Women's rights activists in India

TIME magazine recently included “feminism” in their “Which word should be banned in 2015?” poll. The suggestion was supposed to be meant as joke, but looking back at some of the major news stories from 2014 shows that there’s no joke about it. Feminism is a movement that has not been fully realized and is very much still necessary.

Every day porn actors give willing consent for the world to ogle their naked bodies, and the internet literally gives one millions of options to choose from. The hundreds of mostly female celebrities whose nude photos were leaked in August meanwhile did not give their consent.

Despite this disturbing attack on privacy, after the photo leak celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence were slut-shamed. As Lawrence described in her October 2014 Vanity Fair article, the photos were meant as a private gift for her long distance boyfriend, NOT for the world to dissect on 4chan. One of the drawbacks of being a modern day celebrity is that the public wants to know the most intimate details of your private life. Now that demand for knowledge seems to extend to their most intimate body parts as well.

Another important online story this year was GamerGate. The events surrounding GamerGate may have begun as a protest against corrupt journalism, but it eventually devolved when women who spoke up about issues in the gamer community where harassed and threatened.

Gamer and “Feminist Frequency” author Anita Sarkeesian was one such woman. Sarkeesian had to cancel a speaking appearance in Utah after she was sent an email which threatened a “Montreal Massacre like attack” if she spoke. Thankfully Sarkeesian escaped without incident, unlike the six victims of Elliot Rodger. Rodger’s California shooting spree this past May was allegedly about seeking retribution against women who sexually rejected him.

A poster displaying why she’s a “Women Against Feminism”

Not all feminist hate came from men this year. Women Against Feminism got a lot of press in 2014 with their stated mission being “women’s voices against modern feminism and it’s toxic culture.” Besides the few inane WAF posters who insist they enjoy living in a patriarchal society, most declare they want equal rights for the sexes. Many also correctly point out there’s unfair standards out there for both men and women. So why then do they prefer to be labelled as egalitarian as opposed to feminist?

Perhaps because even in the third wave of the movement, feminism for many still equals angry, man-hating lesbian. “The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating…For the record feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities,” Emma Watson (recently appointed feminist of the year) said during her eloquent speech at the UN in September.

Some believe that celebrities like Watson standing up for feminism in fact negatively impacts the movement. In her article Emma Watson? Jennifer Lawrence? These aren’t the feminists you’re looking for, feminist writer Roxane Gay worries celebrity culture has muffled the meaning of the feminist movement. She also argues that there’s no need to make feminism more accessible to men.

It’s awesome that Beyonce calls herself a feminist, but do celebrity endorsements of the movement help or muddle its meaning?

Gay’s arguments are worth analyzing. Are celebrities who tweet selfies of themselves with signs saying #HeforShe or #BringBackOurGirls making a big difference? Probably not. But it’s impossible to deny that famous face gives global attention to causes that need it.

And if feminism ever hopes to truly achieve its goals, it does needs to work side by side with men to make it happen. How incredible would it be if male and female feminists could inspire men to be less like pick-up artist Julien Blanc and more like Pakistani diplomat Ziauddin Yousafzai?

Yousafzai is the father of this year’s Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai. In March Yousafzai gave a TED talk (see video below) about misogyny and the patriarchy in developing and tribal societies. By not “clipping his daughter’s wings” and by teaching her as a girl she too had the right to go to school, Malala has inspired a generation of women to stand up for their rights.

Brave families like the Yousafzai’s are the most important reason why feminism still matters. Long after Hollywood has moved on to its next cause du jour, charities like  The Malala Fund will still need support. Twitter may have died down with its #BringBackOurGirls intensity, but it’s important to remember most of those girls are still missing. Women in Saudi Arabia are receiving prison sentences for driving cars. Gang rapes and lack of police interest in the crimes continue to plague India.

So the haters can spout all the nonsense they want about how feminism hurts women. But the rest of us are going to remember that feminism isn’t just a word that Beyoncé calls herself. It’s an important movement that affects all women on the planet, and still has a lot of work ahead.

2013

With just a few hours left in 2013, the results are in! As we’ve done for the past few years, we asked our writers and editors to vote on their favourite posts of the year, both those they wrote themselves and those written by others. Then we tallied up the votes and factored in things like balancing the list by subject and social media shares to break a few ties and…presto!

Now, without any further adieu and with some forward-looking here are the top 14 posts of 2013 as selected by FTB contributors and editors. Happy New Year and see you in 2014!

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The Style of Emery Street
by Bianca David

In May, Bianca David paid Seb Black a visit at the headquarters of notorious DIY label Emery Street Records in advance of Black’s release On Emery Street.

P6 Power Trip: How the SPVM may be ignoring their own script

by Jason C. McLean

Mass-kettling? Ticketing parents of schoolchildren for promoting road safety? Jason C. McLean on how the SPVM have lost the plot with bylaw P6 and may be doing serious damage to the city’s image.

Why not give your time? Volunteering in Montreal
by Melanie Renaud

Melanie Renaud discovers the joy of volunteering. She also has some advice on how to get started giving your time in Montreal.

Your City Your Candidates: Richard Bergeron
by Taylor Noakes

Taylor Noakes’ series of Montreal municipal election candidate profiles included this in-depth chat with Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron. They talk about how he would deal with the provincial government if elected mayor as well as P6 and comments he made about the anti-police brutality march.

imadake

Irish pubs are boring. Go to a Japanese pub like Imadake instead
by Joshua Davidson

It’s high time for izakaya, the Japanese pub concept to take its place among the more lasting trends in food, according to Joshua Davidson. In this piece, he reviews Imadake, a rowdy Japanese eat-and-drinkery located on the western edge of downtown Montreal.

Mark Marek case will test the limits of freedom of expression in Canada
by David DesBaillets

Is freedom of expression absolute in Canada? David DesBaillets takes a look at one case where it might not be.

A Talking Cat!?!: Autopsy of a Film
by Thomas O’Connor

Thomas O’Connor takes a unique approach to tackle a uniquely bad film. It’s not a takedown, it’s an autopsy.

Daniel Marin: The Barber of Blue Dog
by Yasmine Dalloul

In one of the more unique profiles we ran this year, fashion writer Yasmine Dalloul speaks with barber Daniel Marin. The interesting part is where he cuts hair: in a bar.

Is the Liberal Party still liberal?
by Niall Clapham Ricardo

With Justin Trudeau now Liberal leader, many have been wondering if Trudeaumania will come back. Niall Clapham Ricardo proposes that Trudeaumania could just be nostalgia for something that never was.

Best of Fantasia: Interview with The Dirties director Matt Johnson
by Pamela Fillion

One of the most buzz-worthy films at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival was The Dirties, which won several awards at the Slamdance Film Festival. Pamela Fillion got the opportunity to speak to director, writer, and co-star Matt Johnson.

Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson and the tools for change
by Jason C. McLean

Jason C. McLean interviews activist Katie Nelson in this piece from late August. She is the self-proclaimed anarchist and Concordia student who is suing the City of Montreal and the SPVM for political profiling during the student protests.

Johnny Scott’s Search for Sasquatch
by Johnny Scott

This piece is about much more than Johnny Scott’s wish for a brotherly bond with Sasquatch, the elusive forest dweller he believes really exists. It raises questions about humanity’s loss of faith in friendship and love as a whole.

Motivational Blah Blah
by Jimmy Gutman

Inspirational quotes, motivational speakers, the power of the individual: Jimmy Gutman calls bullshit on the matter in this humorous but dead serious piece.

What the Twerk? The Miley Cyrus Aftermath
by Jessica Klein

Jessica Klein is more surprised by the reaction to what Miley Cyrus did at the VMAs than the twerking itself. This piece offers quite an interesting analysis.

 

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The past year has been great for Montreal’s music scene, and by ‘great’ I mean absolute fucking insanity. It’s well-known that this city has a booming music scene but it’s astonishing how tough it can be to keep on top of it all. We tried to have as many of our dirty fingers in as many pies as possible to bring you everything the city has to offer.

Montreal is truly the city of festivals and no one stops going out just because the temperature drops. Igloofest weekends in January were some of the coldest of the year, but that didn’t stop our contributors Heidy Pinet and Naakita Feldman-Kiss from being there and having a good time.

Igloofest
Igloofest

The outdoor fun doesn’t stop there: the end of February brought us another successful edition of Montréal En Lumière, culminating as always with Nuit Blanche, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

Misteur Valaire at CMW
Misteur Valaire at CMW

In March, Forget The Box was at Canadian Music Week, which takes place in Toronto. Heidy Pinet caught the M for Montreal showcase, representing some of the best in French-language artists from our own backyard: Misteur Valaire and Ponctuation. Stephanie Laughlin caught both sets by Ben Caplan and Stephanie Beatson had a chat with Mo Kenney.

As winter gave way to spring, festival season was really upon us. The Montreal Hip Hop Festival celebrated its second edition this year and truly established itself as a permanent fixture of the festival circuit.

Heidy Pinet is the authority at FTB when it comes to electronic music and she created a playlist as a preview to Mutek, which took place at the end of May.

June brought us the Montreal Folk Fest, held outside along the Lachine Canal and the stinking piss-fest that took over the small town of Montebello, also known as Rockfest.

At the end of June, some of us got to go away to Toronto to experience the mind-boggling craziness that is NXNE. We saw Quiet Company, D I A N A, Dan Deacon, Imaginary Cities, Smif-n-Wessun, The Julian Taylor Band, Coeur de Pirate, Moon King, Foxtrott, Whiskey Epiphany, Odonis Odonis, Joey Bada$$, Crhymes, Star & Micey, Frank Ryan, Willie Stratton & The Boarding Party, and Santiago X The Natural.

Santiago X The Natural at NXNE
Santiago X The Natural at NXNE

Those of us stuck in Montreal had plenty to do with the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Infringement Festival taking place. We interviewed Brooklyn natives Sunshine, who played a raucous set at Barfly; caught the Infringement Hip Hop Show, where our own Jay Manafest had some words to the wise; and braved the rain for the Dumpster Dive Art Drive.

Continuing our festival coverage, we saw the Stooges Brass Band at Festival International Nuits D’Afrique.

The beginning of August brought us the 15th anniversary of MEG, Montreal’s oldest electronic music festival. Festival founder Mustapha Terki spoke to us about the changing face of electronic music and the future of the festival.

Meanwhile, our Toronto contributor Stephanie Beatson found herself at the last ever edition of TO’s ALL CAPS! Island Festival, which featured performances by Hooded Fang and Shotgun Jimmie.

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Heavy MTL crowd props

Here in Montreal, Heavy MTL offered two days of metal madness. The 5th edition of the festival offered new features like their live pro-wrestling event. They even managed to convert a self-proclaimed festival hater.

Taking place the same weekend as Heavy MTL was the second annual Passovah Summer Music Festival. The team over at Passovah are some of the hardest-working promoters of the local scene in the city and this year, they saw their festival double in size from last year’s. We spoke with Passovah founder Noah Bick about it.

The POP Montreal team put on another stellar festival at the end of September. We got the chance to see many of our top picks this year including Portugal. The Man, Bearmace, Crabe, and METZ.

New to the festival family, Psych Fest took place in October. Festival co-founder John W. Stuart told us how the festival came about.

YT//ST
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan at M for Montreal

Closing off festival season was M for Montreal in November with sets by Seoul, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Murray Lightburn, Born Ruffians and Mac DeMarco.

Although festivals took up our attention all year round, they were by no means the only things we covered in 2013. We also had the chance to interview some solid noisemakers. Many were part of the local scene including Melted Faces, Atsuko Chiba, How Sad, Braids, Canailles, Two-Year Carnival, the Emery Street Records crew, and the ladies of Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal. We also spoke to some notable out-of-towners including Indian Handcrafts, Crhymes, and Grammy-winning artist Carl Craig.

Rather than partaking in the slimiest of lazy journalistic traditions – the Best Albums of the Year list – I will point out that some fantastic releases have come out of the indie scene in Montreal and surrounding areas. In no particular order, here are some of the releases that have caught our attention this year:

Atsuko Chiba – Jinn

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – UZU

Seb Black – On Emery Street

Land of Kush – The Big Mango

Crabe – Mort de fraîche date

Saltland – I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us

Sunshine – Down & Up Blues

Groenland – The Chase

Ponctuation – 27 Club

No Bones – Belongings

Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark

Well that wraps up the 2013 year in review for music here at Forget The Box. We’ll start it all over again in January.

10-things-food-josh

Many seminal things happened in 2013 in the culinary world. Here is a review of 10 moments that will forever affect how we eat, cook or play with our food.

But as “the culinary world” is really a thousand worlds, I’ve picked two from each of five different “regions.”

Montréal

1. We got food trucks back

However sanitized their reentry, 2013 saw the dismantling of legal obstacles to “mobile” food-selling and preparation in this city. After 60 years, this is no small feat and we shouldn’t take it lightly. Staid and stationary as the trucks might be right now, their presence will inevitably grow more fluid–and irrevocably change our sense of public space. Moreover, as mobile food enterprises grow, traditional restaurants will be challenged to evolve to remain viable, affecting cost, menus and overall experience.

2. No-shows got shamed

Thanks in part to a great article in The Gazette, those self-absorbed you-know-whats who simply vanish at reservation time were finally outed. While they weren’t exactly named, they were certainly shamed. Dialogue from the article spread far and wide and the concept of snubbing restauranteurs became akin to aiming a crossbow at the heart of a vulnerable local hub.

