Presidential Decorum a Relic of the Past

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I have a friend who is American but currently resides here in Montreal. He has often commented to me about how knowledgeable he finds many Canadians are regarding the United States. I have pointed out that for Canadians, living so close to the USA, it is almost impossible not to become more than familiar with our neighbours.

As the late Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau once explained, sharing a border with the USA is like sleeping with an elephant. Even the slightest movement has a great effect on us.

US_FlagThey say that the British do pomp and circumstance well given their royal heritage, but I maintain that when it comes to the trappings of patriotism, no one can outdo the USA. From flags to military uniforms to flags on military uniforms, great reverence is the norm for these symbols. (Ever notice how the flag on the right shoulder of a uniform is flipped so the stars appear in the upper right corner? Why? If you assume the flag is being carried on a pole, the usual configuration would indicate that the soldier is going backward, or retreating. That won’t do.)

Recently in Korea Shaun White, an Olympic medalist from the US got caught up in his own exuberance and lost track of the flag he was waving about. The flag got entangled in his snowboard and as he walked away it was seen dragging on the ground. It was an accident; he did not intentionally defile the flag, he didn’t step on it or set it on fire. Yet there was a hue and cry on social media, chastising the athlete.

All of this leads me to wonder how another great symbol of the United States, the office of the president, can be so egregiously degraded by President Trump without a similar outpouring of disgust.

All of this leads me to wonder how another great symbol of the United States, perhaps the greatest, the office of the president, can be so egregiously degraded by President Trump without a similar outpouring of disgust. The actual Oval Office, as well as the position of president, are steeped in decorum and respect. At least they were until the current inhabitant moved in.

Silly misspelled posts on social media, asinine rantings at campaign-style rallies, “management by Twitter”, and the ludicrous slagging of former presidents have all contributed to Trump’s besmirching of the office.

Regardless of party affiliation, the presidency of the United States has garnered respect, it was held in high esteem and the incumbent was pressed to live up to that expectation. Yet since Trump assumed the role, his total lack of decorum, of respect for his predecessors, has become the norm. Why don’t those who were so quick to denounce White for dragging the flag make a whole lot of noise about what Trump is doing to the much-vaunted presidency? Just when we Canadians think we’ve got our neighbours figured out, it boggles the mind.

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+

Montreal Casino Opens New Upscale Restaurant

robuchon

On Thursday The Montreal Gazette ran an article about the new restaurant at the Casino de Montréal: L’Atelier Montréal de Joël Robuchon. Robuchon is a much decorated and world-renowned chef, including 28 Michelin stars. Evidently the gastronomic scene in Canada is about to be stood on its head. Will it be able to keep up?

Robuchon is a much decorated and world renowned chef, including 28 Michelin stars.

The money spent on the preparation of the new restaurant is certainly nothing to sneeze at. But I would ask detractors to bear in mind the daily profit realized by the Casino de Montréal and understand that this is but a drop in the bucket.

In fairness I must come clean and admit that I write this from the perspective of one who believes longtime mayor Jean Drapeau had the right idea. Having enjoyed as a young boy EXPO 67 and as an adolescent the 1976 Summer Olympics,I thought at last a world class establishment in Montreal, just in time for the city’s 375th anniversary.

But alas I fear next year’s anniversary activities will be hamstrung by bean counters.

While driving home from work on Thursday I heard Montreal Gazette restaurant critic Lesley Chesterman on the radio. She made the point that perhaps it would be more appropriate to have a local chef in the spotlight instead of Chef Robuchon. Maîtres chez nous as she mentioned. That is all fine and dandy, but do we have a local chef with 28 Michelin stars? Perhaps the Montreal Canadiens should abandon scouting in Europe and stick to local kids, regardless of skill level, a few lads playing shinny, but from here would be better. I agree with Ms Chesterman that a Schwartz’s outlet at the Casino would be great, but not necessarily as a main attraction.

