2007-11-08

Holes

Holes hold a fascination for people. Coyotes understand this -- I like a nice snug one myself, smelling of dry earth, roots and many good books. Lately, though, my wanderings have taken me past this very large hole at Kent and Laurier Streets, where a noticeable crowd of men -- always men -- gathers to gape every week day at civil service quitting time. Which is anywhere between 1:30 and 5:00 on a given day... I digress.

This hole is a former Canadian Tire, and was the only hardware store left in Centretown. I do not address that loss directly here -- the Independent Observer is passionate on this, and tells hilarious, twisted stories around a series of crotchety correspondences with blandly clueless corporate flacks. He may write 'em up sometime.

Let's just say that the store's demise, and that of an adjacent pocket park, have left holes in the Centretown community. Now there are holes in the ground, soon to be replaced by um, erections, that we coyotes would argue are actually holes in the sky. Ones that punch holes in the ambient sunlight reaching pedestrians way down at ground level. In summer, there is permanent semidarkness. In winter, add cold, bitter winds shrieking between the walls of artificial canyons created by this and all the other holes in the sky in that part of the city. No one knows precisely how all of this will interact with the remains of the local micro climate until it's a fait accompli...

Among the definitions for 'hole' extant in the Oxford English Big Word Thingy for Literate Dogs are: "an empty space in a solid body; an aperture in or through something; an awkward situation". Less polite, more scatological dictionaries have other definitions of interest also. To describe the many levels of politicians, bureaucrats, city planners, investors, developers anon anon, who have taken part in imposing this dense skyscraper farm, one might refer to the latter...

*Note: The photo here is a composite, created with a demonstration version of a program called Autostitch. Five dozen separate pictures of the construction site and two hours of chugging on my wood fired computer -- et voila! The estimable David Scrimshaw told me about it and explained how the algae-rhythm works when the Irregulars went to his last party. He's gone to school for these kindsa things. What I took away from it was that this algae-rhythm thing has to do with pond scum -- either an R&B band formed by some of the more musically talented, or a method of asexual birth control sanctioned by their traditional church. I have no idea what this has to do with photo software... but I like the subtly off-kilter, weird, rickety, blurry thing, because it's pretty much how us coyotes see cities...

5 comments:

zoom said...

There's some seriously compelling imagery here, especially in the words. It flips the perspective. That photo's pretty impressive too.

You're absolutely right - not only are all these new structures ugly, but they re-sculpt the urban landscape in ways that are inhospitable to human beings and other living things (like coyotes). They make the downtown core increasingly dark and cold and depressing. We deserve better.

Woodsy said...

Remember the song about someone paving paradise to put up a parking lot? Well, I find myself missing parking lots and hardware stores where someone has put up big buildings... It makes me feel all confused...

coyote said...

I think Woodsy, that you've noticed that there are buildings, and buildings.

That wonderful old Crappy Tire was only a couple of storeys, a comfortably human scale. It looked out to, and interacted heavily with, people walking and driving by, both because of its size and because of what it was. Everybody needs hardware of some kind. Guys hung out in the parking lot working on their cars and talking with each other. It had big clear street-level windows, and was fun to look into on the way by. (Remember the the days they had snap toilet paper sales?)

The oversized black monolith that replaces it has only tiny holes at street level for worker ants to scurry in and out of, or slightly bigger ones to swallow cars into an underground parkade. It turns its four-sided back on any hint of street life, rejects and sterilizes any attempt to start one... pretty much like all the others in the glass desert around it...

URBAN PEDESTRIAN said...

You make me howl, Coyote, in despair. Why are urban planners so unimaginative? Or, probably the imaginative ones were outbid by the hacks who only know how to slap together yet another blight on the city's landscape. The corporate section of downtown Ottawa is so dismal and positively post-apocolyptic after business hours.

zoom said...

I used to work at that Canadian Tire, a very long time ago. So long ago, in fact, that the Ottawa Journal was across the street from it.