Archive for the ‘you are here’ Category


snap: beautiful city, ruined city — Montreal, Detroit

April 11, 2014

How do you think about where you live? Most of us, most of the time don’t think about about the city we call home any more often than we think about the air we breathe. It’s home. It’s there. But throw a little dust into that air and suddenly what’s taken for granted seems a little more precious or fragile or even gone.

In Montreal, having just come through a Quebec provincial election campaign that was unwanted, dirty and batshit crazy, AND being on the brink (knock on wood, fingers crossed) of spring after a season and a half of dull bone-cold winter, I’m feeling a big love for Montreal. Visiting student Stéphane Mong does too. He posted this Montreal love letter four months ago, on Vimeo, introducing it this way:

I lived amazing experiences while I studied civil engineering at Polytechnique. I’ve just graduated months ago and before I move on, I decided to make this timelapse to keep remember all the wonderful memories Montreal gave me. Memories… which wouldn’t be the same without my awesome friends, thanks guys!”

So that’s a happy thought about a city. But what about a place like Detroit, where bad decisions and bad people have left parts of the city in ruin? I’ve grown very curious about Detroit, compelled not by the stories of ruin but of resilience. Detroit: An American Autopsy is native Detroit son Charlie LeDuff’s memoir of his family, friends and city and an aggressive, often one-man fight to make city officials (and unofficials) DO something about it. Gorgeous writing that is funny, enraging and very moving. Then I spied this call out to writers, offering a house in exchange for living and writing on a street they hope to reclaim from abandonment, a gesture to try to write some life back into one house on one street. And here, below, is a photo homage to a mouldering, formerly vibrant school.

Click here to view Viral Forest’s photo gallery: Unforgettable: Then and Now in a Detroit School.

And then, when you’ve got time to click and browse, you might also enjoy Detroit Urbex’s Evolution of a City, a multimedia “interactive look at the growth, decline, and revival of the city of Detroit through historic and present-day pictures.”

So how do you think about your city?


you are here: Montreal’s Mount Royal

June 12, 2012

Mount Royal is crawling with people, right now and later and until the snow falls, when the numbers fall off but only a little. We are hard core, we Montreal mountain people. I walk there several times a week, about 10 km, including The Stairs, which is a grueling workout and quickest access on my, south access, to the summit. I climb to blow off steam. I know a woman who climbs 20 sets. Best I can do is 5. I’m working on it.

My favourite time to hit the mountain is, now that the nights are longest, about 8 p.m. or so. All last summer, standing on Pine Avenue, watching runners and lovers emerge from the path as from black air, I was curious but timid; I didn’t want to get caught after dark on the mountain’s switchback paths. Couple of weeks ago, it was late but I was in desperate need of a good hike so I sucked it up. First reward? Watching from the lookout as the city lights come up after the sun goes down. My golden city. Better reward? Looking out from the paths I had feared and seeing people looking timidly up, as into black air. The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

If you live in Monteal, go to the mountain. If you don’t, check this out.

Click here to slide through the NFB’s excellent multi multi media piece on the mountain, from tweets to videos to audio to still photos. Click and hover, click and hover.

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