As we approach our city’s 375th birthday I hope that this single step will lead to many more that will restore Montreal’s status to its once significant position on the world stage. It has been far too long without this recognition, and subsequent tourist-dollar input. But alas I fear next year’s anniversary activities will be hamstrung by bean counters.

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+

Rio Olympics Coverage: Kudos to CBC Et al.

The Rio 2016 Olympics are now in the history books. The horrors that some feared would befall the games did not, thankfully, seem to materialize. I am a big fan of the Olympics for several reasons but primarily because they give me an opportunity to see sports that I rarely see other than during the Olympics – team handball, field hockey, and table tennis (certainly not the ping-pong of your childhood) to name a few.

If there was a snag it was that I felt the  co-hosts of the midday show, Andi Petrillo  and David Amber,  never seemed to gel, leaving this viewer feeling awkward at times.

In Canada the rights to broadcast the Olympics belong to the CBC through 2024. But the CBC partners with other Canadian sports channels to provide great coverage. At any given time, from about seven in the morning until well after midnight viewers had a choice of up to six English channels presenting live events, and several more in French. A handy graphic appeared from time to time in the upper right-hand corner of the screen informing viewers about what was on the other channels at that time. Because of the one hour time difference between Rio and eastern North America live events could be aired in their entirety, which is much better than a series of highlights.

For now it’s back to watching that other great sporting event, the US election campaign! I hope CNN doesn’t forget me.

For the most part commentators worked in pairs made up of a professional broadcaster and a former athlete. While all were pretty good, some stood out. Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) who is the go-to guy for all things hockey was great doing Olympic swimming. Former Olympic medalist Alexandre Despatie (@ADespatie) co-hosted the French-language morning show, but also contributed to the English broadcast prior to the closing ceremony.

If there was a snag it was that I felt the co-hosts of the midday show, Andi Petrillo (@AndiPetrillo) and David Amber (@DavidAmber), never seemed to gel, leaving this viewer feeling awkward at times.

So I can take a break until 2018 and the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. For now it’s back to watching that other great sporting event, the US election campaign! I hope CNN doesn’t forget 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+

Legacy of Montreal’s Summer Olympics Forty Years Later

With the Rio Olympics opening this weekend, and Montreal marking the 40th anniversary of our games in 1976  much has been said and written about the legacy of those games. The Gazette columnist Basem Boshra wrote a piece on Monday titled Hosting the Olympics was cool, really, but let’s never do it again. While I agree with many of his points, I had to disagree with his contention that Montreal should never again embark on an Olympic bid. Below is my response as published in today’s paper:

Re: “Yes, it was fun, but never again” (Basem Boshra, Aug. 1)

Basem Boshra points out that Montreal is “widely admired around the world. … We do not need the spotlight of the Olympics to burnish our global standing.” I agree fully, but would suggest it was indeed that Olympic spotlight and Montreal’s continued standing as an Olympic city that have contributed to our status.

Those who complain about the cost of the Games are, understandably, locals who had to foot the bill. I believe this is far outweighed by the promotional benefits; advertising of this nature cannot be bought.

I recently took some guests to the Olympic Park and was pleasantly surprised to see so many tourists taking photos of the Olympic Stadium. These visitors are staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and buying goods. Like it or not, the stadium has become a symbol of Montreal’s Olympic standing to visitors, as iconic as the cross on Mount Royal.

Boshra wonders if the Expos, without the option of moving into the stadium, would have relocated downtown and perhaps still be playing here. I lament the loss of the Expos, but hold on to many memories of those great years in the ’80s and ’90s when the Olympic Stadium was packed with rabid fans. The winning product on the field vastly overshadowed the stadium’s shortcomings.

While I am not suggesting Montreal begin the process of bidding on another Olympics, I do hope we will not throw former mayor Jean Drapeau’s baby out with the bathwater. There were many advantages to having hosted the 1976 Games, so I’d prefer a “never say never”

DCS_Grad_2 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+

The (Possible) Future of Baseball in Montreal

Stadium

The following appeared in the Montreal Gazette today.

