After being infamously evicted from his St. Laurent Boulevard location by his landlord last October, Terry Westcott has re-opened his jewel of a bookstore, the Librairie T. Westcott.
The revived store is in the St. Hubert Plaza, a bustling shopping area that promises to provide a new community of devotees for the beloved old landmark. The address is 6792 St. Hubert, and its accessible location – halfway between the Jean-Talon and the Beaubien metro stations – makes it an easy destination for bibliophiles. (ED’s Note: Yes, we know the area is currently under construction, but even in Montreal, that won’t last forever)
“It’s a good location, it’s a nice long store,” Terry says, “and I have the same number of bookcases I had before.” The space is indeed long and narrow – actually quite a bit longer than the previous store – and perfect for housing Mr. Westcott’s extensive collection.
Not so long ago, on a bleak and rainy day, I’d been a grim witness to the effects of rising rents, as a chunk of the 20 000-volume Westcott collection was carted away by a 1-800-GOT-JUNK dump truck for recycling. I asked Terry how much of his collection he’d been able to save.
“There are certain sections I’ve had to rebuild – my Latin American history section, my Jewish History section, my travel books, my Chinese History, my Russian History.” But, after 25 years, he’s not starting over from scratch.
Most of his treasured collection survived the purge. Concerned about his wide-ranging science fiction section, I was relieved to discover it was intact, although still packed up.
Did he have any misgivings about opening an English bookstore in a largely francophone part of town?
“Oh, I looked around,” he explains. “The problem with NDG, for example on Monkland, or in Verdun – they’re busy on the weekends but they’re slow during the week because those are mostly residential areas. People are at work. Children are at school. So on weekdays it’s very quiet. But St Hubert Plaza is quite crowded, seven days a week. That’s what a bookshop needs to survive. And of course it’s much busier on the weekends.”
Terry adds: “There are a lot of people moving over to the Petit-Patrie from the Plateau. Everything’s so expensive over there and so things are shifting over here.”
I wonder how it seems to be working out so far, considering the preponderance of English in the store. Terry is upbeat.
“A lot of French people are glad to have an English bookshop [in the area],” he says. “There are two French book stores down the street – a Renaud-Bray and Librairie Raffin– and there’s also a second-hand bookshop, Parenthèse. Most people in the Montreal area that read are fluently bilingual. So they’re happy to get an English bookshop. This is their chance to get a lot of English books, and also publications like Indiana University Press or South Georgia University Press that are never going to be translated into French.”
As before, Terry will no doubt make use of every square foot in the store, where the books were organized by subject and piled almost to the ceiling. Finding what you wanted was sometimes a challenge, as well as a balancing act, but Terry seemed to always know what he had, or at least, where it was likely to be found if he had it.
I express my relief that he didn’t have to retire and spend his days watching golf on TV, something he’d contemplated during the demise of the old shop. Instead, he’s now looking forward to having his bookshop become a new community hub again, like it was in the old location on St. Laurent.
Then I notice a photo of an impressive feline on the wall. Terry denies that it’s there as a reminder of his previous cat companions Emma (as in Jane Austen) and Eliot (as in T.S.) who had the run of the place.
“It’s a Florida panther,” he explains, “and they’re endangered. So I leave it up there so people can see…. He’s got a very intelligent look on his face. No deception: ‘I am what I am.’”
Whether deliberate or not, there couldn’t be a more apt metaphor for Terry Westcott and his resilient bookstore. While some see bookstores as endangered, Terry is steadfast in his chosen occupation.
He is what he is – and so as long as there are people with a passion for books, Terry Westcott and his Librairie will serve a vibrant new community of readers.
If you have a regular spot along Ste-Catherine where your friends know they can meet you during the annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade, you won’t be going there this year. Well, I suppose you can, but you’ll just be standing on a street corner, quite possibly day drinking in public alone, for a few hours.
For the first time in over half a century, the parade will be a block up, running along de Maisonneuve from City Councillors to MacKay, where it will head south to René-Lévesque and finish. That’s right, it will also be running east to west for the first time in my lifetime at least.
This is due to major renovations on Ste-Catherine, currently underway around Bleury and making their way to Atwater over the next four years. While Mayor Valérie Plante may be changing some of the specifics of the plan, it was former Mayor Denis Coderre who set the timeframe, so you can blame him (or Montreal’s outdated sewage system) for the change.
This Will Be…Different
So what will a St. Patty’s Parade on de Maisonneuve look and feel like? Possibly a little more cramped and awkward than usual.
While de Maisonneuve may offer a slightly wider street than Ste-Catherine at parts, sidewalk space is, for the most part, considerably smaller (hence the cramped). That is unless you close the bike path and use it as spectator space, which I’m guessing they will do (hence the awkward).
The floats and marching bands will have enough space to make their way down the route. If you want to watch them go by, though, picking a good spot could be crucial to your enjoyment.
Most businesses in the area benefit from the parade. During the parade itself, that’s mainly depanneurs, coffee shops and restaurants. The categories won’t change this year, but those specific businesses used to dealing with a sustained rush (and in some cased inflating prices) will be relegated to a larger than normal clientele thinking ahead and vice versa.
For many, myself included, parade day is also about the mid-afternoon after-party. That’s what it’s all about for area bars who have one of their biggest days of the year on a Sunday afternoon.
While there are some major bars along the parade route located between de Maisonneuve and Ste-Catherine, most that cater to the St-Patty’s crowd can be found heading south towards René-Lévesque or along Ste-Catherine itself. This is especially true in the Guy-Concordia area.
All bars in the area will, of course, be packed to one degree or another this year, but I wonder if altered proximity to where everyone is coming from will make a difference in just how packed certain places will get. This is one time of year when passing by one place first instead of another just down the street can make a difference.
But Not That Different
While a key part of the ritual that is the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day parade will be different this year, there are at least three key things moving up a street can’t change:
The Show: It’s the same parade, pretty much. The Irish dancers will still be there, so will the Shriners, the high school marching bands, the university floats, the corporate product placement, the fire department from some random town in Ontario and, of course, local media. Well, not all local media, FTB still doesn’t have a float. Sure, we never asked for one, but still… Different street, same parade.
Unexpected Meetings: My favourite part of parade day are all the chance encounters with people I haven’t seen, except for online, since the previous year, or sometimes for a lot longer. You never know just who you’re going to run into and randomly hang out with for a few minutes or a few hours and that won’t change with a different route.
Montreal Spring: No matter how cold it may be outside on the day, or the fact that it was significantly warmer the previous weekend, this is really the first sign that spring has come to Montreal. We’re all outside for a decent period of time together and we’re enjoying it.
And we can do that on de Maisonneuve just as well as we can on Ste-Catherine.
* The 195th Annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at noon on Sunday, March 18th
The rocks are being turned over and the scum doesn’t know where to scatter. Its beautiful to see these predators exposed. The problem is that there are so many. It feels like a constant struggle to unearth them all.
Yesterday I was scanning the book of face and came across a post from my beautiful bestie that put a dude on blast for blatantly saying that women DESERVE to be disrespected! What the actual fuck?
