Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Resident persuades Laval to rename arena after journeyman NHL player

   Sylvain Lefebvre's unlikely campaign to rename the Laval West Arena after journeyman NHL forward Harland Monahan, who moved away from the Montreal area over 40 years ago, never to return, has succeeded.
   After years of raising interest in the cause through social media, lobbying and presenting a petition with an impressive 900 signatures, Laval city council greenlighted the name switch in September.
   A ceremony is expected in February or March.
   Monahan's parents still live in the area but Hartland has been living in the States since 1971 when he started with Baltimore of the AHL.
   He starred with the Laval Saints in 1968-1969 before spending two years with the Junior Canadiens who played at the Forum.
   Monahan, known for his unhelmeted curly mane, was a fourth round choice by the California Golden Seals, 43rd overall in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, back in a time when pretty much only junior players from Canada were drafted.
   He scored 61 goals in 334 games in his seven year career with a half dozen teams.
   After hockey he settled about a half an hour north of Atlanta and worked as a manager at UPS after retirement.
   He is now also retired from UPS at age 53 and works with an online charity donation site.
    The woman on his home answering machine says "have a blessed day."
   His son Shane had to quit hockey as a kid after the only rink in town closed. Shane excelled at baseball and played briefly on the Seattle Mariners.
    Lefebvre writes that his campaign was inspired by the fact that Monahan was the only resident of the western Laval area to make the NHL.
   Monahan has repeatedly expressed appreciation for the effort.
   Former NHL superstar sniper Mike "Don't Call me Michel" Bossy has an arena named after him further north in Laval. But some average players have arenas named after them, notably in the form of the Francis Bouillon arena, which was rechristened after long carrying the name of Raymond Prefontaine.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gio D'Amico found guilty of attacking prostitutes

     It took six years but Giovanni D'Amico has finally been found guilty in a court of law for attacks and sexual assaults on street sex workers after first being arrested over six years ago.  He faces 14 years in prison.
   The trial took a long time, possibly because the defence attorneys hoped that the witnesses might forget, or die or move away or something, if the case dragged on.
  Someone with knowledge of the case told me that one of the sex workers did indeed pass away in the years since, which isn't that shocking considering that the crimes were committed between 2002 and 2007.
  D'Amico was an upbeat guy with a go-getter attitude who knew a lot of people.
   He did not appear to have any alcohol, drug, or psychological issues that anybody ever noticed.
   I was acquainted with him through a third party, although I probably bumped into him only a couple of times after 2000.
   He would often talk exuberantly about his great apartment somewhere near say Sherbrooke and Grand (I never visited) where I believe he he said he lived with his sister.
   I never heard Giovanni D'Amico mention prostitution, which he apparently boasted elsewhere of having some expertise in.
   Being interested in prostitution was a bizarre hobby for a few men at that time.
   I once wrote a long profile on a tall, affable Verdun guy whose main hobby lay in roaming city streets and mingling extensively with street prostitutes and then telling others of his low-cost conquests.
  Street prostitution was a going concern in Montreal up until relatively recently, as sex workers would converge on corners such as Notre Dame and St. Remi, and Charlevoix and Wellington and Verdun and Church (much to my frustration as I owned property there).
   Some argue that street hookers are still around but have simply been displaced. Police say otherwise, however. Seems to be an uncelebrated urban triumph that this tawdry and dangerous practice has been radically diminished. 

