Food court’s filled with grazers. Plates of salad, fries and chicken everywhere, uniformed table-clearers cleaning up. Place is rammed, -20 outside, lineup for ice cream is long; Orange Julius slinging demented orange juice, lotsa single sitters at tables for four. Woman eating fish & chips beside me, hood covering face, chewing loudly. She gets up with no ceremony or pause, leaves in a huff. Guy over there tearing up a plate of KFC and a poutine; he’ll be lucky to make it out of here alive. Guys behind the sneeze guard at the Japanese grill make it happen quick with no bullshit, no niceties, order or get out of the way. New girl on the till at New York Fries. Lineup’s longer than it should be.
Department stores smell of plastic and perfume. Ruined shoe leather beating the 12×12 tiles, rattling of wallets. Shoe department and underwear dept are canon-fire dead, save one man thumbing through the wifebeaters. Picks up a three pack of the whiteys, makes his way around. Escalators scaling, taking people to lampless furniture floors and reams of chromium egg beaters. Young bright-eyed couples running around choosing wedding gifts – spending other people’s money, start off on the right foot – in debt but horny. Down the moving stairs: Jewelry, lingerie, dresses, eau de toilette. Watch repair at the bottom of the stairs – lonely guy with glasses.
Mall proper-flat, wide, single floor. 12×12 tiles and they’ve removed some of the slumped couches from the halls. Too many bums maybe, altho this neighbourhood is homeless-free. Blockhouse shoe stores filled with dames and stubble boys, latest fashions, two-toned flatpack sneakers, black leather covering thighs, maybe a heel for accentuating circumstances, maybe a pair of hikers just in case a crop of mountains appears in our ‘lil prairie town. Clothing and more clothing. Didn’t we solve the north American clothing crisis a hundred years ago? Duds for coffee-carrying car coaters; smug book-lookers sipping white-cupped cappuccino and browsing skinny magazines. Everything’s a ploy, a blurprinted attempt at fleecing anyone who walks by (I mean advertising – both the magazines and the people). Store selling fancy radios – what was the world like before high-capacity portable music boxes? No demand 20 years back, but now there’s so much coming down the pipe, too much dither, too many sad dollars being slung.
Out back in the moneyhalls jewelers beating 3 months salary for a hunk of lead and a stone, earrings made with mirrors, tennis extreme bracelets, some value, nice shine nice cash. Music store kicking out the hits and back catalogs, big beats, cheap tunes, movies and TV – disposable. Kiosks hot with hawkers, cellphone bullshit accessories, hairpieces, tasteless t-shirts. Drug store tucked in the corner. Pharmacy busy and sad. One chocolate bar – buck 25. Fish a toonie from the denims. Watch says 3pm. Thanks exchanged. Woman walks by with a leather bag. Drops it on her way to the bank machine.
The 52 Southgate.
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?