Like most Winnipeggers, I love our fair city with all my heart.
Also, like most Winnipeggers, I would normally never in a million years tell anyone that I actually like living here.
If I did, I’d miss out on one of my favourite charms that Winnipeg has to offer: a never-ending wealth of things to complain about, and an equally never-ending flood of complaints from the people who live here.
We Winnipeggers love to complain, which is a good thing, because it’s the endless flow of complaints we spew about our city on a daily basis that makes our city so great. It’s really what defines us as a people, if you think about it.
Even as far back as the famous Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 (after all, what is a strike really other than a demonstration of synchronized complaining), Winnipeggers have been skillfully finding horrendous faults in everything around us, and then going on and on about how absolutely horrible everything is.
Before the Jets moved away, Winnipeggers complained about them nonstop – and rightfully so; they sucked ass! Then, after they were torn from our ever-loving embraces in 1996, we were forced to adapt, lest we be left with nothing to complain about.
And adapt we did. The second the Jets touched down in Arizona, we immediately shifted gears and began talking like we had always loved our precious Jets and how it was terrible that they were moved to Phoenix. We had successfully found something new to complain about.
In and of itself, this is no great task. But you can begin to see the skill and artistry involved when you consider that the new subject of our complaint was the exact opposite of what we had just spent the last 20 years complaining about (namely that the Jets were in Winnipeg).
This was an amazing display of postmodern complaining of the highest caliber – we were actually complaining about the fact that we no longer had something to complain about.
I have recently come to believe that the people who plan and run our city understand our complaint culture better than we do.
When building the Esplanade Riel, there were dozens of local restaurants vying for the coveted spot on the bridge.
That the spot would eventually go to Salisbury House doesn’t make any sense at all, unless you consider that the city might have been intentionally giving us something new to complain about.
Moreover, why would our wonderful mayor, Sam Katz, lie to us so consistently about funding for rapid transit unless he wanted us to have something to complain about? The only other explanation is that the mayor thinks we’re all stupid morons, but I like to give him more credit than that.
I would rather think that he’s benevolently being a shitty mayor to give us something that we can band together and complain about. For this, I think we all owe him hearty thanks!
Who knows, maybe we’ll be clever enough to re-elect him this October, so we can have plenty to complain about for years to come.
J. Williamez doesn’t mind if you complain about this column. He’ll consider it as part of your civic duty as a Winnipegger.
Published in Volume 65, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 16, 2010)