Plateau triplex was a doomed house full of tragedy

This triplex, built in 1925 at 4833 de Grandpre (now a coop and evaluated at $640,000!) once hosted unfathomable tragedy.
  The geography was not kind to Victor Benson and his wife nor their five children: Bernard, (b. 1921) Johnnie, (b. 1937), Jeanette, (b. 1935), Phoebe (b. 1939) and Barbara (b. c. 1922).
   Within the decade In a short span of time after moving into the building in 1939, three of the kids would die and the father would be seriously burnt, all in four separate calamities.
   Benson, who worked at the Montreal Locomotive Works in the power house, saw the first heartbreak when eldest son Bernard, then aged 24, was killed in battle at the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944. The young soldier was cited for valour.
Johnnie Benson, murdered on Mt. Royal
   And then John, aged just nine years old, was killed in one of the city's most shocking deaths, as he bled to death after being was sexually molested and stabbed  and buried in the snow on the Park Ave. side of Mount Royal on February 24, 1945.
   The boy loved the mountain and knew his way around it well. On that afternoon he left his home on De Grandpre at around 2 p.m. to ski on the mountain and visit the grave of his recently-deceased uncle.
     He apparently came across Rolland Charles Chasse, 43, an unemployed homeless man living at the Meurling shelter.
   Chasse had a habit of photographing children and then luring them back at a later date with prints of the photos he took.
    John was found dead, sporting his Habs sweater. He had been bound, stabbed and buried in the snow. Another little boy located his body a couple of hours later.
    Edward Collins, 38, confessed to the crime but he was not deemed credible and was transferred to an insane asylum.
  Police interviewed about 150 people before receiving a tip fingering Chasse on an anonymous postcard send from the shelter.
   They could not find the potential witness who sent the card in spite of a $100 reward.
   Chasse - who had previously been arrested for loitering - was woken at the refuge and arrested by officers Allain and Fitzpatrick on April 18, 1945.
Bernard Benson, killed in battle
   They showed him photos of the event, then turned off the lights and one of the officers imitated the boy crying. He denied any involvement. This lasted about six hours.
   About 36 hours after being arrested Chasse was questioned anew, on a very empty stomach and he finally confessed to the crime after overhearing the officers threaten to bring him to a certain "Dr. Plouffe."
  According to his confession, Chasse – who had enlisted for the war effort but was released due to his physical condition – complimented the boy on his skis and then walked with him to the second gully on the mountainside, (about half a mile from Park Ave.) then tripped him, kicked him in the face, stabbed him in the groin with a pocketknife (the fatal wound) and then sexually assaulted the boy as he bled to death.
   Chasse, a thin, greying and balding ex-con later said that he only confessed because he feared that he would be beaten.
    His confession was deemed legal and he was found guilty by jury in June, in spite of a dogged effort from his legal team that included Jean Drapeau. An appeal failed and Chasse was sentenced to hang. He was hanged by the neck until dead at Bordeaux prison on February 15, 1946.
    The next tragedy to strike the beleagured family occurred when Barbara sister, then aged 23 died of pneumonia sometime between 1945 and 1948.
   And finally on January 8, 1948 their home was slammed by a blast and fire. Father Victor suffered life-threatening wounds, including a broken jaw and perforated chest. We assume he survived. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How a street argument in St. Laurent snowballed into tragedy

