Posts Tagged ‘people’

This blog post starts with donuts… who doesn’t like donuts?!  Mediterranean?  Well, that’s veggies on a cream cheese icing.  DeSotos restaurant starting making and selling donuts as a way of surviving Covid lockdowns.   The lemon bomb was delicious!

donuts in the window of De Sotos restaurant

below: Living the van life? Or living in the past?

a brown van is parked in a backyard, an old green peace save the whales sticker is on the back window, blue and white curtain inside over same window, other old stickers on the back of the van

below: Unfortunately this Coca Cola sign at St. Clair and Winona was tagged over last year.  The vacant lot will soon be yet another condo development.

old red and white coca cola sign on the side of a building on St. Clair West, partially painted over and tagged

a poster on the side of a grey metal box on sidewalk, man from monopoly and words that say empty promises for everyone,

below: Looking east, northeast corner of St. Clair West and Alberta  – a new condo, one being built, and one in the very beginning stages.

intersection of St. Clair West and Alberta, cyclists waiting for traffic light, hoarding around construction site on the northeast side, looking east

people waiting for a traffic light to turn green, and older man wearing a mask and pulling a shopping buggy, a woman carrying a boquet of flowers

below: Milking the cow on the sidewalk.

bell box on sidewalk painted to look like a cowboy on a small stool milking a brown and white cow

below: Dinosaurs playing in the yard.

toy dinosaurs lined up in the front yard of a house

below: And Woody, Gumby, Pokey, and their friends hanging out on the porch.

toy characters decorating a porch, woody from toy story,

below: But Wonder Woman doesn’t approve

toy characters decorating a porch, upper body of wonder woman with her arms crossed in front of her, also pots of plants

below: Another front yard, this one decorated with many light fixtures on poles, or hanging from a tree.

a silver candlabra with 5 lights, in a front yard with many other antique light fixtures.

below: A bright red door and matching car beside her.

a red car is parked in front of a mural on the side of a building that has a red door at the back

below:  Most of the murals painted a few years ago in Feel Good Lane are still there.  This lane runs parallel to St. Clair to the north between Atlas and Arlington.

part of a mural in feel good lane, children, a rocket, and three stencils of a couple dancing

below: Also in Feel Good Lane is a mural featuring Emily May Rose’s cute but naughty little green raccoons.

part of a mural by Emily May Rose of green raccoons vandalizing a van with spray paint and graffiti

below: St. Clare’s RC Church

front view of St. Calre's Roman Catholic church with front steps, wood door, brick bulding with fake columns, cross on top

below: Hanging baskets of pink and red petunias across the street from the St. Clair Fruit Market with Muskoka chairs in a makeshift roadside patio.

hanging basket of pink flowers across the street from St. Clair Fruit Market that has green and pink muskoka chairs outside

below: El Eden Ecuatoriano – it seems like everything Ecuadorian is available here especially music and food (in an area that has a growing South American ethnicity).

store front on St. Clair, Ecuadorian establishment

below: Way up high, a mouse surveys the scene while people wait at the street car stop.

mouse graffiti high on side of store on St. Clair, with people waiting to cross at street light below. Shoe City store, Tim Hortons, and a Photo Plus variety store

below: Hanging out in front of Buy and Sell.

people on sidewalk talking, in front of Buy and Sell junk store

below: TTC streetcar stop.  All the stops have artwork across the top of the shelters.

TTC streetcar stop on St. Clair West with brick storefronts behind

below: A white metal railing on the porch and flowers in the well kept yard.

a front porch of a house at 121, white metal railing, flowers in the yard

below: Regal Heights neighbourhood

two storey brick houses in Regal Heights neighbourhood, large front porches and peaked roofs

below: A unique hood ornament!

a gold swan ornament on the front hood of a red truck that used to be a Rogers truck

below: Or, line up your favorite little stuffies on the front dash.

small stuffies lined up along the front dashboard of a car - spongebob squarepants and miss kitty and others

stencil on a concrete wall that says tell your friends you love them

below: On a door at Wychwood Barns.

