Common decency just ain’t all that common anymore

I am slowly coming to the realisation that as I age I may well  be less suitable for community living. Perhaps the time has come to find a nice cave – one with all the amenities I am used to of course – and start living as a hermit. Why am I contemplating this you may well ask, the answer in a word: people.

I can become enraged when an ATM refuses to do what it is supposed to,  but have infinite patience with a teller who cannot find my file.

I am, much like the cartoon character Underdog, mild-mannered by nature. In fact it would be fair to say that I don’t do anger well, unless it is aimed at an inanimate object. Anger consumes me, eats me up, encroaches on my every thought. I can become enraged when an ATM refuses to do what it is supposed to,  but have infinite patience with a teller who cannot find my file.

However, recently I have found myself, on two occasions, being faced with the possibility of losing it. On Palm Sunday it was a lovely warm sunny day in Montreal. My wife and I decided to drop by a downtown pub we frequent for a bite of brunch. As I drove up the street looking for an elusive Montreal parking spot I noticed a free one immediately across the street from our destination. When I say the spot was free, I mean there was no car there. Mind you there was a man standing right smack in the middle of it while talking on his phone.

Sarasota, Florida

We approached the man, my wife opened her window as he was on that side, and politely asked him to move aside so we could park. He ignored her. She tried again and he told her he was keeping the spot for his wife. Oh no Sunshine, that’s not how it works. Humans do not ‘hold’ parking spaces for cars. No car, no parking spot. Overhearing him talking allegedly with his wife on the phone in Spanish, my wife was able to discern that her arrival was anything but imminent.

My wife then spoke to the man in Spanish, explained that it is not acceptable to tie up a parking spot in this manner. The guy claimed that once his wife arrived they would have a car to put in the spot. I pointed out that I had both a car and a wife already in position which to my way of thinking gave me priority. Perhaps he was from a parallel universe in which the human-holds-parking-spot method is the norm, but not here.

By now his arrogance was annoying me big time, a not so slow fry, so I decide to just back into the parking spot, thereby forcing him to the sidewalk or running him over – the latter option was becoming increasingly more appealing as the incident progressed. Finally he moved and we parked, but not before some choice words were slung in both directions. And it had started out as such a lovely day.

Fast forward to last evening. While my wife waited in the car while I ran to the supermarket to pick up three items. It was about 5:30 and the store was jam-packed with shoppers. I beetled about, got my items and headed for the express, 8 items or less check-out.  There are two such check-outs, but for some reason, at the busiest time of the say, one was closed.

Now I have this theory that no retail outlet should ever have closed cashes when there are lines at open ones.

Now I have this theory that no retail outlet should ever have closed cashes when there are lines at open ones. It defies logic and is just plain bat customer relations; paying your inflated prices is bad enough, waiting in line to do so is over the top.

While waiting at cash two, and having determined that there was no one ahead of me with more than the limit of eight items – yep, I’ll rat you out quick as look at you – a voice was heard to say “cash one is open”. At last. I make a bee-line from the line at cash two to the newly opened cash one only to have this asshole elbow in front of me and knock my items to the floor! Did he offer to help? No. Did he apologize? Only after I pointed out his ignorance. At which point he accused me of trying to jump the line. Evidently he seemed to have come from yet another parallel universe where one’s position in line at one cash dictates their priority at a newly opened second cash.

Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.

Newly opened check-outs are virgin territory. It makes no matter if you were 846th in one line, once that new cash opens it’s every man woman and child for himself. But it is a race, not a wrestling match. Knocking a person’s groceries from their grip isn’t cricket.

Until we can live in harmony I wonder if it may be time for Underdog to head for the hills?

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+

 

Cocker Spaniel’s take on Pit Bull Ban

Quebec has introduced a law that would see ‘dangerous’ dogs banned.

“In addition to strictly regulating dangerous dogs … (the bill) allows the government to ban, by decree, certain breeds,” said Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux. “The government is intent on banning pit bull type dogs.”

No wonder they are a bit cranky.

I have been privileged to interview a Pit bull regarding this law. Today I received the statement below from him; he told me a Cocker spaniel had sent it to him. Clearly the spaniel is an admirer of Martin Niemöller.

First they came for the Pit bulls, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Pit bull.

Then they came for the Boxers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Boxer.

Then they came for the Doberman pinschers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Doberman pinscher.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for 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 DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Good Friday: Lord Of The Dance

The Lord of the Dance

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped they stripped they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone
But I am the Dance and I still go on!

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that’ll never, never die!
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in Me –
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(…lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

Sydney Carter

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+

Venezuelan protests: Trump administration is sucking the air out of world news

Demonstrators clash with police during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela on April 8, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

This is Holy Week, the last week of Lent, which actually ends today, leading up to Easter. When I was in grade school we used to get a vacation from Thursday to Tuesday. These days, with spring breaks included in most school calendars,  the days off for Easter are limited to Good Friday and, in schools but not most businesses, Easter Monday.

Millions of Venezuelans make there way to beaches for sun and surf. This year a new twist has been put on where and how Holy Week sunning should be done.

In Venezuela this week has traditionally been a time to kick back and relax. Millions of Venezuelans make their way to beaches for sun and surf. This year a new twist has been put on where and how Holy Week sunning should be done.

