Category Archives: Winnipeg

11 Jan

A Bus Ride through the Heart of Winnipeg

A bus ride through the city’s toilet
Begins with an evening that a bum would like to forget



He drifts in and out of a conscious state
I don’t want to know what happened last night so late

Someone gets on with a hat from the Witness Protection Program
Does he want to get shot, or is he just being a ham?

A young woman applies her many cosmetics, how much is anyone’s guess
Among this group, who is she trying to impress?

At City Hall, the bus shelter is not just a place to wait
For some it’s a residence with a cheap rate

At the Sutherland Hotel, an ambulance is parked outside
Likely another repeat customer will get a free ride

The Selkirk Avenue clientele fill the bus with an eclectic aroma
The mix of vomit and beer is enough to put anyone into a coma

On the dark street a jogger runs, what the heck?
He’s probably not playing with a full deck

Weirdos abound causing a fuss
And in Winnipeg, they’re all taking the bus

25 Dec

Christmas Day Bus Ride

Twas the day of Christmas and all through the bus
Plenty of creatures were stirring, maybe even a mouse

A rotund woman squeezes through the aisle with a great deal of trouble
After getting on, the bus’s weight surely did double

Under her arm, a large box of chocolates she did bring
It had to be empty, ‘cause it looked like she ate the whole thing

The first of a number of bums staggered onto the bus
After sitting down, he flashed his few remaining teeth to us

He soon caused those around him to scatter
Bathing more than once a month does matter

The next one showed that standing on his feet is truly an art
For someone who smelled like he just held up a liquor mart

A scruffy character with an IQ of about five
Had to have picked up his U of M backpack in a dumpster dive

Two teenage hoodlums showed no shame
As they scoped out their next claim

A woman boarded after her holiday eggnog
Inside her stroller was not a baby, but a dog

She didn’t look to have problems with her vision
Being a guide dog was not Rover’s mission

Another day on the bus that saps holiday cheer
It makes me want to get out of here

17 Dec

Moose Flashback: “We’re Not Marketing Fighting”

“We’re not marketing fighting on our hockey team.”

Those were the words of Tim Scott, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing of the Manitoba “Fighting” Moose back in 2000, as told to the Winnipeg Free Press, in response to the instant backlash to an ad that the Moose had placed in the Free Press.

 
Do you remember this infamous ad?

The ad in question was designed like a fight card and couldn’t help but remind hockey fans of the scene in Slap Shot when Reggie Dunlop was in Joe McGrath’s office going over a similar ad with the heading of “Aggressive Hockey is Back in Town.” Dunlop suggested, among other things, putting a picture of a groin injury and a “For Sale” sign on the ad, since the fight-happy Charlestown Chiefs were scheduled to fold at the end of the year.

The Moose were in no less trouble than those fictional Chiefs. Their lease was expiring at the Winnipeg Arena and despite having recently rattled off ten wins in a row and sitting comfortably in first place, attendance and fan interest were bottoming out. Crowds were regularly announced in the 6-7,000 range, but, in reality, there were less than 4,000 actually in the building. Many of the Moose’s fans had apparently doused themselves in some leftover invisible paint that Wile E. Coyote had ordered from the Acme catalog as part of one or more of his futile schemes to catch the Road Runner.

Two weeks earlier, Mel Angelstad, the Moose’s fighter, got into a scrap with Chris Neil of the Grand Rapids Griffins after Neil had tried to pick a fight with Moose captain Brian F. Chapman. Sensing an opportunity to capitalize on a potential rematch between the two heavyweights, the Moose placed this ad and printed off 2,000 posters of Angelstad to be given away that night.

Fighters came and went, but there were none like Mel Angelstad. Known as “Mad Mel” or the “Angler,” Angelstad was unquestionably the biggest “celebrity” fighter in the game at the time. He tracked his fighting numbers the way a sniper would track his goals and would boast with pride about his annual totals of 30-40 fights in a season.

He also understood better than anyone that sports was an entertainment business and there was no bigger showman than Mel Angelstad. After taking care of business on the ice, he would tip his helmet and beam his child-like smile at his admirers on the other side of the glass. While he was with the Moose, most of those admirers were the Moose’s preferred demographic, the 8-12 year old boys who were pounding on the glass yelling, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

As the Moose had hoped, the ad did generate plenty of attention, but, as was commonplace during that era, it was very negative attention. The Moose were forced to hastily backtrack and reworded the ad the following day to instead promote the opposing power plays and penalty killing units.

