The Ministry of Education has revised its criteria for what constitutes an underprivileged school and how much food aid they should get. The Ministry’s food aid program aims to help high schools from underprivileged communities provide subsidized meals and snacks. Although the total budget of $7.7 million remains unchanged, many schools, particularly in outer regions, have seen their allowance plummet or disappear.

The Samares School Board in Lanaudière, for example, went from receiving $190 226 to $7081 in two school years. In the Eastern Quebec, the Chic-Chocs School Board went from $33 090 this year to $5 269 for next year. Chic-Chocs representative Marie-Noëlle Dion called the situation deplorable, particularly for three of their schools that will have to do without food aid all together.

The both the entire Outaouais and Laurentides region are now devoid of high schools providing subsidized meals.

The matter was the subject of a heated debate on Wednesday in the National Assembly where Education Minister Sébastien Proulx tried to defend the government’s policies.

“The money for the food aid program was maintained and indexed,” hammered Proulx, “it is meant for our most underprivileged schools, and that has not changed. If the rules have changed in the last few years, it was to correct inequalities in the sense that in some communities there were privileged schools receiving food aid.”

To which the official spokesperson for education of the opposition Alexandre Cloutier replied: “For the entire region of Outaouais, as of next September, there is zero funding! Are you saying there is not one kid who goes to school on an empty stomach in Outaouais?”

André Villeneuve, MNA of Berthier, piled on: “In Lanaudière, it’s four high schools, it’s hundreds of kids who will go to school on en empty stomach!

Where is the money going?

The Ministry determines the amount of food aid it will give to each school depending on where it ranks on the government’s indexes of deprivation. Those indexes reflect the proportion of students from families who are below the low-income threshold as well as their socio-economic background, which takes into account the level of education of the mother and whether or not the parents are employed.

Minister Proulx said that the calculations have been adjusted to focus on the schools that score 9 or 10 out of 10 on these indexes. At the time of publication, FTB is waiting for specifications from the Ministry about the nature of these adjustments and the number of schools that supposedly benefited from them.

Most of the schools scoring 9s and 10s are presumably in Montreal, where child poverty is particularly glaring. A recent study by Tonino Esposito of Université de Montréal and Catherine Roy of McGill found that sixteen of the 30 neighborhoods with the most underprivileged children in the province are in Montreal. Montréal-Nord is at the very top of the chart.

In any case, many children who were only a year ago considered underprivileged enough to get access to food aid are now considered as fortunate enough to do without it. Professionals and politicians are accusing the government of robbing Peter to pay Paul in education, while they break the bank for lobbies and corporations. Or, As Cloutier put it : How can a Minister who is swimming in budgetary surplus justify this sort of measure?”

* Featured image: École secondaire de L’Île, Outaouais. From HockeyAcademy

Saturday is the highlight day for Montréal en Lumière with the annual Nuit Blanche taking place. For those new to the city, this event takes place all day and night (and overnight) in a variety of locations with more events and activities than I care to count.

For people interested in the music part, there’s no way to preview even a fraction of the stuff going on so it’s best you check out the music schedule for yourself and pick out whatever you like. What we’ve done for this preview is to highlight three shows going on Friday night when there’s a little less action. All fit well into the local arts community vibe of Nuit Blanche, featuring local artists playing shows for reasonable prices.

A word of advice, regardless of your interests, the real key to a successful night is getting around in a timely manner. Get yourself a night pass from the STM since metros will be running all night or take advantage of the shuttle service offered.

Sean Nicholas Savage + Cafe Lanai

Our first suggestion for a pre-Nuit Blanche party is over at La Vitrola where local singer / songwriter / Indie Idol Sean Nicholas Savage and Cafe Lanai will be playing as part of a Blue Skies Turn Black showcase. Both acts are unique and original in their songwriting and should be on your list for this weekend if you’re looking for something a little more fresh and different.

Savage has released ten studio albums on Montreal-based Arbutus records (Grimes’ label), the latest being  The Magnificent First. He is also known as a bit of an unorthodox philosopher, something that comes out in his songs.

Sean Nicholas Savage and Cafe Lanai play La Vitrola, 4602 Boulevard St. Laurent, Friday, March 3rd, 10:00pm (Doors at 9:00pm), $8 in advance through the box office or $10 at the door.

