According to Forbes magazine, I am scientifically less likely to become famous now that I’ve turned 30. I guess deep down, I always knew this day was coming. I mean, I’ve had a taste of fame that left me wanting more after being recognized at the odd party for my burlesque booty shaking or my wry and witty take on sex and relationships, but I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a celebrity.

Forbes cites a study in a January 2011 issue of Science magazine where the researchers measured fame and celebrity by the number of times a person’s name was mentioned in books at the time. It seems that in every year since they started measuring the age of famous people, it dropped lower and lower. In the early 19th century, the average famous person attained their celebrity by the age of 43 By the mid 19th century, that number plummeted to age 34. About a hundred years later in the mid 20th century, the average median age of fame was 29, the age I just passed.

One thing the study did not take into consideration was the effect of other media like the internet on fame, which will certainly cause the median age of fame to plunge even lower.

When I was younger, I guess I thought I’d have it all figured out by 30. By the time John Lennon was my age, he’d already had 27 #1 hit records and the Beatles had just broken up. Orson Welles co-wrote, directed and starred in one of the most critically acclaimed movies of all time, Citizen Kane. I’ve published a few poems in student journals and co-written and performed in a hit Fringe play that was torn apart by some of the critics but beloved by the fans.

By the age of 30, Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof of Warsaw had invented a whole new language called Esperanto and Niels Bohr had published his revolutionary theory about the atom. I’m lucky if I can string 500 words together every week in English, my mother tongue.

Before turning 30, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin explored new frontiers as the first person in space and Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic. In the past decade, I became the person in my extended family that lives furthest away from home, and I’ve done my fair share of exploring myself. I’ve been the most-traveled person in the room from time to time, and I hope to see more exotic locales in my next few decades, eventually satisfying my goal of setting foot in all the continents.

While I may not be a billionaire, like Bill Gates, the first person to ever attain this status by the age of 30, I have a relatively comfortable life that affords me many pleasures. Sure, I may not be able to persuade bankers to lend me $80 million dollars to buy a hotel like Donald Trump did before the age of 30, but I have convinced my credit card company to raise my limit way beyond my means.

According to Glamour magazine, by the time she is 30, every woman should have a piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family. I don’t even have single piece of furniture that didn’t come from the street or a Craigslist ad.  She should own a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra. My tool collection consists of one of those screwdrivers with interchangeable heads, which I’ve somehow misplaced all of, a hammer with a bottle opener on the other end and a bunch of nuts and bolts for long-since gone Ikea furniture. And personally, I always found a red sequined triangle bra & G-string did more than black lace.

By 30, every woman should live alone, which they qualify with “even if you don’t like to”. Not only do I know how to live alone, I revel in it. Being self-sufficient is a skill that I honed in my 20s, one that I highly recommend. Other important skills I acquired in my 20s include rolling a decent joint, pulling a perfect pint, solving the entire New York Times Sunday Crossword and making homemade macaroni and cheese that will make you weak in the knees.

Sure, turning 30 may be a little bit scary but I wouldn’t trade it all in to turn 20 again.

 

Photo Credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-jess-is-turning-30-4/

Across North America a new trend is delving into the massive failure of capitalistic projects in the age of austerity and may in fact represent, to a larger extent, the downfall of the American Empire… I am of course speaking about the ubiquity of vacant malls and the many blogs dedicated to them.

In deserted, abandoned, “one horse” cities, they are a sad reminder of the once great state of the capitalist bulk and decadence left behind in the structurally sound, but culturally inept, enclosed shopping mall.

These malls are littered with vacant lots of shops long gone bankrupt, where the only thing left behind is the grey wall-to-wall carpeting still imprinted with soles of customers that haunt the place of a once great shopping experience.

The Internet is full of sites dedicated to their unique box architecture and their subculture – shopping fiends in search of the best buy.

Let’s look at a few outstanding blogs dedicated to these Goliath structures of mass retail that turned into sore reminders in the form of Ozymandias type monuments:

Mooklife/Ghost Mall
It’s best to start locally, I always say. Montreal, has one the most legendary vacant malls in the world – I am of course talking about the Decarie square. Since it’s inception there were high hopes for the mall, built right off the Decarie auto-route, it was a feature of the new enclosed mall shopping experience that was pushed at the late seventies early eighties. Unfortunately for the mall it has changed hands, ownership wise, and it`s been the kid in a custody battle between the city of Montreal and Cote-Ste-Luc..well at least there’s a dollar cinema!