“We realized right away it wasn’t an accurate reflection of what we’re all about. So we said, ‘Let’s change it,’” said Moose owner/president/general manager/head coach Mark Chipman to the Free Press.

But it was an accurate reflection of what the “Fighting” Moose were all about.

During their five seasons in the IHL, the Moose had more fights than points in the standings and they had led the league in number of fights the previous season. “Fight! Fight! Fight!” was easily the most common chant during those years. By contrast, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that I heard a “Go Moose Go” chant.

This was but one of many colorful, zany stories from an otherwise forgettable era of hockey history in Winnipeg that few fans saw.

Hmmm, maybe someone should write a book featuring all those stories.

And maybe someone is doing just that.

24 Nov

Dear Jack Ask

This past week, I read an interesting item in the Winnipeg Sun’s new advice column. You can read the column here, including the response from Jackie De Pape Hornick, a.k.a. “Jack Ask.”

For the reader’s convenience, here was the question put to “Jack Ask”:

DEAR JACK ASK: I have breakfast with Ladd and sleep beside Noel. At least that’s what it feels like since all my husband does is live and breathe the Winnipeg Jets.

I was pumped, too, when the Jets returned, but now my husband goes to all 45 home games and watches every away game on TV, so the Jets’ schedule (stuck on my fridge) serves as the new family calendar. He literally asks me if I’ve “checked the fridge” if I mention a party we’ve been invited to — even for away games.

With the holiday season coming, he’s refusing to go to my work party and a family gathering because they fall on home game days. I’m starting to feel like a hockey widow and he’s not even a player. I don’t want to tell him he can’t go, but I don’t want to spend the holidays alone, either. What can I do?

— Married to the Jets

“Jack” gave a clever response. In this case, however, I think that I can do one better.

Dear Married to the Jets: Your situation is not unique among couples in Winnipeg, where the madness concerning this sorry excuse for a hockey team is still raging.

The end of this honeymoon period, however, is on the horizon, and with every loss that “Thrashers Light” piles up, interest in the team will continue to wane. Even your husband will soon be looking to pawn his tickets.

As long as owner/president/general manager/head coach Mark Chipman is in charge, you need not worry about a miraculous upturn in the team’s fortunes that might re-ignite your husband’s passion. Chipman and his hand-picked cadre of brown-nosers, personal friends and cronies will do little but let a bad team flounder while gleefully pocketing your hard-earned tax money.

Be patient. It won’t be long before your husband and every other hockey fan in Manitoba will grow weary of watching a collection of fourth-liners and waiver-wire pickups that would have had trouble beating the Moose. Ride the wave and be ready to welcome him back when once he realizes that ownership is not nearly as committed to the team’s success as the fan base.

In the meantime, enjoy the time alone. You’ll soon be seeing more of him than you can handle.

02 Nov

Cakes, Tags and the Stupid Store

Spotted today at the Real Canadian Superstore was a couple in line at the checkout. Among their items was a cake. The cake had no price tag on it, so the cashier called for a price check.

After a few minutes, someone from the bakery department came back to say that they couldn’t sell the cake. Why? Because the tags weren’t ready yet.

Incredible.

After the dumbfounded couple had left, the cashier said, “They shouldn’t have put the cakes out if they didn’t have price tags.”

Maybe, just maybe, they should have had the price tags ready before having employees spend countless hours of labor and blow large quantities of perfectly good flour and other ingredients to bake these cakes.

And maybe they could have sold it at their regular price anyways. It might foul up their computer to ring through an unregistered product, but, as any Superstore customer can attest, it’s not as though the data in their computers closely matches the prices on the shelf.

That’s why a good friend of mine who used to work there calls it the Stupid Store.

