Is It Safe To Come Out Now?

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Is it safe now? Can I come out from under the bed and get back to doing my usual things? Can I stop playing invisible?Is the mayhem that is St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Montreal finally over? It’s been a few days, but I want to be certain. There are two days a year that I would just as soon hide from than join in, they are New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day.

If you read this blog with any regularity you know that I am fond of bars. Except when they are chock-full of amateur drinkers hell-bent on ingesting as much alcohol as possible in the name of an Irish saint. The saying that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day sure does apply when it comes to imbibing.

Except when they are chock-full of amateur drinkers hell-bent on ingesting as much alcohol as possible in the name of an Irish saint.

Most days I drop by a particular bar late in the afternoon for a few cold beers, a chuckle or two and a bit of conversation. On her way from work my wife picks me up and we go home for dinner. The bar is an Irish themed place that, as you can imagine, draws an exceptional number of people come St. Patrick’s Day.

The good folks at Guinness provide bars that sell their beers with a wide variety of decorations; banners, posters, plastic glasses, coasters and even T-shirts. So every March my usual watering hole undergoes a physical transformation. That’s not a big deal. Even the constant Irish music during the lead up to parade I can take for a week or so. The increased prices are all just common business practice as anyone who has ever bought an airline ticket during high-season understands. It’s all about supply and demand.

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No, the problem as is so often the case is the people. On the Sunday of the parade arrive in droves. Some before the parade, some after. A line soon forms outside, regardless of weather conditions. Should they be lucky enough to get in, they belly-up to the bar – all bar stools have long since been removed to allow more traffic – and order drinks that are served in plastic cups. For these drinks, they pay an inflated price in cash – no credit or debit cards on this day. No running of tabs either; payment is due upon receipt of drink.

It’s crowded, dancing is not a good idea, but tell that to the 250-pound guy wearing a long green wig and Guinness T-shirt over green jeans.

Ditties that are commonly called Irish drinking songs are played by various bands throughout the day often invoking those well into their cups to dance. It’s crowded, dancing is not a good idea, but tell that to the 250-pound guy wearing a long green wig and Guinness T-shirt over green jeans.

Many folks traditionally take off the Monday after the parade, so even though it’s a Sunday, the day and night are long allowing for maximal revelry. I feel sorry for these people who will pay the real price in the morning. I feel even sorrier for the staff who have to wade through this green sea of humanity with drinks and food. 

But now most of the decorations are gone, the bar stools are back, glass has replaced plastic for holding drinks while plastic has replaced cash when paying. Phew … only another 363 days to go until St. Patrick’s Day 2019!

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+

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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Winter’s Last Gasp? Please …

Old Man Winter’s latest and hopefully last snowfall for the year. The winter wonderland effect will only last a few hours as temperatures are forecast to be above freezing today. DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and […]

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+

Valérie Plante: Not Your Typical Mayor

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When Montrealers elected Valérie Plante as our first female mayor last November there was much excitement. Not just because of her gender, but because she was a new voice. Her predecessor, Denis Coderre, had ruled in a very heavy-handed manner. Making many decisions that would come back to sting him and ultimately lead to his downfall, including the FormulaE race debacle.

Unfortunately for Mayor Coderre the race proved to be a flop and the city took a bath. Even with the fee, Plante was lauded for scrapping the project as promised.

Life was good for Ms. Plante in the immediate aftermath of the election. She canceled the remaining FormulaE races that Coderre had agreed to, which was a campaign promise she made. Of course, there will be a cancellation fee that some estimates put it in the millions of dollars, but Mayor Plante is not worried: “What we know is that whatever the cost to cancel the race, I believe it’s worth it, because at this point, it doesn’t pay off.”

This event was intended to bring spectators to the city, something along the lines of the annual Formula1 race that pumps millions of dollars into the city’s economy each June. Unfortunately for Mayor Coderre the race proved to be a flop and the city took a bath. Even with the fee, Plante was lauded for scrapping the project as promised.

She did not fare quite as well however when she increased taxes beyond the cost of living, which she promised not to do. But she is hardly the first and will no doubt not be the last politician to fiddle and fudge when it comes to taxes.

