Monday, August 31, 2015

Montreal on pace to set homicide record

   Montreal looks likely to easily cruise to its lowest-ever annual homicide total since on-island totals were compiled in 1972.
   The current total of 16 murders puts the city on a pace for about 21 homicides for 2015, five fewer than last year's record-low number and well under the 34-per-year average over the last decade.
   Murder rates spike in the summer. So now that the heat, partying and loitering has largely passed, we could conceivably flirt with a sub-20 homicide total for 2016.
   Predictions of an inevitable underworld struggle between rival fractured Mafia factions have proven just incorrect.  Biker gangs? Whatever they're doing, it's not murder.
  Roughly half of this year's killings consisted of crimes of passion and drunkenness while many others were street-gang scuffles. Only a few have the earmarks of settlings-of-accounts.
   Consider for much of its history Montreal has been the perennial Canadian leader for murder per capita. And between between 1989 and 1993 Montreal had 79 homicides on average. We've had 4 years of 97 murders or more since 1972.
  Consider that in 2000 Montreal already had 16 homicides by April 30. In 2006 we reached the 16 murder milestone on May 15. In 1993 Montreal saw 16 murders by St. Patrick's Day.
   Explanations for the demise in homicide? The rise in abortions, aging of the population, closer surveillance of negligent parents, better mental evaluations, decline of street drug dealing and...of course..the rise of that time-sucking distraction known as the internet.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Lux for life: a lament for a lost spot on the Main

About a million early-80s bucks were tossed into creating the stupefying 24-hour Lux complex at 5220 St Lawrence where you could get a drink, munch fries, peer at magazines and buy oddball doodads... although in truth you'd more likely just mill about amid fellow scenesters also not spending a dime.  
   The artily-designed multi-purpose facility was bankrolled by thirtysomething physician Dr. Jean-Marie Labrousse and whipped into shape by designer Luc Laporte in 1983 and soon became a defining spot for its era but was, alas, never a lucrative venture.
    The restaurant was hampered by slow-arriving waiters with a low threshold of tolerance for nightowl spendthrifts who descended on the place after the energy of the evening had sputtered out.    
   The bright, multi-level cavernous place – almost overwhelmed by a pair of industrial curved staircases - struggled from the outset  as 4 a.m diners betrayed the magnificence of the environment by drunkenly thumbing through cheapie menu options after blowing their wad in bars down the road.
    Quirky items such as toothpaste from Italy, toast with Cheez Whiz and a 50-cent vitamins didn't prove to be hot sellers but a visit was an occasional mandatory pilgrimage. Spenders were few. Fashionable loiterers posing as consumers were many.
    3:15 a.m. alternatives offered less bang for the non-buck: Lola's Paradise (3604) down the Main required you to make a purchase and attempt coherent chit chat.
   But at Lux you could stand for an eternity basking in flattering halogen lamps flipping through Vogue and Details without the customary magazine store cashier raising an eyebrow after 20 minutes of reading.
   The copper-green metallic circus was set in a semi-no-man's-land of the Main near Fairmount, a remote spot during a time when nightclub poles were anchored by Business and Di Salvio's closer to Sherbrooke.
   Hungry nightbirds (nobody would go to Lux before clubs closed) would usually hop from the cab further down at The Main for smoked meat or even Bagels Etc.
   The end was clearly near when poetry reading sessions started in the bar upstairs during the endless early-90s recession. It closed in 1993 and is now used as arty office space.
    Though it had its faults, Lux injected risk and imagination into a building where generations of garment workers spilled sacred blood from needle-pierced thumbs (previous building occupants included Kiddies Togs Manufacturing, Grand Cloak Manufacturing, Lyon Textiles and SW Sportswear) turning it into a loitering wonderland for 80s scenesters.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Rustbelt glory on the Guy street bridge

No Montreal spot offered a more evocative taste of rustbelt glory than the Guy St. bridge over nowhere, a 2,000 foot overpass built in 1931 and demolished in 1987.
   The bridge offered a heart-piercing view of a downtown skyline contrasted with the gritty train yards below, later replaced by a barren expanse of of mud, rocks, dandelions and strewn junk.
   Magic Montreal moment: treading loftily in piercing winds on an afternoon winter sunset above ice-and-snow-covered mud to the Golden Square Mile from a down-and-the-heels Little Griff Henry pockmarked with shabby landmarks like the Bar Victoire and the Salvation Army.
    A similar span a few blocks east at Mountain failed to deliver the same experience as the skyline view was less impressive.
   The bridges were built to get people and vehicles over the train tracks below. They were pulled out, leaving the area curiously nude for decades.
   From then on those those wandering over the bridge from below St. Antoine to near Notre Dame were left to existentially ask: why am I on a bridge here when there's nothing for it to span? The lands below were slowly filled up with housing and now there are no fields, no bridges, just memories. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Quiz - who's this famous Montreal oddball?

It is indeed Ludwig Karls from the famous Karls Shoe Store on the Main above Rachel. He is seen here on his wedding day in 1956.
  His store was about the craziest place in town, shoes piled hazardously every place as he'd bark at customers and staff without the slightest hesitation. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What great Canadian artwork was created at this house?

One of Canada's most famous paintings was created at this downtown home at the end of Overdale in the early 1880s.
   The painting was very large and featured folks from Ottawa.

