Arts & Life, City & Politics, Music, Transportation

Pip Skid on Portage Place, the bus, and why Winnipeg is the worst

Pip Skid Chows Down

Patrick Skene (Pip Skid), the caustic Brandon-bred rapper known for his biting verses and misanthropic views of most things, paints a picture of Winnipeg as a city where there is little opportunity to find a good job, biking is for nutcases and public transit is a mobile insane asylum.

Though his perspectives are often bleak about the city, Skene mentions that he’s trying to be “less negative” these days. As of lately, he’s been making art, eschewing his previous songwriting template and looking to fantasy for inspiration. His last song was about “a city full of chickens who all have missing limbs and ride around in wheelchairs”.  He says that he needs “something new,” or maybe it’s just a coping mechanism to escape the harsh realities of living in a city, which he can’t seem to help but view as “depressing.”

So here we are on a Saturday afternoon meeting to talk about Winnipeg in one of the most depressing places in Winnipeg– the Portage Place food court. If we’re going to talk about the city, this is the place it needs to happen.

I realize shortly into our conversation that if he’s really trying to be less negative, change his disposition, or whatever, this is possibly the worst interview that he could be doing at this very moment.

Note: This interview was edited for length and flow.

Spectator Tribune: Do you ever come through (Portage Place)?

PS: I try to avoid it.

Spectator Tribune: So many stores are closed.

It’s a sad place. When Cass (Elliott) first moved back to Winnipeg, after he first got back from Portage Place, he said it was one of the most depressing places on the planet earth. It’s pretty weird in here.

Spectator Tribune: What are some of your earliest memories of this mall and what are your perceptions of it today?

PS: I came here as a teenager from Brandon with my girlfriend at the time. There was this bodega kind of shop and I bought an African medallion there – so embarrassing. Maybe there was a Stitches and I bought a mustard button-up, polka dot shirt. I thought it was amazing when I was a teenager, especially coming from Brandon. Now it’s so insane in here. I think it’s like a perfect Petri dish of Winnipeg: It’s sad, it’s lonely, it’s heartbreaking. I mean, all malls are, but this one in particular stands out in that sense.

Spectator Tribune: How would you describe public transit?

PS: Oh it’s so awful. My bike was stolen a little while ago, which was really hard to deal with, and it still is. I haven’t been on a bike since. So I’ve been on the bus in the summer a lot and it’s just horrible. The bus is like a mental hospital that rides around and lets people on and off. There’s times when I have to get off of the bus like a half hour before, so I have to walk for a half hour because I can’t be on there anymore. And sometimes I get paranoid and think that the bus is going to the mental hospital, like it’s actually taking us there.

There’s a blog where people share their stories about what has happened on Winnipeg Transit and there’s a lot of disturbing things on there, like men masturbating into their hard hats and stuff. There’s just so many. It’s just this potpourri of madness.

Spectator Tribune: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen on the bus?

Lots of really gross things. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?

Spectator Tribune: Some drunk guy have a seizure at, like, noon on the 66 Grant.

Spectator Tribune: How would you describe Sam Katz to someone who isn’t from Winnipeg?

PS: I guess I would say that he is, like, the CEO of Giant Tiger or something, or at least that’s the way I picture him in my head.

Spectator Tribune: Do you think downtown is unsafe?

I don’t think that downtown is unsafe. When I worked at a nursing home years ago, this woman from St. Boniface hadn’t been downtown in five or six years and wouldn’t even drive through it during the day. That’s how scared she was.

Spectator Tribune: Why do you think people from the suburbs don’t want to come downtown?

People are scared of Indians, people are definitely scared of newcomers and immigrants and Africans. It’s just regular racism and classist stuff, like any city.

Spectator Tribune: I feel like this city is so segregated. Why do the downtowns of other cities have life?

Well, there’s no neighbourhoods. Except maybe around Central Park.

Spectator Tribune: Yeah, it’s kind of weird though. I mean, why is Winnipeg so different? What will it take to make downtown more of a community?

Definitely not the Winnipeg Jets or anything. There’s a lot of drop-ins and art programs and things happening – to have a place for teens to hang out is fantastic. But I don’t know about downtown. I think it’s kind of a cold place. When you walk down Portage, it’s just depressing. I’m so down on Winnipeg.

Spectator Tribune: It seems like a lot of great businesses have been closing lately, like The Lo Pub. How do you think closures like that are affecting the music community?

That was tough. Apparently, Jack (Jonasson) already has something lined up…so The Lo should be back soon. The Negative Space has been great for weird bands and stuff like that. I think this city is really frustrating in the sense that Boon Burger, which puts slime in between burger buns does so well that they have two locations and Stella’s has, what, seven or eight locations? And it’s just garbage. I think that’s a good sign of where we live.


Pip Skid plays with This Hisses, The Gunness, and Republic of Champions at the Windsor on Oct. 27 at 9 p.m.


Julijana Capone is a writer for the Spectator Tribune.  Follow her on Twitter at @JulijanaCapone


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