There’s something we need to talk about. The city of Montreal likes to position itself as a cultural mecca. They finance enormous already-profitable events, spend billions renovating large touristic spaces and pay millions of dollars to light up a bridge. All of that has economic value and I understand why they do it. But, tourism and culture are two different things.

The underground arts community is where every superstar has cut his, her or their chops and where real cultural evolution takes place before it works its way into mass media. Over the last few years, the city’s policies have inadvertently been hurting Montreal’s arts scene. Whether we’re talking about complications related to noise regulations, zoning bylaws or licensing issues, most people in the underground arts community have stories that paint a different narrative.

My story starts about eight years ago. Before Facebook became ubiquitous, independent artists and event presenters had one crucial and affordable way of promoting their events: posters. The city provided little to no space for community announcements and so artists and event presenters used public lampposts to promote their activities. The problem, of course, was that this was illegal.

A group of independent event producers that included Pop Montreal and the Montreal FRINGE Festival were so aggravated by repeated fines imposed by the city that they formed C.O.L.L.E., a working group to address the issue, in 2010. This allowed a conversation to start about a question that disproportionately effects underground creators, since most don’t have the means to buy expensive advertising space.

That same year, the Quebec Superior Court ruled Montreal’s anti-postering law to be illegal and unenforceable. The decision found that unless the city provides space for its residents to display posters and community notices, a regulation limiting their distribution on city property violated its citizens’ free speech rights. After this decision, the city stopped fining event presenters and bands, putting the question to bed temporarily.

The court’s decision gave the city six months to rewrite its postering bylaws. Seven years later, that has still not happened and public postering spaces have not been installed in numbers that come close to satisfying the court’s requirement – this despite numerous proposals and pilot projects presented to the city by members of its cultural community. City employees, though, have again started operating as if the activity were illegal.

I run a cultural business with a few different departments, one of which is a street marketing agency that distributes materials in print and digitally to indoor and outdoor spaces around Montreal to promote cultural activities. We have some clients that are big companies. But, most are independent festivals, labels, venues and artists with limited means. Postering can represent a significant portion of their communications and our work promoting their event on their behalf is unjustly effected.

The city seems to have overlooked this legal precedent and the moral imperative it sets out. Municipal employees seem to still believe that postering is illegal, a falsehood that prompts harassment from city works employees, garbage collectors and most often the police.

The city also prints and installs signage on lampposts warning would-be posterers of that activity’s illegality, citing a regulation that to the best of my research no longer exists – and if it did, it would be unenforceable. It spends time and money installing ridged lampposts meant to make postering more tenuous covered in anti-adhesive paint. It spends hundreds of thousands (and possibly even millions) of dollars every year hiring staff to rip posters off of its lampposts; money that is not counterbalanced by revenues from postering fines, which would be illegal to collect given the current legal context.

In short, this problem from 2010 has resurfaced in a slightly different context. Montreal is, to my knowledge, the only major city in Canada that does not provide public postering space to its citizens. There have been proposals presented by Montreal’s cultural community, including one from myself, which would, it should be noted, not only eliminate costs but generate revenue for the city and which I would be glad to talk more about. But, the city has never dealt with the problem despite the efforts of its creative class to resolve it.

Why should you care? There are three reasons. Firstly, it is your money being wasted. The city spends our tax dollars as it sees fit and bears a serious fiscal responsibility. There are so many city workers now charged with keeping posters off lampposts on major arteries in the city centre that posters are often torn down within the day or even a few hours.

Second, this is a liability for the city and it is your money that will be at risk should a group of citizens decide to sue the city for having supplanted their free speech rights.

Lastly, and this may even be the most important reason, it’s essential to recognize the cultural enrichment being withheld from the public. Emerging musicians, comedians, dancers and visual artists can’t afford to buy ad time on TV, the radio, in the metro or on the sides of city buses. Postering is the one analog real-world promotional avenue in a digitized media-scape that is accessible to our city’s artists and creators. It is affordable, democratic and honest.

I hope you’ll understand my frustration and please know that I’m available to continue the conversation. I’m confident that the municipal government is not indifferent to this issue, since we can all agree that Montreal’s place as a creative hub forms an essential part of the city’s identity. I would like to work to bring about solutions that strengthen our arts community and invite the city and its citizens to join the conversation.

Sincerely,

 

Jon Weisz
Founding Director
Indie Montréal

“Wow you are 29?! You look so much younger than that!”

I am going to start with this: I am not one of those assholes who thinks 30 is old. The year between 29 and 30 is like a year long existential power hour. There are however some social taboos that start becoming very real once you are out of your 20s.

I don’t have a burning desire for children so I’m not mad about my ticking biological clock or rapidly rotting eggs, but it’s definitely my mother’s scare tactic for me to lose weight and find a “good man.” I do all I can to take care of myself and my cats, I couldn’t imagine taking care of a husband and kids, no bueno.

A lot of my friends are living that life though, the fetuses and shiny diamond rings of Facebook are piling up in my feed. My best friend has a beautiful daughter, she is all the kid I need in my life. I want to spoil and nurture her, help teach her the ways of the world. I love when she says Auntie Catherine, it is the cutest thing ever to hear a tiny person who is learning language say your name so distinctly.

I went to a place called Lilydale, a community of psychics and mediums, and two different psychics told me that my grandmother was with me and that she was telling me that there was a baby in my life that I needed to have an influence on and spend more time with. Even from beyond the grave, grandmas give advice to live by.

There are several types of little old lady out there that I strive to become. The cute little granny is my favorite. Easter and Dyngus day always make me think of my little Polish grandmother. I think that all of the little Polish grandmas who have passed should be allowed to rise from the dead at Easter time. Little sweet zombie babushka-wearing darlings armed with a coil of kielbosa, pierogis, and a half melted butter lamb.

butter lamb mac and cheese

I am definitely the woman who wants to feed everyone when they come over. I will throw together an elaborate meal for surprise guests in an instant, it’s a gift. I love sharing food with people and cooking, being a sweet lil old lady is a life goal of mine.

I am proud to own pink flamingos and valor sweatsuits. My everyday look is very reminiscent of a high school art teacher with a few marbles missing.

