City of Calgary

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.

The Story of Dean

Theory: We all have one person we are allowed to hate. One person who, when mentioned, drives us so close to the edge of insanity that we would rather throw ourselves off the cliff into the thorny hell below than spend another moment thinking about that one individual. My husband has such a person, and last night I met mine.

His name is Dean.

Dean is a horrible person. Dean has the personality of an aggressive badger that has been caught in a rainstorm and, with no concept of social norms, has decided to take out his years of pent up rage and frustration on the nearest person. Dean has all the charm of Darth Vader, hopped up on bath salts, having gotten a taste for human flesh. Dean is reason for climate change and, I am almost 100% sure, the Mad Pooper of Building 3000.

Dean is just the worst.

Dean is what happens when you combine the current cast of Saturday Night Live with a large swarm of locusts that have all been taught to play kazoos and the kazoos are on fire.

I had the gut-wrenching horror of laying eyes on Dean last night at a meeting for our condo board, wherein “I might just literally be Satan” Dean decided that the best way to air his grievances was by publicly humiliating our cheerful Property Manager by demanding “Why haven’t you returned any of my emails?”

(Note: He is apparently the only one with this issue, which may or may not be a telling point.)

Now, I like our Property Manager. When we lost our original key fob, she was all over getting us a new one made. And when I went to get said fob, there was some miscommunication, and this Property Manager immediately left her lunch break to make a new one for me, and then apologized profusely for making me wait. She is British and lovely and has never let us down.

Which is why, after she initially apologized for not returning his emails, and Dean continued to berate her repeatedly, I felt the need to interrupt him and explain that she had apologized to him already and the subject could now be dropped.

I got wild, uninhibited satisfaction in watching him turn to look at me. The shock on his face indicated that never before in his existence as a puddle of human excrement had anyone dared to interrupt him, and he had no reply to make. The reactions of those running the meeting were equally amusing as they raised eyebrows at me and smirked.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that there is a need for good communication when in a position of authority. If our Property Manager made an error, she has now been more than made aware of it and she will obviously try her utmost best to not make that mistake again. However, to call someone out publicly in such a way is a show of power. It is Dean trying to say, “Listen, I get that I am a total gargoyle of a human being, so here, let me put all the attention on you.” No one ever accomplished anything by trying to ‘out’ someone in such a way, and while it was rude of me to interrupt him, I like to think of it as more of a karmic balancing act. My actions simply neutralized his own, thus restoring the balance of the world.

“I’m a Frogman, Ra-ra-ra” Dean also used the term “Point of Order” during the meeting, which was just so pretentious I almost vomited koolaid all over my shoes. Point or order? I’m sorry, I didn’t realize we were in a Forum to Address the Misanthropic Ways of World Leaders. Clearly this is a serious situation and not at all simply a meeting where we, as condo owners, form our new condo board. Super serious, guys.

Unsurprisingly enough, Dean volunteered to be a condo board member. Me, being me, could not help but do a quick political calculation in my mind, which went something like this:

I have no desire to be on the condo board, yet I despise Dean. If someone votes for me, they may theoretically no longer vote for Dean. Ergo, if Dean loses, I win. If we both lose, I still win.

I did not win, thank goodness. I have no time for condo board meetings. More importantly, however… Dean lost. It led to a very important realization in my life…

I don’t want to win. I just want Dean to lose.

Note: You may be asking yourself, Why, Kathleen? Why hate Dean so much? To which I am reminded of Hannibal Lector’s feeling on rude people. They are no good. They also, apparently need to be eaten. I am, of course, not prepared to escalate this conflict to such a point. I’ll probably just keep passive-aggressively using his name in puns (Thanks, Community). Honestly, I would have let it go, but as the meeting was winding down yesterday, the Property Manager came around to collect the contact information for the new board members. She sat briefly next to me and was visibly shaken, close to tears. Because that’s what happens when you publicly humiliate another person repeatedly. It actually bothers them. Go figure. I can’t abide that. It was neither the time nor the place, yet “Punch me in the kidney” Dean seemed to think he had the right to act then and there. Basic compassion goes a long way, and I aim to teach him about it, one way or another.

Dean you later!

An Open Letter to the People of Alberta: Behold, Your New Premier (is me)

My Fellow Albertans,

The polls are open in Alberta, and to save you both time and aggravation, I feel it prudent to make my announcement ahead of the officially polling day.