If she gets her way one of four main east-west conduits in the downtown core will be reduced to one (yep one) lane for traffic while the sidewalks will be doubled in width. 

But an odd notion has started to cross the minds of many Montrealers: based on some recent ideas and proposals, Mayor Valérie Plante seems to have something against downtown Montreal. A bit of an axe to grind for some reason. Not a typical position for a mayor.

Aside from acting in a Coderre-like manner by deciding unilaterally, i.e. without any public consultation, to stop through traffic over Mont-Royal, traffic that may well be on the way to downtown restaurants and bars, she now wants to revamp St. Catherine Street, one of the main commercial roads in the city, turning downtown into a mall.

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If she gets her way one of four main east-west conduits in the downtown core will be reduced to one (yep one) lane for traffic while the sidewalks will be doubled in width. The mayor has floated this trial balloon in the latest salvo against downtown. St. Catherine Street is already suffering, evident by the many empty storefronts that seem to appear every day. How can making it more difficult to get to these businesses possibly do anything but hurt them?

… that people who are paying for a vehicle are loath to pay again for public transit. If you make public transit free, then you may be talking.

The mayor claims public transit is the key. Get more folks on the buses and Metros. I agree that Montreal has a pretty good transit system, but I think I speak for many with whom I have brought up the topic when I say that people who are paying for a vehicle are loath to pay again for public transit. If you make public transit free, then you may be talking.

I use public transit because my wife takes the car to work. She could use the bus and subway, but it would take over 90 minutes each way. Not a feasible option. When we travel downtown we use the car; rather than paying for the numerous expenses and then leave it sitting at home only to pay bus fare, we drive.

Many frustrated potential patrons are forced to take their business out of the downtown area to the parking-friendly suburbs. 

I would humbly suggest to the mayor that an increased number of parking spots, even if metered, is the realistic way to go. Trying to find a spot on a Saturday evening so we can spend our hard-earned cash in a downtown restaurant has proven difficult, although several streets are for reasons not apparent deemed no parking while other have meters that are covered in red bags denoting no service. Many frustrated potential patrons are forced to take their business out of the downtown area to the parking-friendly suburbs. The pipe dream of public transit will only face the possibility of becoming real once the fare has been eradicated. No one wants to double dip – paying car fees and transit fares.

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+

Time For Major GOP Funders To Withhold

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In the wake of yet another mass killing at yet another US school, the rallying cry has gone out to get elected officials to do something about the ridiculously easy access to high-powered guns in the United States. And as usual, one party, the Democrats, are standing with those shouting for an end, while Republicans blather on about “thoughts and prayers”.

Gun proponents often trot out the tired old saw that they believe explains how guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s cute but totally absurd. Guns don’t kill people: people with guns kill people. That’s just more simple logic: no guns = no gun deaths.

Is it that Republicans have little care for future victims? Do they not think the situation is now long out of hand? Well if they do they have a funny way of showing it. Sadly it all comes down to one thing in their stony hearts: money. Filthy lucre.

According to an Opinion piece in the New York Times from October 4, 2017:

Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association.

I don’t know about their primary voters, but the National Rifle Association donates millions of dollars to candidates and spends millions more sponsoring events supporting primarily GOP candidates. In the last election, they spent upwards of $30M getting Donald Trump elected (of course, as we will all soon find out, the Russians helped out as well). No wonder he refuses to do anything about the situation. The logic is simple: it is not in the best financial interest of politicians to bite the hand that feeds them. And the NRA is a harsh master, threatening to withdraw funding at the mere mention of undeniably sane proposals (background checks for one). They are not big on the idea of compromise. No art of the deal for them.

Is it conceivable that a major donor to candidate X could threaten to withhold contributions unless the candidate refuses NRA money?

Gun proponents often trot out the tired old saw that they believe explains how guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s cute but totally absurd. Guns don’t kill people: people with guns kill people. That’s just more simple logic: no guns = no gun deaths.

But what if some of the other big donors took a stand? What if pressure was brought to bear on other large donors to GOP candidates? Is it conceivable that a major donor to candidate X could threaten to withhold contributions unless the candidate refuses NRA money? Should the gun control advocates be lobbying other major donors in an effort to get them to apply pressure?

