Wherever we are heading, we always end up on College Street, either coming out of or going into my garage. Boy, did we confuse the guys at the Merit Decorating Centre on July 11th! Katherine Dynes, our mascot for the evening, had to actually go in to the store to let them know it was me—that I was delivering on my promise that I would come by to show them what all the white spray-paint and their entire stock of epoxy glue was for. I just had to share the moment—I’ve been going there for years. In addition to my two house renovations and ongoing maintenance and repairs, that store was host to the traumatic phone call in the summer of 2005 when I heard that my design mentor, Dr. Paul Baker, had died suddenly of an aneurism. Caesar and Tony scraped me off the floor so I could run out to find a public phone to call Katja. They’ve been like family ever since.
I love shopping there. First, it’s nothing like a chain store, and second, it’s like Jacob’s Hardware on Queen Street West near Spadina Avenue: it’s not just a store, it’s also a bunch of really interested, knowledgeable, and helpful people who like to know what the hell you’re cooking up, especially when they know you are an artist and designer. Fundamentally, the people in those stores are a part of my artistic community—it’s richer than Googling. Though the online world is a great tool for writers (I can hardly imagine the time dedicated to research back in the day), it doesn’t offer that warm-and-fuzzy community creation moment that you find at my local hardware store. Mind you, Amanda Palmer blew that isolating digital barrier out the window when she tweeted fans something like, “Hey, guys, I need another word for blah-blah for this or that song on my new album” and forty-some tweets came rolling in, offering lots of options, including the one that’s good enough to be the solution. What do writers do to create community?
“SAY CHEEZE!” We flash our comparatively yellow teeth when framed by white facepaint for Tony’s snapshot, the first of hundreds that night.