Calgary Stampede

An Open Letter to Ken King “You can’t emotionally blackmail that which is already dead inside.”

Recently, Ken King decided to double down on the crazy pills vis a vis CalgaryNext. Presumably that means KathleenNOW is off the table.

Dear Ken King,

I can only imagine the frustrations you must be grappling with in the face of our refusal to indulge your petty desire for more hookers and cocaine. It is difficult, I know, not getting what you want. Much like my one-year-old nephew, you have opted to throw a tantrum and beat your fists desperately against the floor in the hopes that Mayor Nenshi will take you back to Walmart so you can finally purchase that Paw Patrol action figure you want.

I know, man. Paw Patrol is really cool.

But Ken, Kenny baby, life doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to stomp your feet and threaten to hold your breath until you turn blue until you get what you want. Incidentally, our colour is red so that is really what you should be aiming for.  You don’t get to threaten to take away our Flames just because we won’t pay for you turbo mansion with the T-rex leather sofa ball pit and the gold toilet that your (presumably) trophy wife throws up into every night after she comes to terms that she must do the sex with you.

You don’t get to be a total wad just because you don’t get what you want.

Look around you, Kenny.  The unemployment rate is fluctuating badly. In December we were at 10.6% unemployment. At this moment it’s 9.4%. How many glorious new jobs would this new Cocaine-and-Gold-Boobs Stadium bring? Is it worth the tax expense that would be levelled against all of us, just to fulfill your desire to shit on the Saddledome as the walls explodes around you?

And here’s another thing. When you say, “There would be no threat to move, we would just move, and it would be over.” Well, Ken-Kill-Kenney, that actually comes off like a threat, and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but in general folks don’t take well to threats. In fact, threats generally cause us to dig in our heels, drill nails through our feet, and prepare for the worst outcome. And trust me, Ken, if the worst you can do is take away the Flames, and it is, then you are about to get an unpleasant surprise. I, for one, have already painted my toenails to show off my brand new, lovely, hobnail accessory.

See, despite what you think, Ken King, the Calgary Flames are not the be all and end all of our city. We are made of many patterns and colours. We have many loves and interests. As a community, we have the remarkable ability to come together and find enjoyment in a variety of activities. Some, like the Comic Expo and the Stampede are an annual event. During the brief days that these events take place we come together to indulge in our silly side and explore our history in quasi-drunken escapades that will never be repeated here nor anywhere else.

But Calgary has so much more to offer as well. The Glenbow, the Telus Spark Science Centre, the Calgary Zoo. Walk down Stephen Ave during the Christmas Holidays and a person would be hard-pressed to not feel themselves spurred on by a sense of community. Except you. I imagine whenever snow touches your lily-white skin you are forced to vigorously towel dry yourself with the nearest louse-free homeless person. Float down the Bow, get a treat at Village Ice Cream, visit one of our many farmer’s markets. Climb the Tower (or ride a sherpa as much like my previously mentioned nephew, your stubby legs would never make the climb, and I’m sure the speed of an elevator ascent would cause you to get a nosebleed.) Have you seen our craft beer community? Big Rock, Village, Last Best, Toolshed, Dandy, Wild Rose. Every single thing I’ve listed, including the sherpa, laughs in the face of your ‘threat-but-totally-not-a-threat’ to take away our Flames.

We’ve got some sweet-ass malls, some bitchin’ walking trails, and some cool-as-shit libraries to visit. Those are places where you can get books for free, by the way. You might want to try picking one up some time. I recommend something by Charles Dickens, as you will surely recognize yourself in the robust, eccentric fancy-man villains that occupy those particular plotlines.

We’ve got an eclectic variety of religions and ethnicities, all offering their own individual services, celebrations, and cuisine to try. We have street festivals, and hipster paradises like Kensington and Inglewood waiting to be explored.

We have one of the foremost children’s hospitals in North American. By the way, I’d love a donation to my Extra Life Campaign.

We have old and new architecture that, if you have the time to remove your head from betwixt your asscheeks, you might just notice and, perhaps, admire.

Have you heard our symphony or seen the concerts that are hosted at the Jube and the Epcor Centre? Bob Dylan is coming this July. Bob-Fucking-Dylan. You know who else is coming? Distant Worlds, which is a Final Fantasy based orchestra performance. We get video game music and Bob-Fucking-Dylan all in the course of six months. The breadth of our cultural landscape stretches the length of the Rockies, which, by the way, are only a short drive away.

