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Montreal Market Takes On Starbucks With Petition

Marche_Jean_Talon

Most cities have places other than supermarkets where people can buy produce – fresh produce, a little taste of the farm in an urban setting. Among Montreal’s markets, Marché Atwater and Marché Jean Talon, are very different beasts. Atwater is a little more upmarket than Jean Talon, catering as it does to what were once called yuppies; well-to-do young adults who have moved into the many condo buildings that have sprung up in the vicinity of the market over the last couple of decades. Not only is it bigger, but Jean Talon is also closer to a true farmers’ market.

The key word is local. Starbucks, so the protesters claim, just does not fit in with that local flavor.

Recent news that international coffee super-chain Starbucks is opening a store near the Jean Talon market has created a bit of an uproar among those who ply their trade at or near the market as well as regular shoppers. The market’s merchants are local fruit and vegetable producers, butchers, fishmongers, cheese-mongers and assorted others. There is no shortage of small coffee shops in the vicinity. The key word is local. Starbucks, so the protesters claim, just does not fit in with that local flavor. Would the US coffee chain be more welcome at the Atwater Market?

An online petition has been drawing numerous signatories – over 7500 as I write, with a goal of 8,000. The petition states:

The mission of the Marchés Publics de Montréal (MPM) is to give Montrealers access to local produce that correspond (sic) to their identity.

The opening of a Starbucks Coffee in Jean-Talon Market fundamentally denies the mission of the MPM, and favours a globalized economy, which is dehumanizing and polluting instead of promoting a local economy based on human scale and sustainable principles.

A Starbucks Coffee is a threat to the Little Italy landscape, a neighbourhood renowned for its independent coffee shops.

Therefore, we ask this project to be stopped.

This appears to be a David and Goliath battle. retail business can sure be a dog eat dog world, but would Starbucks not do more for its brand image by opting not to bully its way into neighborhoods like this? On one hand the company is currently encouraging its clients to have conversations about the state of racial relations with its “Race together” initiative, yet it is also potentially taking food out of the mouths of small business owners.

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+
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Swift Boats and a Navel, Not Naval, Maneuver

Instagram/Taylor Swift

Instagram/Taylor Swift

Swift boats are back in the news. Not the ones that brought John Kerry so much grief. This is about a different navel – nope, not naval – incident. It seems pop sensation Taylor Swift was  vacationing with some pals in Hawaii and had a paparazzi problem.

Having vowed never to expose her belly button, Swift decided to do just that in order to undercut the paparazzi. It seems that while out whale watching on the Swift boat, the bikini clad girls noticed a boat of photographers with long lenses. These were no doubt snapping away at Taylor’s navel; the photographers, not the whales. Putting two and two together the ladies came to the conclusion that Swift’s belly button was soon to be on public display.

They hastily – odd that in this case navel gazing was actually productive –  posed for their own bikini shot and promptly posted it to Instagram …

They hastily – odd that in this case navel gazing was actually productive –  posed for their own bikini shot and promptly posted it to Instagram thereby cutting the value of any other shots of Swift’s innie.

Swift told BBC 1’s Breakfast Show “My security gets out the binoculars and sees that they have a huge long lens camera,” she said. “At which point, we go back to the beach and realize, ‘OK, so they got pictures of us in our bikinis.’ I don’t want them to make, like, $100,000…for a bikini shot. And so we’re like, ‘Get up on the bow of the boat: we’re taking better bikini shots so that they don’t make as much money on theirs.”

Like, pure spite. Those folks are trying to make a living.

Previously she had told Lucky Magazine “I don’t like showing my belly button. When you start showing your belly button then you’re really committing to the midriff thing. I only partially commit to the midriff thing”.

Committing to the midriff thing? Huh?

I have often wondered about the relationship that has long existed between paparazzi and celebrities. It is often a love-hate sort of affair. With very few exceptions one needs the other. But the celebrities must always appear to hate the photographers; such a nuisance, always following me around (but please don’t go)! In an ideal world the paparazzi would boycott Ms. Swift in protest.

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+
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Sony Cancels The Interview After Threats: Caving In or Being Responsible?