They come for the sales but, most of the time, they ended up getting more then they bargained for, including serious bacterial infections, depending on which under maintained bathroom used.
Many malls, especially ones that were based on the Costco/Walmart model destroyed the local store, but now, these malls are fighting for survival, trying to drum up business and stave off inevitable death. A lot of these malls have turned into bargain basements with little or no maintenance, basically just concrete decrepitude and dereliction. None more so then the Decarie square:

Mooklife, a blog located in Montreal, really has the sense of humor to delve into this disaster by the auto-route. The pictures are funny, the captions are pretty hilarious too. At times I felt like I was reading Vice magazine. He got to the point of what plagues the Decarie square, and dissects it with the wit of a sharp scalpel.

Reason/Malls of a certain age

A few years ago Reason published an amazing article on the state of malls, specifically enclosed malls in the United States and how they were dying because of bad foresight on the economy and changes in shopping patterns.
I learned so much from this post, for instance, I did not know the startling figures of desolate malls compared to their more successful counterparts. And did you know malls are cannibals? – sucking out the life force of other malls by moving within close proximity? It`s all true. Check it out!

Deadmalls
Deadmalls.com is the ultimate site dedicated to stories about failed malls. Or just personal experiences walking through dead malls. My personal; favorite is about a mall in Toledo where half was hacked away, leaving only half a mall after a development group ran out of cash. These are of course hard times, so site keeps getting bigger and bigger. It has a great index where you can look up any state.

Also check out these videos about the landscape around abandon malls:

Greg Shall is a photographer from Minnesota who dictates his time taking photos of dead or dying malls.
http://youtu.be/kVyIVNXjS4A

Many sites on the internet are dedicated to abandon mall exploration. Malls can be great urban hubs of exploration, especially those badly maintained and for the most part forgotten. Check out this video of an exploration through a former mall in Toledo:

http://youtu.be/ZAo2ue6s5Bc

Photo courtesy of deadmalls.com, mooklife.com and reason.com

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.

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…

Print is dead. Everyone’s thought it, we’ve tag-lined it, and e-reader companies are laughing to the bank because of it, but in Montreal, it’s become painfully true, especially on a Thursday. Empty racks and folks trying to handout 24H and Metro are all we get where only a few Thursdays ago, you could have your pick of The Hour or The Mirror, jam packed with grass roots alt-culture for the low low price of zero.

It feels insulting that Quebecor dropped the bomb so suddenly that the 27 year old city staple didn’t even get to do a truly final edition, but was canceled mid-run, like a TV show canned mid plot arc. Not only does this leave fans without a proper sense of closure, not to mention without what would have been a lovely piece of frameable memorabilia, but I imagine it’s a tragedy in and of itself for the crew who freshly unemployed, didn’t have a chance to sign-off to their often quite dedicated readers.

It should be no surprise: it’s a sign of the times, a side effect of corporate (and perhaps linguistic) politics, but it feels more complicated than that. Today ma belle ville feels much smaller than the stylin’ global force of culture we like to portray ourselves as. With the free news dropping like flies, and the grand bastion of The Gazette deteriorating rapidly, we’re shrinking from an opinionated metropolis into a village that can’t even keep its own dailies going.

What tangible piece of our identity can we hand to the constant stream of Newbie Montrealers and our Lovely Tourists as easily as we could hand them The Mirror? When they say “What’s the flavour, and where do I begin?” are we to reply, “Pull up a poutine, I have some links for you to check out”?

We’re a sensuous city left without a touchstone; a void where our collective weeks once coalesced. We have no physical literary souvenirs that can’t just as easily be printed from a computer in Denver.

Remember when Vice Magazine was a Montreal magazine? Me neither, but it was, and I’m nostalgic for it conceptually. I love Vice, and maybe that’s truly the last hardcopy freebie of its style in town; intentionally subversive, artsy, hipster-tastic, quasi-Montreal (hey, they still have an office here) and so glossy it’s sexy.