I, people of Alberta, your noble Integrity Commissioner for the City of Calgary, am your new Premier.

I know, I know. You’re thinking What party were you running for? And Do you actually know anything about politics? And Your background is so shady that even crab grass won’t grow under your feet. How can you be our new Premier?


Chronic Pain Diaries, Part II

Sometimes I think people forget that chronic pain isn’t a simply a struggle that exists in the moment. For every minute of pain there are five other minutes of fear and confusion and worries about what the future will hold. In that way, chronic pain is a pervasive aspect that touches on the past, present, and future, and to think that those who suffer from it are only concerned about their pain in the moment is unrealistic.

Every time I have a flare I, it acts as a stark reminder that the pain comes from somewhere, and inevitably also has to lead somewhere else.

Yesterday I had an awful pain day. I woke up curled up in the fetal position. It felt like someone was pressing assorted knives into my hips and lower back over and over again. Even walking to the shower was painful, like each step was a new adventure in agony. It was a bad day, hell, it’s been a bad week. The rational part of you can only deal with so much stress before those sturdy walls you’ve built around your sanity start to break down. And when they do… Little things start to sneak in. Little ideas and fears. Why is there more pain? What does it mean? Is something wrong?

I know I’ll have to get the rest of my spine fused eventually. That is just a fact. But when that happens I won’t be able to bend at all. I’ll be like a LEGO person only with three more expressions and less controlled hair. Maybe it will help the pain, maybe not. Probably not. More hospital, more IV lines, more scars. More sleepless nights and log-rolling so I can sit up. More nurses waking you up every hour to take your temperature and blood pressure.

More roommates who watch the TV too loud or always have visitors. More dry toast, if you get to eat at all. More catheters and invasions of privacy. More feelings of being filthy even though you are trapped in one of the most sterile places imaginable.

More pain, more sutures, more cut nerves that never heal and leave you feeling like less of a person. More questions, more things going wrong. More physio when you are exhausted and want to sleep. More people telling you to just take one step more. More x-rays to irradiate your already glowing ovaries, thanks but no thanks potential future children. More damp clothes as the only means to clean yourself. Being sick from anesthesia. More emotional struggles because of said anesthesia. More time missed with family and friends. More important occasions ruined or altered because you’re too tired or sick or doped up or still in the hospital and can’t be there or deal with it.

More fears about something going wrong. Of becoming useless to the ones I love and who love me.

Chronic pain is about so much more than the pills and the heating pads and the bad flare up days. It is a whole culmination of fears about the present and the future. It’s about all the possibilities, and not all the rational thinking in the world can get a person out of that loop of thought. You can’t rationalize that many what if’s. All you can do it rotate through them, one at a time, and hope that you’ve got the right tools to deal with the stress.

Yet Another Open Letter to the City of Calgary and the City Council “Art? I am the art!”

Dear City of Calgary Council,

Integrity Commissioner here, thought maybe I would chime in on this whole ‘funding for public art’ issue that has been troubling some of you for the last little while.

Of course the drop in oil prices has us all panicking and retreating to our Campbell’s Soup-Stocked emergency shelters and panic rooms. We have to examine things that are important to us as a city. Running water is obviously a yes, as is electricity. Ring road? Maybe not as high on the priority list. There are the library renovations down town – high on the list because books.

But where does public art fall on this ever-changing list of wants and needs? Some would argue it falls no where on the list because public art is about as useful to the city as a fingerless glove to a hook-handed public official. Others might argue that public art is a means for our city to show visitors where our values lie. We find some level of importance in 50 foot mesh heads and giant blue rings that absolutely bear no resemblance to one of the various hoops that are taken out by the carnies every time Stampede rolls around. Nope. It is definitely art.

The issue here is that the Calgary City Council is viewing this as a black and white matter. Either we put money towards public art or we feed the orphans. Allow me to provide an alternative: Have the orphans make the art. Ha ha ha! I jest, of course. Everyone knows we ship those free-loaders to Red Deer.

But seriously, folks. You know that art can be cheap, right? Your 17 foot sculpture of Naheed Nenshi’s skeletal structure doesn’t have to cost $45,000. The problem is you folks are awful at haggling which is exactly why every time your middle-eastern friends come round to your house and see your Persian rug they relentlessly mock you for it. Because you paid for it. Someone forgot to teach you folks how to haggle. Well, don’t worry because I am here to supply you with a series of potential public art projects that are cheap and can, for the most part, be made using basic supplies found around your house!

