The Pain of Millgate

March 26, 2008

Millgate’s all about the dew rags (do rags?) today. Guy who just stepped off the 60 has one. Dude over there in the shadows is sporting one as well. Tough guys everywhere in this shithole. Brisk spring day, but more like late winter with the visible breath and chattering teeth. Smashed-up can of Coke on the ground, dewrag #1 kicks it across the bus runway. Pulls a pack of menthols from his jacket and lights one. Smoke hangs from his lip as he adjusts his shades and pulls up his baggy-assed pants. I check my watch and realize that the 8 is late for the 3rd day in a row. That bastard toque-wearing driver must be on glue or something. Maybe it’s not his fault but I think it is. Dewrag #2 maintains his cool, leans against a concrete pile. White earbuds dangle; taps his foot almost imperceptibly. I find a dime on the ground and lament the days when a phone call could be made for a quarter, and then I contemplate the dearth of phone booths.

The 8 finally hauls its stinky ass into the station and docks. Grizzled grin from the driver. Give him a nod and find a seat at the back. Both dewrags get on and sit nearby. #1 whips out a cellphone and #2 starts chewing gum. I cue up Dylan and go back to what I was doing.

Vignette #256

Bus #81, southbound on 99th Street, July 2007

Bus #81, southbound on 99th Street, July 2007

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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.

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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?

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