Another very successful baseball weekend has taken place in Montreal. One that, upon reflection, speaks volumes about how the city has evolved. Over one hundred thousand fans ponied up to watch two games between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. The nostalgia was thicker than pine tar, as heroes of yesteryear, former Expos stars, returned to the site of their salad days, and ours.

While all Montrealers are faced with the harsh question: is this what we have become?

These weekends are bittersweet, not only for Expos fans, but for all Montrealers. Baseball fans once again get an opportunity to reminisce and experience a major league game, albeit just an exhibition between two out-of-town teams. While all Montrealers are faced with the harsh question: is this what we have become?

Each year the popular Kraft Hockeyville competition selects a winning community – a small town, not one with an NHL team – from the many entries. The sponsor gives the winner cash for local arena upgrades and the next season the town gets to host a televised preseason NHL game. North Saanich, British Columbia is the current Hockeyville. Has Montreal become the baseball version of Hockeyville?

The city of EXPO 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics now, once a year, plays host to exhibition baseball games, in which teams from other cities compete

The city of EXPO 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics now, once a year, plays host to exhibition baseball games, in which teams from other cities compete. Have we morphed from the once proud city that welcomed the world to major events into a town of bean counters? At least we still have the annual Formula 1 visit and of course the International Jazz Festival to exercise our once renowned world hosting skills. While I applaud Mayor Denis Coderre’s unbridled enthusiasm for baseball and his plan to pump money into amateur baseball, I cannot help but think that  somewhere Jean Drapeau must be shaking his no doubt haloed-head in sadness and disbelief.

I would love to see Major League Baseball back in Montreal. I have never doubted that this is a baseball city. I can recall with a warm heart the magic of the early eighties version of the Expos. A time when the much-less-than ideal Olympic Stadium was packed to the rafters (I can verify this, having sat one row from the top on several occasions). The success of the team on the field vastly outweighed the venue’s inadequacies.

I do not know if these weekends play any role in determining Montreal’s baseball future. I do know that Major League Baseball belongs in Montreal. Not as a once a year exhibition featuring other cities’ teams, but as the once and future home of the Expos.

DCS_Grad_2 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+

Olympians and Ball Fans: Ironies and Names

Wheaties

With the world watching the 76 Olympic controversy around the actual sex of some female athletes, who would have thought that one male gold medalists was contemplating a gender switch the other way.

Were those East German water polo ladies really female? Were they men competing as women against women?

In the summer of 1976 Montreal hosted the Summer Olympics. I was a fresh high school graduate and enjoyed every bit of the festivities. The city was abuzz twenty-four hours a day for the duration of the games.

I recall one of the major concerns of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), aside from the use of performance enhancing drugs,  was the actual gender of the competitors. Were those East German water polo ladies really female? Were they men competing as women against women?

It has always been part of the ’76 Games lore that the only athlete who did not undergo a sex test was Princess Anne who competed in the equestrian events.

He was not the first, nor the last homer to land in that parking lot.

Isn’t it ironic that while there was great concern about men competing as women, the decathlon gold medal winner, Bruce Jenner, was on the verge of beginning to transition to a woman? He was not undergoing hormone therapy at the time, which would in fact have reduced his testosterone and made him arguably less competitive, but competed clean, however the coincidence interests me.

But not as much as the name coincidence; that a guy named Jenner should change gender. Shouldn’t it be Bruce Jender? Then again it still strikes me that the poor guy who fell to his death at an Atlanta Braves game, landing in the parking lot was named Homer. He was not the first, nor the last homer to land in that parking lot.

DCS_Grad_2 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+

 

Bruce Jender:Transgendering or Rebranding

Tony Duffy/Allsport

Tony Duffy/Allsport

The big media event of the past few days was Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer. Frankly what Jenner opts to do with his life, let alone his gender – will he change his name to Bruce Jender? –  is really none of my business. But as he seems intent on thrusting it in people’s faces I thought it only proper I respond.