paper flower decorations on a grey metal door

table at farmer's market, of weird shaped carrots for 2 dollars a bunch, also jars of honey

below: I’m not sure what’s happening here but it looks like an unhappy drunk llama behind bars. I wonder what its backstory is?

a stuffed llama behind bars of a window, empty bottle of corona beer beside it

below: A. A. Milne’s words of wisdom: “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening be patient.  It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

a chalkboard sign on the sidewalk outside a store with a quote of A.A. Milne written on it

below: Always look on the bright side of life.  Can you say it aloud without breaking into the Monty Python song?

woman taking photo with a phone camera of an eye chart in the window of an optometrist that reads always look on the bright side of life

With thanks to Georgette and Mondo for being my tour guides on this walk!

 

reflection in window of man walking past, red high heel shoes in the window

The Art Gallery of Ontario has re-opened after several months of COVID lockdown. They have created an all new Andy Warhol exhibit in celebration.

This is some of what can be seen:

 

people standing in an art gallery looking a three large and colourful paintings by Andy Warhol of faces

below: Elvis Presley

a man in pale blue jacket and baseball cap stands in front of a portrait by Andy Warhol

below: Part of a series of images of an electric chair in different colours

two women look at prints of electric chair in 4 different colour tones

three young women look at two paintings of guns by Andy Warhol, large and on a gallery wall

a couple pass by six Andy Warhol paintings. Two of Debbie Harry and two of Dollie Parton and two of Mick Jagger

below: Debbie Harry

Andy Warhol portrait of Debbie Harry

below: Karen Kain

two portraits of Karen Kain, one on turquoise background and the other on light purple background

The exhibit is on until October 2021.

in Kensington

sign on sidewalk made with pink fabric covered with yellow and white flowers, a big white circle in the middle with hi written in large yellow letters

Some places never change, at least not in the big ways. Although little things pop up only to be replaced by other tidbits, Kensington still looks like it has for a while now. I can’t say forever! Because nothing lasts forever.
In fact, there is a small photo exhibit on hoardings in the neighbourhood that features old pictures and there are definitely similarities to be found!

hoardings with an exhibit of old black and white photos of kensington

below: On the left, from 1940 a photo of a shop at Denison and Dundas West from the Jewish Archives.

two old black and white photos of the kensington neighbourhood, vintage

below: This is an enlargement of the the black and white photo on the right from the picture above. It is the Augusta Fruit Market and it was taken in 1961 by Vincenzo Pietropaolo

black and white photo from 1961 of Augusta Fruit market

below: Sixty years later the same building sits on the same corner only now it’s the Oxford Fruit Market. It even has the same green roofline and what looks to be the same hydro pole!

the Oxford Fruit Market, painted blue, on the corner of Augusta

below: An iconic Kensington sight gets a new paint job.

woman wearing an orange turban-like hat is painting a car in many bright colours, the car is full of plants growing inside it

below: Fix your hearts or die.

graffiti sign on a pole, covering an add for 35 mm cameras for sale, words that say fix your hearts or die

below: A mural on the side wall of Perolas, by Jeannie Priscila aka Dajenesis

two people walking past a mural of a South American woman on Perolas Supermarket exterior  wall

below: Hands outstretched to passers-by

a woman in a coral coloured dress walks past a mural of an old woman with her hands outstretched, asking for something, a red and white shawl over her head

below: Hate has no home here, plus something that started with “Behind stained steamy glass, we’ll (and then your imagination can take over!)

signs on a wood utility pole in front of a painting on a brick wall of a cup of coffee.  A poster with words Hate has no home here.  An ad for a store that is partially obscured by the pole, and a fake street sign that starts with Behind Stained steamy glass, we'll... and the rest is blocked by many stickers

below: free Toronto Caribbean newspapers

below: Ricas Tortas, Elotes y Esquites are fading away

below: Eyes eyes and more by Jeremy

below: Walking past temptation – churros, empanadas, slushies and Birra Catrina

a couple carry their shopping in bags as they walk on sidewalk, walking past

below: Pour me into frequency – in triplicate

3 large graffiti posters in an alley, covering other street art, each with an anatomically correct heart in different colours (red, green and blue), and the words pour me into frequency

below: This little sock monkey not only shows his rainbow colours but also shows his support for the COVID-19 vaccine!