Calgary is a hundred thousand colours and sights and smells. It is a hundred thousand loves and passions and hates, dreams and desires. It is over one million voices all chiming together to tell you that you, Ken King, are a gargantuan asshole.

Go ahead, King. Take our Flames. Take our team. The one thing you can’t package up and ship off to another city is our spirit. That passion, that joy, that team loyalty, it isn’t for sale, and we won’t suffer your emotional blackmail.


Kathleen Sawisky, esq

Integrity Commissioner


PS: I have heard you, and others, mention the good charity work that comes from the Calgary Flames. I am unaware of any charity that threatens those it helps the most, although I see a nurse shaking down a child with leukemia at ACH, so I guess you never know.

Surviving the 2015 Calgary Stampede

Here in Calgary it is Stampede season, which means we are about to be inundated by approximately 3.7 billion people who come visit the city for ten days in an effort to relive what they presume to be an accurate rendition of the Old Timey West. Two things happen when the Calgary Stampede goes on: 1) Citizens native to Calgary evacuate the city to the nearby mountains (this is also part of our zombie preparation plan); 2) Those not native to the city arrive. And they all wear cowboy hats, boots, and jeans. And we will resent them and all that they bring to us.

Now, I’ve only lived in Calgary for just over three years. But I understand it. I understand the intense fury, the violent anger that erupts deep within one’s soul every time they get stuck in a traffic jam on Deerfoot because some wildly inappropriately dressed tourists have crashed their car and are attempting to extract their mangled cowboy boots from the wreckage of their vehicle while simultaneously screaming Woo! Stampede, bitches!

I hate it as much as the next person, which is why I think I is time we all sit down and come up with a list of must-do’s and musn’t-even-attempts for both the locals and the tourists who have decided to eat as many scorpion pizzas as possible before riding the Zipper on the midway.

Taking Part in the 2015 Calgary Stampede: Tourists

  1. Okay, you’re here. We will all do our very best to accept that.
  2. Just because you can start drinking early and later than normal doesn’t mean that you should. Practice some self-restraint, if only for your health. We’ve had a heatwave recently, and no one, least of all any of us locals, wants to read about you keeling over in a pool of your own filth due to alcohol poisoning.
  3. If you have to drink excessively, please drink water too.
  4. Please don’t harass Calgary Police Services for doing their job. I get it, your buddy was just goofing around when he was tossing empty beer cans over the bridge, but it still isn’t right nor is it legal. If the police are arresting him, it’s because he was acting like a mighty morphin’ power douche. He could use a few hours in the drunk tank.
  5. Be nice to those volunteering at the Stampede. Yes, it is hot. Yes, it is crowded, and yes, maybe you totally can’t even right now, but neither can we, so just take a deep breath and relax.
  6. Yes, there is crappy beer on for cheap. Drink up that Kokanee and that Bud Light Lime if you want! But while you’re here, I recommend trying out some of our local flavors! Big Rock Brewery is become renowned across the world, and Village Brewing is a fantastic craft brewery! Trust me, you’ll enjoy the overall experience a lot more if you spend a couple extra bucks on a quality brew.
  7. Please don’t make cowboy or Ol West jokes. We’re heard them all, and none of them are funny.
  8. If you have to dress up, don’t go overboard. A hat just makes sense; it protects you from the sun. You don’t need the boots and the cowboy hat and the plaid shirt tied in such a way to emphasize your boobs (ladies, this goes for you too), and you don’t need to speak like you are from Texas. We sure as shit don’t.
  9. If we look unimpressed with you, it is only because we are. You are the twentieth person to comment about something ‘Western’ related today, and we are slowly dying inside. It’s best just to move on and forget about us.
  10. Please don’t comment on how we are dressed up in western clothes in our place of work. We don’t need to be reminded of this humiliating experience. True story. My husband works at a bank, and even he has to dress up.
  11. Did I mention not over doing it on the drinking? I feel like this is a really important point. I can‘t emphasize it enough. Don’t get alcohol poisoning.
  12. If you are here from PETA: Okay, we understand. A lot of people have issues with the rodeo aspects. Please don’t take it out on everyone going to the Stampede. Some of us are just there for the soft serve in the phallic cone.
  13. Be prepared to wait on hot, sweaty C-Trains with the rest of us. It is annoying as hell, and we all know it. There’s no need to complain loudly about it. And while we’re at it, follow basic transit rules. Make room, don’t hog seats with bags, make sure the elderly, pregnant, and disabled all have places to sit.
  14. Look out for each other. People usually go to Stampede in groups, but it is easy to get lost, either because of crowds or because you are completely smashed. Strangers looking after strangers is both heartwarming and an important part of ensuring everyone has a fun time. If you see someone who looks like they are about to keel over, help them get medical attention.
  15. Don’t be a dumb-dumb. Common sense hasn’t ceased to exist just because you are wearing spurs and a rhinestone belt buckle.
  16. Yes, it has been busy at our place of work recently, and yes, we can’t wait until Stampede is over. No, we’re not sure if we’re going to take part in the activities.
  17. Your short-shorts are inappropriate cowboy wear. You can either take this seriously or you can just fanny about, but don’t pretend you’ve found some happy in-between place. You haven’t. And those shorts would kill if you actually rode a horse. I’m talking full on chapped thighs.
  18. Finally, and I really can’t stress this enough. Don’t drink so damn much, unless it is water.

