Tag: Regina

Living on the Street Hockey

Gretzky, Wendel Clark, Jazzy Darren shine at Carmichael World Cup of Hockey

On Saturday, February 23rd, 2013 we had a shinny game in the back parking lot of Carmichael Outreach. Twenty people showed up, the game was heated, the old men beat the young kids 10-8. The One-Block-Off-Broad-Street Bullies warmed the Penalty Box when they were tired. Ken Dryden passed out after the first period. I haven’t had so much fun at work or otherwise in a very long time.

Darren and Gretzky

Downtown BackdropThe MVPDuchene, Wendel Clark, etcPenalty Box for the Osler Street BulliesGame On

Why I Got Arrested

There could be two ways of telling this story. I will tell both.

1. In the year 2000, a man named Pat Fiacco was elected Mayor of Regina. I was newly twelve. We had just finished our PeeWee football season and were celebrating by going to LazerQuest—the dream of all twelve-year-olds. Getting out of the car we heard early election results from the radio: Pat Fiacco had defeated Doug Archer, who had been mayor since I was born. Mr. Thibault, driver of the car, eventual SaskParty MLA-hopeful, father of a teammate who almost broke a kid’s neck, expressed his delight with the outcome. We went inside. I shot friends with lasers. Nothing else mattered.
I was never able to vote in a civic election in which Pat Fiacco ran for mayor. I supported his I Love Regina campaign, which seemed to rouse up civic pride in a city that has little more appeal than decent folks and short commutes. I bought the shirts, I shared the shirts, I gave the shirts as gifts.
Eventually, as politics became more important and professional sports became more absurd, in the latter part of Pat’s mayoral career, I began to question his legitimacy as mayor. Sure, it’s a tough job. Never enough money, lots to do, boring council meetings to attend, a populace to actually care for. But the more I saw the failed developments in a city that Pat encouraged me to love, the less I could stand it. I love the city too much. I saw the stadium as inevitable and necessary. I saw it as a positive if done correctly, timely, and not at the cost of a part of the population that couldn’t find a place to live. But instead the stadium project became fishier by the day. Hurried, sketchy, reeking of illegitimate money, and mostly all presented just before or during an election. Handled worse than a sopping jock strap. Instead of his first vision—a statue of himself shadow-boxing shirtless to be placed at city hall—Pat instead opted for the quarter-billion-dollar stadium project for all of us to remember him by. So that he wouldn’t be remembered for the goofy smile, the phantom moustache, the over-moussed hair. He would be remembered for the glorious ride on which he took us, instilling unwarranted levels of civic pride in our hearts with t-shirts and an ill-gotten stadium.
Some might say that I was arrested because Pat Fiacco was an unfit mayor.

2. As a twenty-four-year-old who hasn’t accomplished much, the allure of political activism and vandalism drew me in like it were the aroma of a bowl of popcorn or a pretty lady’s hair. Live a little, it whispered in my ear. Don’t roll over and let them ram that stadium up your ass, it admonished. So, I somehow came up with this piece of art, tried it several times on several different materials with several different versions of moustache. Speckled. Muffled. Filtered. Full-on. The slogan came naturally (that is, poetically, with no research and based on conjecture). I came up with a route, I came up with an outfit, I didn’t wear a hat, I didn’t wear glasses, my jacket was manufactured with a hideable balaclava. The surveillance videos would lead them to anyone but myself.
But then I ran. Paranoia got the best of me, as it usually does with poser try-hards. Civilian cars started to look a lot like cop cars. Cop cars looked a lot like jail. Jail looked like something worse than a stadium up the ass. I ran, forgetting that I’m an out of shape bum and that running gave them reason to pursue. They caught me, cuffed me, realized that I wasn’t casing cars. They asked me my name when my nose was on the concrete, breathing deeply with leaves shooting out from under my head from my heavy exhale. Andrew Gurr was the only name that came to mind, following my plan to never give my real name if I ever got arrested. Then, in my first moment of clarity of the night, I realized that a fake name would only make it worse. I was cooperative. I slept in a cell. I got fingerprinted. Mugshot. Tattoo information. Left with one charge, five times. They caught the real bad guy.
Some might say I was arrested because I am a moron. Most would say this.

As a football-loving PeeWee, had I been able to see Fiacco’s vision of a ‘state-of-the-art’ stadium meant to cup the balls of an already over-celebrated professional football team, I would have been ecstatic. The Riders were my idols, of course they would deserve the greatest our money had to offer, even at the cost of the city’s lower class. I would’ve celebrated with Mr. Thibault, and entered LazerQuest with a little more victory in my heart. But alas, I grew up. I grew up with the ability to prioritize. I grew up with recklessness and a mind partial to moronic errors. I grew up into the graffiti-slinging, overly-idealistic, dissenting, once-upright child that you now see before you, fresh from his second court date where the Honourable Judge amended the curfew with an order to ‘Keep the Peace.’

