Now, don't go thinking that I'm making a habit of this or anything, just because I happened to do this sort of thing last year and I happen to be doing it again this year. Entirely coincidental, I assure you!
The following had been intended for a live radio reading, one ultimately scuttled when the University of Manitoba Security Services wouldn't let me into the building. (It would seem that I am vastly more dangerous than I let on, or rather, more dangerous than I had hitherto been aware I was. The Most Dangerous Man in Winnipeg!) So I am afraid that the text version will, once again, have to suffice.
Yes, it's been a big year! It's also been a pretty terrible year. I do have a wee bit of positive personal news to report -- a rarity for me, this year -- but I can save it for the year oncoming; if I'm hoping for it to turn out well, the last thing I should want to do is get 2011 all over it.
But enough preamble! Let us mercifully put the past year behind us, and I do hope you will enjoy:
156 Lines About 26 Letters: Your Local 2011 in Review.
A is for Air Canada personnel,
who consider our downtown a circle of Hell
uninhabitable owing to its defacement
by (cough) "rural Manitobans" in "displacement".
Despite our best efforts, the airline, still nervous,
left almost as rudely as its usual service.
B is for Bedbugs, now widely freeloading,
and B is for Byfuglien drunkenly Boating.
B for the By-election all forgot here,
B for the Beethoven movie that shot here,
and B for the Beer you might get stabbed for buying;
nothing but Bad news in the B's, I'm implying.
C is for Christ the King School, which purported
to Crusade against fetuses being aborted
by offering school Credits for students to protest,
because Catholic guilt is what solves women's woes best.
In the ensuing outcry these plans were soon ceased,
Principal David Hood shortly after released.
D is for the former Discreet Boutique,
its exit uncharacteristically meek.
Panhandlers were blamed for its closure so speedy
(even by smut standards our downtown is seedy);
as Air Canada left, it joined the procession,
the better part of valour being discretion.
E is for Eadie's curse-laden intensity
and peculiar definition of density,
sounding F-sharps at his coworkers' gall
in approving a fourplex he liked not at all.
His message to progress, unflinching and hard:
"Not In My (foul language redacted) Backyard".
The aforementioned F had an awful year too;
a Fifty-man melee broke out at the Zoo.
Firebombs and Flooding ate up the whole summer,
Pat Martin's F-bombs rendered everything dumber,
Fort Richmond was declared the new Gaza Strip --
suffice it to say, F has been a bad trip.
G is for Garbage, subject to more fees
despite claims of maintaining a properties freeze;
our Mayor, who'd vowed to lock tax rates in place,
renamed this a "levy" to try and save face
but the upshot is still paying fifty bucks more,
for really the same services as before.
H is for Hours, less than a half dozen
between the implementation and discuzzin'
of Justin Swandel's morning fever-dream fares,
proving of "due diligence" that no one cares,
as it passed in Council by that afternoon --
twenty-five more cents for each transit ride soon.
I for Infrastructure, not up to code
with its hundred-year-old water pipes that explode
nor its one-fifth of roads marked as Poor and so grave
that the City declared they're too damaged to save.
Yes, our leaders gave up; you will, too, when I fill y'in
that our Infrastructure deficit's now four billion.
J is for Jets, our civic vindication;
fifteen years of obscurity and frustration
absolved in an instant, ignore though we might
that they're still just the Thrashers and still sort of bite.
Our feel-good story of the year, even still;
a .500 hockey team, soaked in goodwill.
K is for Keys to the City, and KISS;
them being together proves something's amiss
when the list for our civilian honour most high
is to, one, be famous, and, two, be nearby.
Shallow, yes, and small-time, but this too shall pass;
we're convinced leeching this fame will make us world-class.
L is for Leadership, or what's left of it;
two parties were forced to take that job and shove it.
Tory Hugh McFadyen resigned in disgrace,
having gained no ground after five years in the race,
and the Liberal Gerrard leaves his party in care
of, well, we don't know; nobody else is there.
M for "Manitoba Time", which was sent
around without explanation of what it meant --
then when the public universally panned it,
its ad wizards said we just don't understand it.
"The campaign will make it make sense", we were told,
an outcome that still remains yet to unfold.
N for the New annual record we've set,
38 homicides with time left over yet;
it's hard to pin down any one single cause
for this rampant disregard of homicide laws.
The comforting advice you're bound to hear stated
is, don't worry, mostly they're premeditated.
O is for Osborne, a neighbourhood changin';
like Santa's reindeer the big chains are arrangin'.
On, Subway! On, Safeway! On, Burger King, too!
On, Shoppers Drug Mart and A & W!
Of American Apparel as well it's composed --
but not Movie Village. That's about to be closed.
P is for Pipestone, out where they sell smokes
without collecting taxes -- a fine deal these folks
put together to provoke a Native rights scandal,
one thus far the province prefers not to handle.
Smokers seem unconcerned that the law has no part in
selling cigarettes at fourty bucks a carton.
Q is for Question, the one they'd been hopin'
to answer with "yes, 2013 we'll open" --
but government sources of funding have dried,
and the Holodomor still remains a divide.
So what is our Museum's opening range?
For now, 2014. (Subject to change.)
R is for Russ Wyatt's valiant crusade
when a store in his ward didn't have enough shade.
Yon evil Wal-Mart he rebuked when he said
that he'd counted their six trees, two of them dead.
So the next time you doubt Council's usefulness, please
think of how hard they work as they count all those trees.
S is for Signage, most often quite passive,
but one sign downtown was so bright and so massive
it hassled the neighbours and frightened the birds,
blotting out the sun with its brightly lit words
until City Hall ordered it be taken down --
though of course you will note that the sign's still aroun'.
T is for Terminals, both old and new,
though one left the other with nothing to do.
Such abandonment we were all shocked to discover
(somehow, since the Airports are next to each other)
and an alternate use we must now seek to find--
oh, wait, we can knock it down? Good! Never mind.
U is for Urine at sporting events,
brought up as a topic by some malcontents
forced to wait in lineups as washrooms were brimmin',
complaining of having "to line up like women".
So trough demands spent two days in our headlines,
as a helpful reminder that we're out of our min's.
V is for Violent crime, in which we lead --
it's nice to have something in which we succeed --
and while it may seem a most tempting mistake
to fret about a title we can't seem to shake,
no one else seems worried; it's well understood
that we now have a hockey team, so, hey, we're good.
W is for the Waste treatment plants,
and around a billion litres of pollu-tants
only partially treated when they were released
into rivers where flooding had only just ceased.
So, figuring what our reactions would be,
they spent a month keeping this in secrecy.
X is the mark that you make on a vote,
or you would if you did, but it's clear that you don't;
voter turnout decline has become so accurs-ed,
even Gail Asper rapping has failed to reverse it.
'Ere the tally of school trustee ballots be noted:
fourty-three thousand eligible, three thousand voted.
Y is for "Yurt"; no one knew what it meant
(it turned out it's some sort of exotic tent)
but then brave Occupiers brought social reform
by laying tents, then leaving for somewhere warm.
That camp now lays broken, its movement inert,
but we'll always hold fond memories of their Yurt.
And Z is for Zilch, which is to say none,
the number of Grey Cups we seem to have won
in two decades, despite our occasional prank
of reaching the big game and proceeding to tank.
The parade plans yet again we're forced to shelve,
not holding our breaths for this year twenty-twelve.
See you in the New Year!