UPDATED: Happy Birthday Montreal; Thanks For The Free Transit

Today marks the beginning of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations. A whole summer of activities is planned and it all kicks-off today. I have written about my take on the festivities before. As a way of encouraging folks to participate, the Société de transport de Montréal will waive all bus and metro fares all day today. Yep, you can ride the system all day-long for free. A nice gesture.

… how long it will take for someone who has paid for a monthly pass for the month of May to realise that they have already paid for service today.

Now call me a cynic if you will, but I am just wondering how long it will take for someone who has paid for a monthly pass for the month of May to realise that they have already paid for service today. Everyone without a monthly pass is getting something for nothing today, but if you bought a monthly pass, you paid for 31 days of use. When in fact there are only 30 days when fares are charged this month.

I sense a class action lawsuit being launched, claiming two one-way fares  – or $6.50 – for every monthly pass sold. I imagine we are on the precipice of some lawyer getting his or her name in the media by suggesting this. Hardly in keeping with the spirit of the gesture.

Happy Birthday Montreal!

UPDATE: The answer to how long it will take for someone to publicly bitch is … drum-roll please … one week!

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+

Beware Canines Baring K-9s

ALLEN MCINNIS/MONTREAL GAZETTE

If you read this blog with any regularity you will know that once the City of Montreal announced a pit bull by-law, I took it upon myself to seek out and interview an actual pit bull. This led to me subsequently being contacted and let in on how pit bulls were coping with the enacted law.

“No arsehole “ he growled. “Take the lead that is around my neck. Make it look like you are taking me for a walk”.

In the latest chapter of this ongoing saga, last Friday afternoon as I arrived at a favourite downtown watering hole for a few pints, I noticed a large poodle, in fact it was hard to miss given it was pink. Yep, a large pink poodle standing outside the door evidently unattended, but wearing a collar and leash. As I passed by I heard psst coming from the direction of the pink poodle. Turning back I saw the dog raise its paw to chest level, look both ways to insure secrecy, pull back its fur and there it was, Velcro.  Only then did I realize this was my pit bull contact in disguise.

“Let’s walk,” he said under his Milkbone breath. As I was about to take a step he said “lead”. So I went ahead of him and looked back to see if he was following.

He explained that his original cover had been blown a few weeks ago. He told me it was a chihuahua; I immediately understood his problem

“No arsehole “ he growled. “Take the lead that is around my neck. Make it look like you are taking me for a walk”. I know many people in this part of downtown so I was hesitant to be seen walking a large pink poodle. I expressed my concern and he muttered (mutt-ered?) something about my being lucky if I don’t have to pick up after him. He had a point. He explained that his original cover had been blown a few weeks ago. He told me it was a chihuahua; I immediately understood his problem

As we strolled along the street, me keeping my head down as best I could, he brought up the subject he wanted to address. As part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary events, last weekend the city was visited by giants. Hideous goddamned three-storey tall nightmare inducing marionettes on cranes. There was a deep-sea diver, a little girl and her dog. A giant dog. He explained how Operation Trojan Dog followed by Operation Frolic would be played out on Sunday afternoon. My task was to be there and write about it. With this he broke loose and dashed off.

Hideous goddamned three-storey tall nightmare inducing marionettes on cranes.

There I was on Sunday afternoon, one of about nine gazillion people waiting for the giants to wake up and make their way through the city. Just before the scheduled departure time I noticed that several pit bulls seemed to be coming out of the reclining giant dog. There were soon many more pit bulls, leaving the giant and frolicking with those in attendance. Clearly those present thought this was part of the performance,  but I knew this was a means of pit bulls returning to public and showing their softer side. No catapult (dogapult?) for these tall thinkers. A shrewd public (puplic?) relations ploy if ever there was one.

Much as Virgil wrote in the Aeneid about how the Greeks scammed the Trojans with that wooden horse full of soldiers, the pit bulls of Montreal returned to the city in a huge dog. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts and certainly beware canines baring k-9s.

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+

Seeking Expo 67 Artist

During the many trips to EXPO 67 fifty years ago as a seven year old child I had the opportunity to stock-up a lifetime of interesting experiences. On one such occasion my aunt, with whom I made most of my visits, had me sit for a portrait sketch. She would subsequently have the sketch framed and present it to my mother as a gift. The portrait still hangs in my mother’s apartment.