Then there are the crazy old hags, the spinsters who have a million cats and scare the neighborhood children. Get off my lawn! Frazzled grey hair and a house that looks like a delapatated witch mansion full of cracked porcelain dolls covered in dust. I don’t see that happening to me.

It’s weird to start feeling my age and notice how old you are in comparison to some things. I was dumpster diving with a group of 16 year olds the other day. I was literally corrupting the youth and never felt so good.

I am a late bloomer when it comes to a lot of things in life. I wanted to make sure my brain was fully formed before I fucked it up with drugs and partying. I already feel the scene shifting to people who are at least 5-7 years younger than me.

It is weird when you realize that you are the only one in the room that was even born in the 80s. When I check an ID at the bar and see 1993 I am like whoa you can drink.

I missed my 10 year high school reunion, I don’t know what I would have even done with that. I feel like half of them are married with kids, many divorced, a third are now out as gay, a handful have died, some are in jail, some are in their parents basement playing video games, and the rest are just floundering like me, not really successful but totally surviving. How does one measure success anyways?

I’m not even 30 and my knees hurt when I get up. Unexplainable pains in parts you didn’t know existed. Rickety crickety crackity bones, adding ibuprofen to my daily vitamins, knowing that it doesn’t get easier.

I know that now it is even more important for me to take care of my body. If I don’t change my attitude towards food and exercise its all going to start hurting a hell of a lot more.Easter with grandpa

I love who I am and it doesn’t matter what number my age is, I refuse to grow up. I still get amazed when people think I should be responsible for something.

Like when a young kid asks you to buy him booze. I love the rush of being asked for my id then get mad when I can’t find it and get the dreaded X’s even though I am clearly old enough.

I secretly love the idea of someone thinking I am under 21, how cute. I am not very good at adulting. I can’t even pay my damn bills on time, it’s like a totally irresponsible mental block.

I definitely don’t fully have my shit together, whatever that means. I remember thinking of 30 year olds as having “it” all figured out, yep no clue. Age is just a number babe, I will be that guy picking up young girls with my sweet ride outside of the high school. Different levels of maturity.

There are a lot of important life altering things that happen in your twenties to form who you are. I for one am excited for my dirty thirties. I am starting to feel “success” like when I do something people notice and respect it. This is the time when my generation takes over the torch, it is our time to fix the world, or at least do damage control.

The internet has been mourning and remembering David Bowie ever since news of his passing broke a week ago. Amidst all the sharing of classic Bowie tunes, astonishment at his latest video being a farewell (a performer to the end), personal tributes (like the one FTB’s Cat McCarthy did) anecdotes, musical tributes, Labyrinth nostalgia and his latest album going to number one in the US (something no Bowie album had done before) something caught my attention.

It was a video of a 1999 interview with Bowie by the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman. The conversation turned to the Internet, still a relatively new phenomenon at the time. This was when AOL still shipped CDs and many people still thought it was a fad or simply an emerging platform with which to get pretty much the same content.

Bowie had a different idea. He thought the Internet would fundamentally change the relationship between performer and audience. Over 16 years later, it’s clear he was right.

David Bowie’s enormous talent and creativity were a huge part of his success. His willingness to set trends instead of following them, all the while constantly reinventing his public persona, made it possible for him to have a cultural impact for decades. This much is widely known.

There was, however, a somewhat less known key to his prolonged influence. It was his mind. In particular, his ability to understand our culture on a fundamental level and see just where it was headed. If you want proof, just watch this video:

 

Montreal’s own Milo McMahon graced the back room of Toronto music hot spot The Cameron House for an energetic Canadian Music Week set on Saturday.  Along with drummer Mike Beaton (yes, that’s his true surname) and bassist/back-up vocalist Stephen Court (it was only his third gig with the band and he absolutely killed it), the trio that carries the lead singer/songwriter’s name played a collection of songs both new and those that have been released on Milo’s EP Big City Hustle.

a0626980491_10

Milo’s music touches primarily on rock and roll and alt folk, but being raised in Ireland, he is also able to intersperse the odd Celtic song into the mix.  He is a charming lad, singing with passion about topics including life, love, isolation and persistence.  His band is also wildly talented, and together they make a powerful mix of good sounds and good times.  Milo cranked out some wicked guitar solos, adding some interesting dissonances, and Stephen played some really tasty bass lines.

The group have been touring Canada pretty extensively over the past few months, and are now on reprieve to get back in the studio to record a new record.  Here’s Milo’s video for “Big City Hustle”:

Be on the lookout for more Montreal shows later this year.  His music is available for purchase via his website.

Lately they’re everywhere! From the moans coming off the T.V. show playing in your living room to flash mobs of the undead crawling down the streets of your city to the insatiable hordes tearing each other to pieces outside the plate glass windows of Walmart on Black Friday, Zombies are definitely invading.

Just a few months ago the Canadian parliament discussed the possibility of an imminent zombie epidemic. Pat Martin of the NDP stood on the floor of the house of commons and asked why emergency groups in Quebec were staging exercises. “I would like to salute today the CDC and the government of Quebec and the Center for Disease control [for] putting in place  measures to deal with the possibility of an invasion of zombies. I don’t need to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that a zombie invasion could easily turn into a  a continent wide pandemic,” he said. To which the foreign affairs minister replied “Canada will never become a safe have for zombies ever!”

I mean c’mon, zombies aren’t real…Right? Okay, so they found a fungus out there that is known to take over and eventually kill ants by sending spikes through their bodies. But that doesn’t mean anything. Right?

zombie_fungus

Nonetheless, I figure if I want to learn how to protect myself against Zombies in an apocalyptic situation then knowing how to escape a horde invading my apartment is really pertinent information. I’ll just type “zombie” here in the Google search bar and see what I come up with:

The Zed Word Blog

Not my personal favorite Zombie blog but for some reason it comes up on the first page for any walking dead search…so in terms of having excellent search engine optimization, they’ve obviously got it going on. They put a humorous twist on a terrifying subject and exploit the paranoia of living in constant fear of an impeding Zombie apocalypse.

The national geographic/ Zombie Fungus

Disaster or Blackout Emergency SuppliesRemember those ants I told you about about earlier? Well, here is a fascinating post from National Geographic that will turn your opinion of mother nature from nurturer to some kind of sick mad scientist.

