Minus 22 in E-Town is as crippling as a 2×4 to the shin, but it doesn’t stop everyone. I’m cruising down Saskatchewan Drive on a frigid February eve, the moon is barking a prison song, the streetlamps are planning a white-light revolution, and the roads are corduroy rutted and bleached. On the side of the road I see a guy in a Mohawk and a sleeveless shirt. Looks like he’s trying to rip down a tree with his bare hands. He’s chewing up the shortbrush too. Must’ve been a hard night on the ‘ol pipe ‘cuz it’s nipple-ripping cold out here – prolly -28 with the wind chill. I gotta say the guy’s doing a good job despite the frost buildup on his shirt. He’s got six huge branches and a few bigger logs at his side and he’s plowing for more. I’m thinkin’ that this crazy shit is gonna build a fire, although, with that much wood, “blaze” might be a better prediction. A part of me thinks that I should stop this guy. I love this town, especially the River Valley. I don’t want to wake up to a headline that reads, “Stoned Pistols Fan Torches River Valley; Area Unlikely to Recover.” I let it go, thinking that a guy who’s bushwhacking in a tank top at minus 28 is likely fucked up enough to forget the matches. I drive on with the crunching of snow and the green glow of the dash as my sole company. The distant smokestacks belch plumes that partially block the stars. It is not yet midnight. In the distance, a police siren wails.
StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook
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?