On April 13, 2017 the Orange Racist Misogynist US President’s Mar-a-Lago resort was found to have at least thirteen health violations.

This article is not about the current US President, who seems to waste too much time at a resort that improperly disposes of fish parasites and stores food on rusty shelves, thus causing health risks to his fellow wealthy white male gasbags.

This article is about food safety.

Anyone who has endured severe nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea after what seemed to be a safe and pleasant restaurant meal knows that food poisoning and food safety are no laughing matter. Food poisoning can cause hours or even days of discomfort and in some cases, even death. It is for this reason that food safety is so important.

In Canada, food safety is a major priority and every food-related industry is affected. Since the process of food inspection spans farming to fisheries to restaurants to the production of processed foods, this article is going to focus specifically on restaurant and food service safety and inspection.

Food safety and inspections relating to restaurants and food services in Canada are generally handled by the provincial authorities, though when there’s a big city involved, the provinces often delegate to municipal authorities, as in the case in Quebec.

In Quebec, restaurant and food safety is handled by primarily by the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pecheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ). MAPAQ delegates responsibility for food safety inspections in Montreal to the City of Montreal’s department of food inspection. Both organizations must enforce the Quebec Food Products Act.

The Quebec Food Products Act is a law that covers basic food safety in the province of Quebec. It defines food as anything that can be used to feed man or animals, including beverages but excluding anything alcoholic, which falls under the Act respecting the Société des alcools du Québec. Ice and bottled water are also considered food as per the act if they are intended for sale by volume or for preserving or preparing food. This information is not only useful for those charged with enforcing the law, but also handy for anyone arguing with a loved one about whether or not their favorite snack food is actually “real food”.

The term “restaurateur” as per the act refers to anyone who serves or sells meals or refreshments for consumption. This includes operators of schools and establishments governed by the Act respecting health services and social services, the Act respecting health services and social services for Cree Native persons, the Act respecting the Québec correctional system, and the Government and their departments or agencies.

The rules for food safety as per the Act are clear.

No one can prepare, keep for sale, purchase, sell, and resale or give as promotional items food that is unfit for human consumption, so deteriorated as to be unfit for human consumption, or if the safety of the food is “uncertain”.

Facilities used for food preparation and the vehicles used to transport it must be clean and sanitized. Machinery used in food preparation must be in good working order, designed for their intended use, and permit the cleaning and disinfecting of the machine when necessary. People involved in food preparation must comply with hygiene and sanitation rules prescribed by government regulations.

The City of Montreal’s Food Inspection Department has been around since 1927 and is now charged with enforcing the Act in the city. Their team of forty inspectors works to protect food consumers by ensuring the quality and safety of food prepared in restaurants, retail establishments, and in the transformation, preparation, storage, and distribution of food sectors. The City’s food inspection team is also responsible for temporary establishments, such as food stands set up for special events like the Montreal Jazz Festival, Grand Prix, and Just for Laughs.

The job of the inspectors is to inspect food and food related businesses and activities in terms of health risks and safety. They can also advise food business operators on good food safety practices, and conduct food quality and safety analyses.

As they have been charged by MAPAQ with enforcing the Act, the City’s food inspectors can charge and impose penalties on those in violation of the Food Products Act, which consist of fines ranging from two hundred and fifty dollars to two thousand dollars for a first offense, with fines increasing for every subsequent offense.

The City often imposes fines in response to complaints, which can be made by anyone witnessing unsanitary conditions at a restaurant or retail food seller, or following the consumption of food at an establishment that made the person sick. You can either phone in a complaint at 514-280-4300, or fill in an online form available at the City of Montreal’s website. In order to successfully submit a complaint online, all you need to provide are your name and contact info, the name and address of establishment, and the date and a brief description of the incident. The information provided is considered confidential and once a complaint is received, the City inspectors should respond within twenty-four hours.

Want to try a new restaurant or café but doubtful of its cleanliness? The City of Montreal has a page allowing you to see if a place has previously been cited for food safety violations. You can search for it according to the name of the place, the address, the street, city, or type of business. Just remember that a previous citation for health violations doesn’t necessarily mean the place is not up to code now.

The City of Montreal gets about 1900 complaints a year for everything from unclean conditions, to spoiled food, to vermin, to illness following food consumption. In a city that thrives on vibrant restaurant culture, food safety is a major priority, so don’t be afraid to give them a call the next time your food makes you sick.

* Featured image by Michela Simoncini, Creative Commons

Montreal will invest $3.6 million over two years in a brand new institute dedicated to developing electric and smart transportation. This investment is part of the city’s efforts as a member of the C40, the Cities Climate Leadership Group.

The Institute of Electrification and Smart Transportation will have three main mandates: favouring cooperation between regional partners for research and development of sustainable transportation, establishing international partnerships and stimulating the commercialization of new technologies. It will be situated in the Quartier de l’innovation. The École des technologies supérieures (ÉTS) , McGill University, Concordia and UQÀM are all expected to partner in the project.

“The Institute will make use of Montreal’s assets as a city of innovation to galvanize efforts and knowledge, and shine on the international scene,” Mayor Denis Coderre claimed in a press release. The announcement was made on Wednesday, during the 52nd Congress of the Association québécoise des transports.

The Mayor’s office claims this is an “important step in the realization of [their] ambitious strategy for the electrification of transport.” Indeed, the creation of the institute is one of the 10 points of the 2016-2020 Strategy for electrification and smart transportation outlined last summer.

Other measures put forward in the plan include exchanging city vehicles for electrical cars, electrification of public transit and developing a second, purely economic plan to encourage the local development of the electric transportation sector.

However, the opposition at City Hall is not too impressed with the new institute. Projet Montréal’s transport critic Craig Sauvé says that they have seen no serious plan or content backing up the announcement.