Quiz - why is this Montreal painting famous?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Father of young family disappears from Chateauguay

   Chateauguay family man Justin Arns has been missing for three days after leaving late for work on Friday July 24 in a white 2014 Hyundai Elantra.
  Arns has a daughter and his fiance is pregnant with their son. Michelle Holden is imploring anybody with information to pass it along.
 We have seen several similar disappearances over the last few years and written about many of them and sadly none of them seem to turn out well.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Honey Martin pub ordered shut for two days for trivial reasons

Michael Griffin
  Liquor authorities and police are continuing their enthusiastic campaign to crack down on bars for minor reasons.
  Homey little Honey Martin Pub on Sherbrooke W. was recently ordered to close (or more specifically not to serve alcohol) for two days as punishment for what appears to be trifling infractions.
   The bar is owned by Michael Griffin who is also a respected and oft-employed boxing referee.
   Griffin had a brother named Richard who was shot dead, likely by Mafia he owed money to.
John Griffin and wife
    Another brother named John was found guilty of killing Denis Poirier over a drug debt.
   John and Richard, who grew up in NDG, were said to be part of the West End Gang but they did more business with the Italians and were sometimes teased for their inclination to dress and talk like Italian mobsters.
   The family history is well-known and it was raised as part of the file even though Michael is not considered a player in such affairs and has mostly avoided trouble.
  According to the police,  Michael was once accused of attempting to extort $300,000 over a lease disagreement back when he owned the Van Gogh Club, then at the NE corner of Drummond and De Maisonneuve in 2000.
   Michael was also found to have  a 9mm pistol and a basebal lbat in his car in May 2008 outside a downtown disco. His son was inside the car at the time.
    He was also once described as aggressive and belligerent when given a ticket for a bylaw infraction.
   Michael and John were also accused of overly-vigorously trying to get through a police cordon to see their brother after he had been shot, which seems understandable given the circumstances.
  But how is all of this relevant to the pub?
  When a bar gets called before the RACJ liquor authorities are usually presented a lengthy list of infractions compiled by police over time.
   The Honey Martin's list is thinner than an Amish phone book.
   Someone was robbed at knifepoint outside on the sidewalk in 2011, a phone was stolen inside in 2011, someone was assaulted in 2012, five people were seen drinking inside and a man was arrested for a probation violation all that same year.
    The pub was warned in 2003 for not displaying its liquor license. It was closed for a week for serving in an authorized manner. It was ordered shut for four days in 2004 for noise.
  The decision also suggests that Griffin backed off a plan to sell a stake in the bar to someone named Patricia Kahlil of Toronto. 

Judge rules that police are allowed to write on your body

   Do police have the right to mark your skin with a pen?   
   That question recently went before a judge as a trio of Occupy Montreal protesters asked for compensation for having this done to them in 2011. 
   Nina Haigh, Adam O'Callaghan and Benoit Godin were forcibly taken out of the square in late November 2011 by police who marked their hands with invisible ink that could only be seen under black light. 
   The officers wrote the numbers as a way of identifying who owned which items on the site.
   The three found the notion of being written upon as psychologically jarring and made it the focal point for their lawsuit asking for about $20k each. 
   "Three of us went to court for slightly different reasons, my reasons were to fight how they branded protesters with ultra violet inks with the intent of subterfuge and without our permission," Haigh told Coolopolis. 
   O'Callahan also fought for the principle of being permitted to go unbranded by police.  "Eighty percent of the arguments concerned  marking of the human body," he told Coolopolis. "Lawyer Julius Grey was interested in the human rights aspect of the case, we hoped to create a precedent of not allowing marking of the human body."
   Quebec Court judge Sylvain Coutlee noted that bars and movie theatres routinely use such a marking technique and it's not a violation of the body. No blood was taken. None of the three went to a doctor. It's neither invasive or unreasonable, he noted. 
   Their claim was rejected. "The judge decided its perfectly ok for this to happen which I still feel is wrong to alter a humans body without consent," siad Haigh. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

'Nintendo' email costs Montreal med student

  "I was at home playing on my Nintendo," started an ill-advised email sent by a med student to his profs.
   Lucian Nenciovici started his email with that phrase in reply to a query sent by two of his Universite de Montreal profs asking why he missed a compulsory meeting.
   Nenciovici went on to explain in the paragraph "dumb jokes aside..." and  then offered a 600 word detailed summary of his schedule on the day in question.
   The email, with its attempted Nintendo-based irony, went over like a rhino in a bouncy palace..
   Nenciovici already had a strike against him for what were deemed to be compassion-related deficiencies. He apologized for the Nintendo email and his case was eventually sent to a school committee where a vote of 28-6 decided to cast him out of the school in late 2009.
   These details all became public because Nenciovici then attempted to sue the school for $150,000 for expelling him. A judge rejected his case earlier this month.  

Brutal pimps exploiting Inuit at Atwater

  Four pimps controlling a dozen Inuit prostitutes at Atwater and St. Catherine have attacked a man with a bottle for sleeping with one of the women off the clock.
   The pimps put the women out on the streets but also collect their welfare cheques and frequently rob the customers with the help of the women who spy PIN numbers. The crew then pickpockets the bank cards.
   One of the four pimps, a former amateur football player, is particularly active in the enforcement end of affairs.
   The women are dolled up by the crew who
gave them new clothes, haircuts. The women could pull in $1,000 a day from a spot on Lincoln near Atwater. 
   Various members of the group can be seen at a greasy spoon for breakfast not far from the old Forum.