Montreal is a great city. The diversity of our population is unmatched in most of Canada, we are unilingual by provincial law, bilingual by federal law, but if you walk down our streets you’ll hear everything from Tagalog to Hebrew spoken.

We have an impressive nightlife and artists from around the world come to perform at our annual festivals. Despite all its diversity, and action, there are many areas where Montreal could use some improvement, especially if you drive a car.

Parking in Montreal is a nightmare.

Part of the city’s parking problem is due to all the construction. When snow and ice aren’t interfering with road work, parking is compromised by construction that takes huge chunks out of the streets.

There’s very little indoor parking despite high demand, and the existing indoor and outdoor lots in the downtown core are heavily taxed by the City. What’s left are areas taken up by signs reserving parking spaces for residents, and everything else seems to have a parking meter on it.

There’s a saying that in life there’s no such thing as a free ride, but in the City of Montreal there’s no such thing as free parking.

Montreal Parking Law

To prevent a few headaches, I’ve decided to give you all a crash course on Montreal’s parking laws. These rules apply only to the City of Montreal, which includes such boroughs as NDG/Cote des Neiges, the downtown core, and the Plateau. Areas on the Island that operate independently of the City of Montreal, such as the City of Cote-Saint-Luc and Westmount have their own rules.

The City of Montreal’s parking rules should be easily accessible online, but they aren’t. Most of the city’s online resources for parking are devoted to helping people pay parking meters and tickets.

The law itself is the By-Law Concerning Traffic and Parking and is almost impossible to find online unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. The most updated version is only available in French so if you don’t know the language, you’re screwed.

montreal-parking-meter
Image: WikiMedia Commons

If you get a parking ticket, the ticket WILL indicate what rule you are deemed to have violated, but it will usually list the number of the offense, not the whole rule, probably due to the size constraints of the ticket itself.

Here’s what the law says:

On public land belonging to the City of Montreal, you are not allowed to park anywhere prohibited by a sign. If a sign states that there’s no parking in an area outside of certain hours, you are not allowed to park there outside of those hours. If the sign says the spot is reserved for other vehicles like taxis, for example, you can’t park there if you’re not driving a taxi. Unless there’s a sign posted expressly allowing you to park in an alleyway, it is illegal. Same goes for parking on median strips or traffic islands.

If a parking space is blocked or barred by an official barrier, a system of orange lights, a removable no parking sign, or there’s a cover on the parking meter, you’re not allowed to park there. If stopping is forbidden in a designated area by law, bylaw, or regulation, that area is not a viable parking space either.

Parking is forbidden in public parks except in areas officially designated for parking by signs. Offroad parking is also forbidden.

If a spot has a parking meter, you can’t park there without paying it. The exception is if you parked in that spot outside of the hours in which you are obliged to pay, and those are always indicated on the meter.

The City parking meters only accept Canadian currency, but thanks to modern technology you can pay by credit card and even by app. It is against the law to do anything that will keep the parking meter from working, and no two vehicles can take up one spot covered by a single meter.

Getting a Parking Ticket

If you break the rules, you will get a parking ticket either handed to you, left on your windshield, or sent to you by mail. The ticket, officially called a “statement of offense” will require you to pay a fine. Fines for parking violations range between thirty and two hundred bucks.

You have two options for responding to the ticket: you can plead guilty and pay it, or plead not guilty and contest it. Both options have a deadline of about thirty days. If you do nothing, a judge may rule against you by default and order you to pay the fine and any additional costs.

Contesting the ticket is entirely up to you, but there a few things to consider. You need to think about the cost of biting the bullet and paying the fine versus the time, cost, and stress related to contesting the ticket in court. You also need to brutally honest with yourself as to whether or not you deserved it.

If you opt to contest the ticket, you can do so by giving notice within the thirty days you have to respond. Just follow the instructions on the back of your ticket. The court will eventually send you a hearing date. On court day, bring any documents you have to prove your version of events such as photos taken the day you got the ticket, and bring a copy of the police report.

If you live and work in an area facilitated by Montreal’s public transit system, you can avoid the problems and cost of a car by investing in tickets or a pass. The bus and metro have their own set of problems, but in many ways they are a lot faster than taking a car.

If you have a driver’s license you can always follow many Montrealers in occasionally renting a car or joining a carshare service like Communauto so you have access to a vehicle when you occasionally need it.

Parking in Montreal is a pain, and with everything going on, we could all use less of it. Don’t suffer.

* Featured image: Goethe.de, Creative Commons

A young cyclist died after a collision with a truck on Monday afternoon in Montreal. The driver didn’t see the 24 year old woman when he made a right-turn at the intersection of Iberville and Rosemont. The opposition in City Council, along with advocacy group Vélo-Québec, are calling, once again, for enhanced protective measures for cyclists.

“It’s terrible,” said Luc Ferrandez from Projet Montréal, as quoted by Radio-Canada. “We are lagging behind. And Mayor Coderre is the mayor of these citizens who are getting hurt and who are dying. He should do something.”

Coderre responded by underscoring the work that is already being done on some intersections to make their configuration safer for cyclists. He also reminded the opposition that some changes have already been implanted in the existing regulations (namely law 107).

The issue keeps resurfacing as accidents keep happening. A few times a year, a cyclist gets run over and the city council promises that they are working on ensuring fair and safe sharing of the road.

Now, there is another phantom-bike to add to the city’s rapidly growing collection.  At the rate we’re going, they will soon be as much of a banal part of our urban landscape as the infamous orange cones.

Rising Accident Rates

Montreal is by far the Canadian city with the biggest number of cyclists and the largest number of bicycle lanes. While there is no doubt that Montreal’s bike culture is alive and well, the same can’t be said for its cyclists.

The number of bicycles on the road is on the rise and so are the number of accidents. There were 763 recorded bike accidents in 2015, including three lethal ones: a 16% increase compared to the previous year.