“That’s pretty much the Coderre style,” he observed, “announce a project that will most likely garner positive headlines but without doing any substantive groundwork before the announcement.”

Although Sauvé admits that the city’s efforts for electrification are a good thing overall, he believes it is a short-sighted strategy.

“The Coderre administration is very car-focused,” he claimed, “they still have this vision that is out of the 1950’s!”

According to Sauvé, the city should put more money into better bike lanes, urban planning and public transit in order to reduce the number of cars on the road.

“You can electrify everything you want, but it won’t solve the traffic, it won’t solve the pollution still created by the production of new cars and road networks,” he argued.

FTB contacted the city’s executive committee for further comments, but was still waiting for a reply at publication time.

Mayor Coderre announced earlier this week that the city is investing at least $24 million in Formula E, a major international car race featuring only electric cars. The event will be held downtown on July 29th and 30th. The Coderre administration hopes that it will serve as publicity for electric and smart transportation in Montreal and boost the city’s status as a leader in climate action.

Back in November 2013, the government of Quebec had promised $35 million for the creation of a province-wide institute with the same purpose. Many cities were interested in hosting it. The promise did not survive the change of government.

 

* Featured image: electric cars in Berlin, Germany, all credits to Avda, Berlin – Potsdamer Platz – E-Mobility-Charging, CC BY-SA 3.0

Hope you have an umbrella because in between all the rainstorms it looks like we’ve got another great week of music ahead of us. Here are some of your options for the next seven days.

John K. Samson +  Michael Feuerstack

On Thursday singer/songwriter John K. Samson is playing a show at Théâtre Fairmount in support of his second album Winter Wheat released last October. While his career as a solo artist is fairly new, you might know John as the frontman of Canadian Indie rock band The Weakerthans who were part of the Canadian music scene from 1997 until they decided to go on hiatus in 2014.

Joining Samson will be local talent Michael Feuerstack who has also been in the game for quite a while now under a different name. You might know him as Snailhouse, the moniker he used for a number of years before re-branding to his real name.

Regardless of the labels they’re currently going by, both these guys create great music with memorable lyrics. Give a listen to the track Postdoc Blues off John’s latest album to see what I mean.

John K. Samson and Michael Feuerstack play Théâtre Fairmount, 5240 Avenue du Parc, Thursday, April 6th, 8:30pm (Doors at 7:30), $25 to $20 +s.c available through the box office.

 

Allison Crutchfield and The Fizz + Vagabon + Empath

Also on Thursday you can stop by La Vitrola for an evening of Indie Rock presented by Suoni Per Il Popolo and CKUT with three great acts from south of the border in the form of Allison Crutchfield and the FizzVagabon and Empath.

Headliner Allison Crutchfield’s latest album Tourist in This Town was released in January and it’s really worth a listen all the way through. Or just go to the show and you can get the live version!

 Allison Crutchfield and The Fizz, Vagabon and Empath play La Vitrola, 4602 Boulevard St. Laurent, Thursday, April 6th, 9:00pm, $12 available through the box office.

 

Carlos Núñez

Sunday night Nuits d’Afrique will be hosting an evening with Spanish bagpiper Carlos Núñez who is coming to town for the last stop on his springtime tour through North America. The Galician multi-instrumentalist is well known for breaking down barriers between music styles. Most commonly associated with playing Celtic music, Núñez’s songs also draw heavily on his Latin roots and classical music.

This tour is also a celebration of Carlos’s illustrious career. It’s been twenty years since the release of his debut album Brotherhood of Stars and since then there has been no slowing down. He’s released an impressive ten more albums and done countless tours all over the globe in that time.

Carlos Núñez plays Théâtre Fairmount, 5240 Avenue du Parc, Sunday, April 9th, 8:30pm, $38.40 available through the box office.

 

North Country Towers + Isaak Salomon + Eva Foote

On Sunday Casa Del Popolo will be hosting folk performers North Country Towers who invite you to enjoy the nice spring weather (I guess they like rain) we’ve been having and come see a show. Actually Sunday is supposed to be the one sunny day this week so the thought of getting out of the house and seeing three acts for only eight bucks seems like a great way to spend the day.

North Country Towers, Isaak Salomon and Eva Foote Casa play Casa del Popolo, 4848 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Sunday, April 9th, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:30), $8 available at the door.

L O S

For those who don’t want to go home Sunday, you can just stay at Casa Del Popolo till Monday night when Quebec City based band L O S will be playing in support of their recently released first album Big Surf. When the word “Surf” is in the title of an album, it’s hard to prevent certain preconceptions of what it’s going to sound like to pop into your head. In this case you’d be dead wrong.

The vibe of Big Surf is a lot more mellow than you’d expect from a musical standpoint and a lot deeper and sophisticated in terms of the lyrics. Give them a listen and if it’s your thing then head down on Monday, tickets are only five dollars!

L O S plays Casa del Popolo, 4848 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Monday, April 10th, 9:00pm, $5 available at the door.

* Featured image of Alison Crutchfield via Twitter

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

Angélique, the story of the black slave tortured and put to death in New France (later Montreal, Quebec) for allegedly setting the fire of 1734 that burned down the only hospital and left hundreds of people homeless, is most remarkable for the fact that so few Canadians know about this incendiary incident in Montreal’s history.

It’s a story with everything: chaos, love triangles, danger, a woman’s determined quest for freedom.

Yet, despite these features that make Angélique a perfect candidate for telling and re-telling, like many stories of slavery in Canada’s history, and many narratives sympathetic to disadvantaged people of colour, the story of Marie-Joseph Angelique has been largely ignored until very recently.

