Did you know that the first television program was a newsletter? They even kept the first part of newsletter to describe that kind of show. They call it “the newsman”, and you can find it on almost every television in the world at some point in the day. Just another way that newsletters have changed the world. Here is one, for you, in your inbox. Hello.
Calgary is a bit too disconnected from what we make. Expensive commercial fuck-ups might be the only way to remind us.
Up on the hill, on 14th Street at 16th Avenue NW, where the Trans-Canada Highway forms the horizon above Hillhurst, there’s a weird tangle. A series of road compromises form a compass, and at the corners lie every part of the urban complexion. Southwest, a bunch of houses and condo on a precarious ledge looking at a million-dollar view of downtown. Dotted with infills and post-war bungalows, legacy driveways peek out onto the north-south artery to cause panic sweats when cars enter traffic. Northwest, a brand new rental apartment complex for the kids on the southeast corner attending the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Recently expanded and covered in RGB lighting like a dork battlestation running a Ducky Shine. The northeast corner has enough food and booze to serve the lot.
Due west, a fuck-up. The mall used to have a gas station and, like all gas stations, it leaked into the ground. Whoops. Every time this happens Calgary goes through the same cycle - denial, proof, apology, resolve to clean it up, and delay. Sometimes it’s a small outfit that has an outsize liability it can’t deal with. This time, Sears and Suncor share the liability to clean up one of the most valuable and central areas of the city. It’s hard to get Calgarians up in arms about anything, but when petro-carbons are snaking their way into God knows where from nearby messes, something close to a blush hits their face. This time, anyway. The last big one was in Bowness before the rich people moved in post-flood. This one is in a place I drive by every day!
Flip the context to a farm near Caroline, though, and those same people could give a shit. Yeah there was a well there and yeah it leaked everywhere and heck, that company went out of business, then the company that bought that company went out of business, so now the clean-up falls to the province but, oh gosh, I don’t want my taxes to deal with it! Leave it. Who cares. It’s a field near Caroline. Nothing there but the odd Nazi and a farmer.
I don’t entirely blame John Q. Calgarian, but I think about the headquarters executives living in our city often. His house was in Bel Aire or Pump Hill, Britannia if he was a scallywag-come-lately, but the idea of a major industrial outfit operating within city limits was intolerable. Add a pliant city council and oodles of physical elbow room and, boom, that landfill is way in the southeast where nobody will ever live, same with that power plant, and same with all the refining capacity. Put it in Edmonton. Only the help lives there.
What if the city was like Sarnia, where an air-raid siren fires often telling people to shelter in place, lest the gas get em’? What if a coal fired gas plant was closer than Hanna? For a closer comparison, what if our city crept ever closer to something like Edmonton’s Refinery Row? What if we could walk from our favourite donut shop to a hulking refinery in a shorter time than it takes for our coffee to cool like in Regina? The choices and power that kept these odour-creating eyesores away from “The Beauty on the Bow” have detached us from human impact of our economic output. No wonder we can’t wrap ourselves around our responsibility for equatorial peoples about to bake alive due to climate change. If we can’t smell it, who dealt it?
This a rich notion, industry-free Calgary, I know. I can go to a restaurant for a $50 lunch entree and be at a hat factory with a two minute walk. Two more minutes and I’m between two breweries. Another ten minutes? The malt factory that probably supplies those breweries. A couple minutes after that, I’m at a metal scrapyard. Calgary has no shortage of light-to-heavy industrial production. Standen’s is in city limits. They make bombs, I’m told, though not in this city. They make bombs and artillery and mortars and all sorts of things for Canadian Forces and all manner of American fighting man. You can find them here, right inside Cowtown limits. Be a part of that energy.
But I’m talking oil. Texas tea. Black gold. The wispy, watery stuff that floats the thick, glutinous shit through the pipes, and all manner of black and tan between. Pipes run up and down, left and right through the city. 14th Street has taken forever to fix up because of all the pipe using it like a highway. Highway Two (it will be a cold day in hell before I give directions to anyone on any Queen) ferries trucks and tanks to and fro all day, every day. But inside city limits, nada. No refinery to speak of. The dank armpit of oil production is nowhere to be seen.
What if it were more visible? Not Husky in the skyline, but Husky in the water line. If someone in Elbow Park held a barbecue lighter to their bathroom sink and it ignited, would Calgarians be moved to act, or vote in different ways? If the pipelines were forced above the ground and we cohabitated with a toxic spaghetti of explosive tubes, would creditors get paid out before insolvent firms cleaned up their mess? I want to think so, but the hit to shareholder value and long-term EBITDA makes me wonder.
🎤Local pod pals profiled in periodical.
👨🦳Nothing to see here, just a monied group of white dudes with weird levels of access to your elected officials giving secret presentations in members only clubs for oil and gas executives. Nothing out of the ordinary.
👁🗨One party gives you zeroes, the other party asks for a benevolent handout. If only there was some quasi-legal action that got the goods? Ah but who could know of such a thing.
