Yesterday, Janick Murray-Hall announced that his satirical news site and Journal de Montéal (JdeM) pardoy Le Journal de Mourréal would cease all operations. In a Facebook post, the site’s founder said that he couldn’t afford the legal fees necessary to fight media behemoth and JdeM parent company Quebecor:

Le Journal de Mourréal started publishing fake news stories in 2012 with a style mimicking JdeM’s tabloid approach, complete with a spoof of their logo and category choices on their website. While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery for some, for Quebecor, it was cause to seek an injunction, claiming Journal de Mourréal was financially benefiting off the similarities and readers may confuse the two sites.

Initially, Murray-Hall decided to fight the court challenge by raising funds online and, of course, publishing a satirical article about Quebecor’s over-the-top litigious nature, but then realized the costs would be too much and threw in the towel. As Murray Hall’s colleague Olivier (aka Suzanne Lachance) noted in a different Facebook post today, Quebecor was very likely to lose the case, but the prohibitive costs made it impossible for the pair to continue.

This sounds like it could be a typical SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) suit designed to frighten potential critics into silence with the looming threat of huge expenses. Such suits are, in fact, illegal in Quebec, but then, of course, getting to the point where the Mourréal team could sue for court costs would probably take a hefty amount of legal fees up front.

The question remains, though: Does Quebecor really have such a low opinion of the typical JdeM reader that they think a clearly satirical site may confuse them? Or, as Olivier put it in his Facebook post:

“Honestly, we never thought that a newspaper which publishes 10 articles per day on Pokémon and the Kardashians could actually consider having, at this point, a brand image to defend!”

* Featured image is the former Journal de Mourréal Facebook page header

Hello faithful readers! I don’t know if this is going to make me seem like more or less of a narcissist but I am going to be writing a monthly ASK CAT column for Forget The Box.

While I don’t claim to be a real expert on anything in particular, I do know that I am real. I have been through a lot in my life and can use my experiences to help you with any question you throw at me.

I will answer you blatantly and honestly, without a filter, and completely from the heart. I will answer anything from questions about Sex, Dating, Politics, Art, Feminism, Activism, LGBTQ issues, Drugs, Culture, or anything else you can think of.

Email your questions to Cat@ForgetTheBox.net and I will answer them ASAP in a monthly blog entry. (“Ask Cat” sounds like “Ass Cat” when said out loud)

I threw this idea out there to my Facebook friends and responded to the first six questions I received (my friends are f*cked up). Here are the first three, with three more to come next time:

Dear Cat, what are your thoughts on art expression over personal issues with waste? I feel a calling to do a photo shoot in a giant tub full of blue cheese for the sake of art because I feel like the Buffalo chicken wing of life. My problem is I can’t convince myself to waste all of that blue cheese. I recall some of your work with the Wesley Willis song “rock n roll McDonalds” and how you were able to incorporate food into the act. Some of the fries never made it to the mouth. How do we approach artist feats like this and overcome the guilt?

– Micheal

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Hi Micheal! As you know I am very much against the issue of food waste in this world, I am a big activist for dumpster diving and Food Not Bombs, using food that would have otherwise been thrown away to feed the hungry. It is also true that I often use food in my performance.

It’s a catch 22. I want to make a comment on shitty corporate food and the accessibility of vegetables and healthy stuff, but still feel bad for wasting. I am a hypocrite when I throw out rotten leftovers or put compost in the trash, I am even more wrong when I ejaculate burgers and toss perfectly good french fries into an audience, half to be smushed on the floor, or smash a 100 cupcakes on my body dressed like Marie Antoinette, cover myself in galloons of pudding in response to Bill Cosby, rub donuts on my boobs dressed like a cop, or dressed like Colonel Sanders throwing chicken at someone who is texting.

I make comments about greed, consent,corruption, body image, and corporate waste with my art. My vision is to participate in the bad parts of society on a stage so people can become aware of the abject horror of reality, kind of like John Waters. It’s like there must be sacrifices made for the revolution to be a success.

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Nobody is perfect all the time, myself definitely included. Of course I feel bad about the fries on the floor when there are hungry mouths to feed. I guess where I was coming from with that is the food I was “feeding” to people is shit food with no positive nutritional value anyways, so I feel less guilty about that.

I fully support the idea of you submerging yourself in blue cheese, make sure it’s the good kind. Buy it, and put yourself in a claw foot tub in the middle of an art gallery. Lay in in naked, submerged.

cat fashionHave plates full of chicken wings, carrots, celery, pizza, all the vessels for blue cheese. Invite people to dip in your tub, see how long it takes, see how far they will go for blue cheesy goodness. Will they lick it off of your body? People are obsessed with that shit. People also get weird in the name of art.

