Cafe, nose in a novel, 7:00am, caffeine stirring the slow blood. Reading Basho, his long walk to the north country becoming less epic and tasting more like necessity. I take a gentle sip of the the black and I notice a shadow on the floor. Someone’s making their way to my table. Excuse me, sir a little voice says. I don’t acknowledge the greeting. Probably looking for change. Again: Excuse me? Shade of indignity in that one. I close my book and look up, take another pull from my cup. She’s a short brun, nice eyebrows, big rock on her finger. “Sorry, yeah, hello” from me. That’s ok, she smiles. Holds a 3-inch square of paper in her hand. “Do you know how to get to college plaza,” she asks. I speak plainly and graciously, my voice slightly roughened from the black. I give her concise directions and even some parking advice. She smiles, says thanks, folds the square away. I gulp the rest of my brew and gather my stuff. Out the door to the clamour of the day. Caffeine behind my lids, a few dozen members of the working herd out here in their flats and woolen scarves. Car after car, bus after bus, everyone looking for a place. Jacket zipper broken, headphones on. Convenience store lights spill into the curb lane. Someone hits the crosswalk button.
Cars crossing the high level, Jan 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?