In fact, a study published in 2015 crowned the city as the Canadian queen of bike accidents. According to the Pembina Institute, Montreal has seven bike accidents for every 100 000 rides; much more than all the other large population centres in the country. In fact, a bike ride in Montreal is seven times more likely to come to a brutal end than it is in Vancouver.

These findings were based on data from 2008. However, considering that both the number of bicycles on the road and the rate of accidents have risen since then, the current numbers are probably even worse.

We Need to Keep Up

But wait, isn’t Montreal the most bike-friendly city in North-America, or something? Well, it was.

In 2013, Montreal ranked as the 13th most bike-friendly city of the world in the Copenhagenize Index. It was the only North American city in the top 20. But we’ve been slipping since then and Minneapolis (Minnesota) has surpassed us.

Montreal desperately clings to the 20th spot in this year’s ranking.

As population growth and air pollution put more and more pressure on urban centres, cities around the world are wising up. Investing in biking infrastructure is not progressive and cool anymore; it’s necessary.  It seems that our political leaders have failed to recognize that in today’s context, not going forward means falling behind.

Quebec’s ambitious plan of reducing its greenhouse gas emission by 38% in the next 14 years does not even contain any consideration for encouraging cycling as alternative transportation. And the strategy it put forward instead to address car-related pollution is being called into question.

According to the City of Montreal’s own numbers, there are now 1.3 Million bike riders on the Island. Consideration for their safety should amount to more than a couple of days of indignation after every tragic accident.

Getting our respectable number of protected lanes connected into a coherent network, and, for the love of God, ensuring their proper maintenance, would be a great place to start.

As the Copenhagenize Index recommends:

“Better winter maintenance is a must, cycle tracks along main arteries should be a no-brainer (especially with the shocking state of the asphalt on the roads), and feel free to borrow traffic-calming inspiration from Paris and Barcelona.”

* Featured image: homeexchange.com

Canada Day is coming. For many Canadians that means drinking beer and watching fireworks, but for most Quebeckers, Canada Day is moving day. With overwhelming numbers of young people unable to afford buying a home, most of us will end up renting. Thousands of residential leases end on July first and those who choose to move on will fight tooth and nail to get a mover to take their meager belongings to new digs.

But moving day isn’t all about the movers.

It’s also about leases and in order to live happily in an apartment you need to know what’s expected of you and what your rights are as a tenant. Luckily, that’s pretty easy to find out because your landlord is legally required to mention it in your lease, which he has to give you a copy of within 10 days of signing it.

Here’s some of what the law says about leases.

You are legally required to pay your rent on time – meaning on the day of the month specified in your lease. Most leases will say it’s the first of the month but it’s really up to you and the landlord. The landlord, in turn, must be able to receive the rent, meaning that if he says he’s going to pick it up between 5 and 7pm on the day the rent is due and he doesn’t, the fact that the rent is late is a strike against him, not you, and he can’t hold you responsible.

Your landlord is bound to guarantee that the property is fit for habitation and to maintain it for that purpose. Neither you nor your landlord can change the form or use of the property during the lease. That means you can’t up and turn your apartment into a restaurant or your rented house into a B&B. The lease can’t say otherwise and any clause to that effect is invalid.

Standard Quebec lease form, image educaloi.qc.ca
Standard Quebec lease form, image educaloi.qc.ca

Your landlord has to guarantee the property against legal disturbances like noise complaints and disturbances of the peace. If another tenant is making too much noise or putting you in danger, call or send a letter to your landlord. He, in turn, will have to act by investigating and, if necessary, warning the offender that further problems will result in eviction.

As a tenant you are legally bound not to act in ways that would keep other tenants from enjoying their property. That means no gratuitous stomping on the floor, no loud noise during crazy hours, and no criminal activity. Act that way and you’re legally bound to make reparations for the harm done by you or anyone you let use or have access to the property.

That means, for example, that if you let someone use your apartment while you’re away on vacation and she regularly runs baths that overflow, showering the neighbors below, you’ll be responsible for the damages. If it happens too often or you refuse to make amends, your landlord can apply to the rental board to have your lease ended early.

If you notice a serious defect or deterioration of the property, you are legally bound to inform your landlord. If you do everything you can to inform your landlord or you tell your landlord and he takes too long to fix it, you can fix it yourself or hire someone without a court’s permission but only if the required repairs are “urgent and necessary to ensure the preservation or enjoyment of the leased property.”

If your landlord realizes your intention and comes to his senses, he can intervene at any time to make the repairs himself. If you end up paying for the repairs, you’re legally entitled to reimbursement of the cost and, if necessary, can withhold the cost of it from your rent.

In order to save yourself any legal hassles from a landlord who’s being a jerk, be sure to send him a registered letter explaining that you tried to get him to fix things and his lack of response has forced you to do it yourself. The beauty of a registered letter is that he has to sign for it so you’ll know for sure he got it.

If you want to sublet your place or transfer your lease, you need to give notice to your landlord. The notice has to include the name and address of the person you intend to transfer the property to and you can’t sublet or transfer your lease without the landlord’s consent.

However, the landlord cannot refuse the new tenant without a serious reason and his refusal has to reach you within 15 days of his receipt of the notice. If you don’t get his refusal within that time, you’re allowed to consider that he accepted the new tenant.

A rent increase is considered a modification of your lease. Your landlord is obligated to inform you of an increase no less than three months and no more than six months prior to the end of your lease.

That means that if your lease ends January 1, 2017, your landlord has to let you know of an increase between July 1 and October 1, 2016. You have one month after receiving the notice to indicate whether you accept the rent increase and agree to renew the lease. If you don’t get back to the landlord in time, the lease is considered renewed with the rent increase desired by the landlord.

You ARE allowed to renew your lease and refuse the rent increase at the same time. You can then either try and negotiate with your landlord or if he’s being particularly obstinate, tell him to go to the Regie du Logement who will set the rent according to the costs related to the dwelling i.e. if electricity is included.

