Pictured here, the Sam the Record Man Sign with a handwritten sign underneath that reads, warning: not actually a record store.
Photo: Samantha Moya

‘Sam’ Sign above Victoria street spins sweet chaos

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By Dylan Freeman-Grist

Hellbent on avoiding studying for his first statistical analysis quiz, Randy Swartz, a first-year urban planning student at Ryerson, headed into the new Victoria Street vinyl joint on campus with a fistful of OSAP. He immediately noticed something was off when he heard Top 40 playing in the foyer rather than a rare b-side live recording of an ‘80s hair band.  

The new shop, clearly marked by a new massive neon sign near its roof advertising vinyl procurement services, turned out to be Toronto Public Health (TPH)—with not a single piece of wax in sight.

“The sign literally says ‘Yes This Is The Record Man’ so I’m obviously a bit confused to walk in the building and just find a bunch of bureaucratic stiffs,” noted Swartz, who later described the sign as “cruel and unusual.” 

According to sources with TPH, reception staff have been utterly overwhelmed by flocks of hipster Ryerson students looking to purchase vinyl records since the new sign went up.

The confusion seems to be in parts the closing of HMV earlier in the year, and the new sign perched atop the adjacent building that appears to be advertising the now hard-to-find commodity.

From a first glance, the sign itself looks to be dedicated to someone named ‘Sam The Record Man’ with no real indication of who the said record messiah is or why he deserves a billboard sized tribute above Canada’s busiest intersection.

“I nearly had a heart attack the first day the sign went up,” Sally Bates, a receptionist for TPH told The Eye. “There was a line up around the block before we opened and I thought it was another SARS outbreak.”

While both sides are in the dark about what the sign is or why it’s there, after some investigative reporting by The Eye it was determined that the sign was actually placed there by Ryerson University…for some reason.

After contacting the Public Art Department at the university, its director, and only employee, Max Sniderman, did his best to shine light on the issue.

“Listen, this Sam sign asset dropped on my desk a few weeks ago, I was told to place it on top of the building, that I didn’t need further approval, and that I was not—under any circumstances—to ask any questions about it,” Sniderman lamented passionately over email. According to Sniderman, the contract had been ongoing in the department—albeit with a high security hold—for so long that no one remembers where it actually came from or what it is.

“Lachemi was as in the dark as I was, let me tell you,” said Sniderman.  

Further complicating the issue, members of the university administration noted that they received daily death threats from boomer-aged alumni and community members while the placement of the sign was held in storage. According to some accounts, who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution, the hold on placing the sign may have been in place for decades.

“I’m just glad the god damned thing is finally there,” noted one member of the school’s Public Relations department. “Sure no one knows what the fuck it is but at least we can go to sleep at night without all of that construction.”

Andrea Guard, a first-year business student also experienced unintentional confusion on behalf of the mysterious art project. Early this past Tuesday she stood outside TPH in her slacks, a basket of laundry and a perplexed expression.

“Well during the day it kind of looks like a washing machine so I thought they opened a new coin laundry on campus,” Guard told The Eye. She added that when she walked in the receptionist saw her and simply began sobbing.

At this time no one on campus can confirm the origins of the sign nor the sinister lobbying factions—operating mostly in the shadows—to have Ryerson display it. The Eye’s investigative team will follow.

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’ve made it to the end of this article. Full disclosure: none of what you just read is real. Satire is a noun that describes the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. Do the world a favour, share this story and try not to take the Fun and Satire section so seriously—we certainly don’t.

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