Center for Disease Control/Zombie Outbreak

How do you get people’s attention about a topic they don’t really care about? You tell them to imagine they’re trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. The Center for Disease Control did just that. It turns out that preparing for a zombie apocalypse is similar to protecting yourself in an state of emergency.

Have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp.

Cracked/6 Sensible Things you Should Never Do in a Zombie Outbreak

Cracked shows that being sensible and logical might not be the correct thing to do during a zombie apocalypse. Sometimes being too nice might mean your downfall. the coming apocalypse, after all, is where the mad men reign.

Blog of the Dead

Prepared to be tested on your zombie knowledge. Blog of the dead is a fascinating little site that will train your mind to mentally prepare for the day of the returning dead.

What sets blog of the dead apart from other blog sites is the necessities poll; it’s really interesting reading what other people think is the most necessary thing for survival.

This blog also delves into the philosophical issues that zombie culture has in society. I also found this funny dinosaur comic that explains it all:

dino

 

Zombie Research Society

Sometimes, you have really important issues on your mind. Like whether a hatchet is better than a blow torch when having to confront zombies on a daily basis. Knowing how to use weaponry might be the difference of you having steak or becoming a steak.

The Zombie research society confronts the important post-apocalyptic issues that you will have to face, without the insidious optimistic  illusions about your hope for survival. The bleak pessimism of this site is refreshing.

 

Titles titles titles… I like the title, “Blogs on Beards: Wave That Freak Flag On Your Face”? “Blogs For The Beard-Obsessed”? “Rock Out With Your… Beard Out”? “Ode To The Cheek-Chewbaccas”? “Blogs on Beards: Shavers Need Not Apply”? “You Know Who Didn’t Shave? Jesus.” So hard to decide.

I’ve got beard-envy. Not a fan of Freud, but I’d gladly take his facial hair. Do past lives exist? If so, I’d like to think I was a troubled 19th century Eastern European curmudgeon with a Briar pipe and a bushy ginger face-cape to combat the winters of my discontent.

It’s tragic that I have never been able to grow a successful beard. Ever. Certain genetic predispositions, like being a woman, have consistently prevented me from getting together with friends to attend a Halloween party dressed as a group of Russian composers (Please, fairy godmother, can’t I be Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for just one night?). I can’t wander around St-Henri without feeling a tinge of envy with every passing beardo on a bicycle. There’s just something about the way a beard complements a pensive gaze, or how you know exactly who a person is by well-maintained facial hair. Like Jesus, or Ghandi. Lincoln, or Castro.

I’m not a hairy woman, either, which dashes all my Bearded Lady circus fantasies. And having thoroughly re-assessed the cost/benefit ratio of sexy face-fro vs. decidedly unsexy face-rash, I think I’d rather own a beard than date one. I might eventually turn into an old whiskered lady, but for now I’m relegated to living vicariously through the facial foliage of those lucky to grow them, clicking and sighing every time I come across a really, really good beard appreciation blog.

knit beardHold the phone.

Beard appreciation blog?

What, did you think I was the only one who lusts after what she cannot have? Or that our current generation of cheek-Chewbaccas wouldn’t be inclined to Instagram their own progress? There’s a market for facial hair fanatics, and I’m not just talking about hanging out at antique stores and used bookshops (I mean, I just really like gramophones and cheap books). Hundreds of beard blogs out there, and all it takes is a Google. So, I implore you, allow me to be your beard navigator, through the dark and mysterious path of online mouth-muffs (ew). It just might get a little hairy. (Bah-dum-pshhh).

FUCK YEAH BEARDS
For the straight-up, no bullshit, don’t-waste-my-precious-gaze-on-text admirer. Fans send in every-day photos of themselves or people they know sporting scruff, and it gets posted on the site next to minimal captions. This blog has everything: chin close-ups, ginger whiskers and plaid shirts, beards in hats, beards holding babies, shirtless Captain Crunch in a shapka wielding a hatchet… Fuck yeah, beards.

PUT YOUR BEARD IN MY MOUTH
Did you know that glittery pop-music performer Ke$ha has a tumblr devoted to beards? I don’t really “get” Ke$ha’s music (I’ve never, not once, woken up feeling like P. Diddy), but homegirl takes the time from what must be an exhausting life of next-level partying and releasing vaguely feminist rap-rock singles to stick dudes’ facial hair in her mouth and post beard-gnawing pics on her Tumblr. Respect.

I Made You A Beard
What do you get when you cross a beard-envyin’ chica with arts and crafts? Yarn beards aplenty! On Erin Dollar’s blog, you’ll find fun pics of her many-coloured fake facemops, illustrations of beards drawn by her and her friends, and links to other beard-centric web pages. Her posts are now fairly sporadic, as she has since expanded her creative outlet outside the realm of beards, but femmy Blackbeard fetishists can still order a custom-made beard of yarrrn! (You can have that line, it’s yours, don’t worry about it.)

the beardedTHE BEARDED
Sexy, well-dressed, long-whiskered men, gleaned from the far reaches of the Internet and compiled on The Bearded. It’s like The Sartorialist, but less bougie and more bad-ass. Ladies, time to go fantasy boyfriend-shopping – just don’t forget to moisturize after fake-making out with all the hairy eye-candy.

THE BEARDLY
The BeardlyCaptions aren’t just for cat photos and shitty inspirational posters anymore. The Beardly describes itself as “observations about beards and the men who tend to them”, but what it really means is “slogans for the beard that needs constant validation for his manliness”. They might not have office jobs, but they know that “SOME MEN BUILD A LEGACY. REAL MEN GROW ONE.”

BeardLife.Net
General interest Beard Blog. They have top 10 lists for Best Beards, videos of sexy cars and the beards who drive them, infographics about how facial hair is perceived in society, tips on grooming, profiles on men with ass-kicking chin-plumes, and way more. It’s a Beard Life.

This is the part of a multi-part series on the changing shape of Montreal’s skyline. Here is the first article with a list of new construction in Montreal.
This series originally appeared on taylornoakes.com*

So how viable are these new projects really? Suffice it to say, if the economies of Canada, Québec and Montréal stay stable and continue to grow, there’s really nothing stopping all of these projects from being realized by the time of the sesquicentennial of Confederation. Almost everything going up is residential and aimed at single or double occupancy condominiums offering branded lifestyles and various luxuries and amenities which seem to be as much in vogue today as industrial lofts in the Old Port were twenty years ago for a different generation’s yuppies.

