- by Alyson Shane
I'm standing outside in my leather jacket with the mink fur collar
watching my breath leave my body as the moon rises over the river
and the lights starting to turn on in St Boniface Hospital
vignettes of births, deaths, heartbreak and hope
reflected on water that's getting darker.
It's been a while since I've been here, thought of you
remembered the feeling and fleeting way that your smile
made me feel
my hand stuffed in your pocket for warmth
our prints mixing with the rabbits and deer and the geese and the crows in the snow
while the cross on top of the hospital glows like a beacon.
- by Alyson Shane
Today my band, Big Trouble in Little Wolseley, put out a new song.
It's a cover of a Less Than Jake song called "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts" and ours is called
"Obby Khan is a Sellout"
because he is.
Obby Khan is a politician from Manitoba, where I live, and during the pandemic the Provincial Conservative government announced that they were giving out $1.5 million in grants to support local businesses since many brick-and-mortar stores couldn't stay open during the lockdowns.
Obby Khan was awarded $500,000 of that money to fund what is basically a delivery service for local items called GoodLocal.
But GoodLocal never really helped anyone. Most businesses had e-commerce set up already.
Later that year, Obby Khan ran as a PC candidate and got elected.
Earlier this year he made the news again by claiming he was shoved by Wab Kinew, the leader of Manitoba's New Democratic Party (NDP) even when video evidence showed that it never happened.
Obby Khan is 6"2 and Wab Kinew is 5'7, but apparently Obby Khan is "scared" of him
(which is really just a racist dog whistle that perpetuates the "scary native" persona the PCs are trying to paint him with since Kinew is Indigenous)
it's gross and disappointing to see someone being such an obvious lackey to a government that is refusing to negotiate with nurses, that's closed ERs, and is playing into far-right rhetoric about "parental rights" like the Republicans are doing in the States.
Obby Khan is a sellout and doesn't deserve to represent Manitobans
and that's what this song is about.
Enjoy and if you live in Manitoba, don't forget to vote so we can kick these
losers out of office.
- by Alyson Shane
Image via Tourism Winnipeg
One of my favourite things about summers in Winnipeg is the annual Fringe Festival. I love the theatre and the huge variety of independent productions that come through the city each year, so when I was offered a handful of media passes to check out show shows in exchange for reviews here on the blog, you know I jumped at the opportunity.
In true "Shaner summer" style, I'm barely in town this week and am only able to attend four actual days of the two-week long festival, so starting last night I launched into an intense few days of plays, writing, and hanging out in the beer garden.
What follows are the plays I've seen, my thoughts, and recommendations intended to help you make the most out of your Winnipeg Fringe experience:
Let's dive right in:
The DnD Improv Show
I briefly thought about writing a more in-depth review about this show, but if you know you know.
Just pick a night and go see it; you won’t be disappointed.
The Sidetrack Bandits
Presented by: The Sidetrack Bandits
I was actually supposed to see the opening show but had to work (ugh) so I was thrilled when we managed to find time on Thursday night to catch this hilarious sketch comedy show, especially considering that it turned out to be their third sold-out show this season.
This was actually my second time seeing this group perform (I saw them at last year’s Fringe) and to say that they stepped it up is an understatement. The amount of slapstick comedy was like something out of a Charlie Chaplin movie — there’s one scene in particular where two of the cast members were trying to “save” another cast member from drowning in a flash flood where they basically threw him around like a limp, flailing Gumby.
There were several stand-out skits, including one where a teacher is trying to interpret what her Gen X students are saying in their internet lingo that made me feel both very cool (for recognizing all the lingo they used) and very old (for the same reason), but the highlight of the show was a song sung from the perspective of a little boy who can’t wait to grow up.
Highlighting the naive optimism of a young kid who can’t wait to be in charge of his own life, it’s a stinging and ridiculous reflection of how maybe being a grown up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
(Except for days when you bike around hopping from Fringe show to Fringe show. Days like that are what make being a grown-up so great.)
This show made me laugh so hard I started crying — make sure to get your tickets for the last few performances before they’re gone!
The Smallest Stupid Improv Show
Presented by: The Improv Company
Longtime Fringe goers probably recognize this title as a nod to the eponymous “Big Stupid Improv Show” and this performance by improv actor (and our pal) Stephen Sim is a unique, intimate, and (of course) hilarious nod to it.
