DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society

Eclectic social commentary with a chuckle and maybe a sting in the tail

Ferguson, Missouri; Russel Honoré; and Pizza

I have to believe that if the National Guard in Ferguson had made their point… but then had plunked down a pile of boxes of pizza for the protesters… they would have won the public relations battle.

The incendiary situation in Ferguson, Missouri goes on, showing no real sign of abating, and sadly appears to be on the increase as autopsy reports are dissected and debated. One can only wonder what will follow should an arrest be made, or not. To say nothing of a potential trial and verdict down the road.

I have no idea of the details surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown other than what has been made public via the media. However what concerns me is the situation that exists now between the law enforcement parties – police and National Guard – and those who are exercising their right to peaceful protest. Television news is full of video of the Guard setting up in anticipation of trouble. Armored personnel carriers and troops decked-out in camouflage more suited to a war zone that St. Louis appear to be preparing for an attack. Ferguson, Missouri looks like Iraq when viewed on television.

(Photo By: Carlos Barria/Reuters/Newscom)

(2005 Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré Photo By: Carlos Barria/Reuters/Newscom)

Enter General Russel Honoré, a native of Louisiana, whose approach to the problem is best summed up in his shouted order “Put that Goddamned weapon down, soldier”.

It brings to my mind the situation in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina some years ago. While Mother Nature wreaked her havoc, and levees burst, some locals decided it was an ideal opportunity to take advantage of the mayhem and exacerbate the situation by looting rather than cooperating. The effect of the presence of heavy-handed troops, rather than quelling the problem, was more like gas thrown on a fire. Enter General Russel Honoré, a native of Louisiana, whose approach to the problem is best summed up in his shouted order “Put that Goddamned weapon down, soldier”.

I have to believe that if the National Guard in Ferguson had made their point by letting the protesters see their equipment, getting across their message that they were serious about things, but then had plunked down a pile of boxes of pizza for the protesters to illustrate that they were not there to intimidate, that they are not the enemy, they would have won the public relations battle.

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

World War One Centenary: Family Lore and Family Loss

Trees

I often wonder what those men who managed to survive the “War to end all wars”, my grandfather among them, felt when twenty-odd years later they watched their sons go off to the battlefields of Europe once again.

With countless media reports and background pieces regarding the centenary of the start of World War One this year, I have on numerous occasions found myself thinking about a story that has been in our family for, well, about a hundred years. In early August of 1914 my maternal grandfather, like thousands of other young men, decided to answer the call and volunteer to go overseas and fight for King and country.

He had two very good friends, brothers Randolphe, a warehouse clerk, and James Piché, who was a millwright. They didn’t live on the island of Montreal as did my grandfather, but off the western tip. However their family home was a farm just north of Montreal in the foothills of the Laurentian Mountains, in what was then called Saint-Canut. This area is now part of a larger community called Mirabel. How my grandfather came to befriend these brothers is unknown. Regardless, one day in August of 1914 the three of them made their way to the Black Watch armoury recruiting center on Bleury Street in downtown Montreal and volunteered to join the 13th Battalion. Although the civic number on the building  has changed to a four-digit version, the  armoury  is still there and very active.

BlackWatchPosterOn August 6, 1914 then Prime Minister of Canada The Right Honourable Sir Robert Borden  announced that Canada would send troops overseas to fight. The Black Watch began accepting recruits the next day. Once signed on, men received daily training at the armoury in various aspects of combat until they left for Valcartier, Quebec on August 24, from whence they would sail for England.

Having signed up, and while waiting to go to Valcartier for yet more training before embarkation, one day my grandfather and his pals visited the Piché family farm. While there, so the story goes, Monsieur Prospere Piché, father to Randolphe and James, planted three trees – one for each of them. I suspect there was talk of strong roots at home to ensure their safe return and the like.

On August 24th the battalion left Montreal and headed off to Valcartier. Following a brief stay they then set sail and arrived in England in October of 1914 and continued training on Salisbury Plain. It was in February of 1915 that they saw their first action upon arrival  in France.

Black Watch Armorry. The address has changed from  to 2067

Black Watch Armoury. The address has changed from 428 to 2067 Bleury Street

Fast forward a mere seven months from the call for recruits, and just weeks after their arrival at the front, to April 24 of 1915 and we have the death of Randolphe. Sadly this would be followed by James’ death just weeks later, sometime between the 20th and 23rd of May. Two brothers killed in action within a month.

Basil Randolphe Piché Killed in Action

Basil Randolphe Piché Killed in Action

James Piché Killed in Action

James Piché Killed in Action

James Harland Piché inscription on Vimy Ridge Memorial

James Harland Piché inscription on Vimy Ridge Memorial

 According to a newspaper piece from June 4, 1915, just days after Mrs. Piché received word of  her second son’s death she received a letter from him in which he outlines the heroic circumstances of his brother’ tragic end.