She did a screenshot of his comments on a post saying that a woman needs to be loved and respected and then shared them with her friends and tagged the guy. There are over 300 comments and counting.
We went at him in real time for almost an hour, his feeble attempts to justify his actions were shut down with wisdom and swift justice. So many men were calling him an asshole and women tore him a new one.
He said that it was a joke but then continued on trolling all women and talking down to us. He dug his grave by enacting a fury of feminist rage. Good luck with that hell mouth buckoo! One of my woke male friends said that he is scared to talk to most women because he knows that men suck and its hard to prove you aren’t like them.
This scumfuck said that a “real” lady likes being disrespected from time to time, my bestie responded simply with “EW!” and he escalated it quickly.
Scumfuck: “I mean shit, now a days you show a woman some gentlemanlike class and respect they think you want their pussy. Only way to assure them that you don’t is to show a little disrespect. Like listen bitch, not every dude wants your stank ass pussy. Lol. Sometimes disrespect is needed to put bitches in their place. And thats not me being any kinda way other than real.”
Bestie: “And what place exactly of you think bitches need to be put in? Please tell me oh wise man.”
Scumfuck:“When y’all act up because you don’t get your way, you need to be talked to in a certain way that makes you lose that dumb attitude. Like the one you have now”
Bestie:“OHHHHH! right cause its 2017 and women are supposed to be subservient and inferior to men. Me and my dumb little lady brain are so forgetful sometimes.” *twists hair around middle finger*
Scumfuck:“You don’t think that sometimes there are shitty women? Women try to belittle and control men with psychology and this whole post is the perfect example. So its okay for women to treat men like shit and talk shit but when a guy does it, its wrong. Double standards are great and all but grow up. I’d also like to add, ladies, the women who go on power trips and think they’re better than men because they think men are stupid and only think with their cocks, are the women I despise and have strong a dislike for. And sadly this seem to be a large portion of women. Not all men think with their cocks and alot of us have have hearts that are reserved only for the right people.You girls obviously didn’t have a good father figure in your life and feel the need to take your anger out on men you don’t know. Im sorry you went through whatever you went through, but take a chill pill. Not every guy is bad. And my opinions of putting people in place with words when they step put of line is more than okay in america.”
Bestie:“Bigots are the ones who need to be put in their place. Maybe seeing what everyone else thinks of your sexist rhetoric would help you rethink how much of a garbage human you are? And haaaaaaaaa bring my dad into this. He’s a mother fucking hero. I don’t hate men. I just want to see them do better. And you could do MUCH better.”
(Ed’s Note: While we strive for correct grammar on this site, we have decided not to copy-edit Scumfuck’s comments in order to preserve authenticity)
Daddy issues? Really bro? He just freaked out when called out. He has a girlfriend. I wish I could send her this convo, I’m sure he untagged himself to hide. He also said that we both probably steal and also place false accusations on men.
And why we so upset? WE ARE ALL UPSET WITH YOU and that smug little attitude, and yeah she is right to put your ass on blast!
We live in a world where we have to look out for each other because so much bullshit – like the comments you made- is out there. So many men think its ok to just “DISRESPECT” women by raping, murdering, mutilating, and ya know just normal stuff like that.
Try living life in fear. Try being a woman. You don’t have what it takes dude. He also said “Womens rights? Why is that even a thing? You have the same rights as a man in america. Lol.”
Mistreatment of women (or any human) and sexual assault is nothing to laugh at. This is not a joke! See how well its going for Louis CK, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby, and all the others. Real funny.
Guys like this are the festering puss in the pimple that is the Donald Trump era, and ladies/ woke gentleman/ humans we need to POP THIS BITCH! Let the white nasty goo ooze out so we can put some antibiotic ointment on it and start the healing process. Toxic masculinity is a rampant disease
Gender is just a social construct, sex is a sliding spectrum, and forget about all of the archaic archetypal attitudes that have been destroying people since people existed. Asshole is not a gender identity.
Not every person who identifies as a man is an asshole, just the evil ones. I never ever claimed to “HATE ALL MEN” this is not the S.C.U.M. Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men by Valerie Solanas). Believe me, I love all humans, I am pansexual and yes, I love men.
My dad is a prime example of how a man should be. He treats my mother with love and respect and takes care of his family. I do NOT have “daddy issues”. My only issue is that I have not met any men who are as awesome as my dad.
It’s like saying every asshole dude who thinks with his cock has mommy issues. His mom probably dislikes him as much as we do. Perhaps she has no idea and her pedestal really is encouraging him, but he made his choices.
I am definitely not saying that all “women”or female identifying humans are perfect either. My friend who is a stripper said that the people who often disrespect her the most are women. They think that they can get away with doing things that men are not allowed to do.
Sex workers get all of my respect. As women we need to be supporting each other and lifting each other up, not tearing down our sisters and degrading them in order to impress the guys or fulfill your own twisted ego.
I have several people in my life who have survived abuse and now want to call out their abusers. I want to create a dating profile that is completely honest. It will not be slander because the jerk will know it’s all true. It will be anonymous, the EX or person who was abused by them can submit the photos and answer all of the questions truthfully. We can call it OkStupid.
Hobbies: Punching women and destroying their self esteem and sense of worth, video games, , and watching anal gang bang porn.
What do you do on a Fri night?: Emotional abuse and torture with a side of forced sex on the rocks. Netflix and chilling with sexist comedians and my dog Bruiser, drinking brews.
Ideal date?: 100% American woman, big tits, big ass, no brains, no voice, subservient, great at blow jobs, no self worth, great cook, into being a side piece, jail bait preferred.
Career: Well since I got fired from 711 for doing whip its and expelled from community college I guess it’s sleeping in my mom’s basement and eating meatloaf while jerking my lil ween off obsessively until it blisters.
What do you do when knowing that someone raped your friend but she doesn’t want to come forward, she is too scared, blames herself, it’s her fault that she was drunk… well she didn’t take her own pants off and stick his cock inside her unwilling vagina. She didn’t put those bruises all over her body. She didn’t say YES! But she wanted it? She was too drunk/drugged to function and she WANTED IT?
The most important thing is to report rape right away, get the rape kit before you take a shower, physical evidence is important. Plan B can be administered as well as emotional support from a professional counselor. I would be scared too, embarrassed that I was the girl who was drugged and gang raped behind a dumpster.
Rapists hurt more than just the physical body. Survivors are violated, that scene in a movie where a woman is rocking back and forth in the shower is not shocking. Rape culture is normalized. Abusers are heroes and presidents!
Glorifying abuse on women, trans, and non-bianry humans is a terrifying truth. It is out in the open. Women get stoned to death for being promiscuous and men can just do what they please.
Attackers get violent when confronted with what they have done. Pity nobody has their backs, not even other men. Survivors are gaining power and rising up.
The #MeToo campaign is an incredible shift of power. Use your voice! Rose McGowan and Ellen Page are two of my role models for tearing up the patriarchy they have survived in for so long. They used their fame and following to rip the head off the beast.
