Friday, December 31, 2010

156 Lines About 26 Letters: Winnipeg 2010 in Review

Yeah yeah yeah blah blah blah end of year, personal reflections, best-of lists, site traffic ruminations, all that noise. I can get to that stuff later, perhaps.

Similarly, I have a couple of very fine (if I do say so myself) Uptown columns that I'd really like to exposit upon at length, but those too will have to wait.

I'm on a tight schedule, you see; what you are about to read below is entirely time-sensitive. I may later issue a sound recording of the following passages, just so you know where the line structure is supposed to match up, but I wanted to get this out and about in time for people to actually look at it. Who's even slightly interested in 2010 wrapup stuff once we're actually into 2011? Right? Very strict psychological window, here. And I figure I need to get it up and out in the morning, because if I post it in the afternoon you folks won't see it until the evening, and -- let's be honest -- a lot of us are not going to be able to read straight tonight.

So, no time to waste! To commemorate the annum concluded, and to properly bury the previous year of civic affairs, please enjoy the following:

156 Lines About 26 Letters: Winnipeg 2010 in Review.


A is for Autobin garbage collection
and Assiniboine Avenue changing direction,
both rammed through with the City's usual tact
that takes public input only after the fact.
These are just roads and trash, really not complicated --
but our local bungling can't be overstated.

B is for Blue Bombers, always well versed
in starting with bad football and making it worse,
but their Board seems to believe rebuilding is done
through crackdowns on fans' entrances, drinking, and fun.
The full year of bad decisions soured the masses,
and fans dropped the team. Just like Bowman drops passes.

C is for Concrete Circles cars beware
and for Canwest Corp as it collapsed in despair,
Combat around the Canadian Wheat Board,
"Consultations" our planners clearly ignored,
Curve FM, Crocus, Creswin, Crop failures, gee --
sure seems that 'C' starts every catastrophe.

D, the Downtown, bears its closest relation
to lawless post-apocalypse civ'lization;
landowners plop lit signs in illegal spots
and tear up local parks for surface parking lots.
Even this carte blanche fails to attract marquee sellers;
the suburbs get IKEA, Downtown gets Zellers.

E is for Evan Maud, twenty years old
when the mean old cops stranded him out in the cold,
wearing only some stranger's sweater and a frown
as they dumped him to die on the outskirts of town.
A sad story, t'was true, 'till it turned out he lied;
Public Mischief his charge now for tales falsified.

F for Fort Richmond, where stadiums go
(after Polo, downtown, and Point Douglas said no)
in a very rare case, an odd Winnipeg quirk:
the one time "Not In My Back Yard" failed to work.
David Asper then received four million in pay,
not to finish the job, but to just go away.

G is for Gold -- Mr. Marty, that is,
who was speedily bounced from the radio biz
through a series of measures so covert and swift
that nobody quite knows how he earned the short shrift.
There has since been scant answer to RRC queries,
but if you'll ask Gold, I'm sure he'll share his theories.

H for Helicopter, the key invention
to save our law enforcement and crime prevention.
T'was announced for summer with major fanfare,
then launched sheepishly into December air.
Crime is still going strong despite this news, somehow;
haven't crooks heard we have a Helicopter now?

I for Incumbents, invincible all;
call a civic election and not one shall fall.
Any given reign halts only when one should stop this
by dying, retiring, or trying to switch office.
Our established truism, on which pundits harp,
is no Mayor's lost here since the '56 Sharpe.

J is for James 2010; such a shame
they'd attach their failed campaign to such a fine name.
Their ads just didn't pan out quite like they'd been hopin',
2010 all done and the joint still not open --
but worry not, travellers, all is not lost,
not while flying from Fargo is still half the cost.

K is for Katz and his Kick to a Kid
in the face as part of his re-election bid,
a subtle nod to the truth lying beneath
that his tenure has been one long kick in the teeth.
Still we voted him back, as our record insists,
because we're a city of complete masochists.

L is for Leo Mol statues of stone,
two of which have been stolen this past year alone;
folks in this town'll steal anything not nailed down,
even when the contraband weighs thousands of pounds.
One turned up in back lanes, but please be reminded
we're still missing one -- let us know if you find it.