Montréal, somewhat curiously, alternates between strong social movements to built the new and modern or renovate and cherish the old. I’m inclined to believe that the market here may not be completely saturated, but this means the city will have to a) install support services to help stimulate the creation of a viable community and b) market the hell out of a bigger-picture urban lifestyle and living scheme. This is a tall order, pardon the pun.

There’s at least two major hotel projects here, though if I’m not mistaken they’ll also have condo units within, a popular arrangement of late. There’s also the first privately financed corporate office tower going up in twenty years to be built on the site of the former Canadian Pacific Railways Accounting Office on Saint-Antoine. From the looks of the conceptual art, it seems as though Cadillac-Fairview (who own the Windsor Block, Windsor Station and apparently all the land around the Bell Centre) are planning on making good use of the mostly unused courtyard inside the walls of the station.

This idea works very well for the occupants of Place de la Cathedrale, and I’d like to see this space crawling with humanity in a manner somewhat akin to what I expect Windsor Station was like way back in the day. That said, it’s Saint-Antoine that could use the pedestrian traffic stimulus, but that’s another matter. This new commercial tower will be anchored by Deloitte, one of the ‘big-four’ accounting firms.

The rest however, are all condominiums tending towards offering ever-increasing levels of luxury, and there’s a public perception, to one degree or another, that we may be building too many. In other words, development isn’t as balanced as it once was, there’s less equilibrium between types and uses and locations. The novelty now is that these are residential towers of impressive height, though generally not overwhelmingly impressive in terms of design.

Le Peterson is neat with its undulating facade and what seem to be some rather nifty looking balconies, but I wonder how well we’ll be able to see it given that it’s surrounded on most sides by other large construction. In order to build Le Peterson several smaller buildings will be destroyed, and I dare say I think it will look weak, diminutive, compared to much larger and imposing masses of the late neo-Classical and sorta Art Deco Caron Building to the left and the neo-deco Hilton tower behind.

*Part three in the series will be online very soon.

*Photos from taylornoakes.com.

 

Robert Hughes, the Australian born art critic and writer passed away this week at the age of 74. He was by far the best critic of our time dedicating his life to expressing the unwavering truth about art. He seldom got it wrong and never stooped to sugar-coating mediocrity. His writing was on par with the best of them and he played with language like a well versed poet. His books include: “Things I Didn’t Know”; “The Shock of the New”; “Rome: A Cultural, Visual and Personal History” and “Goya” to name a few.   

It is not right to belittle his achievements by inserting my own opinions, take on his life, or attempt matching his Shakespearian writing skills because I cannot and I shan’t do that. So, for this article only, I will share with you some of his wisdom on art:

“The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible, to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness, not through argument but through feeling, and then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning. It’s not something that committees can do. It’s not a task achieved by groups or by movements. It’s done by individuals, each person mediating in some way between a sense of history and an experience of the world.”

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”

“What does one prefer? An art that struggles to change the social contract, but fails? Or one that seeks to please and amuse, and succeeds?”

“So much of art – not all of it thank god, but a lot of it – has just become a kind of cruddy game for the self-aggrandizement of the rich and the ignorant, it is a kind of bad but useful business.”

“It seems obvious, looking back, that the artists of Weimar Germany and Leninist Russia lived in a much more attenuated landscape of media than ours, and their reward was that they could still believe, in good faith and without bombast, that art could morally influence the world. Today, the idea has largely been dismissed, as it must in a mass media society where art’s principal social role is to be investment capital, or, in the simplest way, bullion. We still have political art, but we have no effective political art. An artist must be famous to be heard, but as he acquires fame, so his work accumulates ‘value’ and becomes, ipso-facto, harmless. As far as today’s politics is concerned, most art aspires to the condition of Muzak. It provides the background hum for power.”

“The auction room, as anyone knows, is an excellent medium for sustaining fictional price levels, because the public imagines that auction prices are necessarily real prices.”

“It is hard to think of any work of art of which one can say ‘this saved the life of one Jew, one Vietnamese, one Cambodian’. Specific books, perhaps; but as far as one can tell, no paintings or sculptures. The difference between us and the artists of the 1920’s is that they they thought such a work of art could be made. Perhaps it was a certain naivete that made them think so. But it is certainly our loss that we cannot.”

“The new job of art is to sit on the wall and get more expensive.”

“One gets tired of the role critics are supposed to have in this culture: it’s like being the piano player in a whorehouse; you don’t have any control over the action going on upstairs.”

He was wrong about the last statement, because Robert Hughes had tremendous effect on our culture and opening our eyes to a different vision as to what art can be. He will be truly missed.

Robert Studley Forrest Hughes, 28 July 1938 – 6 August 2012.

* This is the first of a multi-part series on the changing shape of Montreal’s skyline. This series originally appeared on taylornoakes.com*

Montréal’s skyline is about to change dramatically.

Within the next five years, barring some massive economic calamity, either locally or internationally, the following projects are expected to be finalized:

1. Altitude Montreal
2. Tour Viger/ Tour Aimia
3. TOM Condos
4. Ilot Overdale
5. L’Avenue
6. Tour des Canadiens de Montréal
7. ICONE Condos
8. Le Rocabella
9. Ilot Ogilvy
10. Deloitte Tower
11. Marriott Downtown
12. Tour du Musée
13. Le Peterson
14. Le Drummond

We’re clearly embarking on a new cycle in urban architectural creation in this city, and as you might expect, as with all things Montréal, this too is a tad enigmatic. While other Canadian cities are being cautioned to slow down rapid expansion of single/double occupancy condominiums, Montréal seems to have been revving up over the past decade and is now poised to grow very quickly. Is this because we’ve been prudent with our development over the past decade? Or are we trying to play catch up with other Canadian metropoles?

Let’s take a look at what’s on the horizon.