a sock monkey sits in a store window, wearing a rainbow flag scarf and a sticker that says I got my covid-19 vaccine

below: Uber5000 – yellow birdies in a helicopter on top and dogs playing cards on the bottom. Perhaps that yellow birdie on the ladder is dropping in on the card game?

below: A view down the alley towards more murals – a very big multicoloured chicken beside a face

below: A Rowell Soller close up

Close up of a face, eyes closed, mural by Rodwell Soller

below: A brighter than blood red beak looks rather creepy on this enormous chicken by Phillip Saunders

mural of a chicken's head and beak

below: Walking past one of the many patios now open in Kensington

A man with long hair and wearing a cowboy hat walks past a patio in Kensington

below: Carlos House of Spice

Carlos House of Spice in Kensington, with an alley beside it, murals on the walls in the alley, incense for sale in front,

3 pedestrians walking on a sidewalk, walking past a man struggling with a large package on his bike

below: Saved by the youth Can you imagine it? Beside Snacks Mexican style where Aguas Frescas (Jamaica, watermelon and mango) are $5. Also on the menu, Pina Coladas, as well as Elote, and Esquites (corn dishes I think)

black letters spray painted on white tile wall, says saved by youth can you imagine it?  wall is beside a window of a coffee shop with words and numbers listing the prices of drinks, aguas frescas

below: a silver poser bunny

silver poser bunny on pink background

a large flag draped around a white picket fence, flag is yellow with a big happy face on it

below: Dundas West near Augusta

stores and signs on Dundas West near Augusta.  Chao Chow Association of Ontario, Swiftronics, Royal Denture, and others, some people walking on the sidewalk too

below: Walking to Noras for a shawarma or a kabob?

below: Hoardings on Dundas West surrounding Alexandria Park redevelopment.

a woman on a bicycle rides past hoardings around Alexandria Park redevelopment, with a mural on it by Javid Jah and Danile Deluxe

below: A large mural that was a collaboration between Phillip Saunders and Luvs

large mural of a mans face in Kensington

below: Graffiti slaps, stickers, and paste-ups – Feelings Boi, Urban Ninja Squadron, TRP 613,

below: T-bonez in black and white

sticker of t bonez urban ninja squadron in black and white

below: A shiny red skateboarder zooms past a snake with its tongue stuck out

graffiti slap of a bright shiny red skateboarder on the move

below: stickers on boxes

below: Stickers on poles

graffiti stickers on poles in Kensington

below: A wise owl with curly hair and glasses plays the accordion

below: You are not your mistakes plus a summer time poem

on brown paper, a message that says You are not your mistakes, beside a red Tridel sign.  on the latter, someone has written a poem in sharpie

The words are very small on the red sign; this is what they say.

Summer Time
Sundress
I feel India in my bones
I can smell sunlight
I can feel the high time
bless me
God bless me, goddess of forbidden love
I am she
I ___ one white candle
Maintain purity

We’re getting outside to enjoy the summer while still maintaining some distance as the COVID numbers drop…  a few of the restrictions have been lifted and life is little less constrained. Patios are filling up again and a larger selection of stores are open. The following photos were taken downtown on a sunny day a week or so ago…. as I re-learn how to take candid shots of people!

man lies on the grass, reading, his red bike leans against a tree beside him, activity on Queen Street in the background

a mother and daughter, both with long black hair, sit in front of the toronto 3 d sign, leaning in together, smiling, a pigeon stands by their feet

a young boy teases his sister as she is lying in the center of the O of the Toronto 3 d sign, mother is taking a picture of daughter.  mother's back is to the camera

a young poses for a photo at Nathan Philips Square, people around the Toronto 3 d sign in the background

a black man in black baseball cap and T shirt and bright yellow shorts is taking photos with his camera. in background is a wedding shoot of Chinese bride in a long red dress

a man is drawing while sitting on the sidewalk, he has paintings and other artwork for sale,  his reflection is in the window behind him.  another man stops at the intersection to tie his shoe laces while waiting for the red light to turn green.  Dundas Street

an older man in blue shorts and balding hair sits on a walker with a yellow grocery plastic bag on each handle.  out of focus close up of man in red top in the immediate foreground

three people at Yonge and Dundas.  One is a woman standing with her bike waiting for the red light, second is a woman in cropped white tank top taking a selfie, and third an older man with white hair, white beard and white mustache.

