Uncertainty can often
blur your surroundings.
The map is always there,
the lines signify the path
you need to follow.
You simply have to find
It is all in your hands.
© 2017 j.g. lewis
original content and images ©j.g. lewis
A thought du jour, my daily breath includes collected and conceived observations, questions of life, fortune cookie philosophies, reminders, messages of peace and simplicity, unsolicited advice, inspirations, quotes and words that got me thinking. They may get you thinking too . . .
There is very little that can be said about Eric Clapton that hasn’t already been said; except I saw him last night.
I’ve been listening to the musician, in all stages of his career, over the past five decades and he has been around even longer than that.
Through the years I’ve grown to appreciate Clapton more as a performer, recording artist, and as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, but I’ve never seen him live; until last night.
He was everything (and more) that I expected, playing selections from his lengthy career, and paying homage not only the blues artists who have influenced him but also to friends no longer with us.
Clapton and his band kicked of the Toronto concert with a cover of The Band’s The Shape I’m in, a fitting tribute to his longtime Canadian friend Robbie Robertson. Then, later, a tune he once recorded with Tina Turner: Tearing Us Apart.
The show was filled with both popular hits and selections you could tell he felt like playing. With a catalogue like Clapton’s there could have been even more hits, but he did what he had to do.
At age 79, Clapton’s seemingly effortless prowess on electric and acoustic guitar was both mature and effective. There were a lot of “wow” moments.
It was quite an evening.
What else can I say?
I'm like a pencil;
Still I write.
is a writer/photographer in Toronto.
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Last Friday, caught up in afternoon foot traffic and not paying attention, I walked by.
I had heard the banter on the morning show, earlier in the week, but, right then it did not register.
It wasn’t until I went back for early morning coffee on Sunday that it hit me.
There was a tent pitched next to the curb, nestled between the newspaper boxes and a trash bin, on one of the city’s busy downtown streets.
Yes, I am aware of the plight of the homeless, and fully aware there are people living on the streets of this city beneath sleeping bags, blankets and cardboard, but this seemed so… so, permanent.
This is what it has come to.
This is how we live, at the close of a decade, in Toronto.
Now I’ve seen, in the past, small tent cities under the Gardiner Expressway. I know people have chosen to camp out in out-of-the-way ravines, out of sight and out of mind of most city dwellers, but this is right out there, for everybody to see.
I sat inside Starbucks, warm on the chilly morning, enjoying a cup of expensive coffee, and a slice of coffee cake. It was early; pigeons had only begun settling on the sidewalk and slowly people walked by the tent, not really paying attention to what is going on.
Maybe we have become immune to the difficulties, and the pain, more and more people are experiencing each day in a city that has become increasingly less affordable?
We all seem to have come to accept people living on the street as normal.
We have become accustomed to homelessness.
We walk by on the way to the office, or shopping, or on our way home to our cozy condos. We don’t acknowledge that this is all that some people have: a temporary slice of dirty cold concrete with little to protect them from the elements.
Daily, as we walk the streets, we are approached by panhandlers, or some just sit and wait for coins to be dropped into their cups.
Mostly we walk on by.
I consider myself a charitable person; yet, rarely do I drop any change into the cups or open palms. I’m more inclined, now and then, to step into any of the three Salvation Army missions within the circumference of my common area and make a donation. Maybe this takes away some of my guilt, or maybe I just know the money will go towards a wholly meaningful charity and not end up wasted on the wasted. Drugs and addicts are a common sight in the city. There is a safe injection site I walk by more frequently than the missions. I, more often than a few times, have stepped by, or over, discarded needles on the street.
I do see the homeless, but the tent on Queen Street hit me hard.
Of all the streets of Toronto, Queen Street West is overly familiar to me. In 2015 – as I was getting to know my new home city – I spent much of a year photographing the sights, the people and places, at all times of the day, for a photo essay I was preparing.
Yes, that year, I did come to know two regulars who slept, essentially, on the same corners (one of them is still there today), but I had never seen a tent on the street.
The chatter on the radio last week, from both the morning show host — who rides his bike to work very early every morning — and some longtime Toronto residents also indicated they had never seem this before.
I was stunned.
The scene has affected me, and I don’t know what to do about it.
We’ve just come out of a federal election where the word “affordable” was bandied about, but none of the parties offered any sort of platform to deal with social housing, even improvements or support to the shelter system. Hell, it’s hard to name an issue any of the parties actually introduced a platform on at all.
And this is Ontario, where the ruthlessly ignorant Dog Ford government will surely continue to cut funding to social services and support to those who need it the most. The waiting list for affordable housing continues to grow, along with the demand.
With about 7,000 shelter beds in Toronto, there is still not enough capacity to deal with this problem.
Now, I don’t have the solution, not do I know what it’s like to camp out on a city street during the colder weather certain to come, but I know it’s not right.
I know it’s not how I want to live. I don’t think anybody does.
Still we walk on by.
“The measure of a society is found in how they
treat their weakest and most helpless citizens.”