In fact, the play currently being billed as the first collaboration between Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau d’Hote Théâtre, is the first time this story has been presented on stage in Montreal, the city where the true story took place. It is running from March 15th to April 2nd at the Segal Center.

Angélique is the story of the strong-willed black slave tortured and put to death for allegedly starting the fire of 1734, which burned down the majority of what is now Old Montreal. Though it was generally accepted that Angelique did commit the crime for which she was accused, it has recently been argued that she was innocent, convicted on the basis of her reputation as a rebellious runaway and hard-to-control slave. The evidence used to convict Angelique would not stand up in a modern court of law.

“I am a very proud Canadian, and a very proud Montréaler, but I don’t think we are doing ourselves any favours by not acknowledging the bad along with the good in history,” says Black Theatre workshop artistic director Quincy Armorer. “I’ve noticed this play is educating a lot of people about some of the forgotten or ignored times in Canadian and Montreal history, and I am very, very happy to be a part of letting people know this happened here.”

Mathieu Murphy-Perron, artistic director for Tableau d’Hote Theater, agrees: “As someone who generally tries to be aware of where we live and the land we are on, and the fact that it’s stolen land, and Canada is not the land of milk and honey…to have zero-ZERO-knowledge of this show, it spoke to our educational shortcomings of telling the stories that make up this city, Quebec and Canada”

“I didn’t even know about this before,” adds Jenny Brizard, the lead and title actress of Angélique “They didn’t talk about slavery in Canada at all when I was in school.”

Having left her native Montreal to pursue a career as a dancer in Toronto, Ms. Brizard has returned in a blaze of glory with a breakout performance as the title character in Angélique. This is her first professional acting role, and though the performance seemed a little manic at times, this is certainly fitting as an artistic choice for a character under an incredible amount of mental, emotional and physical stress.

Speaking of artistic direction, the costuming decisions in this production were extremely powerful, working as an additional layer of social commentary. ‘Upper class’ members of society began the production dressed in contemporary business wear, and ended the production dressed in 1730s period clothing. Conversely, slaves began the production in period clothing and ended the production in contemporary street wear, or in Angelique’s case, an orange prison outfit.

The closing images of a modern black woman being put to death for a crime, with no evidence that she had committed it, while being looked upon by people stuck in the past, were extremely powerful and speaks to the ongoing issues with class and race that still exist today. The play ended with Angelique hearing the drums of her homeland (drums were banned in New France in an effort to sever slaves from their culture) and dancing her heart out in the traditional style of her childhood, which she had been previously embarrassed and nervous to display in New France.

The musical backdrop of Angélique was completely percussion based, set to an original composition by SIXTRUM Percussion Ensemble. The use of drums served as a clever musical allegory for Angelique’s struggle and personal erasure, due to the nature of the importance of drum music in Angelique’s internal life and history versus their ban in New France.

When Angélique is first introduced at a slave purchasing block, thick chains were used as an instrument by SIXTRUM, who were playing above the stage. It was fresh, creative, and enhanced the narrative.

Though the script, written by the late Lorena Gale, doesn’t claim to be completely factual (and how could it be, when the source material is from the 18th century), one creative inclusion bothered me:

In the play, Angélique is repeatedly raped by her master François, and it is implied that she gives birth to a child fathered by him. Though I couldn’t find any historical rumours that this had taken place in real life, and the father on record for Angélique’s children is listed as fellow slave César (played with subtlety, depth and range by Tristan D. Lalla), I can understand its inclusion in this play. This is the story of a black slave woman, a group that is underrepresented in the telling of their stories and for whom rape, and the subsequent fathering of children, by white masters was most certainly a frequent occurrence.

Where I take issue that it is then used as THE major point of contention between Angelique and Francois’ wife Thérèse. I think, in a story that already has so much drama and intrigue, it’s a bit lazy to then add as a major plot point, a shift away from Angelique’s real struggle, towards a jealousy fight between women arguing over the affections of a shitty guy. It reinforces the stereotype of women as petty and jealous, and having nothing more of substance to do or think about than the affections of a man.

In fact, this same theme is echoed again between Angelique and Manon, a Panis-Native slave, who in this play rejects Angélique’s friendship and sells her out at trial over Manon’s love of César, who in turn loves Angélique. According to the historical record, Manon more likely tried to divert suspicion to Angélique for self-preservation as she herself could have been severely punished if suspicion had fallen on her own shoulders.

However, I suppose pitting women against each other over a guy once again adds easy intrigue and a familiar stereotype. Despite the historical setting of the play, it’s 2017, and I think we can do better.

Overall, Angelique is a skillful and extremely important retelling of a chapter in Montreal history that is conspicuously absent from most history books. It is powerful, visceral and necessary, and with tickets starting at $22, much more accessible than the majority of professional theatrical productions.

Bring a date, bring your mom, bring a history or theatre buff, a lover of Montreal, or even your favorite arsonist, but don’t miss Angélique’s first (and certainly not last) tour in Montreal. It is a tribute to a powerful and strong woman who was persecuted until the end by a society that did not value her.

Only one question remains in the fiery tale: Did she do it?

“At this point, I don’t really care…if she did it or not,” says Ms. Brizard. “The fact is, she didn’t have a fair chance. Period. And that’s how I approach the work. She didn’t get a fair trial, a fair chance, as a woman, as a black woman. Period.”

Angélique presented by Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau d’Hote Théâtre runs through April 2nd, 2017 at the Segal Centre, 5170 ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine,  tickets available through the Segal Centre box office

Happy Spring Break to those who celebrate the occasion! There’s some great shows going on this week both big and small and an important tribute taking place at Crobar this weekend that those in the music community wont want to miss.

So if you’re looking to hit up a show then look no further!

