In local LO idiom, “east of Adelaide” means “across the tracks” (the heroin tracks that is, nyuk nyuk nyuk). I’ve been helping restore some friends’ old Victorian House on William and Dundas. That’s figuratively east of Adelaide even if it’s a block or two shy of being literally so. This house is surrounded by various happening places.
1) Across the street there’s a United Way coffeehouse that’s always hopping: it’s said to serve as a “safe haven” for the variegated representatives of this fair city’s underclasses. The truth is that it serves as a one-stop drug shop: illegal cigarettes, oxy, coke, heroin, something called amphibian… The days there play out pretty much like an unscripted Canadian (i.e. polite, still gun-free) version of The Corner. Lots of low rent drama between rail-thin crack- and meth-heads and their slimy criminal luvahs. One hears drifting on the wind such statements as:
I’ve sacrificed everything for you!
Hey, come back here right now!
I would have fuckin killed him!
Fine, don’t say goodbye, asshole!
No, fuck you!
2) Behind the house there’s a women’s shelter, My Sister’s Place. Previously the music club Sue’s House of Blues. Fairly frequently from my rooftop vantage I can see fights break out between the tenants. These are mostly confined to yelling things like:
How did you get to be so fucking stupid?
Fucking bitch, come here and say that!
I’m right here, bitch!
The volunteer-workers tend to arrive before the fisticuffs start to fly.
3) Next to the house on the north side is a subsidized apartment building for mostly older folks who have either slid into poverty or who never climbed out of it in the first place. In general, the tenants are quiet. The maintenance man Francis suffers from little big man disorder and does his best to exert his will to power on his tenants and occasionally on his neighbors.
There is one resident that has gotten my attention of late. A lady of seventy perhaps. Short and stout, but not fat, she sports short blue gray hair, glasses, is neatly dressed, and can be seen daily walking slowly with a cane to and from the convenience store down the way. She looks together enough when she walks closely by. No particularly telling glint of lunacy in her bespectacled eyes. But she is pretty much completely deranged. A couple of times now I have been standing on a ladder or behind some trees and have heard someone shouting nasty things like
It’s your fault, you sodomizing pig!
only to turn around and see not some crystal methhead love spat, but this little old lady walking slowly back home all by her lonesome. Once, she was even stopped by the police and escorted back inside the building when they overheard her raving at the top of her lungs.
I’ve heard tell that she’s a drunk. She’s pretty steady on her feet if she is. But I don’t believe alcohol is sufficient to explain the depth of her delirium. So I called up Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari and asked their opinion…