I was rather confused when I learned that I couldn’t pick up the latest copy at the American Apparel (the only place to score it sans subscription) on Sherbrooke. It seems they no longer carry it because “Westmount mothers complained”, which was no real surprise; the shock is that American Apparel in all its line walking, trouble starting glory, capitulated and pulled it from that location. That, and an aside to Westmount moms: there’s a little thing the kids are surfing these days called the interwebz, and it is vastly more frightening than any copy of Vice. At least if your kids are reading a mag, you can see what they see, instead of them erasing their history, but whatevs, I get it; Vice scares you.

It’s devastating that such a rush-out-and-touch-it city can now only offer a list of links for opinions, and community, and some things can’t work online: in cyber-space the Rant Line would degenerate into the No-You’re-A-Douche, Line in no time.

So, I want to take this opportunity to give my personal thanks. Montreal Mirror, you spoke so eloquently for so many, and I wrapped my fragiles in you with every move I’ve made (and it’s been many). You offered up listings for the shows and events I didn’t know existed, thus, couldn’t Google for.

Thanks for giving us my personal faves Kristian Gravenor (still truckin’ at coolopolis.com), Josh Bezonsky (who Google says grew up to become a lawyer), the illuminating and artistic horoscopes of Rob Breszny (freewillastrology.com), Raf Katibak, and Sasha, eveyone’s fave go to gal for both the nitty and the gritty deets. Jason McLean, having written for them that one time, and now knowing that you will always have that up on me, instigates just the right amount of burning jealousy that good writer buddies should have for one another, so please wear it well.

Thanks, Mirror, for being there, pristine, beckoning and beautiful the morning after my first ever acid trip, filling me with twinkly civic pride. Thanks for printing my rants (though the one about my first acid trip didn’t make it; for that, I forgive you). Thank you for simplifying the best we have to offer with BoM, for the call centre ads that used to keep me employed, and all the art and music. Thank you, thank you, thank you. May this be the end of a chapter, and not the whole story.

If you need me, I’ll be trying to fall in love with The West End Times.

Tweet me your Rants, Raves, and local faves @McMoxy. Photos by Henry Gass.

mirror cover2

mirror cover2

In what surely is a peak time for Montreal culture, with festivals and marches everywhere, the city as a whole and the English-speaking progressive and artistic communities in particular suffered a major loss yesterday. After 27 years, the Montreal Mirror abruptly stopped publication.

News came first from a press release by Sun Media, a division of the Mirror’s parent company Quebecor. Then the alt weekly’s site redirected to a message from the editors thanking readers and contributors and stating that:

“The growing popularity of digital media and communications has irremediably changed the context in which free cultural weeklies operate, bringing about economic challenges which have unfortunately compromised The Mirror’s viability.”

(Note that editor-in-chief Alastair Sutherland confirms that this statement was not written by anyone on the Mirror’s actual editorial board.)

Mirror cover 1985
One of the first covers of the Montreal Mirror – 1985

Some will blame the Web. For those who do, I’d suggest looking beyond cultural publications like this one, to sites like Craigslist that take away classified dollars.

Others have already begun suggesting on Facebook and in editorials that Quebecor/Sun just wasn’t willing to invest in trying to properly adapt the Mirror to the new digital marketplace when they easily could have.

Some have hinted at and in some cases stated that given the right wing bent of Quebecor’s other properties like the Journal de Montreal and Sun News, doing something, anything, to keep a centre-left Anglo publication that didn’t fit their mould alive just wasn’t in the cards.

Others see this as part of the general problem of media consolidation, responsible for a corporation like Quebecor having the power to axe the Mirror in the first place.

No matter where you lay the blame (I personally take the right-leaning media conglomerate having no interest in keeping its one lefty paper angle), what’s happened is in the past. Sadly, so now is the Mirror.

No more Rant Line, no more Best of Montreal, no more… the list goes on. Also, no more job for seven hardworking people and countless freelancers. I had the pleasure of writing for them once, covering the anti-Republican protests in NYC in 2004 and have been interviewed a number of times over the years on different subjects, even making it to the cover in 2001. We all have our own memories of this paper. I also remember back in my late teens and early twenties rushing out to pick up a copy of the paper to see if that show my friends were in got some coverage. We saw ourselves in this paper. It spoke to my community and if you’re reading this, it probably spoke to yours, too.

Mirror

This was a publication that started in a very rock ‘n roll fashion as so many projects I’ve been involved with have. It never lost that vibe in its content. (Maybe it’s somewhat fitting that the Mirror is now gone at age 27, the age of the dead rock star) There’s a Facebook group up to save the Mirror, not sure what affect it will have. At the very least, though, Quebecor should allow them to do one final farewell issue and reopen the online archives (one of the best archive setups out there) making them permanent. The only thing we have now are memories.