Dinosaur Jr. + Public Access TV

Head over to the Théâtre Corona on Thursday night and check out alt rock royalty in the form of Dinosaur Jr. who kick off a month long North American tour right here in our fair city. These guys are still going strong having released their eleventh full length studio album Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not last year.

Joining them will be New York post-punk rockers Public Access TV  who you should really get to know if you don’t already. In the meantime here is the just released video by Dinosaur Jr. which documents the band’s life on the road in its present state.

Dinosaur Jr. and Public Access tv play Théâtre Corona, 2490 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Thursday, March 9th, 8:30pm (Doors at 7:30), $27 through the box office or $30 at the door, all ages.

RobFest 2017

This weekend Crobar will be hosting the second annual RobFest, a three day event of “Local Music and Live Painting”  put on by GrimeyMTL in order to commemorate the life of the dear departed “Bubs” the former owner of the establishment who passed away suddenly back in 2015. There will be 25 bands hitting the stage in fast succession on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, so check out the event page for a more detailed look at the lineup.

Adding another level to all the mayhem will be that fact that there is also live painting which will be taking place throughout the bar on all three days. The intention is to create a mural in honour of Bubs as well as other pieces.

It should also be noted that despite the insane amount of stuff going on, tickets are being kept to a very reasonable $7 for one night or $15 for the whole weekend.

 

RobFest with various artists plays Crobar, 1221 Crescent Street, Friday, March 10th to Sunday March 12th, 7:00pm (Friday and Saturday), 5:00pm (Sunday) $7 (for the day) $15 (for the weekend) only at the door.

 

Harrow Fair

On Thursday night Canadian Folk/Country/Rock duo Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner, who go by the name Harrow Fair, will be coming to Pointe Claire for a special intimate house concert. They released their debut album Call To Arms in October of 2016 which has been picking up steam ever since and so they have decided to take the show on the road for a North American tour with three stops on consecutive days here in Quebec.

While big venues and blaring music has its place, there’s something to be said for a more intimate approach to the concert experience. There’s even going to be a potluck dinner before the show! Space will obviously be very limited and only people who buy tickets in advance will be let in so check out the event page for more details.

Also check out this recently released version of Wicked Game which should give you a good indication of the power and intensity of this duo.

Harrow Fair play House Concert, Thursday, March 9th, 7:30pm (potluck at 6:00pm), $20 for adults, $10 for children available through box office.

 

The Good Ol’ Blues Brothers Boys Band + Slamboni + The Brieface + The Whiskey Chase + Taken for Granted

On Saturday, Crobar is hosting a full evening of rock and roll hosted by Vendetta Management and Entertainment  with no less than five bands set to take the stage. So check out The Good Ol’ Blues Brothers Boys Band, The Brieface, The Whiskey Chase, Taken for Granted and this week’s winner of coolest band name Slamboni who are coming all the way from Toronto to play some ska for you!

 The Good Ol’ Blues Brothers Boys Band, Slamboni, The Brieface, The Whiskey Chase, Taken for Granted play Piranha Bar, 680 Sainte-Catherine St. West, Saturday, March 11th, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:00), $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

* Featured image courtesy Harrow Fair

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

Jazz fans were treated to quite the evening of music last Saturday when guitar legend Al Di Meola took to the stage at Salle Pierre Mercure for a full evening of music. Being the only act on the bill can be a daunting task for some, but when you have over 40 years of material to choose from the only problem is finding the right mix of tunes to play.

Most of the evening was spent bouncing back and forth between celebrating Al’s classic album Elegant Gypsy which turns 40 this year and playing some of the newer tracks off of his most recent release Elysium. With the exception of the first few songs of the second set, this was a mostly electric guitar night featuring the full band… and what a band it was!

Its core was a powerful rhythm section composed of Luis Alicea on drums, Elias Tona on bass and percussionist Gumbi Ortiz whose high energy and constant movement around the stage brought both his fellow musicians and the crowd to life.

Rouding out the lineup were pianist Philippe Saisse and violinist Evan Garr who stood out as a force to be reckoned with in the future. On many of the songs Garr would share the solo duties and could clearly hold his own as a master of speed and technique.

The story of how Garr came to be up on stage with one of his idols is inspiring and has a Montreal connection. Watch the clip below for the story in Al’s own words and a small example of Garr’s brilliance at playing the violin.

As great as the backing band was, this show was a brilliant example of Di Meola’s mastery of his craft. A performer who has never shyed away from complexity, speed and technical wizardry, this performance pushed the limits of how well someone can play music live.

Although clearly a jazz-latin style performer, it was interesting to see a little bit of rock and roll as a root influence. One such example is Al’s re-imagining of some Beatles tunes, most notably the famous McCartney guitar ballad Blackbird which he played as a solo acoustic number on Saturday. There was also a brief full band version of the Zeppelin classic Black Dog with Garr doing his “Robert Plant impression” by substituting the lead vocal part for violin.

If you missed it don’t fret. Al has a long time love affair with Montreal and is a good friend of the Jazzfest, so there will certainly be more chances to catch him in the future.

* Photos by Stephanie Laughlin

Anti-Muslim hatred and domestic right-wing terrorism has hit close to home for many Montrealers late this morning/early this afternoon. Concordia University has evacuated two buildings on its downtown SGW Campus, the EV Building and the Hall Building, after receiving a bomb threat targeting Muslim students:

A group calling itself the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada sent the threat in letter form to news outlets including the Montreal Gazette, claiming that “now that President Trump is in office south of the border, things have changed.”

Concordia is currently hosting Islamic Awareness Week until Thursday. The letter threatens bomb detonations every day until Friday unless Concordia bans what the bigots call Muslim activities (including prayer spaces in the Hall Building).

