Lately, I'm more often like a duck on the water - rather quiet the surface, but paddling furiously underneath. There's a lot on my plate these days, and this is just one thing:
Today, I'm taking Josephine to a meeting at City Hall, regarding the planned expropriation of the Matador by the City of Toronto OSTENSIBLY in order to provide twenty parking spaces for the nearby YMCA, who has stated it doesn't need them. You can find links galore, and read about it here.
With all there is to worry about in the world, this seems like not much to fret over; but for me, it is one more name to add to the list of places I've not just fallen in love with in my years here in Toronto, but more - at - that are now gone.
Eleven years ago, I met my Steve at a Melody Ranch matinee at the Brunswick House. We had our first dates at the Idler, and the Stonecutter's Arms. After work, sometimes we'd meet for drinks at the Silver Rail. There's not much information on these places to link to, because they're long gone; but more because, for a certain kind of Torontonian, these places, they're not just watering holes, they are historical and live in our hearts, not in the news or on the internets. These are just the places I remember that are dear to me - other places that were huge parts of my life here have also been obliterated: I worked at the Harbourfront Antique Market, then Birks at the Eaton Center with its amazing vaulted ceilings, and Ritchies - the auction house's old building that's currently a hole in the ground. Gone, Gone, Gone - so many things just GONE.
I recognize that cities must move, and change, and alter themselves to fit the people that use them. I'm not about preserving things just so I can go see them. But I know for a fact that Nashville would never tear down Tootsie's to make a parking lot for the Ryman, let alone for its YMCA.
To add the Matador to this list would break my heart, if it's only to become a parking lot, and especially if Ann Dunn is forced to accept their measly offer. It shouldn't happen this way.
I'll admit - it's been a while since I've seen the daylight peeking through the crack under that door to the left of the stage. Josephine is only one of the reasons I prefer a single-digit bedtime these days. But the memory of how Steve and I last two-stepped to "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone", the Rank Strangers playing our heartstrings, well, it's still as vivid as the morning after that. Which means it's a bit fuzzy, but still very sweet. It's nights like that - those times helped build all we have now. If those nights were missing, all would be different for us.
So, I watch this video, and already I'm mourning. I know by the time that Josephine would be old enough to stumble home from the Matador that it couldn't be the a same place I remember as being the site of my first real catfight (and the fights there were always shushed up so quickly, so the place didn't get in trouble). But I watch this video, and see my old friend Chris Dignan spitting out that lemon rind - and I'm in my early twenties again and I'm glad that the Matador was the kind of place where I was a Barroom Girl. When I look through the list of the people who performed, or visited there - and I was there sometimes too, I'm proud by association. I want that for others too. So after I tire Josie out with a trip to Riverdale Farm, I'm bringing her to the meeting. Both places are important parts of who we are, in a funny way.
A VICTORY! The city will not expropriate the property.
Now, that doesn't mean that the Matador has achieved landmark status, or that it will be there for Josephine to two-step in one day. But it means that it likely won't be a twenty-space parking lot anytime soon; and that most importantly, Ann will have time to receive and accept a favourable offer when she chooses to sell.
This will be all over the news in Toronto tonight, and the paper tomorrow; and I can say that I'm proud to be friendly with Erella Ganon, who was instrumental in rallying the troops for this movement, to show the city that many people think that what was propositioned was ill-advised.
It must also be mentioned that only two in attendance opposed the movement to Save the Matador were a married couple who live and rent apartments nearby. Their complaints were of finding needles and other fallout from this "boozecan", and that it should be closed were loud, disruptive, and misplaced.
The meeting's purpose was not to keep the Matador fully functioning - it was to prevent the city from forcibly taking it from Ann Dunn and her daughter, expropriating it purportedly for a parking lot, when most likely the city would later allow it to be developed otherwise. It's just not fair that Ann shouldn't be allowed her full due. The value of such a property is more than what was offered to her. The city was lacking transparency there.
While the couple's dissent, home-made tee shirts and all, will likely get a lot of play - that's not what this argument was about. It's understood by all that the Matador has barely been open over the past two years, and that Ann and her daughter can't maintain it as it is in perpetuity. But, the Matador, and what it has done for Toronto's music scene deserves some respect - not the strong arm. It deserves preservation in some form, for sure. But it is not, and never was, the sole source of all of the drug and after-hours problems in that neighbourhood. It was just a place, and having been there, I can say that if people weren't using it properly, they were ushered out. Nobody there "shit where they slept". Besides, everyone knows that junkies don't waste their money on bad hot dogs and warm pop, and they probably never tip the bands.
What I do know, and what I said to Jeff Gray from the Globe and Mail is the truth - I wouldn't have Josephine if places like the Matador weren't there for me then, back when I was falling in love with Steve.
Articles already appearing here.