I discovered Ireland Park incidentally on one of my barefoot strolls along the lakeshore.
I will never forget that warm summer night I stumbled upon this location. To recreate the surreal experience I had, skip this post and just go there, preferably after dark.
A history of pain
In case you’ve forgotten your grade 7 history, here’s a little refresher: the Great Famine displaced almost 2 million people and killed another million.
Well, this is turning out to be a cheery post.
Toronto saw an influx of Irish immigrants in 1847 which constituted one of the young city’s first major civic crises. In the summer of that year almost 40,000 migrants landed on Toronto’s shores. To put that in perspective, the city’s population that year was about 20,000.
I’m not the first to marvel at bathroom graffiti and certainly not the last.
My fascination with these writings is hardly academic. Take it from someone who has a fruity liberal arts diploma, there is no shortage of literature on the matter. There are thousands of doctoral theses on gendered studies of bathroom graffiti, structural analyses of urban stall culture, the “dialogic nature of washroom tags” and so forth.
They even have a formal name for the subject: latrinalia – which proves nothing other than the fact that there is literally no bottom to the pit of scholarly mental masturbation. It amuses me to no end that universities fund research that essentially involves sitting on the can and philosophizing.
Any conscientious tourist will tell you the only “real” way to experience a city is to stroll through it and absorb all the sensory experiences it has to provide.
I walk my own city with a dedication that borders on obsessive. In fact, when weather permits I walk barefoot, and cherish the subsequent blisters, scrapes and bruises like merit badges for the Toronto Urban Scouts. It’s not sadism, I’m some different breed of weirdo – one that likes the notion of my skin cells being scattered in the oddest corners of the city.
I like to make my mark on things and I’ll even admit to a few acts of vandalism involving my wiggly toes and the wet concrete foundations of new condo towers.
I’m a part of this city and it’s a part of me.
A couple days ago was the 26th anniversary of my hatching day and I woke up with the mother, father and Holy Ghost of a hangover after the mind-blowing Grendel concert the night prior. You know, that kind of full-bodied physical not toxic hangover from dancing until your toes go numb and cheering until you’re hoarse. Every inch of my body felt like it had been worked over with a meat tenderizer and the brain booted slower than yo momma’s XP machine (HA!)
With half a day to kill before the dinner party I figured I should work up an appetite, so I applied the regulatory dose of caffeine and started walking.