I’m on Whyte doing the usual rounds. Cursing the tourists and laughing at the locals. Chuckin’ a slurpee down my throat and enjoying the 25 degree parade of skin on the ave. All the usual buskers and beggars are out and it looks like they’re doing alright. Guitar cases jangling, hats replete with coin, gristled hands ripe with change purse detritus. Out in front of the car wash a man walks toward me with his three kids. White. Middle class. Golf shirt, khakis, and handsewns. Looks like he’s got a soft office job. Greasy native with his five-day clothes and whiskey hat out calls to the guy, cen ya spare zum change?. Man with the kids hauls his blonde daughter to his chest and says, “No, buddy. There’s plenty of work out there. Get a bloody job.“ Native guy says, “Yeah, whatever.” Turns to another person and asks the same thing, like he’s heard that response a million times.
Smug white fuck. Sure, there are plenty of jobs here. For white folks who aren’t alcoholics. Who don’t live out on the streets. Who have skills. Who were born into a different world and under a different sign than the pathetic bums who harass all the nice, white, respectable, money-spending, contributors to society of this neighbourhood. Fuck you, guy. Fuck you and your healthy kids and your nice home and your job. Fuck you for coming down here and talking shit. And fuck me, too, ‘cause I didn’t give the dirty-faced native a cent of my own money either.
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?