Morning walk, 7:00am, too cold for light breath, too cold for no jacket, too drowsy for thinking. The plonk of my boots the starting gun to another day in the grinder, another day in the wonderful toil. The papers are fresh, girls fresh on the cover, death fresh on the back pages, frozen whiteman walk signal in my head. The cafe is just opening. The man with the drapery hair is placing the tin chairs for the morning birds and they sing like it is nighttime. I have 50 cents in my pocket, not enough for a coffee or a flagon of morning juice. My jeans a fray of blue, my jacket a tumble of brown, my hair a west-leaning drizzle. From behind defective sunglasses this city is a beautiful morning doll, just waiting to be kissed on the mouth. I pass the house with the wooden porch. Last year, I watched the owner assemble that porch over the course of a summer. It was a pile of unfinished plank. Now it is a porch suitable for smoking on and living on. In the front yard lay a broken vinyl record. Smashed by the weekend’s skydive, I imagine; cruelly busted over a drunken knee and cast forlorn into the wide green of the front yard. It is The Beatles. The White Album. A travesty.
At the bus station the educated youth are buzzing about, shaking off Monday’s weight. The tradesmen are brown and dirty and ready to spit from the high girders – the places that most don’t see. The busses hiss and rumble and the brick and stone of this place are a comfort. The wind tears proudly across the bus deck, heaving the old frost one last time. Someone ripped down a lost cat poster, but I can still see the photo of the cat. A travesty.
Somewhere across the bus lane a goth girl is dry heaving and retching. She may be beautiful, but not now, not with spring launching, dewhorns glory bursting, and she falling into a container, missing her bus. The jogging geriatric passes by just in time, I check my watch and he is eight seconds later than usual, he’ll have to kick up his pace if he wants to beat his earliest time. I see a Van Halen symbol scrawled on a bus seat. Someone else has scratched it out. Again, a travesty.
On the bus now, sailing into the valley from the south. All the usual kids and grownups are accounted for, save a few unpredictables. The green of Hawrelak Park everywhere I look. Suddenly I am crossing the river, the River Green, and the buildings of downtown give me a nod from the shadows. A crack of a window is open up at the front of the bus. I see long hair shooting to the ceiling. I pass through the valley in less than three minutes. That, aside from arriving at work, will be my final travesty of the morning.
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?