any movement but the concept put me in mind of those tube man attractions car dealers like.

If it moves at all, the sculpture doesn’t jump around like the tube man.

For all its jointed parts, “Safe Hands” is a curiously disjointed object to experience. Up close, it seems monumental in scale, but it is dwarfed by the condo colossus it adorns.

The crumple zone begins above your head and is most crushed at your feet.

The slick upper part contrasts oddly with the banged up bottom part. It really does look damaged. The intended appearance can be seen here. Below is my less idealized first impression.

I didn’t know it was supposed to move. Next time, I’ll watch it for while longer.
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