In the rackety old marker graffiti cigarette stained Wednesday bus station, a dirty punk and a metal press operator are sharing a painted glass bowl of the sweet stuff. Punk guy is bedecked in a Rancid T-shirt and cigarette leg black Levis and mutt-brown Chuck Taylors with a rip in the left toe. Longhair metal worker is in his canvass Carhartt best – the original donut brown models, none of this new-fangled chestnut or petroleum blue coloration, but the brown of the proud local-but-worldwide brotherhood. Their morning smoke is a pretty blatant display, but hell it’s 7:30 am, the bus ain’t here yet, the sun just slopped it’s hairy ass over the big building, the high school girls are blooming across the street, the paper put another bikini blonde on the cover, and why not, it’s not like anyone around here gives enough of a hang to say anything anyways. With Canada’s lax pot laws and a smoothing air of acceptance around the stuff, it’s tough to blame these guys for their public twist. We all do what we gotta do to start the day off right. Still, it’s kinda funny to watch a couple guys pass a mutiflocked peace pipe back and forth. Two guys can be discreet with a rollie, but a pipe is more than a little obvious; it’s a brazenness that we Canucks aren’t used to, and therefore frown upon. And it’s not that these guys are all about attention-seeking bravado, either. They don’t say much to each other. They act like nothing unusual is happening and that they’d be OK with doing something else right now. They pass the pipe like men should – with confident arms, no eye contact, and without a word. They enjoy their sacrament for a good ten minutes, taking care to not cough too loudly or obviously. When the bowl’s done and the resin has settled, the punk rider wipes their spit from the reed and tucks the piece back into his pack. They stand there and sway slightly, feeling their way through the creeping fog, looking for a blonde lighthouse. I swear that I see red spiderwebs form in their eyes as they shake hands in silence. They look around for something else to say, but just give each other a brotherly grunt. Then I watch them separate and launch into Wednesday’s muck.
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?