Saturday, December 15, 2012

The senseless death of David Gilmour

  It was at a beer bash at Loyola Campus of Concordia that David Gilmour, 22, met his senseless death on September 6, 1985.
   Gilmour played drums in a band and had an apartment on Hampton in NDG.
   He had a girlfriend at the time and had previously gone out with Colleen McIntyre* in 1981. He remained good friends with her brothers Preston and Parker.
   These West Enders might not have been the most delicate of people but Dave's friendships were strong and his mom watched over him.
   On that night Dave was with Preston and they had an interaction with an acquaintance  who is said to have taunted him for looking gay.
   Gilmour didn't self-identify as gay but he was described by a friend as try-sexual, meaning he'd try anything. When confronted by such taunts David would sometimes freak the accuser out by kissing him and other such joking antics.
   Their fatal encounter began  when Gilmour showed David McCall a tattoo on his wrist and playfully rubbed his prickly short-cropped head on McCall's shoulder.
McCall got 4 years
   McCall, a young unemployed man living on Verdun Ave. reacted in spontaneous rage to the contact and smashed Gilmour on the jaw with an unopened beer bottle, it shattered and hit the carotid vein in his throat, sending blood gushing upwards.
   McIntyre ran after the McCall but he got away. Gilmour died on the scene. McCall's friend Brian Barton offered a detailed description of the event in court. McCall, Barton and Kevin Murray were all old friends, aged about 20, and had come together to the party.
   McCall was charged with second degree murder but that was reduced to manslaughter and was sentenced to a four years on December 11, 1985.
(Colleen was a well-loved figure in the local social and music scene until her premature death of illness in the mid-nineties). 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Maurice Richard's least favourite photo

The famous photo of Maurice Richard
Richard might've proven
too intense for modeling
   Maurice Richard was a skilled hockey player but his real talent might have been his humility. When asked about his place as a venerated hero, he replied humbly that he's just a hockey player, quite sensible considering that he didn't go to war with others of his generation thanks to his flat feet, which were considered too debilitating for soldiering.
   Frankie said "I'm just a saloon singer." Brando said, "Hey acting is easy, anybody could do it."
   And the Rocket did the same.
   This photo of Richard is among the most famous shots ever taken of a Quebecer and is thought to truly encapsulate his hypnotic charm.
   But he hated it.
In the future we'll all have
robots with his likeness though
   He said as much to MNA Neil Cameron when they both went to some ribbon-cutting ceremony at a West End restaurant about 20 years ago.
  The restaurateurs that night were determined to put Mo's hand-print in concrete but they bought the wrong stuff and were forced to delay the proceedings for a long time, leaving Richard and Cameron to sit for a couple of hours in a booth shooting the breeze.
  The exact reason Richard despised this photo aren't all that clear but he likely considered it a contrivance, as he was forced to pose with that look for the photographer.

