The woman stumbles onto the nine southbound with a drowsy edge in her step. She can barely keep her lids open she’s so drunk. Real trashy piece of work, too. Unkempt hair, ragged nail polish, dirty polyester slacks, dowdy top. She slurs to the driver, something about needing to go to Whyte Avenue, needing to hit a certain bar by a certain time. Driver explains that the bus doesn’t exactly go to Whyte, it merely passes by. She doesn’t seem to care, or is too wasted to care, and plops down on the front seat – right across from me. The smell of stale rum mixed with a twinge of BO permeates the bus. She doesn’t cause any trouble. She just sits there quietly with a sad distance on her face. She seems to fall asleep as the bus traverses the High Level Bridge, and I watch the sun picket through the bridge works behind her head. She bobs asleep just before we hit Whyte Ave, pulls the already pulled next stop cord. She staggers half-lidded to the bus door and gives the driver a “‘sanks, man” just before she steps off. She’s off walking east down the avenue, sun on her back, angelic bottles of rum ahead.
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?