Making PATHs

This video (link courtesy of Matt Blackett from Spacing) is worth watching, as long as you take a dose of Dramamine. In it we see a group of young men engaging in a small act of civil disobedience (affixing stickers to privately produced public maps) to make a few points. They also give us an interesting view of Toronto’s PATH Network — a rat’s maze of underground shopping concourses meandering beneath Toronto’s downtown core that periodically competes with Montreal’s network as being the world’s largest installation of its kind.

I wish the video had been longer, so it could debate some of the question it raises, such as whether the privately owned space beneath Toronto’s downtown really belongs to the public, and what responsibilities the landowners have if they give the public access to those areas as if they were streets. But, the video is an interesting mini-documentary, telling its own story in just the time it needs. I enjoyed the glimpses of the PATH network that most people don’t get to see, and they make their point about how badly designed the navigation system of the PATH is, and the conflict of interest the private landowners seem to have in fixing things.

I personally consider it a point of pride that I can still navigate the PATH network without really consulting the maps, but if I were a superhero, I’d probably be called “Map Boy” (or, taking a page from Dora the Explorer’s book, ‘I’m the Map!’). I have fond memories of stumbling around the marble corridors with my parents, looking for a nearby subway station (I have weird memories that I’m fond of), but I managed to beat being directionally challenged underground by studying the maps thoroughly, and getting a good picture from the little clues (if the buildings don’t tell you what the next buildings are, they at least tell you what streets the exits lead to and, from that, you can triangulate your position in the downtown core).

Another interesting direction these documentarians could have taken (or might take in a sequel) is interviewing other regular users of the PATH. I’m willing to bet that these individuals know the routes they take, day in and day out, between their subway station of choice and their desk — and that this is ALL that they know. It would be interesting to learn how they came to know their routes, and the fun misadventures they may have had in taking a wrong turn.

My big beef with the Toronto PATH Network is that it’s called the Toronto PATH Network. One person took me to task for referring to it as the Underground City until I produced a map book from the late 1980s which explicitly referred to the network as Toronto’s Underground City. It is, in my opinion, a far more evocative name than little corporate logo that was chosen instead. So, to heck with it, Toronto’s PATH Network is Toronto’s Underground City. I know a lot of people who refer to it as such, and I’m sticking to the name. It is, of course, the name that Perpetua will refer to in The Night Girl.

On Looking For Alaska

Finally, I thought I’d share this video, pointed to me by Meg Cabot and R.J. Anderson. I have to say that I had the exact same reaction as Rebecca: I’d never heard about this young adult novel, Looking For Alaska until now, but now I have an almost burning desire to head down to my bookstore and pick up a copy. Likewise, when the time comes that my books are noticeable enough to get banned in Alabama, I intend to offer gold foil stickers that bookstores can apply to my books saying such, to help increase sales.

I find one aspect of this story particularly bizarre, as I believe it goes a bit beyond the usual kerfuffles that go around campaigns to ban particular books in schools. In this instance, the school trustees in Depew, New York, knew that they had a book with some controversial subject matter on their hands. They took the unusual step of notifying parents of this, and asked them to sign a permission slip if they were okay with their children studying from this book. Those parents that did not sign a permission slip — who did nothing, in fact — would have their kids study a more innocuous novel.

You would think that would be good enough for those upset at having this book read by their children, but no! According to the information here, these would be book banners are not content with controlling their own children’s reading — they want to wrest that control out of the hands of parents who have said they are perfectly okay with having this book in their kids hands. Indeed, some of these people protesting, apparently, don’t even have kids in this English class.

What. The. Hell?!

If I were a parent in Depew, New York, I would tell these individuals to get their noses out of my child’s book, get their asses out of my child’s classroom, and don’t EVER presume to tell me how I should raise my daughter.

Further Reading

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