Jose Theodore - hometown hero after all

   Jose Theodore should be a source of inspiration to Montrealers not for his excellent goaltending but rather, for his ability to navigate a challenging series of life circumstances.
  Theodore was raised in the Montreal area and attended a hockey camp run by the legendary Vladislav Tretiak, who anointed the 12-year-old as a prodigy and future star. Tretiak even predicted that young Jose would have bigger success than fellow-student Martin Brodeur.
  Like Theodore, Brodeur was the progeny of a high-profiled father, a well-loved Journal de Montreal photographer who happened to shoot hockey games.
   But unlike Brodeur's father, Jose's dad Ted, a Macedonian, cast a dark shadow over his son's existence.
   Ted Theodore was a career hood who ran a shylocking operation from a wig store and also ran a bar at Sanguinet and Ste. Catherine where he rubbed shoulders with many gangsters, including the Johnston brothers, whose brother Eddie was a star goaltender for the Bruins.
   Theodore's father had several other older sons from another mother whom he presumably left for Jose's mom, a Spanish woman named Marie France.
Theo had to supplant Jocelyn Thibault, Pat
Jablonski and Andy Moog to get on the Habs
   It's not clear what the circumstances of Jose's parents were or how he got along with his brutish half-brothers, not always an easy family configuration to navigate.
   Theodore excelled in the Juniors for the Hull Olympiques and was drafted by the Habs in 1994. Under the Houle/Tremblay Canadiens' administration, the team didn't bother doing background checks on prospects, so they had no idea-- as other teams did -- that Theo had a dubious parentage.
   Upon being drafted, Theodore expressed confidence that he could play in the NHL right away. The comment was construed not as confidence, but rather arrogance. Jose got tagged as cocky.
Only Habs goalie to
score a goal, only one to
wear a tuque during a game
   Theodore was a great looking guy but had a sultry, dark, Nadalesque look that made him look moody. His pensive, thoughtful-look didn't help him become one of the boys.
   By 1997 Theodore got his big break: he was called up to the NHL and replaced popular journeyman backup Pat Jablonski. Former Hab Lyle Odelein was the only one who publicly denounced the decision but from a safe place: he was already playing for New Jersey by then.
Ted Theodore was
70 when busted in 2003
   The year 1997 seems a lifetime ago: Martina Hingis, Howard Stern and Dennis Rodman were hot personalities, I Believe I Can Fly was everywhere and the internet was still a novelty.
   Theo's new team had solid forwards, Koivu, Damphousse, Recchi, Valerie Bure, but its defense was weak: Popovic, Cullimore, Dave Manson would stumble with the puck next to chronic disappointment Vladimir Malakhov, making life difficult for goaltenders.  
   Theo, 20, played backup to Jocelyn Thibault, 22 and started hot with a 3-1-1 record but got shelled and rode more pine, ending a 5-6-2 with a .896 GAA.
   He did, however, manage to steal one playoff game away from the New Jersey Devils, preventing an embarrassing first-round sweep.
   But that off-season the Habs hired new coach Alain Vigneault and gave the team a veteran presence in net, as Andy Moog was to cover the twines alongside Thibault.
   Theo was sent to the minors where he earned $40,000 in Fredericton, rather than the $325,000 he could have earned with the big club. He had a great AHL season but failed to get called up, biting his tongue the whole time.
   Theodore was finally given his chance and in went on to have an epic season, one of the greatest seasons ever enjoyed by an NHL goaltender and the Vezina and MVP awards.
   The next year, however, his name was tossed around in a ton of rumours, as his father was busted for loan sharking along with his half-brothers and uncle.
   The hometown hero's reputation was stained by affairs he had nothing to do with but Montrealers just waited for the other shoe to drop, wondering if he might have been fingered in an investigation, maybe having rigged a game to help out criminals in his social circle.
   But to his credit, Theo was clean, although it didn't help that he had been photographed with Hells Angels and had their number on his cell phone.
   Montreal's chance to have a hometown kid excel in nets was doomed thanks not to Theo but to the people around him.
  It didn't help that there was an embarrassing incident in which Theo's urine was found to contain a trace of an anti-hair loss pill, believed to be a steroid masking agent.
  Theo didn't have much better luck with his father-in-law, music impresario Guy Cloutier who was busted in 2004 and eventually convicted of abusing his client, child-star Nathalie Simard and given 16 months for the crime.
  He buckled, but only slightly, under the enormous distractions and was eventually traded away.
  After he was gone Theodore's trials and tribulations continued: he was sued by a neighbour over a petty property dispute and quite tragically, his baby son died.
  Professionally he was shown little respect. In a series against the Habs, Theo was ignominiously pulled by the Washington Capitals after allowing a weak goal. His replacement was not up to snuff and the Habs went on to beat the higher-ranked Caps, surely as Theo sat fuming on the bench, deprived of the revenge he undoubtedly hungered against his hometown team that had ditched him.
  Throughout all of the suspicion, disrespect, complicated family issues, Theodore has thrived and survived, and played solid nets, proving that you can't choose your parents, but you can choose to excel at your craft and live in dignity.
   Now, at 35, Theodore's legacy is almost complete and all of those who have been dragged down by difficult family members, punished by reverse nepotism, should keep his story at heart.