Knowing your rights is important especially regarding something as sacred as a home. Read your lease and know your rights.

* Featured image by Ashley Brown via Flickr Creative Commons

With hockey season over for the Canadiens, Montreal is in dire need of a sport we can get behind in the summer. Some turn to the Montreal Impact, our awesome soccer team, but with their home, Saputo Stadium, so far east, it’s not convenient for many of us to schlep out there in an overcrowded metro car. Luckily we have another team we can turn to: the Montreal Alouettes.

The Als, while under many of our radars, have been around since 1946 and despite a lapse of existence in the eighties, still draw die-hard baby boomer fans who were around for the team’s glory years in the sixties and seventies. The Canadian Football League (CFL) within which the Alouettes operate works in conjunction with the National Football League (NFL) in the States.

montreal alouettes toronto argos

While the two leagues are distinct, the NFL’s agreement with the CFL gives them first pick of any players drafted. The CFL gets to choose their teams from whoever is left and a salary cap helps keep any one team from packing their roster with expensive players. Cheerleaders are volunteers compensated with merchandise, publicity, and a chance to travel with the team.

The Alouettes play at Percival Molson Stadium (on the McGill Campus) on Pine Avenue downtown, a location extremely accessible by foot and public transit. An agreement between the team and the STM has resulted in shuttle buses that will take you from various locations along University Street up to the stadium – all you have to do is show the driver your ticket. Tickets go for as little as twenty five bucks but the team is regularly offering promotions in order to fill seats. They can be purchased online at ticketmaster.ca.

On June 17, 2016 the Montreal Alouettes played their first home exhibition game against the Toronto Argonauts. Exhibition games are used by teams to make cuts and don’t count during the actual season. They’re sort of like a massive public tryout.

I was excited and frustrated by the game.

I was excited because of the overall atmosphere of the football game: the music, the crowd’s cheers and screams of frustration, and the audio system blasting “Make Some Noise!” Some players, like the Alouettes’ running backs Martese Jackson and Stefan Logan made impressive runs that wowed the crowd, wriggling past Toronto’s defense before finally being tackled.

Our defense held strong against the Argonauts but our offense came in fits and starts. Quarterbacks Kevin Glenn and Rakeem Cato showed leadership and courage. In the second quarter, a pass from Glenn to wide receiver Duron Carter resulted in a seventy eight yard touchdown. Our team got a total of eight sacks against Toronto and in the end we emerged victorious with a final score of twenty two to fifteen.

I was frustrated because I counted a total of twenty six penalties during the game, many of which were given to both teams at the same time and more or less cancelled each other out. As a legal columnist I see referees as game judges, people who make sure the rules are enforced, but in an exhibition game meant to show coaches what prospective players can do, penalties given for something other than a major foul or unnecessary roughness seem just that, unnecessary.

The screen at the far end of the field used to show replays and ads had a massive glitch leaving a large portion of the screen black that technicians failed to fix. There was also the matter of the cheerleaders.

Als Cheerleaders

Cheerleaders no longer lead cheers. They are now led by recordings that encourage people to make noise, clap, or chant because speakers and large screens can be seen and heard by more people. The cheerleaders were almost all white women and their uniforms, generously provided by Jupa – a company that normally makes snowsuits for children and teens – looked to be designed more for American fetishists than Canadian football fans.

While the outfits are in the team’s colours, they bear the stars and stripes of the USA when a plain design would have worked better. Pleated miniskirts cater to school girl fetishists while the white go-go boots while sturdy are clearly impractical and made only to cater to those into S&M.

Given the uniform and the fact that they don’t lead any cheers, the cheerleaders are clearly there to be eye candy for men in the crowd when there’s no game play going on. That being said, they deserve to be paid for it and it wouldn’t hurt to make their ranks a little more diverse either.

And then there was the halftime show, which featured the Montreal Alouettes’ “Mini Cheerleaders” a bunch of little girls aged 5-17 clad in miniskirts doing a cheerleading routine. The goal of this program, as per the Alouettes’ website, is to allow them to learn to dance with the pros in a fun, safe environment. The problem is that it also seems to be catering to pedophiles.

In an era where women’s sports are increasingly popular and profitable, having a cheerleading program just encourages the notion that there should be separate sports for boys and girls when girls would benefit just as much from the guidance of professional football players as boys would. Instead of encouraging an athletic gender divide, the Als’ should put their money towards girls’ sports teams and make them the half time show.

In the wake of the massacre in Orlando, the Als’ only tribute to the victims was a single pride flag above the field. The lack of honor for the victims at such a masculine event promotes the idea that what happened was an LGBTI issue and not one that affects us all.

The Als can do better, I know they can, which is why I’ll be at the games this summer, wearing the team’s colours with pride. I encourage everyone to do the same.

With all the bad news coming down the wire in the past week I was looking for something positive to report on. Thursday night I found it. Out of the blue, on the Orange Line, I finally got to ride on the new Montreal Metro train, the almost mythical Azur.

Sure, quite a few friends have already rode it since it first appeared in February and I even saw it pass twice going in the opposite direction. However, with only one train in operation so far, and not on the Green Line, which I use for most of my underground travelling these days, I guess you could say I came late to the party and this is a late review.

With a provincial government hell-bent on austerity and a municipal administration which is building on a legacy of corruption with completely unappealing corruption like the granite tree stumps, I didn’t hold out much hope for a project from an organization funded by Quebec and controlled, for the most part, by Montreal. Especially since the organization in question, the STM, is known for hiking fares while not improving service, even in ways they promised to (cough, accordion  busses on the 105 route, cough).

I was pleasantly surprised. While this new train wasn’t perfect, it was most definitely money well spent, and I did enjoy my first ride on it.

