Sunday, March 2, 2014

Slurpees and Cats

This past week marked the beginning of big changes in the Winnipeg blogosphere. On February 27, Winnipeg Cat ended. The reasons were two-fold. First, the cat that graciously gave so much passed away and last, the author James Hope Howard of Slurpees and Murder had accepted a job one province over. This will in turn more or less end the Slurpees blog as well as the radio show Internet Pundits on 101 UMFM.

What can we say about Winnipeg Cat? Well, we can say that it consistently poked our funny bone. Maya, the cat picture that stared out at us was a flash photo eyes ablaze disembodied full throated commentary about the days events.

If Winnipeggers woke up to -50 C weather, you can be sure the cat had something to say about it. Many people in the city made the cat part of their day because they needed some humour, some Winnipeg love and some indication of what direction their city was going in.

It is without doubt the blog will be dearly missed.

While Winnipeg Cat was a terse kitty growl on a regular basis, Slurpees and Murder was a long form commentary on everything Winnipeg from Slurpees to well, murder.

Some might ask what came first: The Slurpees blog or the Slurpees column in the beloved Uptown weekly newspaper? In the end, all that matters is what ended first. It was Uptown newspaper and with it the Slurpees weekly newspaper column.

First, let me say I miss Uptown. I am still unconvinced that it could not have continued as part of a larger commitment by the Free Press to content not found elsewhere. I am even more convinced now that the Metro is pumped out daily in Winnipeg.

No matter now, I guess. It is a tough time for newspapers but I always felt there was room for such a publication not to mention any website they could have sustained.

Many who did read Uptown turned to Slurpees to tickle their funny bone or to think on the week's issues.

The demise of Uptown left those in need of local and funny with the only option of seeking it online. And for some time there was a glorious multitude of long form blogs dedicated to Winnipeg or written by Winnipeggers. Some of those blogs are no longer around but Slurpees and Murder became an institution.

For the last few years, Slurpees became multimedia. And by that I mean there was a Twitter account and a radio show on the University of Manitoba's 101 UMFM. The first host of the show Tessa Vanderhart put together a panel of bloggers to discuss the week's issues and what a free for all it was!

It was at this time that I met James and saw the warmth and humour behind the writing. It seemed impossible that there could ever be and end to writing about Winnipeg since there appeared to be a never ending source of material to cover.

It would be interesting to look into why there has been a surge in renewed interest in local matters right across Canada. And by that I mean...there once had been wide indifference, a shrug of the shoulders or outright lack of knowledge of what happens in the city. I have no idea if blogging or social media made a difference but for the first time in a long while people have been talking local issues in a more concerted way and it is having an impact.

Slurpees and Murder was very much a part of that discussion.

In the recent year, James took over hosting duties of Internet Pundits and continued tweeting and blogging. As he has mentioned in his commentary, he had been seeking out work within his professional skill set. He has always been hard working but specialized job training often means matching your job training with the right organization.

James looks to have found that job in Saskatchewan and the move comes soon. I am sure blogging will still be an outlet for a creative mind but hard to write about a city you love on a daily basis when you are driving for hours in boreal forest.

And so with that Winnipeg Cat, Slurpees and Murder and Internet Pundits come to an end. Thanks James for sharing your cat, your thoughts, your voice and your Winnipeg. Manitoba's loss is Saskatchewan's gain and many of us will your contributions to this community terribly.

1 comment:

James Hope Howard said...

Aww, thanks, John! I'm still a bit sad to be leaving and to be wrapping everything up, but duty calls, as they say.

I'll end up writing something, I'm sure, once I'm settled; beats me what it'll be, though! Plenty of adventure to be tackled, first.