Farewell Mirror, you will be missed.

Thanks to all the staff of the Mirror for all their years of great service, especially Patrick Lejtenyi, Alastair Sutherland, Matt Hays, Sacha Jackson, Lorraine Carpenter, Jonathan Cummins, Chris Barry and Rick Trembles, among many, others.

We now know that masturbation isn’t bad for you like it was purported to be all those years. It won’t make you go blind or develop hairy palms, nor does it decrease sensitivity or your ability to reach orgasm, either with or without a partner. However, certain sex toys on the market are known to contain shockingly high levels of the potentially dangerous toxic chemical family called phthalates.

Phthalates are added to vinyl compounds to make them more pliable and flexible as well as help them hold colour and scents. They show up in a wide range of products including paint, adhesives, cosmetics, shampoo, detergent, food packaging, air fresheners, soap, flooring and rocket fuel. Over time, these phthalates can leak out of their source in a process known as “off-gassing” and release chemicals like lead and cadmium, which can then be absorbed into the body.

The presence of phthalates in sex toys was first brought to light by the German magazine Stern, which found alarmingly high concentrations of phthalates that exceeded the European standard by 100 times. A 2006 study commissioned by Greenpeace Netherlands found that seven out of eight of the tested vibrators and dildos contained phthalate concentrations ranging from 24 to 51 percent.

While the extent of their harmful effects is unknown in humans, phthalate exposure in rodents has been linked to hormonal problems, liver and kidney damage, tumors and infertility.  A 2008 study by the University of Rochester found that boys born to mothers exposed to high levels of phthalates during pregnancy had a range of reproductive-linked issues including smaller penises and incompletely descended testicles. Last year, Health Canada announced new regulations to severely restrict the use of phthalates in children’s toys, while other places like the state of California banned them in similar products aside from minute residual quantities.

When shopping for a safe new pleasure object, look for toys made of pure silicone, steel or glass as these materials are guaranteed to be phthalate-free. Certain companies like the Swedish-based Lelo use phthalate-free as a selling point on their high-end sex toys. Avoid jelly rubber products with that “new plastic” smell that is indicative of the presence of phthalates. Since sex toys are sold as novelty products, manufacturers are not required to list their compositions, and their products don’t have to adhere to any regulations.

Silicone is a fantastic material for sex toys, since it is hypoallergenic, non-porous and non-absorbent. It warms to the body and carries vibrations like a dream. Furthermore, it can be disinfected in boiling water in approximately five minutes. Another popular material in the sex toy world is elastomer. Like silicone, it is durable, hypoallergenic and latex-free, but since it is slightly porous, it cannot be disinfected, though elastomer toys are easily cleaned with soap and water.

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.

Every city has something to offer and Montreal is of course no exception. I have been living in Montreal for over a decade now; I originally moved here for school and stayed to work. In those first inaugural years here, many precious hours were spent experimenting my near-adulthood and basking in the late-night buzz of drinking games. Embarrassing yourself and others, and not really giving a shit about it.

Remember those days? Me too, barely at times. “I’ve Never..” was the drinking game friends and I returned to regularly (and Quarters – I was a pro!). Through it we all caught-up on missed experiences and not-so-innocently compared notes. The rules are simple: if you’ve done it you take a drink. There are a number of things that I’ve done. I have surfed my way to the front stage at punk shows, drunkenly scarfed down a poutine at 4am, ran up the Mount-Royal, lazed on its grass feeling the beat of the tam-tams under the warmth of the summer sun. I have seen (most of) Montreal’s museums, attended (some of) its festivals, but experienced only a fraction of all that Montreal has to offer. There is nothing like a hot bagel from St-Viateur or Fairmount after grabbing a latté at Café Olympico on a warm fall day. There is a bustling energy throughout the city in the spring when the bar terraces first open up, all the hemlines skyrocket and you linger sipping on that first sangria, urging on the heat of the months to come.

Montreal wouldn’t be what it is without its winters, every year marked by the mornings-after of heavy snowfall, the entire city temporarily immobilized under a white blanket, flawless until the morning rush settles into its winter routine. I have come a long way from my first days in the McGill ghetto, just barely venturing past the student “safe zone” of what was the St-Laurent, Guy, Mont-Royal and Saint-Catherine’s perimeter.

