Streetcity Custy Epiphany 

You signed in at the front office with a show of legit id. This guaranteed safety.

There were several tenants, both women and men who were vying for my business.

I had money, I didn’t cause trouble and was generous to a fault… I was what you would call a highly desirable CUSTY…

Drugs and sex were on the menu and my abstinence from sex had little to do with morality, just my extreme paranoia of sexually transmitted disease. Because I wasn’t after anything other than a safe place to get high, I was granted trust. I was told everyone’s back story whether I wanted to hear it or not. I was very popular. 

Towards the end, after days turned to week’s and months to years, after everything’s been said and the drugs weren’t working, I looked around the room and realized that I knew everyone’s story, and there was 1 common denominator.

We had all been seperated from our primary families. Everyone of us including me. The reasons were all different, rape, incest, betrayal, violence, abandonment , bullying, delusional perception… death. 

It didn’t matter how we got there really, that was the tragedy;  the results were in. What mattered to me was, in that moment… were any of us getting out?

I left and never went back. 

Dennis Mantin 

Captain Chaos 

Among 2 entirely different groups of people seperated by thousands of miles and at least 1 mountain range, I was referred to as Captain Chaos.

A fluke? Perhaps. I don’t know. 

I know nothing! I am ready for change. I became teachable. “You must know SOMETHING!? ”

The inner voice raged in those day and night with passion and pain.

“I know 3 things… The sun rises and sets every 24 hours. Matter exists in at least 3 states, solid, liquid and gas. And gravity works.”

In time I added that it took a man and a woman to make a baby and Jack Miller’s rule # 2…”Never shit in your own nest.” 

George asked me to write a list of who I was angry with. 

I asked.”Will a top 10 list would would do?”

In the moments that  followed, George said, ” I don’t see your mother on this list. ”

I informed him that I wasn’t angry at my mother. 

George peered over his glasses and spoke softly … “If you aren’t angry at your mother then you aren’t human.”

Wisdom. Courage. Love. 

I have witnessed. 
Dennis Mantin 

The Warrior

I saw him before I heard him.

He was huge and sinewed and  quiet, the most dangerous kind. 

I wanted to be anywhere but there, but there I sat, frozen with fear, unable to take my eyes away. 

I was thinking that if you were at war and you had the choice of one person standing beside you, this was that guy; which was quickly followed by the dreaded thought that if he wanted to rip my head off my shoulders and crap down my neck, there was nothing I could do about it. 

While that thought was taking root, I heard him speak.  

“I’m an alcoholic. If I take 1 drink I will not stop until everything is gone and I’m lying in a ditch. If It was my will I’d still be out there drinking. But because I turn my will over each day I avoid the first drink. ”

He went on to talk about how weak he was and how every day he got down on his knees and prayed to God.

I never knew his name and I don’t know when I began to breathe again, but  I know I was changed.

15 days later I lost the obsession to drink, September 15th 2004.

Dennis Mantin 

Renascent 2001

I was walked to the front door of the treatment center by a crack addict by the name of Chico. 

In an attempt to overstate the obvious, I feel that it’s important here to emphasize how far down the rabbit hole I went, for this man to take the time out of his day to make certain that I found the right address.

Chico left me at the front steps of 54 Madison ave.

The joke goes – What’s the difference between a crack addict and an alcoholic?

They’ll both steal your money, however the crack addict will help you look for it later.

Ah contraire…

I have found the greatest acts of kindness in the most sordid of places.

Dennis Mantin 

1999-2001 Spreads Temperance Street City 

I still had my membership at the Y. Frank appeared out of the mist in the steam room. ” Where are you living now?” Frank inquired. 

“I’m living in my art studio on Temperance. ”

“You wouldn’t catch me dead on a street named Temperance. ” Frank roared and threw his head back into the mist. 

Frank was a writer and we had drinks together on several occasions before I chased him down the street after taking offence to one of his opinionated  observations; he fleeing for his safety, at least in his mind.

I admitted I didn’t know the meaning of the word temperance. It turned out that a former owner of the land around Temperance and Young donated the land to the city of Toronto on the condition that no alcohol ever be sold on Temperance Street. 

My art studio was on the 2nd floor above Spreads, a bar that catered mainly to bike couriers and you’d be hard pressed to find an establishment that put out more in the way of alcohol and drugs. 

It was while I was here that I discovered Streetcity, a government funded crack whorehouse at Front and Cherry.

I ran into Jill on Young Street, who reeled at my appearance… I’d forgotten that I had a hairstyle and perhaps an attitude designed after Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver fame.

At some point the art studio outgrew its purpose and I was spending more and more time at Streetcity feeding my addictions.

I broke down at one of those meetings and said those awful words.

“My name is Dennis and I’m an alcoholic.”

That was the bottom. 

Dennis Mantin 

Balance 

Order and chaos. Chaos and Order.

I loathed order in my youth, and embraced the insanity of the unknown. 

The bits in the middle were messy and stained with moments of creative spark that made the alternative bearable.

I love and crave order now, demand it really. I require that peace of mind and am addicted to that serotonin bath.

I was without balance and guidance and don’t recommend my path, however I regret little and am happy with where I’ve arrived.

Dennis Mantin 

The Next Life 

“I want the tenacity of a tree, the patience of a rock, and the power of water. ”

My friend has it figured out. He’s a deep thinker with the experience and the wisdom of the ancients. 

I on the other hand would be happy with continued growth towards the life I’ve been granted here. 

Dennis Mantin