For now, these buildings are being evacuated. Classes may resume at 6pm if no explosives are found.

* Featured image from Periscope Live video via Global News

Panelists Ellana Blacher and David DesBaillets discuss Montreal’s new official status as a sanctuary city and the Oscars with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup. Community Calendar and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: New Montreal flag, M-103 and Islamophobia, Milo’s downfall and trusting the mainstream media

Panelists:

Ellana Blacher: Spoken word artist

David DesBaillets: Law student and blogger

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Reports by Hannah Besseau

Recorded Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 in Montreal

LISTEN:

WATCH:

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Happy February everyone! If winter’s getting you down then we have a few show suggestions that might warm you up.

Drive-By Truckers

Nothing gets the blood boiling more nowadays than thinking about politics. For those with a political bent we suggest you head over to Théâtre Corona on Tuesday and check out Southern Rock band Drive-By Truckers who’ve been touring and releasing albums for over twenty years without ever backing down from calling it the way they see it.

Their latest album American Band, their most politically charged to date, was released last September before any votes had even been cast in the U.S election. Listening to it now, some of the tracks seem almost prophetic in their outlook and even more relevant then when they were originally released.

Drive-By Truckers play Théâtre Corona, 2490 Notre-Dame West, Tuesday, February 7th, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:00), $37 in advance through box office, $42 at the door.

 

Rock Around the Clock with The Black Moon Boys

On Saturday night the good people of  Jive Studios are hosting a 50s dance party over at La Sala Rossa. On hand to provide the live entertainment will be Montreal based rockabilly band The Black Moon Boys who are a ready to get everyone jumpin’ and jivin’.

What’s more, if you’re interested but not the best dancer they’re offering two courses (rockabilly jive at 8:30pm or boogie-woogie at 9:00pm) to help you get some moves. This is certainly one fun way to get the blood flowing and keep warm on a cold winter night.

The Black Moon Boys play La Sala Rossa, 4848 boul. Saint-Laurent, Saturday, February 4th, 8:00pm, $15 at the door.

 

Priests + Snail Mail + Fred Thomas

Monday night head down to Casa del Popolo to catch Washington, DC-based punk band Priests. With a very 90s riot grrrl sound, you`re sure to sweat away some of that winter cold.

Baltimore`s Snail Mail and Montreal-based rocker Fred Thomas will open. $1 off every ticket sold will go to the Plus 1 Foundation which aims to raise awareness of the educational challenges faced by communities.

Priests with Snail Mail and Fred Thomas play Casa del Popolo, 4873 boul. Saint-Laurent, Monday, February 6th, 9:30pm, $16 at the door

* Featured image of Drive-By Truckers via NPR

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

The Salon de L’Amour et de la Séduction aka The Everything to Do with Sex Show is Montreal’s annual sex show. The show is dedicated to being “the innovative force behind spreading openness and appreciation for all the different facets of romance, sexuality, and self-improvement.” The event is part trade show, is part performance show, and part lecture series.

The message is of the show is one of sex positivity. If you’re a self-professed prude and/or thinks that the free expression of consensual sexuality is evil, wrong, or shameful, stay away.

This show is not for you.

If you’re out to have some fun, get some sex toys or lingerie at discounted prices, and maybe see a show, the Salon is a must see. It features top burlesque acts and strippers and a kink corner where people are invited to explore and learn about alternate forms of sexuality.

The show is 18+, no exceptions, not even for babies, though given the loud noises and constant flurry of activity, the rule is understandable. The dress code is “Dress to Impress” and people are welcome to wear latex, leather, or lace. Though in Canada you are allowed to go topless, organizers ask that attendees keep their crotches covered.

In a curtained off corner of the space, there are seminars by sexperts such as Dr. Laurie Betito, a clinical psychologist specializing in sex therapy who has a radio show on CJAD about sex and relationships. She is also works with the Sexual Health Network of Quebec.

The Sexual Health Network of Quebec was one of the many sex positive nonprofit groups present at the show. The Network is an organization that believes that choices about sex are best made freely through education and provide free sex ed to youth in Montreal schools.

At the booth, they gave away condoms and sold T-shirts, bullet vibrators and flavored massage candles in support of their cause. When I spoke to one of their volunteers she told me that the election of Cheeto-Head in the US had not only increased donations to American nonprofits like Planned Parenthood, but also to groups like the Sexual Health Network, a public acknowledgment of their contribution to society’s sexual health.

Another non-profit at the show was the Alternate Lifestyles Community Center, an organization devoted to education, information, and support for alternative and marginalized sexual communities. As one of their volunteers put it, the organization acknowledges that we’re all fucked up and that it’s time to accept and work with it.

Photo by Chris Zacchia (Salon de l’amour 2011)

As the group was among many representing the kink community at the show, I asked the volunteer – Stephanie – what they thought of Fifty Shades of Grey. “It’s abuse,” she said.

On the one hand, she told me the books brought many people into the kink community who would not have explored that side of their sexuality. On the other hand the book gave these newbies an inaccurate notion of what kink is all about.

In the kink demonstrations held at the show, you saw the dominant constantly checking with the submissive, making sure she’s alright and is consenting to what’s being done to her. As Stephanie pointed out, in Fifty Shades of Grey the protagonist says No and uses her safe word but the dominant keeps going.

This is a violation of the rules of BDSM play which actually give the submissive control over what is happening. It is the dominant’s responsibility to take care of the sub and make sure they are ok with what is happening during a play session, also called a scene.

I asked the Stephanie whether BDSM contracts are necessary for play. The notion of having to have a contract for sex play sounds like a buzzkill and she agreed, partly due to the implications of calling it a contract. In their workshops on BDSM, the Center calls agreements about acceptable play negotiations, for calling it a contract suggests that violations would be enforceable in a court of law, which they usually aren’t.

