The truck has no chassis skirt so it’d be good for killing children on corners.
—June 3rd, 2011 prophecy in CounterPunch.
The state has killed over a hundred of us in the city since I arrived here with my family five years ago, but we just keep placating the beast. Every so often, another one of us is dragged off. One hundred and ten since 2006.
Break our necks with a quick back snap, compress our bodies against concrete with curved steel cords wrapped in rubber, hook us onto a steel shank and drag us for a ways, push us up against brick walls till our eyes pop out with the hydraulic pressure from our blood. We’re just pulp.
Children, pregnant women, hard guys—it doesn’t matter. Sheer, torque, loft, extrude, accelerate, deform, implode, explode, compress, buffet. The bodies give themselves over to the forces of death with whatever grace the moment exacts, or with a shrug. It never matters.
It never matters because the friends of the dead ask for more. Give us more death. They beg the state to give them reservations where they’ll be “safe,” even though most of the murders take place inside the reservations. More killing spaces, please. More half-assed bike lanes so drivers can keep the 99% of the horizontal space of the city they think they own. In exchange for selling their souls Toronto cyclists promise not to rock the boat. They don’t just do as they’re told, lining up in single file like sheep for slaughter at red lights. They go out of their way to be exemplary, scolding anyone who doesn’t obey the rules, pursing their lips like British schoolmarms at anyone who yells at an errant car. If their labia topside are like that, how bad is it below decks? Don’t rock the boat. And they’re killed and killed and killed. They keep their mouths shut because one day, one day, why, one day they’re going to go into that voting booth and get another half-assed bike lane rez on Bloor and it will all have been worth it.
Friends of the dead wring their hands and shake their heads as if the solution to all this murder involved a complex set of variables. They throw flowers on the blood stains instead of rocks at the murderers. They put cute little chevrons on the street depicting vehicles and bikes in a happy commingled state. Yeah, the baby boy and the woman and the truck chassis were in a commingled state alright the other day there. Sorrow and love flow mingled down, as the old hymn about the crucifixion puts it. And while we’re at it, this aside to the semitic storm god: you catchin’ any of this on live feed, you sadistic fuck?
The bicycling “community” gets together and tells the state how wonderful it is, and would they mind pretty please maybe not killing quite as many of us? And thank-you, oh thank-you for the chevrons. Polite people, that cycling community. The chevrons look nice with a bit of blood greasin’ ’em up.
I built a one-story-tall insulated solar belvedere fang on my roof, a ziggurat for ignoring that s.s. storm god and watching the sun god, and I pulled the windows and the sheetrock and the two-by’s and the ¾-inch plywood—noticeably heavier than the 5/8ths—from various parts of the city with a hand truck or on my bicycle. It’s not a cargo bike. Just a crappy eighteen-year-old bike with a five-year-old single-wheel trailer on it. There was some danger, as the city is filled with thousands of state-subsidized empty trucks pacing endlessly to and fro, and an occasional truck actually being used to carry something. Both will squish you to pulp. At least ten thousand times in this city I’ve pulled up alongside massive trucks carrying far less in their beds than I carry in mine. Truckers as a rule are fat lazy heavily subsidized suburbanite fuckers. As I’m happy to tell them. Trucks kill us, and they kill us often. As they’re happy to show us.
Liam and I have a circuitous path to school that we follow to avoid Harbord, filled as it is with trucks and groupie cyclists grateful for their reservation (“oh thank-you, massah, we is ever so grateful for our bike lane”). These groupie cyclists with their little maple patches are grateful for the rez. Like Pavlovian numbskulls, they’re careful to obey the traffic lights designed to keep them in their place where they can be killed. Foucault was right about the state not needing to repress people when they’re happy to do it to themselves. The Toronto bicycling “community” is a bunch of idiots who are happily complicit with the state in their own destruction, waving their hands in fussy compliance gestures: left, right, left, right. Like that’s going to stop a truck.
The city’s on edge this week. The road rage barely kept in check the rest of the year is finding its way out.
A woman on Harbord sassed a man in a car Wednesday morning apparently about one minute after Liam and I went through. The driver chased her through the bike lane, got her up on the sidewalk, knocked her over with his bumper, and drove off. Liam and I just missed this event, but I got it in detail from a half dozen witnesses when I came back a couple of minutes later. The woman was crying and sitting there in front of the glass shop west of Grace on Harbord.
She wasn’t the dead one. In fact, she was too lively for the taste of the biking community. These witnesses, most of them cyclists, were happy to impugn the woman, implying that because she’d sassed the guy, well… Eloquent shrugs. What did she expect? As Canadians, they were too cowardly to actually accuse the victim of nonconformity, so they just kind of backstabbed her while she lay there. God I hate Canadians. I wish they’d all go back where they came from and leave us alone. I was away for fifty years, but my people have been here on this lake for ten thousand years, and things were fine till the Canadians showed up.