Hollywood needed to be exposed and torn to shreds, young actresses (and actors) have always been victimized. Give some head to get ahead, right?
I want to set fire to all the rape vans and free all the people from the cages of oppression that bind them. All us stinky pussy hoes have a problem with you existing in your current state, fragile man children. There is nothing sexy about disrespect. Mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, lovers, and friends all need to be aware if someone in their life is an abuser.
Together we are the voice for the voiceless. The silenced millions who thought they were in it alone need to know that there is a network of strength behind them, a net of loving arms. Others will have your back. We are a tight knit web of female rage. War paint on. This will not be pretty…
St. Laurent Boulevard is set to lose a jewel of a bookshop as rising rents force a beloved bookseller into early retirement after 25 years.
On October 26th workers from 1-800-GOT-JUNK carried armfuls of books to the back of a dump truck. Inside Librairie T. Westcott, hidden behind stacks teetering on the verge of collapse, Terry Westcott sat behind the cash and sold books like it was a regular day.
The customers seemed more or less unaware that the bookstore he had run for so many years was being taken apart piece by piece behind him. For his part, Terry seemed to be playing along with the facade.
“Do you have a copy of Old Man and the Sea?” a woman asked. Terry smiled and pointed to a shelf a short distance away. “If we have any Hemingway it’s in the Literature section. But I don’t think we do at this time.”
“Oh well, I had to ask,” replied the woman and headed for the Literature shelf, dodging a worker clearing out books as she passed.
Outside, it started raining. The worker dutifully dumped his armload onto the growing pile of soggy books. “Don’t worry, it’s going in the recycling, not the dump,” the worker offered, as if trying to downplay some sense of personal culpability.
During a pause in the dramatic scene that was unfolding, I got a chance to ask Terry about his bookstore, why it was closing and his fondest memories of the place. Soft-spoken to the point of a whisper, he graciously obliged.
“My lease ended September of last year in 2016. Then in June the landlord came and told me that he had advertised the store for rent online and he’d received an offer of $4500 a month. There’s no way I can maintain a used bookshop at $4500 a month.”
Terry told me he would stay open as long as possible, until he was locked out. Some books would be donated, some would be sold, but most were headed for the dump truck.
“Yeah, it’s all going into the recycling. Around 20 000 books, altogether. It’s ridiculous.”
The inability to meet exorbitant rental fees is a familiar story along St. Laurent Boulevard. Every block of The Main contains at least one or two shuttered businesses. While Quebec has excellent rent control legislation in residential zones, small businesses like Terry Westcott’s survive at the whim of landlords, who can increase their rents to whatever price they can get from new tenants.
The loss of Librairie T. Westcott is a blow. A small store, Terry made use of every square foot. Organized by subject, piles of books reached close to the ceiling in places and navigating the aisles was sometimes a challenge. Whether Terry planned it this way or not, it had the effect of making each ‘find’ more gratifying, especially if you did it without causing a bookvalanche.
This is not to say things were disorganized. Once I laid down a number of heavy books I’d wanted to buy and when I came back for them five minutes later discovered that Terry had silently placed them all back in the their respective sections.
“A bookstore is a community, not just a business.” Terry said. Apart from hundreds of customers drawn in off the street, dozens of dedicated regulars came through his shop each month. “I read a sociological study that if a bookstore’s in the area, the crime rate drops by 30%. Somebody told me that Paris protects their bookshops [from rent increases]. I don’t know if it’s true or not.”
When asked about his fondest memories, he tells me it’s the community that he helped foster that he’ll miss the most: “People that are still book buyers and have a passion for books.”
He’ll also miss his two devoted regulars: “I had two little cats in the store and they’re a very fond memory. One died at 19, the other at 18.”
Their names? Emma (after Jane Austen) and Eliot (after T.S.). “The veterinarians could never get his name right, spelling it ‘Elliott’ like Pierre Elliott Trudeau.”
I ask him what he’ll do after he retires.
“Well, I’m 74 but I don’t want to retire. I’m still healthy and mentally active, I was hoping to continue. So I have no plans in particular. Maybe I’ll watch golf on television, read the newspaper. Maybe I’ll take in another cat, an older one. They have their lives to live too.”
At the time of writing, hundreds of books have been trucked away. The entire back wall is now bare in preparation for renovations by the new tenant.
But one thing is certain— as long as he can manage to keep his doors open, Terry and Librairie T. Westcott will continue to enrich the community he helped foster for the last quarter century.
* While it’s still open, T. Westcott Books is located at 4065 boul. St-Laurent
Dyngus day is a Polish holiday that celebrates the day after Easter. Women tap the boys they like with pussy willows and men dump buckets of water on the girls they like.
Buffalo NY is the biggest Dyngus Day party in the world. It has turned into an awful display of humanity, but I never realized it. It is like I finally woke up. Grown men stumbling around wearing I LOVE PUSSY shirts and pissing on everything they could find. Open container and indecent exposure isn’t a thing I guess.
For one day a year, the streets of Buffalo’s Eastside are filled with a sea of red and white. Thousands packed the streets for the 11th annual parade celebrating Buffalo polish pride and the end of Lent. Floats throw kielbasa, butter lambs, rye bread, and even cartons of MILK – vegan nightmare!
It’s like Mardi Gras, but instead celebrates the end of lent, the end of giving things up. You have to work for this, it’s a reward.
People who are here may have had family that once lived on the Eastside, but let’s face it, the neighborhood has gone through a demographic shift! It has been swept into poverty.
I am from the neighborhood, too, but it doesn’t make it right to hulk smash through the current residents of the poorest neighborhood and piss all over it. Polish people moved to the suburbs and didn’t want the old Polonia neighborhood or Dyngus Day to die, but it can’t continue like this. Perhaps renovating the Central Terminal will be a real positive for the neighborhood rather than a Polish invasion.
I know that am part of the problem. I keep coming to this realization and until I stand up and fucking change it I AM THE PROBLEM.
I stood there with my friend, wearing flowers. We had biked down to the East Side. We were standing in front of a building where two men of color diligently worked putting up tiles on the front of it. There was a younger child on the second floor peering out the window. Men kept filing in and pissing on the side of the building, the kid was yelling “STOP PISSING ON MY HOUSE I CAN SEE YOU!” I should have backed the kid up. Even the men remodeling didn’t stop them, what power did they have in a sea of bros? White men have been pissing on them their whole lives, now it is just literal. Next year I want to fill up a super soaker with PISS and squirt all the assholes who just think they can piss all over the east side.
Yes it is a depressed neighborhood, there are a lot of abandoned houses, but I know damn well that people are trying, people are LIVING THERE and we run through their backyards like fools. Dyngus Day guests need to have respect for others and should be ashamed of themselves.
To some people it is innocent fun, but these same people need to open up their eyes. Just because you aren’t doing something on purpose doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
It felt like we were at a Donald Trump rally. There was a sea of red and white, motorcycles, all white people, the occasional MAKE AMERICA POLISH AGAIN sign, and the most blatant shirt with Trump’s face that said GRAB HER BY THE PUSSY WILLOW! Pussy willows, squirt guns, red and white, falcons, butter lambs, kielbasa, traditional dancers, goofy t-shirts, racist rhetoric, oh yea and a league of Trump supporters.
