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.