Finally, curiosity got the better of me (as it often does) and I slowly started discovering this city’s various eclectic boroughs. I’ve tried the famous hot spots and also accumulated a personalized list of favorites – for no other reason than the memories they ignite. There are those things that are typically Montreal that you must experience at least once, especially if you have lived here as long as I have. There are the Montreal essentials that you can’t miss, some that I’ve mentioned others to come, but others that may not be as obvious. To fully grasp a city it is all about trying things that are not necessarily your cup of tea, but need to be lived at least once.

Whether you are passing through, staying a while or settling down, break out of your own skin and truly see what experiences this city has to offer. If the world truly does end on December 21, 2012, that means that I have less than 49 weeks to let loose and scratch off all those things of my list and truly experience living in Montreal. No more coasting through this city’s day-to-day, week on end. This year I am replaying the “I’ve Never…” game but taking it to a whole other level. If I am going to start calling myself a Montrealer, then let’s make it official shall we? Over the course of this year I’ll be experiencing all the things that make Montreal, Montreal! And I’ll be sharing my experiences here, with you.

 

My first item on the list is Igloofest, happening the last three weekends of January on the Quay of Old Montreal, offering 9 nights of performances by various artists of the electronic scene. I’m thinking this sounds like a rave in a winter-wonderland, glow-sticks and furry boots included. Now, all I need to find is one-piece snow suit…

If lust is seen as excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature, then pretty much everyone I saw attending Montreal’s 7th annual Fetish Weekend is guilty of sinning in style!

My partner in crime, photographer Chris Zacchia and I sported matching “underwear as outerwear” themed-ensembles with cowboy boots to the Kabaret Kink party last Friday at the historical Olympia theatre. There we encountered a crowd of PVC-clad revelers engaging in the cardinal sin of pride, parading their kinks and perversions around for everyone to see.

The Montreal Fetish Weekend is put together in large part by organizer and world class guy, Eric Paradis. It is largely due to his diligent efforts that the Montreal (and Global) Fetish community has events like this! He has helped this event grow into its now 7th year, and it continues to grow year after year. (Eric pictured below)

While we may have missed part of the night’s organized fashion show due to the requisite consumption of liquid courage necessary to leave the house in nothing but a shiny black corset and fishnets, the real fashion show was everywhere: sky high faux lashes with patent platform boots to match, Goth chicks leading boys wearing too much eyeliner around on leashes, and shirtless men whose bondage rope-wear really accentuated their man boobs.

Luckily for us liquor gluttons, the bartenders at the Olympia were serving up refreshing beverages, and lucky for little old me, the boys were buying. As one partygoer commented, “You ladies deserve it for looking so good! You buy the fishnets, you buy the outfits… the least I can do is buy you a drink”.

Even with the sexually charged atmosphere, the party was surprisingly tame. That is until I was dragged upstairs into the empty balcony seats for a good ol’ fashioned spanking. But then again, it wouldn’t be a fetish night without a little bit of wrath.

Rumour has it the next two nights (and subsequent after parties) were more on the scintillating side, complete with a play area, lurid demonstrations and a latex-shining station. But for the really good stuff in this city, unfortunately you’d need to build a time machine and set it for about a hundred years ago to the golden age of the Red Light District. Luckily…

Infringement festival co-founder Donovan King and burlesque dancer Velma Candyass gave us the next best thing to a time machine with their Red Light District walking tour, revealing all the licentious secrets behind the concrete facades and boarded-up buildings. They certainly made me envious of a time when, as Mordecai Richler put it, the street “was lit up like a neon cake” and you could head down to the Gaiety Theatre and catch a show by Lili St. Cyr.

I’ll never see the corner of Ontario and Sanguinet the same way again after learning that it once housed a brothel so well-known that merely uttering its address would prompt titters from the boys in the schoolyard. 312 Ontario used to feature round-the-clock service by a team of 80 sex workers, all just down the street from the Number 4 police station.

Of course, all that remains now of the infamous strip of burlesque houses and bawdy bordellos on the Lower Main is Café Cleopatre. With its vintage marquee boasting “Strip-Teaseuses” and “Spectacles Continuel”, the strip club and cabaret venue became a lone David facing a Goliath development plan by the city, that would have essentially extinguished the evidence of the seamier side of the Lower Main.