 

Québec

3. Rooftop greenhouses hit the big time

Once just a curiosity in an Ahuntsic warehouse, Lufa Farms has in two short years become well-known to Montréalers. The rooftop greenhouse has been supplying local homes and restos with foodScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 1.48.43 AM since 2011.

But it was in 2013 that its mission hit the mainstream–and became a household name province-wide. This year Lufa opened its second, arguably more ambitious operation in Laval, vowing to export the model to the states. Québec City has already gotten on board, with a massive industrial rooftop greenhouse in the works for next year. Hell, rooftop greenhouses were so big in 2013 that they could even be spotted in yuppie-oriented Toyota Prius ads!

4. Critics finally learned to eat “out” (of town)

A proliferation of rural eateries seemed to make the press this year, led by Lesley Chesterman’s choice forays to À la table des jardins sauvages, Vices-Versa, and Bistro Champlain and M-C Lortie’s recurring crusades. Not to mention Dany St-Pierre (of Sherbrooke’s Auguste) winning Montréal’s chi-chi “Golden Plates” competition. Will finicky urban masses be quick to follow?

Canada

5. Celeb Canadian chefs trashed celeb American chefs for posing with this creepy mascot

I won’t get into the entire complicated backstory of the Chefs for Seals campaign, which hit fever pitch this year as thousands of the most glitzy (and Food Networked) US chefs signed on as mouthpieces for the warm and fuzzy cause. What’s important is that the fallout might have dented our neighbourly culinary relations and strengthened our national culinary community forever.

The US boycott of Canadian seafood provoked so much bark-back (seals, harbours…get it?) that Canadian chefs stood united and found a common voice. Their cause? To support hard-working fishing communities, respectfully-fished Canadian seafood products and the tradition of common sense.

There’s no end to the boycott in sight…but even a cursory glance at the debate reveals that Canadian chefs emerged victorious: respectful, rational, and reinvigorated in the face of their hypocritical foie-gras touting counterparts, most of whom just seemed desperate for a photo op.

6. Poutine restaurants officially became an epidemic

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Though poutine took Williamsburg, then the world, by storm a few years ago, the explosion of the “poutine restaurant” belongs to 2013.

With few exceptions, the poutine-only resto has been a novelty even in Québec until very recently. And though many scoffed at Smoke’s Poutinerie et al.’s attempts to usurp casse-croûtes on their home turf, the reality is that most poutine restaurants have thrived.

2013 saw poutine the theme of a Top Chef Canada episode, an otherwise respectable production, whose host introduced it (without irony) as “the one and only Canadian national dish.” And lest you think poutine still hasn’t found the mainstream, consider this: McDonalds across (gulp!) Toronto now feature the oozy delight.

North America

7. Jiro got reincarnated in New York (sort of)

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 1.45.38 AMMany consider the greatest living sushi master to be Jiro Ono, proprietor of ten-seat Sukiyabashi Ono in a Tokyo métro station. Ono has won three Michelin stars and international fame after David Gelb’s acclaimed 2011 documentary.

Portrayed as a rare relic of en era where masters lived, slept and, yes, dreamt sushi, critics were divided on whether Ono’s lineage would fully survive in Japan. But it seems it is North Americans who can breathe the most easy.

Ono protégé Daisuke Nakazawa (whose devotion to his master is insane in the aforementioned documentary) has opened his own shop in New York, and it appears to be the real deal…dare we say the boldest embodiment of Ono’s ethos outside Japan?

Unexpected, amazing, and only a six hour drive away now! North American sushi will never be graded by the same standards again.

8. Mexico is part of North America, remember?

The hard work of Enrique Olvera is legendary–only a decade ago, the hard-working chef was hand drywalling his space in Mexico City. Now, he has climbed inside the top 20 restaurants in the world. Sure, it’s an elite and controversial list. But it’s not only a testament to Olvera’s perseverance and artistry with Pujol, it’s a sharp reminder to the US (okay, Canada too) that Mexico is part and parcel of “North AmericanScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 1.53.00 AM haute cuisine.” And, when it comes to culinary “fine art”–they’re here to stay.

World

9. The art of fermentation exploded

Not literally: no cooks were reported hurt by shards of broken glass from flying kimchi. But in 2013 chefs and cooks took the art of fermentation to the next level.

First, there was Sandor Katz’s landmark book, which proved its relevance to flavour, cooking and health. Next there was David Chang’s heady hit show that explored the intricacies of tsukemen, katsoubushi, kimchi and more, and MAD Food Camp (the culinary TED)’s focus on fermentation as the vanguard of gastronomical experimentation, and many other chefs’ insistence that given global food uncertainties anyone could–and should–culture at home. Far from a trend, the culinary world’s interest in fermentation is here to stay and will only get better with age.

10. Eggless eggs happened

Explosively-popular mayos and doughs suggest that “tech startup” Hampton Creek is well on its way to its goal of an eggless society. Its goal is to “surpass” the egg in taste, nutrition, cost and sustainability. Using only plants. So far, it has managed to draw sustained ire from the dominant industry, a good marker of any product’s culinary impact!

What were the most important moments of your culinary world this year? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @forgetthebox or @joshdavidson

 

512x400xprotests-Casseroles-0521-512x400.jpg.pagespeed.ic.XaSrkMjQzC

We always strive to offer a healthy mix of local, national and international content. In 2012, though, local Montreal and Quebec news took on international stature and importance due to one ongoing event: the Maple Spring.

The Quebec student movement is one of the most vocal youth movements in North America and student activists were also involved with groups participating in Occupy Montreal.

When the camps were dismantled, Quebec student protesters took the tenacity of the movement to their fight against Quebec premier Jean Charest’s tuition increase and hit the streets with passion. Their protests inspired activists around the world.

512x342xmay-22-montreal-protest-512x342.jpg.pagespeed.ic.hUxK4t0op2The red square became a symbol of resistance to austerity and movement leaders like Gabriel-Nadeau Dubois became household names. With the whole world watching Charest tried to shut the protest down with Bill 78. The law passed late afternoon on a Friday. On Saturday the SPVM showed its ugly side trying to enforce the unenforceable. By Tuesday, there were hundreds of thousands of people marching, many not even students, some even for the tuition increases but against this draconian law.

Then came the casseroles. People around the city started banging on pots and pans outside their homes every night at 8pm. This led to a unique form of community activism where neighbors gathered and then marched through the streets together. People started doing this in Toronto too, and even across Canada and North America. The marches continued, mostly festive, people even finding romance amidst the anarchy, though there were still some ugly incidents where peaceful protesters were kettled and arrested.

After a very tense Grand Prix weekend, things simmered down for the summer and after one final big night march and rally following the departure of Nadeau-Dubois as spokesperson for the CLASSE, things shifted to the upcoming Quebec election.