Rust Eden + Krief + Tendre

Divan Orange is also hosting a show on Friday night in conjunction with Indie Montréal and Montréal en Lumière that’s perfect for setting off your busy weekend. The three acts set to hit the stage are Rust Eden, Krief  and Tendre, all local Indie performers who represent our city’s musicians quite well.

Rust Eden released their first album Apartment Green in 2016. Their indie rock sound in punctuated by elements of psychedelia and space rock, creating a very Montreal sound.

Rust Eden, Krief  and Tendre play Divan Orange, 4234 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Friday, March 3rd, 9:30pm.

Ouijatrash + Street Sleeper + Calomine

For those who prefer something a little more, ummm… loud, you can head over to Crobar for a self described “Night of Mischief” presented by the good people over at Grimey Mtl and featuring Ouijatrash, Street Sleeper and Calomine. I’m not fully sold on the “mischief” part, this might be a little more like mayhem with a lineup that hardly takes it easy with their tunes.

Cover is only five bucks so it’s well worth stopping in if you’re downtown on Friday night.

Ouijatrash, Street Sleeper and Calomine play Crobar, 1221 Crescent, Friday, March 3rd, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:00), $5 (only at the door).

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

We might get to hear Kevin O’Leary speak French, after all. The Conservative Party leadership favourite will attend a bilingual debate in the Montreal area on February 13th. O’Leary has so far not spoken a word of French in public, conspicuously announcing his candidacy the morning after the only mandatory French debate.

He and ten others confirmed they will take part in a debate in Pointe-Claire, organized by the local association of Lac–Saint–Louis and Pierrefonds–Dollard. Since it’s not officially set up by the Conservative party of Canada, it is on a voluntary basis. It will start at 7pm at the Holiday Inn. According to CBC, the central themes of the debate will be the economy and national security.

The other implicit theme will be how well can each candidate connect with French-speaking Quebeckers. The French debate on January 17th showcased the cringe-worthy language skills of most conservative candidates. Although the Montreal debate is advertised as bilingual, it is not clear how much of it will be in French or whether all questions will be translated.

Parlez-vous Français?

Despite being a Montreal native, O’Leary has never been fluent in French. When Tout le monde en parle host asked him “Parlez-vous français?” in 2014, he replied: “No I don’t. I left here when I was six years old and I am very ashamed of that. If I had been able to stay longer, I probably could have done it.”

He sang a wildly different tune in more recent interviews. One year ago, he told David Akin, host of Everything is Political on SiriusXM Canada Radio that learning French was not necessary to be Prime Minister. He said he was amused by politicians who thought they could score some points in Quebec by learning French in accelerated classes. “I know what Quebec wants in Canada because that’s where I came from,” he claimed.

He refused to be shamed for blatantly avoiding the French debate, retorting instead that he spoke the language of jobs and economy. On January 18th, he told Global News: “There’s three official languages in Canada: There’s English, there’s French, and there’s the language of jobs.” He added that Trudeau will never be fluent in jobs. He has nonetheless promised to get better at French too.

Ten days later, his campaign associates are very confident about his French skills. “Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure that he’s going to surprise a lot of people,” said O’Leary’s Quebec organizer, Norm Vocino, in an interview with CBC.

His press secretary Ari S. Laskin told FTB that O’Leary has been working on his French on a daily basis for several weeks and that “he will be able to hold his own in a debate against Justin Trudeau.” Laskin assures that “it is a priority for him to be able to engage with the entire country in both national languages.”

He denies that O’Leary has ever been flippant about the importance of French: “I don’t think French wasn’t a priority. He was born in Montreal and has incredibly deep respect for the bilingual culture.”

O’Leary still on top

As to how O’Leary will appeal to the notoriously anti-Tory Montrealers, the language of jobs and economy still seems to be his favourite answer. According to his press secretary, Quebeckers are as tired as the rest of the country of Trudeau’s “platitudes” in that area. “What Mr O’Leary wants is to make sure that we have a strong economy and jobs created on a daily basis,” he said.

O’Leary has been called Canada’s Trump. Like him, he is a Reality TV star with a flourishing financial empire and he is leading the race despite the fact that he has no political experience.

While he doesn’t share Trump’s radical views on immigration and same-sex marriage, he is known for his inflammatory statements. He infamously claimed that the global concentration of wealth in the hands of the few richest people on earth is “fantastic news” and a source of inspiration.