The Best Parts

Here are some of the highlights:

  • One Big Car: The whole train is made accordion-bus style. It’s one big car. This obviously creates a less confined feeling, but I also can see this coming in handy when I catch a metro at the last minute by hopping in the first car available knowing that my connecting bus is closer to the other side of the train. Now, instead of having to race across the platform, it’s possible to leisurely make my way to the desired exit while the train is in motion. Also, no reason to illegally and quite dangerously cross between cars when the train is moving (something I had never tried but cringed when I saw others doing it).
  • Feels Like Air Conditioning: While I’m pretty sure the train isn’t actually air conditioned, it sure felt like it was. Most likely due to the fact that with one large car, there is much better air circulation.

Montreal Metro Azur 6

  • Retractable seats: The seats in the new Azur train can fold back when not in use, or at least the ones I saw can. Not only does this create more actual space and add to the general feel of more space, but it can be useful for people in wheelchairs like on busses. That would, of course, work better if the whole metro system was more accessible.
  • Station ID and Ads Separate: There are still ads on this new train, of course, even some video ads, but the next station shows up on a different screen in a different location like in some new busses. Keeping the info separate from the ads is always a good thing in my book.
  • Smoother Ride: Maybe it’s just because it’s new, but the ride on this train honestly felt much smoother than any other metro I had been on.

What Needs to be Fixed

Montreal Metro Azur 3There are some areas, however, where improvement is needed:

  • Slippery Floors: I didn’t notice this one myself, being non-disabled, but Samantha Gold, a colleague here at FTB pointed it out that she found “the floor of the new cars extremely slippery. Dangerous for disabled folk like myself.”
  • No Audio Station ID: One thing I found conspicuously absent was the recorded voice announcing the next stop. Maybe it was just turned off for this particular ride or maybe it was something they were still implementing, but its absence made no sense and I can imagine it would be considerably more difficult for blind people who have gotten used to it.

So overall, for me anyways, more good than bad and the bad can be fixed. Regardless, it was nice to write about something good, or at least something not wasteful, that our municipal and provincial governments have done for a change.

What do you think of the new metros?

The room is dark but alive with activity. On the main stage strippers – male and female – burlesque artists and fetish performers do their thing, some with volunteers from the audience, some without. Some audience members caress their partners while others scream and cheer. On the main floor merchants peddle everything from vibrators and butt plugs to lingerie and scented candles.

Valentine’s Day is approaching and the Salon de l’Amour et de la Seduction is in full swing.

The Salon de L’Amour et de La Seduction is Montreal’s annual sex show. Every year in one of Montreal’s many exhibition halls – usually Place Bonaventure or the Palais de Congres – merchants, educators, and performers gather together to celebrate sex in all its forms.

There are a lot of myths about sex-related events: that they’re full of freaks, that people behave inappropriately, or that the patrons are old and disgusting or perfectly beautiful in a way that would cow the average Joe into staying away.

Montreal’s Everything-To-Do-With-Sex Show disproves them all.

The crowd is a varied but behaved one; there are people of all races, sexual identities, disability levels, and ages. Some go for the shopping, others go for the performances, while still others go to attend lectures in the seminar room of the exhibition hall.

People think that events like these are full of weirdoes.

You want to meet REAL weirdoes?

Go to a house of worship, or an office, or a political fundraiser. In those places people dress “normally”; they smile when you greet them and are almost irritatingly polite, but what some of them are not telling you about is their deep seated hatred of women and LGBTI people. They won’t tell you that they think sex is disgusting and evil and shouldn’t be enjoyed. They won’t say out loud that they think it should only occur in circumstances that bigoted leaders and outdated books dictate. They won’t tell you this, but they’ll vote for such leaders; they’ll be snarky and cruel behind closed doors, and dole out hatred in a way that falls under the radar of liberal lawmakers.

You want to meet people who are truly normal? You want to meet people who are open-minded and interested in what you say and won’t judge you for your body or your sexual identity or preferences, provided what you do is safe and consensual?

You’ll find them at the Salon de L’Amour et de la Seduction.

Though scores of patrons are elaborately made up and corseted in leather and latex, there is no real dress code and everyone is made to feel welcome. Sex educators offer free advice on everything from safe practices for people with disabilities, to how to find your G-spot or give the perfect blow job or cunnilingus. Are you over 50? No problem! They also have lectures on sex after 50.

Need a new vibe? Sex shops, some online, some with store front, offer a variety of sex toys at discounted prices, and like in a sex shop, the sellers always have batteries on hand so you can test the strength of a vibrator on your hand before you buy it.

But the merchants aren’t all about sex.

There are peddlers for kitchen ware, flat irons for hair, and even heating pads. Corsets can go upwards of 200 bucks if you buy them online or in stores, but you can get a decent one for as little as 35 bucks at the Salon. Newer businesses like Cam4.com and Vanish My Waist use the Salon to get their name out, the former this year offering a free pair of winter gloves with their logo on it.

Despite the glamour and air of welcome, the exhibit is far from perfect. Sitting space for the tired or disabled who need to take a breather are sparse, and the room is hot, a combination of body heat from the scores of patrons and to keep workers and performers – many of whom are scantily clad – comfortable.

If you want to survive at this show, you either have to check your winter coat at the door, or bring a bottle of water. Bottled water at the show sells at an inflated price of about three bucks. Some vendors at the show are unnecessarily aggressive and you have to be comfortable saying no in order to get by them without buying something you’ll never use.

If you like adult films but are uncomfortable buying them online or in a sex shop, you’re shit out of luck. While in previous years a variety of adult films with were available for sale, now only a few Canadian vendors sell them, and these are clearly suck and fuck productions with no story, style, or substance.

I was informed last year by a representative of Good For Her, a female friendly sex shop in Toronto who unfortunately did not have a booth at this year’s exhibition, that the lack of quality porno movies for sale at the show was due to the widespread availability of material online.