“The Smallest Stupid Improv Show” is a solo improv show that highlights Stephen’s ability to not only think fast on his feet, but to do so with the same charm and wit that any of us who have seen him perform have come to expect.
Based only on audience suggestions, Stephen wove together a completely brand new, never-before-seen story that managed to connect scientists looking for asteroids, a military official visiting a high school gym, and a lonely, bored asteroid hurtling through space.
It’s truly a one-of-a-kind, hilarious show that showcases Stephen’s range and ability as an improv actor, and it’s all backed up by an improvised score by DJ Hunnicutt who was performing live for the first time since losing his sight, which made the performance extra-special.
Six Chick Flicks Or: A Legally Blonde Pretty Woman Dirty Dances On The Beaches While Writing a Notebook on The Titanic
Presented by: Kerry Ipema and TJ Dawe
Besides being a mouthful to say in its entirety, this play is a must-see for anyone who has a deep love of cheesy clicks but struggles to come to terms with how women are portrayed in some of the most iconic “chick flicks” of our age.
One of the things that impressed me the most about this show was the speed with which performers Kerry Ipema and KK Apple run through the plot and characters of each movie, all while providing a searing critique of things like logical inconsistencies (of course perm knowledge in Legally Blonde will always apply to all of Elle’s cases!) and regressive feminist policies (of course Baby is only “Baby” until she gets sexually freed and, by extension, grows up through the male gaze and influence).
An excellent observation punctuated throughout the play was the reference of the “Rose Effect”, which refers to Kate Winslet’s character in The Titanic, pointing out that her character was clearly written by a man because a) she’s totally fine posing nude for a complete stranger, and b) has an orgasm the very first time she has sex.
(All my ladies will be able to appreciate the total absurdity of that experience, I’m sure.)
Jokes aside, an especially poignant moment was when they talked in depth about the havoc that unsafe and illegal abortions wreck on women’s lives (à la “Dirty Dancing”, of course) which felt important and timely considering the recent overturn of the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
As someone who has been fascinated with how movies and culture shape society’s expectations of what “being a woman” is like since I first read Anais Nïn as a teenager, this quick-witted and hilarious romp through some of the biggest cinematic influences of our time didn’t disappoint. Definitely don’t miss this one!
Broadway at The Blue Elephant
Presented by: 7 Ages Productions
As the title suggests: if you love musicals (which I do) then this is the show for you.
My mom actually chose this show as “our” Fringe play of the year, and I was over the moon at the chance to sit and experience some of Broadway's most poignant pieces about love.
Contrary to a big Broadway stage production, “Broadway at The Blue Elephant” is a concert presented as an intimate performance featuring some of the most iconic songs from hit musicals across the years. It’s a simple, stripped-down, heartfelt performance that emphasizes the lyrics and emotion of each song and reminds us as an audience that the power of the human body as an instrument is the most poignant part of a song.
From “I Dreamed a Dream”, to “Send in The Clowns”, to “Some Enchanted Evening” and more, musical theatre aficionados will appreciate the love that has clearly gone into these performances (and some might even make you tear up a little bit — Mom and I definitely both got a bit emotional!)
The vocals are impeccable, the performances are moving, and “Broadway at The Blue Elephant” knocks it out of the park.
Barry Potter and The Magic of Wizardry
Presented by: Dirk Darrow Investigations
Confession: this is the play I was most excited to see at this year’s Fringe. I’ve been obsessed with the film noir-style “Dirk Darrow” series over the years and was super excited to see that Tim Motley is back with a new character and a whole new slew of magic tricks.
Motley appears onstage as a middle-aged Barry Potter (who for some reason is still wearing his Hogwarts robe) who describes himself as a “down on his luck wizard who peaked at 17” who now tells stories to Muggle audiences using a blend of comedy, magic tricks, and mentalism.
Even though you don’t need to be a Potterhead to enjoy the show, those of us who grew up reading or watching the Harry Potter series will definitely enjoy the jokes and jabs made at the expense of the wizarding world.
Delivered with the same cheesy, smarmy attitude that made me fall in love with the Dirk Darrow series years ago, “Barry Potter and The Magic of Wizardry” is a hilarious and engaging show.