He is currently the top candidate for the leadership of the party with 26% of the votes. His closest competitor, Maxime Bernier, polls at barely 11%.  The leader of the Conservative Party will be elected on May 27th.

* Featured image: screengrab from CTV News

Well December is upon us and you know what that means… you guessed it, metal bands raising money for Christmas charities! We’ve also got some great local and Canadian artists coming to town and for those who are into creating music, there’s a really awesome workshop taking place on Friday you should know about.

Let’s get started shall we…

MTLHC Christmas Benefit Party

Friday night,  bands from Montreal’s punk and metal communities will be coming together with Northern Sound Records to put on a show where the “profits will go into buying toys for the kids.” Bands on the bill include Harriers, Nuke, Gazm, Boundaries, Kennedy and Front Commun.

They’re also accepting canned goods at the event, if you bring a can then the cover charge is ten instead of fifteen bucks. Either way your contributions to this event will be going to a good cause. Also let’s not forget there’s six bands starting early and ending late who will be ready to give you a kick ass show!

MTLHC Christmas Benefit Party plays La Vitrola 4602 Boulevard St-Laurent, Friday, December 2nd, 7:30pm (Doors at 7:00), $15, (or $10 with a canned good).

Abigail Lapell + Dana Sipos

There’s no excuse if you miss Toronto based singer/songwriter Abigail Lapell who is in town this week for back to back shows, Thursday at Bad Lunch and Friday at Le Cagibi (where she will be joined by another great Canadian folk artist Dana Sipos). So take your pick for which night works best and come on down!

Rooted in traditional folk music,  Abigail’s sound still speaks to the modern world with a new an unique spin on the genre while still respecting the music’s roots. Early in 2017, Abigail will be coming out with a new ten song album entitled Hide Nor Hare so these shows will feature some fresh tracks that should get you excited for this upcoming release.

 Abigail Lapell and Dana Sipos play Le Cagibi, 5490 Boulevard St-Laurent, Friday, December 2nd, 8:00pm.

 

Chronolith + Wolk  + Ricardo the Fabulous

Everyone’s favourite dive Barfly will putting on an evening of metal music promoted by Grimey MTL this Saturday featuring Chronolith, Wolk and Ricardo the Fabulous. With the cover charge for this show being only five bucks and with Barfly’s well known “lowest prices on the Main” drink menu, this is certainly the most student friendly event of the weekend.

(I’d just like to put a disclaimer, Barfly doesn’t actually go around saying they have the lowest prices. Like don’t go in asking for a price match policy with some special you found at Bifteck just because someone on the internet said they had the lowest prices).

 Chronolith, Wolk and Ricardo the Fabulous play Barfly 4062a Boulevard St-Laurent, Saturday, December 3rd, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:30), $5, at the door only.

 

RAC Workshop with Steve Baughman + Mauricio Iragorri

The last “show” this week isn’t for music fans but instead a great opportunity for people creating music to meet and learn from two of the best mixing and mastering experts in the field today. Recording Arts Canada will be hosting an event here in Montreal on Friday where you can meet Steve Baughman and Mauricio Iragorri and learn their tricks of the trade.

In order to attend you need to sign up and we’ve been warned that space is very limited so you might want to get on it right away! There’s also a session on Saturday in Toronto for those living in or travelling to that area.

* Featured image of Chronolith via Facebook

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Panelists Samantha Gold, Cem Ertekin and Jerry Gabriel discuss the Ghomeshi trials, recent terror attacks around the world and Netflix’s new actions regarding VPNs and Proxy Servers. Cem also gives us a McGill Update. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Samantha Gold: FTB Legal Columnist

Cem Ertekin: Editor at The McGill Daily

Jerry Gabriel: Podcast regular and FTB contributor

 

* Ghomeshi and terrorism reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

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…

For over eight weeks, photographer Robert Van Waarden travelled from Hardisty Alberta to Saint-John New Brunswick in order to talk with and photograph residents living along the projected path of TransCanada’s EnergyEast pipeline. He has chronicled his many stops and is now in the process of curating his images and short films for an upcoming travelling exhibit that will revisit the communities he visited along the pipeline’s route.