Toronto cyclists aren’t supposed to get out of line. Toronto cyclists, 99% quisling, won’t murder you themselves, but they’ll fill the air with innuendo and let the drivers finish you off. This is the land of prim lips. I said to one of the witnesses who mentioned that he liked this Harbord lane that I, well, didn’t. He said, “it’s the most that we can ask for.” The most that we can ask for? The most that we can ask for—that should be the banner of the Toronto cycling community. If we’re timid, will you be nice to us?
The dead woman? That was Tuesday, closer to our house. In other words, the car driver who chased the woman through the bike lane on Wednesday and knocked her over probably knew about the driver killing the pregnant woman. That’s freaky one. Freaky two is freaky and sublime, that just fifteen hours or so before her death, Liam had been filming me in a cold-war fart-out with a concrete truck driver. Not the same driver, I suppose. We’d got the dickhead driver on tape because Liam’d been documenting some of the ways we move around the city. In the middle of filming, this truck had gone full-speed through our stop sign to the far side of the intersection. The jerk driver threw it in reverse and went flying backwards up the street past us. Liam held his ground, protecting his tripod and camera. I crouched for a last-second grab. Just another howdy-death-wassup moment in Toronto. Concrete truck backwards past a filming child, no chassis skirt, wheels wobbly because the young driver doesn’t know much about backing up at speed. We’re stupid, and we’ll die. That’s the motto of our civilization. The guy ran the engine loudly for twenty minutes and drove off without delivering his load. Another useless truck moment in Toronto. No one cares. Trucks do whatever the lazy fuck they want, and the city taxpayers pay for it when the dead folks don’t.
Been saying for years that near the top of my top-ten list of proofs that we’re a stupid civilization and we’ll die is NO CHASSIS SKIRTS ON THE BIGGEST SCHOOL BUSES. What kind of parents don’t run out into the street with a baseball bat and break the windshield of a schoolbus without a chassis skirt? How much of a childhater would you have to be to not do that?
If you take the time to look at our 59-second video, apparently on a topic unrelated to all this violence, think about how the pregnant woman and her baby boy are down to their last fifteen or twenty hours at the moment of filming. Think of the love. Think of the last this and that. Last cup of coffee. Last glimpse of the CN Tower. Last full-cathedral feel amongst the flaxen foliage. The city’s a blaze of gold now after the frosts, so at least she got to see that. Think of her. As to the boy in her belly, that’s just too hard to think about. I can’t do it.
She and her boy were murdered in exactly the place I saw a woman go down two years ago, caught in the streetcar tracks on the Dundas railroad bridge near that little Sterling side street. No truck that time, so that woman got up and rode off, having learned some basics about streetcar tracks. About obtuse and acute angles. A thousand times I’ve been at precisely that point, the right turn up there onto the bridge, and seen cyclists going by in the street, and thought, “seriously? Why don’t you just get up on the sidewalk? That street is too effing dangerous.” Ten of us with a few rocks could hold that bridge, if we knew there was any kind of community behind us. I know every inch of that corner, have imagined a thousand deaths there. I have. Did I conjure one?
Twenty people are killed in my city every year. Twenty people every year isn’t an accident, it’s a plan. These are murders.
I curse the trucks of this city. I hope you drivers without chassis skirts drown in your own blood as you drive around complacently in your empty flashtrash picking up donuts. I carry more construction equipment in my bike on most runs than you do, you useless murderous pariahs.
Peeking in and up. No chassis skirts. The naked and the dead. Prim Canadian labia.
If we could get all these empty trucks off the road, those of us who are actually hauling stuff around the city could do so without being killed. Conversion to a garden city is as easy as rolling four trucks upside down in each intersection, using the trains and streetcars to pull food in during transition years, and just fucking getting on with it, as many of us already have done.
Or we could mindlessly applaud the state as it goes on endlessly subsidizing our attackers, we could let the blood of our pregnant women flow, let the little boys in the wombs wiggle a bit before they die, and we could keep on sucking up to the state and hope it’ll reward us for being good little house nigguz. Fuck that. You think we’re fooling around here?
Enough flowers. Let’s get rockin’.
* * *
I know I promised not to show up here for a while. But they’re pulping babies and women in my neighborhood and pretending it’s not murder. Pulp fiction. Liam (11) filmed this short bit on street kai. We meant it as a frolic. We filmed it in joy. We were fooling around here. Sebastian (15) edited it. We never meant to intrude it upon your attention. But the film shows the neighborhood where the mother and child were murdered, the last foliage, the last day. The Last Day on Earth. As the Christians like to say, “is it nothing all you who pass by?” Okay, I’m gone.
David Ker Thomson lives in the Dufferin Grove neighborhood of west Toronto. dave dot thomson at utoronto dot ca