The Family Crow: A Murder Mystery
Presented by: The Pucking Fuppet Company
I try to check out at least one puppet show at every year’s Fringe, and I’m so glad we picked “The Family Crow” — after all, how could I say no to a play that describes itself as “Puppets! Puns! Murder!”?!
The other puppet shows we’ve seen have been more like puppet shows, but this one had a more Jim Henson, The Dark Crystal-esque feel. Between the strategic use of the lights, shadow, and an unbelievably articulate series of movements, this play draws you in and leaves you both intrigued and gasping for air (mostly because of the really silly puns).
Described as “a puppet show for grown ups”, the performance consists of ____ in a caw-stume (see what I did there?) essentially acting out a one-man performance while reciting the story of how a murder has been committed in the mansion of the Family Crow, and how now it’s up to Horatio P. Corvus, Sorter Outer of Murders to crack the case.
Jam-packed with more puns than I thought could possibly get stuffed into an hour-long show, this performance is a masterful example of puppeteering and an excellent example of bringing a unique and creative vision to life.
The Murky Place
Presented by: Subscatter Productions
I’ll be honest: while I love watching contemporary dance, I don’t always feel like I “get it” and that can sometimes take me out of the experience as an audience member because I get caught up trying to make sense of the performance instead of just enjoying it.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the case with “The Murky Place”, a series of three contemporary dance premieres from Oriah Wiersma, Alex Elliott, and my friend Kayla Jeanson.
Set to soundscapes crafted from recorded memories, violin, and Icelandic lullabies, the performances manage to draw you in and leave you almost breathless in some cases. This intimate pantomime of the human experience explored through three different perspectives was as moving as it was intriguing.
The show starts with Oriah Wiersma’s slow, intense build up set to recorded memories and interpreted with tense, staccato movements that leave you almost breathless.
Up next is Kayla Jeanson’s performance, set to lilting violin which builds into a personal, intimate, grasping of self that feels like she’s fighting against herself and left me nearly in tears.
Finally, the show ended with Alex Elliot’s performance. An interpretation of an Icelandic lullaby which she started developing during a residency in its country of origin, the performance works its way from an almost claustrophobic binding to a slow, acute series of movements that leave you on the edge of your seat.
“The Murky Place” was a beautiful and haunting exploration of self and is definitely a must-watch.
Field Zoology 101
Presented by: Shawn O’Hara
I went into this play totally blind (my brother picked it as our Fringe show to check out together) and while I got the sense that it would be a silly romp, I don’t think I was quite expecting the level of crass humour and hilarious, deadpan jokes that this performance delivered.
As an audience, we find ourselves in the classroom of Dr. Bradley Q. Gooseberry (Shawn O’Hara), who strides out in a tilley hat, cargo shorts, and a totally-not-fake moustache. The performance is essentially a John Cleese-style monologue amplified by drawings shown on an overhead projector, giving it a real “classroom” feel for us 90’s kids.
As a class we collectively become zoologists by taking a pledge together, and then we settle in to learn about burning nature-based questions like: what are the beauty secrets of peaCOCKS (his emphasis)? Or what’s the virility of a tiger?
While some of the jokes definitely fall into the cringey so-bad-they're-good category (a which I love) one of the best parts was the improv section where Prof. Gooseberry answers questions about animals written down by audience members in advance, showing off his impressive improv skills.
I’ve seen a lot of comedies at the Fringe over the years, and Zoology 101 was one of the best I’ve seen. I literally laughed until I cried.
So while you might not walk away with a deeper understanding of (most of) the animal kingdom from this play, you’ll definitely walk out with a smile.
A big thanks to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival for the opportunity to review some plays and get the most out of the Fringe experience this year!
- by Alyson Shane
It's Friday and I'm sitting on the porch in the shade
slivers of sunlight warming my feet
it's finally hot again; real July weather
the dry smell of a Manitoba summer hanging in the air.
Judy is down the street, tending to her garden
perennial flowers and shrubs
unlike mine, which are mostly edible perennials
fiddleheads and rhubarb, blueberries and two types of raspberry
three asparagus plants
chives with flowers we put on our omelettes in the spring.
Around them we've planted bleeding hearts and
hens and chicks and foxglove
delphinium and silver mount and stonecrop
and milkweed to attract the monarchs
(which I saw today and tripped over my chair rushing down to get a snap before it flittered away like a burst of fiery orange light across the neighbour's yard.)