Since the first of April hundreds of thousands of opposition protesters have taken to the streets daily in an effort to force new election. On the April first the government of Nicolas Maduro stripped the Venezuelan congress of its powers, making the country a de facto dictatorship. The move has since been overturned, but the protests continue. Opposition leaders are urging people to forego the beach this year and take the sun while marching in the streets of Caracas. Will this latest round of demonstrations have the desired effect?

The Venezuelan opposition has been calling for peaceful protests this week, as it has on numerous occasions before. Thus far the result has been failure. Maduro has no interest in a new election, transparent democracy not being high on his list of essentials.  I can only assume he is hoping the situation in the US continues to hold the world’s attention.

There is a popular cliché that fits this situation: the Trump administration is sucking the air out of world news.

If the protests do not succeed in bringing about a new election, then perhaps they will serve to show the world what is happening in the oil-rich country. But I fear that with the regular flow of idiocy out of Washington – from Trump’s knee-jerk reaction to bomb Syrian airfields (some say he would have done the runways more damage had he bought the airfield and tried to run it as a business) to Sean Spicer’s foot/ankle/shin in mouth statement about Hitler not using chemicals – the world is otherwise occupied.

There is a popular cliché that fits this situation: the Trump administration is sucking the air out of world news. International ne’er-do-wells must be having a field-day while world attention focuses on Trump-Russia and Syria.

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+

REPOST: World War One Centenary – Family Lore and Family Loss

My grandfather on the far right with the Piche brothers
My grandfather on the far right with the Piche brothers
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?

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+

Toronto Maple Leafs Playoff Bound; CBC Hones Bias

Toronto Maple Leafs win Stanley Cup in 1967 (Bob Olsen/Toronto Star) – I did look for a colour photo but …

There won’t be any need for Viagra or Cialis in Toronto today. The beloved Maple Leafs have secured a spot in the National Hockey League playoffs. This will have the folks at the CBC in absolute raptures as post-season play returns to Canada’s largest hockey market. Big audiences mean big bucks.

I am happy that the long-suffering hockey fans of Toronto can get their hopes up; as they say, anything can happen in the playoffs. But what I am not looking forward to is the irksome pro-Toronto bias of the CBC.

The fact that the Leafs are marking a half-century since their last Stanley Cup victory makes their appearance in the playoffs just a wee bit sweeter. One good playoff run leading to a Cup and fifty years of futility will be erased. Never happened, a mere blip. Hockey will have been invented in Toronto on that day.

I am happy that the long-suffering hockey fans of Toronto can get their hopes up; as they say, anything can happen in the playoffs. But what I am not looking forward to is the irksome pro-Toronto bias of the CBC.

Let me state clearly that I harbour no belief that the NHL itself is in anyway biased towards the Leafs or any other team. Many will make that assertion but it is just silly. The NHL is a major business entity that would never stand for it. The officials are professionals who call ‘em as they see ‘em, both ways.

Tony Kubek (L) and Curt Gowdy

That having been said, the CBC most definitely proudly wears a huge Toronto tilt on its sleeve. Note that the broadcasts of hockey on the ‘national public broadcaster’ (i.e. the one supported by all Canadians tax dollars) are supposed to be neutral. Think back to before the current days of sports specialty channels when NBC’s Game of the Week was the only national baseball broadcast. Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek would pop up on our black and white television from a different city each week, depending on the importance of the game. They provided play-by-play and colour commentary from a neutral perspective. They were NBC announcers, not Yankee or Red Sox or Dodger announcers. Hired guns if you will.

Sometimes watching a Leafs game on CBC can give the viewer the impression that the announcers are watching a different game altogether … It borders on the infantile

Sometimes watching a Leafs game on CBC can give the viewer the impression that the announcers are watching a different game altogether. A Leaf player bumping an opponent is described as a ’massive blow’, a Leaf player down must have been tripped, almost every Leaf goal is highlight reel worthy by their standards. It borders on the infantile. Like Gowdy and Kubek on NBC, the announcers of Toronto Maple Leafs games on CBC are NOT working for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto Blue Jays announcers Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler work for Sportsnet specifically to do Jays play-by-play and colour commentary. Sportsnet is a private business. It is a whole different situation, even if the games are broadcast nationally.

However as a Montreal Canadiens fan perhaps I should keep schtum; who knows, maybe the Hockey gods don’t like the homer approach of the CBC and have been taking it out on the team and fans for fifty years!

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: Not Car Friendly In Summer

As summer-like weather arrives in Montreal, the last dregs of snow are being washed away by several days of rain. Flowers will soon start to bloom, overcoats will be replaced with shorts and sandals, and a sense of relief at having made it through another winter will descend on the citizens. Oh, and just like the old Pac-Man arcade game, the installation of Bixi stands (public bicycles that can be rented) and sidewalk terraces will eat up parking spots. Montreal, like any city of a certain size, has a shortage of parking spots.  This is exacerbated during the summer not only by Bixi and terraces, but by the many street closures for construction or festivals.

Many of Montreal’s much-loved terraces straddle the sidewalk and road. The metered parking spots that are taken up by the structure are paid by the establishment. The city loves these things as they are guaranteed the maximum return on the parking spots, but if you are looking for a place to park it can be extremely annoying!

 

Bixi bicycle stands also take up many parking spots – five in the photo above – the revenue from which one assumes is made up in rental fees. But again motorists are left out of the equation. Montreal in the summer certainly cannot be called a car friendly city.

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+