To begin with, all that’s mentioned above doesn’t include several other major projects, such as the Superhospitals (all three of them), the idea floating around that St-George’s Anglican Cathedral will develop the land immediately behind it (likely for condos) and everything being built in Griffintown, Ile-des-Soeurs and Saint-Laurent, nor any of the smaller, or perhaps just less visible projects throughout the urban core. Then there’s the possibility Rio-Tinto Alcan may build a new headquarters next to ICAO, occupying a prestige position on the last vacant lot facing the rehabilitated Square-Viger. The rumour I heard was that Guy Laliberté was considering developing a circus museum and Cirque head-office in the architecturally significant Maison Alcan. Rounding out this short list of perennial maybes is the highly anticipated Waldorf-Astoria, which has been batted about for almost a decade, and is to occupy the parking lot adjacent to Tour Guy near Concordia, to say nothing of the on-going discussions for the redevelopment of the Bonaventure Viaduct Corridor.

*Graphics taken from original article on taylornoakes.com

Welcome to Blog on Blog: A bi-weekly blog dedicated to some of the most obscure and interesting blogs from the depths of the Internet.

There will be plenty of strange and startling website wonders to ponder and explore. No subject will be too taboo. We’ll find plenty of online oddities! Don’t be afraid, this is Blog on Blog: The Super-Meta Blog!

Oh, cats! You are amazing creatures. From your alleyway screeches of passion, to your twilight harassment for food, somehow you find a way to get us to do your bidding. Our love for you makes us tend to your every need, slave over you night and day. No wonder you were worshiped as gods in ancient Egypt!

Somehow my new living arrangement has forced me inhabit a house with cats. Three cats! With three completely different cat personalities.

This can be very difficult to deal with, all of these cats fighting amongst each other and nagging yours truly. But at least cats can also be quite humorous; like when the fat cat, George, falls off a chair she tries to jump in, or when Chu Chu boxes me in the face with a white paw, or when Buddy serenades me with his late night meowing routine.

Although, for someone like me, living with these cats can make life incredibly difficult, since, after all, I live with these cats not out of love, but out of necessity. You see when I moved in to my current apartment they were already here, and since they were here first, I have no choice but to try to get along with these semi-wild, completely selfish, but highly entertaining pets.

Thankfully their are many blogs out there that can teach me how to learn to love these animals, through humor.

It is true, cats are really funny animals! Which is why cat blogs rule the net when it comes to animal humor.

How popular are cat blogs, you ask?

They are really popular. There are millions of pages on the inter-webs dedicated to cats. They are so popular they must take up at least a third (after sites dedicated to porn and pharmaceuticals) of the entire internet.

Here is a series of blogs I think you’ll find explosively entertaining, and rather than look at sites dedicated to “how to” knowledge, like veterinary care or how to massage your cat, today we are just going to look at the lighter side of being a cat.

Modern cat
You know what cats really need? Their own damn furniture, so they can stop messing up yours! Modern cat has it all, and while at first this site might not seem too funny, when you see a cat sitting in a yuppie style art deco piece that cost a large sum of money, you will have no choice but to snicker to yourself. Although to be fair, there are some pretty cool pieces of furniture on this site. Maybe George could use a 70s style cat bed?

LOLcats
I heard LOLCats is so popular its site is valued at a few million dollars. I didn’t really do that much research into that, but this site is up there in top ranking for cat humor, so you probably already heard of it. I know for sure that FTB contributor Mike Gwilliam loves this site and I don’t blame him, the comedy on this site is killer. Also check out Icanhascheezburger another site affiliated with LOLCats. if you like funny cat memes than you’ll love this blog.

The Daily Kitten
Somewhere in the world, every few seconds, a kitten is born, and thankfully, now, because of the Internet, that kitten can have it’s picture uploaded on TheDailyKitten. Keep updated on all the new kittens in the world on TheDailyKitten.

Theittybittykittycommitee
It is great to see sites dedicated to orphaned kittens like The Itty Bitty Kitty Commitee. Is there anything more adorable than an orphaned kitten? I think not! This is one of my favorites; I just like gawking at squishy, cute, adorably furry kittens. And you can also make a donation to the cause of abandoned animals, which if you read Maria Amore’s last post you’d know is a serious problem in Montreal and elsewhere. Please stop abandoning your pets. It’s not funny..especially since I’m forced to live with them!

Stuffonmycat
Man, I love this site. Do you ever wonder why we get so much pleasure out of putting stuff on our cats?

Maybe it has something to do with the mischievous nature of human beings. Just like drawing mustaches on unsuspecting couch sleepers at parties. If your into that you’ll love Stuffonmycat.

William of Mass Destruction
Two felines keep us up to date on their daily activities. This is what happens when we let cats write blogs. Keep up to date on the day in the life of a cat (which may  or may not in fact be written by one crazy and obsessed cat owner) on William of Mass Destruction.

Lou vs. Rick
If letting your cats blog wasn’t enough, how about letting them text message. What would your cat say to you? Mine would probably ask for food. Find out daily on LouvsRick.

Hopefully these sites will help you get your daily cat fix, for Blog on Blog this is Jerry Gabriel signing off…

The people at Sharpie must be loving the spring of discontent that has blossomed into the season of protest and flourished from there so naturally into mayhem. I would venture that it’s been veritable decades since so much ink has been spilled in the names of Hell No, and We Won’t Go, and their various derivatives.

In so many ways, it’s wonderful. It’s all too rare that the voices of those who disagree are heard on the evening news, and it’s true that in my heart I believe that if we are to remain a society and not a bureaucracy in which people serve as mere cogs in corporate wheels, we the people must never shut up.

That being said, I’m careful about which causes I get behind. If I don’t feel strongly, odds are I won’t post about it, let alone show up. While I do possess an immutable tendency to play Devil’s advocate, I feel it a matter of integrity that I only raise my voice for matters I would go blue in the face standing up for.

Case in point, I would go to an abortion rally if the right was threatened, but I stayed clear of tuition talks (while it was still about tuition), deeming both sides so offside that I couldn’t in good conscience throw my personal weight behind either. Now, of course, with law 78, and the sweet sounds of the casseroles (that make me misty, by the by, for the same reasons Norma Rae made me cry), I feel distinctly that we’re all in this together, and the argument has drastically changed. Anyone who thinks this is still about the students needs to catch up; even the lawyers marched the other night, but this isn’t about that…the pull of it is admittedly hard to resist.