Innocent no more. The stadium will be built and shortly thereafter rammed up my ass. My twelve-year-old-self congratulates you, former Mayor Fiacco. You win once again. You will forever be immortalized as the mayor that started the botched stadium project and left thousands of people out in the very real, very wintery cold. But with me, you will forever be immortalized in a stencil and five charges, under the slogan of your twelve year career: Greatest mayor ever sold.

Does this post count as an inability to ‘Keep the Peace’? If so, lock me up.

Calm down, Nic.

Apologia Pro Hippy Vita Sua

The following short letter was written in response to a ‘Street Wear’ section in Prairie Dog Magazine that highlighted how grungy I am. The letter following that is my response.

I’ve been reading your mag for years, even though I’m a staunch conservative; many aspects of it I love. Please though, stop featuring bums in your Street Wear section. These people are mostly wannabe hippies who work low-end jobs and are recognized for doing nothing more than working in a clothing store or coffee shop. Please start featuring people who contribute to society whether through the arts, science, education, politics…something! We all have the power to make a difference!

No Name
Presumed Reginan

Dear Staunch Conservative,

I feel that you best be more forgiving of these hippies that sell you your clothing, coffee, and meals. Although should I assume that you only shop at Walmart? (If you keep voting the way I assume you do there won’t be any immigrant labour to work there, so I don’t know who you expect to run your shops and sell you food—the elderly are dying off quickly. How staunch are you, exactly?) The fact that these hippies don’t have post-secondary educations, they sleep on the floor, they don’t have cell phones, they don’t eat meat, they don’t own cars, and they work at what was recently named by Prairie Dog Voters as ‘Regina’s Best New Store’, is obvious reason to assume they contribute nothing to society. Often I am too busy smoking illicit substances (Legalize, man!), playing bongos in Vic Park, or creating my own pachouli concoction to help out my community through volunteerism, or to actively take part in politics. I’d rather just lounge on my beanbag chair next to my hookah and watch documentaries about Buddhism. I do, however, agree that the ‘Style’ section is a waste of space. I have no style, you have no style. We live in Regina, man. People just stopped frosting their tips last week. But maybe we should include a business section in which you write a column suggesting how lowly shopkeeps could do something worthwhile with their lives (business degree, violin lessons, cure cancer, run for mayor), leaving their low-end jobs for the immigrants and those on welfare. We lower class citizens would truly appreciate the guidance.

Peace and Love.
Your Local Wannabe Hippy,

Nic Olson

The Fury of the Dispossessed

When I’m excited, I ride my bicycle very fast. After a day that lacks progress, one that sees no new knowledge or discovery, I bicycle home like a grandmother on a cruiser bike. Most days, average days, I ride home in the middle of my three gears, head up and feet wide. Today after starting a new job, and after a lecture by one of the greats, I biked home on the highest gear, bouncing on my low front tire, more excited than I’ve been in a long time to finally feel, for once in years, that I am where I am supposed to be.

Chris Hedges, journalist and intellectual, lectured at the University of Regina. The writer that I will forever aspire to be, the thinker that I will undoubtedly never become, gave a rousing account of how we came to where we are now, stuck in an “inverted totalitarianism” where we are ruled by the faceless being of corporate capitalism. Where the cannibalization of nature exists for straight profit and greed. He spoke of how after World War I we were placed into the “psychosis of permanent war” where the masses would offer up their own slavery, and how we have now reached an age of the moral nihilist. (I am essentially just listing my notes in sentence form.) We have reached a point where food, water, air, and human beings themselves are being treated and sold as commodities and this has built a quality of self-annihilation.

When he spoke of “sacrifice zones,” the places that were abandoned by unbridled capitalism, left in disrepair and a humiliating culture of dependency after being used and left behind because of their lack of monetary worth, I thought of Saskatchewan in fifty years. A place where natural resources are plentiful and long term thought is not. Accelerated environmental review processes that inhibit the ability for proper research and long-term preparedness have been put into place while Saskatchewan is in its infancy of exploiting these resources. I envisioned ghost towns, alien landscapes after plundering the earth and failed nature reclamation projects. I saw people abandoned by the elite that they once, for some reason, loved and trusted. I could see the future because of what has happened in other parts of North America. The current policy makers refuse or are unable to see what Hedges has shared in his latest book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, and because of the propaganda of the elite, the people are often unable to see it either.