Hunger strikes in Quebec: a compleat history

   Montrealers have lost their appetites for hunger striking.
   The protest stunt was once a go-to public relations maneuver  particularly among immigrants and prisoners, but it seems to have faded away from its peak in the 1980s.
   Questions of what a person ingests are not usually considered newsworthy but these ones managed to attract some print, doubtlessly many others flopped and went overlooked.
 Feb. 1934: Five inmates refused food in a prison referred to as Montreal Jail. Authorities denied that there was a problem. The five men, mostly homeless, had been put in jail for 15 days for refusing to leave an assistance office. They vowed not to eat during the entire duration of their fortnight behind bars.
Dec. 1948: Movie usher Roger Trudel, 33, killed a woman in a robbery on the Jacques Cartier Bridge and went on hunger strike during his trial. It didn't help: the jury didn't even need to deliberate before finding him guilty.
Feb. 1952: About 15 of 200 European immigrants went on hunger strike in St. Paul l'Ermite Quebec to protest their conditions, including the fact that they had been separated from their families. They tried to block the entrances to the food hall but the others pushed through, effectively ending the strike.
Feb. 1961: A few dozen inmates at the St. Vincent de Paul penitentiary in Laval expressed opposition to monotonous prison food and other such issues in a strike which spread throughout the prison.
Sept. 1966: Charles Gagnon and Pierre Vallieres, both separatist terrorists, went on a hunger strike after being arrested in New York and then got in the news for another such stunt over murder charges stemming from a death of a woman from a bomb outside a shoe factory. Other accused FLQ terrorists held hunger strikes in October 1970. An autopsy on Pierre Laporte, the government minister that they kidnapped and killed, indicated that he had been on a hunger strike while kidnapped.
Claire Culhane went hungry
for 10 days
Sept. 1968: Montreal medical librarian Claire Culhane, 50, protested Ottawa's policy towards the Vietnam War by going without food in Ottawa for 10 days.
June 1969: Activist Gilles Verrier promoted a two-day hunger strike in such outlying regions as the Beauce and Lac St. Jean that he called Operation Alarm, to coincide with the visit of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He sought to bring attention to unemployment and poverty.
Feb 1971: Jonathan Geller, a men's liberation activist, held a hunger strike to urge more rights for fathers in divorce custody battles.
May 1972: Two Russian Jews hunger striked in Ottawa over the repression of 13 Jews in Russia who didn't want to join the army.
Oct. 1976: 110 inmates at the Leclerc Institute, a prison in Laval, went on a six day hunger strike to express opposition to a security clampdown following a large-scale riot.
Jan. 1978: Gilles Leblanc, 33, sought to raise publicity and funds for his 100-member Quebec Association for Obese People. The 444-pound man lost 16 pounds.
Aug. 10, 1978: Prisoners in Quebec and Ontario were accompanied by several dozens of civilians in a one-day fast and vigil outside Montreal prisons to express their concerns about the many deaths in prisons.
Aug. 1981: Convicted killer Freddy Jo Morri held a 25-day hunger strike inside Archambault prison.
Sept. 1982:  Romanian Anton Anghel, 29, went on a 18-day hunger strike in Montreal, succeeds in getting a relative out.
Nov. 1983: 50 Bangladeshis protest immigration decisions by not eating in Montreal.
Polish protester dreaming of tasty sausage
April 1984 Kazimiere Cebula, 51, and Eva Szypura, 30, went on a 15 day hunger strike vigil outside the Polish Consulate in an effort to persuade them to let relatives out.
June 1984: Two twentysomethings went on a hunger strike to protest welfare cutbacks. Minister Pauline Marois condemns their actions.
July 1984: 22 prisoners hunger striked for prisoners rights at a provincial jail in Ste- Hyacinthe.
Oct. 1985 La Fleche Blondin and his brother Richer Blondin fasted for 70 days in Verdun in hopes of forcing Pope John Paul II to reveal  the last of the The Secrets of Fatima.
1986 Montreal activist Naomi Bronstein staged a 21-day hunger strike to help raise $110,000 for operations for 12 North Korean children.
March 1986: Montreal-area Senator Jacques Hebert hunger strikes for 21 days against cuts to federal youth employment program Katimivik.
March 1987: 28 Chileans went on a two week hunger strike to protest Canada's refusal to allow 110 relatives into the country.
July 1987: Ligia Duma went on hunger strike to see her Romanian family.
June 1988: Omer Theriault, 49, lost 28 of his 241 pounds on a hunger strike that lasted two weeks as he sat in an armchair of the St. Josaphat Roman Catholic Church on the South Shore. He was protesting workmen's compensation.
Oct. 1988: Translator David Smith, 40, was sent to maximum security Ste. Anne des Plaines prison for 128 unpaid parking tickets. He went on a hunger strike to oppose the "cruel and unusual punishment," which limited his contact with others to four visits per month, a weekly 15-minute phone call and a ban on reading and radios.
Zehra Kazema and Senator Jacques Hebert
both went without eating. 
Feb. 1989: Abraham Weizfeld, 40, aka Eibie Weizfeld, a Montreal-peace activists was sentenced to 45 days in prison in connection to his demonstrations. He refused to eat for at least 10 days in his Ottawa-area facility, and vowed not to eat for his entire stay. His grievance was Canada's cruise-missile policy.
March 1989: 17 foreign-trained doctors went on a hunger strike at a downtown hotel in order to get a chance to work in the province.
March 1996: Robert Johnston goes on a 20-day hunger strike in Laval for better AIDS medication.
June 2000: Ontario aboriginals held a 15 day rotating strike in front of Abitibi Consolidated's downtown Montreal offices yesterday to protest a logging dispute.
July 2004: Montreal photographer and political activist Zehra Kazemi died from a fall while on hunger strike in an Iranian prison.
Sept. 2005: Iranian Arash Aslani hunger strikes for 10 days in Laval to bring attention to immigration issues.
Oct. 2005: Rick Blatter goes on a 44-day hunger strike in Laval to urge more democracy in municipal government.
Feb. 2011: Pablo Lugo Herrera didn't eat for a week in an effort to get fracking shale gas banned in Quebec.
Nov. 2011: Pascal Lacoste, 38, of Levis went on a hunger strike to protest the fact that the government didn't help him after being exposed to uranium as a soldier.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shocking proof that astrology isn't always exact