a black woman being video'd, a woman in a wheelchair with a sign leaning against her knees that says Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven John 14: 6  Sign at the back says Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save it from eternal destruction.

traffic, cyclists, construction cones, patio, on Dundas looking towards Bay street

a couple, from the back, waiting to cross University ave., with a group of people waiting on the other side as well

a young man with a mask and a Nordstroms shopping bag stands in front of the H B C windows with 5 mannequins modelling clothing

4 people in line to get into store at Yonge and Dundas, all keeping the 6 fet or 2 metres apart for covid restrictions.  woman in red tank top is pushing a baby stroller, a couple stands together, woman in blue dress and black mask and a man in black, with advertisement behind him showing image of a woman in a white dress

people waiting in line.  first woman has mask, glasses and a red head scarf. she's with a man carrying a yellow plastic grocery bag, other women in the line behind them, at Yonge and Dundas

an older man in a brown shirt crosses Yonge street traffic while pulling a green basket on a dolly.  people in masks walking on the sidewalk, a Beck taxi parked on Yonge, a bare chested man by the bus stop, other people

a man waits for his order from a food truck Steve's catering with images of cartoon fries and hamburger on the side of the truck, S. Kazanis truck, menu also on side of truck, today's special hot dog three dollars and sausage four dollars

two people passing each other on a sidewalk, a man in red raptors shorts on a scooter and a woman with a long yellow top pulling a shopping buggy

a mother in black and a daughter in an orange dress sit by the large red planters in Yonge Dundas square with a lot of pigeons on the ground in front of them

an Asian couple at the ice cream truck, men walking on the sidewalk, Yonge street at Dundas

a very shiny metallic green mercedes sports car with no front licence passes through an intersection as a couple walk past

a cooler evening on the waterfront

A couple sit with their backs to the camera on the edge of Lake Ontario while a male cyclist walks his bike past.  Two red Muskoka chairs in the picture as well as boats on the water

On Toronto waterfront, harbour, three people standing on the dock beside a sailboat, a man in yellow shorts and white hat, and two women.  A man is standing in the boat next to it.

below: Simcoe Wave Deck

people sitting and walking on the Simcoe Wave Deck, Toronto waterfront, with condos behind

kids playing on the Simcoe Wave Deck, a young girl is sliding down it

People by the side of Lake Ontario, two on bicycles, some sitting on the side of the walkway, a woman leaning against a post, and a man taking selfies.  There is also a seagull.   Port Lands is in the distance.

below: Joseph Landau, accordion player

A male accordion player, Joseph Landau, stands beside the waterfront.  Curly black hair.

an older man with a big fluffy grey beard sits on a bench with Tim Hortons cup beside him.  He's wearing orange shorts and a pink top.  Looking at his phone

A couple sits at a table on an upper level balcony patio, behind glass barrier.  With condo buildings behind

below: Queens Quay traffic – take care! Cyclists (and pedestrians) don’t always see or obey their traffic signals!

TTC street car on Queens Quay, cyclists on the bike path, pedestrians trying to cross

Two men walk past another man dressed in blue who dances for tips.  He's standing still because no one has given him any money

people sitting on the end of a dock by Lake Ontario

hot dog and sausage street vendors at work

Young man in red shorts performing stunts on his skateboard

three men walk past boats docked at the waterfront, one is topless

A couple sit on the sand on waterfront, under yellow umbrella, a man walks past behind them, also two men sitting on the edge of the lake,.

People sitting and lying on benches on waterfront, in front of the tour boats Northern Spirit and Obsession.  One woman is doing yoga pose.

