Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Cherry Beach Express by Cathi Bond

Cherry St & Unwin, Photo credit: Liis Toliao

The payphone screamed like the gulls and Cope rocketed out of the car, running into the booth snatching the receiver. The tails of his long black leather coat nearly got snapped as the door folded shut. All I could make out was Cope saying, “About fucking time!” and then the closing door drowned out the rest of the conversation.

I got out of the car and started dancing around the Cougar. We were going to get high, oh me oh my, as high as the sky. Charlene started waving the red nail polish brush like a wand, telling me to stop drawing attention, but nobody was down here. Nobody but us chickens. That stopped my dancing. I got back in the car.

“What’s wrong?” Charlene asked, leaning over the back seat.


That’s what Granddad always whispered when the two of us played hide and seek up in the hay mow, while Mom wandered around trying to find us.

Cope shoved open the phone booth door and strode back to the car. He was trying really hard not to be mad. Cope was always copasetic, which is why he got the nickname Cope, but right now Cope was anything but laid back. He got in the car and punched the steering wheel.

Charlene reached for the back of his neck and said “Baby,” but he brushed her away. Hurt, Charlene dropped the nail polish wand on the floor and didn’t bother to pick it up.

I leaned over the seat. “So?”

“Drought,” he replied.
And then we stepped off the edge of an endless chemical run into the nightmare of a full-out crash.

These lines are part of an excerpt from NightTown, a coming of age novel by Cathi Bond about the mean streets of Toronto during the 1970s.
Clarke Beach/Cherry Street Spit was a hangout for drug dealers, users, bikers and cops during the 1970s. A lone phone booth still stands at the corner of Unwin and Cherry, and it is the setting for a brief excerpt by Cathi Bond; one of two contributions to that weave through the seedy streets of Toronto past. The booth stands as a tactile piece of physical memory from a day when drug deals frequently went down over public phones.

Otino Corsano offers another look for

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Pop Phreak: The Birds & Superman

When I think about phone booths in pop culture, two things spring instantly to my head: Tippi Hendron and Superman. Phone booths aren’t just street furniture they are an entire structure with (assumed) functioning communications technology, and four walls and a roof to separate you from the outside world.  When waiting for the streetcar in miserable or cold winter weather, like today, where there isn’t a transit shelter, phone booths provide shelter from the elements…  and in a world that is built by Alfred Hitchcock, a shelter from vicious, killer seagulls.

The creators of Superman must have also thought that a telephone booth could protect from prying eyes.  Clark Kent could easily change into Superman completely unnoticed in one of these booths.

Certainly when the writers came up with this device phone booths were plentiful, you could find them on most street corners.  I wonder what would Superman do today with such a decrease in options? Would he run to the closest Starbucks men's room?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Fun Booth, you beat us to the punch!

Photo credit: Brian Anderson

WeSeeInc. is the collective moniker under which Roy Kohn and Kate Vasyliw generate collaborative art projects. Fun Booth appeared at the north east corner of Lambertlodge Ave and Christie St in November and raised a lot of eyebrows, including ours! Seems as though we're definitely not the only ones who think phone booths need a little love and attention. We're thrilled to now have WeSee Inc on board. Here's what they have to say:

Phone booths were once novelties and quickly became an assumptive necessity. The advent of the cellular phone and its ensuing popularity relegated the booths to redundancy. The concept of Fun Booth was to transform a vandalized and ignored relic into something appealing. Fun fur and mirrored mylar were used to create a transient carnivalesque aesthetic. Now a miniature House of Mirrors the booth reflects the irony of becoming a novelty prop for cell phone snapshots.

We Understand Each Other on a Cellular Level: Overheard random cellphone monologues as slightly less random dialogue(s)

Booth at College & University, NE corner
Photo credit: Liis Toliao

Jessica Westhead chose a booth at College & University, at the northeast corner, by the subway entrance, to write an experimental and hilarious narrative. Here is a brief excerpt:

“Lots of shit going on at work. A lot of shit. The whole place blew up last week without me. And last week’s polling meeting that I scheduled, not everyone showed up to it.”

"So then I said to her, 'I'm not holding a grudge, I'm just stating the obvious.'"

"I don't think she thinks, is what I think. You know? It's like, no offense, but there you go."

Lady Cleaner

This image is part of a series called Lady Cleaner. We saw an ad in the supermarket for a lady cleaner, and I like that the words had been inverted; it reminds me of how I am sometimes an artist and sometimes a coordinator, and constantly switching roles. Here I asked Julie Voyce to clean a booth at Highway 401 and Yonge Street. Julie is a "cleaner of dirt and maker of things", and it seemed appropriate and odd to pay her to clean a booth for me.