Legendary West End Gang leader Frank "Dunie" Ryan's horoscope for November 13, 1984 was particularly optimistic - it gave no hint that he was going to be gunned down by enemies that day.
   I guess it might be a bummer to read the truth about your day if it predicted your violent death. You might not want to even get out of bed.
   It might be interesting to know if Ryan's killers, who included Paul April, could have been the Scorpio native expected to figure in that astral prediction.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Benny Farm in the early days

These folks lived near these things. Y'know where?

Joe Horvath - how a wiseguy should spin media

   Joe Horvath* (June 21, 1929 - April 10, 1974) differentiated himself from his colleagues in the Cotroni crew by leaving his own legacy, as articulated in an exclusive interview he conducted with Eddie Collister just before dying of cancer at the tender age of 44.
  Little Joe was the youngest child of Hungarian immigrants who grew up in the red light section of town, on Cadieux St., now known as de Bullion, in the area which was demolished for the Habitations Jeanne Mance.
   That area was the hotbed of criminals-in-training, including Machine Gun Molly and he befriended Vic Cotroni, Louis Greco and dark force bigwigs around town.
   He got hooked on gambling, claiming that he was an expert in making cash from illegal barbotte games from a very young age.
Louis Greco in 1968
   He turned to crime because of his environment, which included "whorehouses, gambling joints and opium dens."
   But his sister disagreed and noted that his family repeatedly pleaded with him to make an honest living in the family trade of bricklaying.
   Horvath was sent to prison for five years in 1949 for his part in a violent robbery.
   But after his release Horvath returned to his passion for gambling, claiming to have won so much at one casino that he buried $80,000 in his backyard. "But don't go digging back there, it's gone," he told the crime commission.
  Horvath was a funny guy. (What do you mean by "funny guy"? Is he some sort of clown? Does he amuse you? - Chimples).
  He was, however, facing some serious charges before he died involving the importation of heroin.
  But he explained to the Gazette reporter that he had only been guilty of a bit of hashish importation.
  He also described local co-godfather (along with Vic Cotroni) Louis Greco as a father figure who once hired a bunch of guys to build his restaurant who instead decided to play cards. But Greco was no fool, once when Horvath owed him a few hundred dollars Greco came to his door and started filing down the hinges.
   The point of this is that Horvath had an idea of how to get his spin out to the media without giving away the shop, tossing a bone to a print journalist is never a bad idea.
*Sorry for the terrible pic, (had a better one yesterday from the excellent Gary "wiseguywally" F's Geocities but can't find it today).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Premier Daniel Johnson Sr. guarantees English rights .. dies the next day.. coincidence?

   Daniel Johnson Senior didn't last long as Quebec premier.
   He was one of several Quebec premiers who were dropping like flies for a certain period. It started when Maurice Duplessis died, reportedly on a fishing trip up north on Sep 7, 1959, although urban legend had it that he actually died at the home of his mistress on Ridgewood.
    Paul Sauve took over and he too died after less than four months in office and then later Daniel Johnson died while premier, just after two years as Quebec chief.
   This was at a time when separatism and the language issue was beginning to become very tricky issue in the province. The federal government was known at that time to have been playing a highly-interventionist role trying to control Quebec's affairs through subterfuge and espionage.
   Now, I don't want to feed any conspiracy theories (so then why are you?-- Chimples) but in the case of Johnson, he died one day after addressing the controversial language issue, as his policy managed to displease both sides of the Quebec language debate.

Chicken in a basket

   The late lamented Miss Montreal drive-in restaurant, seen in this 1947 photo, sat proudly for over 35 years on Decarie Boul.
   I recall specifically asking to go on my birthday once as a small child, so I have been there and appreciated their culinary delights, but I recall eating inside.
  There were five drive-in restaurants on Montreal's Sunset Strip as Decarie Boul. was known before being eviscerated by the highway: White Circle, Snow White, Blue Bonnets, Piazza Tomassa and FDR's.
   Miss Montreal was opened by Jack Blatt at Decarie and Pare in 1935 and moved under new owner Johnny Whiteman to Decarie and de la Savanne in 1963 to make way for the building of the expressway.
  It had a staff of 145 and could seat 300 at that facility. It closed sometime after 1968.
  Coolopolis contributor HaroldRo who grew up nearby said his family never brought him to Miss Montreal because they had no car and he was thus deprived of the chicken-in-a-basket experience, which many of his cool Snowdon classmates boasted about.
   "I still don't know what it is, and why it's so special," he says of the chicken-in-basket.