Nonetheless, before my heart joined that protest, my mind, fired by the passion that’s hit our airwaves, but unable to fully agree, wandered over to issues I feel a little more clear cut. After all, protesters as of late have proven themselves to be an inexhaustible and creative force, and I can’t help but wonder if the energy could be applied to local, attainable social goals; you know, while the sentiment of uprising and reconstruction is hot.

And I thought of Cabot Square.

Oh, you may know it as Crack Park — the one across from the old Forum, the small oasis of green goodness that the strip desperately needs, the one that’s currently owned and operated by some of the crudest forms of humanity. I can think of no other spot in town that doesn’t even try to conceal its seedy side in the sun; it doesn’t pretend to have dignity or shame. Are you really drunk, smoking, pregnant, and fist-fighting on the sidewalk in the afternoon? Really?

A run into the nearest dep is an adventure prepared by Goodall and Jung’s lovechild, quintessential anthropology, as popularized by reality TV. I have seen more police, ambulance, and security interventions at that corner than any other single spot in town. This includes my years living in some of the most colorful spots in NDG; take that, urban myths. Cabot Square is technically just outside of Westmount, but I feel safer on Walkley, or Berri Square, if I’m out that way.

In the 5 years that I worked at a studio on the infamous corner, I’ve seen the problem get worse, and while heads shake, and ladies tsk, the situation is vastly ignored as we turn away and write-off the park at least, and the area mostly.

Let me say that I am the first one (statistical fact) to bring a warm cup of tea to a cold, un-sheltered soul, and I have always been glad I did. Once, at a studio party, a woman who did postures but apparently knew very little of yoga, asked that I shoo a man who was looking to warm up from our foyer and into the winter. I brought him a plate instead.

I am also the first to curse and yell at classless vagrants who used to use said same foyer as a urinal and sometimes worse, before glass doors were installed, and privacy ruined. I am the bad cop who chased away belligerent daytime drunks blocking the entrance, and even called 911 for a non-responsive woman, who when they were able to wake her, assured the EMT it wasn’t her they were looking for. Sigh.

Last spring my dear Mabel brought her son to the Children’s hospital, and afterwards, having to wait for the bus there anyway, they popped over to Cabot Square to air the offspring and catch a breather, when in broad daylight, a man started coming toward them, undoing his pants as he walked. Mabel did what any mama bear would do: she got up on the picnic table, made her firecracker 5’2” frame bigger with arms overhead, and screamed the fucker down. She shouldn’t have had to.

Years back, late one night, I met an arch-angel at Cabot Square. He told me his whole story, and while I don’t remember any of it, I do remember the moment, and relish ones like it. Still, it isn’t worth the cost of so many bad stories, and I can surely find arch angels somewhere that isn’t across the street from a hospital, a library, a church, 2 malls and countless small businesses, all of which would be arguably far more successful if the Square pulled its pants up. It’s not the right place for a shit show.

While residents and business owners have been calling for years for the government to revitalize the area as a whole, that’s a large scale effort, and one that sounds a bit like passing the buck. How about a grass roots approach with the specific goal of making Cabot Square safe and family friendly for one afternoon and show the bigwigs what can be done when you actually put in the work.

I want balloons! Children! Friendly fluffy dogs! A day where the park is a park and not a cesspool. Maybe a day so lovely I could actually take a calm, slow gander at the metal sculptures that have sprung up around the park without waiting to be ambushed, or wondering why that man is screaming at me like we’ve been in a fight I wasn’t aware of for a heated while now.

When I came up with this Brilliant-if-I-do-say-so-myself idea, there was no law 78, and I was hoping the cops would join in our joyful take-back. I would’ve filed paperwork for days to get this done, but now I’m in no mood for glorified permission slips and Mother May I’s, and I get the feeling that this will have to wait on the back burner until at least fall. While I’ve never grown a grassroots park take-back revolution, I’m pretty sure it starts with a seed, and that this is it.

(I’m pretty sure we just had a Lorax moment, right there).

Let’s start a movement @McMoxy

Beating the bishop. Choking the chicken. Painting the ceiling. Punching the clown. Spanking the monkey. Polishing the family jewels. Stroking the pussy. Feeding the bearded clam. Muff buffing. Finger blasting. Polishing the pearl. Rubbing one out. Depending on who you ask, it can be thought of as self-love or as self-abuse.

95% of men and 89% of women admit to having tried it, with almost half of the men and nearly a quarter of the women indulging themselves daily. Since May is National Masturbation Month, I thought I’d explore the historical and cultural significance of self-exploration:

Flying Solo Is Common When the Co-Pilot Isn’t Around

Its a common myth that people in relationships don’t masturbate. Alfred Kinsley’s landmark 1948 and 1956 surveys found that almost 40% of men and 30% of women in relationships masturbated, and that number has steadily grown since then. Current figures from Playboy and Redbook put the number for both genders closer to 70%.

A sex shop in France is attempting to capitalize on the “video game widow” syndrome that many couples were facing after the release of the hotly anticipated Diablo III. They hosted a Facebook contest where people posted a picture of themselves with a copy of the game responsible for stealing all their partner’s time, and they would receive a voucher for a free small sex toy.

What Cavemen Did With Their Boners

Pretty much as early as human figured out that it felt good to touch themselves down there, they’ve looked for ways to make it even easier and even better. The oldest dildo on record is carved from stone and dates back approximately 28,000 years. Unearthed from a German cave, it measures 3 centimeters wide and 20 centimeters long, about 6 centimeters longer than the average German man’s erect penis.

I Knew There was a Good Reason NOT To Eat Corn Flakes!

Masturbation had a really bad reputation throughout the 1700 and 1800s, started by the publication of an anonymous text entitled “Onania; or, The Heinous Sin of Self Pollution, and all its Frightful Consequences…” With a lively title like that, it’s easy to see why it was a best-seller! During this time, masturbation was associated with a score of mental and physical ailments including mental retardation, epilepsy, insanity, leprosy, and vision problems.

One of its most outspoken critics in the 19th century was cereal mogul Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. He was adamantly against masturbation and advocated circumcision and anti-masturbation devices like bandages and cages for boys and the application of carbolic acid to young girls’ clitorises to curb masturbation.