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Bil Keane Knew the Present is a Gift

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When it comes to the present, Cartoonist Bil Keane of Family Circus fame hit the nail on the head!

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+

 

Will Driverless Cars Reduce Or Increase Traffic?

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The futuristic-sounding driverless cars as in the news a lot lately. It seems everybody and his aunt is involved in the race to replace drivers with cars that conduct themselves. Proponents of autonomous cars would have you believe that they will be commonplace on our roads in just a few years. That may be true, but another claim made by these folks is that driverless cars will lead to more public transit usage and therefore less traffic. This one has me flummoxed. I think we will have more traffic, but some of those vehicles will not be driven by humans. What could possibly go wrong?

I think we will have more traffic, but some of those vehicles will not be driven by humans. What could possibly go wrong?

I know lots of people who own cars and use them every day to get to work and carry out routine chores. Many of these people could use public transit to do the same thing. Why don’t they? Because they like their cars, they paid a lot of money for them so they are loath to leave them at home.

I’m sure many of us know people who actually enjoy driving. Not necessarily sitting in traffic, but the getting around part. They like to keep their vehicles in top shape and even gussy them up a bit, making sure the lines are perfect in silhouette. I don’t see either of these two groups of drivers readily giving up their cars for a driverless option.

Well, they could take buses and Metros now, but they don’t. Why would a driverless bus be any more appealing?

I fear that the driverless revolution may have to overcome North Americans’ love of automobiles. The cases cited by driverless enthusiasts seem to revolve around people jettisoning their current manual cars either in favour of autonomous ones, or public transit. Well, they could take buses and Metros now, but they don’t. Why would a driverless bus be any more appealing? And if they enjoy getting behind the wheel, why would they want to be driven by the car?

While driverless vehicles may well one day be a boon to industry, albeit one that costs a vast number of delivery truck drivers their jobs, I think we are a long way from the utopian image of driverless cars being in the majority. Regardless, I still believe that when that day does arrive, if it does, people will still sit in traffic and bitch about it, but they’ll be doing their grousing from the back seat, maybe watching a driverless police motorcycle chase a driverless joyrider!

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+

B.B. King: Dee Trill Is Gone

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I recall the date: May 14, 2015. That was the day B.B. King passed away at the age of 89. I remember having a discussion about King with an acquaintance of mine, a Montrealer of Bajan origin who has managed to retain his lovely accent.

We chatted about the impact King had on so many musicians, about how he, by his own admission could not sing and play guitar at the same time (a little guitar, a little singing, repeat), and about some of our favourite B.B. King songs.

As we went our own way my colleague shook his head and uttered “Ya mon, de trill is gone”

I could not have put it better myself.

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+

 

Freezing Rain: Mother Nature’s Dominant Side

Mother Nature sure likes to show she’s the boss. The dominant one. Here in the northeast, we can deal with snow and rain. But when the two come together the challenge is significantly upped. Commonly known as freezing rain, it happens when a cold from and a warm front come together. Over the last few days we had snow, then the temperature rose and the snow became rain. Not enough rain to wash away the newly fallen snow. But enough to deposit an icy finish on roads, sidewalks, cars, and buildings.

Imagine Mother Nature zipping along on her Zamboni, giving everything a candy apple appearance.  It is lovely to look out at from the safety and warmth of your home, but venturing out is something that requires much consideration. Yesterday all the school in the Montreal area were closed. They had stayed open during heavy snowfalls, we are Canadian after all, but freezing rain has us crying uncle.

There are several precautions to keep in mind when the forecast calls for freezing rain. Not least of which is to put your windshield wipers, as they say on planes, in upright and locked position. As I found out earlier this winter the rubber adheres to the cold glass; once you turn them on they pull away and often pull away from the wiper arm as well. This leaves giant gaps in driver visibility, never a recommended driving tactic. Some folk actually place plastic bags over their wipers, while others cover the windshield with cardboard for easy cleaning.

A lane in need of sand and salt

Bagged wiper blades

The original snow covered by a sheet of ice.

Wiper blades up

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+