While travelling the country by car, he has witnessed first-hand the generosity and hospitality of countless Canadians. Van Waarden has been able to discuss at length with those who will bear the brunt of the risk if ever the pipeline is built, and says that the main concerns residents have with the project is water safety, spills and climate change. These are legitimate concerns.  Gaspé is fighting Petrolia over regulations that would protect the town’s drinking water from harm caused by hydraulic fracturing while in Alberta, the lakes surrounding the oil sands are being polluted at an alarming rate.

//www.youtube.com/embed/ccvD1Nx_hvA

TransCanada’s EnergyEast pipeline is slated to cross the Nipigon River which flows into Lake Superior, the world’s largest fresh-water lake that millions of Canadians and Americans rely on for drinking water.  Van Waarden interviewed Keith Hobbs, mayor of Thunder Bay and Chair of the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities, an opponent of  the EnergyEast pipeline.   

Despite environmental concerns, some see the pipeline as a positive economic force that will create jobs and stimulate Canada’s economy. Some figures seem to back them up: in the last year, nine out of ten new jobs in Canada were created in Alberta, and while countries across the globe still struggle to reboot their economy, Canada’s export markets has become an engine of growth.

Some people are ready to take on the immediate environmental risk to their community (let alone the global reach of tar-sands pollution) for the promise of some direct or trickle-down economic gain. It’s unfortunate that people are being put in this situation and that the discussion is constrained to tar-sand jobs vs. no jobs when in fact, green energy initiatives have the potential to create even more jobs , stimulate technological innovation and sustainable growth with less risk for both people and the environment.

Van Waarden also met with First Nations people who have opened their homes and hearts and shared their experience among them Kanesetake Grand Chief Serge Simon who discussed his community’s oppositions to the pipeline.

Along the Pipeline | Serge Simon, Grand Chief Kanesatake, Quebec from Robert van Waarden on Vimeo.

If First Nations have often been sidelined when it comes to natural resources development and extraction, the recent Supreme Court decision in favour of the Tsilhqot’in in British Columbia will no doubt shake things up a bit. Van Waarden says that the “First Nations could stop this pipeline and that they are taking it seriously. From what I have seen and heard they are going to be a force to reckon with.”

“We live in a beautiful country and there is an incredible amount of land and people that would be impacted by this pipeline. There are many strong voices and opinions in this country and the common thread throughout is that Canadians and First Nations are questioning the direction we are headed. It has been an honour to listen to and photograph so many diverse individuals and communities”

For more images and video, please visit link http://alongthepipeline.com

Our fair city is just a little bit more colourful than it was since the second edition of Mural Festival took place last month. Local and international artists painted 20 new murals along the Main. The festival started under the rain but thankfully the sun came out just in time, allowing the artists to work on their walls. Some artists kept painting despite the rain such as RONE, from Australia, who finished up his mural on St-Dominique just as the rain stopped.

A few of the walls from last year’s Mural were repainted but most of them were done on brand new walls adding even more art to the city. Kevin Ledo’s breathtaking wall of a woman from the Hupa Tribe, inspired from a photo by Edward Curtis, is of a significant contribution to this year’s festival.

This year Mural introduced Le Market, a pop up shop in the Parc du Portugal, where festival goers could shop local to live music all weekend. Also new this year, in collaboration with ExCentris Cinema, screenings of  street art or graffiti related movies. Patrick O’Connor’s Making A Name and Freights were two of the nine documentaries screened the first one focusing on Montreal’s graffiti scene and the second on graffiti traveling on freight trains. A wonderful initiative to educate on this underground culture.

Every day, the Block Party entertained the masses with live music in the parking lot behind Station 16. Kashink’s impressive, massive and colorful mural in the same parking lot is just a preview of her exhibition at Station 16 which runs until July 3. Walking around felt like being on a treasure hunt because Mural’s not just about paintings along building walls. In the spirit of street arts, Peter Schmittson decorated our streets with sculptures,  Mathieu Connery  painted our sidewalks, Labrona gave more colors to doors along The Main, Garbage Beauty beautified with calligraphy discarded items found on the curb. Finally, be on the lookout for hundreds of diamonds installed on walls all over the city by Le Diamantaire.

It’s now time for a walk around with the camera or your phone to spot all these treasures. Don’t forget some murals are on Clark, on St-Dominique and one at the corner of St-Urbain and Guilbault.

The next urban art related festival will be the 19th edition of Under Pressure International Graffiti Convention on August 9th and 10th!

Click on the image below for visuals of the festival.

