Fibre 1 or Fiber 1???

Is it centre or center? Currently there is an ad running on TV for Fiber 1 in which the parents fool their child into thinking the cereal is called Number 1 (they do this by holding the box in such a way that the first three letters are blocked and only “BER 1” is visible). The kid eats what he thinks is his cereal and likes it.

Great…so far, so good.

Except here in Canada we spell it Fibre 1 thereby making the little hide-the-letters game impossible. But has that stopped the ad from running? Nope!! I have not been able to find the video online, but I can assure you the ad runs with the father hiding the first three letters but this time the “BRE 1” are visible and that is no way to spell Number 1!!!!

Do they think we are fools???

I like to drown my cereal in about a litre, or is that liter, of milk. Sometimes I need  a milk metre, or meter, to make sure I have enough. To hell with it, I’m off to the theatre, or theater.

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 DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Aerosmith and MLB: Walk This Way

Photo/New York Times
Photo/New York Times

Here we are once again looking at a fresh new baseball season about to get underway. Hours of entertainment lie ahead with so many games available on television, even for those of us with regular cable. A true harbinger of spring and summer, the annual Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are underway, having crept under the radar while President Trump stole the spotlight.

Daylight was our only means of seeing the ball, as the evening crept in it was deemed frugal to not waste valuable sunlight while walking a batter.

And just what does Major League Baseball have up its sleeve for us this year? The powers that be are forever tinkering with the game. As technology advances there are more calls for its use in determining close plays. Yet this year’s alteration actually seems to fly in the face of technology.

I played recreational fast-pitch softball for many years. Quite often in the latter stages of a game, if an intentional walk was to be issued, the process of throwing four pitches outside of the strike zone was omitted and the batter just trotted down to first base. There was a very logical reason for this: we played in a park that had no lights! Daylight was our only means of seeing the ball, as the evening crept in it was deemed frugal to not waste valuable sunlight while walking a batter.

No possibility for a balk, or a messed-up attempt at the outside pitch under pressure, or a poorly thrown ball back to the pitcher that allows runners to advance, and no chance to throw two outside pitches then sneak in a strike.

MLB wants to go down a similar road by scrapping the four-pitch intentional walk in favour of a signal that will indicate to the umpire that the batter should make his way to first. No possibility for a balk, or a messed-up attempt at the outside pitch under pressure, or a poorly thrown ball back to the pitcher that allows runners to advance, and no chance to throw two outside pitches then sneak in a strike. Nope, all those little facets of the game that make it so interesting will be replaced by a head nod or a flag from the dugout. Initial rumours that managers would blast Aerosmith’s Walk This Way from the dugout have thankfully been quashed.

Is MLB behind on their electric bill? Are the lights only on for a certain amount of time? Is there another couple of teams that have the park booked for a specific time and therefore the game must be rushed?

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 DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Former Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney: The Singing Bandit

muldoonreagan

On March 17, 1985 – St. Patrick’s Day – U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy were in Quebec City to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Brian MulroneyThe event came to be known as the Shamrock Summit.

Reagan, well familiar with stage and screen at times looked a little embarrassed by the whole thing,

Perhaps the only thing anyone recalls of this meeting was a gala that was held to fete the visiting president and his wife. At one point during the show the Reagans and Mulroneys, including wife Mila, traipsed across the stage and joined in the singing of When Irish Eyes are Smiling. Reagan, well familiar with stage and screen at times looked a little embarrassed by the whole thing, or perhaps it was just the early signs of the dementia from which he was to suffer.

On the other hand Mulroney was in his glory, sucking up to, boot-licking, a conservative U.S. president in a particularly smarmy manner.

Flash forward 32 years and our neighbours to the south have elected a president even more controversial than Reagan. But as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Last weekend at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate there was a large fundraising event full of glitz and glitter. And there, like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day, was now former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney kowtowing to yet another president and, you guessed it, serenading him with his signature tune When Irish Eyes are Smiling.

muldoontrump

Smarmy, toadying, but mostly embarrassing.

Is Brian Mulroney going to become the political “singing bandit”?

A woman by the name of Morganna Roberts, perhaps better known as “the kissing bandit” made a name for herself by trotting onto Major League Baseball fields across the States and, kissing players or umpires. She popped-up all over the place and became an unofficial mascot for the game. No doubt her ample bust, which she claimed to be 60 inches, added to the spectacle. Is Brian Mulroney going to become the political “singing bandit”? Appearing at events and singing with/for world leaders? One hopes not.

morganna
Morganna the Kissing Bandit in action

Last week our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, paid a visit to the White House and met with President Trump. For the most part this was a glorified photo-op that maintained a long tradition of neighbourliness between the two countries. Folks here seemed pleased with Trudeau’s demeanour, neither servile nor offensive.