Growing up I dreamed of a space like this
a porch wide enough for glasses of wine and games of cribbage
and my laptop so I can work and write and watch the world go by.
As a girl I lived on an street that later became a thoroughfare for a new development but in the 90's was a single street with two back lanes and ditches and
huge, sprawling fields on either side
I would sit on the hill at the end of the dirt road or stand at the edge of the train tracks and
to the frogs and the crickets and the grasshoppers
(which I barely see here in the heart of the city)
sing cacophonous songs about the seasons.
Now I practically live out here in the summer, perched on a chair with a drink or a jug of water
with a book or my phone or sometimes with nothing at all
sitting alone and soaking up the sounds of the neighbourhood
my downtown oasis in a city fuelled by cars and wide roads and construction.
The hum of the bees, the the kids down the street.
It's not the same, but
in a different way.
- by Alyson Shane
it's mid-afternoon and I'm sitting on the couch with the window open
drinking oolong tea and
watching White House Plumbers
and working on some business stuff.
Last night we went to Art City's annual fundraiser and danced like crazy
spent time with great friends
caught up with acquaintances
and bought some art
then we came home, put on some music
and stayed awake until the sun came up.
It's been a long time since we've done anything like that.
This is the first Art City party since the Before Times
and it feels like all the old, cool stuff we used to do is firing
all the familiar strangers coming out of the woodwork
dressed in the gaudiest,
most mismatched clothes they could find
(the theme of last night's party was CLASH DANCE)
to dance and laugh together in a big old
Yesterday we cleaned up the garage and Will came over for a bit
and had a beer with us while we swept and organized and threw stuff out.
After he left we BBQ'd steaks
made wedge salad with blue cheese dressing
and cracked a can of beans
and ate it in the backyard while the sun went down.
Friday night we ate schnitzel, pickled cabbage, and potatoes
over beers and laughs with Koop and Christel
and after dinner when we were sitting in
the front yard around the fire pit
a neighbour from up the street came over
just to say hi.
It's been a nice weekend.
- by Alyson Shane
Several people have asked me if I'm running (I'm not) but talking to others about the kind of Mayor I would be (or the kind I would like to see leading our fair city) has me thinking about what I'd do if I was running things.
Not just from a policy perspective (if you want smart ideas and insights read on that, read the Dear Winnipeg blog) but what I'd do as Mayor to get more people talking about issues in my city.
Winnipeg's Biggest Challenge
One of the things I learned as a spokesperson for VoteOpen (aka The Coalition for Portage & Main) was that most people are too busy living their lives to pay attention to politics.
That's not a criticism — most people don't have the time, money, and extra energy to dedicate to following politics, especially at the civic level that tends to get eclipsed by national and international news in the media.
However, this is a problem. When people don't have the means to learn about civic issues and don't spend time following politics they tend to vote in their own best interests — often at the detriment of the city as a whole.
Even worse, when people aren't engaged they don't think about what "could be" and fall back on "keeping things the way they are" because they see change as potentially impacting their lives. They may also subscribe to outdated facts, ideas, or beliefs that can easily be debunked.
(See my 2018 post about reopening Portage & Main for an example of how easy it can be to debunk these sorts of beliefs.)
A healthy, thriving city can only happen when the people who live there pay attention, are informed, and are given the tools to think long-term about how their vote will impact the city they and future generations of their family will live in.
Right now, that's not Winnipeg.
We're (slowly) moving in the right direction, but that's largely thanks to advocacy groups, nonprofits, and organizations fighting tooth-and-nail against a Mayor and many City Counsellors who lack vision for what our city could be.
Winnipeg's biggest issue is that our leadership fails to
a) convey a long-term vision for our city, and
b) bring the public along with them as they work to achieve it
So that's what this post is about: policies and leadership ideas that I'd enact if I were in charge of our fair city.
I hope these inspire some of the people currently in the running to think more deeply about how we can lead Winnipeg to a better, brighter, and more progressive future.
I'd Start a Podcast
True leadership isn't just about pushing your own ideas — it's about bringing people together, facilitating dialogues, and "leading" people to a shared solution.
48% of Canadian podcast listeners consume podcasts produced by Canadians, and 27% of Canadian podcast listeners consume three podcast episodes of podcasts each week. Additionally, 46% of adults 18 — 49 listened to a podcast in the last month, making it a great way to connect with younger demographics about issues happening in our city.