👩🌾The provincial government isn’t paying their taxes in High River and they are POLITELY MAD ABOUT IT.
🌌You can’t do environmental crimes if nobody catches you.
🧐Calgary cop probably going to jail for trying to live out the plots of both Bad Lieutenant movies simultaneously.
🏰The Canadian Press keeps beating the drum that giving people weirdly small homes after they come home from almost dying in the desert on a lie is a sensible policy and not a weird, small bandage over the giant sieves that are housing, veteran, and mental health policy.
🧸The Calgary Police Service spends Valentine’s Day adding insult to injury to the most marginalized people in the city, using a giant bullhorn to mock them with faux love letters. It was pretty fucking gross!
🧇If your minister for community and social services talks like she’s never met a poor person, let alone has been poor or partaken of the services she administers…you might have a problem.
🤮Jason is helping the Albertans suffering the most: car insurers.
🎑The tide is turning against carbon-based energy. Luckily our province has a diverse, robust economy that can weather storms that would waylay a lesser jurisdiction that was wholly dependent on a single sector.
💃Cenovus made $113 million in profit last quarter. They recently received the better part of a billion dollars of your tax money as a treat and laid off over 500 of your fellow Albertans. We wish them well and no arson whatsoever.
🤰🏻Sure, there isn’t as many doctors in rural areas, and the work in such areas is typically more dangerous, but the reason why emergency rooms outside urban centres are more busy on average JUST HAS to be immigrants! Of course! Thank you, the CBC.
🦧Kenney family reunion ends in chaos, tragedy.
🧉The energy information war room propaganda…thing was absolutely On One again and…whatever just read this. Christ.
🎯Northern RCMP detachment urges citizens to form angry, armed mob in the face of budget shortfalls and roiling economic anxiety uninformed by class consciousness.
🎭Speaking of the RCMP, this elite unit of law enforcement professionals can’t tell the difference between being drunk and almost dying of a stroke! Love them Mounties.
🦀What can you say about the whole Wet’suwet’en shitshow - everything happens so much all the time. RCMP took down barricades, and so did white supremacists. The media reports the RCMP want to withdraw but downplay the conditions (give up lol). Everyone knew this was coming but did nothing and will do nothing. The lib section of the band is getting a ton of airtime now. Cons want to do a racism because of it, in addition to previous attempts to do a super-racism.
🗿On the one hand, the National Post recognizing colonialism as a negative force is a big step forward! But you can’t get it all right on the first try.
🥱Pembina went and rented a police department in Oregon? Seems like a normal thing.
🦺Captured judiciary delivers fine to Unifor.
🥜Cineplex always whips the boot of monopoly around and everyone in the film industry knows it. Corrine Lea, noted west coast badass, has had enough.
😕CN is blaming previously announced layoffs on pipeline protests because they are messy bitches who live for drama.
👺The military (haystack) is having trouble finding Nazis (also hay) in their ranks after one (needle) got arrested for doing Nazi things in America.
🐍Don’t talk to cops in Northern Canada. In fact, just don’t talk to cops.
🤑Area landlord shocked his offspring started acting like landlords.
🪓If you are more than 100km from a major city in Canada you are at risk of being abandoned by your government and left to fend for yourself for basic needs and protection from ancient diseases.
💀Saudi Arabia, our partners in peace and guns, continue to jail a blogger for blogging, because they have the thick skins usually attributed to hereditary royalty. His Canadian wife hasn’t heard from him in over a month.
🧶Noted good document boy and probable rapist Julian Assange is swinging for the fences with his latest legal gambit.
🧊Heavy oil bans will be supported by Canada in the Arctic, a guideline that will last about twelve seconds after the Northwest Passage thaws.
💣Fox News guests are allowed to deliver disinformation for governments on air, says…Fox News.
🐸Matt Furie had to watch his creation become the fodder of Nazis and dorks. He’s not happy about it.
👏Kickstarter kick starts historic union drive, kicking Kickstarter, for a start.
🃏Good Beach Boy Brian Wilson wants you to boycott his shitty bandmates who hang out with Donnie J and support the murder of endangered animals.
🖕Philanthropy just isn’t worth the effort anymore.
🙅♀️The word is spreading - Canada is fake.
🍀RIP Anne Kingston. You were mostly pretty good, a high bar for Canadian pundits.
✍️New Westminster bylaw banning renoviction survives first round of court challenges.
📉Some weird-ass podcast had a great interview about public ownership with Linda McQuaig.
🎧Sturgill Simpson was on Trillbillies! Neat!
🔇Means.TV is doing a cool documentary on big-ass rodents that ARE NOT the cool, chill capybara.
🎚️Unpacking the News (a podcast you should listen to) talks to the guys behind Passage (a journal you should subscribe to) and introduces a new Canadian history podcast about socialism (which you should subscribe to).
🥌A fundraiser in Calgary for Wet'suwet'en will be held tomorrow, February 21, at McHugh House. Details on Facebook.
🛶Multiple protests for Wet’suwet’en will take place February 27-29. Find your location and more info on Facebook.