Their sense of entitlement astounds me. The disillusionment is mind blowing. Trump has an audience with these fools- misogynist, racist, anxious, angry, and teetering middle class comfort. Disenfranchised white people are dangerous! Scary and powerful, balding, scared of change and won’t ever admit fault.
At the heart it is a quirky holiday, and I should feel safe to celebrate my heritage. We just need to stop being assholes about it.
The custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, a sign of fertility and purity. Pussy willows are the first bud of spring. They are indicative of new growth. 50 shades of red and white, whipping and splashing. Lots of dirty shirts talking about wet pussies have emerged from these traditions. Polka bands with names like Hokus Polkas and Those Idiots are my favorites.
This holiday NOT observed in Poland. Smingus Dyngus means “wet Monday” in Polish. Buffalo likes to make everything into a drinking holiday – 2 for $5 shots of Krupnik (Polish honey liquor). As I was waiting in line for the porta potty, a girl shared some krupnik out of a honey bear bottle. I tried to buy it from a liquor store on the west side and he had no idea what I was talking about.
Sure, I’ve been the butt of pollack jokes. The radio station 97 rock hosted a day of pollack jokes on Monday. People are embarrassed of their heritage because of the stigma of being a dumb pollack. Try being a dumb pollack and a dumb blonde at the same time.
Why is it ok to make fun of Polish people so openly? The official Dyngus Day Facebook page called out 97 Rock for making fun of Polish people. These same folks can’t seem to find a problem in supporting a BIGOT misogynist president, though.
I am proud of my culture, but I am not proud of my race as a whole historically. Victim narrative of angry white men is too common a story. People who feel like their government has left them behind.
In Buffalo, the day Trump was elected their was a huge fire at the former shell of Bethlalem Steel. A symbol of strength and American economy, a symbol of the failure of these white men. The industry failed, Buffalo lost a lot of jobs. Now it burns as Trump rises like a fucking phoenix from hellfire.
Wake up! THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND WHITENESS – the American Dream was only designed for white men, they have been babied and feel “lied to” and now they are pissed that the Easter Bunny isn’t real, they chased the white rabbit into a hole of racism and anger. Oh no, your butter lamb melted!
White privilege is the ability to piss all over someone else’s pride and dignity without seeing the consequences. There were so many drunk bros and retired men reeking havoc with their blurred sense of reality. The girls were no better. We all had on pretty flowers and held water guns and took selfies on the same streets that kids were murdered with real guns.
The Eastside of Buffalo is a war zone, between gang violence and police straight up murdering people I would be afraid to leave my house too. Now we add a sea of entitled suburbanite asshats to the mix?
We need to be giving back to this community, loving and nurturing the people who are there, not just colonizing for one day and leaving. We need to ask them where we are needed and not trample on their dignity in the name of tradition.
My friend was busking on a street corner and got bashed in the face with his own clarinet by a drunk bro. Great job Buffalo, probably the same internet sensation who was fucking his girlfriend and doing lines of coke in the lot outside of the Bills game.
The Chilean refugees who arrived in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in Montreal, have been a community that has captivated me throughout the past two years. I was therefore ecstatic to have the opportunity to see The Refugee Hotel staged at The Segal Centre. Despite some awkward translation into English and a difficult script to work with, the play is an excellent one that I recommend – particularly after yesterday’s events in the USA.
These brave Chileans who came across the oceans were faced with two choices; the first being to trust that everything would be okay for them in Chile if they kept their heads down, stayed in line, and trusted that the military would “make Chile great again”. The second: to restart their entire lives in a country with a new language, new food, new music, and of course, the omnipresent “Canadian values” (still searching for a definition of those, other than the ability to properly cross-check someone).
Teesri Duniya Theatre’s production of The Refugee Hotel does its sincere best to answer these questions. The script draws from author-and-playwright Carmen Aguirre’s lived experience as the child of Chilean refugees growing up in 1970s Canada. It’s an impressive story made even more poignant by its autobiographical basis.
This is one of the reasons that it is so frustrating to review this play. Though the premise is admirable, Aguirre’s play shortchanges itself by trying to fit too many facets of the Chilean refugee story, and indeed, the story of human migration, into two short acts.
At the centre of the play are Jorge (Pablo Diconca) and Flaca (Gilda Monreal), a married couple who represent two sides of the resistance movement in Chile. Jorge is something of a milquetoast pacifist anarchist accountant, while his wife is a firebrand Marxist active in the MIR (the Revolutionary Leftist Movement).
Their two children escape with them to a hotel in Canada, where they meet other Chilean refugees subjected to inhuman torture in the Carabineros’ concentration camps. The rest of the play progresses at a slow pace as each rediscovers their humanity and intimacy, one-by-one in a frustratingly perfect way.
By “frustratingly perfect,” I mean that of course the mute girl is coaxed into to talking at the end of the second act, and she falls for the man who talks with her first, and of course they end the play with a freeze-frame photo motif. The play’s unfortunate dives into clichés keep it from developing serious critiques.
Jorge and Flaca’s struggle to be intimate once again despite the horrific sexual torture that the Carabineros inflicted upon her is a topic that is criminally underrepresented in works of art; and even less so is it approached sensitively. An exploration of that theme alone would have made for a powerful and moving production, but Aguirre’s insistence on shoehorning so many important themes into the play means that extraordinarily difficult trauma from torture is treated as nothing more than a plot point. For example, two suicide attempts that happen within two minutes of another are treated as comedic moments.
Moreover, I felt that the repeated flashbacks to scenes of torture in the Estadio Nacional de Chile are not used to explore the characters’ motivations and histories, but rather as punctuation marks for the drama as a whole.
The play is being performed at the Segal Centre, which bills itself as the heart of Montreal’s Anglophone theatre culture. This presents an interesting double-edged sword for the actors in that they are reading from a script originally written in Spanish, for an English-speaking audience in French Canada.
Certain recurring parts of the script (such as the nickname for Jorge, “Little-Big-Bear”) sound awkward in English where they would have made perfect sense in Spanish (“Osito Grande,” better understood as “Teddy Bear”). On a larger scale, the familiar words, particularly “desaparecido,” used to articulate the brutality of the Pinochet regime are lost in translation.
Furthermore, the play misses opportunity to develop a more nuanced comedic character in Bill O’Neill, the enthusiastic Québécois hippie who helps the guests at the Refugee Hotel find work. In the Spanish script, he speaks with comically poor but confident command over Spanish, but in this English adaptation, his dialogue sounds like a 19th-century caricature – “Army me take to stadium. Bad men take Bill!”
Other than awkward phrasing, this makes the characterization of Bill difficult for the audience, as he is repeatedly referred to (kindly) as “the only gringo who speaks Spanish.” In poor translation, Bill’s character shifts from that of a Canadian activist with a sincere wish to improve his Spanish and act in solidarity with Chilean refugees into a buffoon.