28 Oct

A CUPee Worker

While patching holes on the street in front of my house today
A city worker left something else behind during his stay

He turned towards the house and unzipped his fly
Urinating in broad daylight, discretion he didn’t even try

A big puddle next to the asphalt remains for all to see
We don’t need to see a union card to know that he’s a member of CUPee

To 311, a call has been made to report the offending fellow
“You’ve got to be kidding,” the operator said with a bellow

It’s not just dogs who lift their legs and let loose with a yellow stream
Humans are just as bad, or so it would seem

It’s a story that’s getting old
About how some pigs are growing ever more bold

12 Oct

A Government With Too Much Money

Some of you who live in Winnipeg may have noticed in recent weeks and months that virtually every route marker and speed zone sign in the city is in the process of being replaced, if it has not already been replaced.


Three of the many new markers on Winnipeg streets. There are many more where they came from.

These new city route markers feature the new Clearview font, which, I am told, is easier to read at high speeds. In addition, the markers also feature a reflective backing so that they can be read easier at night.

That said, these new features hardly justify a city-wide search-and-destroy mission to replace every marker that city workers can get their hands on.

An argument can be made for this wholesale sign replacement on rural highways, where lighting is poor or non-existent and motorists are travelling at higher speeds.

Within Winnipeg, it is a different story. Speeds are much lower than they are on highways and Winnipeg streets are, by and large, very well lit. There are many reasons for the plethora of motor vehicle accidents within Winnipeg, but I doubt that an inability to read a road sign would be one of them.

By all means, if a sign otherwise needs replacement, then these new markers should be used. To hunt down and replace every single marker in the city, however, is simply ludicrous.

To make matters worse, I spotted one of these search-and-destroy sign replacement crews on a recent Sunday morning. No doubt, they were rubbing their hands with glee while fingering the extra cash that they’ll be raking in as they bill taxpayers double time for this unnecessary job.

This is yet another indication that this municipal government has too much money on its hands. When your councillor or Mayor Sammy starts talking about snow clearing surcharges and cutting fire services because there’s not enough money, you can be rest assured that it’s pure bovine excrement.

There’s plenty of money. They just choose to blow it elsewhere. Greg Selinger Disease has infected City Hall.

19 Sep

Heartless Vandalism

While on a bike ride recently, I stopped at the bench at the end of the Transcona Trail, a stone’s throw from the Perimeter Highway.



My heart sank after reading the notice posted there.


For those of you not familiar with the story, as the picture suggests, the bench has been dedicated in memory of Ken Stammers. A 51-year-old married father of two, Stammers was tragically killed when he was struck by a snowmobile while walking nearby.

The operation of snowmobiles is illegal within the City of Winnipeg.

As someone who regularly visits the Memory Garden behind Grace Hospice in honor of the late Carli Ward, I can fully appreciate the value of having a place such as this for the grieving family to remember their lost loved one. In many respects, it can be even more personal than a grave site, since it is close to where the person actually passed away.

Unfortunately, there are far too many in Winnipeg who don’t have the heart to appreciate the sanctity of such a site.

In past visits there, I had noticed the potted plants, but I had not seen the lights or garden statues before. Unfortunately, vandals have seen them and have taken full advantage of the privacy that the isolated location offers to maliciously destroy more than just property.

In spite of this heartless vandalism, I hope that Mr. Stammers’ family and friends can at least enjoy the solitude at the bench that bears his name to remember his impact on their lives.

29 Aug

Ode to the Skywalk


The bums stagger by and accost you most of the time

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Others walk with their heads down

Married to their phones, texting everyone in town

Meandering in all directions, sun or rain

Showing less awareness than those with a white cane

Merchants crowd the already cramped space

With tables full of everything from purses to lace

It’s all on sale, or so they say

Shop elsewhere, half the price you’ll pay

Modesty has gone out of style and no one wishes to repent

Slutwalk has become a daily event

Filling the airwaves with noise the buskers play

How much to make them go away?

Another day in the skywalk amid many a nut

At least no one thrust a knife in my gut

23 Aug

Camera Shy

While I was out today
I saw someone riding his bike on Sterling Lyon Parkway

Wobbling back and forth and moving from side to side
While juggling all his worldly possessions on his ride

I pulled out my camera to capture this sight
Before he could no longer remain upright

As he saw me ready to snap a shot
He began to swear a lot

Scared of the camera, he turned to cross the street
Nearly his maker he did meet

Pulling in front of a speeding car with no indecision
The driver had to brake to avoid a collision

On his merry way he did go
He came so close to death, you know

All to avoid a camera, no more
I had never thought of it as a weapon before