The only positive thing from the Mar-a-Lago affair is that when Canadian musician David Foster, who must take some of the blame for goading Mulroney into sing, presented him with the option of performing Danny Boy, Mulroney stuck with Irish Eyes. I like Danny Boy, and would hate to have it ruined for me by Mulroney using it in a fawning manner. With St. Patrick’s Day less than a month off, I am reassured!

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 DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Montreal Restaurants Face 42 Month Construction Nightmare

mesa

The city of Montreal has, as of February 16, received more snow than all of last year. A big chunk of that fell over the last week or so. Montreal has always prided itself on our world-leading snow removal efforts. Our skills at speedily clearing and hauling away snow have brought officials from other cities to see how it is done.

Let me point out that I am not a food critic, but the meal and service we received were both excellent. Sadly on a Saturday night in Montreal – a home hockey Saturday night at that – the restaurant had just a handful of tables in use.

Perhaps the lack of snow over the past few winters has us out of practice, but this year there is abundant complaining in several city boroughs with at least one contractor being fired.

This problem is seasonal and can be easily remedied, but a more serious situation exists that is costing several restaurants dearly. Last weekend my wife and I went out to dinner. We had decided on a Mexican place called Mesa 14 that neither of us had ever been to even if it has been around, under a couple of names, for 25 years.

Mesa 14 is located in downtown Montreal on a block of Bishop Street, a main cross-street that is currently under construction. The city is installing a new cooling station for the metro system. The process will take over three years to complete – yep, over three years, 42 months to be precise. It took five years to complete the first version of the metro in the early sixties, but this one cooling station alone is going to take almost that long.

This has required the east side of Bishop Street to be blocked-off and huge construction hoardings placed along the length of the construction site essentially hiding buildings on that side of the street. Businesses on the west side of the street are only inconvenienced by a whole lot of lost parking spaces in a city already short on that commodity.

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A sign indicates the open businesses. Unfortunately this one is located at a point where you cannot get to Mesa14

Let me point out that I am not a food critic, but the meal and service we received were both excellent. Sadly on a Saturday night in Montreal – a home hockey Saturday night at that – the restaurant had just a handful of tables in use.

The city needs to vastly improve the signage so that it not only clearly indicates that these establishments are open for business, but also how, under the circumstances, to best gain access to them.

If we accept that there really is no alternative to the long presence of the work-site, it seems to me the city should focus on making it as easy as possible under the circumstances to get to these restaurants. This is part of the problem; we had intended to go to Mesa 14 and I knew there was a construction project underway, yet even so when we attempted to follow the small sign to the restaurant we found that we had to backtrack, cross the street, walk up the block and enter from the other end. I imagine potential patrons not as determined as we were may well have blown-off Mesa 14 and gone to one of the many other restaurants and bars in the area. When your customers have to work to get to your front door, it does not augur well for business.

The city needs to vastly improve the signage so that it not only clearly indicates that these establishments are open for business, but also how, under the circumstances, to best gain access to them.

Until that happens you will have to take my word for it that Mesa 14 is well worth the effort!

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 DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Montreal Bars of the Eighties

noalc

During the late seventies and early eighties the Montreal Canadiens were still winning Stanley Cups, the Expos had some great teams, the preferred style was preppy, featuring button down shirts or polos with khakis, and the night air, and bar restrooms, was thick with the pungent aroma of Ralph Lauren’s Polo. One of the most popular posts on this blog is a piece I wrote a few years ago about Montreal’s long history of Anglo-Irish pubs. I thought I would give it another shot by writing about some of the bars that I frequented as a young man during the late seventies and eighties. Of course this is by no measure an exhaustive listing of Montreal’s many watering holes, but rather a bit of a trip down memory lane that might bring back some recollections, if not brain cells, of readers’ youth.

carb_matchesAs I did in my first listing of Montreal pubs, I will start from West and work my way east. Therefore the first stop on our journey is Alexis Nihon Plaza,  now Place Alexis Nihon, which was home to an establishment where many a young lad got his start. I am of course referring to Les Carabiniers, or as it was more commonly called, the Carb. One of the last bastions of male-only taverns, the Carb served cold beer and offered tavern fare at very reasonable prices. Students, retirees and everyone in between were welcome, just no ladies. Given the Carb’s proximity to the Forum, where the Montreal Canadiens played in those days before moving to the Molson/BELL Centre, it was not uncommon for players to drop in after practice.