This is the part of reviewing that I do not enjoy. The story itself is captivating, and the curation behind the set design and music choices was phenomenal. I just wish that the story was more focused on one or two of these families, instead of a script that leaves several important facets of post-traumatic stress equally unexamined.
All of this is not to say that I did not find the play enjoyable and tastefully performed – in fact, the actors did a stellar job working with an awkward script, and the set direction was simple and elegant. I give a special commendation to the Set Designer, Diana Uribe, who placed the beds of the hotel at an upright 90º angle, which allowed the actors to remain part of the action, while staying true to the stage direction to lie supine.
The music choices, namely the major-key Victor Jara folk ballads that accompanied scenes of horrific torture in the Estadio Nacional may have been shocking to people unfamiliar with Chile’s musical history – but it seems a deliberate nod to the famous Cueca Sola spot produced by the Anti-Pinochet Campaign during the 1989 plebiscite made famous by Pablo Larraín’s 2012 film. This is made all the more poignant by the fact that Victor Jara was tortured to death in the Estadio Nacional, specifically targeted and brutally murdered for his popularity and beliefs.
Speaking with the actor who played Jorge, Pablo Diconca, I learned that many of the cast came into this production with the explicit goal of putting faces to the communities so left behind by history. Diconca is a Uruguayan-born Montrealer who has been an integral part of the local theatre scene since his arrival in Canada at 19:
“I can not ever forget the fact that I have an accent, and I will always have one. This has restricted me as an actor – I have played drug dealers, murderers, and taxi drivers more than I can count,” Pablo told me. “When I came to Canada, I refused these roles out of principle…but with time, I came to realize that acting is my passion, and that by being on stage, this is how one becomes involved in the local culture and community. One must put their heart into acting. It becomes easier when the script is [about] something you already have in your heart. I was invited to be a part of this cast, and I didn’t see how I could turn it down. This is a play that can help to open minds.”
Teesri Duniya’s Artistic Director and co-founder, Rahul Varma, explained to me that he chose to stage this play as a way of “challenging the notion that 9/11 of 2001 divided the world into pre-9/11 and post 9/11…there have been so many other 9/11s, such as the 9/11 of 1973.” Rahul is of course referring to the military coup in Chile that took place on September 11, 1973, where the Chilean Air Force bombed downtown Santiago and assassinated the democratically-elected head of state, Salvador Allende.
Rahul continued, referencing the current Syrian refugee crisis, “I thought that this play brings certain realities of the past and connects them to what is currently happening. The idea is to look into what has happened – why is it that refugees are coming to Canada? Why do people leave their homes elsewhere?”
According to their website, Teesri Duniya Theatre “is dedicated to producing, developing and presenting socially and politically relevant theatre, based on the cultural experiences of diverse communities.” They are an incredibly important part of Montreal’s Arts community and I am thrilled to see that they took it upon themselves to tell the story of an underrepresented and important part of Canada.
As we draw to the closing of this play’s run at the Segal Centre, as well as the dawning of an unprecedented dark cloud over North American immigration politics, it is important to remember the lessons left by Chilean-Canadians’ struggles in and out of their homeland. I salute Teesri Duniya Theatre, The Segal Centre, and the cast and crew of this production for shining a light on the challenges faced by refugees in a sensitive and responsible manner despite an unaccommodating script.
El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.
The Refugee Hotel is playing until Sunday at The Segal Centre (5170 ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine). Tickets available here.
The federal government decided to get involved in the campaign to return the remains of two members of the Beothuck Nation, currently exposed in an Edinburgh Museum, to their native Newfoundland.
Chief Mi’sel Joe, of the Conne River Mi’kmaq band, and the Newfoundland and Labrador government have been trying for years to repatriate the skulls and burial goods of two members of the extinct indigenous nation of Beothucks. The vestiges were taken from a grave site in Newfoundland in 1828.
The National Museum of Scotland had responded that it would only consider a claim made by the federal government in association with a Canadian National Museum. So Ottawa quietly joined the fight.
On Wednesday, CBC News got hold of a letter written by Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly to the director of National Museums Scotland (the parent association of the National Museum of Scotland, which is in Edinburgh).
“As the Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation with its Indigenous peoples, I am writing to inform you that it is now involved in this matter,” said the letter. “The Government of Canada considers this matter to be of considerable importance.”
The message was sent on May 29, as a notification to the NMS that Canada intended to put in an official request to claim the Beothuck remnants. CBC just got access to it through the Access to Information Act.
Chief Mi’sel Joe, the most prominent figure of the campaign, was happy and surprised to learn that Ottawa had taken this unusual initiative, reported CBC.
The Fascinating History of Beothucks
The Beothucks were the original inhabitants of Newfoundland. They cohabited with the Mi’kmaqs, and for a while, with European settlers before being declared extinct in 1829. There is no doubt that the arrival of the Europeans played a great role in their extinction, which certain historians call a genocide.
The remains currently in Edinburgh are those of Nonosabasut and his wife Demasduit, believed to be the aunt and uncle of the last known Beothuck, a woman named Shanawdithit. Their story is quite fascinating.
In 1818, conflicts between settlers and Beothucks were frequent in Newfoundland. One night, in retaliation for the theft of their fishing equipment, the local colony sent nine armed men to storm a Beothuck camp near Exploits River. Demasduit, wife of the leader Nonosabasut, was captured. Her husband was killed while trying to protect her and her infant son died a few days after.
Demasduit was taken into the colony and lived with a priest who gave her the white name of Mary March. Some unsuccessful attempts have been made to return her to her tribe in the summer of 1819. She died of tuberculosis one year later. Her body was retrieved by her tribe and placed in a burial hut, beside her husband and child.
According to Wikipedia, there was only 31 Beothucks remaining at that time. A Scottish explorer found the bones and other vestiges about nine year later.
Why so Quiet?
A briefing note addressed to Joly (presumably also accessed through the Access to Information Act) said that getting involved in the repatriation of the remains in Scotland “would be consistent with the government’s commitment toward reconciliation with Canada’s Aboriginal people… Return of these remains, or a concerted effort to have them returned, would be a high profile demonstration of that commitment.”
This begs the question of why this high profile demonstration has been exceptionally discreet so far. It’s possible that they wanted to avoid the diplomatic complications of a highly publicized feud between Scottish Museums and the Canadian government.
“The department is still assembling all of the elements required by the trustees of the museum in Edinburgh, in order to ensure the case is complete and as strong as possible,” said Pierre-Olivier Herbert, spokesperson for the department of Heritage.
Other Remains in Canada
It’s also possible that they didn’t want to wake the sleeping matter of the remains of 22 Beothucks in possession of various Canadian museums. In 2012, Mi’sel Joe had declared to the CBC that returning those remains to Newfoundland is “the respectful and right thing to do, for anyone.” At the time, Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of History, where the remains of ten individuals lie, had named lack of resources as the reason for their failure to be proactive in the matter.