Document the entire thing. The exhibit ends when the food is gone, nothing is wasted, and you can probably get a pizza shop to sponsor you. I once wore a dress sponsored by Mr. Pizza. It was a collaboration with Melissa Campbell called Upper Crust Punk, we literally bit every slice of pizza. It was a cathartic, gross indulgence in the name of fashion, there was a spittune. I was empowered by food.

When we made the PBR corset, some of the PBRs were dumped down the drain because they couldn’t physically drink anymore damn PBRs and there was a deadline. It was a sin! If I was there I would have shotgunned every single one of those PBRs, waste not want not,bro. Let them eat blue cheese! Let them scrape it off of your flesh!

Dear Cat, what happened last night? I know I showed up at the bar with $1.25 in quarters, the last shot I took made me black out, and I know I fell off my bike mounting on the way home because of a bruise on my arm and a scratch on my face. I think you were there dressed in white.

– Darren

Hi Daren! I remember seeing you at Nietzsches last night for the Stripteasers weekly bar show, I was dressed in white because we were doing a tribute to Prince and I was a crying dove.

What I assume happened is that people bought your fine ass some drinks, since the bar is cash only. You then were too drunk to bike and should have left your bike at the bar and gotten a ride home or walked.

Or perhaps you were abducted by aliens and drugged, not remembering the experience. The bruise and scratches were from the alien probing, not from a bike fall like you initially thought. Maybe I wasn’t there at all and the “girl in white” was some kind of extraterrestrial being.

I cannot let you know for sure what happened to you, but am happy you made it home safe with minimal damage. Stay safe dude! Use the buddy system in the future. Or be like me and get a trike, I never fall off that thing when drunk riding!

Cat cycling (3)

Dear Cat, I think that you are the cat’s meow! Were you always fearless or did you work up to it?

– Melissa

Hi Melissa! Thank you for the amazing compliment, you too are the cat’s meow! I think have always been pretty fearless (sometimes stupidly fearless)! My parents are amazing and taught me to only speak my mind and fight for what I believe in.

As a little kid I was the one who stated the blatantly obvious. I was a little feminist, fighting to play football with the boys. I love myself and fight for those who are afraid. It’s important to be strong and never give up on important things.

I am also a constant work in progress, I know that I continue to grow and learn each day. I can’t say I’m fearless. I definitely get afraid of walking upstairs from basements, that feeling that something evil is coming up after you to pull you down the dark rickety stairs is real.

Got a question for Cat? Ask it: Cat@ForgetTheBox.net

So, you’re single. Big deal. Who cares? So what if all your couple friends talk about you when you’re not around in a concerned tone usually reserved for speaking about someone who just found out they have cancer. There’s no shame in being single. Be proud, you impossible-to-love loner weirdo.

But just because you’re single doesn’t mean you need to fall into bad eating habits in an attempt to fill the all-consuming void inside you. Microwave burritos, frozen pizzas, and potato wedges from the fried chicken shack down the street that’s been shut down four times already this year for health code violations are easy options when you’ve got no one to impress with your culinary prowess. But, come on, you’re better than this. That chicken place is covered in rodent droppings. They found them on the ceiling fan once. How does that even happen?

There are loads of great tasting, simple to prepare meals for one out there that won’t hurt your wallet, either. So, whether you just got dumped or you’ve been perpetually single for years, keep in mind that you’re fundamentally damaged and no one will ever be able to commit to a healthy long-lasting partnership with you because you’re incapable of being happy with who you are.

Wait, sorry, I meant to say keep in mind that a fun, healthy solo dinner is just a few easy steps away. Ignore that last thing. Anyway, here are a few of my favourites for you to try.

This first one is a regular in my meal plan because it’s so quick and requires so few ingredients. Start with one 1.5 litre bottle of wine (red or white, the recipe’s pretty flexible), and drink a third of it. Officially the recipe calls for you to drink from a wine glass, but that’s not required. I usually use a nice ceramic coffee mug, but you can use pretty much any receptacle you have on hand. Or just drink straight from the bottle. The recipe doesn’t call for any judgment. I once completed the entire thing using a cat dish because I ran out of clean cups.

Once the first third of the bottle is finished, the next step is to go outside for five to seven minutes and yell at something alive. It could be a stranger out walking their dog, it could be their dog, it could be a squirrel or a bug, the important thing is that it’s a living being that can comprehend on some level that you’re angry at life and you’re taking that out on it unfairly.

