I would mention that the family and I took in Capital Ex last Friday, but the fact that we blew $150.00 in two hours has left a jaundiced taste in my mouth and left me black-tongued with misanthropic rage. On the plus side of things, I’m enjoying my sleepy new neighbourhood. I finally made the move out of E-Town’s best/worst neighbourhood – Old Strathcona. Over the past 10 years or so, I’d say that balance has definitely tipped to the “worst” end. The Ave is tolerable – even enjoyable – on any weekday. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the unwashed hordes descend on the place and it becomes an unwalkable concrete nightmare complete with stroller-bitten ankles and sweaty, uninvited fluid transfers. The pretty ones are out with their cellphones and beach-streetwear, but it’s all too much for me to handle. On Friday and Saturday nights, the place becomes a festering bag of smashed ass that holds the lowest of the backward-hat-wearing lager louts and the most pathetic of the shivering bar skanks. Throw in some cooler-than-thou hipsters, some weekend guzzlers from the ‘burbs, and a few dozen aggressive panhandlers (not to mention the polished slummers who like to pretend they’re homeless) and you’ve got a really nice shit stew.
King Edward Park (PDF, 590kB) is home now. The eight chugs up 83rd every fifteen minutes. The four plows down Whyte with the same frequency. A myriad of undiscovered routes ply the area including the mythic 151 – a bus with a sprawling and inexplicable route. It’s within spitting distance from Bonnie Doon – a utilitarian mall that hovers just under the collective mall radar, making it a non-crowded gem for locals. Bonnie Doon Rec Center isn’t too far, and the pool contained therein is a true classic. They even play Billy Joel on the PA. There’s a DQ a few blocks down, and the evangelist Jamaicans rock the community hall every Sunday. Mill Creek ravine is scarcely a ten minute walk, much to the delight of the hound.
I know the time was right to leave Old Strathcona. Still, I’ll miss Whyte and all its beauty and shitheadery. May it get some new direction and a wash. On to other things; other neighbourhoods.
Shot of a little Korean strip mall in King Edward Park, Edmonton
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?