Monday, February 15, 2010

Fort Mac: first take

I stepped off the red arrow at its final stop at the central bus depot and a swarm of cab drivers, I want to say from Lagos, but I have no idea, all came forward offering a ride who’s picking you up where are you going do you need a ride I can give you a ride anywhere you like.
Against the front wall a pudgy old man with a mean hacking cough was smoking and staring at me. I stared back. or maybe I smiled, and he said through a wall of phlegm, you’re not going to camp, are ya. I said no, I’m going to a musical theatre show tonight. I asked for a smoke and he shared that he once saw four shows in a row, including Les Miserables, and he loved it.
Julie was calling my name from somewhere now, across the street, a long white coat, and soon she pulled into the parking lot and we were off winding between the thick groves of thin trees.

the new library was a glass encased shell, by this snow covered mound that Julie pointed out. that’s our city monument. the library was also where the rec center was. lots of little kids with mini hockey bags passed us on our way in and on our way out. inside to the right, an unfinished waterpark sat directly across from the library entrance. the pools were all dug out and unsealed, untiled and the backdrop painted with palm trees. I wondered what that place would smell like when finished. the chlorine, the humidity, the books that will eventually age and decay. on the second floor, there were beautiful conference rooms free of charge. next to the empty shelves next to long wooden tables filled with individuals into their own thing. an island unto an island.
in the parking lot, J asked if the pavement felt different. there’s a different rhythm here. I didn’t feel it. not yet. but I would hear this several more times.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Welcome Home, Trevor! or How the Flu Cycle Hit Home

My morning seminar at the University was unexpectedly canceled after my professor's husband called in with news of the flu. Already up and out, I almost immediately started having coffee with Ted, quickly joined by Trevor, who was on his way back to Calgary. Only with the poor driving conditions, we convinced him to stay in town, a notion soon psychically affirmed by his mother.

Moving back to Edmonton after another stint in Calgary, Trevor Anderson has fiercely and consciously embraced this city as his home. This is the place to work! To live! and so, as his very own personal assistant for the day, I stuck with Trevor through a very thorough day of setting up his new life version 5.7.

Between iphone communications, multiple meals, and an Orange Julius break at West Edmonton Mall, we productively and efficiently set up shop with the basic home needs (toilet paper, soap, condoms, etc), dropped off dry cleaning, bought enough socks and gonch to last the week, took a photo with zach efron, found and moved in a beautiful country style german work table along with a red wooden chair from austin, and we did this all before 6 p.m.

Being in Grandin again, where so many of my own memories linger, we walked from his place to Martini's, a trek beneath the trees where it was discovered there are no garbage cans on the east side of the street. It's a trek that recalls various faces, through various times, seasons, and days, and it was good to add to that bank an old new friend.

The day turned into night, a night of beers and cigarettes, a night that had to continue on without me as my cough slid into a full blown flu, but others joined the table that the german table reminded me of, including Ted who left the two of us together some 9 hours earlier. Seeing Ted again, both Trevor and I recognized and verbalized the scope of time, and space, that had spanned since we last saw Ted. A full day missed of assignment that I wouldn't of remembered a week from now, replaced instead with conversations and impressions that will inevitably form my life's work here--and really nowhere else.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

3 Very Short Thoughts

Being within the University institution has left me mostly out of the loop, but have been reading and writing lots with thought, which is now slower than ever before. but perhaps worth it. but I question my sanity and its relevance.

have been collaborating on a directed reading course on edmonton as model for mid size urban n. american cities, and the product of this research is looking like a creative non fiction manuscript.

thinking about urban identities in terms of social ecology, a city's sprawl is the social ecological equivalent of human obesity.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

maybe it was hitting a car on my bike one day, then getting hit by a car while on my back the next day.
maybe it is the 2 elections going on in North America.
maybe it is losing my Grandma and my Father within months
whatever it is the world seems closer to chaos to me than ever before- in order to fend off the feeling of empending doom I went for a walk one morning.

These photos are from that walk, during which I realized that it had been months since I actually connected with the cement of my city. Walking around downtown Edmonton with my camera was something I once did all the time. I miss those days and the feeling of ownership and pride I had back then. 