Mural Festival

 

I ended up at Untitled Sam Mullins Project at the Montreal Fringe because I’m an idiot—this, I promise, is not a disclaimer.

The fact is I ended up at Sam Mullins because my Interweb Googleplexing abilities rather failed me in the moment, and while I thought I was in the right place for Johnny Legdick, I somehow ended up at Untitled Sam Mullins Project, and with a friend along for the ride to boot. And with my friend’s ticket already paid for, and Johnny Legdick already, oh, 25 minutes in and 15 minutes away down the road (at TSC,  not Mainline, I’ve now learned), we decided to proceed as planned and feign no faux-pas. And we didn’t regret it.

Sam Mullins is, my friend tells me: curly haired, sweet, a plucker of her similarly panic-attack-y heartstrings, and full of nice muscles. My friend says Sam Mullins is hot. I say Sam Mullins tells a mean story, or four, and delivers them in an honest, straightforward, audience-connected way.

Sam Mullins, at least to this Google-for-Dummies simpleton, is refreshing. Where I’ve come to expect costume work, sketchiness and stand-up antics from one man/woman shows (sometimes with tremendous success, sometimes with tremendous barf), Sam Mullins is just a guy, with some muscles, telling some stories about himself.

Whether it be about that dress he wore to school, the hometown hockey glory he ruined, the time his father saved Josh Hamilton’s career, or his panic attacks and the road he’s gone down to overcome it all, on stage—Sam Mullins is just, seemingly, quaintly, himself, and the sound writing instincts he’s trying out for us, unburdening himself one well-crafted story at a time. There’s some nipping and tucking ahead, but that’s kinda the whole point.

In any case, there’s nothing overly clever to say here. Just cats instead of marriage is indeed a brilliant idea. He’ll explain it to you; have no fear.

In his Frankie award-winning show The Quitter, Al Lafrance brings the audience through his bumpy trip on the road to happiness. Spoiler alert; donuts, mix tapes and small town Quebec are all part of the journey that lead this former General manager of the Montreal Fringe Festival to where he is today.

For a man who describes himself as grumpy, Lafrance can be pretty darn charming. Even before he began speaking during his last performance, the packed crowd at Montreal Improv erupted with applause. LaFrance is a man who loves the Montreal Fringe, and the Montreal Fringe clearly loves him back.AlLafrance_photo3_Fringe2014

The show is a mix between stand-up comedy and storytelling. Other Fringe performers used intricate props and amusing imagery to help grab the audience’s attention and did it well. Lafrance meanwhile commands just as much attention roaming around the stage for an hour with nothing but confidence and a box of donuts he left for everyone on the way in. He can get away with that largely because it’s hard not to respect Lafrance’s no bullshit approach to reflecting on his life: I’m not perfect, mistakes have been made. Thankfully some of them have been amusing enough for me to share and make you laugh.  

The journey may have been silly at times, heartbreaking in others. But the lesson LaFrance has learned is something that everybody can appreciate: sometimes quitting doesn’t mean failing. Sometimes you need to make mistakes in life so that you can end up where you’re supposed to be. While Fringe shows can at times have an air of self-importance to them, it was a pleasure for this reviewer to end her Fringe 2014 experience on such an upbeat note.

The Quitter has completed its run at the Montreal Fringe Festival. Make sure to check out LaFrance’s website Bloody Underrated for information on his cross-Canada Fringe tour.

A Bandolier of Dreams_Photo2_fringe2014The following is a review for a show you will never see.

The setting? A Victorian-era drawing room. The characters? Two English gentleman. The story? Well my darlings that changes every time as Bandolier of Dreams is a hilarious hour of improv from Matt Goldberg and Mike Hughes- aka two members of the long-running comedy troupe Uncalled For.

At the story telling shows I’ve seen this year’s Montreal Fringe festival, I’ve come to have great respect for the talent it takes to keep an audience engrossed in your story. Improv I feel like takes it up a notch. Not only do you have to keep an audience entertained, but you’re under the added pressure of making it all up as you go along  (and in this show all while speaking in an English accent!). I assume Goldberg and Hughes set out very loose parameters of where they want the story to go and have fun props like tea trays, wine bottles and telephones to keep the show moving along.

Needless to say, Goldberg and Hughes hit it out of the park. The two have an easy and obvious chemistry that comes from their years working together, and are professionals in the art of improvisation. There were times when Goldberg came close to breaking character and bursting out laughing but honestly, it only added to the silly atmosphere. As their Fringe profile declares, you come to this show for the “comedy experience”, not serious theatre.