Details of Montreal's wacky automobile prostitution parking plan

   Real Menard, Vision Party mayor of the east end Ho-Ma borough, was recently promoted to the city's executive committee, although we shall see if he disproves my argument that politicians who go to bat for legalized prostitution quickly get tossed out by voters.
   Menard had a plan to allow a free-for-all prostitution zone at Alphonse D. Roy and Ste. Catherine E. last summer.
   I was recently explained the details of what he proposed and although surely well-intentioned, it seems straight from the half-bakery.
   Menard sought to relocate prostitution in residential areas of his district by concentrating the friendless women on a block just east of over the viaduct on Ste. Catherine E.  Currently the women can mainly be found starting a block or two east, from Prefontaine and beyond.
Real Menard
   Menard was hoping to put the action in this more industrial area, although it'd be interesting to know what the businesses thought of his idea.
   The plan was to put three or four parking spots next to each other where you'd park your car and invite the woman or man (or transsexual...don't pretend you didn't think of that -- Chimples) into the vehicle to have sex with you.
  The car parked next to you would get a pretty good view into your car as would passing pedestrians and motorists.
   There were no plans for video surveillance, or emergency phones or extra policing, or method of  helping make it safer, which is a bit alarming since this spot has been one of the more problematic places for violence against street sex workers.
  The project would have lasted two months during the summer.
The zone would have looked  like this 
   Prior to that plan being unveiled, local police arrested 54 men for soliciting around that zone.
   That led, in turn, to an increase in violence against the women, according to Stella's Director Emilie Lalibertie who told me that when business goes down, sex workers accept drunk or abusive clients, men they would never otherwise accept.
   Police have also started increasingly putting sex workers into jail not directly for soliciting, but for violating parole conditions from a previous bust which ban them from simply being in certain designated areas.
This one was always in
front of my old
building in Verdun.
  Laliberte also mentioned that not all women want to have sex in cars, just as many don't want to have sex in their homes or hotel rooms, as some prefer to offer a less time-consuming 5 minutes of service for $20 -$40 rather than half an hour of service for $80-$100.
   I have a lot of respect for Stella, but I also fully understand residents not wanting street prostitutes lingering near their homes.
   There used to be at least two hookers who'd stand in front of my old building in Verdun. One was discreet and non-bothersome but another was incredibly stubborn, persistent and aggressive, she'd flat-out smoke crack right in the street and just give a degraded and defeated flavour to the area.
   Some say that there are fewer street prostitutes than before but Stella insists there have been pushed to other areas.
   The ideal situation would be to encourage commercial sex indoors but I doubt if we'll ever see a legalized red light zone, as no area would want to have it in their backyard.
   On Monday Dec. 17, at 5 p.m. at the corner of Ste. Catherine and Alphonse D. Roy, Stella will be holding a ceremony in honour of sex trade workers have been assaulted or killed in the line of duty. A good friend of Maude Belair, will be among those addressing the crowd.

