Sunday, October 15, 2006

M.o.M.’s Tourist Guide to Edmonton, Part III

Everyone knows that Edmonton is a hip, cutting-edge, nanotechnology-friendly city with ready access to Starbucks coffee, but what about this city’s illustrious history? Here, in brief, is a guide to Edmonton’s history and where to find the historical sites referred to herein.

With the arrival of a young hockey player called Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton is born! But what about that place in the river valley called Fort Edmonton? Friends, that is a tourist trap, not a historical artefact. Do you really think Edmontonians would be archaic enough to use trains or heat their homes with wood stoves???? Get real! When was the last time you burned wood in order to fend of a minus 40-degree wind chill? Exactly. It’s not possible. Fort Edmonton was created by geriatric Edmontonians to fool the rest of us into thinking that back in the day, they were tougher than us. Which they weren’t, the liars! For one, no one back then had to contend with the monstrous shopping gulag known as South Edmonton Common. Most of the rugged “homesteader” types were living in bungalows in the suburbs of London, England before 1980 and they damn well know it!

HISTORICAL SITE: The statue of Wayne Gretzky at Northlands Coliseum or Skyreach Centre or Rexall Place, or whatever it’s called this year.

Edmonton really gets out of the crib and starts throwing its weight around in this decade. That is largely thanks to all the money sloshing around town because of the mega-bucks of Big Oil. Edmonton, the Rome of northern Alberta, recognizes that it behoves the cultural epicentre of the prairies to build monuments to its industry and brilliance. With no further ado, a light-rail transit station is opened. South Edmonton Common (see above) is built. A dozen sprawling suburbs are added, visible from space. Tens of thousands of Edmontonians buy vehicles that are so big that they require their own postal code. Our puny ancestors had nothing to compare to that! A horse rots in a ditch, but a rusting SUV is an eyesore for decades!

HISTORICAL SITE: The University LRT station

Edmonton moves into what is called its Golden Age. There is now so much money that the elected premier of the province has had to bag it up and give it away! In His generosity, he also throws some extra at the Poor! Another LRT station is opened, with the promise of another to open at a time decided upon by city council after its thirty-seventh debate on the issue. Somewhere on 23rd Avenue and 111th Street, a car gets stuck in the left turning-lane for eight days. This is later called the Eight-Day Wait. To ensure even more exciting rage in that part of the empire, another turning lane is added at 19th Avenue. Visitors to the city can now pretend they are in Los Angeles and sit in exhaust fumes for half of their visit.

HISTORICAL SITE: The intersection of 23rd Avenue and 111th Street.

And what does the future hold, folks? What can tourists expect to see in Edmonton as our city gallops into the future like a filly on crack?

1. The Brick Furniture Warehouse will hold a sale so big that a small child called Fred will be trampled to death in the mad stampede of the crowd to secure a cheap loveseat. This will be a civic tragedy. It will be summed up evocatively by future mayor Billy Miggins as “Flattened Freddie Day.”

2. But in happier news, the annoying blond woman who does the Edmonton Ford commercials will retire!

3. Some prostitutes will go missing. A few left-wing whiners will go, “Oh woe is us! Why does no one care about poor women except for us?” Then one of the prostitutes will be found. She’ll be decomposing in a snowdrift and her face will be half-eaten by a dog. What’s her name again? Nancy Cardinal, that’s it.

4. What was the name of that dead prostitute they found in the snowdrift, again?

5. Millions of Edmontonians will watch and cheer madly as South Edmonton Common is blown up and removed from the map forever. Edmontonians will be screaming, “Hoorah for the death of that disgusting monument to greed and philistinism!”

6. Only joking! What will really happen is that millions of Edmontonians will cheer the construction of Son of South Edmonton Common and troop inexorably towards its capitalist clutches like prisoners on a death march. “How much would you like to spend today?” the Wal-Mart greeter will ask with an inane smile on her hairy face. “Nine-hundred dollars,” will come the reply. “Oh good, I can find you nine-hundred dollars in worthless shit right now. Just follow me!”

7. In the year 2037, Big Oil will totally dry up, Edmonton will wither and start to die, and the surviving residents – deformed and rendered like dwarves because of years of sedentary living coupled with exposure to trace-level toxins – will drift listlessly around town, riding on tumbleweeds.

8. What was the name of that big city that used to be in northern Alberta, again?

In conclusion, enjoy Edmonton’s glory years while you can!