Each week I'd sit down with community organizers, urban planners, and activists to have meaningful discussions about issues facing our city.
The podcast would also be the perfect opportunity for activists to have meaningful public discussions with City Counsellors in their area about disagreements they're having or policies they oppose or want to see changed, all moderated by a wonky, data-obsessed host (me).
We would do two seasons a year: one in the spring, and one in the fall.
I'd Start a Book Club
The book club would be ongoing (no breaks) and focused on topics like urban planning, civic issues, and community engagement and empowerment. I'd work with my PR team to promote the books we're reading on my social media and provide links to audiobooks and e-reader versions, and invite members of the press, City Council, and the general public to read the books along with me.
A book club led by the Mayor would accomplish several goals:
- It would encourage more people to read about important topics we face as a city. One of the challenges with civic engagement is not knowing where to start, so a book club would act as a jumping-off point for people.
- It would fuel public dialogue. My experience with VoteOpen showed me that talking to people is how we change hearts and minds. Giving people facts and empowering them to learn more helps them feel involved and engaged, which helps them feel more comfortable with change.
- It would call out lazy City Counsellors. If a counsellor is against policies informed by books we're reading as a city, we can call that out. Too many politicians (here and elsewhere) make uninformed decisions and this would be a way to highlight intellectual laziness at the civic leadership level.
(Plus on a personal level it would feel soooo good to tell Jeff Browaty to "read a fucking book for once".)
I'd Curb Urban Sprawl and Invest in Infill Development
Urban sprawl isn't the answer to our housing crisis.
Allowing developers to influence how our city grows has caused us to sprawl outward and the city can't afford it.
Literally. Winnipeg is going to go bankrupt maintaining both our existing infrastructure and trying to maintain the sewers, roads, and other necessities residents of all the newer neighbourhoods need as well.
If we want to avoid being the Canadian version of Detroit then we need a Mayor with some balls and the will to stand up to developers and push to curb urban sprawl and replace it with:
- Incentives to infill vacant lots and parking pads downtown and other parts of the city
- Updating our zoning laws to encourage homeowners to renovate and add guest houses, butler suites, and other rental options
- Removing parking requirements for new builds to incentivize smaller-scale development (see the point about zoning above)
I'd Impose a Toll on "Bedroom Communities"
Years ago I was driving around with a fellow business owner who bragged about living just outside the Perimeter.
"It's great" they said "I get to have a huge property and enjoy the city without having to pay municipal taxes."
This isn't fair to Winnipeggers.
People in "bedroom communities" like East St. Paul, Lorette, and Headingley (to name a few) currently enjoy our city and use our roads and infrastructure without having to pay for it like the rest of us.
If you want to live outside of the city, that's your choice. But if I were Mayor you'd have to pay your fair share just like everyone else.
I'd Open Portage & Main
This is a no-brainer. See my 2018 post.
I'd Allow People to Keep Chickens
This may sound like a weird policy, but hear me out: chickens help improve food security at a local level.
Chickens are quiet* and gentle animals with big personalities, and caring for them can be fun and rewarding for adults and kids alike.
Allowing people (and schools!) to keep a small flock of chickens has multiple benefits, including:
- Providing local and sustainable sources of eggs
- Empowering citizens to take a more proactive role in their food sources
- Teaching people (and kids!) about nature
- Providing great fertilizer for residential and community gardens
* Roosters are the ones who are loud and obnoxious; they would still be banned.
So, Why Aren't I Running for Mayor?
Put simply: I don't want to.
I like being a private citizen and I believe that I can make a bigger difference as an advocate and outspoken community member supporting a Mayor who adopts progressive and forward-thinking policies than as the person in the big chair, myself.
That being said, I'm extremely interested in helping my city become a thriving, vibrant place where our leadership takes an active role in bringing the electorate along with why decisions are being made, the data that backs them up, and getting Winnipeggers excited and energized about the future of the city we call "home".
If you'd like my help doing that, just drop me a line. I'd love to hear how I can help.
- by Alyson Shane
Yesterday I went to the launch of "Through Disassembled Houses of Perfect Stones"which is a thin, beautiful book of poetry by Manitoba poet David Yerex Williamson.