Magalie Joachim, 18, killed
 What started out - and should have ended - as an innocuous street bravado conflict on a summer night in St. Laurent ended up leading to two deaths and much more collateral damage.
 The story begins when Philip Bird, a 22-year-old from Pierrefonds, met a woman named Heidi Koula at a park and offered to drive her back to her home in St. Laurent at about midnight on August 12, 1985.
Du College metro
    Not far from their destination, Bird stopped his 1976 Pontiac Parisienne at a red light outside of the metro station at Decarie and Du College.
   Many people were outside at the corner that night, including a bunch waiting for the 118 bus.
   Carl White, a former boxer, stepped to the car to chat with Koula, who he knew.
   Their little chat left Bird - who had consumed six beers and smoked hashish - irritated and he got out of his car to confront Wright and a crowd of mostly young black males.
  "I can take that girl away from you," Wright told Bird.
   "Fuck you boy," replied Bird, a phrase which carried a racist overtone.
   Shawn Rogers intervened to advise Bird to get back in his car.
   But then White tossed a plank from a nearby construction area at Bird's car.
   Rocks and a steel bar were also apparently tossed at his car.
Wendell Small, 21, killed
   Humans, as we know, don't much enjoy having their car attacked and Bird was no exception.
   He drove off but veered around to take a U-turn to return to the scene.
    Koula, still in the car, asked to get out but Bird ignored the request, so she helpless covered her eyes as he accelerated towards the crowd.
   Bird's idea was to scare the people who had taunted him and attacked his car by slamming on his brakes just in time to avoid calamity.
   As we have seen elsewhere in this city, speeding towards somebody and stopping just before impact is a lousy idea idea that can easily lead to tragedy.
   Before he came close, one man entered the road wielding a sign he had picked up and was ready to toss, as if expecting Bird to come around. The man dashed out of the car's path when he saw it speeding towards him.
   Bird's lawyer later claimed that the car failed to stop because it skidded over the assorted debris that the young men had tossed at his car.
   Bird drove straight into the crowd, killing Magalie Joachim, 18, and Wendell Small, 21.
  Sophia Brown, 7, and Mandy Menshick, 14, were seriously injured as well.
Philip Bird
   Joachim was not at all involved in the dispute and was only there because she had driven to the metro to drop friends off after watching a fireworks display.
   Small had been at a nearby restaurant with his younger brother and he left to go out side in order to talk to a girl.
   Bird came out and expressed shock at the result of his recklessness.
    Witnesses Christine Vibert, Alphonsus Linthorne, Gisele Gagne and Shawn Rogers were among the many people who saw the awful event up close.
   The two bodies remained pinned under the vehicles for three hours after the incident.
   Bird was brought to prison and was originally to be charged with first degree murder but a jury reduced that to manslaughter and criminal negligence. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years but even that was further reduced.
   The story does not end there, however. 
   Sean Small, 19, was also on the scene and saw his brother killed.
  He was so shocked that he was unable to speak to utter a word to his mother Margery Marshall to recount that his brother had been killed.
   Sean's life did not go well after that incident.
   Justice Dionysia Zerbisias later called Small a hardened unrepentant and violent criminal.
      Almost exactly 13 years after his brother was killed, Sean Small was walking in NDG with his new girlfriend Tina Diaz on August 22, 1998.
Koulas, seen in a recent photo, was trapped in the car 
   They had been arguing loudly inside the Stripes bar on St. James St. W and continued their bickering in the street walking home.
   Police asked them about their dispute but then allowed them to continue to their home on Beaconsfield.
   Once inside Sean Small, by now 32, jabbed Diaz, 18, in the chest with a sharp object.
   He brought her to St. Mary's Hospital in a taxi at 4:30 a.m. and left.
   She died 10 hours later, as surgery to repair the perforation in her heart failed.
   She refused, or was unable, to report what had happened.
   On January 3, 1999 Sean Small was sentenced to life in prison for murder with a minimum jail time of no less than 10 years in prison, so there's a good chance that he is out of prison now.
    The only glimpse of goodness that came out of this series of disasters? A charitable foundation to help Haiti was later launched in the memory of Magalie Joachim

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Montreal teacher fired for 70s Euro softcore past