One might ask how I could be so excited, riding home banging my head with a bike-lane-wide grin after a night of being pummelled with the desperately depressing truths that we find ourselves facing. All of Hedges books that I have read deal with these deflating facts, hundreds of pages of them, but always end in a short breath of hope that the elite will fall. I cycled home feeling like I’ve finally found even a small piece of a greater purpose, directly assisting those the system left behind. Feeling like I’ve found the inspiration and motivation to create, to think, to encourage others to think, and to practice dissent. Knowing that the “fury of the dispossessed” can eventually bring enough fear into those mediocre in positions of power, and will see reform because of it. “The formal systems of power are no longer capable of reform,” he said. We need acts of resistance. This excites me.

“You can’t use the word “hope” if you don’t carry out acts of resistance…But we have a moral obligation to the world the corporate state is bequeathing to our children. We have betrayed their future. At least that generation will be able to look back on those of us, hopefully their parents, and say that they tried, even if we fail. Not to try is to be complicit in what is happening.”

-Hedges in Katherine Norton’s article.

Someday, as I told my father, I hope to be smart enough to be able to ask a coherent question at a lecture to a man such as Hedges. Instead, for now, I will continue to skim off of his brilliant works to make mine look greater than they are. But I’m trying, and I guess you have to try.

For more Hedges go here, for more Balls of Rice articles that ride on the coattails of Hedges go here.

Urban Camping

For more, and better, photos of this evening, please see Life of Norm.

Metro and Verb: Green and Orange Waste: Update

If you are unimpressed by another free newspaper in Regina, three quarters of which is full of celebrity gossip, bad recipes, advertisements, and world news that you already hear about in several other mediums, then please consider doing the following.

  • Read the below letter. If you agree with it, please copy and paste it and email it to both Verb newspaper and Metro newspaper in Regina at the below email addresses. If you don’t agree with it, please let me know, or feel free to write a letter of your own expressing your thoughts on the new explosion of green and orange newspaper boxes in the city.
  • When the huge, impersonal, Associated-Press-written newspaper shrugs off several emails as negligible, which will inevitably happen, then start sending the emails daily. From each of your email addresses. Express your feelings to the workers distributing the paper. Start a Facebook page for it, since that seems to be the only way to get shit done these days.
  • After several weeks of our requests being denied, I plan to take time out of my schedule or whenever I am walking from one place to another, to pick up garbage from the streets and to promptly place it in the nearest receptacle that there is, which, based on the sparsity of garbage bins and the entire absence of recycling bins, will certainly be a green Metro bin. Although I understand that this is simply making the jobs of a few select employees more difficult, it cleans up our streets. I would invite you to do the same until either the city or the newspapers in the city provides one receptacle for every three green Metro bins, a request that I believe is very reasonable. I plan to inform both Metro and Verb of my intention to use their bins as garbage cans. Until they begin to act as responsible members of our community, they are not welcome.
***Since the beginning my my campaign I have only put papers I have caught blowing in the wind in the multicoloured bins throughout the city. Everyday walking downtown I see almost a dozen copies of Metro rolling down 11th Ave, and I cannot in good conscience leave them flying around. However, placing actual street garbage will deter people from taking a free paper and will eventually cause each newspaper to produce less and hopefully remove several dozen of their bins. These newspapers will never listen to me, but might react to such physical actions. Since the Metro picks up their old papers to recycle (we hope) on a daily basis, Metro bins are the obvious best receptacles for our recyclable waste, and they should be more than happy to oblige. When newspapers make their way into my city without asking, placing stacks of paper in every possible corner of the city without approval, I feel like it is my duty to let them know what a large portion of the population thinks.

Let’s cut the bullshit. We don’t need three more advertisement-driven ‘newspapers’ to read, let alone to visually pollute our city. The very least they can do is to reduce the amount of tumour-causing bins that we see. Being barraged with paper isn’t an inevitability of being a growing city.

To Whom it May Concern,

Regina has recently been the target of a surge of new, free, physical newspapers and magazines. Each of these media are a good source of news, culture, art and information that is encouraging to see in a growing city, however with more print-based media comes more waste, as well as the issue of disposing of this waste properly. Regina currently does not have a city-wide recycling program, however this is to be implemented in the upcoming year.