Place Viger Hotel: 80 years of uselessness

    Montreal's long-abandoned Viger Square Hotel is proof that you can be beautiful and yet still ignored and despised.
   The magnificent old CP station hotel, designed by Bruce Price in 1898 to look similar to his Chateau Frontenac Quebec City boardwalk jewel, has been utterly useless since 1935 when the hotel closed.
    The hotel was built by CP near its railway station and harbour access, so a passenger could could take a CP ship to Montreal, disembark near the hotel, stay a night or two, and then hop on a CP train out west, although the hotel must've been some sorta noisy judging from all those trains out the window.
   The station was eventually removed and the hotel went belly up as the city developed to the west.
   The feds took it over and used the property for makeshift housing for war veterans. In later years the City of Montreal used parts of it for administrative offices, something they no longer need, with the creation of a new building just east of city hall.
   The city sold the property at a bargain $9 million in 2005 to a consortium which included Richard Homburg, a Dutch real estate mogul based in Halifax.
  The sale was notable because our mayor Tremblay tried to keep the evaluation under wraps, but it wasn't necessary because dumping the property to a serious developer was a very good thing.
   The Homburg development initiative was headed by Phil O'Brien who hired his old friend Cameron Charlebois to help figure it out.
  They gutted the interior in a plan to pour $300-$400 million into building a 250- room hotel, with 1,800 underground parking spaces as well as offices and 200 condos or apartments on the two hectare site, which includes a lot of vacant land out back.
  The building was to stand 60 metres tall, above the 44 allowed in the zoning.
  Then Ville Marie Borough Mayor Benoit Labonte embraced the project enthusiastically, which is never a good thing because Mayor Tremblay considered Labonte his archenemy and in politics nobody likes to see anything work out well for an opponent.
   A neighbourhood impact report was also critical of the plans but it's not really clear whether those critique and suggested tweaks were the dealbreaker.
  Homburg stocks took a hit around 2009, going from $48 to $11 and suddenly they couldn't pull off the big project, so they sold it off in Feb. 2012 after putting about $35 million into renos and repairs.
   The newest owners, Pur and Jesta, plan to put $450 million into something similar as the old plan, with 700 apartments. They bought the site for $26.5 million, and kept Phil O'Brien in charge.
   The new project includes retail and office space as well as those apartments and somebody will undoubtedly gleefully order the developers to include 15 percent welfare housing in the new development as a shiny feather in their do-gooder cap.
   The property is on the northeastern edge of Old Montreal but doesn't really feel to be in the heart of the most desirable section of the highly-coveted old city. It's believed that the area will become more desirable when the French superhospital comes on line in 2016 but currently the nearby neighbourhood is a little isolated, the view of the highway isn't spectacular and the area is overrun by derelicts from the various homeless shelters.
     Nonetheless the project should be a success if it's ever built and I'm not entirely convinced this project will happen. Getting four hundred million bucks of financing together isn't the easiest thing in the world, as this property proves.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Member of Parliament crusades to remove a city bus shelter

Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani is fighting hard to get a bus shelter removed from the corner of Sauriol and Lajeunesse in her riding of Ahuntsic.
 The Lebanese-born Quebec separatist and failed party leadership candidate apparently lives nearby and thinks that the shelter has been overridden with prostitutes who wait for clients.
 The local transit authority flat out turned her down but she has continued the fight to have it removed.
  On July 28, 2012 she attempted to get support for her initiative in a letter written on an official-looking House of Commons letterhead, (minus the bilingualism and Maple Leaf) and encouraged readers to sign her petition to have the shelter removed.
   It read, in French, my translation below:
Following consultations with citizens and business owners concerning the increase of prostitution in certain sectors of Ahuntsic, Station 27, myself, the elected officials in the borough, citizens as well as several social workers and community groups decided to launch a committee to fight this phenomenon.
Among the problems cited by the committee, citizens have brought our attention to the frequent usage of the bus shelter on Lajeunesse and Sauriol by prostitutes. In fact, many residents noticed that these women used the shelter to protect themselves from bad weather and to wait for clients. These bothersome comings-and-goings inspired many citizen complaints. As well, the girls and women are unfortunately mostly drug addicts and crack consumers. As this bus shelter is near a childcare centre, this is a problematic situation  in the eyes of the committee it’s necessary to remove this shelter to eliminate the problem. We have therefore undertaken steps persuade the the STM to this effect. However the STM does not wish to remove the bus shelter in order to diminish service to users. It’s therefore important to demonstrate to the STM that the current situation is intolerable and the residents wish that this shelter be removed to improve conditions. You’ll find a petition to this effect. I ask you to sign it and return it to my office as soon as possible.

   Mourani is on a bit of an anti-sex worker crusade these days, as she has also sponsored an anti-prostitution private members bill in parliament on October 16 called C-452, which her colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois declined to sponsor.
   Critics have noted that the bill is craftily-written, reasonably denouncing cruelty and oppression and using that old technique of confounding white slavery with sex trade employment. 
   But at the end there's more contentious wording that critics have noted could be interpreted as a method of imprisoning anybody associated with a sex worker, including drivers, webmasters, massage parlour receptionists and so on. 
   Such a measure would only criminalize innocent people and further endanger sex workers because it would strip them of their support staff, thereby leaving them more vulnerable to attackers. I won't waste your time or mine by getting into the details of her proposed legislation because it hasn't a chance of becoming law.. 

Gio D'Amico - finally on trial four years

   As you might recall, Gio D'Amico, a well-known entrepreneur in Montreal's west end, was arrested in July 2008 on charges of assaulting four Montreal streetwalkers.
   Some might have wondered what ever became of this story.
   The answer might be almost as shocking as the crime he was accused of: after four years and four months, his trial has just begun.
   D'Amico plead not guilty to the charges but the case has been subject to repeated delays.
   The witnesses and four alleged victims in this case have been ready to testify from the start -- with the exception of one, who has since passed away.
   It is not rare for defense lawyers to seek delays when a certain type of accuser or witness is thought to be less likely to be willing or available to testify after a lengthy delay, such as in the case of a drug-user or a sex worker.
   There is no saying that this is the case in this instance, however.
   I have been told a bit of the details of what D'Amico is alleged to have done but won't repeat them here due to the fact that the trial has yet to take place. It didn't sound particularly gentle however.