I had even greater respect for the difficulties of creating witty banter on the spot when yours truly got called up onstage in an audience cameo role. I caught on to some of the tricks of improv; your actors will feed you ideas you can build on by asking questions or open ended statements. I came up with much more amusing things I could have said on the metro ride home then I did on stage, but it was a fun experience none the less. (Oh and that wine they drink onstage folks is definitely real so thanks for the drink guys!)  Remember to give a wink to Hughes during the show and who knows, maybe you’ll end up a star of Bandolier of Dreams as well.

Bandolier of Dreams plays at Theatre Sainte Catherine until June 22nd.

 

 

I’ve never been to a wake, but I can safely say hosting one in a bar, a most Irish affectation, I am told, may come with a certain set of unfortunate but hilarious outcomes. It’s an old cliché that death rituals are about the living—a show of elegy, narcissus eulogies. Sermo Scomber Theatre’s In Memoriam is no different. It hinges on the ridiculousness of the fact and basks in it’s messy, lively tastelessness.

A shuffling cast of fluid, multi-talented women (and one gent, too), all of Cheddar Fandango’s eulogizers take turns refilling their swizzle-stick drinks, throwing back shots at the bar and telling all of us what cheddar meant to them. As you might assume, things turn to retribution and over-sharing as everyone gets more and more liquored up. Shouts across the room are exchanged, expediently. And in turn, we get a realer, more hilarious portrait of Cheddar, as well as of the people who populated her life.

cheddar fandango fringe 2

Whether it’s her three singing sisters—the kind one, the estranged one, the white and not-so-nice one—her best friend, who met her when she walked in on her screwing her husband in Berlin, the pal who wants his cashmere back, the friend who aims to, corset and all, make it yet another performance, and the random dame/crasher who no one seems to know, and who’s full of checkout aisle slam poems, everyone at Cheddar’s bar-side wake takes part in making it what Cheddar’s life seems to have been at its best: a performance.

Complete with reaper/dead-Cheddar tap-dance interludes, original songs and a crowd pleasing rendition of “Amazing Grace,” In Memoriam doesn’t disappoint, even if it’s got one too many Tom Waits songs in the background. Wakes are kinda tacky, so it’s alright; indulgences have their time and place.

See it at the Wiggle Room tonight as part of the Montreal Fringe festival; pay your respects, if you’ve got any.

Australian story teller Jon Bennett returns to the Montreal Fringe with his new one-man show Story Whore. Looking at the titles of Bennett’s previous Fringe shows (Pretending Things are a Cock and Fire in The Meth Lab) is a quick way to prepare yourself for what you can expect this time ‘round. Some of its silly, some of its serious, thankfully all of it’s entertaining.

Bennett’s past shows have included stories of his ultra-religious father and meth dealing brother. Now that he’s run out of interesting stories to share of other people, what’s a story teller to do? Inspired by a Montreal (or likely whatever city you catch the show in) airport security guard who questions whether he knows what love is, Bennett guides the audience on an epic journey through the soaring highs and dramatic lows of his romantic relationships.

A quick look at Bennett’s website demonstrates that story telling is perhaps his life’s greatest passion. I missed his past Fringe shows, but it’s clear Bennett has worked hard at crafting an anecdote just right. Whether it’s deciding which exact moment to use voice inflections, or incorporating real and re-imagined items from his life, it’s all part of a goal to gain your sympathy and trust.

As an audience member you know you’re being manipulated. While the real names of people in the stories have been obviously changed, you can’t help but wonder how one would feel knowing Bennett was traveling around the world sharing personal details of your relationship. Or how much of these stories are exaggerated, or even true.

But Bennett is such a good performer you never cling to those feelings for long. It’s much more fun to just go along for the ride. Because seriously, when else in your life will you see a man in his thirties run around in a dress while recounting a sad childhood memory?

Story Whore plays until June 21st at Café Campus.

We’re nearing beer o’clock. More specifically, we’re nearing the most highly-anticipated 60 hour stretch of conspicuous beer consumption of the year. It’s called the Mondial de la Bière.