According to more recent statements of spokeswoman Éliane Laberge, they have received no formal request from Indigenous groups.
* Featured Image: A portrait of Demasduit, one of the last Beothucks of Newfoundland
Yesterday I was walking down Assiniboine Avenue here in Winnipeg, past the Legislative grounds, where often many Pokemon Go players gather. Indeed on a couple occasions, I, as a casual player, have hung out here as well.
This time I was just passing through on my way home from the grocery store. In the short time it took me to walk through, I heard several other people who were passing by make loud derisive comments to or about the people playing. Comments about how stupid it is, how stupid the people playing it are, how it’s sad that they have nothing better to do with their time.
As I walked further I got kind of angry. What right do these people have to judge? This is something that makes people happy, gets people out to have fun, brings people together. Why the hate? It’s a hobby.
Just because it’s not your thing, why do you have to try to spoil it for those who enjoy it? Then I got thinking about it a little more, and realized that this isn’t any different than people shitting on any other hobby, it’s just new, so people are more vocal about it at this moment. And I realized the sad fact that literally EVERYBODY does it. This is just what people do.
I guarantee every person complaining about how much they’re being judged for playing Pokemon is guilty of judging other people for doing things that they like doing.
In recent years I’ve noticed an especially vitriolic movement among people who don’t like sports to wear their ignorance of sports as a proud badge, to ironically talk about “sportsball”, and assume that all people who like watching sports are ignorant uneducated brutes, and brand them as such.
It’s the same thing I’ve seen with people who are militantly smug about how they don’t watch TV, because according to them TV is an evil, brain-killing thing that has no redeeming qualities, and anyone who is stupid enough to fall under its spell deserves to have their mind rotted out because they’re intellectually weak.
I could go on and on about the things I’ve heard people straight up hate on for no reason other than they personally aren’t interested in it; reading books, being a foodie, playing board games, and dozens of other things that people just do because they enjoy them.
We’ve all done it. I’m certainly not innocent of doing it. But I’m trying to be better. Everybody has things they like doing, so let’s just fucking let people do them without all the criticism.
Go catch Pokemon. Go play fantasy football. Go knit. Go watch superhero movies. Go birdwatching. Go collect records or porcelain dolls or insects or stamps. Go play basketball. Go play Magic. Your hobby isn’t any better or more valid than anyone else’s. And if you think it is, you’re an asshole.
Y’know what makes you just as much of an asshole, though? Criticizing other people’s interests just because people have been criticizing yours.
* Featured Image: Pokemon GO players in Cabot Square, Montreal by Elizabeth Ann Keenan
“Growing up, people were always telling me that I was the ‘whitest Black kid’ they knew because I loved ‘white rock music’ like Radiohead and Dead Kennedys,” says Fredua of Bad Rabbits. He laughs, and quickly responds to them: “But you can’t ‘act a colour,’ and Rock & Roll culture isn’t reserved for X race. But I will say this until my dying day: Rock & Roll was created by a Black Queer woman named Rosetta Tharpe.”
Fredua is the frontman of Bad Rabbits, and I had the honour to speak with him about race, rock, and his thoughts on being a Black American in 2016.
Fredua tells me that conversations of race and belonging within his scene have always been a part of his consciousness, explaining the common lamentation among young men of colour that he was never “Black enough” for the Black kids, and “too Black” for the white kids.
“I considered myself a hybrid from the jump because nobody on either side liked me… The only kids who accepted me in school were the punk rock kids.” For Fredua, this embrace of the punk scene of the late 80s led to an early and profound appreciation for bands like Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, and Public Enemy.
The moment of clarity that gave Fredua a real understanding of how he could fit into the Rock scene came when he saw Fishbone and Living Colour music videos, with Black musicians like Kendall Jones and Vernon Reid “not rapping, not singing, just jamming with guitars. When people said I was the ‘whitest Black guy’… There was nothing ‘white’ about what I was doing. Period. I was doing what I saw, and that was a Black person playing this music.”
When I asked Fredua about conversations of race in his current role as the frontman of a multi-ethnic band in a scene dominated by white dudes, he emphatically affirmed that there has never been racial tension at a Bad Rabbits show, as people are too busy having a good time. It’s when he stops making music for people to dance to, and starts talking about things that make him angry and upset – like the ability for police to routinely kill Black people with impunity – that tempers begin to flare.
Fredua explains, “There are probably a bunch of my fans that are inherently racist, and I know this because I’ve argued with them. They’re the types that grew up thinking Black people are supposed to only be entertainers or basketball players. When they see me speaking my mind it’s suddenly ‘Fredua, you’re an entertainer, you shouldn’t be talking like that!’ People are angry at the fact that I have the nerve to talk about things going on instead of making a song for them to dance to.”
In response to the recent spate of highly-publicized killings of Black people by police, Fredua posted a video to his personal Facebook page in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Fredua tells me that the response from most friends and fans was positive, but one fan came out of the woodwork to leave the following comment: “I follow you because I think your old band was awesome, but let’s be honest, this militant black guy thing isn’t working out for anyone.”
Fredua explains it’s no skin off his nose – people who see him not as a Black human being, but strictly an entertainer aren’t real fans anyway. The reluctance of white peers and fans to see him as anything but a stage presence has bothered Fredua since he first started singing: “I look back at school, and I mean, I did chorus for the girls. Don’t get me wrong,” he says with a laugh, “The girls loved my voice. But they didn’t love me. Because I didn’t look like them.”
I asked Fredua if these reactions to his showmanship bother him when he looks back on them, and he is quick to point out that he’s one of the lucky ones. “I lived out my dream. That dream was to make music and act like a damn fool for the rest of my natural life, and I don’t have to worry about aging because I found the fountain of youth through music. I have a beautiful house and a beautiful wife and a beautiful dog and I get to do something I love all the time.”
Fredua mentioned that Bad Rabbits has a new album one year in the making that will have more anger in it than previous records. He describes some of the album’s lyrical content as “two year’s worth of anger,” much of it directed toward the issues that we spoke about.
The new album, American Nightmare, is planned to drop in September, but will likely end up coming sooner. When I naively asked if the early release was due to the urgency of the message, Fredua’s voice dropped to that sacred place where the spirit meets the bone:
“This is the thing that kills me about this issue of police brutality,” Fredua says calmly, but with palpable fury. Cops are always gonna kill people. As long as there’s a justice system that lets these people kill someone and go about their day, there is never gonna be any type of change. This country is hell bent on keeping things the way it is – to keep the haves and the have-nots, the white and the Black, the Us and the Them, separate.”
The footage of the recent shootings and lack of legal action against the officers involved has made it abundantly clear to the public that it is possible to kill a Black person with little to no consequence. Black activists like Fredua, understandably furious that their lives are proven to be worth less than white victims of similar violence, are routinely portrayed by mainstream media as “armed-and-dangerous Black Power rebels,” seconds away from violence.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza explained that this image is “a battle that we are consistently having to fight. Standing up for the rights of black people as human beings and standing against police violence and police brutality makes you get characterized as being anti-police or it has you being characterized as cop killers, neither of which we are.”
