Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Cult of Sanitized Urban.

Ever since the tender age of 16, I've had a penchant for the dive bar. I'm not really sure why, it just fits my working class upbringing I suppose. I'm not talking about those endless pseudo trucker cap places that pass for 'edge' in the new culture that proliferates downtown; I'm talking about that local booze joint down the street any self-respecting 'careerizing urbanite' would never dare enter. Unfortunately in their pursuit of maximum gratification in an abbreviated amount of time, weekend warriors and condo kids are missing the point; there's something communal about a watering hole. Its glory is that it is urbanism in its truest, unsanitized form. I've often found that in a large faceless city, it serves as the ultimate humaniser. The role of the dive bar has remained steady over time as a place for locals to gather and drink. Period. It's the place where you leave your ego at the door and proceed to get souced (for better or worse) with your butcher or ex-stripper neighbour. In short, one begins to unknowingly identify with the peculiar quirks of one's immediate community.

However, as the Dyl' is oft quoted 'the times they are a changin'.

It's just as tough in wannabe Toronto. The recent rash of closings and 'cleansings' reads like a who's who of neighbourhood character. The Drake, The Gladdy, The Connaught... hell, even Duffy's at Dufferin and Bloor is cleaning up its act. Ripe for redevelopment in a voracious market filled with a hip clientele hungry for the elusive 'authentic', these once plentiful places of leisure are nearly extinct as they are stripped in order to be more palatable to the monied 'creatives'. Replaced with chic tempered clones and chain schlock, cheap booze and low overhead gives way to $10 Martinis, Belinis and those yummy Orange Steve-O's.

In a city which ironically defines itself by its neighbourhoods, it's merely another symptom of the fundamentally homogonizing nature of the Toronto experience. No wonder this place gets such an ass reputation.

But then again, we'll always have Joe Merc's.

2 Comments:

Blogger kilpatrick said...

Sonny and Cher said "the beat goes on". What is considered as 'neighbourly' and authentic by one generation of householders (and I mean householders in the loose sense ie. someone's corner on a street, stomping ground, etc) is by no means considered the generation replacing it. The real problem is this: homogeneity in the capitalized culture

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cock and bull....aahhh so true, so true.

12:57 AM  

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