In 1976 the Summer Olympics were hosted here in Montreal. It was the year I graduated from high school, it was a glorious time. For many the focal point of any summer Olympic Games is the decathlon, ten events that, by many estimates, produce the top athlete in the world. In ’76 American Bruce Jenner was touted as the favourite, and he did not disappoint. For me memories of Jenner and that summer of 1976 are forever intertwined.

… consider the great lengths to which the IOC was going to verify that no Eastern European female athletes were actually males. And here was an American man feeling more like a woman, and it never crossed anyone’s mind.

Jenner was the All-American Boy, something right off a Wheaties Box – literally. Had Norman Rockwell still been painting Americana (he was in his eighties at the time) Jenner would have fit the bill to a tee. But now the once ‘baseball and apple pie’ Jenner has sullied his reputation. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with his transgendering, I just wish he would not flaunt it in what I sense is an attention grab. Could this be the Kardashians influence? Or could he be touting his own upcoming reality series? I can’t imagine anything more personal than what he has been living and is now going through, yet by airing his laundry – from boxers to thongs; not dirty, but personal nonetheless – he appears to me to be seeking publicity. Re-branding as much as transgendering.

Jenner recently stated that he was sad while standing atop the medal podium in Montreal, and that he felt more like a woman than a man. An interesting juxtaposition when you consider the great lengths to which the IOC was going to verify that no Eastern European female athletes were actually males. And here was an American man feeling more like a woman, and it never crossed anyone’s mind.

I think Bruce’s main problem now is that as he transitions from male to female, he has begun to bear a striking resemblance to Ozzy Osbourne.

Jenner_Ozzie

DCS_Grad_2 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+

 

Cricket World Cup: Canadian Viewers Must Shell Out

ICC

The ICC Cricket World Cup is underway down under. Over the next six weeks cricket’s biggest event is taking place in Australia and New Zealand. Cricket fans around the world will be able to see the game played at its highest level. One estimate puts the audience for the India-Pakistan match, which has been likened to war without the guns,  at 1 billion, that’s with a B as in bat, ball, bowl and big.

It seems to me this may be a slippery slope in the sports broadcasting world. What next? Will the Olympics only be available to viewers on a PPV basis? The Super Bowl?

As I have mentioned elsewhere, what I know about cricket would fit in Jiminy’s vest pocket, so I thought this huge event would give me an opportunity to familiarize myself with the game that is loved by millions. I’m not ready for a Cricket tutor just yet, preferring to have a go at it by myself (did I mention I taught myself to ride a bike?). So I did a little research online, printed out a cheat-sheet of basics and looked forward to watching a match.

Part of that research was to see who had the Canadian television rights. Sure enough it was the communications giant Rogers. They bragged about all 49 matches being available to Canadian viewers. Available indeed, but at a premium. For a mere $179.99 you can have pay-per-view access to the matches. Or for $129.99 you can tune in just the playoffs and final. And if that’s too much $99.00 will get you the final. Yep, one-hundred bucks for one cricket match.

So much for educating myself; the basics of cricket will remain a mystery to me as I have no intention of paying a penny; make that an extra penny, as I already pay for the Rogers SportsNet package. It seems to me this may be a slippery slope in the sports broadcasting world. What next? Will the Olympics only be available to viewers on a PPV basis? The Super Bowl?

I find this to be a tacky cash-grab. Given that the vast majority of potential Canadian-based viewers originally come from cricket-loving countries, is this an unfair surcharge levied on immigrants?

DCS_Grad_2 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+

 

Sochi Olympic Games Poll

The Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia are now over. Thankfully all went well from a security standpoint and the organizers are being praised. The same organizers who were being raked over the coals just two weeks ago when it appeared all was not ready for the arrival of the world.

In retrospect what did you think of the Games.

MeDCMontreal 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 Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+