Another tactic he used in the fight to end self-pleasure was diet, namely controlling what people ate for breakfast. Certain foods were thought to heat the blood and provide excitement, so Kellogg invented a bland, unstimulating cereal still popular to this day: Corn Flakes. Other products from this time with a similar origin include Grape Nuts and Graham Crackers.

Would you Spank a Monkey for Spanking its Monkey?

Human beings aren’t the only ones that have been caught pleasuring themselves. Masturbation is quite widespread in the animal kingdom, especially amongst primates such as the rhesus monkeys, Japanese macque, and bonobo. Scientists now are considering the potential for an evolutionary aspect to the development of this behavior.

Certain animals have even developed specialized methods of masturbation. Female porcupines have been observed straddling and riding sticks like makeshift dildos. Male and female birds rub their sexual organ, the multipurpose cloaca, on an object or a perch. But really, its moose who have it best of all: they can reach orgasm simply by rubbing their antlers on trees.

spiritual awakening

spiritual awakening

This past Sunday, I awoke too early for my taste. Rain was falling, the sky had a look in its eye that warned it would go on for days, and I had heard there were snowflakes in the city despite the green mist of buds spraying the trees, and the bravest most daredevil flowers proudly waving. What perfect weather for Spring.

Today holds added significance: I’m attending the baptism of my friend’s munchkin. My dearest girlfriend, forevermore known as Mabel, Mother of the Munch, will be standing up with my oldest and dearest friend, her boyfriend, taking their first public step as a family. My love is on my arm, handsome and of expansive heart; as we cross water coming into the city, the day is ripe for ritual.

As I’ve said before, rituals only have as much meaning and power as we ascribe to them. So what does this baptism really mean? Different things to all involved: for mom Mabel, it’s a meaningless ritual, though a benign one. It’s a chance to celebrate her son, but really it’s a pacifier for some of her family; for those people, the child (old enough to be offended if you call him a baby), is being rescued from the jaws of eventual and eternal damnation. To me it’s confirmation of new family ties, joined forces and futures. And I’ve been promised an after-party. And what’s a Lutheran, anyway?

I dig religion; different services and scriptures and comparative mythology get me all geeky (and sometimes even reverent), so I was pretty eager to see what was going on behind the doors of this church and steeple.

Personally, I’m born Jewish, with a Roman Catholic father more likely to quote Heinlein than the bible; my bindi is heartfelt, as our my cards and crystals (my Bubby taught me her old world ways). My boyfriend, proudly Jewish as long as I’ve known him, is getting over a lifelong case of atheism. Step-dad of the Little Dude identifies as “sort of christian”, and Mabel is a Pagan, Buddhist, scientist (please read that correctly: she believes in Einstein, not Tom Cruise). Together, we are the most elaborate straight line walking into the church. While I do hate to generalize, right off the bat these folks do not appear to be the laughing kind. I have the sudden sinking feeling that I’m trapped, and there’s no punchline out until somebody repents.

While I had been warned that there would be no soulful singing, nor any dervish whirling passion, in houses of worship – everywhere, in fact – I prefer hearts devoted in love, rather than obedient in fear. It seems that in some circles, vengeful gods are still very “in” this season, though from the looks of the pews, scary only makes for lineups at movies and roller coasters.

Regardless, I was still eager. Maybe I’d even take my first communion; it would be an auspicious day to do so. I almost took it once at a United service, but I was much younger, and felt I might regret it in hindsight. I’m sure now that I wouldn’t have in the slightest; it remains my favorite service.

Reading along in the hymnal, I knew the day wasn’t heading in that direction. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it: too much fear, too much sin, too much saving. I say this as someone who’s attended a Catholic funeral. Part of the baptism itself includes promising that the child be raised with fear of god. I almost crossed myself against that, and I’m only superstitious in the right light.

eagle-attack
Maybe the eagle just wants a hug?

I admit that my mind closed a little when I noted the eagle on the pulpit, fierce and gold. Racing through every bible story I know and every half plausible excuse I can find (other than, you know, Nazis), I come up with “Maybe eagles eat snakes and so they’d win over evil in a game of cosmic Rock/Paper/Scissors”? Still, if there isn’t a biblical excuse, I’m sure a palatable myth-addendum has been put into place somewhere to make it legit? Either way, it wasn’t in the handout they gave me on my way in.

Disappointed but determined, I stared off into the painted clouds in the painted sky behind the altar, letting the songs fade into gibberish, when the organist began Ode To Joy. They were still singing, and now I was humming fervently, glad to have found a point I could go along with. I’m certain that this is the closest moment I will have of resonance within these walls. Silver Linings “R” Us. Amen.

Flowers, vines, and piles of leaves are carved into the ceiling, piled and protruding, and as I hang onto those bits, I get to thinking about the Green Man, his various faces carved across the globe. I heard once that Pagan builders embedded them in Christian churches so while they weren’t digging the details, they could pray there, out of the elements, to their own gods, never converting their hearts.

I smiled to the leaves, signs of life going right, and thanked the flowers, passing vessals of eternal beauty, and was sure that in the grand infinite tapestry, all was as it ought be, and these people who wished that peace be with me (and I with them), their intentions were as good as my own, even if their translation grated on me like nails on blackboards accompanying off-key trumpets. And somewhere in between here and eternity, details like that fade beyond memory, beyond everything, into nothing, and all that’s left is the space where a song was. May that song always be your Ode to Joy.

Nearly a week later, my thoughts still go out to the kid in front of me who was fussing, and playing (read: getting in trouble) the whole time, then only spoke up when the congregation was asked if they accepted Jesus, and this scamp, full confidence but no sass, quietly said “No”. He was summarily shushed by his adults. Good on ya kid, say what you feel. Go with God, and strength be with you; I doubt it’ll be an easy go.

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.


Now I have yet to see the new Muppet Movie, but I know lipstick on a pig when I see it, (sorry Miss Piggy!) and the Muppets are pushing a left-wing agenda.

The Muppet Show (1976-1981) is a perfect example of this hatred of capitalism. For instance, do we ever see any Muppets paid for a hard day’s work?

Also, day in day out, they parade around with Hollywood Liberal elites like Peter Sellers, Rich Little, Jason Segal and others. Is their anything these despicable Muppets won’t do to indoctrinate children to the liberal agenda??

