In the express lineup at Safeway, 6pm after-work bonecrush. The meathammer in front of me has about 25 items in his basket – that’s 10 over the limit. Guy lays out 90 bucks and leaves. I comment to the cashier on how guys like that are a real menace to the collective good. They boil tempers and inspire savage, violent fantasies. They should be done away with, like people who stall in the turning lane and tailgate in the winter. The woman behind me is trying to control her little gaffer. He’s all of about three and he’s got the motor mouth going. “What’s this? What’s this?” he keeps asking. Mother is patient and answers dutifully. He asks who I am in a somewhat indignant tone. “Who is that, Mommy?” That’s a man, sweetie. He puts his finger in his mouth, looks at me. I smile and say hello. He doesn’t react. I wave at him. Nothing. Finger still in mouth. “That’ll be $20.11, sir,” pipes in the cashier. I fumble for my wallet and keep an eye on the kid and his Mom. He’s still looking at me. “Think he likes you,” says the cashier with a grin and in a vaguely teasing tone. “He doesn’t know my foul nature,” I reply. “Oh? Well thank the holy Christ you’re not his father!” Cashier hands me my change and receipt. I give the kid another wave. The mom gives me a smile. I grab my box of Christmas oranges and boot it. Outside, a man asks me for a buck. I fish out a loon and flip it to him. Merry Christmases are exchanged. This thing called Christmas is for kids. And it’s for us.
Bus Blur, 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?