Though many go to the Salon for information and to see a show, many go for the shopping. The Salon showcases vendors of sex toys, lingerie, and adult films, with business owners providing insights into their industries and the challenges they face.

Annick Samson and Jessica Filion are the proprietors of Vices & Caprices, a sex shop in Blainville that also sells online. Though their shop is new, they are already facing persecution from the City, which is claiming that their space in an 18+ tanning salon has not been zoned for their type of business.

There was also concern about exposing their products to children when neither their business nor the tanning salon permits underage customers. As it turns out, the complaint was not filed by parents or clergy, but by their competitor who is trying to force them out of business.

Another vendor at the show was Vid Vicious, an adult film director whose business card features the motto: “Keep Calm and Watch Porn!”

Vicious’ impressive resume includes films and Season 2 of Porn Star Academy, a French language reality TV show where competitors compete to become an adult film star.

I asked Vid about the status of the porn industry in Quebec and he said that it’s dying because Quebec consumers prefer American films over locally made ones. Vid also expressed frustrations about the illegal sharing of his films, saying that within a week of his movies coming out someone will have uploaded a copy onto a free site. When I asked how strictly copyright rules are enforced here, he spoke of the difficulties tracing the original uploader and how quickly people share the illegal uploads.

Montreal’s annual Salon is a weekend of fun, bringing warmth to an otherwise chilly city in the winter. It’s a place where nearly all are welcome, great for the shopping, shows, and lessons about sex that may prove handy someday. Check it out next year!

* Featured image by Jo Gorsky

Panelists David DesBaillets and Jerry Gabriel discuss the Conservative Leadership Race and Montreal’s 375th Anniversary with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup. Community Calendar and Predictions!

Panelists:

David DesBaillets: Blogger, Doctoral student and political junkie

Jerry Gabriel: FTB contributor

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Reports by Hannah Besseau

Recorded Sunday, January 15th, 2017 in Montreal

LISTEN:

WATCH:

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Panelists Lyle Stewart and Cem Ertekin discuss new Projet Montréal Leader Valérie Plante and the upcoming film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with host Jason C. McLean.

News Roundup Topics: Standing Rock (temporary?) victory, Trudeau’s pipelines, the death of Fidel Castro and Val d’Or

Panelists:

Lyle Stewart: Veteran Montreal journalist

Cem Ertekin: FTB Managing Editor and contributor

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Report by Hannah Besseau

Referenced article by Lyle Stewart from The Nation

Recorded Sunday, December 4, 2016 in Montreal

LISTEN:

WATCH:

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its last November edition. Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Beaux Dégâts #45 – Tap Water Jam MTL + Ella Grave showcase

Beaux Dégâts is a time-honoured Montreal tradition that combines improvisation in musical and fine arts to create a unique organic event space. From their Facebook page:

“Beaux Dégâts tries to make a parallel between the reality of street artists and the Fine Arts. It is here to bring back what has been ignored for too long by art institutions and return to the street artist’s reality: the importance of community, sharing, accessibility and uniqueness.

For two hours, six teams of artists will improvise 8ft X 8ft murals on different themes given on the night. Each team will have to research and find visual references to create a production in front of public. All mediums except spray cans are allowed. During the evening, the public will vote for it’s favorite mural using their empty Pabst beer cans. The team that will collect the most cans will win the right to paint over the other artists work if they wish.”

Beaux Dégâts #45: Live Improvised Painting and Music – Wednesday, Nov 30, Foufounes Electriques, 8pm-1am. Entrance: 5$

The Crossing presented by Cinema Politica Concordia

Cinema Politica is a media arts, non-profit network of community and campus locals that screen independent political film and video by Canadian and international artists throughout Canada and abroad. It is volunteer-run and all screenings are by donation.

 

The film that Cinema Politica is screening this Monday, The Crossing, “takes us along on one of the most dangerous journeys of our time with a group of Syrians fleeing war and persecution, crossing a sea, two continents and five countries, searching for a home to rekindle the greatest thing they have lost – Hope.”

The Crossing screening @ Cinema Politica Concordia, 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard W, Room H-110, Monday, 7pm. Entrance by Donation

50/50 presented at Mainline Theatre

50/50 is a novel concept; a half-scripted, half-improvised live comedy show! This show was a major hit at Just For Laughs 2016 and will not be back for four months – definitely catch this if you can at the Mainline Theatre.

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Coming off a sellout show at OFF-JFL/Zoofest this past July, 50/50 returns with a new cast blending talented actors and hilarious comedians. In each of the show’s nine scenes, a prepared actor who has learned lines off a real script is paired with an improviser who has no prior knowledge of what the actor has rehearsed.

50/50 @ Mainline Theatre, 3997 boul St-Laurent. Wednesday, November 30th, 8pm. $15 (students/seniors/QDF Members $12)

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Montreal is a great city. The diversity of our population is unmatched in most of Canada, we are unilingual by provincial law, bilingual by federal law, but if you walk down our streets you’ll hear everything from Tagalog to Hebrew spoken.

We have an impressive nightlife and artists from around the world come to perform at our annual festivals. Despite all its diversity, and action, there are many areas where Montreal could use some improvement, especially if you drive a car.

Parking in Montreal is a nightmare.

Part of the city’s parking problem is due to all the construction. When snow and ice aren’t interfering with road work, parking is compromised by construction that takes huge chunks out of the streets.

There’s very little indoor parking despite high demand, and the existing indoor and outdoor lots in the downtown core are heavily taxed by the City. What’s left are areas taken up by signs reserving parking spaces for residents, and everything else seems to have a parking meter on it.