Many, including King and Candyass fought hard to keep it from falling victim to the greedy sprawl of gentrification, as the area became rebranded as the decidedly more family-friendly Quartier des Spectacles. A recent victory by club owner Johnny Zoumboulakis has permanently halted the construction of a 12-storey Hydro Quebec office tower.

The notion of cleaning up these streets is not a recent invention in Montreal. Three streets east of Saint Laurent is de Bullion, once known as Cadieux. Rue Cadieux’s claim to fame was its venerable status amongst sailors for having the best brothels in the city. To extinguish this unwanted reputation, the city renamed it in 1927 after a religious Roman Catholic woman.

King and Candyass plan to resume their tour next summer, a truly fascinating 90-minute look at the vibrant, racy history that earned Montreal the reputation of Sin City.

So let’s see, that puts our Sin Count up to six- lusty glances and intentions, freak pride, gluttonous appetites for hedonism, wrath against my ass, envy of the glory days of the Red Light District and the greedy desires of developers. The only one missing is sloth, but he was so lazy he missed the party… better luck next year, sloth!

 

Photos by Chris Zacchia.

For more pics of this salacious weekend check out the photo galleries on our FB page.

Tape moi dans le…

The Frenchmen’s final word was inaudible, but not past the stretches of my imagination. Unfortunately, it provided little insight in response to my inquiries about his thoughts on Quebec. But oddly enough, his spanking desires ended up being one of the most coherent conversations I had at “the world’s greatest nightclub”, London’s fabric.

I arrived slightly before midnight and skipped past the two block line to waltz through the guest list. I checked my coat and wandered into the infamous Room One. Inside, Boys Noize was playing the first of his two sets that night, but the DJ table was far from the first thing I noticed.

The shaking floor… ridiculous lasers in every direction … smoke machines on maximum output… a mammoth disco ball… thousands of well-dressed dancers… and, of course, the endless security.

Everywhere I looked, it seemed as though there was a clubber being removed from the premises for raving just a little too hard. I couldn’t help but wonder: if 50% of your clientele have dropped a day’s pay at the bar and 40% are rocking dilated pupils, then shouldn’t the standard for public decency be just a hair below the Changing of the Guard?

For most, I imagine Room One is too much. While Boys Noize delivered on every level a grimey-electro DJ is expected to deliver on, the constant lasers and ground-shaking bass (literally, thanks to the “bodysonic” dancefloor) caused me to seek new discovery somewhere else.

Room Three was for the real dancers thanks to the absence of a crowd and more tribal-based rhythms, but Room Two was where I found myself most impressed.

Room Two featured an eyebrow-raising lineup of genuine instrumental artists that still managed to create an intense dance party. A definite highlight, Visions of Trees worked through a wholly original synth-heavy set. I guess downloading their limited, but growing discography immediately when I returned to my laptop that night is evidence enough of my appreciation.

But beyond the dancefloors is where I kept myself most entertained—specifically, the massive outdoor smoking “corner”. Throughout the night, a constant flow of hundreds of people stood together, surrounded by buildings and miscellaneous trees; smoking, conversing, and relieving themselves from claustrophobia.

It was there that I met the previously mentioned Frenchie, along with what was apparently preparation for the 2012 London Olympics of Clubbing. Ravers of every nation were represented, in fact, I can’t recall ever meeting more than two groups from the same country. I spoke with individuals from Chile, Italy, Germany, France, England, and likely a few I’m forgetting in hindsight.

All of them were eclectic and unique; undoubtedly helping make my potentially isolated night far more interesting. If anything came across, it was the reminder of an old cliché: it’s not what you do, but who you do it with.

Still, I experienced a satisfying night of randomness, leaving past 4am, though never really coming across anything unforgettable. Maybe my expectations were too high or maybe the circumstances just weren’t right, but either way, I made my final exit and gave the nod to a gentleman relieving himself in the street. I could relate, because after all, I too had just been pissing in the wind…

Visions of Trees by Visions of Trees

For more photos by Brian Guthmann visit us on facebook.

Google, Bing, Yahoo…what do they all have in common? They are all trying to finish the race in enriching their search results to include a user’s Social Circle.  Well, guess what? Wajam beat them to the race! Wajam is a cool start up out of the Montreal Tech Scene. I’ve been a Wajam user for some time now [yes, I got ubercool early access].