Juan Rodriguez - local dean of rock writing

Trailblazing Montreal rock writer Juan Rodriguez has written great articles about every conceivable arts-related subject and he now definitely owes a us memoir of his fascinating life.
   The story would tell of how he came to prominence by writing passionate, informative must-read rock reports that influenced a generation of readers.
   His thoughtful, insightful and well-written articles, include this one on Michel Pagliaro and many more about local francophone acts that are too often overlooked by anglos.
  But rather than just march onwards like a typical media lifer, Rodriguez jumped ship in 1980, moved off to California for a while, then returned only to realize he had missed a chance to invest in the Trivial Pursuit juggernaut that would have made him rich.
   He trudged on, making ends meet by freelancing and penning questions for the game invented by his former colleagues.
   Rodriguez has endured a difficult 15 months, having battled a vicious case of diabetes which has claimed one of his legs and he has been hospitalized with other health issues as well, nonetheless he is motoring forward, still penning high-quality articles up to his usual standards and vows to continue to do so.

Duncan MacTavish on Montreal music from 1986-1999

 Montreal has always had big name pop music stars except for a strange period from about 1985-2000 when nothing seemed propel the musical talent to the next level. We sought an explanation and struck gold with this detailed narrative of that period in Montreal music history by the excellent Duncan MacTavish, who worked passionately to promote the music scene during those years. Here it is below.
===by Duncan MacTavish======
Duncan MacTavish
   From 1986 to 1999, there were periods where there was live music was happening every night with local bands. But from '86 to the indie crash in 1989-90, Canada and beyond saw Toronto as the heartbeat of Canadian music.
   And Quebec, for all its diversity, seemed isolated.
   During that period, cores of bands worked together and built cross-over within those scenes. Psyche Industry, Og, Cargo all took Montreal and pushed it out to Canada and the States but it was below the radar, which was a good thing.
   This Blue Piano had the S.O.S. Club (Save Our Songwriters) that served as a catalyst. But through all that, it was the Lubas, the Boxs, the mainstream that was selling records via airplay in those pre-MuchMusic years.
   But that period built a foundation -- not so much musically but structurally -- and a connection with independent media. You have to remember that the alt-weekly Montreal Mirror was only half a decade old by 1990.
The Doughboys, funk-rockin Bootsauce and ska-lovin' Me Mom and
Morgentaler were among the top bands from that difficult era. 
   It was the music community that saved music in Montreal between 1986-89, a time when no one band carried the flame.  
   Cargo Records went into the 1990's like a tank and the bands of  1990 to 1995 had them to thank.
   Meanwhile, several French artists benefited from support from Montreal major labels but world domination for any one band was not happening and rock was taking all the label and publishing money on offer from Toronto.
   So many talented bands with potential to make it to a wider audience weren't, mainly due to the cost of touring, the fact that Toronto bands could wake up and walk down the street to MuchMusic, do a show, do an interview, drop in, didn't help.
   And Montreal bands remained true to an indie sound defined by their band rather than the trade magazines.
   The sunset on Me Mom and Morgentaler and Polygram draining the last drops out of Bootsauce, replacing them with Lost And Profound while turning their focus to Toronto pseudo hip-hop didn't help the efforts of Montreal labels such as Aquarius to export the city's sound.
   The gaping crevice between Montreal and the rest of the world was now wide open again.
   The Doughboys and Voivoid managed to get across the rope bridge by touring, touring and touring their music, Kastner and team getting the airplay in Canada while Voivoid were saying, "It's great to be here," in several European dialects.
   The next five years started with a clearing of the indie scene.
   Prior to '95, so many bands, such as the Asexuals, Me Mom and Morgentaler, Grim Skunk, Blinker The Star, naming a few had aimed beyond the Quebec borders but no major could take them to the next level.
   By then Nirvana and The Offspring were the new litmus test. As well, the indie scene suffered a major blow as new label owner Allen Fox began napalming Cargo from the inside (if anyone wants to stare evil in the eye, I believe he has a bar in Dorval).
   The French scene stormed to a new level from the label support since 1990, this being reflected by Jean Leloup and Les Colocs being the Montreal bands for 1996 and 1997.
   They even found themselves on the front pages of the Gazette and multi-cultural Quebec was on fire. 1995 was the year that Moist called and said "find us apartments," and came to Montreal.
   This swung cameras and media from outside Quebec YUL's way.
   "What's it like living in Montreal? We heard you moved to Montreal..." became staples in their interviews as though passports and work permits had been required even though it was simply a domestic flight from Western Canada.
   And MusiquePlus was exporting more and more footage to Toronto and though Canada now got a taste of Montreal, those who still controlled the publishing money that was needed to fuel a band's career kept it mainly in Toronto and B.C..
   The late great Simon Gallipeault and Grim Skunk were putting together Indica Records.
Bran Van 3000 carries a local legacy of previous bands
   I sat for many a night with Simon at the Mont Royal office. He knew that rushing it would only hinder its chances of success but the indie scene was screaming for a home and someone to fill the Cargo void.
   Yes, it was mainly for Grim Skunk but a dozen or so bands made it their home in its infancy and were part of the catalyst that have made the label what it is now.
   Greenland, 2112, Stomp and Nick Farkas were funneling so much energy into the live scene that was competing with glow-stick electronica.
   For every Radiohead that they sold out, they did their best to fill every small and medium stage in the city for a month.
   Those who survived 95 to 98 soon formed a collective web, directly or indirectly working together, veterans of the indie trenches such as Paget Williams, Dan and Nancy leading the way in connecting the dots while Nick Farkas was taking an office perfectly placed between Rue St Laurent and Montreal West but with an open phone line that was there for every musician and indie label/manager in the city.
   The twist to the 15 years: a French management team and a mainly francophone label taking an album led by someone known for his video direction/visions and deejay abilities and featured 30 local musicians and landing an international deal.
Rick Trembles' Mtl rock family tree
   Bran Van 3000 was signed to Capital Records in Los Angeles. The closest anyone from Montreal had been to that round building was when they went to the movies to see it featured in some earthquake or alien destruction. Now Montreal music was courting number 1 at K-Rock until (hey, I'll say it) one night at The Roxy in Hollywood when the radio programmers at the station saw more than one 'color' and a guest rapper named Poetic from the Wu Tang Clan on stage made the band disappear overnight from their charts.
   The band was a perfect troupe to carry the flag for YUL and was everything that Montreal had been back to the $3 S.O.S. (save our songwriters) shows, Jungle Bashes, Deja Voodoo Barbeques and sweaty nights at Foufounes rolled into one.
   You could go back to every band/musician to 1985 and the six degrees of separation would be easily inside the 6. Pick up Glee and read the credits. Then go out and buy albums by all the people involved. Your record collection will look fantastic and will offer you 15 years of Montreal music history.
   And, for me personally, after two attempts of getting my own band going in '83 and '84 then 15 years of doing everything except catering and security, the BV3 experience was a suitable time to start the fade to black.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sarto Fournier and family - a portrait from 1957