There’s a saying that in life there’s no such thing as a free ride, but in the City of Montreal there’s no such thing as free parking.

Montreal Parking Law

To prevent a few headaches, I’ve decided to give you all a crash course on Montreal’s parking laws. These rules apply only to the City of Montreal, which includes such boroughs as NDG/Cote des Neiges, the downtown core, and the Plateau. Areas on the Island that operate independently of the City of Montreal, such as the City of Cote-Saint-Luc and Westmount have their own rules.

The City of Montreal’s parking rules should be easily accessible online, but they aren’t. Most of the city’s online resources for parking are devoted to helping people pay parking meters and tickets.

The law itself is the By-Law Concerning Traffic and Parking and is almost impossible to find online unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. The most updated version is only available in French so if you don’t know the language, you’re screwed.

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Image: WikiMedia Commons

If you get a parking ticket, the ticket WILL indicate what rule you are deemed to have violated, but it will usually list the number of the offense, not the whole rule, probably due to the size constraints of the ticket itself.

Here’s what the law says:

On public land belonging to the City of Montreal, you are not allowed to park anywhere prohibited by a sign. If a sign states that there’s no parking in an area outside of certain hours, you are not allowed to park there outside of those hours. If the sign says the spot is reserved for other vehicles like taxis, for example, you can’t park there if you’re not driving a taxi. Unless there’s a sign posted expressly allowing you to park in an alleyway, it is illegal. Same goes for parking on median strips or traffic islands.

If a parking space is blocked or barred by an official barrier, a system of orange lights, a removable no parking sign, or there’s a cover on the parking meter, you’re not allowed to park there. If stopping is forbidden in a designated area by law, bylaw, or regulation, that area is not a viable parking space either.

Parking is forbidden in public parks except in areas officially designated for parking by signs. Offroad parking is also forbidden.

If a spot has a parking meter, you can’t park there without paying it. The exception is if you parked in that spot outside of the hours in which you are obliged to pay, and those are always indicated on the meter.

The City parking meters only accept Canadian currency, but thanks to modern technology you can pay by credit card and even by app. It is against the law to do anything that will keep the parking meter from working, and no two vehicles can take up one spot covered by a single meter.

Getting a Parking Ticket

If you break the rules, you will get a parking ticket either handed to you, left on your windshield, or sent to you by mail. The ticket, officially called a “statement of offense” will require you to pay a fine. Fines for parking violations range between thirty and two hundred bucks.

You have two options for responding to the ticket: you can plead guilty and pay it, or plead not guilty and contest it. Both options have a deadline of about thirty days. If you do nothing, a judge may rule against you by default and order you to pay the fine and any additional costs.

Contesting the ticket is entirely up to you, but there a few things to consider. You need to think about the cost of biting the bullet and paying the fine versus the time, cost, and stress related to contesting the ticket in court. You also need to brutally honest with yourself as to whether or not you deserved it.

If you opt to contest the ticket, you can do so by giving notice within the thirty days you have to respond. Just follow the instructions on the back of your ticket. The court will eventually send you a hearing date. On court day, bring any documents you have to prove your version of events such as photos taken the day you got the ticket, and bring a copy of the police report.

If you live and work in an area facilitated by Montreal’s public transit system, you can avoid the problems and cost of a car by investing in tickets or a pass. The bus and metro have their own set of problems, but in many ways they are a lot faster than taking a car.

If you have a driver’s license you can always follow many Montrealers in occasionally renting a car or joining a carshare service like Communauto so you have access to a vehicle when you occasionally need it.

Parking in Montreal is a pain, and with everything going on, we could all use less of it. Don’t suffer.

* Featured image: Goethe.de, Creative Commons

The Candyass Cabaret: Shimmies and Showtunes is at the Cafe Cleopatre (1230 boul St-Laurent, 2nd floor) this Friday November 18th, doors at 9pm show at 10pm. It features burlesque, drag and other theatrical entertainment. $10 at the door. I will be there with my fellow performers naked for the world to see.

I have been active with the Buffalo Infringement Festival and was very inspired to go to the Infringe Mecca of Montreal to see where it all began. Two years ago, Fifi Laflea and I made the trip for the Montreal Infringement Festival and we had no idea the honor it would be to perform with the Candyass Caberet at the historic Cafe Cleopatre.

candyass

Being in the dressing room even felt special. I wondered what incredible creatures from times past got ready in front of these very mirrors? I truly cannot believe that special place was almost a thing of the past.

In a world over saturated with sex it is a challenge to truly titilate someone with art. Burlesque is my life. It is an old tradition of theatrical bawdiness with blatant political intentions.

A major highlight of my career was a the 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival where (dressed in horrible white trash drag) I pulled several American flags out of a very large glittery plushy penis to the song “America, F*ck Yeah!” during that Candyass show, with Fifi Laflea as my beautiful assistant. It was definitely a statement about how the rest of the world views Americans and our culture of waste and over privilege.

It is even more important now to be a sort of cultural ambassador with my art due to the election of that pompous Cheeto nightmare. I have a responsibility to show the world that not all Americans are like him, not all of us support hate, most of us are scared, we are angry. We are going to speak out and stand up. Art is the first line.

I asked Velma Candyass, world renowned burlesque performer, a few questions. She is also one of the ringleaders that helped to save the Cafe Cleopatre from demolition. She also does incredible tours of the Montreal Red Light District with Donovan King, and runs her own burlesque troupe The Dead Doll Dancers. She is an absolutely incredible performer, a super babe, my burlesque crush, and a total sweetheart.

candyass-cabaret-3Wow, I am very impressed that this is the 50th show! How do you feel about 50 Candyass Caberet shows?

