Telling it Like it Was

by Rachel Gertz

City Skyline

If you know Travis and I, you know that we’re honest to a fault. So in a way, it seems appropriate that we’re honest in our posts, even if it means we have to eat it once in a while.

You might remember the rant we spewed just days before we tumbled ass-over-tea kettle into the sprawl of Calgary. It was June. We were bedraggled and bitter about the trip being over and we knew we had a six month lease that anchored us to one location. Overwhelming compared to the last nine months of moving around the country on RV wheels. More than anything, it felt like we’d gone from a world of gold plated bowling balls (big city lights) to a dingy yellow and pink glow balls polished by the rank sweat of overweight teamsters (fairly reflective of the bowling alleys in Calgary, I’d say).

In our self-indulgent misery, we basically wrote Calgary off as a cultureless, destitute city with a fractured creative community. A small idea town with a big ideas attitude that would eventually be drowned out by the Wildrose Alliance and Big Oil. Well, this stuff might still be true  —to a point & only compared to some of the bigger cities out there, but we have to be honest. Calgary’s a fungi, and it grows on ya.

We weren’t even telling it like it was. The last ten years or so have seen major changes and touted diversification to shake a stick at.

Here’s some of the cool shit going down in Calgary these days.


Wicked Restaurants & Pubs

  • District Buckets of bacon. That is all.  
  • Kawa Coffee Should be worn like a Snuggie and then drunk. Amazing. 
  • Bona Sera Affectionately known as The Bone. Best wings in Calgary, hands down. 
  • Local Tavern   A mean butter chicken, and a heated patio.

Behind the Scenes

The truth is, we probably missed a ton of other events going on in this rapidly expanding city of 1.2 million. These things are things that have the potential to mend the cracks in the fractured bones of this young city. The capacity to keep music halls open, and community art spaces alive; to keep downtown lit past 7pm on weeknights. Potentially.

Here’s the irony: in all the years of living in Calgary, we never cared to pet its underbelly or get to know it. So, although we smugly contrasted it to the cultural classiness of places like Chicago, Philly, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and Austin, it’s a different breed all together. Maybe that’s because Calgary isn’t major US city material —but it’s not a US city. It’s a Canadian city. So let’s be fair. 

Had we cared to inspect & explore, we would have been forced to admit how diverse a place Calgary is getting to be. How much it’s trying to opt for understanding over passive aggressive derailment. How Calgary is attempting to be the cultural capital of 2012 (a long way to go perhaps, but at least it’s trying) instead of Corporate Cowtown. Then again, we lived in the suburbs practically our whole lives. And everybody knows it’s pretty difficult to enjoy your city when you’re a forty minute drive from anything remotely titillating (unless you love box store shopping). It’s only when you leave & return to your city all dewy eyed, that you finally see it for what it is.

So we just wanna say to our friends, family & city folk who have tolerated our pissy whining & sweeping generalizations for the last six months: We’re sorry. We were too harsh and we feel kinda embarrassed. It’s not so bad here. Thanks for not giving up on us.

No word of a lie, though: the weather is the pits.

What are some of your favourite pics of Calgary? Post away…

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