Archives: “guest post”

absolutely black

My blackout story goes something like this:

I was standing in the Plugin Gallery here in Winnipeg, taking in an exhibition entitled Art of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, or as I’d like to think it was unofficially called, “Mao: Red like yo mama”.

Just as I took this photo, the curator’s small, old school portable radio (I think it was a Radio Shack special), started on about how power was failing across the Northeastern US and Canada. I believe she was listening to the CBC.

That’s about it.

My good buddy Dan’s tale, however, is more interesting and much more eloquent than mine. He recounted it to me in an email he sent the day after the power died, and has kindly allowed me to quote from it here.

… And at about 4:10, the lights went out.

I think they should make this a regular event. All my immediate neighbours were talking with us, endless streams of people walking up the street. I regret that I didn’t cycle downtown to see the scene, but apparently it was quite amusing. Street cars immobilized everywhere. Major ice cream sales. Cars running out of gas everywhere…

But the best was watching the twilight come on, and everything just darken and darken. We sat in the backyard and looked up at the sky, drank wine and listened to the CBC. Saw shooting stars, constellations, satellites - but very few airplanes, which was vaguely 9/11ish. But who’s been able to look at stars like that in Toronto in the last fifty years?

And of course the sound changes completely. Even in our area, you hear city roar all the time, but last night as it went from early evening to dusk, the sound just got quieter and quieter, leaving only sirens — although there were plenty of those. Voices of neighbours in other yards that couldn’t be seen were heard - singing, talking, a few radios, but all tuned to news. No trains, except one or two.

At about 1 AM we went out into the road, which was blue and quiet and absolutely dark except for the moonlight, which was really strong. There was something about the purity of the colour that you forget about. The way the shadowed side of trees and buildings are absolutely black. Thinking back, it’s like the base of the night paintings of Edward Hopper, who is painting cities just beginning to be invaded by light - where the artificial light doesn’t reach, the same light we had last night dominates - like a page from Jimmy Corrigan, World’s Smartest Boy. And of course even better, hanging in the sky just beside the moon was Mars, huge and red and glowing.

We somehow found the binoculars in the pitch black house and hauled them out and looked at Mars, and the craters on the moon….”

Thanks, Dan.

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