Ed Araquel/Sony Pictures Entertainment/Associated Press

Ed Araquel/Sony Pictures Entertainment/Associated Press

No doubt after much boardroom deliberation, Sony Pictures Entertainment has cancelled the release of its Christmas season lighthearted comedy The Interview. The film, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogen, focuses on two zany television journalists who get an interview with the leader of North Korea and are seconded by the CIA to take advantage of the opportunity to kill him.

I suspect that at some point someone will come up with a pirated version of the film and defiantly show it in an independent cinema.

The numerous commercials showed the totally farcical approach taken by the film to a touchy topic, yet evidently many North Koreans, one in particular, didn’t exactly see the humorous side to the flick.  So in today’s version of the shuffling of nuclear weapons as a means of sending a message to an enemy, the North Koreans allegedly launched a cyber-attack on Sony, making public several sensitive documents. Worse, they made a clear threat that should the film be released as intended, there would be a reaction along the lines of 9/11. Whoever was behind these hacks was playing for real.

Some will claim that Sony should be ashamed to have caved to terrorist threats while others will consider the company to have done the wise thing considering public safety.

The holiday season is a big money-maker for the movie industry. This is an important point as, according to Variety, this past summer was the worst in a decade at the box office. A strong fourth-quarter is needed to break even. Not that The Interview was going to single-handedly save the year, nor was it destined to become a classic, but every bit helps.

The decision to pull the film will be seen by different people in different ways. Some will claim that Sony should be ashamed to have caved to terrorist threats while others will consider the company to have done the wise thing considering public safety. I suspect that at some point someone will come up with a pirated version of the film and defiantly show it in an independent cinema.

 

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+

 

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Christmas Commercials: Some Classic, Some Not So Much

Only one week to go; hit that shopping panic button! Lamentably when we think of Christmas it is usually in a non-religious aspect. You know, the commercial greed-driven exercise in consumerism. If there is a good side to this, it’s that the season of peace on earth and goodwill toward humans has spawned numerous fine television commercials. Coca-Cola has nailed it at least twice with the warm and fuzzy Hilltop Singers wanting to buy the world a Coke, and those adorable polar bears. Even Canadian Tire had its Scrooge character who heralded the beginning of the season with his appearances during hockey broadcasts. I wonder why they got rid of him… Alas not all Christmas-related ads are winners.

When it comes to the consumer take on Yule festivities, it has long been said that Christmas is for children. Youngsters ripping open presents and yelping in glee as they uncover a long desired, and no doubt much-advertised, gift is a goal of most parents.

This whole happy kids, sugarplum fairy vision is nothing short of heartwarming, when portrayed by children. Adults dancing in joy upon receiving some sought after item is significantly less Norman Rockwell-ish. Too bad no one told Sears Canada!

In one of the more asinine seasonal attempts to separate people from their money, the current Sears television advertising campaign features adults opening gifts and doing an “I got it” dance upon seeing the contents while other family members look on. It doesn’t work. I’m a big fan of funny advertising. If the goal was a cute spoof of a child’s reaction on Christmas morning, a few head shakes, eye rolls and a chuckle from the others may have done the trick. But no …..

Instead of a light chucklesome ad, these folks come across as greedy fools. It’s no wonder Sears is closing stores.

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+

 

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My New Neighbour Spindler

Spindler_2

Spindler

Here’s my new neighbour. He moved in during the summer and was living in my air conditioner although I didn’t know it. He told me his name is Spindler and so far he seems to be quite friendly. I first noticed him outside the bedroom window one morning when I pulled up the blind. He was waving at me and offering me a cup of coffee.

“Hello neighbour”, he shouted through the window pane. Noticing my shocked appearance it was then that he explained how he came to be on my window screen.

“We were here all summer.”

“We?” I replied hesitantly, fearing an influx of spiders.

“Yep, me and my boy camped out in that nice big box you stuck out your window.”

Still leery about an invasion I said “Ummm … just the two of you?”

“Yes sir, just me and Webster,”

“Webster?”

“Yes, my son.” he stated proudly. “We were there all summer then one day we went to get Webster some new shoes for school and when we came back our cottage had been taken.”

