An Open House

   19 October 2014, mid-afternoon

An open house sign

“Hey! Can you guys sign in?”

Who is this dude barking at us? Of course I know. My cousin and I have walked into an open house. It’s a surprisingly cavernous detached home near Bloor and Dufferin. I could imagine it being quite nice—in some alternate timeline. In this one it was probably a former rooming house. It’s listed at 1.25 million dollars.

The housing market has moved beyond rhyme or reason. My cousin narrates tale after tale of being out bid on places he already can’t afford. Houses in our neighbourhood now regularly sell for $100,000 over their asking price. That’s walking around money. Now, I like where we live, but our neighbourhood isn’t $100K-over-asking nice by any stretch of the imagination. These stories play out across the whole city.

This house is full of sad ancient furniture. Remnants from its past life. I’ve seen houses in worse shape, which may sound like faint praise because it is. At least this house is relatively clean. My cousin has seen houses where the sellers haven’t even bothered tidying up. Why waste their time? They know the house will sell for more than they want anyway. The desperation of home buyers is palpable. Agents are emboldened.

Who can afford to live in this city? I could never dream of buying my busted-ass house now. It’s price has moved beyond me. That’s some sort of wealth, I suppose. Not the useful kind, but it’s something.

We walk through the house and leave. The agent makes no effort to talk to us. I am sure he is well aware we are just touring this dump. We probably didn’t look worn down enough when we walked in.

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Tennis @ The Mod Club

    9 October 2014, evening time

Shima looked at our tickets. “7:00 doors open. Early show?” Neither of us knew what that meant, though we could guess well enough. We hoped in a cab shortly after 7:00. This might have been the earliest I’ve ever gone to a concert since seeing Rachael Yamagata perform a promo show when she was first getting started. The two of us were going to see Tennis at the Mod Club. We hadn’t been to a concert together since we saw the Woodhands play at the Phoenix.

Pure Bathing Culture

When we arrived the opening act was already playing. We grabbed some beer and listened to them play some indie pop music. The lead singer had a hair cut straight out of the 80s, but she was probably born in the 90s. They were very good. A four piece band, the singer also played synths. They didn’t sound like Tennis, but had a similar musical aesthetic. They thanked the audience for listening to their set and then walked off stage without saying their name. God damn it. I ended up discovering their name on Twitter: Pure Bathing Culture.

Tennis

Tennis are technically a two-person band, but when on tour I suppose having some extra musicians on hand is useful. They were up next. A mix of musicians and techs started setting up their instruments. I am guessing their singer is too recognizable to still do this stuff. She came out briefly to check out her keyboard and sing and the crowd started cheering. (This lead singer’s hair cut reminded me of Shima’s hair from a photo she has of her grade 8 graduation.) When the band started performing I realized the other half of their band was the person doing the bulk of the set up. That’s what happens when you aren’t on the album covers.

Tennis put on a good show. They played a mix of music, mostly from their most recent album. We were up near the front with all the turbo fans and people trying to take photos. It was fun. They played a lot of the songs I love, but focused on the stuff from their new album.

And just like that it was over—and it wasn’t even 10:00! I bought Pure Bathing Culture’s CD from the band’s lead singer. That’s why opening acts are the best.

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Turn, look down: there is no city.
This is centre of a forest.
Your place is empty.

They bend, straighten; the sun lights up their faces and hands, candles flickering in the wind against the unbright earth.
I see them; I know none of them believe they are here.
They deny the ground they stand on, pretend this dirt is the future.
And they are right.

Those who went ahead of us in the forest bent the early trees so that they grew to signals.

— Margaret Atwood, poem outside the Fort York library.

Also, a reminder that if you are voting for Doug Ford in the upcoming election you are a clueless fucking asshole.

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