I met David a week ago today when John and I performed on Kelly Hughes Live! which is a live-broadcast variety show of sorts that's shot in The Valiant Theatre, which is actually an old church that's slowly (slowly) being transformed into a venue while Kelly lives in the back.
I'm not religious but there was something moving about being in that old church. The sweeping ceilings, the still-there pews, the stained glass windows and the shadows on the wall where old paintings and religious items used to hang.
Churches, for better or worse, are where so many people's lives start, end, and often where some of the most important moments happen. I don't believe in higher powers but "House of God" feels fitting for these quaint little spaces filled with memory and emotion.
(Unlike the "megachurches" popping up in affluent parts of town that seem out of step with what religion is supposed to mean for people, but what do I know I'm just a heathen atheist.)
When we played in the church it was part of a larger group of guests: there was J. Williamez, a local singer-songwriter who wrote a scathing series of songs about our previous monster of a Premier
(not to be confused with our current monster of a Premier)
Shelley Cook, a local journalist and writer who I feel like I've known my whole life at this point
us, Big Trouble in Little Wolseley, who provided musical entertainment,
and David Yerex Williamson, the poet.
I've always had a soft spot for poetry. I'm less partial to poems that rhyme — I don't usually rush to read Whitman or Chaucer even though I have a soft spot for Poe and Keats — because they tend to feel flowery. Too full of extra words just for the sake of completing the rhyme.
The poetry we heard last week, and that I heard again last night, didn't rhyme. Didn't feel like words or lines were stuffed-in for the sake of it.
These poems were raw. Strong, muscular words gathered together in sinewy bursts of idea and emotion.
Items, places, moments in time. The sharp, biting feeling of loss and grief contrasted against descriptions of open, untouched natural spaces.
The poet has lived in Norway House, MB for 20 years and when asked about how the landscape influences his poetry he said
"A fish doesn't know it's wet until it isn't. That's how it feels to leave nature and come to the city — you don't realize how much it affects you until it isn't there."
(Spoken like a true poet.)
I went to the reading with Tineke and before the event we had dinner at the restaurant, Prairie Ink, that's attached to the bookstore. We ordered the same thing (blackened chicken clubs with french onion soup) and fancy coffees with whipped cream and we laughed and brainstormed and talked about all sorts of things. The hours slipped by the way they always do when you're spending them with someone who matters to you.
After we'd eaten and paid we shuffled into plastic chairs alongside a few dozen people, colleagues and teachers, family and friends, and watched the sun set through the two-storey windows as the poet we'd all came to see fed us slices of poetry like cake.
It felt good to support the arts again. Good to sit next to someone I love, surrounded by people supporting someone they love, letting the words wash over me
taking it in. Feeling normal.
Last Friday when I met David I told him I'd attend his book launch and he demurred the way we all do when a stranger offers to do something for us
"you don't have to"
"that's a nice offer, but unnecessary"
"I'd appreciate it, but I don't expect it"
which made me more determined to be there because that's what you do:
you show up when you say you will.
I didn't get the chance to talk to David after his reading but I hope he saw me in the crowd and could see how his words shifted things in me as he read them, just like they did last week and just like they will again when our copy of his book arrives
(we ordered it online last week so I couldn't get it signed yesterday; silly us)
but I was thankful to be there either way to sit with my friend, his friends, and feel like a community again.
(If you'd like to order a copy of David's book of poetry you can do that here.)
- by Alyson Shane
I got into a pretty bad accident on my bike today.
I hit a pothole and flew over my handlebars and skidded along the road on my head.
My eyebrow is split open and I have a concussion, and earlier I could barely walk or understand what was going on.
Thank god I was wearing my helmet.
I’ve been in the ER for eight hours, and here are some things I’ve seen:
A man in a wheelchair pleading towards the nurses' station, saying
“Please nurse, my chest hurts.
Please help me, nurse”
and nobody helping him right now,
because they can’t
they have no beds for him.
A grandma on her phone,
blind, also in a wheelchair
telling her son that she’s been here since 8:30 AM
(st was 5 PM when she made that call.)
A young woman curled in a chair
feet tucked up under her
she asks the nurse for a blanket and the nurse tells her
they don’t give them out here
the girl starts crying
“I’ve been here since 2:30 PM” she wails
(she asked for a blanket around 6 PM.)
A man lying on the ground
on the “Covid symptom side” of the room
under a blanket, shaking
he was here when I got here at 4 PM
It’s 12:25 AM now.
