At least one commuter took a fall on a left-leaning message poking fun at the cold weather during Valentine’s Day week, after a straggler message from last weekend’s big snowfall was discovered in Northeast Toronto.
In the bottom corner of a discarded wooden sign, seen by The Washington Post on Monday afternoon on Toronto’s Yonge Street, is a photo of a male cyclist. “Walking like I’m still in winter 2015,” reads the message.
Scattered around the sidewalk, signs and windrows of snow left across the grassy median of a busy north-south street, right at the 50-foot mark, are signs of the weather — an alternative language, if you will, exploring the reality of a world in which winter rarely is winter.
Each sign crosses the street under its own digital light and reads like a zine cataloging the weather of a globe rather than of a single geographic region. One of the largest numbers, a tall cherry red one, can be seen near the intersection of Yonge and Spadina, where it came to rest on top of a mannequin.
“The Metronomy,” reads the sign. The implication? Maybe the city will host the “Metronomy” right here on its sidewalks.
“If this is good enough for New York and Washington, D.C., then it must be good enough for us,” one of the women walking along the sidewalk said after seeing it.
Another man, walking with a toddler, briefly cried, putting a face on the seemingly random placement of urban messages.
“Honestly, I was really excited. I was hoping to see the Metronomy with the foliage,” Michelle Thompson, walking with her 4-year-old daughter, said of the sign.
None of the signs seen from the sidewalk can be authenticated. All require alternative forms of identification before appearing on public streets. The sheer number, however, makes it seem as if they have been taped over by people, or placed there by some sort of after-hours street theater crew.
As the days drew to a close this week, people wondered aloud about the identity of the voice behind the messages.
“The group is dedicated to scavenging street signs and recyclable materials and converting them into harsh, witty commentary on the world around us,” according to a description on a project Facebook page.
Follow the markings around the city and it appears the creators of these signs never pass the other signs on the sidewalk. Some, like a sign advertising British comedy on a corner across from a silent door, are temporary — or, as they so eloquently put it, “defeated campaigns” — but some are also relocated to other, more sympathetic locations.
A few days before, The Washington Post found a tweet left on the sidewalks marking a “Liberation From Winter by Winter” festival with an outbound postcard from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.
“The world is like a tall winter wind, blowing all the best stuff out of this room,” a caption for the postcard read.
No, the meaning of the sign is not as clear as those in Canada.
Marketing is not the only thing on display in these documents. The presence of the blades of a “repurposed” Toronto streetcar also imply that something other than dust is present on the street.
A thumbprint seems to be the be the only identifier for the letters and numbers in the codes of a neon pink sign on a dead end in east-end Toronto.
“We make anything and everything in downtown Toronto — garbage haulers, shelters, bus drivers,” a post on the website said, apparently in explaining the now-banned sign. “Advertised. Of our choices. And homemade. Much, much more.”
At least one computerized sign with text from an iPhone also appears to be on display. But unlike the mannequin standing in front of it, it is not fully appreciated by the pedestrians on the sidewalks.