In a pinch, if you can’t find anything else, yell at God. Whether God exists, or is “alive”, is not for this recipe to weigh in on, but if you can’t find even a bird or something hanging around, God can be substituted.

Once you have shouted yourself hoarse, or the neighbours have dialed the police, return to the wine, and drink the next third. As you’re doing this, log into Facebook. It’s time to start messaging exes. Begin by telling them it was a mistake to ever let them out of your life, and things were so much better when you were together, despite all those things you said, you can see that now. You’re seeing things clearly for the first time. They were right this whole time, and you’re sorry for everything, especially that unfortunate toast at their sister’s wedding.

Switch gears very quickly at this point, telling them that they don’t deserve you and they’ll never find someone as good at oral as you are. Then preemptively block them, catch a bus to where they live, and take a shit right outside the drivers’ side door of their Optima.

If you’re already blocked by your exes, you’ll have to find a more creative way to get a message out. I put them into articles I write, because I know you’re reading this, Stephanie. I hope Brad knows he’s not just moving in with you, he’s also moving in with your borderline pathological trust issues.

The final step is finishing the last third of the wine. This will complete the meal with a lot of crying, perhaps a hole punched in the drywall or cupboard doors ripped off, and a good deal of speculation on who would attend your funeral if you died tonight. The meal is capped off when you pass out in the bathtub.

That’s it, I guess. I know I said I had a few recipes to share, but, well, life’s full of all kinds of disappointments, isn’t it? That’s what I was screaming about at that caterpillar after a third of a bottle of wine last night, anyway.

 

Photo by korafotomorgana via Flickr

Ever think, “Wow that person would be SO SEXY if their face wasn’t so god damn U-G-L-Y (you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly)?” There is a new trend sweeping the globe: paper bag facial coverings! The ultimate equalizer! This economic and functional fashion statement only requires a proper fitting brown paper bag (these can be found at many grocery stores). We do NOT recommend plastic bags as a substitution. This is no time for your auto-erotic asphyxiation fetish. For while it is important to suffer for fashion, it is not necessary to die of suffocation in the name of beauty.

Got a pimple? Put a bag on it! Bad hair day? Yep, put a bag on it! This effortlessly lovely look has been hitting the runways in New York, Paris, Miami, Toronto, Montreal, and Milan for years, and is finally ready for the streets! Vogue magazine is planning a full Paper Bag Heads spread for Summer 2015, as well as the Sports Illustrated Paper Bag Swimsuit Edition. It is absolutely stunning on everyone! Much cheaper than getting your hair and makeup done at a high end salon. It looks perfect with an evening gown or tuxedo, just as fabulous with a pair of torn jeans or sweat pants and a hoodie. Try the bag head look for your next date or intimate encounter. Light some candles, put on that Billie Holiday record, pour the champagne, dip some strawberries in chocolate, throw on some lingerie, high heels, and of course your paper bag! BOOM! Romance is in the air.

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Single and looking? Want something a little more meaningful? A new trend in speed dating also involves people wearing paper bags on their heads, and going on two minute speed dates. There is so much more to someone than what you see in his or her looks. A connection should be based on personality as well. The reveal is at the end of the session. This trend is big in cities like London and New York. Some participants wrote a comment or personal fact on the bag, others simply drew quirky faces. It is a less shallow version of speed dating started by Loveflutter.com. This unique version of speed dating has been dubbed “the thinking person’s Tinder.”

When you finally shed your paperbag the world will bask in your true beauty. It’s like an ugly duckling syndrome: someone who was absolutely unattractive in their youth, mocked and made fun of, only to blossom into a beautiful adult, who is now strong and sexy, and can handle any criticism due to the douchebaggery of their peers growing up. You have to rely on what’s inside to make a connection while rocking the paper bag look, this is not the trend for those with terrible personalities or extremely annoying voices. Beware if you fall into that category.

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This trend has been spotted all over the place for a while, and is finally translating to high fashion couture levels. Sporting fans have worn paper bags on their heads to show they are ashamed of having a losing team – New Orleans Saints fans wore bags that said “the Ain’ts” when their team was less than satisfactory. NY Knicks fans have also been sighted wearing paper bags. There is The Unknown Comedian, who sported the bag head look on The Gong Show. Last year Shia LaBeouf took part in this trend in Berlin to his Nymphomaniac premier by wearing a paper bag with “I am not famous anymore” written on it. Even musical star Ke$ha has been sighted with the paper bag head look. While mostly popular in the 18-24 demographic, this trend has also been sighted on trendy older folks (mostly cougars) trying to maintain their youth and vitality, as well as those pesky tween fashionistas trying to look older (make sure you ask for ID when you take that beautiful bag head home).