  Jacqueline Laurent-Auger, now 73, has been fired from teaching at posh Brebeuf School where she taught theatre for 15 years because she appeared nude in a few risque European films in the 70s, although never - from what we can see - doing anything particularly graphic on camera.
   Judging from her IMDB page, Laurent  - who is from Quebec - first appeared in TV movies at around age 27, in 1969, transitioning to more risque films three years later with Dany La Ravageuse where - in this bits we saw - she appears fully-frontally naked and smooches.
   She's naked (although always wearing a thick swathe of lower-body fur) in Journal Intime d'un nyphomane (Diary of a Nymphomaniac 1973) but only a few minutes of that film are easily found so we can't evaluate her entire body of work.
  Perhaps her best-known work was shot when she was aged 33 to 38, notably in a pair of Swedish films and one made in France: Ta Mej i Dalen (Country Life 1977) Nathalie Escape from Hell (1978) and Swedish Sex Games (1975).
  Laurent had large roles, suggesting that she was near the top of her Euro-pulp film hierarchy.
   As you can see in the collage of images from her Swedish farm drama, Laurent was called on to show some acting chops while lesser actors were designated for the graphic sex scenes involving penetration and oral sex.
   In the climactic scene (see collage) Laurent changes her mind about killing her cheating boyfriend in an epiphany expressed through extensive facial contortions.
   Naughty boyfriend then comes down, runs his fingers over furry lower mane and they hump.
   The dirty bits aren't shown up close so the penetrative plausible deniability remains intact.
   In Swedish Sex Games she is similarly emotionally abused and even begs on her knees naked for her loutish drunken wide-lapelled curly-haired Swedish hunk to keep her. Concealed humping and subsequent rejection ensues.
   But once again, her scenes are far from graphic.
   There's plenty of real genuine dramatic fully-clothed acting scenes to round the business out, so let's say it's at least 50 percent acting and 50 percent sex-related titillation.
  A 36-year-old Laurent doesn't strip down a whole lot from what I can see in her prominent but relatively-tame role as a Nazi dominatrix in Nathalie Fugitive from Hell (1978) except for a scene where a prisoner touches her boobs and Laurent slaps her. Laurent stands around brandishing a whip and sporting the standard-issue sexy S and M kit (pts.  1,and 2)
    She told the journal de Montreal that she did the films because she the money at the time.
    But she offered a more spirited defence to Radio Canada. 
   "I contributed to moral emancipation and the fact that young people enjoy so much freedom of expression these days is partly because of the path that men and women like myself opened."
   Another arts prof made the point in the same article that it's difficult for an actor to become a teacher because the two worlds have different ethical codes. "In art anything goes," said Lucie Villeneuve of UQAM.
   Someone get a film-festival going in her honour please.  Impresarios, get on it! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Montreal's radiation-blasting shoe store X-Ray fitting machines

How are your toes feeling?
   If you're old and once went to Jerry's shoe store on Queen Mary, they might be falling off.    That store was one of those shops that favoured an awesome X-Ray technology that allowed you to see the bones in your feet below the shoes you were trying on.
    It's a rare case of a cool technology actually disappearing.
    Solid confirmation that blasting one's toesies with radiation might not be a great idea only came about in 1960 or so.
  The fear of course, was that people would get various types of cancers or genetic mutations through exposure to radiation but according to Wikipedia the longstanding gimmick never led to any complaints or lawsuits.
    So yours will be the first. Tracking down Jerry might be troublesome as the store has not existed since at least 1970. (Thx to Bill Conrod's Memories of Snowdon in the 50s for the tip).
   Eaton's had one too (1931, 1938) and surely other shoes shops in Montreal did as well.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Five reasons why we need to stop funding classical music and start funding pop music

Five reasons arts funding should be shifted from classical music to pop music

1-Unlike classical music, people listen to, purchase and pay attention to pop music Some claim to like classical music because they think it makes them look intelligent but do you see them sleeping out for chamber music tickets? Classical music only gets played on radio to help quell road rage. Nobody wants to hear that harpsichord.
2-Pop music puts a city on the tourist map What Nirvana did for Seattle. What Prince did for Minneapolis. What Gamble and Huff did for Philly. That.
3-Classical music has no more cultural value than pop music Desperate cummerbund-wearing classical music types once convinced parents that babies became more intelligent when exposed to Brahms music. It doesn't work.
4- Wealthy people can pay for their own live music like the rest of us Boston's symphony has an endowment fund of over $140 million, Chicago's is over $100 million. If the rich want their culture paid for, let them pay for it.
5-More bang for the buck with pop musicians. Orchestras pay hefty full-time salaries to a few classically-trained virtuosos. With the same cash we could fund countless more pop musicians by offering free jam space and studio time. Let 'em keep their day jobs. Hell, amateur hockey, soccer, cultural centres all get funded by government but long-haired guitar soloists don't get a nickel, even though they might actually create some financial and cultural value. 