Unlike your average worknight, where access to Porto Alegre or Farnham microbrews can be tricky to say the least, a quick métro ride will suffice to sample over 500 types of malted bev between June 11th and 15th.

mondialbiere_DSC_0824-500
Photo: © Olivier Bourget for the Mondial de la bière

570 is a big flashy number, kids, but here’s what I’m most excited about.

Over half those beers are making their Mondial premiere. Given the fact that each brewer generally wants to showcase as much product as possible every year, this is a big deal.

What does this mean? 269 beers that you’ve likely never tried before.

Where to start? From Noir et Blanc’s Abyss’ale to DDC’s rhubarb & grapefruit stout to a new 8% sparkling cider from McKeown, the newbie carte is vast. Some on the list have already premiered around town, such as Brutopia’s Dreadnought or McAuslan’s Double IPA. But that should not stop you from tasting a drab or two and learning more about how they make their beers–if only to make more informed decisions in the future.

Eat while you drink

While you may think that the only food you’re interested in is barley or wheat, you must recall that beer tasting goes smoother (and longer) if puncutated with just the right amount (and type) of nourishment

For the first time, I’m very happy to see the Mondial assuming some serious gastronomical duties. Whereas previous iterations have featured a smattering of stands with small nibbles, this year features 15 full-out food kiosques and an entire slate of tutorials on cooking with beer.

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Photo: © Olivier Bourget for the Mondial de la bière

So to that end—and possibly because, well, beer drinkers are such sturdy types—you’ll find stalls with deer smoked-meat (on panini) seal’s loins and even wild boar hamburgers. If yours is a fragile stomach, don’t worry, there’s plenty of traditional stuff like pretzels, sausages and meatballs.

How bout them apples?

500 varieties of malted bev can be rather overwhelming. But gluten doesn’t rule the day here. At the Mondial, “bière” is a loose term, and you’ll also find over 50 different ciders, meads, and other fruit-based options.

So save up your loonies this weekend ($1 gets you a drink ticket; most drinks cost 2-4 tickets). Next weeken will be a hoppin’. (Sorry)

Keep an eye out for our recap of the Mondial’s gastronomical offerings, as well as a Top 10 new alcoholic “découvertes”, right here in Food & Drunk!

Info

The Mondial de la bière runs from June 11-14 (10 a.m. to 11 p.m.) and June 15 (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) at the Palais des congrès.

Got suggestions of beers we should test? Tweet us at @forgetthebox and we’ll “do our best” to drink even more!

 

Cover photo by Martin Dougliamas via Flickr (cropped)

NymphomaniacMoviePosterWhen the title and subject matter of Lars von Trier’s latest film were announced, they surely piqued the interest of fans of the controversial director’s work. Known for putting female characters through brutal torment on screen as well as explicit sexual imagery (epitomized by the self-clitoridectomy in his last film Antichrist), it seemed that nymphomania would be a natural fit for him.

While those familiar elements are definitely at play in Nyphomaniac, released a few weeks ago in two parts, von Trier also interweaves a wild and poetic story rich in metaphoric associations and well-timed interjections. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as Joe, the titular self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, who narrates her life story to an old, charming bachelor named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) who takes her in after finding her badly beaten in an alley.

She starts off in her formative years, detailing some of the experiences that lead down the path of deviant sexual behavior, including a competition with a friend on a train ride to see who could have more sexual partners. Joe wins the bag of chocolate sweets they were competing for by convincing a married man to accept sloppy train car head, giving you a sense of von Trier’s darkly comic sense of humor that balances the film’s more depressing scenes. She falls in love, she loses love and as her number of sexual partners exponentially increases, her life spins out of control to the point where she no longer derives pleasure, or any feeling at all, from the act by which she defines her identity.

Von Trier alleviates some of the story’s tension with a pseudo-documentary style of quick cuts of vintage-looking stock images and videos of subjects relating to the narrative. It also helps that Seligman has an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide array of topics, and his non-judgemental nature aids in drawing gorgeous allusions, like three different sexual partners completing a person on different levels, much the way three notes come together to form a chord. Sexual desire and the hunting of someone to fulfill it is also compared fly fishing and the Fibonacci sequence, which also plays a role in film’s devastating climactic scene.

It wouldn’t be a movie about nymphomania without some graphic sexual content. There are a few instances of very realistic looking oral sex and one scene that includes penetration that was performed by pornographic body doubles and digitally spliced into the scene in post-production. There is also a fair amount of full front nudity, both male and female, including a highly entertaining nearly two minute long montage of penises of all shapes, sizes and colors.