Also located in Alexis Nihon was the Maidenhead Inn, an English pub and the Bali-Hi which, as the name suggests was a tropical-themed bar. The Bali-Hi’s claim to fame, aside from waitresses in grass skirts and fruity drinks with umbrellas, was an aquarium full of tropical fish that ran the full length of the bar.

 

Leaving Alexis Nihon and heading east along St. Catherine Street, past the Forum, on the north side was  Station 10. This bar was named for the infamous police station situated just a few blocks away. One of the owners was a former Canadian Football League player by the name of Barclay Allen. As high school students my friends and I spent many an hour in this place as they were not too picky about asking for ID! 

Barclay Allen
Barclay Allen

I recall the price of a bottle of beer being 80 cents. With a twenty cent tip added, both client and customer were happy with a dollar bill. Then the price went up to 85 cents and, as you might guess, tips went down to 15 cents! After a few weeks the price jumped to a buck, and a quarter tip was the norm.

piqueA few doors further along on the corner of Du Fort and St. Catherine was the Pique Assiette, an Indian restaurant with a very small bar at the back that was frequented by many British expats, many of whom were teachers, some of whom were my teachers! As a young boy I remember passing this corner when the place was called Danny’s Villa. It was a topless bar and the window was dannys_villa_68festoon with photos of girls wearing little more than pasties. Over the years it transformed from tasselled to tandoori tits. 

Strolling along we pass the Cock ‘N’ Bull on the south side of St. Catherine arriving next at a place best described as interesting: Café Diana. This was a long established hangout for some seedy if entertaining characters. No dim lighting in Diana’s, bright lights and tough staff made it a little safer. Not a regular haunt of mine, but one that was well worth the occasional visit. I recall meeting a man in there once who could do wonderful card tricks and micro-magic at people’s table for a beer or a buck or two.

Prior to the construction of Le Faubourg legendary Montreal Canadiens’ coach Toe Blake owned a tavern on St. Catherine just west of Guy Street. Toe’s hosted an older crowd who were often not too welcoming to younger louder imbibers. Fair enough, there was no shortage of places for us to go.

toe_blake

One block after crossing Guy Street was MacKay Street, home to Cheers! Actually named Bill Edwards’ Cheers! This bar was a very popular meeting place in the eighties for those in their twenties. The name was obviously ‘borrowed’ from the popular television series. 

Entrance to former Annex/Google Maps
Entrance to former Annex/Google Maps

Many buildings in downtown Montreal have, over the years, been bought by Sir George Williams now Concordia University. These satellites house many faculties and administrative offices. They were, and are still in many cases, called annexes. So it is not surprising that on the east side of Bishop Street just below deMaisonneuve there was for many years a bar called The Annex. Popular among students, the Annex was made up of several sections, one of which was much like a cave. The Annex was also known for often looking the other way when it came to underage drinkers as well as serving beer in the quart bottles that were more regularly a mainstay of taverns.

darwins
At Darwin’s Leonard Cohen, Terry Mosher (Aislin) and co-owner Nancy Nelson.

Still on Bishop Street but south of St. Catherine was The Longest Yard, yet another example of borrowing a name, this time from a popular movie. It was owned by another former CFL player, Dickie Harris and Bill Edwards. During the summer of 1982 the Yard, as it was often shortened to, had a softball team. On a few occasions they played an opponent that wanted to play fastball instead of slow pitch. For these games I would pitch for the team. Following his parting of ways with the Montreal Expos, Bill Lee satisfied his baseball need by playing second base for the Yard.

woodys

Woody’s was a huge place on Bishop that incorporated several adjacent establishments over the years. Lots of wood and brass, it was popular with Happy Hour – free snacks – suits as well as a later night younger crowd. It is now the home of the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill.

darwin_doorDown the street was Déjà Vu, another bar that grew as it became ever more popular. Unlike Woody’s this place expanded upward, and had a staircase that looked down on the stage. Never a good thing to try to navigate after a few too many!

The last building on the east side of Bishop Street was Darwin’s Gazebo. Before every bar and restaurant had a terrasse, some two, Darwin’s had a gazebo. It was essentially a backyard, but gazebo sounded so much better. It was a popular hangout for artists, journalists and writers, and many who fancied themselves artists, journalists and writers. The building was lost to fire.  