As one of Canada’s largest free newspapers, your commitment should be more than providing news stories, it should be to the health of the cities that you serve. The health of the global community, one which you connect through your medium, depends greatly on organizations like yours. Regina is a small city that is transitioning to become one of Canada’s strongest. Growing pains include, but are not limited to, unreliable public transit, a lack of a city-run recycling program, a housing crisis, and, as is evident anytime one walks downtown, a lack of garbage bins, but more importantly, recycling bins. As a new part of this growing city, I would challenge your organization to assist in the growing problem of litter by placing recycling and garbage bins throughout the city. Being a daily newspaper, the amount of waste is evident and although it is understandable in the first several weeks or months of distributing in a new city, such a process needs to be done more responsibly. The fabled “3 R’s”, in order, are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and although you may encourage the latter two, you have obviously completely missed the first and most important of the three. Your newspaper is an inevitable source of litter in the city which makes you doubly responsible to assist in the cleaning of the city and offering proper waste receptacles. I would also suggest a major review of your number of distribution boxes throughout the city, noticing that a reduction of these boxes based on foot traffic and transit locations is a necessary step, rather than saturating the city scape with unnecessary boxes full of untouched papers.

Please consider reducing the amount of distribution boxes that you have throughout the city, or be responsible and offer proper receptacles for the waste that you are creating. One waste receptacle per three distribution boxes seems like a reasonable ratio at which to begin.

I would ask that you please consider this as a priority if you are sincerely interested in being a part of this great and growing community. Unsightly bins and unparalleled waste is not an inevitable step in the growth of a city. Responsibility and accountability are. 

Thank you for your time.

Nicholas Olson


jlutz@verbnews.com (Office Manager)
vpaley@verbnews.com (Marketing Manager)

Always Support the Bottom

Always support the bottom. -Aluminum Baking Tray

I’ll get all poetic later.

I was washing dishes at Carmichael in Regina. If you don’t know about this place and you live in Regina, then you best become aware. Oh, how noble of you, Nic—helping the poor and publicizing it on your blog like a self-righteous asshole. That’s right, I am.
When I was washing dishes I came across multiple clever coffee mugs in the Coffee Mug Graveyard that is the Carmichael Outreach. Here are the greatest of the great:

  • Don’t borrow off Peter to pay Paul on your birthday, Because no one likes a sore Peter.
  • The Older I Get, The Better I Get
  • Merry Christmas MOM, You’re Special
  • Neighbours by Chance, Friends by Choice
  • Pepe Tours, South American Travel Agency
  • Age-appropriate Dora ceramic coffee mugs
  • #1 Hair Stylist
  • I’m no sex addict, but we haven’t had bunnies in days.

These all seem to date back to a similar time period when giving coffee mugs was as common as texting. A warm era of camaraderie where you would give a mug for absolutely any occasion, even if the mug made no sense, and especially if it had heavy sexual undertones. Like a reusable, practical, breakable gift card.

Several weeks ago while at Carmichael, two local television celebrities came by to volunteer their time. I was greasy, wearing a ponytail and my trademark stained hoodie, slanging leftovers from juvenile delinquent centres into old yogurt containers. They were wearing classy female-tailored suits. They helped package and deliver food. Being television extroverts, asking questions seemed natural to them, and since I am always able to answer the questions of beautiful, young successful local women, we had a nice conversation about the city, about their early morning television schedules, and about Montreal. They asked me why I came to Carmichael on a regular basis, and I was unable to give a decent answer. I have spare time, I said. I like what they do here.

This week, I slapped together likely fifty or more double burgers on white bakery buns with a splash of mustard and an explosion of ketchup. When I reached the bottom of the tray, through a layer of greyish-yellow fatty beef juice, I came up with the reason why I do my best to volunteer on regularly. On the aluminum tray, one that was once filled with frozen burger patties, oven-cooked to perfection, I read the above quote and title of this post. And although this one was staring at me in the face, and although lately I have been going really far, shitty-preacher far, to make connections between regular life crap and philosophical nonsense, this one I just couldn’t pass up.

I do not use the term ‘the bottom’ as if those financially unlucky are somehow lower than those of us who can live comfortably in our wealth. I use the term ‘the bottom’ as in, those who are neglected by the rest, including government funding and policy. Supporting ‘the bottom’ means more than using a thrift store as a garage sale for our conscience, it means more than parting ways with our novelty ceramic mugs, it means more than a financial gift that we will be refunded 15% by the compassionate Canadian government. It means changing the the system in a way so that the bottom is supported by the top, and the top is supported by the bottom. A system where they are both on the same level. Where ‘the bottom’ doesn’t exist. This is possible starting with a change in mindset, change in priorities, change in spending. But if you’ve got any hilarious ceramic mugs for me to wash, we can always just start there.

If you have an excess of food items, large plastic yogurt containers, plastic bags, clothes, money, or time please consider donating it to the Carmichael Outreach on 1925 Osler Street.


Behind the Scenes

The Colourful Exhibition