Rip my clothes and paper bag off. See what’s inside. I recently used a paper bag head for a burlesque routine to the Radiohead song “Creep” and it was a hit to say the least. I felt an extreme rush of energy as I slowly stripped my clothing off while keeping the bag on my head. At the very end of the song I ripped the bag to shreds, symbolizing my distaste for how beauty is viewed. It was beautiful and the audience loved it. Most of mylife I have been dealing with people saying “Oh you have such a pretty face!” but a FAT nasty body is what they really mean. It was interesting to hide my most popular attribute and rely on the rest of my body to get people going.

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CHALLENGE: Show me your inner Paper Bag Princess! I want to see your best brown paper bag head selfies. Get out your markers and go! Write your favorite quote, draw the face that you want to represent you, and decorate your bag to match how you feel about yourself. Be creative! You can create a plethora of facial expressions, beards, dramatic eyebrows, makeup, mouth hole designs, extra embellishments, and more. For an extra fancy status symbol bag, it is recommended to bedazzle your headgear with diamonds or at least some Swarovski crystals. I want to see this trend in action. Get those paper bag selfies up on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and more NOW (what are you waiting for). I triple dog dare you. GO!

Did you hear the one about the Muslims who went to Paris? No, and I don’t want to. The surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo, however, is banking that seven million people do, and unfortunately they may be right.

They’re printing up more copies of their last issue, the first since the terrorist attack at their office which left twelve people dead. Last week, the first run of the issue, three million copies, sold out.

While I get that people want to mourn the dead, maybe feeding a machine which profits off the mockery of disenfranchised and oppressed minorities isn’t the best way to do it. Murder is wrong. What happened at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and subsequently at a Kosher Bakery was a tragedy. Full stop. While nothing can justify these killings, these killings don’t justify supporting racist imagery.

Yes, Charlie Hebdo is racist. Some may argue that it is satire and technically they’re right. You can punch up or down and it’s still satire, but punching up is gutsy while punching down is pretty much bullying. While Charlie may have started off as a champion of the oppressed, they aren’t that anymore. They stopped punching up years ago and now their pen-holding fists clearly punch down.

islamophobia cartoon

Some may argue that the humour of Charlie Hebdo is uniquely French. Well, the minstrel show is uniquely American and you don’t see people in blackface these days, unless, of course, you go to Théâtre du Rideau Vert in Montreal, but at least it is understood by most progressive or moderately aware people to be wrong.

Some, like my colleague Niall Ricardo, argue that what Charlie Hebdo does is use racist imagery to transcend and ridicule racism and those perpetrating it. The example most often cited to prove this point is the depiction of French justice minister Christiane Taubira, who is black, as a monkey. Charlie’s defenders will say that there is enough in the image to prove it is clearly intended to criticize the racism of the Front National and their leader Marie Le Pen for their positioning of an image of Taubira next to that of a monkey.

That very well may have been their intent and Taubira herself seems to agree with them. But beyond those in Paris political circles or with strong knowledge of them, who will instantly see the reference? Instead, many, including most people in North America, will just see a black woman depicted as a monkey, because that’s what the image is.

Call it a lack of understanding of French politics and culture, if you will, but then remember that if you have to explain a joke, it’s probably not a good joke to begin with. In this case it is extremely offensive to many. If you want to offend with comedy, it has to at least be funny and you’d better make sure people aren’t laughing for the wrong reasons.

Beyond that, it is not the Charlie illustrators’ culture to mock, unless that cartoonist happens to be a person from the group being mocked, which, in this case, he wasn’t. Intention doesn’t matter. A much better approach, instead of appropriating the racist imagery itself, would have been to draw a Front Nationale meeting with Le Pen suggesting juxtaposing a monkey with Taubira and the rest of her followers depicted as very white sheep.

Now that would be funny. It would also be punching up instead of down. It would have made it clear to everyone who saw it just who their targets were. It wouldn’t be appropriation and denigration of another race by the cartoonist. The problem is it probably would have sold fewer copies.

Controversy sells. So does making fun of the proverbial other. For all the claims that they are against the capitalist system by attacking austerity and against the French elite, they sure know how to play ball on that field. It’s easy to understand how the likes of Sarkozy, Le Pen and a collection of world leaders with dubious-at-best free speech records can “co-opt” a “movement” and a hashtag that wasn’t all that different from them already.