One block east brought you to Crescent Street, the Grand-daddy of Montreal’s bar scene. While popping in to and out of numerous bars on the street, primarily between St. Catherine and deMaisonneuve there were a couple that became second homes. The Seahorse was located downstairs from Les Halles; a fancy, snooty restaurant that suffered the constant annoyance from the younger clientele downstairs. The Seahorse was a long narrow place that was packed most weekends with university aged kids.

djsBy the time the Seahorse had run its course a new addition had appeared right across the street with the opening of DJ’s Pub. The original owners of the building thought that Crescent Street might be just the place to open a cinema. So they built a multi-storied venue. Le Flick,  that was supposed to draw revellers either before or after a night of drinking. Unfortunately the idea did not pan out and the building was soon empty. I must admit I did my part by seeing Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones there in about 1975!

DJ’s Pub was named for Derek Johnson, a former race car driver and well-known figure on the local bar scene. Lines of people in their twenties formed four nights a week at the door. The inside was packed with fairly well-heeled kids – did I mention Preppy? – and the drinks flowed. I recall a friend of mine who was a bartender explaining that while he enjoyed having people sit at his bar, he made his money serving the constantly changing line of drinkers who reached over the heads of those seated at the bar to get their drinks and pay.

The former site of DJ's Pub. Soon to reopen as a Hooters
The former site of DJ’s Pub. Soon to reopen as a Hooters

The drinks were primarily bottled beer, no on-tap draft, and shots. Shots tended to be bought in rounds after “flipping” to see who would pay. Those interested were given a quarter and all flipped the coin, the process of elimination whittled down the player until someone lost. The ideal situation was when the bartender lost and the round was free. Popular shots included B-52’s, melon balls, and Southern Comfort. For a little while it was in vogue to have your shot upside down, which entailed turning your back to the bar, leaning back and having the bartender mix the drink directly in your mouth!

Today Rainbow Bar & Grill is a Subway. But the seven steps remain!
Today The Rainbow Bar & Grill is a Subway. But the seven steps remain!

On Stanley Street just above St. Catherine was the Rainbow Bar and Grill. It was a long narrow place with a room with a bar and another adjacent room that was just tables and chairs. From time to time they would show movies in the back room and there was always a game of backgammon going. There were seven steps up to the front door from the sidewalk which explains why the bar had previously been known as The Seven Steps.

Again please keep in mind that this is but a few of the bars and in no way represents all the drinking establishments of the time.

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 DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

 

Use The Vaudeville Hook On Those Who Try To Evade Media Questions

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The present state of iciness between the media and the Trump administration is not beneficial for democracy.  The daily appearance of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer before the media is usually fraught with nastiness, obfuscation and outright lies.

The current conditions go beyond a bit of trickery, with Spicer often treating the assembled media like school children.

The press is an integral component of a healthy transparent government. No doubt some things must be kept secret in the interest of public security, and politicians do tend to bend things to their own advantage. But skilled members of the media find ways around those word games. The current conditions go beyond a bit of trickery, with Spicer often treating the assembled media like school children.

Today’s media could take a lesson from the world of entertainment. Old time entertainment at that. Back in the days of Vaudeville the audience had recourse to have a poor act stopped. Aside from hurling tomatoes and insults they would call for “The Hook”.

“Give him the hook!” “The hook” they would shout if an act did not impress them. Indeed once the calls became loud enough a large hook would appear from the wings and the bombing act would be yanked off stage, to hoots of derision from the audience.

gongshow

I think the media should employ a hook of their own. When spokespeople deliberately ignore a question, or choose to respond with another question they are no longer being honest. And most importantly  anytime a person begins a response to a question by saying “Well, I think the real question here is …” then goes on to answer their own question they should be given the hook. It’s a question and answer session, or an interview, not an opportunity to ignore questions and spout rhetoric from a soapbox. Yank them right off the podium.

Should a hook be deemed too intrusive, I suggest another means of dealing with a poor act: a gong. Chuck Barris had the right idea with his Gong Show. Next time Spicer answers his own question instead of the one posed the gathered members of the media should sound a very large loud gong!

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 DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Kung Fu Diplomacy

This photo has been all over the place. Whenever I saw it something popped into my head; the old Kung Fu series with David Carradine. So I thought I’d adapt the original.

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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 DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+