Place d’Armes: Foundations of the Montreal Vibe

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Like any global city, Montreal has its fair share of idiosyncrasies. These unique peculiarities make up the city’s distinctive identity, provide a persistent systematic motion between city dwellers and their dwellings.

That in mind, what’s to be said of Montreal’s architectural influences? This city is noted for its plethora of old buildings, long gone novelties that have survived, transcended cliché, to become something more reflective, in their ability to evoke the marvels of originality, and the past.

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Geared up and dressed down

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There’s something cathartic about riding a bike naked on the streets of Montreal. But that is yet to be determined as we enter our sixty-ninth minute of this ride.

The World Naked Bike Ride is an international event across 113 cities worldwide. In Montreal, we’re a little over two hundred bicyclists, unicyclists and a few rollerbladers of all ages, sexual orientations and, to be politically correct, melanin pigment levels. This diversity compliments the variety of body types and sizes. For wandering eyes like mine, this becomes much more apparent in the raw.

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Post 9/11 fire

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From the outset, Fire In the Unnameable Country hinted at possible deception.

Neatly packaged in a FedEx Express envelope from Mr. Penguin himself, a rain-shielding plastic shell concealed an information sheet presented in an environmentally conscious (or cost-effective) font and a 448-page book that crawled smoothly from its tan envelope.

An easy read and a swift review had been assumed, until a quick glance at the red and black cover revealed Jonathan Garfinkel’s blurb, “A post-apocalyptic mind-fuck, a wild ride through the netherworlds of the war on terror.”

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A literary knockout

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“Boxe et littérature” was the title of the Blue Metropolis May 1st panel. A little disconcerting for those who do not wish to be thought of as obtuse and simple-minded. For them, boxing and literature are two peas that are never to share the same pod.

With my limited French, reviewing such an event felt as deceptive as the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. As the event drew closer, so did this reviewer’s apprehensions, including wondering whether anxiety disorders are genetic.

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Boxing beauties

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“Protect yourself at all times.” It’s 11:33 pm on Saturday, January 18th at Montreal’s Bell Centre, but for competitors Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute, what matters in that day is the last half hour. Referee Michael Griffin reiterates boxing’s number one precept: protect yourself. For 12  three-minute rounds, with one-minute breaks in between , the two competitors will be throwing hooks, jabs, uppercuts, crosses. They will be inflicting as much distress upon one another as possible to score one point after another. And if it ends in a knock out, then the victory can’t be sweeter.

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Contagious “values” poisoning the air

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Something’s in the air. A layer of invisible dust has settled throughout our institutions, cafes, even the buses and métro. And with falling temperatures, its toxicity has only risen.

Since its springtime introduction, the Quebec Charter of Values has us all vigorously debating, disputing, protesting — and questioning its underlining motivations. But more profoundly, it has let loose a poison that lurks deep within our subconscious – fear.

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Them’s fighting words

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Charles Demers is not your ordinary warrior. His one-man militia encompasses multiple battlegrounds through his writings, stand-up comedy, activism, and regular performances on CBC’s The Debaters. Hailing from Vancouver, Demers’ recent insurgency at Just For Laughs was astutely funny, wielding wit as a key weapon for constructive social criticism. Demers was kind of enough to answer a few of my questions.

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