Walking along a downtown avenue after dark, hands buried in fleece mittens, freshly-shorn head tucked under my trusty watch cap, steaming hot choc in hand. The usual drunks and punks down here tonight. The bus stop across the way is busy with riders and hangers both. The square is empty, save a young man with crutches hobbling beside the flashing light display. Down the ave, I spot an elderly brawler driving his battery-powered scooter down the middle of the road. He’s giving her the gas, keeping a good clip, and he’s holding up traffic. No less than five cars crawl behind him. I don’t know whether to cheer the guy on or tackle his sorry ass to the safety of the sidewalk. I can’t see his face yet – he’s too far off – but I expect that he’s got some sort of maniacal grin happening. He passes by and I see that he is absolutely stone-faced. Not good. I’d take a crazy grin over straight-faced insanity any day. I cringe as he blows through a red light after stopping for a cursory, one-second glance across the intersection. Kicks up a bit of snow from his 10” tires as he goes. Crazy fucker spins wild towards Jasper. Down the street, I pass a beggar with tattered gloves and a cracked, winced face. He appears to be in great pain, but I’ve no change and I have to get home. I say nothing and give him nothing as I pass. I turn around only once to see him again.
Blur Streaks, Dec 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?