  • Take some hockey sticks. I mean, like, all the hockey stick. Heck, take the Edmonton Oilers ones (they obviously aren’t using them). Okay, now super glue them together to form a deciduous tree, like a maple or something. Maybe an elm. Now, take all the hockey pucks, and I mean all of them, and super glue them to the trees to form ‘leaves’.
    • What does it mean? This particular piece, entitled “The Hockey Pokey” represents the effervescent love of hockey that all Canadians share. Or something like that.
  • For this one you are going to need some condiments. A lot of condiments. I’m talking relish, mustard (both grainy and yellow), ketchup, sauerkraut, sautéed onions, jalapeños, everything you can think of. Now you’re going to take some bed sheets and just soak them with condiments. Arrange the soaked bedsheets in a ball like structure so they look a globe, with each condiment-sheet being a different country. Shellac the heck out of it so it doesn’t start stinking up down town. Place on a stack of used sofa cushions for display.
    • What does it mean? I call this piece “Condiments of the World”, get it? Ha ha ha! It’s like ‘continents’ but not! The pun basically makes the whole thing. It represents our unity as a multi-cultural society through food! Or something like that.
  • This one has multiple purposes. You know how we used to have those cow statues everywhere? Well, in this particular piece we will shave the head of all the City Council members for charity, preferrably the Alberta Children’s Hospital (I guarantee this would raise a good wad of cash, this negating the need to ever discuss where we will get funds for public art again.) We will then take the hair and, combining it with a paste made up of old root vegetables and Q-tips, we will create a new cow statue.
    • What does it mean? I don’t know. I figure the general public would probably get a kick out of seeing the whole of the city council being bald. Plus charity. We could call it “Our Beef With City Council!” Or something like that.
  • This next one is great because it involves recycling. We are going to take some wine bottles. Basically all the wine bottles everywhere. Also all the empty liqueur bottles. We are going to smash the hell out of those bottles. We are going to take that crushed glass and create some pretty-ass looking layers of colour in a giant clear tank. It will be like one of those sand art bottle things you can get from mall kiosks during the holidays, only it will be made from all the empties that the people of Calgary have accumulated. The scene to be shown in the glass? Well, I think we could put it to a vote, let the public decide! After all, it’s going to be out in the open for everyone to see. Personally I am in favour of having art that shows my cats. Just my cats, doing cat stuff.
    • Seriously, What does it mean? “Through the Looking Cats” would be a delightful play on words that would show our love of literature. Or something like that.
  • What? Not enough? Okay. Um, let me think. How about we take all the plastic bags we get from an average trip to the grocery store and knit those bastards into a giant 20 foot tall touque that can also double as a kids park or, or! We put it on top of that giant mesh head outside the Bow. Nailed it!
    • I don’t get what it means. I know. Art is hard to understand sometimes. “Touquing it to the Next Level” would be the first of many major art projects that will be added to the Mesh Head, hereby known as ‘Leslie’. By the time we are done Leslie will represent the inscrutable spirit of Calgarians everywhere. Or something like that.
  • Geez, you people are demanding. Okay. How about this. Next to the Giant Blue Ring we place a Giant Red Octagon, a Giant Orange Triangle, a Giant Yellow Square, a Giant Green Isosceles Triangle (for diversity), and on the other side a Giant Indigo Oval, and finally a Giant Purple Star.
    • But… Why? I don’t know. Okay? At least it will be a rainbow and people will stop laughing at the single blue ring. Or something like that.
  • I am almost out ideas, but of course I saved the best for last. We’re going to need 76 lbs of wild flower seeds, two 20 foot watering cans, a giant marionette hand and a series of ropes and pulleys. To pull this off someone is going to have to be hired to live in the miniature mushroom hut and dress up as an elf. They’ll have to be very good at yelling at children and the elderly but not use racial obscenities. Colour-blind candidates are preferred, hopefully with no family connections and the ability to still legally enter the US.
    • I… What? I call it… “The Reckoning of Saint Bacon and the Whinnying Quartet”. Don’t ask questions. It’ll cost about $200 but I can make it work on less. In the end it will amuse, bemuse, and even terrify those who see it. No one will ever question Calgary again. We will be known as the city that lived. Others will bow in fear and admiration of us. Or something like that.

You’re welcome, Calgary.


Kathleen Sawisky, esq.

Integrity Commissioner (?)