Initiated in 2017, the “Bridges to Art” program envisions murals on nine underpasses in Toronto’s east end. Several of the murals along the Carlaw-Dundas corridor have been painted including this one on Jones Avenue just north of Gerrard. It was painted by Jason Pinney and features scenes from the east end.

green and white GO train passing over bridge over Jones Ave. where a mural in shades of green and blue has been painted

painting of a young black man in a mural on Jones Ave., with railway overpass

painting of a young man sitting on a bench, with his bicycle leaning against the back of the bench, an apartment building in the background, part of a mural featuring views of the east end of Toronto

a woman is walking past a mural on Jones Ave., also a black car is on the street, East End mural

mural on Jones Ave., two pictures shown, one is a man with a backpack walking towards a TTC bus stop.  The second is kids on bikes on a path in a park

A boy walks towards the back of a baseball diamond with its overhead lights

a young boy plays basketball, holding basketball, hoop in background

part of mural painted by Jason Pinney onJones Ave, a woman sitting outside, a two storey semi-detached house

part of one of the murals in Bridges to Art project, on Jones Ave.

two scenes in the east end mural on Jones Ave by Jason Pinney, one is outdoor exercises and the other is the valley smokestack

people gathered on the beach by a lifeguard station, part of a mural on Jones underpass by Jason Pinney

mural on Jones Ave., Bridges to Art

Another COVID cancellation is the Christmas Market at the Distillery District.   This year’s offering is “Winter village”, a down scaled version of past years’ festivities.

evening photo, distillery district, decorated for Christmas, large snowflakes projected onto the side of an old stone building

The lights are up, the tree is gorgeous, and the atmosphere is almost Christmas-y.

evening photo, distillery district, decorated for Christmas, large Christmas tree, sign Gooderham and worts over the road, strings of white lights

evening photo, distillery district, decorated for Christmas, a street lamp that looks like an old gas lamp, with a wreath and a big red bow, beside a mens wear store with a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in it

evening photo, distillery district, decorated for Christmas, people taking pictures, people walking

evening photo, distillery district, decorated for Christmas, a couple walking, a woman pushing a stroller

lights reflected in a window, green window frame, on old brick building, also a puffy winter jacket hanging in the window

patio outside a restaurant window, wreath on window, snow on the table on the patio, metal table and chairs, old brick building in distillery district ,

an art gallery window from outside, evening,

evening photo, distillery district, decorated for Christmas, the words art is love in big block letters, outside the window of an art gallery with a painting in the window

metal sculpture in a window, made with metal wire, many spiral shapes

pictures in a gallery window, most pictures are of faces

looking in the window of a restaurant wherre the cashier is dancing

I’m going to say that I actually prefer this year’s less crowded version.

Immediately south of the Danforth , the CNR tracks cross Warden Avenue. A heritage mural was painted there a few years ago.

a white pickup truck makes a turn at an intersection with a GO train going over a bridge in the background

The wall on the west side was painted first. In the centre is a portrait of Elizabeth Simcoe. In August 1793, Elizabeth Simcoe wrote that the bluffs reminded her of the limestone cliffs in Scarborough England. Apparently that led to the bluffs being called Scarborough Highlands. Scarborough village became the settlement near the Scarborough bluffs.

mural by De Anne Lamirande, portrait of Elizabeth Simcoe, in blue dress with white collar, large hat,

To the left of her is a painting of the Scarborough bluffs.

part of mural on side of railway underpass, Scarborough bluffs and Lake Ontario

And to the right, a steam train at the station.

one end of a mural showing a steam train coming into a station where a group of people are waiting

On the east side, a painting of the stone Bell estate house built in 1830 is in the centre. Although it is known today as the Bell estate, the original builders were Richard and John Thornbeck who obtained 100 acres on that site in 1828 (near presentday Warden and St. Clair). In 1861 this 4 bedroom house was occupied by Richard Thornbeck, his wife, six children and his widowed mother.

mural on railway underpass on Warden Ave by De Ann Lamirande, old stone house, Bells estate,