M is for Museum of Human Rights
which remains still unpaid and starts terrible fights
over whose genocides deserve full exhibitions,
whose pogroms are programmed for part-time positions
and how best to prioritize all the guilt --
but perhaps, first things first, they should get the place built.

N for the North End, where the police force
warned the whole neighbourhood not to open their doors.
T'was a triple shooting o'er one night in October
sparked this public warning, still not declared over;
our cops still have no leads, no suspect yet found,
worth noting if you'd planned on wand'ring around.

O is for Overload, such as we get
when campaigning begins with a year to go yet.
The provincial election will have a fixed date
for the very first time, which in theory was great
but means more time for accusations of mistakes --
of Bipoles the wrong way, and of urine in lakes.

P is for Plastic beer cups, known to make
a big stink when they stack in the shape of a snake.
This was one of the Bomber season's biggest peaks,
and as such was snuffed out within roughly two weeks.
The club's overreactions were how they kept peace;
stacking three or more cups will now draw the Police.

Q is for Queen, dear Elizabeth Two
who dropped by for a day while she was passing through;
t'was a simpler tour we decided we'd give her,
hoping this time not to strand her on the river.
She did seem to enjoy herself, albeit quietly;
she left that same day after waving poli-et-ly.

R is for River trail, largely unseen
with its year spent moonlighting as a submarine.
You're supposed to walk over it, damp though it looks
through the city's second-wettest year on the books;
we maintain, though on this promise we can't deliver,
that there's a trail somewhere under all that River.

S is for Selinger, our Premier Greg,
lopsided from spending an arm and a leg
with his other arm toned by all the cash he doles
throwing money anywhere that might help his polls.
He has time to adjust, before push comes to shove,
but he has yet to learn money can't buy him love.

T is for Transit rate hikes at year's end,
stashing project funding they don't intend to spend.
Our Rapid Transit boasts were quietly retracted;
we dropped half the route because we got distracted.
Bus drivers take classes now in self-defence
for when they'll have to tell you the fare's up five cents.

U is for Upper Fort Garry, the space
where apartment buildings were supposed to take place,
but our noble elites saved yon neighbourhood fair --
nothing worse for downtown than people living there.
A modest park will instead adorn the scene,
completion date (no, really): 2014.

V for Veolia, the engineers
who we've signed a deal with for the next thirty years
worth around a billion, though the math's not exact;
no one at City Hall ever read the contract.
Want to know what the details are? Well, so do they --
but Council voted three decades through anyway.

W is for Wacylysia-Leis
whose support base exactly mirrored the NDP's.
T'was her time she was biding -- she went into hiding
all summer, but then her fall was unexciting.
Lost 'cause "she's a woman"; should that claim trouble you,
just ask politics profs at the U of W.

X is for Xolox, an Oxycodone;
there've been eight pharmacy holdups this month, all known
to be after painkillers, more frequently stolen
since March when the Province imposed more controllin'
rules on prescription -- which are only restrictions
for folks who won't steal to support their addictions.

Y is for Youth for Christ, whose breakout was
when Pat Martin complained because that's what he does,
but other detractors thought the group quite uncouth
when their website declared aboriginal youth
as "a prime area for development" -- wow,
their Higgins at Main plan makes way more sense now.

And Z for the Zero interest folks express
in reliving this year, because, boy, what a mess;
news got more bizarre with each new story heard
until even a talking cat seemed unabsurd.
The best we can say is that 2010's done,
so -- until the floods start -- enjoy twenty-one-one.



H said...


Brian said...

A triumph.

One Man Committee said...

A brilliant epitaph for the year that was. Hats off to you, good sir.

Christian Cassidy said...

Ha - great review ! I have to admit that I went to the X first to see what you pulled up !

Scott MacNeil said...

Now that you have put 2010 to bed... all I can say it twas VERY WELL SAID! Kudos!

Graham said...

This may be the finest piece of literature to ever have come from Winnipeg.

John Dobbin said...

Just how long did you need to figure out what to do with the X? ha!

cherenkov said...

Well done, Sir.

Chris Rindahl said...

Very nice James, I'm still laughing at how awesome this poem is. Happy New Year.