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Happiness by Will Ferguson Grand Avenue cuts through the very heart of the city from 71st Street all the way to the harbourfront and although it is eight lanes wide with a treed boulevard running down the middle the Avenue feels claustrophobic and narrowRising up in straight verticals and flanking either side are Grand Avenues imposing Edwardian buildings their facades creating two continuous walls Many of these edifices were built during the Great Potash Boom of the late 1920s with all that that entails sombre Calvinistic capitalist features and a grim heavy-handed feel Buildings without laughter From up on high where the angels sit Grand Avenue looks very handsome indeed a veritable showcase of architectural dignity But down below on the level of the street it is a far different scenario one of littered gritty noisy lanes choked with exhaust and angry taxis of mad rambling panhandlers and scurrying office workers A world of constant din where the echoing noise of traffic ricochets off the buildings in a constant cacophonous roar The noise is an eternal presence here With nowhere to go and no way to escape it is caught in a perpetual standing wave a never-ending feedback of cityscape clatter Static of the GodsBut if the dominant sense from on high is visual and on the street level aural down below in the depths of the Loop it is the sense of smell that is most saturated and most abused Here in a miasma of fumes trains rattle-bang on an endless Mobius strip of work sweat salt and grubby lucre A merry-go-round where the horses have emphysema the paint is peeling and the smell of halitosis and body odour swirls in oily whirls through the air in the air - is the air Bodies inhaling dioxide recycling waste pressed into wedges already sticky in this the morning rush-hour crush In the city the bottom layer the lowest level is one of smellEdwin Vincent de
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