Our Neon City: The Blue Note Cafe (by FiveDoorFilms)


Another place where I grew up… 

Curious: where do the kids back home drink coffee, pull all-nighters and learn to smoke now?

My old pal Edwin wrote a takedown of Winnipeg’s mystique.

 The Power of Myth | Articles | Canadian Dimension

“I hate Winnipeggers,” a friend announced as I introduced him to a Winnipegger at a Montreal art opening.

“Oh? Why?” we asked.

“Because Winnipeggers meet other Winnipeggers — and then all they do is talk about Winnipeg!”

Truly, no one talks about Winnipeg like Winnipeggers do. Talking about Winnipeg is becoming an industry.

Increasingly, it’s not about Winnipeg’s spry little arts scene anymore, or about how Winnipeg artists are receiving wider international attention. The art isn’t just from Winnipeg — the art itself, and the conversation that surrounds that art, is increasingly about Winnipeg.

Can’t say the fish aren’t biting. Two words to the doubters: My Winnipeg. Guy Maddin’s masterful “docufantasia” has basically taken the already burgeoning Winnipeg mania and supercharged it.

Winnipeg has become a cultural product. And exactly how a city like this — with its flotillas of mosquitos, its blistering cold, its malignant racism — ever managed to turn itself into a cultural product sought out by the wider world certainly is a question that merits attention.


The Challenges of Preserving Modernist Landscapes

Portland Open Space Sequence (photograph by Radcliffe Dacanay/Flickr user)

While even the most coldly Brutalist buildings have found their proponents, the modernist landscapes that were built in plazas and public space in the mid-century have been slower to be embraced for preservation. Yet there’s an increasing dialogue of how, and why, modernist landscape architecture should be preserved.

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There are some absolutely stunning spaces here.

Too bad Winnipeg’s Centennial Library Park isn’t in there. It was a great skate spot (both kinds) back in the day, but it slowly evolved into a creep-zone as time moved on and the downtown core got sketchy.

As a consequence, the walled-off pond/oasis was no longer a place for downtown folk to relax or skate kids to session the always-empty pond, stair-sets or waxed-up long benches - but instead became a zone with no street visibility and a shadowy spot for all sorts of nefarious goings-on. One could suppose it’s another example of how Modernism’s utopian, somewhat naive ever-forward gaze didn’t extend far enough into the future to predict nor account for things like homelessness, crack and meth; the Pruitt-Igoe principle strikes again.

The park has since undergone a major facelift, including an updated name (it’s now Millennium Library Park) and some new public art. I haven’t seen it in person yet, but next time I visit the old hometown I’ll be sure to make the trip downtown, if only for the Rip-Van-Winkleness of it. 

Ol’ reliable West End Dumplings has a good compare-and-contrast post that’s worth checking out, and here’s a trove of old instagrammish-looking images in the U of M photo archives as well. 

 John Paizs’ Vow of Silence | Cineflyer Winnipeg

A must-read if you’re a fan of Paizs, or Canadian cinema. 

Combo happy birthday and H/T to my old bud Travis holding it down at Open City Cinema.

EGG ON WHEELS: the boler story (by Stories From Home)

I genuinely hope these folks do a doc about Garnet Amps next. 

Survival Lessons: The Greg Klymkiw Story (by Stories From Home)

As a Winnipegger and fan of SURVIVAL, this is relevant to my interests. 

I’ll tell you about the time Klymkiw got me and my old pal Ky (RIP) stoned and then we went to Carlos and Murphy’s sometime. 

WINNIPEG 50’s 60’s 70’s (by bgarbacz)

The Old Neighbourhood. Winnipeg, MB. June, 2012.

Okay, done.


Will never take me anywhere but here.

Left? Leaving?


Visited again in June, this time from very far away, introducing my wife to the old stomping grounds. Nice to visit, and despite how seductive home can be, I don’t ever want to stay. 

I still miss the Peg, at least the good bits: South Osborne, Wolseley, Cousin’s, the Exchange District, river paths, the galleries, the Albert, AceArtInc, Mondragon, McNally Robinson, PlugIn ICA (I worked there briefly in the early 2000s), The Fyxx (4 year veteran), Send+Receive, Cinematheque, Folk Fest… and most importantly, the people.

My lifer friends who stayed and settled and are now growed-up and ground in: they own houses, some have kids, most are working in the arts/cultural sector, still go to Folk Fest religiously every year (but now stay in Provincial/Quiet campground though we SWORE we never would when we were kids) and are dedicated to making Winnipeg a better place.  My friends who are so awesome, whose company is so fun and genuinely warm that I had to leave, because I wanted to see the world and I knew I’d just go round and round in small circles of awesome if I stayed, restless and deeply frustrated underneath it all. I’d had enough of that the first time I left for the West Coast in 1999 and boomerang’ed back in 2001, and then back to Vancouver in 2003…

That said, I shuddered a bit when I saw the picture above…I don’t miss the slush. Not one bit. Although I’m sure I’ve stumbled drunk down this street from a house party at least once. I don’t even know what street it is. But I know it.


Circuit race through the Exchange District, circa 1991. Source

The old hood