The students didn’t back anyone in particular, except for “not Charest” and their candidate won, or rather Charest lost both the premiership which he had held for over nine years and his home riding of Sherbrooke which he had represented both provincially and federally since 1984. Quebec Solidaire picked up a seat (doubling their number), the Coalition Avenir du Quebec (CAQ) did okay, but not as well as expected.

Pauline Marois became premier and her Parti Quebecois formed a minority government. Following the vote and subsequent election night assassination attempt on Marois, she did what she said she would and repealed both the tuition hikes and Law (formerly Bill 78).

Then it was Quebec politics as usual and all we heard about was language, lack of a Canadian flag in the national assembly and what one might expect from the PQ. We also heard about corruption, something people have gotten used to by now.

michael-applebaumThis time, though, the Charbonneau Commission claimed the political careers of longtime unopposed Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt and longtime opposed and criticized though never replaced Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay. Micheal Applebaum, Tremblay’s right-hand man, took his place by breaking ranks with his former Union Montreal party and positioning himself as somewhat of an outsider and a uniter and bridge builder, though some who had been dealing with him in his former borough of NDG may beg to differ (think superhospital plans).

While it took Montreal and Laval over a decade to get their mayors steeped in corruption allegations to grudgingly step aside, Toronto removed the much mocked Rob Ford on a technicality after only two and a half years in office. Torontonians, or more specifically residents of Toronto-Danforth decided to keep the late Jack Layton’s riding NDP orange by electing human rights lawyer and public intellectual Craig Scott.

At the federal level, New Democrats held quite a heated leadership race that started in late 2011 and culminated with the election of Thomas Mulcair in April. The Liberals also, well, they didn’t elect anyone, but we’re pretty sure who’s going to win their nomination.

Both parties spent most of their time trying to stop Stephen Harper’s conservatives from drastically changing Canada’s identity. Harper, on the other hand, was in a mood to pass sweeping bills in 2012.

With the Omnibus Crime Bill almost a done deal, he shifted his sights to the internet. Once SOPA and PIPA failed to pass in the states in January and therefore didn’t make any headway in Canada, the conservatives came up with Bill C-30, which attacked people’s Internet privacy.

In response to the outcry against this bill, public safety minister Vic Toews, probably trying to emulate George W. Bush, ended up having a Ted Stevens “internet’s a series of tubes” moment. He declared in Parliament that Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia “can either stand with us or with the child pornographers” and that was it.

512x384xvic-toews-cartoon-512x384.jpg.pagespeed.ic.u7BQT3xPDqJokes and memes ensued and a few people even tried to show Toews what invasion of privacy could be like if it happened to him. The bill was quietly shelved.

A backbench Conservative MP introduced a backdoor to banning abortion bill. It was defeated, but not without the minister responsible for the status of women voting for it and against the status of women’s reproductive rights.

Score one for the Internet and the right to choose. Unfortunately, Canada’s environment and native communities fared considerably worse in 2012 as Bill C-45 passed.

Those lakes that were protected? Unless they happen to be in a conservative riding, they’re not anymore. Native land? A whole lot easier for corporations to have their way with.

The silver lining? This bill has mobilized many communities with Idle No More’s feather looking like the red square of 2013.

His critics have always said that Harper can out-Bush Dubya. Maybe so, but even he couldn’t get more head-scratchingly regressive than some of the Republican presidential candidates thrown up for public digestion in 2012.

When they settled on Mitt Romney, the guy who would say anything to get elected and his Ayn Rand-loving devout Christian running mate it was clear, at least to progressives living outside of fortress America, that Obama was going to win.

Not so much hope and change this time, but more rationalism then we’ve seen from the States in a while. The socially progressive, fiscally middle of the road, very well-spoken mild mannered man with a bit of a thing for predator drones seemed like the logical choice.

Also, he’s the guy who didn’t want to cut FEMA and believes in climate change. Also he actually seemed to care and help out when millions were affected by Hurricane Sandy. After the election, the cleanup still continues.

Violence continued as well with mass-killings in elementary schools and movie theaters and the middle east is still as shit-storm.

The world didn’t end in 2012. Just maybe, though, we are at the end of a cycle.

Back in Quebec, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois was convicted of encouraging people to break the law and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. He’ll appeal it on principle, though maybe arguing that he’s already put in well more than that could work, too.

No matter what, it’s a small price to pay for your place in history.

 

occupy-nyc-21

Back in the day (and by this I mean 2009) coming up with the top posts of the year wasn’t all that hard. We didn’t have all that many posts on FTB to choose from. My how times have changed!

This year, not only did we publish our 1000th post overall, we also significantly increased our news and political coverage as well as the number and variety of arts and music shows and festivals we attended. We were also voted third best blog in the Montreal Mirror’s annual best of Montreal survey.

While it may have taken a bit longer than expected (admittedly, this is really, really late, but we’ve been busy), our list of our top 20 posts of 2011 is here. We asked our writers to tell us their favourite posts or the posts they felt were the most important, both by themselves and other writers  that appeared on FTB over the year.

The list we got includes everything from slut pride to touching tributes to the hippie side of Occupy to burlesque to ponies. So now, in no particular order, here are FTB’s 20 top posts of 2011:

Occupy Everything: My Hippie Perspective Occupy was all over the news this year but for Dawn McSweeney, a self-confessed hippie, it signified the revolution she had been waiting for and our culture has needed since the 60s.

SlutWalk Montreal: The Power of Sexy People After a Toronto police officer made the unfathomable statement that in order to avoid getting raped, women should stop “dressing like sluts,” activists started mobilizing to send the message that victim blaming and slut shaming were not okay. After the initial Toronto march, solidarity SlutWalks started popping up around North America. FTB’s Andrea Wong reported from the Montreal protest walk organized by members of Glam Gam productions and STELLA.

A True Progressive: Remembering Jack Layton Ethan Cox with a touching tribute to the late Jack Layton, a man who will be remembered by many for sticking to the progressive values he believed in.

My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic: The Perfect Drug Mike Gwilliam admits he is a Brony. A brony is someone who loves My Little Pony. For Mike, the show is an addiction, akin to chocolate covered heroin.

On Devil’s Sunday, There Was Blood, Lots of It We’ve been covering the Blood Ballet Cabaret almost since they started and they keep getting better and better. Jason C. McLean was at their last show in Montreal for a while. He reports that it was bloody, funny and damn sexy.

Why Occupy? When the Occupy movement was about to come to Canada, some were asking if it had the same relevance here that it did in the US. In this piece, Ally Henderson showed us how the 99% in Canada had the same, if not more, reason to protest the gap between rich and poor.

