Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, driving, Formula One, Montreal, New York City, News

COVID-19, Wine, and Fast Cars

SteCath

Empty Ste. Catherine Street on a Saturday afternoon with COVID-19 advisory signs.

Yesterday in Montreal the sun was out, the wind was down, and it was that day. Every year there is one day, usually a Friday it seems when the first vestiges of spring are fully evident. People flood into the streets of the downtown core on the lunch breaks. Bar and restaurant terraces are packed as Montrealers attempt to throw off the accumulated winter blahs with a good shot of vitamin D.

Every year there is one day, usually a Friday it seems when the first vestiges of spring are fully evident.

Of course this year, in so many ways, is different. Mother Nature did her part, the weather was ideal for terrace-sitting, or strolling along Ste. Catherine Street, or spending time in a park. Unfortunately, the effects of COVID-19 isolation and social-distancing kept most people away from downtown.

My wife and I went for our daily airing. Usually, we stick to our neighbourhood as requested by health officials. But yesterday we were on a mission. We set off to the SAQ (liquor store) in search of a particular wine. I’m not a wine guy really, give me a cold beer and I’m happy, but my wife enjoys the odd glass of crisp cool white.

olimpico

Montrealers on a terrace in pre-COVID days.

The wine we sought was available at two SAQ outlets downtown, so off we went. It was a pleasant trek on the almost deserted main street. What pedestrians there were seemed serious about employing social-distancing and it was possible to enjoy the day.  Those who drove had their pick of parking spots, something unheard of on a Saturday afternoon in Montreal.

As we ambled home with our vino it seemed for a moment that we were no longer in Montreal, but had somehow magically been transported to Monaco.

Also, there was no line to get into the SAQ (we had passed two outlets that according to their website did not have the wine we were in search of and both had significant line-ups). In we popped and, with a little help from the friendly staff, found the product, paid and were out in under three minutes.

As we ambled home with our vino it seemed for a moment that we were no longer in Montreal, but had somehow magically been transported to Monaco. There was a roar of engines followed by the appearance of two Ferraris, a Lamborghini, and several other high-end sports cars. The near-vacant streets afforded these drivers the opportunity to air-out their vehicles. As we walked along Ste. Catherine, we encountered the cars several times as they wove their way around city blocks.

ruined-gembella-porsche-mirage-gt-carrera-ben-chen

In New York City, supercar collector Ben Chen lost control of his Gemballa Mirage GT, an ultra-rare modified Porsche Carrera GT, the morning of April 7, and smashed it into a parked Toyota Sienna, totaling both vehicles.

These drivers usually bring out their cars for the annual Formula 1 weekend, but, alas, that like so many things has fallen victim to COVID-19 and has been postponed. Mind you, during that weekend, traffic is so dense that the chance to zip around downtown streets does not exist.

Interestingly this phenomenon is not limited to Montreal. I read an article today about similar cars being driven at high speed (I must admit the Montreal drivers were not going all that fast but did make a lot of noise), sometimes with tragic results, through several cities.

I know we are all frustrated with self-isolation, but wrapping a very expensive car around a lamppost seems a bit extreme to me.

Standard
Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, driving, Formula One, Montreal, Opinion, Quebec

Montreal: Race Cars and Traffic Cones

This weekend marks the unofficial kick-off of Montreal’s tourist season as the Formula One circus rolls into town. Hundreds of thousands of race fans descend upon the city wearing F1 garb, driving expensive sports cars and spending wads and wads of money. Bring it on!

During an average F1 weekend the traffic situation in Montreal is absurd, but this year promises to be even more ridiculous due to massive sections of downtown being closed for work. Add to this the traditional closing of several streets to accommodate stages and various events and you have a recipe for traffic mayhem.

One of the long-term traffic situations that has just been introduced involves work being carried out to redo the entrance to a Metro/Train station. Fortunately this is not downtown, but close enough to cause trouble.

The entrance is just part of the project, the main goal is to build an underground passageway between the transit hub and a large, recently opened, “super” hospital. The hospital, or hospitals, are located about a nine-iron from the Metro station, but currently to get from one to the other requires a circuitous trek.

Needless to say the hospital campus was not built overnight. Did no one, during the planning and construction, think it may have been a good idea to connect these two entities? Montreal is a city that has been the subject of much tourism bumf regarding our Underground City. The city has a labyrinth of subterranean shopping concourses that provide easy, warm, and dry access to what appears to be several million shoe stores, yet it was not deemed important to connect a health campus to public transit.