Fredua expressed a similar frustration, explaining that “it’s easier for news channels like CNN, MSNBC, and FOX to show footage of angry Black people on TV than it is for them to show smart Black people with an idea. Nobody is listening to the solutions we’re trying to offer. And the picture they put up of the shooter in Dallas? A pissed-off black man with a dashiki and a fist up? That puts a target on my fucking back!”
Despite all of the difficult topics that came up in our conversation, Fredua’s determination to keep performing and thriving as a Black man in America in 2016 shines through. His concluding statement was one of hope:
“I was raised by two West African immigrants that came to this country on an American dream…I’m gonna make sure that I achieve it through them with my voice. That dream was to have a prosperous, peaceful, God-fearing life. I will die for that. I’m not afraid for a shooter coming to my show, I’ll jump in front of any bullet to protect a fan. I’m gonna do what I do until I die. I will literally die for this.”
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.
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.
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.
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
Halloween is here once again, it is hands down my favorite holiday. Actually no, fuck that, Halloween is everyday! I wear my freak flag proud 365 days a year.
For most “normal” people, Halloween is the one day of the year that it is socially acceptable to dress up like a weirdo and live their freak fantasy. Sadly commercialism and an oversexed media has turned it into a money making skank fest.
There are literally slutty versions of every costume (even in the kids section): slutty nurse, slutty referee, slutty cop, slutty witch, slutty vampire, slutty pirate, slutty prom queen, and the list goes on. These costumes seem to be invented with pedophiles in mind. Men and young boys seem to have it a little easier and can just put a mask on it , become their favorite action hero or movie killer, or slip on a dress and be a bearded lady.
Stop the trend. The only way you can break out of this is by making your own costumes for your children. Halloween costumes you buy are very expensive and poorly made anyways.
More gore and less whore. Being a bloody zombie is an easy and fun way to celebrate this holiday season. Instead of being a slutty version of something be a bloody zombie version instead!
It was funny, the other day I went to a costume party with my friend Erik and he doused himself in blood and called it a day for his costume. The cab driver asked us like ten times if it was real. A person covered in real blood is every person’s worst nightmare, so I get it when people freak out over a gory costume. Its all about shock value.
Haunted houses are insane, filled with passionate actors willing and ready to scare the shit out of anyone who walks through the doors. I am a pussy when it comes to stuff like that.
I remember being a pretty young girl and going into a Haunted Catacomb and when the actor wielding a chainsaw came after me I kicked him in the shin and ran. It was fight then flight, I felt like I was going to die. Now it’s a little different, as an adult I realize that I am probably not going to actually die. It’s all entertainment.
People have always had a certain blood lust when it comes to being entertained. Grand Guignol is a form of theatre that is graphic, amoral, and horrific in nature. The most famous theatre of this kind and a huge target for censorship was the house of horror known as Le Theatre du Grand-Guinol, The Theatre of the Grand Puppett, in Paris France open from 1897-1962.
Everyone from royalty and celebrities in formal apparel to the common man would enjoy blood soaked plays about prostitutes, criminals, insanity, and grotesque mame and murder. People came to the shows to feel something, they wanted to be entertained and disturbed by the natural looking horror shows. The same crowd attends modern day slasher films and gorelesque recitals.
Most audience members became belligerent and boisterous. Others could not hang, often the special effects were so realistic that audience members would vomit or pass out during the performances.
I am part of a Gorelesque troupe called The Zombettes, we give a whole new meaning to Blood Lust. Once after a show I picked up a guy and left bloody handprints on his wall.
Gorelesque is exactly what it sounds like: Burlesque covered in blood. Dark, occult, horror, zombie, and gore added to the classic striptease based performance art. We have done everything from act out the ear cutting Stuck in the Middle With You scene from Resevoir Dogs to the opening scene from Scream or a reenactment of Friday the 13th.
Once we did a show dubbed “too soon?” where my friend The Creeping Beauty dressed up like Amy Winehouse (literally two days after she passed) and I dressed up like Anna Nicole Smith to welcome her to the afterlife while the song Rehab played. Maybe that was utterly tasteless, but it certainly was memorable.
Classic horror/slasher movies are a huge inspiration to my art. Dramatic music and imagination are important in horror flicks. It’s what you don’t see that can scare you the most. Same with burlesque, it’s what you don’t see that invokes the most titilation.
Everybody has nightmares and everybody watches the news. We all know that the world we live in can be a scary and evil place. Sometimes people go crazy and slaughter the innocent , war is happening while you read this, limbs being blown off, random acts of torture and violence are rampant, people are being raped, and there are unspeakable horrors happening in every city. Horror movies are just the artistic representations of these very real atrocities.
It’s the time of year that I re-watch all of the Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Hellraiser and other various horror movies on repeat. The scariest of these flicks are the ones that are plausible. A real person can lose their mind and torture me.
It seems that there is a formula for these flicks that involves large breasted women or beautiful young virgin babysitters running around in white t-shirts covered in blood and being victimized by a male psychopathic sadistic monster.
Why are there rarely any sexy men in leading roles of horror movies? When a man dies in a horror flick it is quick. Scream Queens sell tickets. Misogyny rules in this genre. These women must fight to survive.
It reminds me a lot of porn to be honest with you. Young women cowering and screaming just as they do from being pounded by the twenty throbbing mega cocks being rammed down their throats in hardcore porn movies. Yes, I am a feminist who watches both horror movies and gang bang porn. Im more terrified by watching the Republican debate.
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…
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Andrea Dworkin’s death. On September 26th, 2015 she would have been 69 years old. Opening on September 17th and running until the 27th, Montreal Theatre company Waterworks will be presenting a world premier full staging performance of Aftermath.
Based on a text written by Andrea Dworkin after her drug-rape in Paris in 1999. Her life partner, well known author and activist John Stoltenberg, found the original document on her computer.
“…what I discovered was a 24,000-word autobiographical essay, composed in twelve impassioned sections, as powerful and beautifully written as anything Andrea ever wrote. It was searingly personal, fierce and irreverent, mordantly witty, emotionally raw. It was also clearly not a draft; it was finished, polished as if for publication.”
The piece was edited and cut in half to about 90 minutes and directed by Stoltenberg and Dworkin’s longtime friend and collaborator Adam Thorburn. It was performed as a staged reading in New York by Maria Silverman in May of 2014. “At each step in putting this theater project together, I have wished I could talk with Andrea about it. I would want to tell her how the words she showed no one are now reaching and affecting audiences in live performance,” Stoltenberg writes.
The Montreal production is being directed by Waterworks artistic directors Tracey Houston and Rob Langford and being performed by Montreal actor Helena Levitt as Dworkin.
We’ve heard of this type of story before, more recently with the Bill Cosby allegations and Jian Ghomeshi spectacle where the victim’s creditability was brought into question. “If she can’t remember everything, then maybe it didn’t happen.” It was so long ago, maybe she’s a little sketchy on the details” ad infinitum.