All the while nurses
and other hospital staff
have been running around
back and forth
stressed and tired
their eyes weary above their masks
doing their best to keep up
but it’s not enough.
There isn’t enough funding
not enough staff
not enough beds
to help everyone.
The hospital up the road from my house used to have an ER,
used to take some off the heat off HSC
but the Conservative government closed it a few years ago
and this scene is what we’re left with.
This is what happens when we defund health care.
This is what happens when we vote for Conservatives.
This is what happens when we look at people as dollars and cents
and not human beings who get sick
and get hurt
and need care.
And this is just one night when I happen to be here
for 8+ hours
to tell you about what I’m seeing.
Imagine what it’s like being here
trying to give all these people
timely, high-quality care
and being unable to
because the health care system you’re a part of
is stretching you
and everyone here
to the limit
support our nurses
support health care workers
I was finally seen after 9.5/10 hours of waiting in the ER. A huge THANK YOU to the staff at HSC who took care of me and everyone else who was there yesterday. You're heroes and you deserve better than this broken, gutted, and under-funded system you're forced to operate within. I see you, and I appreciate you.
- by Alyson Shane
and I'm relieved as heck. Today Manitoba opened up AZ vaccine eligibility to people 40 and up so "Good Luck Luxford" hopped on the horn at 11:30 AM and by 5 PM today he was vaxxed up with the first of two jabs.
I gotta say, with how badly Manitoba has handled the pandemic so far this was an unexpected and happy surprise. Most days I get up and gird my loins and wait for the news about more cases, more variants, and more bad news, but not today.
No, today I got GOOD NEWS, and I got to witness a rare Nice Day on Twitter, which is where people wish each other well and cheer each other on and
for a few short hours
it feels like the old Internet I fell in love with
back when it was mostly just nerds and weirdos hanging out on forums and making art.
These days the internet is a different and angrier place, so it was nice seeing those tweets saying "just scheduled my appointment!" or "going in today!" and everyone piling on with gifs and well-wishes and congrats.
It was like the opposite of doomscrolling because every time I came back to my feed I saw all these messages of hope and relief
like we'd been holding our breath and we all let it out at the same time.
Everyone was either eligible or knew someone who was and being a part of our collective exhale is a feeling I know I'll come back to when this is finally behind us.
And though I know the pandemic isn't over, and though I know we're still in the middle of the third wave, and though I know that we've still got a long way to go before we get back to "normal"
god damn it
today I witnessed a Twitter miracle and the man I love got his first jab so I'm gonna call this a win.
- by Alyson Shane
aka, the #pizzafriday guy.
Howard was one of the first people I met on Winnipeg Twitter after I started "getting into" the platform. One of the first times he tweeted at me was a reply to a tweet I'd shared of a photo of a hot dog I'd just bought for lunch. Howard wrote:
"would have been better if it was pizza for #pizzafriday"
Howard was obsessed with pizza and let everyone know it, and #pizzafriday became one of those weird inside jokes that small towns and tight-knit communities have. He'd tweet "what's your position on #pizzafriday?" at local politicians, and reply to pretty much any tweet about anything other than pizza with a statement about pizza, like:
"I can pickup pizza at -24C or +24C"
"Eating pizza would never give you sore legs"
"I can eat pizza with or without pinkeye"
We only met in person a few times but every time he mentioned pizza. A few times I saw him actually eating pizza and BOY did he look happy.
Twitter has changed from when I first started using it. There's way more fighting and drama, and even though I'm lucky that the algorithm serves me up the best and brightest in my city, it's become less fun some days. Howard was one of those people who made our community a nicer, funnier, and more pleasant place to be.
Howard and his dry, pizza-loving sense of humour was the perfect example of someone who leaned into what they were into and brought joy to other people as they did it. He was a nice guy who wanted to spread happiness through pizza and especially double pepperoni slices (so I hear).
He was a fixture in the Winnipeg Twitter scene. It seems like everyone knew Howard, even if they hadn't met him in person, and based on the tweets I've seen about him today he was probably a lot more admired and appreciated than even he knew.
(I hope he knew.)
Tonight I, like many other people in Winnipeg, will be ordering pizza for #pizzafriday in his honour.
RIP Howard. If there's a heaven, I hope there's pizza there.