 The Fournier family, in a photo taken in October 1957, just weeks before Sarto Fournier, on the right was elected mayor over incumbent Jean Drapeau, who later returned to power and never lost another election.  Fournier's wife, whose name is not published in the blurb accompanying the Petit Journal photo, was the daughter of famous blind musician Alfred Lamoureux. Danielle Fournier, then 11, and Elise Fournier, then 13, would be in their late 60s now wherever they are.
   Fournier was already a senator when he ran for mayor. He had been elected to federal parliament at age 27 and was reelected several times before PM St. Laurent named him to the senate.
   Gangsters would boast that they fixed the election to get Fournier in power just to teach Drapeau a lesson about his war against vice but we've never seen any actual evidence of this, although even my father once told me he helped Fournier win for that reason.
   That election was also bitterly fought over the issue of the Jeanne Mance subsidized housing project, which Drapeau vehemently opposed.
   Fournier was credited with getting the Expo '67 initiative going before disappearing into obscurity after his one-mandate as mayor.

RIP Montreal comedian Sean Keane

   Sean Keane, 52, has died of a massive heart attack, which seems doubly shocking because he frequently swam at the Westmount YMCA and looked lively, alert, fit, trim and nimble.
   Keane was a longtime local popular stand-up comedian with a sexist-cad persona he called Mr. Keane but in person he was a very generous and affable guy.
   Here's a YouTube video of one of his performances which I can't actually watch because YouTube doesn't work on this computer and I can't fix it because I can't fire up the YouTube how-to-fix-it video. (I always tried to think up jokes whenever he was around, none of which he liked much).
   I'd see Sean frequently at the YMCA in the dressing room and sauna and he was always friendly and chatty with everybody, but he had an inevitable habit of bringing every conversation back to his favourite topic, his passionate admiration for singer Bobby Darin, who like Keane, overcame illness as a child.
   Or at least I read elsewhere else that he had a heart condition as a child. It's sad that Sean is gone, he was a really good guy.

How not to cross the street - old photos teach us

This instructional series of photos meant to advise pedestrians on how not to cross the street in April 1947. It's Sherbrooke in NDG by the way.