8.14 The Kodak Building

I received this phone message last week: "Hello, someone called me from this number saying I won a contest. I see that this is not you, but they are using your phone number. I just wanted to make you aware of this. They said to come to this address in order to claim my prize: 888 Yonge Street."

This sounds relatively innocuous, right? Actually, sounds kind of nice that this person took the time to let me know of a potential scam operating under my number. I mean, they could be calling all sorts of people and giving out my number - does this make me an accomplice? Can you be an accomplice in a crime you had no idea was happening? Would my unwillful ignorance standup in court?

Whatever.

 The Kodak Building

The Kodak Building

That's not the point here. The point is that this seemingly harmless phone message actually created a sense of excitement when I heard it. I dropped the phone to the floor and stood in the middle of my main floor living room area for a long time. Day turned into night, the rain poured down and the sun came out. I'm trying to establish that I stood there for a long time, but do it poetically. Mission accomplished.

After the sun came out, I picked my phone up off the floor and listened to the message again. I memorized the address - 888 Yonge Street - and deleted the message as I was instructed to do years ago. Okay, enough of the goddamn suspense - why did a sense of excitement fall over me when I heard this message? I'm getting to that, just relax. Don't you just hate it when someone tells you to relax? How condescending.

Anyways.

Years ago, I was at this very strange party, what the kids nowadays would call a 'pop up' party. Before social media was a thing, events like this were pretty exciting. For this particular string of parties, you somehow got yourself on an email list. A few hours before the party started, you'd get an email that said nothing except a series of very specific directions.

I followed the directions to an abandoned Kodak building, crawled under a broken fence, climbed up some cracked stairs. No one was around. Once I opened the front door, a full on party was happening inside. They brought generators for lights and a speaker system for the bands. The organizers gave artists the upper floors where they installed exhibits in abandoned offices.

 The Main Floor

The Main Floor

The event was definitely come at your own risk. I went through the upper floors and checked out some of the installation art. One artist had completely re-created what an office would have looked like. They wore 1980s clothes and ignored you, pretending to be working on typewriters. Another one was a room full of coloured broken glass. Okay, I wasn’t quite sure if that last one was actually art. But, you never know.

After hanging out on the main floor for a while listening to music, I wandered down into the basement. Dirty and disgusting, it looked like a scene from a serial killer movie, the place where victims are brought to their end. As I went deeper into the long hallway, I came to a small room. Inside the room, a man sat crosslegged. He didn’t speak and I just sat down across from him.

After a long time, he finally said, “Do you want to know the meaning of life?” Why yes, of course I would like to know the meaning of life. He watched me for a very long time and said, “At some point in the future, you will receive this phone message: Hello, someone called me from this number saying I won a contest. I see that this is not you, but they are using your phone number. I just wanted to make you aware of this. They said to come to this address in order to claim my prize. You will be given an address and you go to this address. On the eighth floor you will find the meaning of life.”

 The Basement

The Basement

At that moment, his brow furrowed as he looked over my shoulder and out the door. I turned to look at what he saw and when I returned my gaze, the man was gone. He disappeared into thin air. What he saw was the police raiding the place. Almost immediately, the entire building seemed to be filled with cops. Everyone made a run for it, they couldn’t catch all of us. I made my way out of the building and walked home.

Ever since then, I’ve been waiting for that phone message and now I had it.

So, I went to 888 Yonge Street - an old Masonic Temple. It was night and the building was locked. I went around back and found a fire escape and climbed all the way to the roof. On the roof, I found a door that was open. I walked down the stairs to the eighth floor. The floor was empty and only had one door at the end of the hallway. Slowly and with anticipation, I made my way to the door. Put my hand to the doorknob, turned it and in that room everything would change.

Do you want to know the meaning of life?

At some point in the future, you will receive this phone message: Hello, someone called me from this number saying I won a contest. I see that this is not you, but they are using your phone number. I just wanted to make you aware of this. They said to come to this address in order to claim my prize. You will be given an address and you go to this address. On the eighth floor you will find the meaning of life.

Paul Dore