Wherever I go, I carry a small black notebook and a pencil. Hop out to sev to grab a slurpee? Notebook. Go for a walk along the valley green? Notebook. There is never a shortage of things to admire and write about (or complain bitterly about, or simply notice). Nary a day goes by wherein I don’t scrawl a little something into the codex. Sometimes it’s just one word (which I often have a hard time decoding), sometimes a few paragraphs, and occasionally a few pages. A notebook is not the place for full composition, but I can say that most StreetRag pieces and most of my poems are born there. I’ve published notebook excerpts before, and I quite enjoy “thumbnail vignettes” for their brevity and potential poetic value. I hope you enjoy these wanderings.
Every morning, the same group of five stumble out of the Mr. Sub and hop on the bus. Today, the guy with the school jacket brought his lunch.
She’s wearing those fucking turquoise socks again. What the hell is up with that?
I can hear your conversation just fine, woman. You talk like a megaphone.
Nothing makes a rainy day like Coltrane. Man, the guy wailed. His shit is more punk than punk rock ever was (or is, or will be).
The guy with the bad hair and red runners is always eyeing the young blonde. She sat at the front today — he sat across from her. His eyes are plastered all everywhere.
Floombop you kids vavoom — shut the hell up or kick off the bus. You fuckers don’t know shit from good chocolate.
On the 74 the other day. About a year since Conley got pasted on here. Poor sonofabitch. Cowards never fight without friends.
Goddam May and frost on the lawns this morning. Some bastard broke a beer bottle in the parking lot. Cretin.
The old Keegan’s place is a Korean joint now. I wonder if the old ghosts are still there, and I wonder how much they charge.
Fortune Favours The Strong. Whoever wrote that didn’t know about the internet.
The reading woman on the 122 has taken to National Geographic lately. Interesting, and telling.
The young woman who gets on in front of the Windsor Pub is carrying a guitar today. Interesting little piece of the puzzle.
I paid my fare. Then where’s your ticket? In my other pants. You mean you changed pants on the train, sir? No, I mean my other jacket. Where is your other jacket, sir? It’s at home. $45.00 fine for being drunk again, says the Transit cop.
As the rain streaks down the bus window, I take a pull from my water bottle. It sweats a little; I press the bottle to the window.
That guy with the sunglasses and the painter shorts is some piece of work. Blithely taking to the gorgeous brunette. She laughs a little and he thinks he might be getting somewhere (maybe he is).
Dogs in the park – one of them jumps through a hole in the fence. He rips to grab a ball and returns it. Again. Again. Rolls around and his tongue is everywhere.
Guy with tortoise shell glasses listens intently to his white earbuds. That is, until the big guy sits beside him (stains on his shirt).
New driver this morning. Bus is late — not her fault. Get off the roads you gas guzzling lemmings.
A walk through an undiscovered neighbourhood is like cracking a new novel. Except, you know, with pictures.
God clouds this morning. The buildings of downtown look surreal and threatening.
I laugh when the skateboard kid doesn’t land his jump. His friends give me a look, then they turn away.
Transfer on the ground. Three days ago, expired at midnight. I wonder where that person went. I imagine a tryst, a deception, and 1/4 inch of brandy left in a glass.
Jesus Christ I can’t believe that guy and his jeans. Pencil thin baggy with the waist around his thighs. Who invented this fashion?
The woman in the khakis and blue jacket is
ostensibly plain looking. These days, to my eyes, that makes her stand out. It may be morning, it may be Tuesday, it may be May, she may have brown hair, she may stand with her back to the sun so that a glimpse of red is visible in her mop. Her glasses are crooked.
I think that Delila and the Clanging Tailpipes may be a good name for a country band. The singer would wear a hat and have holes in her jeans (one on the ass, maybe). The guitarist would look like he just finished fixing a lawnmower.
Evening walks are the best — they finish the day gently, and occasionally I crave a cigarette.
Twin Buildings, Saskatchewan Drive, April 2007
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?