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2006 06 30
Au Revoir (for now)

We realised last night that this is the very weekend we stepped off a plane one year ago from England and began our life in Montreal. Signed the lease for an apartment the day after landing (spent the night in jetlagged shock at Motel L'Oiseau Bleu on what was then an unknown highway just outside of town) and haven't looked back since. We feel tremendously lucky to live here. Montreal had always been a city of 'wouldn't that be nice if we could...' until we just thought, screw it, let's move here.

We came without the usual trappings - jobs, money, loads of friends, ambition. Even stuff. At that point our wordly possessions were crammed into 100 square feet of boat space floating somewhere on the Atlantic. Anything else was scattered around in friends' houses in a couple countries. We didn't have much. But that didn't last for long. The generosity of spirit, openness of discussion, and the spidery network of kind folk connecting us with other kind folk made for an urban plentitude the likes of which he had/have never seen.

This is all to say that we have been quite nostalgic over the past couple days as we have ( more...)
[email this story] Posted by Rebecca Duclos on 06/30
2006 06 28
Kite’s Eye View

Our friend Doug over at Built Sound showed us the joys of the Flickr kite photography stream. Of course, our first RM editorial duty was to do a search for "montreal" + "kite" + "photography", but alas...

So if you don't have anything better to do this weekend, get yourself a camera, some rubber bands and a kite and make one yourself.

[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 06/28
2006 06 26
Surge and Swell
Mexico City Dowtown by pulpolux

We know the summer is in full swing since we don't hear the swell of small voices anymore in the morning during drop-off time. Or at recess. Or at lunch. Or at recess. Or at dismissal. Or after dismissal. That's right. School's out and the playground across from our house is once again silent for the summer season. I have to say we kind of miss the chorus of high-pitched girl screams and that one particular boy whose early morning whooping and hollering signals the start of the day for us.

We noticed this sonic lacuna today as we had coffee out on the wee porch and it made us think about city sounds and how they change over time and through the seasons - growing, diminishing, but always expanding in some exponential way. It seemed apropos then, that at this very moment the Guardian Weekly article that caught my eye was entitled, "Urban population to overtake country dwellers for first time." If nothing else, the shock factor of realising what such a statistic means made me go to the United Nations website, something that we rarely (but should) do.

For those of you who are ( more...)
[email this story] Posted by Rebecca Duclos on 06/26
2006 06 23
Zoned F1

Cities are often defined by artificially induced boundaries: zoning laws, voting districts, historic neighbourhoods, highways and taxation regulations. These all inform how a city is shaped and operates.

This weekend, the Ile Notre Dame--yet another artifical element in the city--will host the Formula 1 race. During the race, which happens to fall on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (during which no retail activity is supposed to take place), an eruv-like zone has been created to enable F1 fans to do some 'kosher' shopping.
[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 06/23
2006 06 20
Montreal Cup
Brazil vs Croatia

I am not, by a long shot, a sports fan. Watching people watching games is a far more interesting spectator sport in my books. Which is, I suppose, why I noticed that the World Cup had started a few weeks back. Coffee bars and pubs suddendly triple the number of TVs they have; the number of people taking what appear to be three hour coffee breaks seems to be on the rise, and periodically, maybe everyother day or so, one hears the jubilant sound of whoops and cheers and honking as people form improptu motorcades. But what is most noticeable about this activity is its constancy.

The last time the World Cup was played I was living in England. When England was set to play a match, the streets would become errily deserted as people everywhere tuned into to watch Beckham and Co. do their thing. After the game, there was definitly no missing the fact that England had just played. Regardless of the outcome, the streets would fill with beer fueled enthusiasts. The songs would start, and the celebrations would continue until the pubs closed.

But this only happened when England was playing.

Montreal has amoungst its ( more...)
[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 06/20
2006 06 18
Dumb Car

With the discourse on Global Climate Change reaching new awarness levels, maybe we will finally be able get the car we want.

For out-of-town trips we have frequently rented cars from the usual suspects: Hertz, Avis, even Rent-A-Wreck. When booking a car, we always tell the place in question that we would like a subcompact. Invariably, we end up with a midsize lug, and a long list of excuses. Arguments in rental offices ensue that usually end like this:

"Why is it when we rent a car from you, you ask us (with feigned concern) what kind of car we want, and then you never bother to give it to us?"

Obviously, most rental places just don't carry many small cars. I guess the problem is business related. When a car is being "expense accounted" it doesn't really matter how big or how much it costs or how much gas it guzzles. Hertz now features a "fun" car section, loaded with fuel-suckers, for, well... fuel suckers.

Maybe some smart, forward thinking entrepreneur out there will start up a rental company that can finally give us the small car we ask for...

[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 06/18
2006 06 16
Shanghai Missive, Part 4

Image: Chubbo129

Montreal resident Emmanuel Madan recently travelled to Shanghai to install an artwork called Ondulation. He sent us a series of dispatches about his experiences and we thought these were perfect for our feature on Shanghai.

Often it seems like all of China country is in a perpetual state of construction. Once the pool was set up and I was able to start working on the musical content of the piece, I had to start coming in at odd hours in order to hear the soundtrack and not be distracted by everything else going on in the building. Still a bit jetlagged, I managed to make it in at 6:30 one morning. I had 25 minutes of peace and quiet, then at 6:55 I was joined by the sound of jackhammers, doing some kind of modification to the outside of the building. Although this whole plaza had only been completed a year previously, it seems when they built this whole mezzanine-cum-balcony that goes around the pedestrian plaza they had left out an important detail: they were adding stairs.

I got more and more desperate to find a quiet time to work on the piece, trying to get an idea of ( more...)
[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 06/16
2006 06 15
Shanghai Missive, Part 3
Image: Howard French

Montreal resident Emmanuel Madan recently travelled to Shanghai to install an artwork called Ondulation. He sent us a series of dispatches about his experiences and we thought these were perfect for our feature on Shanghai.

Vestiges of China's authoritarian history show through everywhere: one day we were sitting on the balcony overlooking the plaza just before lunch time, and we saw all the employees of one of the Chinese restaurants standing at attention, all the red uniforms in the first row, yellow uniforms in the second row, perhaps seven or eight employees altogether, getting a pre-shift pep talk from their supervisor. The lecture must have lasted forty-five minutes, during which time all the employees remained absolutely still in the glaring late morning heat. The pedestrian mall was otherwise completely abandoned. The fountain was being tended by a worker in galoshes, and muzak (a syrupy Chinese-Western hybrid) could be heard blaring across the empty square.

David and I had a conversation at one point, you know the one everyone's having about the growth of Chinese industry and what it means for workers in the West. David's from southern Ontario and says that every person in his family except him ( more...)
[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 06/15
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