It should also be noted that tickets are pricey. A one day pass is about $17.50 plus tax, but for an extra five bucks you can get a weekend pass that will allow you unlimited re-entry for all three days of the show.

Despite its shortcomings, the Salon is worth a visit. Every year I learn something new from the scores of sex educators at the show, and the performances seem to get better every time. Though I usually only go for a day, next year I’m springing for a weekend pass for despite a day surrounded by open-minded leather and latex clad performers and experts, there was still so much to see that I missed out on.

Because of the nature of the show, advertising is limited, so you’ll have to search online next January for the dates of next year’s show.

Check it out.

18+ only, no exceptions, no babies

* Featured image from the 2011 edition of the Salon de L’Amour et de la Séduction by Chris Zacchia

Psymposia and the CSSDP are presenting Psychedelic Stories & 920 Psilocybin Mushroom Day. It’s actually a two day gathering, which seeks to engender awareness about the medicinal properties of the Psilocybin Mushroom. By providing a space for sharing stories and for exploring and discussing new research on psychedelics the organizers hope to give a balanced view of what Psilocybin Mushrooms offer in terms of spirituality and healing. The itinerary looks fresh, educational and gully at the same time. I spoke with Gonzo Nieto, one of the curators of the event.

 

J: Tell me briefly about your curatorial aesthetic and what you hope to accomplish with the event…

G: With the event, we’re hoping to bring attention to the medicinal and spiritual effects and the healing potential of psilocybin mushrooms, as well as to address and push back against the stigma that surrounds the mushroom and its use.

 

J: And as far as aesthetic is concerned?

G: Our lineup for the 920 Psilocybin Mushroom Day is curated not only to educate about psilocybin mushrooms, but also to reflect the underlying message and meaning of the experience itself. The mushroom carries a message of wholeness, of movement toward our full human potential, so alongside presentations on psilocybin research we have a breathwork session, a yoga class, and a presentation on dream hacking.

 

W3rd, right!?! This event is gonna bang hard, I even heard Hamilton Morris from VICE might show up. The space is dope. The panels and talks are both academic and shamanistic. The vendors are talented af and, well, I’ll be there. Na’mean. Come through, get your photo taken, learn something. Hit me up, I’ll be outside during “Terrence McKenna Happy Hour” for sure…

Originally set to take place at the Atwater Library, Dyad Press’ poetry reading, titled “Former Members,” ended up down the street at a small park.

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Picnic tables were pushed together to form a makeshift seating area as the twenty-odd attendees gathered to hear Jesse Anger, Hannah Hackney, Quincy R. Lehr, John Wall Barger, Marc Di Saverio, Carmine Starnino, and Ernest Hilbert.

t7c6107

 

“This is perfect somehow,” remarked Barger before beginning his reading. Despite the change of plans, the outdoor venue was indeed a perfect setting. Each poet read his or her pieces in the cool evening while backlit by the setting sky.

In an absurd twist of events, the Montreal police decided the poetry reading was an illegal gathering that posed a risk to the Atwater community and demanded the party leave. Before departing, and within earshot of the SPVM officer, Hilbert had time to read “The Gelding.” According to Hilbert, the poem speaks to the institutional suppression of creative freedom. How fitting.

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The night ended across the street, on public property, with a compelling reading in near darkness by Di Saverio. For light, Hilbert held up his cell phone on flashlight mode over Di Saverio’s shoulder.

For a poetry reading, I imagine this is as exciting as it gets. How many can say they’ve been one poem away from being tear gassed? 

Photos By: Richard Malouf

Bon Voyage parties are bittersweet celebrations for a friend who is leaving town. It’s a chance to wish them well in their travels while secretly hoping they return some day. What’s happening this Saturday at Vol de Nuit is, well, different.

You can call it a Good Riddance party, celebrating the fact that a total asshole has left town, wishing their travels are as rocky as possible and hoping they never return. More specifically, though, this is the Montreal Victory Party, a chance to celebrate the mystery women who gave Roosh V what he so rightly deserved, beer all over his face and wig.

Montreal Stepped Up

Last weekend, Montreal really came together and showed so-called “pick-up artist” (maybe sexual predator is a better term) Roosh V that he was not welcome. While we may have our differences, our community, by and large, respects women and doesn’t want a man who supports legalizing rape on private property and has admitted to committing rape online to speak here or prey on our fellow Montrealers.

Image by cindycypress
Image by cindycypress

First he lost his venue, then the Mayor said he wasn’t welcome, then there was an official protest, then bars and other establishments started banning him. It culminated with him trying to pick up the wrong woman who knew exactly who he was, even though he was going by the name Luke and wearing a wig. (Really? Apparently.) After Roosh and his acolytes tried every trick in their misogynistic book, which pretty much amounted to lying (one even said he was with Doctors Without Borders), the woman, who is now going by the pseudonym Jennifer, threw her beer in his face and the rest, as they say, is history.

Montreal history. Something to be proud of. We have the Habs. We have the best bagels in the world. And now we have proven to everyone that we are a people who say no to misogyny and rape and have some of the most kickass feminist shit disturbers to drive the point home. This just fills me with Montreal civic pride.

The Saga Continues

If you’re wondering where I’m getting these little nuggets of bullshit Roosh trains his folllowers to use, you should follow the Twitter account Amy Lee. I doubt that is really the name of the person behind it, but it is way more real than any of the characters Roosh tries to be.

You see, following his humiliation, Roosh contacted Montreal police saying he was assaulted. I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing. Done? Good. He even accused “Jennifer” of seducing him, though I imagine seducing a man like Roosh takes only two things: being female and the ability to not vomit while listening to him talk.

Roosh is desperately searching for a woman to charge. Oh well, I guess it’s better than him searching for a woman to rape, but still, it does force some people into anonymity.

He’s now in Toronto and facing what looks like an equally vocal opposition. He’s in what he calls war mode, though it looks more like running scared mode.