Roslyn teacher awarded over $1 million in legal dispute with couple

    A legal battle that escalated when parents violated a deal not to comment on an out-of-court-settlement has led to more pain as Justice Francois Duprat has ordered Hagop Artinian and Kathryn Rosenstein to pay $1.012,327, plus an additional $13,000 in legal fees to former Roslyn School teacher Mary Kanavaros.
   The conflict began when the parents Artinian and Rosenstein sued teacher Mary Kanavaros for what they said was beahviour that humiliated and intimidated their child in 2005.
   Both sides settled in 2008.
   Part of the deal was that neither side would comment on the issue but the parents made the mistake of telling a journalist that they felt vindicated by the decision.
    The teacher suffered major stress and stopped working and sued the couple - represented by Julius Grey - for slander in 2010.
   Kanavaros was awarded $234,000, partly due to lost wages.
   The parents attempted to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
    In January 2013 Kanavaros sued for almost $1 million more.
    And yesterday she was awarded $912,327 for lost wages and a $100,000 for damages.
   I don't know if that amount is on top of the $234,000 ruling previously decided, but either way it's a pretty solid pile of cash. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Judge rules on alleged racist Sears tractor riding ban

Photo re-enactment (not the actual people involved)
  Veteran judge Michelle Pauze recently presided over a contentious case of alleged racism at a Sears outlet at the Galeries Joliette.
   Two Muslim Algerian immigrants, Ratiba Boudebouz and Hamida Khammar sued Sears at the Human Rights Tribunal for $40,000 and $35,000 respectively after being tossed from the store by security guards on June 13, 2010.
  Boudebouz, who moved to Canada in 2006, was wearing a Muslim veil, but Khammar was not.
  Khammar was pregnant and had some health issues, which led the two to take a rest, sitting on a furniture display at the store while their sons, 6 and 2, climbed onto tractors nearby.
   A store attendant asked them to get their kids off the tractors. Boudebouz noted that she didn't understand why the kids couldn't do what they were doing and noted that there was no sign forbidding it.
   According to store employees, Boudebouz asked if she was being targeted because they were Muslim.
  Boudebouz said that the employees told her to return to her country if she didn't like the rules. They denied ever saying such a thing.
  The argument escalated and a security guard escorted the two mothers and their two sons out.
   Boudebouz returned and demanded the names of the employees.
   She called her husband (a pediatrician at the local hospital), called 911, called a store manager and later filed a complaint with the help of CRARR at the Tribunal.
   The story made headlines in various news outlets when the two filed a suit against Sears in 2013.
   The court noted a few inconsistencies with the complaint, noting that Boudebouz wrote at one time that the employee told three of them to go back to their country but elsewhere she reported that he said it separately.
   The judge also noted that Boudebouz used terms such as  “savage act of aggression” and “barbaric attack” that they were “pushed violently” “several times,”  in her complaint but the video imagery didn't support those descriptions, according to Pauze.
   One employee, who is gay, seemed to think that Boudebouz might have made a limp-wrist gesture, mocking his homosexuality.
   The employees admitted that they weren't very polite and might have spoken disrespectfully, frankness which the judge appreciated.
    After hearing the case through four days last December and another day in January, issued a judgment on May 26 dismissing the case.
   (In an unrelated recent decision that might interest consumers, a judge awarded around $1,600 to a consumer who bought an $800 air conditioner from Sears, who invoked an anti-lemon clause after the machine required more than three repairs). 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Madeline Saucier's mysterious bust

    Quite unexpectedly Madeline Saucier became an internationally-acclaimed artist when she was stricken with illness at this home on De Maisonneuve  at age 22.
  Saucier was born in 1925 and attended Villa Maria where she studied art. One day, aged 22, she was confined to bed in a lengthy battle against illness at 4212 De Maisonneuve in Westmount, so she started fashioning a little piece of artwork to pass the time.
   Grape woman, a bronze of a girl with grapes in her hair, was showcased at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City where it drew praise from syndicated columnist L.L. Stevenson.
   The bust was later displayed at a jewelry store in New York where it received more praise.
Who owns it now or what it even looks like remain a mystery
   Saucier went on to a high-profile career as a dollmaker and in the 60s her historical dolls were exposed at Stewart Hall, Disneyland and Expo 67.
   Apparently the market for her goods are not all that great, as one of her pieces has attracted only one bid since being listed on Ebay for $10.
   She'd be in her late 80s if still alive. She married war veteran and financier Andre Morin, who died in 1961 and mothered Andre Morin Jr. born in 1953.