They even appear to live in an egalitarian society; these communal hand-puppets live in harmony between the sexes! Females and the males are equals – just look at how Miss Piggy pushes and controls her man Kermie. How disturbing! When will liberals stop indoctrinating our children?

On a Fox Business News show recently the topic of the Muppets communist agenda was discussed in the segment Follow the Money with host Eric Bolling and Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, who went after the latest Muppets Movie, especially the new villainous character Tex Richman:

Fox speaks the truth when they tell us that the Muppets are attempting to influence our children with a green, (sorry Kermit!) anti-capitalist agenda. Much in the same way, say Mcdonald’s attempts to win children over through cheap toys; pure mind control! But of course when Mcdonald’s does it, it’s for lofty American goals like selling unhealthy products to children!

Controlling what out children see is of the greatest importance. Of course, like most Fox programs, that doesn’t mean curbing violence, especially the kind of unnecessary brutal force one can expect from law enforcement officers a la Cops. This is extremely important for childhood development. On the other hand, any kissing, sexuality or anything else remotely nurturing (i.e. Sesame Street) is just idealist sissy communism; it is just plain wrong! How can we expect our children to grow up with American dreams by teaching them that making money by plundering is wrong? That greed is wrong? If we continue down this path we will make our children weak with cooperative socialist ideals. This must be stopped!

If it wasn’t for Fox’s Business Network none of these details would have been brought to our attention. So we ought to be very grateful for their “fair and balanced” news team.

Now let’s be honest about the suspicious egalitarian fair-trade loving, big bank hating, communistic characters in the Muppets and salut Fox news for enlightening the world on this topic. Because of its tireless effort to push for pure “laisser-faire” non-regulated capitalism that gave us the opportunity to bailout the sky-scraping banks and juggernaut insurance companies I will call the next segment: Muppet Pinheads and Muppet Patriots!

Pinheads

Gonzo is perhaps the sickest, most twisted Muppet of them all. One whose subversive activity would have never survived the McCarthyism or Golden Age America:

“Tells us , Mr. Gonzo, are you, or have you ever been a card carrying member of the Communist Party?”

Not only is he, but this pervert Muppet lives with a harem chickens in a polyamourous relationship! How deviant!

The Swedish Chef: He is from Sweden, the most god-less European country of all. And I can’t understand a word he is saying! Sworty flourty borky?Shut up commie scum!

Patriots:

Sam The Eagle. Sam is a great American patriot, who represents the values of the American way. One day he will be a great host for a Fox News program.

http://youtu.be/iCVmKN5At_o

Mrs. Piggy: She like clothes and shopping, and although she can be at times irreverently and bossy towards her man, Kermit, her unrelenting consumerism represents the best of humanity..um..I mean pig kind: Consumerism!

And how can we forget true American patriots like the guys who worked for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, I am of course talking about Statler and Waldorf. These old curmudgeons on the balcony rows point out all the flaws and help us see the hypocrisy in the Muppet show. And because they are higher up, they are better than all the other characters in the show! They teach children the value of vantage point: the higher you are in life the more mocking and inconsiderate you can be.

Communist Gonzo courtesy of Holytaco.com

The word fan should always be thought of in terms of its root word: fanaticism – because that word best describes the fanatical devotion and post-adolescent obsession that many people have with comic books, TV series and movies.

A few Saturdays ago I experienced first-hand fan-demonium when I entered Place Bonaventure for the 2011 Montreal Comiccon.

When I entered the Montreal Comiccon convention it was hot and hazy, a huge crowd of over 10,000 people had made it to the convention center after a three hour wait to get in. There was excitement and perspiration in the air; the kind of perspiration that nerds get when thinking about buying merch and comics. I was very excited too.

Many in the crowd were not afraid to show their devotion and were dressed up as their favorite crime fighters and villains or video game heroines. The spectacle of having all these costumed convention-goers really makes this event special, especially when compared to attending a business luncheon or a franchisee information session convention.

Some of the costumes were amazing (like the Hulk costumes that inflated every time Bruce Banner got angry), others were just plain weird, like the Space Troll (pictured above).

But what really made this years Comiccon bigger and battier than ever was the arrival of Adam West and Burt Ward aka Batman and Robin from the campy 60s TV series. Protected by a fierce legion of mercenary security guards, their arrival was one of the reasons this was the largest Montreal Comiccon to date, including a record number of booths and stars from the world of sci-fi, fantasy and horror.

Also on hand: James Marsters and Mercedes Alicia McNab from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sid Haig from House of 1000 Corpses and Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).

Besides taking a stroll around the convention center, anyone could go into discussion hall to listen to the many legendary guests speaking about their experiences in “the business”.

On Saturday Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis spoke about their experiences on the set of Star Trek: TNG. Marina spoke about what it’s like to wear such tight fitting clothing compared with rest of the cast, and Michael Dorn discussed the hours spent in make-up before shooting.

The conferences were an interesting part of the event and a good opportunity for the fans to get up-close and personal with their favorite stars.

Doug Bradley, the man who played Pinhead in the Hellraiser series also gave a talk on his career in horror films. One memorable quote from him, when asked about the re-make of Hellraiser, he said, “They shouldn’t make re-makes. They should never make re-makes.” He went on to say that people shouldn’t pay for re-imagined movies; Instead they should download them. Okay, thanks for the advice.

The comic book convention is not only for established artists – we also find independent artists trying to sell their comics and creations. What makes this convention so great is that anyone can get a booth and display their art work. Who knows who might be the next big thing? Just in case, I asked everyone to autograph their work.

Speaking about autographs: The autograph industry seemed to be doing quite well at Comiccon, some legends were asking for 100 dollars per encounter/autograph – even during a recession! It was too steep for many people, like myself.

Highlight at Comiccon was definitely having my picture taken in the DeLorean DMC-12, the car from Back to the Future, whose Irish maker pretty much tanked in the early 80’s.

On a “dark” side note: not everyone was happy with the arrival of Adam West: some of the local artists who had rented booths (for around $280 for the entire weekend), were unhappy that the Montreal Comiccon doubled their price over last years event. But others were happy to see so many local and independent comic writers and illustrators being able to display their work.

Another year, another hundred-comic pond at my feet. I had to literally pull myself from the event for fear of spending all my money on merch. See you next year, Comiccon!

Pictures by Iana Kazakova