Also, apparently he’s now a Muslim, claiming that his views on women stem from his faith and calling his critics Islamophobes. Interesting considering he has displayed some rather Islamophobic views in the past. Sudden conversion to Islam? More like desperate trolling. Roosh, we’re not that fucking stupid.

This guy really pisses me off. And he should piss you off, too and not just if you’re a woman and a potential target. He really gives men a bad name, too. Come to think of it, he gives humans a bad name. I really don’t like that I’m from the same species as this piece of human excrement.

And, in one of the oddest segues ever, let’s get ready to party!

Party Deets and Rules

Okay, back to the fun stuff. Now that Roosh is Toronto’s problem now, in Montreal we get to celebrate! The event is being put together by Fuck Yeah Feminism and takes place at the scene of what Roosh considers to be a crime, but the rest of us see as justice, Vol de Nuit.

Misogynists, Roosh Minions, Rapists, and Rape Apologists aren’t welcome and don’t come expecting to pick up women. Not too hard to follow, but you break one of the rules, well, ask Roosh how well that worked out for him. Also, this is a safe space, LGBTQ friendly, Trans and Queer inclusive.

The fun starts at 10pm, Vol de Nuit, 14 rue Prince Arthur Est, details on Facebook. Feel free to drink your drink instead of throwing it. Bring your own wig.

Yesterday, I told you about how Roosh V, the US blogger and “pick up artist” who thinks rape should be legal on private property was in Montreal and people weren’t happy about it. Apparently, his seduction techniques are lacking, too, especially on the women in this city.

Makes sense, considering people here are social-media savvy, know exactly who he is and don’t stand for that sort of bullshit. Even the Mayor doesn’t want him here:

Last night, several bars made it clear that Roosh was not welcome in their establishment, some, like Casa del Popolo even posted notices to that effect.

Beer in the Face on Video

That, apparently, didn’t stop Roosh from going out and trying his “technique” on Montreal women. He got a little more than he bargained for in the form of a drink in his face. Have a look for yourself:

Beer Throwing Happened on Private Property

Apparently, Roosh wasn’t too happy about being called out in such a manner. He even went as far as Tweeting that he thought beer in the face was “assault” and he apparently told the SPVM as much:

How he doesn’t realize that calling a beer in the face assault makes him look really pathetic is beyond me. But even if he does feel it is assault, didn’t it happen in a bar? Isn’t a bar private property? I thought he was cool with assault on private property. Or is that just sexual assault?

Final Thoughts

I’m going to give the final words here to the woman whom Roosh said on Twitter had “sexy legs” and who is a hero to many Montrealers and people on the internet today:

dear roosh

With the heat hitting Montreal with full force this summer, you don’t want to miss out on some of the best food festivals around. What’s a better way to enjoy the sun than to have cold glass of beer and explore your taste buds? Take a peek at some of the food-related events and festivals happening in Montreal during the upcoming months:

First Fridays

premiers vendredisPlace: Olympic Park, Esplanade Financière Sun Life (4545 Avenue Pierre-de Coubertin)
Time: the first Friday of every month until October (4-11pm)
Admission: Free (but bring $ for food!)

First Fridays is essentially food truck heaven. Up to 47 different food trucks congregate on the first Friday of every month until October to offer a variety of foods that will blow you away. Good thing it’s around for a couple of months, because once isn’t close to enough to get a good taste of everything this festival has to offer. There will be live music on scene provided by evenko, so dance away with your taste buds on every First Friday!

Night Market

night marketPlace: In front of Alexandraplatz Bar (6731 Avenue de l’Esplanade)
Time: The last Saturday of every month until September (2-11pm)
Admission: Free (but bring $ for food!)

The Night Market is a monthly block party that celebrates local street cuisine in Montreal. Similar to First Fridays, Night Market features food trucks that offer a variety of food along with entertainment and local vendors. Support the local Montreal food community by heading over to the Mile-Ex on the last Saturday of every month until September!

Montreal Ribfest

Montreal ribfestPlace: Pierrefonds-Roxboro Borough Hall parking log (13665 Pierrefonds Blvd)
Time: Fri. August 14 (11am-9pm), Sat. August 15 (11am-9pm), Sun. August 16 (11am-7pm)
Admission: Free (but bring $ for food!)

Meat lovers across Montreal have been counting down the days left until the Montreal Ribfest. Award winning ribs vendors from across North America will be grilling up a storm to satisfy that ribs craving you’ve had for ages. There will be live music to entertain you while you stuff yourself with a full rack (challenge yourself!). And the best part? The festival supports Canada’s leading youth mentoring charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Island.

Barbeque Bonanza

barbecue bonanzaPlace: Clock Tower Quay (Old Port)
Time: Sun. August 23
Admission: $45 (entrance and 4 coupons), $65 (entrance and 9 coupons)

Barbeque Bonanza is another charitable food festival that will blow your mind this upcoming August. With 26 restaurants showcasing cuisines from around the world and some proceeds going towards the Starlight Children’s Foundation Quebec, this is a culinary experience that you don’t want to miss. The variety of food that will be available at this festival guarantees that no matter what kind of food lover you are, you’ll find your fix. Not to mention that there will be alcohol served.

YUL EAT

yul eatPlace: Clock Tower Quay (Old Port)
Time: Sat. September 5 – Mon. September 7 (12-11pm)
Admission: Free (but bring $ for food!)

YUL EAT will be a dream turned into reality for true foodies living in Montreal. The festival, hosted by Les Premiers Vendredis and evenko, will feature leading professionals in the culinary industry to offer an unforgettable gastronomical experience – along with tastings, markets, demos, conferences, and more. We know this isn’t exactly during the summer, but who will be working during Labour Day Weekend, anyway?

* Featured image from cuisinederue.org

David Heti’s been in Montreal honing the craft of the laugh since way back. I remember first meeting him at Grumpy’s open mics back in the day.