The artist was a woman if my memory is correct, who signed her work Milligan 67. I imagine she, and others, produced hundreds is not thousands of sketches during the fair’s run. I have tried to see what became of Milligan after 1967. Is she still around? Still sketching? Or did she, like many artists, have to abandon her talent for a ‘real’ job so she could pay the bills.

In this anniversary year I thought I would publish the portrait and bring this story to light just in case Milligan is still out there.  And if I do not succeed, at least I have provided my readers with a sketch of a real cute kid, about which I have no qualms! I wonder where he went!

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+

 

Quebec Floods, Airlines and Price Gouging

Adrian Wyld/CP

The current flooding in Quebec has provoked the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, to declare a State of Emergency to be put into effect in several areas of the island. It sounds very imposing, but what exactly does the SoE mean?

According to the CBC:

The Emergency Management Act gives authorities the power to move quickly to centralize and co-ordinate responses.

It allows authorities:

• to force evacuations of buildings.

• enter buildings without a warrant.

• to prevent stores and commercial businesses from hiking up prices of goods and services.

Not just at small Mom-and-Pop establishments, but big-box stores have been cutting the price of sump pumps and generators to give folks a bit of a break.

I was pleased to read the last point as one does hear of the occasional bit of price gouging when these things happen. I must point out however that this time I have only heard of prices being slashed. Not just at small Mom-and-Pop establishments, but big-box stores have been cutting the price of sump pumps and generators to give folks a bit of a break.

This humane approach can also be seen at Thanksgiving and Christmas when airlines, faced with vast numbers of people trying to get home, reduce their prices to accommodate the hoards.

Ha! When pigs fly!

Airlines jack-up their prices during high-season and consider it a wise business move; to pursue greater profits. They swindle their customers in the name of profit. Surely the increase in volume would lead to a better bottom line without causing undue financial strain on clients. I think I will begin to lobby the government to declare the holiday season a State of Emergency thereby keeping the airlines from fleecing travellers. Wanna sign on?

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+

Quebec Flooding and Politicians’ Photo Ops

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau fills sandbag. But is more effective providing resources.

There are several areas in Canada that are suffering spring flooding, but none worse than the south-western part of the Province of Quebec including parts of the island of Montreal. For the first time in twenty years a Montreal mayor – Denis Coderre –  has declared a State of Emergency. I have family members who are struggling mightily to save their house which is usually located some 100 feet from the water’s edge, but is currently on the cusp of the water cresting and coming over the sandbags.

By all means visit the flood victims, tell them you are with them, but do not use their plight as a photo-op for next election’s campaign bumpf!

The combination of a major late snowfall and more rain than has ever been experienced in April around here has caused rivers to expand exponentially.

The Canadian armed forces have been deployed to assist with evacuation efforts, as well as attempts to build sufficient sandbag dikes to ward off rising waters and provide temporary shelter.

I am not near water so I have been spared, but from what I have watched on the 24-hour news coverage there is, so far, little complaint about what is being done to help. This may all change once the emergency has been dealt with, but it appears there is a sense of appreciation at this point.

The water is usually about 100 feet from this house.

What irks me is when politicians, elected officials, visit the scene of devastation to survey the situation and just can’t seem to leave without a shot of them filling sandbags. By all means visit the flood victims, tell them you are with them, but do not use their plight as a photo-op for next election’s campaign bumpf!

That’s why we elect leaders, to use the tools of government to alleviate problems, not tools such as shovels and sandbags.

Unless you are going to stick around and fill a couple of hundred sandbags, please don’t take advantage of shovel and bag to appear to be helping out physically. I like both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly. But both have been guilty of the photo-op I mention. A much better idea would be to issue a statement indicating that they are concerned, staying out of the way for now, and busily sending appropriate resources to the area.

That’s why we elect leaders, to use the tools of government to alleviate problems, not tools such as shovels and sandbags.

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’s Venezuelan Community Calls for Peace and Democracy

No More Murder, No More Dictatorship

Last Sunday my wife and I attended a Mass in an east-end Montreal church with a large Latino congregation. The service was a special one in that the theme was the current unrest in Venezuela.

