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Gee 20

June 28, 2010

I’m not sure how I feel about all the things that went down in my city last week. An earthquake. A flood. A meeting of 19 men and one woman, who together made people angry enough that some set shit on fire, some smashed things, some got trampled, some trampled others, and helicopters circled overhead for 72 hours without stopping.

I do know how I feel about this video, shot by my friend C. from his front porch Sunday morning.  While he was making his video, my mom and I were enjoying coffee and freshly baked scones (walnut-white cherry) on my balcony. My dad was with us, too, and so was my cat, and my brother and his family were intended to join us but overnight my nephew fell ill.

Then, clouds gathered and it rained like mad. By that point, the day was nearly done and so was the summit and so were the protests and demonstrations and riots. M. and I were preparing dinner (a gorgeous chicken dish with olives, and herbs from my balcony garden) and we toyed with the idea of heading to a nearby bar to join Z. for birthday drinks. Each time the rain seemed to be falling as hard and fast as it possibly could, it got harder and faster, and since I had a lot of work to do before bedtime, we called a “no” on the drinks, sent a toast to Z. through the ether, and turned in to read in bed before the light had drained from the sky.

Before the riots, K. and I strolled peacefully through the high-security zone demarcated by fences and hundreds of police officers, and were greeted pleasantly, joked with, and allowed to pass wherever we pleased. Close enough to the fence we could literally lick it, we discussed how we felt about security budgets, police presence, the media skewing of events and agendas, and came to few conclusions.

Monday, I took a long walk south from my office building and checked out the fences as they put the finishing touches on the gates. Tuesday and Wednesday were curious as hundreds of police officers from away checked into hotels near where I work, and busloads of daily gear, pants, pyjamas, uniforms, helmets and guns were loaded onto valet trolleys and carted indoors. Thursday, I watched a man in what was quite clearly a CSIS car whisper into a walkie-talkie, parked in the middle of a busy intersection. To his left, a man was standing on the steps at Old City Hall, feeding mice from a camping cooler to the python wrapped around his neck. I imagined the secret service dialogue between the man in the car and whoever was at the other end: if we take this guy down, we also have to address the small matter of his python. How best to go about safely relieving the man of his snake? And what of the mice, which though chilly will likely scatter and flee, lickety-split? Perhaps it’s best to let this one lie?

Even stranger than the fact of the CSIS rep, the python-man, the cooler and the snake was the fact that Queen and Bay Streets, artery of the city’s business district, were sufficiently abandoned at 9:30 a.m. that the parked car obstructed neither traffic nor pedestrians. Everyone had been warned: best to stay home! Together with C.’s video here, this artificially induced fear of the place we go each day and ironically how well commuters obeyed orders (“don’t come to work on Thursday or Friday!”) contrasted against how poorly the marches and protests came together (“stop smashing shit and setting things on fire or we’ll shoot tear gas at you!”)  is how I contextualise and remember the G20.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2010 2:21 pm

    I was a big wuss and avoided downtown altogether, staying home in the middle-class haven of Forest Hill. My daughter, however, was on Yonge St. on Saturday and nearly got caught up in the smashing shit stuff. Scary.

  2. Kim permalink
    June 29, 2010 10:07 pm

    Strange days, lady, strange days.

    No social uprising in my neck of the woods. A few folks draped in the Quebec flag last week, but no drama. Just booze and rock concerts in my neighborhood. An intersection so crowded with people and food tents and blaring music from the stage, that after 15 minutes of trying to locate my friend within a 100 square foot patch of asphalt, I found myself screaming into my cell phone: “I AM STANDING! ON A PICNIC TABLE! WAVING MY ARM! DO YOU SEE ME?!! WHAT THE FUCK!! ARRRRGH!!!!”

    And as I type this, I hear fireworks in the distance.

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