Gazette

My grandfather managed to survive the war, although he did lose the sight in one eye from a gun shot wound and suffered from emphysema due to being gassed (no doubt exacerbated by years of smoking).

However the truth is that whatever became of those trees is unknown, not nearly as romantic as a Hollywood ending I’m afraid.

Now about those trees. If this was a Hollywood screenplay instead of a blog post no doubt I’d be writing that two of the three trees had been struck by lightning, or died suddenly and mysteriously for no apparent reason at just about the same time the sad news was arriving at the Piché home. However the truth is that whatever became of those trees is unknown, not nearly as romantic as a Hollywood ending I’m afraid. Perhaps they are all still going strong, or maybe they were among the many trees that were hacked down to make way for Mirabel Airport.

I often wonder what those men who managed to survive the “War to end all wars”, my grandfather among them, felt when twenty-odd years later they watched their sons go off to the battlefields of Europe once again. Frustration? Anger? Waste?

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

EpiPen® Commercial Needs to Add a Step

With back-to-school season getting underway, EpiPen® television commercials are popping-up all over the place. A child narrates the ads explaining that to use an EpiPen®, should someone have an allergic reaction, you follow two simple steps: Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh. Hopefully you will never be in a position that requires an EpiPen®, but should you find yourself  having to use one, remember that there is another step – don’t just point the blue end up, REMOVE THE BLUE TOP.

The jingle leads one to think the purpose of Blue to the sky is to get the EpiPen® going in the right direction. Fine and dandy. But what gets lost in the slogan is that not only do you have to point the blue end toward the sky, you actually have to remove the cap!

This is one instance when a cute tag line from an ad could be misleading.  By simply adding the word throw or chuck to the slogan all would be clarified.

Throw Blue to the Sky; Press Orange to the Thigh

Here is the correct way to use EpiPen® according to their website.

EpiPen

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Tranquility

tran·quil·i·ty

traNGˈkwilitē/

the quality or state of being tranquil; calm.

Tranquility

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Let’s Not Forget Robin Williams’ Humor

photo: chicagoreader.com

photo: chicagoreader.com

In the last few days since the passing of Robin Williams the media focus has been on his battles with substance abuse and depression. While these are no doubt important aspects of Williams’  character, and if discussing them encourages those who face similar problems to seek help then I’m all in favor. But I think we should be careful not to lose sight of what made Williams the star he was, his sense of humor. To that end here are a few of his more memorable quips.

 

Talking  about having a colonoscopy: “I didn’t mind the camera; it was the crew that was painful.”

 

“Being a functioning alcoholic is kind of like being a paraplegic lap dancer — you can do it, just not as well as the others, really.”

 

“My God. We’ve had cloning in the South for years. It’s called cousins.”

 

“Do you think God gets stoned? I think so… look at the platypus.”

“God gave men both a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.”

On the immaculate conception:The night that Mary said to Joe: “Joe, I’m pregnant.”

And Joe went: “Holy mother of God,” and she went: “You’re right!”

“Oh Jesus Christ.”

“What a great name Joe! That is so much better than Schmul.”

 

 

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Somewhere Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams are Knocking Them Dead(er) …

And the world is a much less funny place today. R.I.P. Robin Williams.

 

 

 

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Sunday Brunch in Montreal; Table for Two!

TableTwo

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Scofflaw Dog Owners Can Make You Feel Like A Bag Of ….

Part of being a responsible pet owner involves not imposing your pet on others who perhaps may not appreciate your animal.

Let me begin by pointing out that I am an animal lover. I was brought up with pets of all shapes and sizes – cats, dogs, hamsters, fish and the occasional rabbit – so I am familiar with the concept of responsible pet ownership. That is to say, giving the animal a safe home and providing adequate nourishment and exercise all the while respecting those who choose not to have pets. Part of being a responsible pet owner involves not imposing your pet on others who perhaps may not appreciate your animal.

Some friends of mine, former pet owners themselves, are currently having a significant problem with some, certainly not all, neighbourhood dog owners – their problem isn’t with the dogs; it’s the owners who are being disrespectful. My friends have put a lot of work and effort, to say nothing of money, into their lawn and garden. They would like to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labours without fear of coming across doggie “gifts”, or damaged flower beds. Regardless of whether owners pick up after their dogs or not, they would really rather not have people and dogs tramping on their property.

Dog_SignIn an attempt to deter such rude activity they put up a low, string and post fence. It’s not going to physically stop anyone or any dog from walking on their lawn, but was meant to send a subtle message that they didn’t want people or dogs on their grass. Unfortunately this didn’t work at all. So they put up a sign politely asking people not to walk their dogs on the lawn and garden. Indeed this elicited a response: a bag of dog droppings was left taped to the sign! Very mature and respectful neighbours we have in our area.

