Next stop, Crackville Central

Written by Lord Lansdowne

Every weekday, at a quarter to seven hundred hours, I get out of Lansdowne subway station and I park my soda cracker white ass by the bus stop, waiting for route 47 North.

A few months ago, I would've been wearing my Ringo Starr sunglasses to block the astonishingly bright morning sun.

Right now I can barely see across to the abandoned and derelict Bingo hall, so dark it is. This indicates two things: first, it means winter is around the corner and soon I'll be freezing my nuts off. And second, you know you work in a troubled area when even Bingo halls go out of business.

On the wall, there is a sign that used to read:

"Celebrating 10 years of bingo fun!"

Now it reads:

"Celeb ating  0  y  s  f bingo  u  "

In August, the letter 'f' of 'fun' (or 'fu' by then) was hanging at an angle of 45 degrees port side. By mid-September it was gone.

This is the sort of shit you start to notice when life is simply a stagnant monotony of nothing other than routine and the fact that you just happen to exist to notice that the letter 'f' of 'fun' (or 'fu' by then) is gone.

I used to drive up and down Lansdowne Avenue almost every night, for seven years, to drop off a girl I used to date, home. I'll be damned if I can remember even seeing this place open, much less seeing it to begin with.


There is a little alcove of sorts between the subway station (Crackville Central) and an inconvenience store (because they never have what you want). When not dealing behind the station, the dealers hang out there with their trashy pasty-white girlfriends.

Three of the usual thugs are standing there, smoking, having a great ole time. It's going to get to the point that we see each other so often, pretty soon I'll be able to high five them and call them by name (or at the very least, the names they call each other, like "Cool Dawg" and my favourite, "L. L. Coo").


Today there was a fourth. Lots of "Yo, yos," "Sups!" and "Ma' niggah!" were shared by this fourth one, clearly not impressing the usual suspects, since no "respect" was being given back.

My mind drifted off again in a state of self induced comatose, so I didn't pay the attention this situation deserved until someone decided that, at a quarter to seven, playing loud rap music was coo'.

"Yo, I'll show you the money,
if you show me the honey," and many other things that made no sense. I really need to brush up on the whole urban scene.

My brain was about to return back into the neutral zone when I heard Cool Dawg (or was it L. L. Coo?) say:

"Yo, man, you shoulda stay in school, ya know what'am sayin'?"

I glanced in their direction to spot gentleman #4 looking surprised.
I was, too.

"But in school, there be too much noize, man!" (sucking teeth sound).

At this point he proceeded to dance around making a relatively high-to-low pitched squealing sound. If you've ever seen a police cruiser, sirens wailing, going really fast and then smashing into something with the siren sound slowing down, that's not what it sounded like.

Instead, smack your testicles with a wooden mallet. While you're falling to the ground in agonizing pain, take a second to notice the sound coming out of your mouth. That's what it sounded like.

He finished his little wooden-mallet-to-the-testies dance and proclaimed:

"That's wha' school's like, yo!" (sucking teeth sound)

The voices in my head held council over this statement, with fourteen voting aye that the noise in school could not be as bad as the noise coming out of their portable stereo, four voting nay, one abstained and one was strangely absent. I, as chair, thanked my voices for such insight.

Maybe wanna-be gangsta #4 felt a little left out. Here are three of his brothers, hanging out with three blonde chicks that are smooching all over'em, looking cool, chilling it out after a hard's night work of dealing the crack, and he wants in the game, yo.

I mean, who wouldn't? Three individual young entrepreneurs, dressed well (at least, for 'hood standards), gold everywhere, top of the line Nike running shoes, providing a much needed service in this niche and obviously doing pretty good.

"Just go back to school man," said Cool Dawg (or whoever).

"Surprisingly good advice," said one of my voices.

"Shut up," I said. "Go back to sleep."

"You be too pussy for this gig," continued the thug to dancing fool #4.

Senior #4 had a look that spelled disappointment and I heard a sound. I knew immediately what it was. It was the sound of dreams shattering. I recognized it simply because I'm all too familiar with that sound, after this year. For the record, none of my dreams involved crack-cocaine.

Bus 47, route C arrived. I hate 47C because it means everyone and their mum hops on this bus, since it goes up to exciting Caledonia Avenue. It seems that the name "Caledonia" just won't leave me alone, no matter where I end up working.

When I worked at Microforum and then, Internet Frontier, I worked by Caledonia. When I worked for Hip Interactive, I worked by Caledonia. When I drove to the PSI office, I drove on Caledonia. The Caledonia area is as lively as a cemetery and makes the Sahara desert look like a busy intersection during rush hour. Apparently people live there too, though I'm baffled as to why.

The bus has one of those spiffy signs that happily tells you the route (47C Lansdowne) and the destination (Caledonia), alternating between the two every two seconds. I cringe every four.

I hopped on and left #4 gesticulating in a "I'm gonna cap yo ass" kind of way before the bus went off. The three dealers looked at the bus leaving the station with far greater interest.

Maybe business is not booming as it once was. Not a single crack-whore to be found anymore. Lansdowne is starting to lose its character.
And my entertainment.

My brain pushed down on the clutch, shifted into neutral and I went back to coasting, wondering where the letter 'f' of 'fun' (or 'fu' by then) could had possibly gone to.

Cool Dawg out.