His first comedy album was independently released last year, but got picked up and re-released by StandUp! Records. He’s best known for his curious sense of humour that leaves nothing untouched, he probably has a joke about touching you.

Jesse Chase: How was it coming up as a comedian in Montreal?

David Heti: I think the comedy community is really open here because there’s not a lot at stake. But, there’s a lot of energy and potential because of Just For Laughs— although, it’s not as competitive as Toronto. The people here are here for the good reasons and I’ve never had a three minute set, or had to pay like in LA or New York.

Ok, I’m not going to avoid it. I can get the Yoko Ono reference in one of your jokes, but the John Coltrane/Thelonious Monk slavery bit was pretty gratuitous. How does your black audience receive your use of the “N” word?

It goes over great and better in a room with people of colour in it. And there’s a difference between a place like New York where there’s tons of black people and places like Portland where it’s mostly white. I mean I think someone could tell a good holocaust joke if they’re not Jewish. I can make a poem or something about something I never experienced.

You can make any joke with your friends right. They can trust you, they know where you’re coming from and so if I think that an audience knows you’re a good person they’ll allow you to go to more touchy places.

Chris Rock said when it comes to white people using the “N” word it’s basically no.

I’m surprised he said that. What’s Chris Rock not allowed to say? Everything’s partially objective, everything’s partially subjective…

Author’s Note: Sometimes, there is a “pass” granted to a performer who uses taboo terms in his bit. In my opinion, as a man of colour, David Heti doesn’t get that pass. He uses the “N” word to irresponsibly and childishly segue into his joke about owning John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk as slaves. It’s not cool, or funny. In his defense Heti jokingly says he can say that because “he’s a comedian and he doesn’t own anything,” but I feel it’s more an issue of white privilege.

It’s cool you’re teaching comedy at McGill. How did that come about?

A friend of mine was working in the writing program said she knew someone who could do a course, so I wrote up a course and they let me teach it.

Personally, I understand a joke is a joke and I know how to take a joke, but sometimes I find some people are trying to be funny and it’s uncalled for. Like sometime I say to myself, that wasn’t even funny. Do you ever experience that?

One time I got off stage and this guy was really like, man, that was great, I have some jokes for you. And I say sure.  And then he went on a tirade of anti-semitic jokes. I thought okay, well, why are you telling me these jokes?  And he said well that’s what you do. I said that is not what I do, you don’t understand what’s going on, you’re telling me these things and it’s highly offensive and inappropriate. That guy was just incredibly ignorant, I don’t think it was ill-willed. If I see someone on stage and hear them say something hateful, they’re telling the joke for the wrong reasons.

David’s album can be found at davidheti.com

You can sign up for his course via the McGill Website

Mural Fest 2015 started yesterday— that 2 week transformation of the Main into a real live art gallery is something that gives our city its unique flavour. And, yes, there will always be that little niggling beef with Under Pressure, but I don’t really care. There’s talent and walls enough for both.

There are some sick muralists on this year’s roster. I was really pleased to see MTL graf scene veteran MONKE finally get the nod. The dude’s murals are top notch. Also, Toronto’s JARUS will do a wall this year— as far as large scale realistic work with aerosol is concerned, JARUS is holding it down.

Of course then artists are not all aerosol based, there are different mediums in effect— The melding of medium and style is what makes street art so interesting and identifiable. And by saying identifiable I don’t mean it’s easy to spot, I mean with such a wide aesthetic it’s easy to find a resonance within oneself.

NYCHOS, AXEL VOID, EARTH CRUSHER – like yo, it’s gonna be a good festival this year. I’ll be down on St. Dominique and Maisonneuve in the gravel lot with mad all city chilleurs if you’re down.

We’re nearing the yearly gastronomical frenzy at the venerable Montréal en Lumière festival (Feb. 19-Mar. 1), purveyors of Nuit Blanche (Feb. 28).

This years’ offerings are more luxuriant than ever, and while the free outdoor site will be on hand for cheaper (corporately-sponsored) thrills, the real delights are to be found in dining rooms at the four corners of town as hundreds of global guest chefs descend upon our city.

In its first year as a UNESCO-recognized gathering, Montréal en Lumière doses up the usual geographical mashup to guide the culinary program: Switzerland, Washington DC and Lanaudière. I’m not going to pretend to find some throughline for these three places, so let’s jump into particulars.

Old Swiss food conjures up images of chocolate and cheese. Of course, things have long since changed and Montréal en Lumière is helping to smash stereotypes with a barrage of Michelin stars. From my count, we’re looking at a total 9 Michelin stars, if you tend to count that kind of thing.

Guest chef menus are vague, yet styles range from classic French to tapas, crossing kitchens from La Chronique to Maison Boulud. Prices vary wildly yet tend on the pricier side. For example, the “World’s Best Sommelier,” Paulo Basso, will pair wines at overfluffed Europea with Paul-André Ayer’s dishes for a smooth $300.

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For choco-cheese addicts, however, the rich nation’s iconic delights are on show across a flurry of fondue dinnerschocolate-inspired menus and all-you-can-eat raclette evenings. These tend to be more moderately priced.

Personally, however, I’m more interested in the focus on Lanaudière and Washington: two more “emerging” culinary scenes. Despite its general eminence in all things political, DC has never really found the same culinary footing as NYC, Chicago or even San Francisco.

Yet its culinary riches are developing: ethnically varied, innovative and well-financed chefs have recently brought some amazing ventures to the forefront. Big names such such as Equinox‘s Todd Gray and uber-competitive TV wonder Mike Isabella of Kapnos fill the program and are likely worth the tab.

However, from past experience, I’ve found the wine evenings can sometimes be the most revelatory—with dishes more odd & exciting than the headline dinners. In this spirit, check out Marjorie Meek-Bradley at the always-pleasurable Pullman wine bar.