So when I removed the air conditioner I didn’t see them because they had gone shopping. Now I was getting the picture. Trying to be neighbourly and get a grip on things at once, I mentioned that it must be a significant expense to buy new shoes for a spider, given the number of legs and all. Spindler explained that they only buy one pair at a time and rotate them, much like car tires.

Not wanting to pry, I ask about Webster’s mother.

“That’s very sad,” Spindler said. “She was killed. It was in the newspaper.”

“I must have missed that obituary.” I replied.

“No no, she was in the newspaper, she got swatted by a sports section.”

“Oh …”

“But you know something mister, it’s not fair. In the spider world all the attention is given to the widows, Black Widow this and Black Widow that. We poor widowers don’t get diddly!”

I was starting to warm up to this guy. He was clearly a bright, well-spoken addition to the neighbourhood. When I mentioned this he said that should not come as a surprise, spiders have a long history of intelligence, from Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, to modern day public and media relations professionals.

“Public Relations?”, I asked.

“Certainly, we’re naturals when it comes to putting a spin on things,” boasted Spindler.

 

 

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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Checkout Scoundrels: Coin Counters and Over Shoppers!

Checkout

I was moved to blog today by the comic below that appeared in my morning newspaper. One of my favorite pet peeves has to do not with actually shopping, but with checking-out afterward. I don’t mean just the pain of parting with my hard-earned dollars, but the agony of having to wait in line to do so.

RLA_CheckoutI still believe retail outlets should be fined if they don’t have enough checkouts open. There should never be line-ups at the open checkouts if there are closed checkouts is my mantra. It is bad enough to have to pay often inflated prices for items, making customers wait to pay is just salt in the wound!

Aside from having a sufficient number of cashiers in place to process the goods, checkouts need to be organized into sensible categories. We already have checkouts that are designated as Less Than Six Items Only and Less Than 12 Items Only. This is a good start, but why stop here? Based solely on my many jaw-tightening, teeth-grinding experiences, we are often in dire need of a Credit Card/Debit Card ONLY line!

There are few things in the realm of shopping that are more irksome than the abominable coin-counter.  In Canada we have one- and two-dollar coins, so you can pay a $10.67 bill relatively easily using just coins – if they are the right coins. We also round cents up or down – in this case the amount due is $10.65 –  thereby banishing the poor penny to it’s other role in life, that of a prominent position in certain loafers. That’s all fine and dandy, but getting stuck in a line behind someone who is counting out dimes and nickels – keeping the quarters for laundry no doubt – is nothing short of cruel.

… in my experience those who go hunting in search of change, and wasting everybody’s time, usually come up a few coins short and end up paying by card anyway.

It’s time for a Paying by Cash or Check? This Line Only checkout because in my experience those who go hunting in search of change, and wasting everybody’s time, usually come up a few coins short and end up paying by card anyway.  I include checks in this line because of the evident requirement for umpteen initials from various Head Cashiers or managers – who are always on lunch –  to be accepted is another great time waster.

By designating checkouts according to payment method the system would be streamlined; those with cards would zip through the No Cash or Checks line, even the once deadly coupon redeeming process has been expedited by bar code scanning. Those opting to use checks or cash would only delay each other. Problem solved. But I fear there is still one annoyance that is out of the hands of retailers; the Over Shopper!

They have the cashier scan everything, figure out how far over their limit they are, then start making decisions as to what can be deducted.

An Over Shopper is a person with a finite amount available for shopping, regardless of cash, check or card, who pays no attention to that limit while actually shopping, filling their cart to overflowing, only to have to remove items once they are at the checkout! They have the cashier scan everything, figure out how far over their limit they are, then start making decisions as to what can be deducted. Meanwhile a line of tired, impatient shoppers is kept waiting.

Which brings me to the relatively new concept of the self checkout. In theory this is a fine idea, no need for cashiers, just scan and bag your own items and off you go. Spot checks keep shoppers honest, mostly. Just make sure you don’t find yourself in line behind someone with a cart full of non-scannable items. Fruits and vegetables, particularly of an exotic nature, delay things. Missing code stickers are fruit flies in the ointment. The self-checkout can be a great way to get out with one or two scannable items when there is no line. Just approach with caution.