Thornbeck sold the house to William Bell in 1882. It was then home to a line of Bell decendents for over a century. It was Bell’s Scarborough Dairy from 1931 to 1943 when it was purchased by Donlands Dairy.  Part of the property was later owned by Beckers Milk who had a milk processing plant there until 1995.  In 2012 the house was empty and boarded up.

part of a mural, a black and white cow in a farmyard, behind a cedar rail fence, in front of an orange barn

cow, farmyard scene in a mural, beside sidewalk on railway underpass

below: On delivery, with horse and wagon from Mitchells. Arthur Mitchells Grocery store was an early landmark in the community of Birchcliff. It was on the corner of Kingston Road and Birchmount.

a man on a horse drawn carriage making deliveries, part of a mural

The mural was painted in 2012/2013 by De Anne Lamirande with help from Andrew Horne and Emelia Jajus

bronze city of toronto plaque describing the mural on Warden ave

This mural illustrates the Bell estate’s beautiful fieldstone house built in 1830, just east of Warden Avenue which was designated as a historical site in 2011 and still stands today. Established on the property was Bell’s Scarborough Dairy which flourished from 1931 to 1943. The A.H. Mitchell Grocery Store was located on Kingston Road and made deliveries in this area by horse and buggy. The centre columns feature Oak trees, the red Canadian Maple and Birch trees which represent the Oakridge and Birchcliff communities.

[note: Oakridge is north of the tracks while the community of Birchcliff is to the south]

With collaboration from City of Toronto and Mural Routes

One of three murals newly painted on the Danforth is one by Elicser Elliott on the southeast corner of Danforth & Donlands (once a 7-Eleven store).   Four other artists were involved in this mural which is part of ‘Destination Danforth’, a pilot project that involved a number of infrastructure improvements such as bike lanes and patios as well as creative elements such as these murals.

On the front and sides of the old 7-Eleven is this mural:

from a mural by elicser, a woman in a pink head scarf is reading a book

from a mural by elicser, a woman in a pink head scarf is reading a bookand beside it is text street art

from a mural by elicser on an old 7-Eleven building on the Danforth, a couple is looking at an open laptop together, brown skin, woman in blue head scarf

below: The swirls were painted by Flips (Swirlgod and BSC – Blurred Sight Clreared)

mural by elicser along with text tag street art

text street art in pink that looks like it is hovering over a pond

 

group of people, elicser mural

elicser mural, group of people

On the back of the building along the alley, is a mural in black, white, and shades of grey. “Enemy of Justice is Ignorance Allied with Power”

mural with words, Enemy of Justice is Ignorance allied with power. Black and white and grey

below: “No justice for Breonna Taylor” plays on the TV while a policeman in 2020 vintage riot gear stands by the door.

part of the Enemy of Justice mural, policeman standing by door, man sitting with hands over his eyes as TV is broadcasting about Breonna Taylor murder by policemen

below: The year 1955 references the day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in Montgomery Alabama, 1 December 1955.  It was the year that saw the birth of the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the USA.  Police uniforms sure have changed!

history part of elicser enemy of justice mural

This project was also a collaboration with the local BIA’s, StreetARToronto, and East End Arts.

Three other artists contributed to these murals:  Spyone, Nick Sweetman, Smokestack Lightning, and Maysr

To mask or not to mask?  Masks have turned out to be a very useful tool in stopping the spread of the corona virus.  All you have to do is look at the stats in countries such as South Korea and Vietnam where mask wearing is the norm and compare those numbers to the stats in countries such as here in Canada where mask wearing took some time to catch on.  Only 38 people have died from COVID in Vietnam compared to almost 10,000 here in Canada.