Im shocked at having produced this much under the Candyass concept. It’s a lot of work but I genuinely enjoy the challenges involved in managing a show and herding the artists

What was the theme of the first show?

If my foggy brain recalls, it was not too long after the victory saving the Cleopatra venue. So it was a ‘welcome to the cabaret” theme with lots of variety arts, drag queens and burlesque with a european cabaret flavour.

Why did you choose a Showtunes theme for this one?

Why showtunes? Why not? It was a theme that several of my regular artists really wanted to have and since I hadn’t featured musical theatre type acts in awhile, I felt was a great idea. No matter what, everyone has at least one musical they like, so therefore the artist should be able to develop an act based on an old favourite .

What are your favorite musicals?

I personally like Chicago, Cabaret, Avenue Q, Contact, Wicked, West Side Story and The Producers .

I know a lady never tells her age, but how long have you been doing burlesque?

Oh gawd a long time. Long enough to see the transitions in the styles of burlesque going on. And some of the Legends passing on.

What is your biggest inspiration?

Oh gosh, I would say The Velvet Hammer Burlesque was a definite aha moment along with Le Scandal Cabaret. It was all bubbling underground and dynamic.

candyass-cabaret-5

Who is your burlesque crush/icon?

Tiffany Carter and April March are my burlesque crush/icons. Completely different styles and eras yet wonderful legends to learn from.

What are your thoughts on the political importance and impact of burlesque?

It’s 2016 and a woman/person stripping naked and in control of their bodies is still a big deal as evidenced by some of the crazy things going on in the world. Political burlesque acts are an important expression and, just like the court jester, tell the stories that wouldn’t get told otherwise .

What are your thoughts on the Infringement Festival?

Infringement festivals provide a place for artists to create and have their say. Its getting more and more difficult to be able to afford to participate in many of the large(r) mainstreamed festival and this provides a DIY experience to develop one’s skills.

* Photos (except for backstage shot) by Argaive

* Candyass Cabaret: Shimmies and Showtunes – Saturday, November 18th, Cafe Cleopatre, 1230 Boul St-Laurent, 10pm (Doors 9pm). $10

A few years ago, it was late and the party was winding down. In the background, whatever playlist we were using changed the tune and the first bars of Famous Blue Raincoat started playing. The volume was low and most people were focused on where they had to get to, then someone asked the room “What time is it?” And Leonard Cohen answered through our makeshift sound system:

After we all laughed, someone actually checked the time and, turns out Leonard Cohen was right. It was just after 4am. On the Plateau, a few blocks from where Cohen had written some of his most famous songs. Where he lived for many years with Marianne Ihlen. Yes, So Long, Marianne is named after her, not Marie-Anne street that borders Parc du Portugal.

The couple first lived on St-Laurent then moved to the other side of the park on Vallières Street. where Cohen still owned a home right up until his passing. No matter where his primary residence may have been, he always came back to Montreal for a visit. He also kept in touch with Ihlen for decades after the couple split, even writing a letter before she passed away herself last July which included the now prophetic line “I will follow you very soon.”

His doorway is now a makeshift memorial with Cohen music playing out of an old boombox as people continue to leave candles, pictures and other messages as a tribute to the man’s life and the poetry and music he left us. There was a large gathering of Cohen fans, friends and neighbours and a group singing of some of his biggest hits Saturday and another memorial gathering by the Portuguese community today.

A similar shrine has popped up outside the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, made famous in this Cohen tune:

While New York mourns him, a city where he lived and wrote for quite a while, and the rest of the world will surely miss him, too. Montreal was always a part of Cohen and he has been a part of our culture for decades and will be for decades more.

People have been floating ideas for a permanent memorial, like renaming a street, a part of a street or building some sort of monument. Some have even suggested renaming Parc du Portugal in his honour, which would take the approval of the Plateau Borough and the Portuguese Community, but seems the most likely to me along with possibly re-naming Vallières to honour him. Renaming Marie-Anne as some have suggested just wouldn’t make sense.

It was even suggested, by the new PQ leader of all people, to give Cohen a state funeral a la Rene Angelil, but then we found out that he had already been buried. Turns out Cohen passed away on Monday in Los Angeles and his body was flown to Montreal for a small family funeral on Thursday afternoon, after which he was interred in his family’s plot on the foot of Mount Royal.

Then, Thursday evening, Cohen’s official Facebook page notified the world that the man who was a legend had left us. No chance of a large, expensive and ostentatious affair paid for with public funds. Leonard Cohen saw to it that his funeral would be a low key affair, in perfect keeping with his style.

Over the past few days, quite a few of my fellow Montrealers have been posting about encounters they had with Cohen on social media and telling their anecdotes to reporters. While I never had the opportunity to run into him myself, I vicariously feel like I have.

All the stories paint a similar picture. That of a total gentleman who would hold the door for a stranger carrying too much stuff, would leave the house impeccably dressed no matter what time it was or what he was doing, would hang around as a member of the community without any pretension, respectful of his neighbours and pleasant to any random fan who happened to catch his eye.

Through his music and lyrics, we all got the chance to know him. He was a down-to-earth guy who had an uncanny ability to observe and understand human nature and the gift to be able to translate that understanding into brilliantly crafted lyrics. He also had the forethought to realize that if he set those lyrics to music and delivered them more like a poet with a backup band than a traditional singer it would work.

When it came to politics, he was a cynic, sure. But even at his most cynical, he was also optimistic:

but he always kept it real:

and was fierce fighter:

The impact this man had on the culture at large, the culture here in Montreal and millions of people, most who never met him, is immeasurable. I tried to include as many tunes as possible in this post, but it barely scratches the surface of even just my favourite Leonard Cohen songs, let alone what this legend had to offer over the decades.

Leonard Cohen, so long, sir, you will always be with us.