I just finished a draft of a story for the Homeless Moon Chapbook IV. I can’t reveal the cosmic top secret theme of this year’s collection, but mine was created by a couple of wildly different points of inspiration. One of them was arcade games.
My local mall, Bayview Village (where, as Timothy Findley sagely noted in HEADHUNTER, “there is neither a bay or a view of a bay”), used to be kind of grubby. Which, considering the middle class and upper middle class neighbourhood, quickly changed. But before Pizanno’s was replaced by a Market Garden, before Boots became Pharma Plus, and before everything else in the mall was replaced by designer women’s fashion shops, Bayview Village had a dark little corner near the theater. A little place called the Bijou Arcade.
It was dark, small, and filled with mullet haired hockey thugs and druggies. A wretched hive of scum and villany. I loved it! I’d take two bucks, get eight “tokens” and ignore the teenagers buying hash to go play Gauntlet, Defender, Karate Champ, and Punch Out.
I didn’t get bullied a lot when I was a kid, but I do remember the local hockey thug Craig SomethingIrish giving me crap at the Bijou. When I refused to give him my tokens, he threatened to “Punch Out” my face like Glass Joe. I didn’t fight back, but I was prepared to take a beating to save my “No Cash Value” coinage. I got shoved, he got thrown out, and I think that was the last I saw of him. On such conflicts are youth forged.
The Bijou got closed and replaced by a flower shop, and another landmark of my suburban past vanished. So why not enjoy some nostalgic Rush, and think of the video games of yesteryear?
PS: That’s FUNLAND arcade, in downtown Toronto. Another spot of drug trafficking and electric action that no longer exists, but had a forty-year run. Good times!