Arcades: The Mos Eisley for 80s Youths

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!

About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at
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2 Responses to Arcades: The Mos Eisley for 80s Youths

  1. For me, it was places like the Game Gal-ry, Challenger’s, and the Family Fun Center, the latter of which is still around (!) and has a little area I call Old-Timer’s Row–featuring some classic games like Joust.

    Ah, and “Subdivisions.” One of the songs that got me through high school, featuring another arcade classic, Tempest.

    Good times.

    • ridlerville says:

      Joust was awesome, no matter what generation you are. And I thought you’d appreciate the nod to Rush. Was very weird to grow where that video was shot. The high school kids were the kind I feared I’d have to deal with when I was old enough, but grunge knocked the preppies out of the zone so it was cool to be a weirdo. At least for four years!

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