According to the City’s website, the bylaw relating to dogs goes way back to the 1940s and, among other things, refers to damage to property. The website sums up the bylaw by pointing out that dog owners must pick up after their dogs, as well as ensure they have the proper licenses, and identification. But what if you don’t want dogs on your lawn at all? Can you opt out of the “it’s okay so long as they pick up after” concept by putting up a sign or fence? Will a complaint to the City result in an “if they pick up after their dogs, they’re within the law” response? Stay tuned.

It seems to me a person should be able to keep dogs off their property if they want. I’m not sure if ‘damage’ has been done or not, but either way, to take the time to secure a bag of dog poop to a lamp standard shows just what kind of mentality some scofflaw dog owners have!

 Westmount_Dog

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Cyclists Are from Mars, Motorists Are from Venus

Cyclists_Roll

It has finally occurred to me why some cyclists and motorists have such a hard time communicating, often leading to dangerous encounters. Like lovers of fine art, who can both look at the very same painting yet see two entirely different things, drivers and cyclists see the exact same intersection differently.

So if we are going to have to accept that bike riders don’t adhere to the rules of the road, then it should be made abundantly clear to all – both drivers and street-crossing pedestrians –  that they should not expect cyclists to stop. Let’s get everyone on the same page.

Case in point. Yesterday I witnessed a near disastrous confrontation between a cyclist and a driver that opened my eyes to this phenomenon. There was a four-way stop sign situation, a car approached the intersection and came to a full and complete stop. Looking to his or her right the driver saw a bicyclist nearing his stop sign and slowing to a stop. There being no other vehicles present and assuming the cyclist was stopping, the driver had the right of way and proceeded through the intersection. However the driver was forced to come to an abrupt stop in the middle of the intersection as the cyclist, rather than come to a full stop, merely slowed then accelerated once again.

When I went to drivers education they taught us that at stop signs there was a “your turn, my turn” concept. First come, first served. The driver in this situation, having stopped and seeing the cyclist slowing down, assumed he was going to stop and that it was his or her “turn” to go, having arrived at the stop sign first.

On the other hand the cyclist seemed to figure he’d slow down enough to let the driver see him, but would then speed up and cross the intersection. Evidently he assumed it was his turn; no first come first served for this cyclist.

RightofWay

I have seen this sort of thing often; cyclists disregarding the “you go, I go” approach to intersections, although some do so without even slowing down. It seems to me that most cities don’t have the police manpower to seriously clamp-down on cyclists flouting the law, which would be my favored solution. So if we are going to have to accept that bike riders don’t adhere to the rules of the road, then it should be made abundantly clear to all – both drivers and street-crossing pedestrians –  that they should not expect cyclists to stop. Let’s get everyone on the same page.

 

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Osheaga, Woodstock and Naked Cyclists

Caution: The following contains pictures of nude bicyclists and fully-clothed music festival attendees. Go figure!

Bike_NudeYou know me, I like to look for and share life’s little juxtapositions. Here’s another one. It was hot and humid in Montreal last weekend. A three-day weekend across Canada but not here in Quebec where we had our long weekend in June. A perfect occasion for the annual Osheaga Music and Arts Festival.

Osheaga is a three-day fest that is held the first weekend of August on the small island in the St. Lawrence River that was once the home to EXPO67. Over the course of the event in excess of 150,000 young music fans from all over the northeast gather to watch and listen to their favorites perform. It has been likened to a mini Woodstock. Well, I’m not so sure about that.

Woodstock 1969  Photo: Getty - Roger Jackson

Woodstock 1969
Photo: Getty – Roger Jackson

There was a time when an event such as Osheaga, with thousands of young people crammed into a hot, sunny – in places muddy – venue, frantically dancing and taking-in music would have yielded countless photos of half-clad or naked revelers getting into the spirit a la Woodstock. But Osheaga’s attendees seemed to have drawn the line at scantily clad.

With what does this juxtapose you may ask. Well at the same time as the fully clothed youth were frolicking and enjoying the privacy of an island just off downtown Montreal, a group of cyclists participated in another annual affair, the naked bike ride. Yep, right through city streets these nude cyclists pedaled their way. Not lightly clad, but starkers, naked, nude, birthday suited. One might think the two events got their audiences and locations reversed.

Playing armchair sociologist, and pouring over thousands of photos of nude and nearly nude concert-goers and cyclists – all in the name of research, of course – I observe that while the Osheaga crowd were almost entirely in their twenties and thirties, the nude bikers formed a much wider age grouping. Some, good God no, may have even been fifty or sixty.

Osheaga

Osheaga

I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that this nude cycling thing is a weekly affair, so next Sunday I’m determined to plunk a few bucks into one of Montreal’s Bixi bike rental stands, doff my duds and pedal my way downtown. But then, maybe that was annual, not weekly. Oh well, only one way to find out!

 

 

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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