Sunday night snowy lovers pushed against the side of a Mac’s store, his hand on her ass, both of them holding a cigarette. He’s got his tongue in her mouth and her palm is against the brick wall. A hot scene to be sure. Guy holding a bottle of rootbeer out front. He’s asking for change and I’ve seen him a dozen times before. He always asks. I always say no. Two penciled dames on cellphones yakking away. Two conversations of importance occurring at ten pm on Sunday. Guy at the busstop on the corner, taking pulls from a smoke and his 7-Up. Somehow, that guy is Sunday. In the store and under the deathly fluorescent lamps. Crowded in here. A guy in oily Carhartts is stirring his coffee and eyeing a young flower by the cooler. She does not look and he does nothing but look, pay, and leave. Young couple deliberating over what kind of mix to buy. They buy two 2 liters and today’s paper. A couple not-so-trashy hipsters deciding on what kind of nachos to buy. One of them buys a slurpee (it’s minus five outside), the other a bag of Cool Ranch. Cigarettes from the man and out. Shy guy over there wants to buy a skin mag but he’s too chicken. He’s checking out the batteries and lip balm. Come back in a few hours, I think. I grab a flagon of milk and a bag of s&v. Five to the man and the change jangles down my pocket. Enough for a coffee tomorrow morning. Outside to Sunday’s downslope, all of Monday’s grist waiting in the East. Guy outside doesn’t ask and I don’t offer. His rootbeer is gone. Those two gropers are still entwined. Smokes are out. So damned beautiful against that brick wall, they are.
51 Ave Eastbound, Nov 06
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?