The church was crowded, standing room only. There could be no doubt that the vast majority of those in attendance were of Venezuelan origin; flags, national ball caps, traditional dresses, and vinotinto soccer shirts were everywhere.

I have been to several services in Latino churches and never cease to be impressed by the vibrancy of the worshippers. Having been brought up in an Irish Catholic household it is always a wonderful surprise to hear upbeat music being played loudly and including drums …. drums in a church! Being used to the more sombre pipe organ, the Latino Mass, not to be confused with a Latin Mass, is a breath of fresh air.

Yet last Sunday’s Mass had its fair share of sombre moments. At one point the celebrating priest called all Venezuelans to come up and stand on the altar. My wife opted to remain in our pew and video the gathering. There must have been two hundred people of all ages standing there, some holding signs bearing the names of those recently killed in the Caracas protests. Then the band started playing and a woman with a lovely strong voice began to sing a much-loved song called Venezuela. This song was written not by a Venezuelan,  but by Spaniards  Pablo Herrero Ibarz and José Luis Armenteros Sánchez who had fallen in love with the South American country.

The tears started to flow as the song went on and those Venezuelans standing on an altar in Montreal thought about the violent turmoil in their country and feared for loved ones back home. The usually spirited members of the congregation made their way back to their pews obviously deeply moved by the experience.

Following the Mass many gathered in a park across the street from the church for a photo op. Using a drone the word NO+  (no mas – no more) was spelled out by those who braved the unseasonably cool and wet weather. No more murder, no more dictatorship. They want to once again feel they have control of their country.

Sadly there was no media coverage of the event.

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 Fifty Years After EXPO 67; Sorry Mayor Drapeau

Fifty years ago this week , Thursday, April 27, 1967 to be precise, was the opening day of Montreal’s EXPO 67 World’s Fair. It was a General Exposition of the first category as decreed by the  Bureau International des Expositions (the first fair of this magnitude ever to be held in North America). The theme was Man and His World; the fair was open until October 29th and welcomed over 50 million visitors from across Canada and around the world. The city was on top of the world.

 It was Montreal at its best. Will new generations of Canadians and Montrealers ever see anything the likes of those days?

Ah nostalgia! That word, the etymology of which is often said to come from the Greek for “a painful yearning to return home” is just about all that remains today of EXPO. However I imagine other Montrealers have felt the pang of pride when overhearing tourists marvelling at Moshe Safdie‘s Habitat 67 which, along with Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome are among the few remaining EXPO buildings.  I was seven-years old in the summer of 1967 and spent many days with various family members visiting the numerous pavilions and soaking up the international environment. A half-century later, when I look back, I do so through the eyes of a child.

Habitat 67

Halcyon, salad, glory, or just plain ‘good old’, those days are indelibly etched in my memory. I suspect some of the warm fuzzy feelings of that year’s Summer of Love in the United States made the trek north with the many visitors to the fair.  It was Montreal at its best. Will new generations of Canadians and Montrealers ever see anything the likes of those days?  I fear not.

I cannot deny that I am out-of-step with what appears to be the general consensus of my fellow citizens today. Concerns about costs, noise, corruption, you name it, have exceeded our once prevailing desire to be host to the world. The late Jean Drapeau, who as mayor of Montreal was responsible for both EXPO 67 and the 76 Summer Olympics, planted the roots as he set out to make Montreal the “first city of the 21st century”. Alas financial and political insecurities during the eighties and nineties scuppered the mayor’s dream forever.

… projects of world-class proportions have been relegated to mere memories for most of us. That is a pity, but thankfully many of us of a certain age can think back to those days with pride and reflect on what grand memories they are.

As Canada marks its sesquicentennial this year, which sure does not roll off the tongue like centennial (I can’t imagine there will be too many Sesquicentennial High Schools or Sesquicentennial Bridges named), and Montreal celebrates its 350th anniversary I cannot help but feel saddened that the events planned are not on par with EXPO 67. With our current state of affairs, ranging from an ageing infrastructure to gentrification concerns (investment in neighbourhoods was once seen as a positive thing, if broken shop windows and graffiti are any indication the opposite is now true), projects of world-class proportions have been relegated to mere memories for most of us. That is a pity, but thankfully many of us of a certain age can think back to those days with pride and reflect on what grand memories they are.

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+