No, I don’t want to hear the one about the Muslims who went to Paris. I don’t care if it may make me laugh; it’s not my culture, heritage or history to laugh at. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the ridiculed and see how it feels.

I won’t be among the supposed seven million people heading out to buy the latest Charlie Hebdo and I hope you’ll join me. I won’t use a hashtag just because it’s trending. I won’t promote hate and racism.

True, #jenesuispascharlie but I think it’s also important to note that I am also hashtag pour equality, respect and comedy that is truly funny, not at the expense of someone who has been beaten down already.

Je suis Charlie… And have been for a while.

Not too many people know this, but I used to be a cartoonist. The work never amounted to anything and I moved on to photography. I started when I was 12, inspired by Asterix and Tintin like everybody else. But later in my teens I started to read more of the big names: French and Belgian artists like Moebus, Goetlib in publications like Fluide Glaciale, rubrique à brac and the likes. Then came Hara Kiri, a spin-off of Charlie Hebdo with Reiser, Cabu and Wollinski. The most vulgar and vile humor I had ever seen. Nothing was taboo for these guys and it was mind blowing. They put to paper what people did not dare to speak of and then some! Now you have to realize that back in the late 70’s controversy was not available one simple click away. You got ahold of that stuff from an older cousin or something. All these guys were an inspiration and at some level heroes to me for being that bold.

Today I felt strange going through my day, didn’t know if I was mad or sad. I went to take some shots at the vigil downtown. I showed up to see a thousand people braving the cold and the atmosphere was jovial in general. I hurried to get some shots and when my camera froze I decided to call it an evening. Before I left, I went to the small improvised memorial to leave my pencil amongst the other pencils and the candles. Then the whole thing came crashing down on me. The bastards took away my heroes. People who had the balls to stand for what they believed in where stolen from us in the most horrible way and it just overwhelmed me with sadness. It was 9/11 for me all over again.

I got back home and post-edited my images and balled my eyes out again while editing the memorial shot. Will this bring me down? Hell no! If anything it gives me even more courage to stick to my convictions and hopefully it will inspire others to do the same. Charlie Hebdo is not dead, if anything it has spawned even more creative and daring spirits. If you ever get intimidated for making any kind of art, remember these words from Charb, “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees”.

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Click on the photo above to open the gallery. All photography by Gerry Lauzon.

It’s difficult to recall how long I’ve been in this desert. Two nights, I think. A few days. The nights I’ve spent lying atop billions of grains of sand, looking up at the sky, my mouth dry and my stomach empty.

The moon, Jian Ghomeshi’s smug, smiling face, peering down at me from a blanket of stars which spell out words; consent, rape culture, victim blaming. I check my revolver. It’s nearly spent from firing at Jian Ghomeshis.

One bullet left. For me. When the Ghomeshis overtake me.

By day I march. I don’t know what direction I’m going, but I keep moving, trying to find a way out.

The sun, Jian Ghomeshi’s glaring smile, beats down upon me relentlessly. Hardly anything grows here. Some stunted Jian Ghomeshi cactuses. The occasional Jian Ghomeshi weed tumbles by on the breeze. Jian Ghomeshis circle above me, waiting for me to expire so that they may name-drop while they feed on my still-warm flesh. A diamondback Jian Ghomeshi slithers by me, its tail rattling a warning. Each segment of the tail’s rattle is a little smiling Jian Ghomeshi face.

Then, my heart leaping to my throat, I see something in the distance.

It can’t be.

A post about something not Jian Ghomeshi.

I limp toward it as fast as I can muster, passing a Jian Ghomeshi sinking its teeth into the soft neck flesh of an exhausted Jian Ghomeshi. I approach the glorious vision. It begins to take form.

It’s… I think it’s a cat pic.

I thought the desert had stolen all the moisture from me, but I begin to weep with joy. A cat pic. Nothing has ever looked so beautiful in all my days. But as I stagger toward it, it distorts. With each lurching step the adorable cat face warps and shifts. My tears of joy turn bitter. To tears of anguish.

Exasperation.

Resignation.

It was a mirage. A damned mirage.

There is no cat pic. I fall to my knees in the sand at the foot of a towering photo of Jian Ghomeshi’s face, and I vomit. Or I try to, but I have nothing inside me. I fall forward, and I retch and cough into the sand.

I close my eyes. So I don’t have to see that each shard of sand glimmering in the sunlight is the grinning, jackass face of Jian Ghomeshi.