Ready, set , done!

 

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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Hollywood Phone Hacks: Privacy vs Publicity

The news has been full of the most recent major hacking episode. No, not that morning ritual undertaken by smokers the world over, but the theft of photos from prominent people’s phones. Apple has taken measures to secure the iCloud so that in future thefts will not be possible. I’m sure that comes as bad news for many of the alleged celebrities as this has been their best ‘exposure’ in years.

Of course the issue here isn’t what was stolen, but rather that privacy was invaded. If someone breaks into your home and only steals your ice-cream, it’s an invasion nonetheless.

If the target of these hacks is now Hollywood stars, can bloggers be far behind, I ask you? Therefore I have taken the precautionary step of packing my iPhone with  pictures of burly, sculpted, six-packed male bodies, with my head and face Photoshopped onto them.  Come and get ’em!

"Selfie hacked from blogger's phone"

“Selfie hacked from blogger DCMontreal’s phone”

 

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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Terry Fox Run: Montreal Fundraiser Carl Andersen Set To Pass 100,000 Running Miles

Carl Andersen/PHOTO Deegan Charles Stubbs

Carl Andersen  PHOTO: Deegan Charles Stubbs

If all goes according to plan, on September 14th long-time Montreal ultra-runner Carl Andersen will, like thousands of others across Canada, run 10 kilometres in the annual Terry Fox fundraising event. What makes Carl stand out among these runners isn’t just that he’s 78 years old, but that at about the six kilometre point in this run he will pass the 100,000 running miles point. That’s 100,000 miles, not kilometres. He has been running – including 95 marathons – and logging his miles for several years. That’s a whole lot of running!

Realizing that when it came to running he was hooked for life, Carl decided to put his passion to good use, and in 1986 started raising funds by getting people to sponsor his running. He has been going strong ever since. After a career at BELL Canada he opened a running equipment store in west-end Montreal, selling it in 2009. At his peak, Carl used to undertake an annual fundraising run around the circumference of the island of Montreal, a journey of over 120 kilometres!

In April of 2005 her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, then Governor General of Canada, presented Carl with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in appreciation of his fundraising efforts.

Over the years this ultra-runner’s pursuits have raised almost $1 Million for several charities including breast cancer research – Carl lost his mother and two sisters to this disease –  multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy.

For many years Sheila, Carl’s wife, handled travel arrangements for the company I worked for. I spoke with her on an almost daily basis, yet had never met Carl. One day in April of 2005, Sheila sent me an email informing me she would be out-of-town the next day. She attached a news release stating that her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, then Governor General of Canada, would be presenting Carl with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in appreciation of his fundraising efforts.

Carl J. Andersen, Montreal, Quebec
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Carl Andersen has been volunteering since the 1950s and, since 1997, he has collected funds for breast cancer treatment, education and research by running an ultra-marathon of over 120 kilometres. This is a grueling challenge for anyone, and it is particularly arduous for a man in his sixties living with arthritis. Without any corporate support, Mr. Andersen has inspired individuals to donate more than $250,000 for the state-of-the-art Cedars Breast Clinic at the McGill University Health Centre. Mr. Andersen’s mother taught him that we always have time to give to others and his efforts honour her memory and the memory of his two sisters who died of breast cancer. At the same time, he has brought hope to numerous women facing the prospect of breast disease.

Ever the overachiever, rather than looking back he focused on what is ahead, and replied “… please help an old man achieve his goal of $15,030 in support of Terry Fox. Thank You”

Recently I asked Carl how he felt as he approached this impressive milestone, if he has any particularly fond memories that stand out from his years of running. Ever the overachiever, rather than looking back he focused on what is ahead, and replied “I hope to one day get to 100 marathons, but for now please help an old man achieve his goal of $15,030 in support of Terry Fox.”

Please consider sponsoring Carl in this year’s Terry Fox Run and be part of history. You can easily do so at this website.

Good luck Carl!

Terry_Fox

 

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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Tilley Endurables: Just When You Thought Customer Service Was Dead!