Murder Most Raunchy: Glam Gam’s If Looks Could Kill, They Will @ Cafe Cleopatre Glam Gam Productions have always done raunchy burlesque comedy well and don’t mind a bit (or a lot) of nudity as well. With this show, they proved that they can do something else well, too: plot. Jason C. McLean reviews this all-out murder mystery.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Friday’s Osheaga Experience This year we sent a team to Osheaga, covering shows, interviewing bands and taking it all in. On Day One, Jessica Alley reported that she felt a little like Alice in Wonderland.

Cum One, Cum All at the Cinema l’Amour This year, sex columnist Jessica Klein and film reviewer (now music and arts writer) Stephanie Laughlin went on a field trip of sorts, to the infamous Montreal porn theatre Cinema l’Amour on couples’ night. Turns out the place lived up to its seedy reputation.

Pump Up the Bandwidth, Pirate the Internet After the now ousted, then still fighting Mubarak regime in Egypt shut off the internet completely, Jason C. McLean wondered what would happen if they try that here (which, because of SOPA, may be closer to reality then it was back in February when this piece was written). He argues that we may have to look to a 90s Christian Slater movie for a way to fight for our online rights.

Infringement Part 3: The End is Near Brian Keegan with his thrid report from the always interesting Montreal Infringement Festival. In this piece, he checks out the multimedia Smoke n’ Mirrors show while Anal Pudding temporarily bunks down in his apartment.

Alien invasions are imminent. Sort of. Laurence Tenenbaum experiments with automatic writing in this piece he wrote on very little sleep. It’s all about aliens, conspiracies, the Mayflower and chem trails. No animals were harmed in the writing of this post.

Day 1 Movement 2011: Welcome to Paradise Heidy Pinet filed three reports from the 2011 Movement electronic music festival in Detroit. In her odyssey of music and partying, she spoke with some of the key performers, kept things Detroit-local and avoided being swept up by a tornado. This is the fist in the series.

Why does women + being funny onscreen equal such a problem? Inspired by the film Bridesmaids, Stephanie Laughlin asks why women in comedies have, for the most part, been relegated to the less-than hilarious roles.

CMW Day 2: Pure Amazement – Alcoholic Faith Mission, Racoon Bandit, Whale Tooth and more As part of our Canadian Music Week coverage, Cassie Doubleday mixed a review of multiple shows with an analysis of the Toronto scene overall. And this while waxing philosophical about life and judging others.

Riding the Lightning With the execution of Troy Davis looming (now carried out) and the emergence of Rick Perry in the Republican presidential race (now a non-issue), Quiet Mike wrote about the borader issue of capital punishment and why the US is one of only five developped countries to still execute people.

Using Socialism to Finance a Transportation Revolution in Canada Taylor Noakes on the need for a better rail system in Canada and just how to pay for it. As one person in the comments noted, this is the first time they read an article on rail travel that didn’t include mention of New York or Boston.

A Pirate’s Guide to Downloading: Free Stuff, No Torrents, Faster Speeds, No Problem Mike Gwilliam with a guide of interesting ways to download stuff for free from the web you may not have heard of. From Mediafire to sports to heavy metal, you may be suprised about what you don’t know.

Das Klimahaus ist gut! World’s first climate change museum gives visitors the 8th degree Tomas Urbina went to Germany and then got transported around the world…or at least that’s how it seemed. He was visiting The Journey, an exhibit at the world’s first climate change museum Klimahaus (Climate House) that takes visitors on a trek through all the world’s different climate zones, from mountain glaciers to the desert. This is the first of his two part report.


ohland montreal osheaga

Forget The Box loves to go out onto the streets of Montreal ‘n beyond and shoot photos of local shows and events. Over the course of the last year we’ve gotten some pretty good shots, so we wanted to collect a few of them for you all in one spot. Let us know in the comments below which ones are your favourites!

Jack Layton at the Election Rally in Montreal

The Montreal Fetish Weekend

The play Joe Louis: An American Love Story

 

The Montreal Slut Walk

Montreal Everything to do About Sex Convention

This one was just cute

Sherlock Homo and Twatson at Glam Gam’s Murder Mystery Burlesque show

The Montreal ComicCon

burlesque girl

Blood Ballet Cabaret

Occupy Montreal

Glam Gam’s Murder Mystery Burlesque show

Blood Ballet Cabaret

While out and about we covered quite a few awesome music shows as well. Here are a couple of our fondest memories from music performances!

Flaming Lips at Osheaga

balconies montrealThe Balconies at POP Montreal

ohland montreal osheagaOh Land @ Osheaga

Tokyo Police Club montreal osheagaTokyo Police Club at Osheaga

sheepdogs montrealSheepdogs at Osheaga

 Alcoholic faith mission @ CMWAlcoholic Faith Mission at Canadian Music Week

Sadies Sexsmith

The Sadies with Ron Sexsmith at Canadian Music Week

bran van 3000

Bran Van 3000 at M for Montreal

Michou montreal

The Drummer from Michou skateboarding down St. Hubert street after their gig at CFCF

Hope you like these picks and tell us which are your favorites in the comments below!

Shafia Trial

I know that these year in review columns, annoying though they may be, are all the rage around New Years (apologies for the lateness). Also, that they remain a cheap way for hack journalists and bloggers to basically recycle the past years work while, at the same time, attempting to pass it off as new content. So, without further ado, here are my personal top Canadian legal highlights for the year 2011 (in no particular order):

The trial of Mohammad Shafia

This has to be at the top of anyone’s end of year legal review, just for the sheer amount of ink spilled by the massive media coverage of the trial. By any objective criminal justice standard, the case has all the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster, except maybe the mystery of whodunit. The shocking deaths of Mr. Shafia’s 3 daughters as well as his first wife, in an alleged car accident that drowned them all in the Rideau canal outside Kingston, has brought the issue of so called honour killings to the attention of the Canadian public, in horrifically dramatic fashion. The Montreal family of Afghanistan immigrants was torn apart by tensions over their father’s fears of assimilation.

In the course of the ongoing trial, the suspects were charged with four counts of first degree murder as well as conspiracy to commit murder, and characterized by sensational quotes such as Shafia’s supposed liberalism being an “8.5 out of 10” on the Afghanistan scale (whatever the hell that means?), which have dominated the headlines about the trial.

The trial of Dr. Turcotte

Or “l’affaire Turcotte” as the Québec media has dubbed it. This is another potential subject for a movie, albeit a morbidly psychotic one. The details of this tragedy are almost unspeakable: a father, apparently driven mad over an affair that his doctor wife was having, brutally murders his two daughters and then attempts suicide by drinking anti-freeze (what kind of doctor would think that this is the way to go?).

Dr. Turcotte was subsequently found criminally non-responsible by a jury for the murders which he confessed to, by virtue of a defense of insanity, much to the shock and horror of the general public. To add insult to injury, the decision to have him institutionalized in a mental hospital is now under review, and there is a chance that he will soon be liberated!