Jacques_Lameloise_DSCF6580

As for Lanaudière—that Nor’Easterly region right next to Montréal—well, what do we really know about its chefs and traditions? Top pick (and likely to sell out first) is Nancy Hinton’s guest spot at Les 400 Coups. Her rural joint Les Jardins Sauvages was the subject of great fanfare & controversy last year as duelling critics Lesley Chesterman and M-C Lortie disputed its merits. For a more low-key introduction to our neighbouring region, however, check out the Jean-Talon Market for local products and demos by Lanaudière cooks.

For amateurs of the peculiar world that is Québec culinary TV, you can brush elbows (and determine the financial fate) of four favourite Les Chefs! contestants in a $100 a head 12-course competition dinner.

In the series known as “Planète Montréal” you can have so many profound questions answered. Questions such as: “What would (Habs GM) Marc Bergevin make for dinner?” or “What kind of meal would (hipster band) Mister Valaire curate if they had a captive audience?”

Last and not least, the always-educational UQÀM agro-gastro talks come to the festival this year with a séance on olive oil. Tastings included.

The real wacky & budget friendly food thrills, however, are often found on Nuit Blanche. As we did last year, we’ll be providing a list of cheap (or free) thrills just prior to Feb. 28.

Follow us on Twitter for more updates: @Forgetthebox / @JoshDavidson

Turns out The Economist likes Montreal. Their “intelligence unit” ranked us as the second best city in the entire world to live. Montreal beat out such luminaries as Stockholm, Brussels, New York City, Paris, London and Hong Kong. The only city we lost to is, well, Toronto.

best citiesThis was part of a larger study done on “urban security in the digital age” and while Montreal didn’t rank at the top of any particular category, we did place second for overall best city to live in. They included six “indexes” they studied to come to the best city result: Safe Cities, Liveability Rankings, Cost of Living at the municipal level and Business Environment Rankings, Democracy Index and Global Food Security Index at the national level.

While including a good hockey team index or a best bagel and poutine index may have bumped us ahead of Toronto (sorry Toronto friends, you won this one and I love you, but I’ve got to get my digs in), this is still nice. I’ve never really bothered to read The Economist, but praise is always nice.

While we may complain about the state of our city, our politicians, our transit system and rightly so, it’s good to know that on some level, in the minds of some Intelligence Unit somewhere, we’re better off than Stockholm.

You can see the best city to live in ranking to the left and consult the full Economist study, but what I really want is your feedback:

Do you think Montreal deserves this honour? Does this really reflect all of our city’s residents? Is it really an honour to be praised by The Economist? Does this give you civic pride? Let us know…

For years Colleen Risbey was frustrated there were no late-night delivery options available for vegans in Montreal. An experienced chef, Risbey was also determined to start cooking more food that she was passionate about. So after three years of planning and scheming, Risbey is now the proud owner of her very own business.

La Tomate Roulante is a delivery-only restaurant which serves vegan munchies to those who stay up late in St-Henri, NDG and downtown (as far as Guy). I stopped by La Tomate Roulante’s headquarters in St-Henri recently to give vegan take-out a try, and learn how Risbey plans to accomplish her mission to “feed the people” of Montreal.

Launching any new business is risky. It’s especially true when your new venture is in a saturated market like the restaurant business. But the reality that most restaurants fail didn’t seem to phase Risbey one bit. “More than half the restaurants I used to work in are now closed,” Risbey declared very matter-of-factly.

Colleen_Tomato_5

So why is Risbey so confident in La Tomate Roulante’s future?  “Because through all my experience I’ve learned how NOT to run a kitchen.” Risbey said. “Combined with the fact that I’m able to run this business at a low cost and I’m doing something no one else is, makes me extremely confident in its future.”

Risbey is adamant that her menu items will always be financially accessible to anyone. “It’s really important to me that anyone can afford to buy my product. Too many people end up eating crap like McDonalds because it’s the only type of food they can afford. It IS possible to eat well and cheap.” Risbey’s entire menu, from sandwiches to salads to desserts, is available for five dollars or less.

For the tasting Risbey prepared three sandwiches, all with Asian and Mediterranean influences.  First up was Risbey’s flagship sandwich the Avocado Bahn-Mi: a French baguette with vegan garlic aioli, avocado slices,  sautéed nappa cabbage, carrots and smoked tofu topped with red onions and cilantro. A sucker for anything with avocado in it, I was immediately hooked after the first bite.

DSCN1177
Colleen Risbey putting the finishing touches on one of her creations. (Photo by the author)

While Risbey may feel the “Avocado Bahn-Mi” is her strongest menu item, I felt each subsequent  item she presented was even stronger. The next sandwich I tried was the Nilufar Creation: Nilufars falafel,  spinach,  roasted garlic and pepper hummus, marinated cucumbers and fresh tomato in a pita bread.

I would highly encourage this sandwich to anyone who loves falafel, as it was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The falafel in this sandwhich is courtesy of Restaurant Nilufar, who Risbey has developed a strong working relationship with. “I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it’s been working with Nilufar,” Risbey swooned. “If only all relationships were this easy!”

The final sandwich I tasted was The Alfresco: a toasted baguette with smoked paprika potato salad, vodka battered and double fried tofu with a double date chili sauce and maple dill sauce.

The Alfresco was the clear winner of the three sandwiches in terms of taste, but also the unhealthiest. “People seem to have a misconception that vegan food is always healthy, but I think The Alfresco proves that theory wrong,” Risbey noted with a smile. “At least you know it’s better for you then a hamburger.”

After initially being nervous as to how I would like vegan food, I easily finished every morsel Risbey put in front of me. Even after she’s been professionally cooking for years, Risbey was clearly thrilled that I enjoyed her creations. “Cooking is my art- it’s always been inspiring to me. Nothing makes me happier than feeding people.”

La Tomate Roulante runs from Thursday to Saturday, 9p.m to 4a.m. For contact information visit their website, twitter or Facebook page.

Food photos by Skylar  Bouschel