101 and 102 Monday night. City is lurching into an 8:30 sundown. The downtown pigeons flash into the darkened facade above me. A man walks up wearing a wool watchcap and torn pantaloons. I’ve got a quarter ready to throw to him, but he doesn’t ask just walks on past, happier than a midnight breeze. Slides into a shallow doorway and burns a smoke, puff of gray into the street. The Rolex shop across the street is locked up like a brick tank. No danger of those shifty Swiss timepieces gouging an escape. The long shadows of evening knead the cars as they pass and driver sunglasses are rendered dumb tools for those moments. Down the street I see two women walking towards me. One older and graying, thick glasses, carrying three Safeway bags. The other a young brunette, business type with middle management heels, supermarket hair dye and a black dress. They approach from the north, as wicked things often do. One of the pigeons fusses in his metal nest and I catch a flash of his wingtip. 16 floors up, in the building across the street, a yellow light emanates through pulled blinds – I see no shadows. A spent issue of Hustler is in the gutter. The old woman sits down on the bench and looks down behind her thick glasses. I watch the bare calf muscles of the brunette as she walks into Monday’s drift.
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?