The Painted Brunette is reading a book with a large photo of a beautiful blonde on the cover. I find the contrast interesting. Brunette rakes her eyes over the pages, reading with great intensity. I watch her read for a minute before throwing myself back into my own reading material. My book does not have a beautiful blonde on the cover. Or a brunette. Or a woman. My book has a drunken crazy man on the cover and some kind of food stain on the page I am reading. No matter. Back to brunette. I take my eyes off my book of poems and watch her for a few moments. She sits demurely in her denim vest and sandblasted jeans, feet slightly askew. She finishes a page and suddenly slams her book to her lap, looks up to me. Right in the eyes. Busted. I fumble back to my book of inebriational melodrama. She’s staring. I can feel it. She’s giving me a taste of my own medicine. I find this hella uncomfortable. I’m used to being the watcher. The silent observer. The guy taking notes at the hanging. That’s why I sit at the back of the bus. So I can see everyone. But brunette really gets me. I pretend to read. I look up a few moments later. Still staring. I go back to fake reading. Still staring. I close my book and fumble with it, put it in my pack. I look up. Still. After a few long moments, she finally relents, maybe sensing my discomfort and taking pity on me. I smile at the whole thing. God dammit. Busted and taught a lesson in one fell swoop. I rest my chin upon my fist. Look out the window. The clouds are colorful this 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?