With a film chock full of sexual content, von Trier goes out of his way to illustrate that Joe’s desires are often being enacted because of a compulsion. In many of the film’s earlier scenes as a younger girl, Joe’s vapid and downright bored facial expression is akin to a person picking dirt out from under their fingernails while riding on the metro. Even later in her story when she is no longer able to reach orgasm and seeks out sadomasochistic solutions to her problem, she does so by abandoning her young child at home alone. Her overwhelming desire to satisfy her urges was worth more to her than anything else. She may have gotten an orgasm worth losing her family over, but she never forgives herself for it.

After trying to fight her nature, she comes to embraces it, loudly and proudly at a sex addict support group meeting. She profoundly tears each member of the group to shred for their triggers and lack of impulse control and chooses to declare herself a nymphomaniac rather than a sex addict. Whether or not Joe finds salvation and redemption at the film’s close may be up for dispute, but ultimately von Trier gives us a very excellent study of a salacious character at her most honest and vulnerable.

 

Last March, I heard the film Making A Name, a documentary on Montreal’s graffiti scene, was screening at the FIFA Festival and got tickets right away. I was lucky because it was the only screening of the movie and it sold out quickly.

Patrick O’Connor, the man behind this amazing project, started photographing the Montreal graffiti scene back in 1995. In 2004, he got his first video camera and started documenting Montreal’s graffiti sub-culture using the contacts he got as a writer back in the 90s. I recently got the chance to meet up with Patrick and talk about his past projects and his new film Freights, which premiers tomorrow at FIFA.

 Why did you decide to create Making A Name?

I was planning on making a global documentary originally. I traveled in Europe, visited 15 cities in 10 countries, and got a lot of footage. Then Pablo Aravena came out with the documentary Next: A Primer On Urban Painting in 2005, which is probably one of the first global documentaries. After reflection and discussion with David Boots, a very good friend, I decided to do the project on a smaller scale and focus on Montreal.

Making a Name

How long did it take to make the movie? What was the biggest challenge?

It took almost ten years to make Making A Name. The action shots of the movie were mostly filmed between 2004 and 2008; some interviews were done around 2007-2008, but most of them were done between 2008 and 2012. The biggest challenge was to feel stuck in between some writers fighting for different reasons; some people gave me a bit of a hard time but it all worked out. Most of the writers knew me already so they trusted me.

How did you react when FIFA decided to screen your movie?

I did screenings of rough cuts in smaller venues such as bars for a few years before that, which although also had amazing turnouts overflowed with people, with getting into FIFA I felt it validated me as a filmmaker for the first time.

What did you think of the night of the premiere? The Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts was sold out with a very vocal crowd. 

I was totally expecting the audience to be loud. A lot of the writers smuggled some booze in and were more vocal than others. The street artists got booed by some writers, as some are hardcore purists and don’t like their work. It was a fun time.

Will Making A Name be released in theatres? Has it been in other festivals?

Making A Name along with bonus material will most likely be released on Youtube and limited DVD copies as well eventually. It did screen in Toronto in a theatre and that went well. I did the movie more for the experience, to learn and now I know more about making documentaries.

How would you define the Montreal graffiti scene? What has changed over the years?

There is a lot less graffiti in the metro, there used to be tags on every step of the escalators back in the days. There are a lot of new writers in the streets, but the game itself is the same. A bunch of the older writers are still around, some who still do illegal work while others mainly legal. There was a lot more political graffiti here around the time I started documenting it in 1995.

Do you have a favorite writer?

Scan is my favorite for his overall style and the amount of work he has done since he started around ‘96 in NDG alleyways. He is very consistent in his quality of letters and styles whether it’s a tag, a throw up, or a mural.

ICH-APER-graffiti

What is next?

Freights, my new documentary on graffiti on freight trains in North America, mostly Canada, as it helped save time and money. I traveled across Canada from Victoria to Halifax to meet and interview writers. A lot of the B role (of passing trains) shots were shot in Saint-Henri, as it’s one of the busiest train lines in this city with names from a wide range of provinces and states. It is a look in a specific subculture of graffiti.

Freights will be premiering on Friday, March 21st at 9 p.m, and the second screening is on Sunday, March 23rd at 6:30 p.m. Get your ticket on FIFA’s website.