Standard
Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, driving, F1, Formula One, Montreal, Opinion, Sports, Wordpress

Making the Canadian F1 Grand Prix More Montreal

Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Practice

Although the race is ten months off, work is now being carried out on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to bring it up to Formula 1 standards. The annual Canadian Grand Prix is an important Montreal event bringing tourists from around the world. Yes, it does tend to be loud, but the noise of the cars is often drowned out by the sound of cash registers.

…to suggest to the powers that be at F1 headquarters several small tweaks that would, I believe, go a long way to having the race reflect Montreal more accurately.

While making major alterations to the track and paddock, I thought it would be the ideal time to suggest to the powers that be at F1 headquarters several small tweaks that would, I believe, go a long way to having the race reflect Montreal more accurately.

I suggest that at various points during the race groups of cyclists be released onto the track. Going, of course, in the wrong direction and, as the drivers weave their way among them, the cyclists will be instructed to swear and make obscene gestures at them.

screen-shot-2017-10-29-at-12-50-58-am-e1509258577596

In addition to flag-waving marshals, who will be clad in camo pants, F1 tracks also have safety signage indicating, for instance, the braking distance leading to a sharp turn. To make this a Montreal-like experience for the drivers, several of these signs should be located behind tree branches or overgrown hedges making them virtually impossible to see until passing them when it is too late.

As the Grand Prix is run on a Sunday, the teams should be presented with a list of those sections of the track that are closed for the weekend…detours will be indicated by Montreal’s ubiquitous orange cones.

Over the last few years, Montrealers have grown used to the late-weekly reports informing us which streets, highways or bridges will be closed for the weekend. As the Grand Prix is run on a Sunday, the teams should be presented with a list of those sections of the track that are closed for the weekend. Not to worry, detours will be indicated by Montreal’s ubiquitous orange cones.

Formula 1 pit-crews are famous for being able to change four tires and make minor repairs to the cars in the blink of an eye. They are going to need to be even faster. When cars enter the pit lane and arrive at the team garage where they would have once stopped if ever so briefly, they will find BIXI stands or several red-bagged parking meters illustrating that no one, not even the best race car drivers in the world, can find a parking spot in Montreal.

… they will find BIXI stands or several red-bagged parking meters illustrating that no one, not even the best race car drivers in the world, can find a parking spot in Montreal.

Lastly, as the race reaches the three-quarter point, some of the drivers may be getting hungry. This problem is solved by the arrival of several Montreal food trucks along the straightaway. Appropriate given F1 drivers are possibly the only people who can afford the prices charged by these mobile eateries.

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+
Standard
Canada, DCMontreal Light, driving, F1, Formula One, Humor, Media, Montreal, News, Sports, Wordpress

Montreal Grand Prix Signage Help for Tourists

GP15

Should you be considering visiting my fair city this weekend to take in the Formula One Grand Prix, as many are if hotel and restaurant reservations indicate, I am suggesting to Mayor Coderre the following sign. Rather than infuriate visitors with thousands of roadwork detour signs and road closures notices, on top of our potholed streets, let’s put the signs below on all streets that are:

A) Not currently under construction/repair;
B) Not likely to soon be under construction/repair;
C) Essentially pothole free;and
D) Free of exposed streetcar tracks.

NoWork

No Road 2

Unfortunately I suspect the only place worthy of the signs is the short strip of Notre Dame that runs right in front of City Hall! So if you do visit, assume all roads are under construction, or in need of same!

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+

 

Standard
Canada, CNN, Crime, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Media, Montreal, News, Photography, Wordpress

Quebec Helicopter Prison Escape Take Two

Helicopter

“Fool me once
Shame on you
Fool me twice
Shame on me.”

Chinese proverb

“Now, if I had the wings of an angel,
Over these prison walls I would fly.”

Bill Monroe, The Prisoner’s Song

For the second time in less than two years prisoners have made good an escape attempt from a Quebec penitentiary using helicopters. Not the same institution, but in the same Canadian province. Yep, on Saturday evening while the four inmates were on a scheduled jaunt in the prison yard, a helicopter hovered,  touched-down briefly, took on passengers and ascended over the prison wall. Locals say the chopper headed south-west, in the direction of Montreal.

Police look down on Montreal Grand Prix crowd. Looking for escapees?