Surviving the 2015 Calgary Stampede: Locals

  1. Can you get out of the city? Then do it. Jasper, Banff, Golden, Radium. Anywhere but here. Go, go, go. You are wasting time reading this. Just go.
  2. You can’t leave? You have to work? Okay, don’t panic. We’ll get you through this. First off, assume that wherever you work is going to make you play along with this nonsense. It’s best to just embrace the gingham skirts, the cowboy hats, and the boots now, before it’s too late.
  3. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. There are plenty of free pancake breakfasts for you to attend. You might as well get all you can out of the next ten days of terror.
  4. Yes, there will be country-western music playing everywhere. I find the best solution to this is to hum the Sailor Moon Theme Song. It’s easily accessible to the other poor sods who are trapped in the same scenario as you.
  5. Suicide pact with your coworkers.
  6. Are you absolutely certain you can’t leave the city? Can you fake an illness or an accident? Your employer would understand.
  7. Personally, I find wildly mocking people below my breath really takes the strain off of the whole experience.
  8. Extra visits to your psychiatrist. Remember: they will be filling up fast!
  9. Consider earplugs and/or horse blinders, just in case.
  10. If you do find yourself trapped in a crowd, proceed to windmill your arms and making a whooping noise. If they don’t get out of your way because you’ve hit them, they will at least avoid you do to possible insanity.

Of course, that might not be enough. That’s why I recommend The Treasure Hunt of Stereotypes. This is a game my husband and I play whenever we have to go to the mall. We came up with a list of stereotypical mall goers and began to tick off them as we saw them. This included: child on leash, teenage girl who can’t even, and depressed husband or father waiting for wife or daughter by change rooms. I have prepared the following preliminary list for your enjoyment, either at the Stampede, at your local mall, or just downtown around 17th Ave or Stephen Ave mall:

  1. Woman with cut off jean shorts that would offend anyone over the age of 70;
  2. Small child clearly forced into wearing cowboy gear, looking unimpressed. Bonus points if crying;
  3. A group of women wearing plaid shirts that have been tied above their belly-button, Daisy Duke-style;
  4. A drunk and sunburned frat boy. Double the points if he is carrying a can of beer;
  5. Someone wearing a pink, bejeweled cowboy hat;
  6. Someone wearing gaudy, bejeweled cowboy boots;
  7. Anyone using the terms ‘y’all’ or really, dropping their ‘g’s’;
  8. Anyone who announces, probably drunkenly, that they are absolutely getting a horse after their experience at the Stampede, because of course they are;
  9. Spontaneous line dancing. Extra points if it is on Stephen Ave;
  10. Someone arrested for chewing tobacco and spitting it everywhere without a care for those around them;
  11. White cowboy hats (you take a shot for each one of these you see. Staff members of the Stampede and/or Calgary do not count.);
  12. Any bar that changes its title to ‘Saloon’;
  13. Inappropriate racial stereotypes;
  14. PETA protesters;
  15. Piles of vomit at the midway;
  16. Country-Western music playing inside a mall or store that does not regularly play it;
  17. Random buskers with guitars or banjos;
  18. An idiot wearing spurs attached to their cowboy boots which you know they bought because they once saw Fieval Goes West and figured it was important to complete their outfit;
  19. Bigoted comments being spouted by drunks, probably at the ‘saloons’;
  20. A Stampede Princess (you lose a point if she isn’t wearing a bejeweled hat or belt buckle);
  21. A small infant, dressed in cowboy gear;
  22. Bolo ties. Bonus points added if the person wearing it is under the age of 45;

There you have it folks. This is, of course, only a basic survival guide. I would still recommend leaving the city or, worst case scenario, going full hermit until this is over and done with. I, for one, will be hiding under my bed until it is safe to come out again.