Regina, Treaty 4: Aidan Morgan

photo by Zoë Schneider, intro by Jennifer Sparrowhawk

photo by Zoë Schneider, intro by Jennifer Sparrowhawk

If you look up the word witty in the dictionary you will find a photo of Aidan Morgan, and he probably took the photo. One of the funnier things I read last year was his review of Swiss Chalet “Into the Rotisserie” where he likens perogies to baby armadillos. Seriously, you guys, I laughed so hard. Admittedly, I was a little drunk and, coincidentally, eating perogies at the time. I did read it again the next day and found it almost just as funny.

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?

There’s my ongoing excavation of Regina’s dining scene, the results of which can be seen in the Prairie Dog restaurant column and my biweekly appearance on CBC’s The Morning Edition. Do you want to hear/read me ruminate on brunch? Complain about paella? Dissect the hidden class structures underpinning the phenomenon of the modern restaurant? Hot Betsy,* I bet you do! But even if you don’t want to hear from me, I fear I’m becoming inescapable.

Aside from that, I’m starting up a radio show on CJTR with fellow Prairie Dog writer Paul Dechene. The premise is that Paul and I are municipal employees in a department so long neglected that it’s been completely forgotten, and now we hold weekly meetings where we discuss local affairs and arts. We’re calling it the Queen City Improvement Bureau. It may start as early as October 22, which gives me and Paul effectively zero time to follow through on our pitch. Which we sort of though would be rejected. But now it’s real, and we have a weekly commitment to entertain and inform whoever tunes in.

Then there’s my writing and photography, which is an endless project of accretion, a mountain of junk rising higher every day. I like to think it’s a handsome pile of junk though.

*I am not using ‘Hot Betsy’ here in an epistolary sense, which is to say that I’m not calling you or anybody Hot Betsy, even if - and here’s where your mind gets well and truly blown - your name happens to be Hot Betsy. Which I doubt. But please contact me if your parents actually and with silliness aforethought named you Hot Betsy.

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

I work as a Communications and Marketing Specialist at Tourism Saskatchewan, where I specialize in communicating and marketing Saskatchewan to tourists. It’s the most tautological job in the world! I love the flexibility, freedom and creativity that the job affords me. It’s also helped me get to know Saskatchewan as a place of wonder. We tend to forget how amazing the places we live can be.

As for challenges… I’m not sure. Working for the government means that I can’t be quite as outspoken as I’d like, and it takes up a fair amount of time and energy that could be spent travelling the world and writing a novel. But the truth is that I always find ways to restrict or limit myself, and if it weren’t that it would be something else. My challenges as an educated straight white man are barely worth mentioning.

Oh, I’m short, so sometimes I can’t reach the coffee grinder in the lunchroom because Jenelle keeps putting it up on the top shelf. Thanks Jenelle.

KC: What’s important to you?

That’s one of them big questions. Love, the future, health, good people, a decent cup of coffee, a tree branch with bright yellow autumn leaves, a small bookstore (come back, Buzzword Books), a mind that moves with quickness, a fully charged battery and a memory card for my camera. Things small and great, things far away and close by, stars and starlings, that kind of thing.

KC: What do you like most/least about Regina?

I like the people in Regina, the ones who stay or come back, the people who work hard to make this city a more interesting place to live. Many of my favourite people here are transplants from other cities who bring different perspectives and expand the possibilities of what Regina can be. The city is small and unpretentious, and I like the sense that it has nothing to prove (unless you’re a politician or a property developer locked in an imaginary and unequal war with Alberta cities). Regina was a very parochial city when I moved here from the Maritimes in 1989, and I’m glad to see it loosen up a bit.

What I like least about Regina is its seeming enslavement to property developers and its concomitant habit of puking up ugly hairballs of vinyl homes and big box stores around the outskirts of the city. Oh, and mortgaging our future for a new stadium so we can watch the Roughriders lose games in slightly more comfortable seats. The resource boom has given a much-needed shot of energy into the city, but it’s also bred an unearned smugness and a celebration of expansion for its own sake.

KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?

Saskatoon and I go way back. I lived there and went to university in the early ‘90s, made plenty of friends there and even found someone who would eventually marry me. My parents live there as well, so I visit every couple of months.

Saskatoon is pretty and perhaps more cosmopolitan than Regina, but it also possesses a crueler and wilder subconscious. The violence I’ve seen in Regina has been a product of misery and privation, but the violence I’ve seen in Saskatoon feels like sport. That’s probably the result of being a young university student in the ‘90s and hanging around on Broadway.

KC: How do you survive the winters here?

Good boots.

KC: (from the Proust Questionnaire) How would you like to die?

I would like to die without regrets, at peace, painlessly and with full awareness of what’s happening as I go. But I know that this is a wishlist that will likely go unfulfilled. Dying is what happens when the body breaks down, either gradually or with spectacular speed and force, and there’s no scenario in which we exit without pain, confusion and loss. We lose everything around us and then we ourselves are lost. But death, since it is the last experience, may be the most rich and profound one that we can have. I’d like to take some scrap of wisdom from my death as I head into nothingness, or whatever is we head into. Maybe, if I die with some degree of serenity, that serenity will be the one thing that I leave behind, and all the waste and meanness and missteps of my life will evaporate. That’s it: I’d like to die with a residue of serenity to add to the pyschosphere.

I’d also like to get some inside knowledge of whatever’s coming up on television, since I won’t be around to watch it.