We all use the internet to search for information, but when we’re looking we have to rely on some authority that dictates to us what we want to see. Since we’re human and social, we want to know what our friends think of things, or see if they have posted information on a topic we are looking for. I’m sure that you just like me would rather see search results from your friends since we put more faith in them than some anonymous server.

Let’s take a look at a search for the Android Homecoming, an event coming up in September for Android enthusiasts, evangelists and app builders (I will be there with start up Band Tracker), this one is done on Bing:

Now here is another search done with Yahoo for one of my classes, ECO310 a computational methods in economics class:

And here is one from my AMS 210 Applied Linear Algebra class on Google:

 

So, as we can see from all the results posted from the Generic Search Engines, I get what I want.

Now, let’s take a look at what I get when I go straight to Wajam and do a Social Information Search – something I’ll most likely start defaulting to in the future. This is what shows up for a search query for Scilab, a program I use for my AMS class:

Even though Wajam is in its infancy, as you can see it has already proved its usefulness. The more you use your Twitter and Facebook and the more your friends share information on those sites it becomes increasingly easy to find what you’re looking for without having Google, Bing or Yahoo decide for you.

In short, I’m giving Wajam major thumbs up for a solid beginning to a great product. As the world continues to evolve and become more and more social digitally, products like Wajam are going to succeed and replace those that cannot keep up with the rapid changes in the tech realm.

Wajam from Wajam on Vimeo.

About Steven P Sanderson…

Steven is a student at State University of New York at Stony Brook, currently completing a major in Economics and also studying Applied Math and Statistics. He loves computers and new technology. You can check out his own start-up www.MyBandTrackr.com and follow its progress on twitter @bandtrackr or on Facebook.com/bandtrackr.

If you like what Steven has to say, encourage him by leaving a comment below or even  by following him on twitter @stevepsanderson or on FB or drop him a line!

Waking up Sunday morning my head was filled with the images of tampon earrings, bubble wrap dresses and duct tape neck ties, one might guess that I was at a narcotics infused screening of Zoolander but nothing could be further than the truth. Like many others I was frolicking in the old port at the latest installment of GAYBASH.

Last Saturday there was only one place to go for those in the know and GB3 certainly did not disappoint. GB3 or GAYBASH 3 was the illustrious third anniversary of Tyler & Sally’s wonderfully riotous parties as well as the events official opening at its new home Attic. The concept of this delightfully wrong party was Hawt Couture: Hobo Chic. A theme that GAYBASH’s loyal patrons and performers took to with gusto. Some people just donned bits of rubbish while others took costumes to strange new levels, either way you have to love a costume party where more than half of the people actually dress up rather than playing “too cool for school”. This led to some of the more entertaining encounters of the night occurring in the court just in front of the venue as costume clad revelers of GB3 intermingled with your standard night club crowd from Velvet which runs in the basement of the same building. Bystanders could well have mistaken the scene as a swarm of homeless junkies pestering Velvet’s patrons, in its own way that was part of the evening’s magic.

Attic resides on the third floor of the Auberge St. Gabriel building, and the name could not be more apt. It felt like forever as you worked your way up the mountain of stairs but upon arrival you are whisked away into a surprisingly large open wood space, filled with antiques and taxidermy animals. Costumes and crowd aside (though I could have had fun in silence) the set by resident DJ B’UGO had the masses losing their proverbial sh#t on the dance floor. At one point of the night (which some might say was the climax) a runway carpet was thrown down just off the dance floor and bullhorn in hand Ian Invincible commanded us to strut our stuff down it. Some seasoned veterans took to it like New York royalty while others rose to the challenge, it was a scene not often witnessed in Montreal and one I would happily flock to again.

The highlight of the night for me was without a doubt the live performance of MSTR SSTR. This always rough and wild performer pulled out a polished set with dancers and special effects. To clarify, the designated dancers were the pair still not famous while there was a contingent of hot tranny messes who just couldn’t let the limelight go and continued to jump in front of the stage improving moves. To the audience the entire thing seemed rehearsed, which only added to the spectacle. A rendition of Gay People (one of the new singles) was ended by clouds of glitter literally being blown from MSTR SSTR’ s ass to screams of shock and joy, no one could have seen it coming.