Tilley

About twenty years ago I received a Tilley hat as a birthday gift. I wore it from time to time, but was not what you would call an avid hat wearer at that time. More recently, particularly during the sunniest summer days, I wear it to protect my increasingly evident pate from the sun’s damaging rays, as it pokes through my rapidly thinning tresses.

This week I noticed that right smack on the top of the hat the exterior surface had begun to peel away, exposing the material underneath. Soon, no doubt, my newly exposed scalp would be viewable and susceptible.  Well, I thought, not bad for twenty years of use. The hat, as the saying goes, didn’t owe me anything.

No questioning what I had done to the hat, no small print technicality, just plain old fashioned excellent customer service. A lifetime guarantee that is, oddly surprisingly, good for a lifetime.

Yesterday while taking a leisurely stroll along Montreal’s Laurier Street on a grand summer day,  I found myself right in front of the Tilley Endurables Store with, what do you know, my ancient and torn Tilley hat planted firmly on my head. I had often heard that Tilley guarantees their hats for life, so I thought I’d go in and see what was what. I figured at least they may be able to suggest a means of repairing the tear, before I slapped a bunch of duct tape on it.

Upon entering the store I was greeted by an employee who asked how she could help me. I took off my hat and showed her the problem. She took a quick look at the tear and immediately showed me which hats were available for a straight replacement and which were more expensive than mine and would require me to make up the difference. That simple. No questioning what I had done to the hat, no small print technicality, just plain old-fashioned excellent customer service. A lifetime guarantee that is, oddly surprisingly, good for a lifetime.

Within ten minutes I was back out on the street proudly sporting my new Tilley hat, looking forward to another twenty years of sun protection. In an era when customer service is more myth than fact, it was great to be treated with such a professional attitude by the people at Tilley Endurables.

 

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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Montreal Police Don Camouflage Pants: Protest Meets Comfort

Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette

Photo: Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette

The government of the Province of Quebec has introduced legislation, Bill 3, that will change the way public employee pension funds are financed. The government wants to make it an equitable system with 50% of the funds coming from the employees themselves, in the form of pay cheque deductions, and 50% from taxpayers. Currently the Montreal police (SPVM) pension is funded 76% by taxpayers. Needless to say the men and women in blue, actually black, are not at all amused by this increased deduction.

I can recall overhearing a tourist couple remarking on the denim without knowing it was a protest: “This place is so cool,” said the woman. “The cops wear jeans here.”

But what can they do to show their dissatisfaction with the proposed change? As an ‘essential service’ the police cannot go on strike. In 2007, disgruntled with another government proposal, and unable to strike, the police took to wearing jeans instead of uniform issued pants. The only problem was that the protest went on so long, people almost forgot that the Levi’s were not part of the uniform. I can recall overhearing a tourist couple remarking on the denim without knowing it was a protest: “This place is so cool,” said the woman. “The cops wear jeans here.”

Undaunted, the next time there was a disagreement, they switched the uniform slacks not for jeans, but for military-style camouflage pants and they donned bright red baseball caps emblazoned with the union logo. The City challenged this at the Essential Services Commission, but lost when the panel ruled that as long as the cops were doing their job, it was fine to be out of uniform.

I think people function best when comfortable, regardless of whether they are police officers or city hall paper-pushers.

So now once again the city of Montreal has a police force that is clad in camouflage pants and red caps. But they are still serving and protecting. Fine by me. There was a time in New York City when the police were involved in a similar dispute with the City. During the negotiations, one very hot and humid day, as only Manhattan can get hot and humid, the police officers chose not to wear their ties, even if they were clip on (for safety reasons). The City, not pleased with the progress of the negotiations, pushed back and demanded the wearing of the full uniform, including ties. The police said OK, if that’s the way you want to be, and wore the ties as ordered, but clipped to the epaulettes of their shirts, with collars left open!

I think people function best when comfortable, regardless of whether they are police officers or city hall paper-pushers. During our recent high heat and humidity, a number of officers have improvised and instead of wearing camouflage pants, they are wearing thin white slacks. Still not a problem for me. If the police refused to do their job in such a way that the safety of the public was left in jeopardy, I would be the first to complain. But sartorial statements get the point across without putting the public in danger.

 

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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