With hope that you will forgive this self-referential post, I’d like to say happy birthday to this ‘lil website. StreetRag.com launched on December 5, 2005. Happy 2nd birthday, StreetRag! In that time 242 vignettes have been published, 10 podcast episodes have been produced, and several hundred photos have been posted. 486 comments have been left by visitors. As of this writing page views are closing in on 75,000 – not spectacular by most standards, but decent. Readership remains steady and I’m happy with the small but loyal following this little project has created (I long ago gave up on trying to consciously expand the site’s reach). The most popular pages have been my compendium of Edmonton Slang Terms, my writeup on violence in E-Town and the deaths of Dylan McGillis and Evan Grykuliak (those pages see continuous traffic from search engines), and a few of my posts documenting the craziness of the Oiler’s 2006 run for the Stanley Cup (which ended in heartbreak but did the city a ton of good). So far so good I think.
I once received an email from a reader who stated that she had “figured me out”. I got defensive. Figured me out? From a series of non-personal blog posts? Gimme a break… She went on to say (paraphrasing) that I didn’t really love Edmonton so much as I loved writing about it. That fact hit me like a sack of ball-peins. She was right, dammit. It wasn’t obvious until someone else pointed it out. Edmonton and its people are my subject, not my reason.
Two years on, I have no new mandate and nothing new to announce. The StreetRag podcast, which went live a few months back and is enjoying a nascent subscription base, is the newest addition to the site. It will continue for a time. The rest? It will stay in its present form. I’ll keep writing and posting as long as you keep reading. One day StreetRag will end and I’ll do something else and be happy about it. Until then my sincere hope is that this humble endeavor injects a bit of rough beauty into your day. I’d like to thank all of you for reading and commenting. Cheers to more years and more words. Onwards.
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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?