The Insite case

Since I have already written a piece about this landmark case, I won’t repeat myself here. This was the case involving the safe injection program in Vancouver’s East Side (i.e. the Insite program) trying to renew its exemption from prosecution under the criminal law. But, it bears reiterating that this decision, which reversed the earlier decision made by the Minister of Health on a point of abuse of her discretionary power, was based on the notion that future decisions by the minister must take into account whether their policies have a sound basis in scientific evidence. Otherwise they run the risk of being overturned, like this one was, on the grounds that they breach a Charter right.

BC Supreme Court Polygamy Case

Now, it just so happens, that I wrote about one of the other cases that caused a sensation among the press and general public (yes, I’m plugging my own work; sue me!): The Supreme Court of British Columbia’s opinion on the right of a small group of polygamous Mormons living in Bountiful. The opinion successfully balanced the competing Charter rights of freedom of religion and equality, by appealing to society’s right to prevent harm, namely that of the women and children who find themselves in these relationships. Much to my surprise, not even the Harper government came to the defense of these religious zealots and their backward beliefs. Bravo!

Images: cbc.ca, mercatornet.com

Alcoholic Faith Mission play at Canadian Music Week in March

Alcoholic Faith Mission play at Canadian Music Week in March

From infringing on corporate culture in Montreal and Buffalo, venue hoping in Toronto during Canadian Music Week, catching experimental music in Brooklyn and hanging with bonafide rock stars at Osheaga, 2011 proved to be yet another exciting year for the arts section at Forget the Box.

Those arctic Montreal winters be dammed, in February FTB was out in force reporting on the city’s annual Nuit Blanche celebrations. Editor in Cheif Jason C. McLean was at Smoke n’ Mirrors, a monthly multi media event at Xpressions Gallery run by Infringement Festival contributor Jay Lemieux. Former arts and culture editor (and still beloved FTB friend) Cassie Doubleday meanwhile checked out the We are Women Artists show.

In 2011 FTB moved beyond our indie rock roots. Not only did music writer Brian Guthmann give us a review of the experimental music Acid Mother Temple show in Brooklyn, but we welcomed electronic music writer Heidy Pinet. Pinet not only provided some awesome electronic playlists for us to enjoy, but also gave reports from two electronic music festivals; Mutek in Montreal and Movement in Detroit.

In March we took a trip down the 401 and checked out Canadian Music Week in Toronto. As FTB creative director Chris Zacchia ran around town like a mad man shooting bands (which honestly isn’t exactly new territory for him) Cassie and FTB co-founder/music writer Jerry Gabriel spent four days watching and reporting on shows that included Alcoholic Faith Mission, Little City, Barr Brothers and Sammy Hagar.

Film writer Stephanie Laughlin also saw Sammy Hagar during CMW… sitting down the row from her during the film festival portion of Canadian Music Week. Held in the newly constructed home of The Toronto International Film Festival TIFF Bell Lightbox, CMW FF was two days of music inspired films. Amongst the programming included the trippy experimental film Beyond the Black Rainbow and a rare print of the 1979 film Quadrophenia.

FTB embarked on more film excursions in 2011, albeit this next one was of much seedier nature. In April Stephanie and sex columnist Jessica Klein embarked on FTB’s first ever joint column experiment in which they took a trip to the Montreal porn theatre Cinema L’amour. Not only did their adventure provide two interesting articles, but it gave the ladies some excellent cocktail party banter for years to come.

A burlesque performer shakes her stuff at a Smoke n’ Mirrors show during the 2011 Infringement Festival

Although there are interesting arts events in this city all year round, it’s when the snow melts and the temperature rises that things really kick into gear in Montreal. In June FTB checked out for the first time the Montreal Folk Festival. And instead of re-hashing all the things that have been said to death about the Montreal Infringement festival versus that “other” Montreal festival, FTB friend and occasional contributor Brian Keegan gave a fresh perspective on what it means to Infringe. Brian also reviewed the excellent music portion of this years festival, which included shows from Annie Becker, Elgin Skye and Buffalo based band Anal Pudding. Jason meanwhile headed down to Buffalo in August to give a report on the Buffalo Infringement festival…and as always had a great time.

One event that everyone at FTB is always eager to cover is the August music festival Osheaga. Arts writer Jessica Alley and Chris had a fun adventure drinking mimosas and catching Broken Social Scene, while Jessica Klein scored a big interview with Saskatoon band The Sheepdogs,  who shortly after talking to FTB landed the cover of a print magazine you may have heard of called Rolling Stone.

By September, FTB was back at covering one of our favourite festivals, Pop Montreal. Coverage this year included a review of the annual Pop Montreal/ Indyish collaboration and shows by Matt Stern and Deep Dark Woods. Fall 2011 also saw music writer Beth Luscombe interviewing Juno award winners Said the Whale and FTB contributor Azra Rashid giving us a profile on independent  Montreal painter Ray Nylund.

Now that 2012 is upon us, FTB is looking forward to another year jammed packed with music shows, plays, film festivals and anything else fun and interesting that might catch our eye. And most of all, we look forward to sharing our experiences with you. Here’s to a great year.

occupy-mtl-36

With revolution in the streets from the Middle East to middle America, a major power shift in Ottawa and a smattering of other events that would have stolen the headlines in any other year, 2011 will be largely remembered as the year that got the ball rolling for the future, good or bad.

In late December 2010, Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself alive instead of bribing municipal officials. That act of defiance inspired others all around the country and by February a wave of protest had engulfed much of the Arab world. Rulers who had held power for over two decades in places like Egypt fell and in the case of Kaddafi (with a little American war machine help) lost their lives.

The Arab Spring, as it was later dubbed, also demonstrated the power of the internet as a mobilizing tool, a tool that became very prominent later in the year when Tahrir Square inspired Zucotti Park (or Liberty Plaza), the home base of Occupy Wall Street for several months until Michael Bloomberg evicted the protesters in the middle of the night. What started out as a protest largely ignored by mainstream media blossomed into a full-blown phenomenon within a month when it spread to other communities in the US and many Canadian cities including Montreal and Toronto just a couple of days after Bloomberg’s first and unsuccessful attempted eviction.

With most of those encampments dismantled, some through commando-style raids (a very heavy-handed enforcement of parks regulations if you ask me), terms like “the 99%” firmly entrenched in our collective lexicon and images of pepper-spray cops and injured protesters seared into our minds, thoughts have turned to the future of the movement and what the next step or steps would be. It looks like this idea won’t be going away anytime soon.

Another thing that won’t be going away for at least four years is the Conservative Majority Government in Canada. After having lost the confidence of the House of Commons for refusing to reveal the cost of several bills, Harper’s minority government fell, sparking an April election.