In the text, Dworkin refers to the drug Rohypnol and GBH. “This isn’t an aspirin in your drink. It’s not like getting drunk. It’s not like getting high. This is so easy for the boy. This is so simple for the boy. This is foolproof rape. The gang who can’t shoot straight can do this kind of rape. You can do this hundreds of times with virtually no chance of getting caught. I think how easy this evil is to do.” She goes on to describe how powerless one is to fight back from this kind of rape even after the fact, when there is no memory to report or very little if any evidence left behind.
Aftermath is a very passionate, personal account of Dworkin’s life, family, work and thought process that very few people not familiar with her writings have yet to see or be aware of. Stoltenberg explains, “[Dworkin’s] stirring writing ranges dramatically over many themes—her aspirations when she was young, her erotic and romantic relationships, the marriage in which she was battered, her understanding of the connection between Jews and women, her take on President Clinton’s behavior, her deep commitment to helping women, her critique of women who betray women. And the fact that Aftermath is acted means audiences get to hear an emotional dimensionality in Andrea’s voice that in life she shared only with me and her closest friends—trenchant and oracular, as the public knew her, but also tender, sardonic, sorrowful, vulnerable, funny.”
Rob Langford and Tracey Houston, founders of Montreal’s The Waterworks Company (Palace of the End, Gidion’s Knot, Glory Dazed), a troupe committed to staging the best of contemporary playwriting by women, found out about Aftermath last year from Stoltenberg’s Twitter feed, Langford contacted Stoltenberg, proposing to give Aftermath its first full staging here in Montreal.
Aftermath runs September 17th to 27th, 2015, at the Centre culturel Georges-Vanier, 2450 Workman, Little Burgundy, a couple of blocks northeast of the Atwater Market. METRO: Lionel- Groulx.
A special première takes place on September 17th at 8pm; the show runs over the next two weekends Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 4pm. Post-show talkbacks, with special guests, will take place throughout the first weekend.
Admission is $18 / $13 (buyer chooses price). Tickets are available, via Eventbrite, at waterworksmontreal.com, or at the door.
Last month, Harper’s commissioned something unusual.
Unusual in the context of our tight-pursed digital world. Less unusual, perhaps, in the heady (nearly bygone?) literary indulgence from which the magazine sprung.
Harper’s, based in New York City, flew a British writer across the Atlantic and, once in The Big Apple, covered her sprawling tab at New York’s most elite restaurants. Then they cut her a cheque—and seeming carte blanche—to fill up their pages with any ensuing adventures.
Now true, the whole endeavour was slightly un-Harper’s like. But the diaristic style wasn’t an error or oversight. Nor was the writing bad. It was good. At times, fabulous. So what’s the problem, you ask? Well this very fault line, more and more, is where the gap between between food culture, food writing and the reader is being drawn.
It would be hard to pick four more towering foodie temples to visit: Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Chef’s Tableand Masa. It should be noted that Harper’s is neither food publication or news magazine. It doesn’t cover a regular “beat”, much less have a restaurant review section.
Who knows its mandate in 2015? Though broadly-speaking, Harper’s is still about excess: liberal reflection, the pleasure of the text.
…[Per Se] is not a restaurant, although it looks like one. It may even think it is one. It is a cult. It was created in 2004 by Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, in Yountville, California. He is always called Chef Keller, and for some reason when I think of him I imagine him traveling the world and meeting international tennis players. But I do not need to meet him; I am eating inside his head.
Now I’m a long-time follower of people like Keller, a junkie of chef culture and resto innovation through and through. I’m the kind of guy who would waste hard-earned money on these nutty places.
Animal Farm may be a metaphor for the anxieties of those who dine at Through Itself: they are hungry, but only for status; loveless, for what love could there be when a waiter must stand with his feet exactly six inches apart … Through Itself is such a preposterous restaurant, I wonder if a whole civilization has gone mad and it has been sent as an omen to tell us of the end of the world — not in word, as is usual, but in salad.
What’s more, smug, foreign food critics are nothing new to this scene.
Nor am I sure that the human body is meant to digest, at one sitting, many kinds of over-laundered fish and meat…
Yet at every turn of phrase like this from Gold, I only dove in further. The thing is, it didn’t matter what my food sensibilities told me: this was crisp, fantastical, entertaining, and ultimately — like all good satire —based on more than a small grain of truth.
If knee-jerk reactions are to be expected from locals and overwrought foodies, they are worrisome when they come from food writers. Why? Because the stark opposite emerged from another specific group: a global collection of folk that may or may not have cared about famous chefs, or even heard of these places.
I can only unify this mass as readers — the targets, after all, of a magazine article. It would seem that readers’ conception of Gold’s essay was different. They perceived it as writing.
And they’d be justified. Let’s leave aside the premise itself: that the magazine doesn’t even do reviews, that the writer was flown in to a city brimming with food critics for an expository feature.
Readers got it, knew that they — along with 99.9% of the world — knew they’d likely never set foot in these uber-elite places, or even necessarily have the desire to. — and that was the whole point all along.
Readers did not require “disclaimers” of satire or elitism.
Yet things continued to split apart. Both sides soon christened Gold’s piece as “an evisceration.”
Fair enough. Yet thanks to the highly-evolved logic of Twitter, the label just wasn’t reductionist enough. Sure enough, as the narrative changed, Gold’s piece became something slightly more vulgarized: a “takedown.”
Tanya Gold "A Goose in a Dress," is brilliant take-down of the twisted narcissistic 1% and their cultish restaurants. http://t.co/gsLkyk8FSo
Only one more reductive t word could possibly be invoked, could possibly paint a starker picture of what’s been going on for years now, a sheer widening gap between “food writing” and essay. It happened:
Now food is no exception. These things happen all the time. Social media dumbs things down, to no one’s surprise, I know…
Yet to me, this particular saga is exemplary for three reasons: the sheer spectacle of it all, the big players of food criticism involved, and the fact that it highlights the tense space opening up between foodies, writers and food writers.
The trend seems to be that dry, cutting, whimsical, food writing should never even edge on brutal or fabulous — it must never go too far off the edge.
It’s ironic that food writing started from the edges, with fantastical, metaphorical essays that touched upon food coming from somewhere else.
One level head reigned. Pete Wells, New York Times critic himself—tasked with hallmark reviews of these joints over the years—might have captured it best: between diaristic and satirical, Gold was for him not just any writer, she was the foreigner turning heads by flirting at the precipice of food criticism.
Suffice it to say that if such a thing came out today, cruise line bloggers (if they exist) would dissect it with glee. Industry experts and travel writers would doubtless be next at the gate.
For in the piece, NFW is out of his element — uncomfortably so — and one teeters with him as he lurches along in search of his point. It’s as if his grip on the topic might disintegrate at any moment.
Here’s the thing: it is a glorious and riveting essay.
So if there’s a lesson for us food writers, bloggers and commentators, maybe it’s simply to take a deep breath. If those of us who care most about the topic keep strangling it, food’s life within language won’t fully thrive.
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.
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.
“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 poemspeaks to the institutional suppression of creative freedom. How fitting.
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?