Police look down on Montreal Grand Prix crowd. Looking for escapees?

With police up to their eyes in crowd control, and an unusually high number of helicopters in the air ferrying people to and from the track, the escapees stood a good chance of going unnoticed.

Is it a coincidence that Montreal was hosting the annual Canadian Formula One Grand Prix when this occurred? With police up to their eyes in crowd control, and an unusually high  number of helicopters in the air ferrying people to and from the track, the escapees stood a good chance of going unnoticed.

Throw into the mix the very odd occurrence of four homicides over a 24-hour period and you have many distractions.

But how could this happen again? Perhaps authorities thought no one would have the gall to do it again. Not since it had been all over the international news the last time. Well, someone had the cojones to revisit the daring antic.

So should you ever find yourself in a Quebec prison yard, and you’re wondering what that big H painted on the asphalt is, now you know!

Me DCMontreal 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+
Standard
Advertising, Canada, F1, Humor, Montreal, News, Photography, Sports

Montreal Grand Prix: Not for the camera shy

Who can take your picture where, and what can they do with it?

GrandPrix2013

Today the annual Formula 1 circus rolls into Montreal for a weekend of extravagance.  This event belches exhaust fumes into our air and cash into our hotels, restaurants and stores. Some estimates put the revenue for the weekend at upwards of $100 million; that’s worth coughing for a few days.

This event belches exhaust fumes into our air and cash into our hotels, restaurants and stores

HowardHughes

Howard Hughes blocks camera

If you are planning to take in any of the events, and are a bit camera shy, you may want to bear in mind the following. I noticed the signs for the first time last year, they were posted on the barriers that are erected to close Crescent Street for the festivities (as people often lean on these barriers the signs aren’t terribly visible, but they’re there and I think that’s what matters). I suspect they are on all similar entry points to F1 events in the city. The signs weren’t prominent, nor were they particularly impressive in design, looking like a last minute addition, they were printed on 8.5 X 11 paper.  But the message is what matters; the signs explained, in both French and English, that by entering this F1 site you agreed to potentially being photographed and that said photos may be used commercially.

… by entering this F1 site you agreed to potentially being photographed and that said photos may be used commercially

I’m no lawyer, but I think the F1 folks are covering their ass by posting in advance lest anyone complain later when they show up in a shot used to promote F1 or any of its sponsors in a magazine or on a poster. So it all boils down to one thing: if you don’t want to risk having your picture taken and used you’d best not pass beyond the barriers.

There are numerous websites regarding what one can and can’t photograph. Photorights.org, a UK based site states the following:

You can’t take my photo without permission’. Oh yes you can, usually. Point to the CCTV cameras and wave, they never asked either. Of course it is perfectly understandable that individuals may feel singled out and perhaps intimidated, frightened or angry not to be in control, but it’s not a legal point.

The website Ambientlight has a more Canadian take on the laws of photography, including those of Quebec that would directly affect the Montreal Grand prix:

In Quebec, the Quebec Human Rights Code, Chapter 1, 5, grants all humans the right to their private life. For photography, this broadly-worded right allows each individual person in Quebec control over the use of their image (meaning, a photo of them). This was recently upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in a case (Aubrey v. Edition Vice-Versa Inc.) where a photographer published a photo of an individual in public, without the subject’s permission. The image was nothing special, it was taken from a public place of a person in public, and did not injure their reputation. However, the Supreme Court of Canada said that the photographer should not have published the photo without the permission of the person photographed, and ruled in the favour of the subject of the photo. They did note that there are exceptions for newsworthy events, people who are in the public eye, like politicians or celebrities, or if the person was incidental to the photo, and not the main subject(s).

If you’re one of those who puts their hands up to block themselves and yells “Get that camera out of my face” at photographers, you’re out of luck at the Grand Prix

If you’re one of those who puts their hands up to block themselves and yells “Get that camera out of my face” at photographers, you’re out of luck at the Grand Prix. I don’t imagine the signs count as model release forms, given you don’t sign them, but the Grand Prix is a newsworthy and photographer friendly event. Even crowd scenes can potentially land you in trouble, so make sure that really is your wife/husband you’re holding hands with when the flash goes off! You have been warned! Of course you could always chance it and, should you be photographed and should those photos be used, sue the Formula one folks. But I have a hunch they may be able to afford some fine lawyers!

Standard