The result of that election gave Harper the power to bring in his full agenda. Now we’re facing multiple pieces of legislation jammed together as the “Safe Streets and Communities Act” (also known as the Omnibus Crime Bill C10). While there are some good parts to the bill that are hard to argue against, like the stiffer sentences for child molesters, they are packaged with other regulations that sound like the same type of retribution-based policies tried out in the states a decade ago and now rejected even by Republican governors.

Canada is looking at mandatory minimum sentences, the criminalization of recreational drug use, more prisons and stiffer sentences for pot dealers than the aforementioned child molesters. And all this when our crime rate has been dropping for years. People have been fighting it, though: LeadNow.ca has created a petition and email writing campaign and (FTB project) ItCouldGetWorse.com started a complimentary video campaign to fight the proposed bill. After C10 passed the Conservative-controlled parliament, attention shifted to senators and provincial premiers.

Will a mostly internet-driven campaign work? Well, before the election, mass online mobilization helped shelve the Internet Meter and efforts by OpenMedia.ca got the majority Conservatives to remove internet and cellphone surveillance provisions from the Omnibus, so it looks like internet campaigns do work.

The election also produced the biggest political power shift in recent Canadian memory. The NDP, a party that had been all but written off in Quebec rode an Orange Wave of popularity to become the official opposition for the first time in its history, jumping from one to 58 seats in Quebec, reducing the Bloc Québécois to a mere four seats and almost wiping out the Liberals in the province as well while reducing them to third place nationally.

The new opposition started off out of the gate running, attempting to filibuster a lockout of Canada Post employees and vowing to hold the Conservatives’ feet to the fire when needed. Things seemed to be going great, until leader Jack Layton, the man who had pulled off the political upset of the decade and who had considerably high appeal, especially in Quebec, announced that he was facing a new type of cancer in late July.

When he passed away roughly a month later, he left a message that inspired Canadians. He also left a leadership vacuum not only for his party but for the political left in Canada.

The NDP is now in the process of picking a new leader and has already held its first debate. A leader that will take charge of a party that finds itself in a much different place  both power-wise and organizationally than it could have possibly predicted it would be in at the beginning of the year.

There were some ups and downs locally as well. Cafe Cleopatre started off the year facing expropriation. After  both the city and developer Angus dropped their plans to expropriate, Cleo finished the year facing a different kind of threat: neglect. Intentional neglect of the surrounding buildings all purchased by Angus over the past few years and now left to ruin.

Meanwhile south of the border, President Barack Obama, after getting the credit for the death of Osama Bin Laden, is gearing up to face one of the handful of Republican candidates. He also signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, despite promising to veto it. It contains provisions for warrantless detainment and execution on US soil, even of US citizens. That along with SOPA looming on the horizon mean that in 2012 we’ll only start to see the results of the restrictions that began this year.

If you consider the restrictive measures on the horizon in the US and Canada, continued global protest in the form of the Arab Spring and Occupy, a drastically changed re-alignment in government and the increased importance of the Internet, the proverbial shit is about to hit the fan everywhere. When people look back to where it started, chances are they’ll come to the conclusion that 2011 is when the spark was lit.

baconlube

2011 was a great year to be a sex columnist… oh who am I kidding, any year is a great year to cover all the things that turn us on, make us wet and get us off!

The best part about writing this column is my in the field work covering sex-related events. This year, I rode a bike naked with about a hundred others for the Midnight Naked Bike Ride, donned a PVC corset and backcombed the shit out of my hair for Montreal Fetish Weekend, and interviewed Ewan Currie, the lead singer of The Sheepdogs backstage at Osheaga, the day before they won the Rolling Stone cover contest. Backstage waiting for the interview to start, I saw one of my musical heroes, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips driving by on a golf cart, I called to him “I love your music!” as he beamed back at me and waved.

In January, photographer Chris Zacchia and I attended the Everything to do with Sex Convention at Place Bonaventure, where we shared the fun new game of sex bingo with everyone we met. We made cards filled with silly, scintillating and sexy things we thought we’d find at the convention, and checked them off as we went.

One of the items I sought, “meaty lube”, was borne of a dream of bacon lube and thanks to a company called J&D’s, is now a reality… because everything should taste like bacon. It was at that very convention that I made the best investment of the year, a high-end pleasure object by the name of Ina. We hit it off right away, even as other toys and dildos tried to vie for my attention, I kept coming back to Ina.

Another highlight of the year was my collaboration with former Friday Film Review columnist Steph Laughlin. She suggested we check out a porno in a theatre together, something neither of us had done before, so we went to the infamous Cinema L’Amour on Couples Night. We knew we’d be witnessing sordid acts on screen, but were a tad shocked to discover they occurred between the pervy patrons when the lights go out. “So ladies, if your idea of a sexy good time is giving head to a slew of random older dudes, head on down to the Cinema L’Amour.” This also became my #1 icebreaker story to tell at parties this year.

Sex was constantly breaking headlines this year. In a true demonstration of the power of words, Slutwalks took place across the globe. The one here in Montreal was attended by at least a thousand and made the front page of the Gazette. Bisexual men finally got the recognition they deserved from the research community, and performing oral sex was linked to throat cancer in men via the HPV virus.

I have a few interesting ideas up my sleeve for 2012. I would like to reach out to my readers to find out more about their sexual desires, preferences and habits. Many of my readers have asked me about the places in Montreal where you can get tested for STIs, a topic I would like to cover early in the new year. I’m also planning on examining a few different online dating sites to ascertain who is using which site, with either positive or negative results. Finally, to quench my thirst for new adventures and experiences, I would also like to review some sexy establishments like strip clubs or the only mixed gender sauna in town in Rosemont.

Melanie Laurent and Ewan McGregor in Beginners

Elizabeth Olsen (right) gave one of my favorite performances of the year in Martha Marcy May Marlene

Recently I had dinner with my friend Alex and as we were enjoying some Korean BBQ the conversation turned, as it often does with Alex and I, to film.

“So, you gonna do a best of the year review for your column?” Alex asked.

“I always do,” I replied, watching with childish glee as my salmon cooked on the grill in front of me.

“So what’s on your best of list for 2011?” Alex responded in between bites of his bibm bahb.

With that question my eyes immediately wandered from my fish and I found myself stunned when no immediate answers came to mind. Was 2011 really that bad of a year for film?

Upon further reflection and looking through columns of mine from the past year I realized that yes, of course, there are plenty of films that I loved. But unlike other years, I found myself not entirely agreeing with what other critics thought was the best of 2011.

For instance, I was bored to tears with Terrance Mallick’s Tree of Life. I know all you film people out there just gasped in horror… I had endless debates about this with my Toronto International Film Festival co-workers this year. Mallick projects are always incredibly beautiful, but like his other projects I found this film incredibly pretentious, and painstaking to watch. I never walk out of films, but for this one I just couldn’t bring myself to sit through it to the end.

