It just stops raining as I step out for the morning walk to the bus stop. The sun is just showing a bit of leg. Feels good. It rained all night, I think. The streets have that spotty wet look that seems so comforting. I’m on the walk with the ‘phones going. I see a guy up ahead, walking towards me. He’s wearing a winter jacket and heavy boots, smoke in left hand, left arm hooked to his mouth taking a puff. The guy hasn’t seen me yet. We’re still about 50 feet apart. He looks up suddenly, like I’ve startled him. He instantly starts to divert his walking path. Makes a b-line for the parking lot we are currently crossing. Very strange. He’s consciously avoiding me for some reason. Has my mere presence offended him in some way? Have I forgotten to put on pants and underwear again? Maybe he’s a fundamentalist Christian and I wore my Jesus is A Cunt shirt again. When he is past, I walk through the remnants of his path. It is then that I catch the faint but unmistakably sweet smell of pot. The guy was enjoying a leftie before work. Don’t know why he was so sheepish about it. It’s a regular thing around here; almost condoned. It seems to me that our attitudes toward public consumption of pot are interesting. The sight of a guy downing a bottle of whiskey on his way to work would cause most people to pause and pass harsh judgment. But a guy pulling on a spliff? It doesn’t even seem to raise eyebrows anymore (at least, not in the places I travel). An interesting situation, I think.
Tin horse on a pink wall, june 07
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?