On our journey across space & time, Toledo, geographically, appeared to be the perfect escape. We arranged some Couchsurfing at a local artist community, Collingwood Arts Center. This fascinating sub-sect of Toledo culture was literally housed in an old nunnery.
The artists had turned it into a wild, communal creation, with art dripping from the walls to the floors of the ancient & creaky convent once devoted to a different God. If you’re ever in Toledo, I recommend just driving up to the Arts Center. There seems to be a prominent “parking lot crowd” of artists & travelers who will gladly give you a tour & some advice on your stay in town!
Our Couchsurfing host took us to another traveler’s hotspot in Toledo, the Be*Bop Records Store + Third Space, a community space with a lending library & tons of donation-based cultural events. We happened upon a raging punk show that night, featuring imported Houston Band, The Ancient Gods, as well as local funky ska artists Texas Pete & Earl Cookie. We got sweaty & raged the night away to the ear-drum-blowing music.
But, mostly, we observed these punks in their natural habitat. A cigarette-butt laden, fight-erupting, black-wearing, drunken homemade-tattoo cultural black hole, where the Anarchy “A” & Nomadic “N” tattooed to your body meant you were hardcore. The dirtier the body, language & mind, the better. It was a bit of a culture shock for me, but I tried to learn from my punk bretheren about their freight-train-hopping ways. They seemed uninterested in my interest & went back to begging for money on street corners with signs such as, “Need Money for Beer.”
However, even here there was hope. Saturday, June 1 happened to be the Old West End Festival ~ a historic neighborhood’s claim to fame as “The Mardi Gras of the North.” This brought out the festive spirit of the seemingly dying Industrial town of Toledo, & brought some life to the streets rather than the usual homeless people.
Our rad Couchsurfing host ran an “Occupied Garden” that he had opened, without permission, in an empty lot to feed the masses & give these punks something to do!
Mad respect for the Occupy Garden & the skill-sharing workshop that was hosted, ranging in education of vermiculture to meditation!
Rock On, Toledo, you will be more hardcore than me forever, and I hope you can reclaim your town from the jaws of atrophy.