I did manage to sit through the other big art film this year, Melancholia, but again I also felt this film was incredibly over hyped. My favourite art house film of the year without a doubt was the Ewan McGregor/Christopher Plummer dramedy Beginners. Even with its themes of depression, failed relationships and death there was an incredible sweetness to it.

I enjoyed Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, and agree that George Clooney gave an excellent performance. But now that it’s awards season, why aren’t more people talking about Elizabeth Olsen’s performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene? As a young woman who’s recently escaped life in a cult, it’s one of the best performances I’ve seen from a young actress in a long time. Props also go out to Deadwood alum John Hawkes for a pitch perfect performance as the creepy as shit cult leader.

Speaking of creepy performances, I also really loved Antonio Banderas in Pedro Almodovar’s newest feature, The Skin I live In. In it Banderas plays a doctor who has kidnapped a myserious woman and starts conducting skin experiments on her. Almodovar has long been one of my favourite directors and really has to produce a major flop for his films not to make my best of lists. The Skin I live in is not his all time best, that honour in my mind still goes to All About My Mother. All of Almodovar’s films deal with some pretty disturbing and complex issues and from those that I’ve seen, this is his most disturbing film yet. But it’s also undeniably engaging and therefore definitely makes my list of best of the year.

Melanie Laurent and Ewan McGregor in Beginners

My favourite films of the year weren’t all about rapists and dying and creepy cult leaders. On the lighter note, my favourite romantic comedies of the year were Crazy, Stupid, Love and Bridesmaids. Crazy, Stupid Love was a smart, grown up comedy that I found myself really drawn to when compared to all the ridiculous romantic comedies targeted to my age group like No Strings Attached or Friends with Benefits. Seriously, should they call 2011 the year that films were all about commitment free sex? Oh wait of course not, because it being Hollywood, the leads have to get together by the end.

I don’t know if I agree with some critics who are pushing for Bridesmaids to get Oscar love. Please don’t misunderstand my statement, it’s not that I don’t think comedies deserve more awards recognition. Call me a purist, but I don’t know how I feel about films with poop jokes winning Oscars. That being said, if you haven’t seen Bridesmaids yet, get on that because it’s a hilarious film.

Another comedy with Oscar buzz that I enjoyed this year was Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Just like Almodovar, this is not the auteur’s best ever work (with Allen for me it’s a tie between Manhattan and Annie Hall) but it’s tons of fun and in my opinion an obvious choice for the best of 2011 list.

Now that the year is coming to a close, my thoughts are drawn to the films I’m looking forward to catching in 2012. Perhaps cause I just saw the trailer yesterday, but at this moment The Dark Knight Rises tops my list. Other 2012 films I can’t wait for include the Tilda Swildon film We need to talk about Kevin and The Kirsten Stewart/Charlize Theron Snow White project Snow White and the Hunstman (while its rival, Mirror Mirror, looks AWFUL).

On a final note, I just wanted to say that this is officially my last column as writer for Friday Film Review. It’s been an amazing two and a half years, but  with the new year comes new beginnings for me at Forget the Box. In 2012 I will be focusing more on adminstrative work for the website, and you can expect reports on me from time to time on fun and interesting events in Montreal, Toronto and beyond. I wish Thomas O’Connor, who officially takes over the column in January, all the best with Friday Film Review. Happy New Year FTB readers!

funny-pictures-sad-white-kitten-bambi-mom

2011: year in review

2011 was a very turbulent year for me. the year started out at a party, and there were many more that followed. I had a room in my apartment that I used for painting, and a studio to practice and play music in. I had a car for most of it too. I turned 35. I got my first laptop computer, which I nearly sold. Just after I decided not to sell it, my desktop computer’s hard drive malfunctioned and hasn’t been useable since. I acquired two new roommates, one of which lasted only a few weeks. I lost my painting room because of it. I could no longer afford to keep up the studio, so I lost that too. A few months later, I sold my main bass. I started therapy. I lost my car. My grandmother passed away at the age of 90. I lost contact with some friends. I made some new friends too. I reconnected with some of the people from my past.

In 2011 we had a federal election. It went the way I wanted it to, a conservative majority, and the NDP winning most of the seats in Quebec, (for the first time ever). There were riots and occupations and class wars, and many dictators from many despotic countries around the world died, or otherwise gave up their control.

I went to the Montreal International Auto Show, and later to the Montreal ComiCon. I missed many things also, in part due to poor finances. I started the year with a credit card. Then lost my job, and the salivating bankers responsible for shipping my job off to Asia rejoiced as my infernal human nature kicked in. They raised the interest rate from obscene to ludicrously obscene. Gas prices went up and down. I had to change banks to avoid getting evicted from my apartment and made homeless by the bank. Somebody frauded me on my credit card, and later, I lost my credit card, and nearly declared bankruptcy, to the point of needing social assistance. I got robbed by a credit card company, harangued by their collection agencies, had my life threatened by them. My credit is officially bad for at least the next six years.

I also changed the formats of my column to video, and ranted a lot more sparsely towards the end of 2011.

2012 marks the beginning of a new era. May 2012 be better for you than 2011 was, and hopefully for me too. A new world begins in 2012!

Who's Next?

I figured, what better way to celebrate the Holidays than with a look back at the year that was with a little humour. I hope you all enjoy!

Have a Merry Christmas, A Happy New Year, A Happy Hanukkah, A kick-ass Kwanzaa and to my Atheist friends, have a beautiful… ordinary day!

The Arab Spring

Watch the Dominoes Fall
One toppled after another
Who's Next?

The Economy

2011 was about debt, not jobs
Not too fast up the hill
Corporations are sitting on close to $3,000,000,000,000...
The Republican theory of trickle down economics

Occupy Wall Street

The Occupied and Unoccupied
American Justice
2011 was the year of the pepper spray

The Republican Presidential Nomination

We all know Republican ideology
An endless amount of debates
Does it matter who is in the driver's seat?
Nope, doesn't matter at all

Let’s no forget Canada in 2011

Conservatives win a majority government
NDP wins over a hundred seats, filled with rookies
The G20 in Toronto
Harper's Crime bill
Harper on the environment

Deaths of 2011

The Death of Kim Jung Il
The Death of Muammar Gaddafi
The Death of Steve Jobs
Osama Bin Laden
The Death of Jack Layton

Other Events of 2011

The Phone Hack Scandal
Two Down, One to go
According to some Republicans, Pizza sauce and French Fries are Vegetables
The Tea Party is still "hanging" around
Haiti's Improvement
The Devastation of Japan
Two Billion tune in to the Royal Wedding
Euro Debt Crisis
Terrorism in Norway

And Finally…

What has really changed?