Photo Courtesy Mike McHolm/Flickr

Tory’s gum conundrum

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Emma Cosgrove

Mayor John Tory paces slowly through Holt Renfrew Men. His fingers dance over rows of silk ties and wool suit jackets, drinking in each luxurious texture.

A glimmer in his peripheral vision catches his eye — it’s an astonishing set of brass cufflinks.

“These will look delightful with my brass knuckles,” he mutters, jerking his head around to make sure no one has heard him. He turns the corner to pay for them and lets out a high-pitched shriek.

Douglas Coupland’s Gumhead looms before him. The large black resin head is completely covered in colourful wads of chewed gum.

“Sweet mother of Destiny’s Child,” Tory croaks, nearly fainting. “Oh, the horror! Who did this to you?” He rushes to the Gumhead, picking off pieces and eating them.

“Sir, please stop!” Staff run toward him, waving frantically.

“Toronto has a serious gum problem!” he shouts, rapidly loading gum into his mouth. “I vow to eradicate this sticky situation!”

Suddenly, a tiny door in the side of the Gumhead swings open (with some force; the gum has partially sealed it shut). Douglas Coupland himself crawls out on all fours.

“Ugh,” he says, rolling his eyes. “Gumhead is a site-specific crowd-sourced interactive self-portrait sculpture. Do you even get art?”

Tory spits out the mound of gum onto the carpet, pulls out his brass knuckles and affixes the cufflinks. The process takes three painstaking minutes.

The Holt Renfrew employee takes an uncomfortable step forward. “Sir, you haven’t paid —”

“GUM IS A SNACK, NOT ART!!!” Tory bellows. “GUM IS A SNACK, NOT ART,” he repeats, trying unsuccessfully to start a chant with a few confused onlookers.

Coupland yawns and crawls back into the Gumhead.

“Come out here and fight me or clean this darn juicy-fruity mess up!” Tory says. The entire store falls quiet.

Coupland pokes his head out. “Stick it to the man,” he says. He stares at Tory gravely for a few seconds before breaking into a grin at his own joke.

“Nice,” he says. He shuts the door.

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