In the early days of COVID (doesn’t it seem like a long time ago?) masks were controversial.  There were a lot of mixed messages from public health – remember when wearing a mask was going to increase your chances of getting sick because you can’t help but play with your mask and then touch your face?   Now, there are laws and rules that stipulate that you have to wear a mask indoors – in stores, in schools, on airplanes (who’s flying these days any way?), and in other public places.   The argument switched from ‘masks won’t keep you from catching the virus’ to ‘the masks prevent you from giving the virus to other people.’

a couple walking on Yonge Street, holding hands, waiting for a light to change, he's in a blue shirt and wearing a covid mask

“Virtue has a veil, vice a mask.” quote, French author Victor Hugo

 I was looking for help in writing about COVID-19 and people and masks and why we were slow to accept the practice.  I went looking through google for quotes and poems about masks because I wanted to explore the idea that in western culture wearing masks is just not done.  Masks are for thieves and others who are up to no good.  The bad guy always wears a mask when he wants to rob a bank.  Masks are for hiding your identity and fooling facial recognition software.

I have to add that the wearing of masks has become political although not to the extent that it has in the States where Trump has made the mask a symbol of weakness.   We have our anti-maskers and they are still protesting (there was one in downtown Toronto today but I missed it).   Apparently there were a couple of hundred people at Yonge Dundas square protesting lockdown measures in the name of Canadians’ constitutional rights and freedoms (CityTV link).

three people on bikes on Yonge street during streets open, the man in front is wearing an anonymous mask

The ‘Anonymous’ mask, or Guy Fawkes mask, was used in the 2005 movie “V for Vendetta” where Fawkes was presented as a champion for human rights, an anti-establishment figure.  It has become one of the most recognized symbols of protest around the world.

three people, two women and a man, waiting outside in a line up for a store, all three are wearing masks.

One of the poems that I found was “We Wear the Mask” written by Paul Laurence Dunbar in 1896.  It’s opening lines are:

“We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.”

So now we have another “use” of a mask.  The invisible mask that we wear to hide our true selves from other people.  This quote from Japanese author Haruki Murakami complements the idea: “It’s not the people who change, it’s the mask that falls off”.

The last poem I found was one where the American author Maya Angelou adapted Dunbar’s poem (above).  It’s long.  It has nothing to do with COVID and probably not much to do with Toronto either.  But in these unusual topsy turvy times, so what?  It’s not a happy poem.  But mix together COVID and its doleful fall-out, plus the protests surrounding Black Lives Matter and the simultaneous fight to increase recognition of Indigenous rights, stir it all together and presto, befuddled and disconsolate times.

“We wear the mask that grins and lies.
It shades our cheeks and hides our eyes.
This debt we pay to human guile
With torn and bleeding hearts . . .
We smile and mouth the myriad subtleties.
Why should the world think otherwise
In counting all our tears and sighs.
Nay let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile but oh my God
Our tears to thee from tortured souls arise
And we sing Oh Baby doll, now we sing . . .
The clay is vile beneath our feet
And long the mile
But let the world think otherwise.
We wear the mask.

When I think about myself
I almost laugh myself to death.
My life has been one great big joke!
A dance that’s walked a song that’s spoke.
I laugh so hard HA! HA! I almos’ choke
When I think about myself.

Seventy years in these folks’ world
The child I works for calls me girl

I say “HA! HA! HA! Yes ma’am!”
For workin’s sake
I’m too proud to bend and
Too poor to break
So . . . I laugh! Until my stomach ache
When I think about myself.
My folks can make me split my side
I laugh so hard, HA! HA! I nearly died
The tales they tell sound just like lying
They grow the fruit but eat the rind.
Hmm huh! I laugh uhuh huh huh . . .
Until I start to cry when I think about myself
And my folks and the children.

My fathers sit on benches,
Their flesh count every plank,
The slats leave dents of darkness
Deep in their withered flank.
And they gnarled like broken candles,
All waxed and burned profound.
They say, but sugar, it was our submission
that made your world go round.

There in those pleated faces
I see the auction block
The chains and slavery’s coffles
The whip and lash and stock.

My fathers speak in voices
That shred my fact and sound
They say, but sugar, it was our submission
that made your world go round.

They laugh to conceal their crying,
They shuffle through their dreams
They stepped ’n fetched a country
And wrote the blues in screams.
I understand their meaning,
It could an did derive
From living on the edge of death
They kept my race alive
By wearing the mask! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

 

Wear your mask!  The COVID one that is.