March 4, 2019

 Photo credit: Quartier des Spectacles

Do you find something both appealing and appalling about surviving an apocalypse?

How many movies are there on the topic? Even more books, I bet. Have you ever dreamed (or nightmared) about the day you wake up and all of the stuff that seemed to matter so much is just gone. Eviscerated, vaporized, because in the reality of the (future) now, bills, work politics, career aspirations and family dramas no longer matter.

Unlike Eliott in the show Mr. Robot, you probably realize it's not going to be easy to weed out these problems at the root. Removing them, especially when they are...

February 19, 2019

This Montreal winter is a hard one, mainly because it has the hallmarks of an on-again off-again relationship. Things freeze over and everything seems solid. Then, out of the blue, there is a big thaw and everything melts. Then, reassuringly, it freezes over again. But then, it melts. Repeat. Each freeze is more treacherous than the last as there is an ever growing number of thaws to account for, manifesting as large frozen bodies of water covering the streets and sidewalks. 

Three types of footwear are now necessary to make it from morning until dusk, including your ugly winter boots, your cheery rubber ones, as well as flippers – the latter to...

December 31, 2018

I stepped into 2018 hopeful. But, no matter how grand it seemed that first morning - each new year inevitably promises better things to come for each of its three-hundred-and sixty-five days - when it’s all said and done, years disappear like the eternal winter nights dissolving into the eternal summer days. 

2018 made its mark, regardless. Here. Everywhere. Like the rest of the world, Montreal (all of Quebec, too) was swept up in a conflicting, paradoxical ball of conservatism and liberalism wrapped up so tightly that if you split it in two, you might find that it reacts like a divided nucleus, exploding with the force of an atomic...

December 4, 2018

My grandfather, God bless his soul, used to shout, when he was upset about something that we children were up to: “You donkey! You bear!” This was reserved for serious offenses only, such as when we tossed lettuce into the stove or climbed upon a pile of construction material pretending we had been ordered to do so by Marshall Tito (heroic Yugoslav games of yore). Relying on his sixth sense, he would then awaken from his slumber in the kitchen chair (lettuce) or storm out of the house (construction heap) and roar at the top of his lungs: “You donkey! You bear!” and we would retreat immediately. 

The donkey was understandable. If such language was dir...

August 8, 2018

You must have seen them peering at you from windowsills graced with lace and from old storefronts on Boulevard St-Laurent. You’ve seen them at the barbershop in Hochelaga and at garage sales in Verdun. You nearly knocked one over at a cool café on Bernard, where it was delicately sitting next to the water jug. In fripperies, they mingle with the vintage dresses and old leather bags, and at the second-hand bookstore they do who knows what. 

At your grandma’s house, they sat on the mantelpiece or in the living room vitrine behind glass, where they were to be seen and never to be touched. But you probably secretly touched them, maybe even dropped them,...

July 4, 2018

We're all immigrants on this land. First, second, third, fourth, maybe fifth generation. Not absolutely all of us, but many, most. July 1st, Canada Day, comes and goes with little reflection on that point but the reality is there. It's undeniable. In Montreal, Canada Day is celebrated by moving house; it's officially the unofficial moving day. I'm sure a metaphor is buried in the tradition which has been taking place for I don't know how long, but I haven't heard anyone  properly articulate why Canada Day became moving day. For now, we accept it as a convenience. 

The real "Fête nationale du Québec" is the weekend before C...

June 26, 2018

Today I stood in what I truly hope is the last life-altering queue of my life: the one in front of 1035 St-Jacques, for people waiting to take their Canadian citizenship exam. As is always the case in life-altering queues, as opposed to say, the queue at McDonald’s, those waiting were on high alert, craning their necks and perking up their ears each time a representative of officialdom stepped out into the street to offer some instruction – things like: have your convocation notice and your permanent residence card ready. Also, as in other life-altering queues, people had arrived way ahead of time. Although I turned up half an hour before the appointe...

June 15, 2018

Montreal based writer Su J. Sokol writes about a not-to-distant future where Montreal designates itself as an official 'Sanctuary City.' In it she presents the possibility of Montreal being a place where the political underclass (refugees, undocumented people, etc.,) can live free. Since I haven't finished her novel, "Cycling to Asylum", this post isn't about that. It is about what it would look like if it were really true, if Montreal really were such a city. 

In a way it is true. At least compared to places like Myanmar, I'm informed by the ads Save the Children target me with while I scroll through my Yah...

June 8, 2018

Last week, I left Montreal to go on vacation. Although I was heading to what some would consider a dream destination, I felt a little pang the night before departure: the city was bursting with the promise of summer and all sorts of hospitable little mushrooms had sprung up all over town. The Village au Pied-du-Courant - a community project that had transformed a decrepit industrial area/snow dump on the banks of the St-Lawrence River in Hochelaga into an urban beach resort (complete with an astronomical station) – had rolled out its red carpet, and Station FMR, an art and design (and food and music and beer) project hosted in four old metro trains ha...

May 25, 2018

Tommy is located close to where I labor and spend my precious time, in the Old Port on rue Notre Dame. Tommy is a cool place to be. It has a giant ivy hanging from the centre of the ceiling, plays a mishmash of hip hop and new wave music, and most importantly of all, has an impeccable interior design. Even more most importantly - no doubt because of this grand design - Tommy is a very, very photographed coffee shop. Seth Godin says: no matter what we're doing, we're in the fashion business; Tommy is no exception to that rule.

I stopped going a few months after it opened. At first, I too was taken in by the beauty, its veneer of cl...

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