Tyler and Sally have come a long way from the days of dodgy after parties in miscellaneous lofts across the city and bar venues unable to cope with the madness they imagine and inspire. One can hope that Attic will prove an appropriate home for the future editions. Venue aside I wait with glue gun in hand for the next theme and hunger for more antics because GayBash never disappoints!

Photos by Chris Zacchia

For lots more scandalous trashyness check our more pics!

St-Henri is resonating with the raw energy of a burgeoning scene. An impending volcanic eruption of creative gusto, hip boutiques and cozy cafes, St-Henri is on the brink of becoming Montreal’s hip new borough. I love that it’s a westward valley laying low beneath the overdone hype of Mile End. It’s a picturesque little hub with a strong neighbour vibe, where Mom and Pop diners still serve all-day breakfasts next to new-wave bistros with harvest menus. It reminds me a lot of Halifax’s North End neighbourhood, where, just like in St-Henri, gentrification is painting vibrant shades over faded colours.

Along Notre-Dame, tucked into a tiny storefront, is one of the neighbourhood’s coolest boutiques. Perfide is a gem of a discovery, a tiny closet sized space bursting with spunky stuff. It’s comparable to visiting a friend’s apartment for the first time and realizing they have an edgier wardrobe, artsier things on display, better music playing, and basically just a way cooler life than you do.

Perfide is located at 4217 Notre-Dame West and co-owned by Julia Ponsford and José Bernatchez, two of the most creative people I’ve met since moving to Montreal. They seem to have a fluid stream of projects in motion, in creation or in the back of their minds at all times, and Perfide mirrors their artistic interests. The store sells an assortment of merchandise, the majority of which is made in Canada, and features some well known Montreal designers such as Elaine Ho, Supayana, Ruelle, The Pin Pals, Velvet Moustache and more.

Julia Ponsford, co-owner of Perfide and creator of SweetMeat

The first time I stumbled into the shop, I was overwhelmed by the vast amount of stuff packed into such a small space. Books on fashion, books on mural art, the entire Juxtapose series, The Disposable Skateboard Bible, Cara Carmina’s wicked cool handmade dolls, super cute locally designed iPhone cases, a slew of Demeter fragrances (I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to smell like crayon), funky jewellery collections, pillow creatures, tote bags, t-shirts and more, more, more including Julia’s own line, SweetMeat.

Julia’s designs are bold, edgy and original, often with strong silhouettes and innovative features. And for the most part, when you buy a piece from SweetMeat you’re the sole owner. “I started SweetMeat in 2009, largely creating one-of-a-kind garments. I’m not very interested in doing mass production, creating the same garment over and over again bores me to tears, so the most I’ll do of one style is three” she says. “My clothing line is all about individuality. I want to give people unique clothing options at an affordable price. I’m constantly changing and evolving my designs depending on how I feel and what’s going on around me, and what I want to wear at the moment.”

Julia’s a completely self-taught designer. “I never went to fashion school, so I learned by myself with a lot of help from the internet and lots of experimentation.” It’s too easy to be cocooned by feelings of incompetence or inability that are detrimental to, ahem, getting shit done, so it’s motivational to realize that hard work breeds talent—something that everyone’s capable of.

SweetMeat design for mini collection

Julia and José have a website, vachemorte.com, which features their own video and audio projects (check out some of their short films and documentaries), as well as collaborations with different artists. “I’ve created clothing for some short films that we did, and I recently did a mini four piece collection for a collective portfolio video with our friend, hairstylist Kathy Simon of Mekka System.”

“The video depicts a tea party in space. The clothes have some Victorian influences mixed with some modern trends, I’m very proud of it. It was shot and directed by my boyfriend José Bernatchez. I love working on projects like this because the clothes don’t have to be practical at all, and it gives you the ability to create a world that doesn’t exist and bring it to life.”

Although SweetMeat is primarily clothing at the moment, Julia also designs jewellery and has taken up knitting and crocheting, slowly adding accessories and different pieces to her collection. Aside from Perfide, SweetMeat can be purchased at General 54 (54 St. Viateur W) or online.

Perfide, 4217 Notre-Dame West, open Tuesday to Friday 11-6, Saturday and Sunday 12-5.

Julia Ponsford is pictured above, along with the one model wearing SweetMeat designs featured in the collective portfolio video.