Looking at these photos a few days later I can see that no matter what is on the horizon- be it doom worthy or not- change is upon us. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Waxing gibbous moon

the evening started at latitude 53's last patio of the season. a perfect night for martinis, wine, i even wanted a beer, sitting around with good friends and pretty flowers, the day's work done.

you don't get nights like this too often, and the second we got home i was out in it again, walking. i saw a woman standing in her nightgown on her balcony, heavy and backlit by the small apartment behind her. at the polish daycare around the corner, all the little tricycles, strollers and dayglo plastic ride-ons were lined up silently next to the fence, the streetlight bouncing dully off molded conformity. the school next to it, one of those 50s elementary schools, built when the world still believed in glass brick and curves, stood formal and majestic. i saw i saw the glow of cigarettes, brighter, dimmer, and brighter again. i saw sheets hung as curtains, sweet homemade landscapes, chip bags made magical by the moon.

mostly quiet, the neighbourhood peeled back for motorcycles. i heard the murmuring of couples sitting on front stoops, the quiet laughter of my neighbours entertaining on the back deck. when i stopped at a 7/11, eyes crazed by fluorescence, the vendor laughed and said, in a thick jamaican accent, "joo got to enjoy de weather now, before da man come again -- old man winter." small dogs, startled by me, registered their alarm. a cat named lexie rubbed against my legs. some night flower wafted by, fleetingly.

you could live a whole life in a night like this, all of it unfolding, lotuslike, under a waxing gibbous moon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer Blues

Surviving the winter and spring mold with no problem this year, summer has been filled with down times. Is there such a thing as August Blues--a symptom or damage done from at least twelve years of structured seasons? The extreme cold replaced by heat waves, always one end of the spectrum. Festivals have taken over every weekend, with everyone at Folk this weekend and Heritage last, a festival city mentality, which someone recently aligned to our boom and bust reality. All or nothing. Concentrated good times to off balance hard living? I found it hilarious when recent artists summed up their week long residence at a brand new downtown housing complex as comparable to a women's prison. Institutional in its uniformity, bare walls, oppression of imagination with no regard for aesthetics, there's not much pretty to view, but you get a lot of work done.

View from 102nd St parkade, one of the best viewing spots in the city. Any higher and you just see flat, from WEM to the concrete and chemical refineries, small lumps jutting from a flat line all so far, far away.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Someone please tell me why Edmonton is worth staying in?

From a chorus of discussions over this past week culminating to a quiet corner conversation tonight at Martini's, I have come to a semi conclusion: Edmonton has no heart. People leave, come and go, and it's simply expected. Transient city. No heartbreaks. Shallow ties. Unstable roots and unable to grow.

Talking with Shawna Dempsey this past week, a Winnipegger all the way (from Scarborough), I couldn't help but try and compare Edmonton and Winnipeg as similarities accumulated: both midsized prairie towns, murder capitals of Canada rank #1 and #2, blue collar, unwalkable, frigidly cold. Arts wise, there are opportunities in both cities, where with enough gumption, you can live however you like and curate shows about the city you live in in a major public gallery . . . Only Winnipeg is Edmonton with heart. When people leave, it is heart breaking. People leave Edmonton and rarely look back. People leave Winnipeg fondly thinking of the city in their hearts. Maybe not always, but they stay for heart, not money.

The main difference is the mentality of money. There is money here, meaning potential, prosperity, a boom, that will be eventually followed by a bust. People are attracted by wealth, and a few of them stay after it dries up, having invested time and perhaps property. It's a cash grab, like that vacuum on that old game show where bills swirl and the participant tries to grab as many bills as they can, before time is up and they vacate their hollow tube. There are no foundations in place for real development. I am again thinking of arts, such as real art schools, film schools, contemporary galleries, and an audience that thinks this is some place to be, to grow and spread from the ground up.

I used to believe that in order to stay, you had to leave. Often. As the opposite seems ridiculous: that once you leave, you visit. Often. So why stay at all? I have been fighting the urge to leave for years, resisting the collective push to think elsewhere has to be better than here. I still don't think elsewhere is better; it is simply elsewhere.

It is a beautiful summer and the people are always solid, yet, I continue to question why I remain still and what I anticipate to come of this next year.