Posts Tagged ‘montreal’

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Proust questionnaire 5.0: jake moore, one degree of separation, repeated many times

April 11, 2014

I don’t have to go all the way up to six degrees of separation between me and jake moore. More like one degree of separation that kept multiplying: We both, though years apart, spent summers on Lake Winnipeg. As a Winnipeg punk dabbler in the early 1980s (I went by the name “Isn’t that Richard Duguay’s sister?”), I’d marveled at her fabulous, terrifying (in fairness, everything terrified me) stage presence, fronting the band Ruggedy Annes. Later, when I was writing about television at the Winnipeg Sun, I watched the birth of a TV specialty network called WTN (Women’s Television Network, RIP) and saw her host the short-film showcase Shameless Shorts. More recently and unaware of our new proximity, I was a student and she a teacher at Studio XX in Montreal, a multimedia teaching and exhibition collective. Along the way, a growing number of Winnipeg friends, including Linda English, mentioned jake to me as a fellow Winnipegger who’d decamped to Montreal, she an artist in the fine arts world of Concordia University and me hunched over a computer in the newsroom at The Gazette. Nothing happened until Linda, visiting Montreal on a business trip, put us at the same lunch table, because, “you guys would really like each other.” A shy start pretty much exploded into friendship right then and there. So I bugged jake until she did my newly tweaked Proust Questionnaire 5.0. Here she is:

Since we are conducting this interview via email, the world is ours for the inventing. If, as I some day hope, money is no object, in what city and establishment would you like this interview to be taking place?
Sel Rrose, an oyster bar in the Bowery.

Who and what would you be wearing?
In my dreams the clothes I wish for have no brand affiliation but they are beautifully made, clean lined, exceptional materials. I am obsessed by quality of materials and construction.

And, most importantly, what would we be drinking?
If it is summer, gin, Hendrick’s with Q tonic.
If it is winter, either a deep red, or Lagavulin, neat.

Okay then. What are the qualities you most admire in others?
Vision, intellectual capability, and kindness.

What do you like most about yourself?
How I see.

Least?
My fear/self loathing. Likely the same thing.

What is your greatest achievement?
Hasn’t happened yet.

What are you working on (not to be confused with What is your job/work? Although… fill yer boots on that one if you prefer)?
Articulating just what it is that I do,
Continuing to do it.

What is your more treasured possession?
This is difficult to answer for I have many treasures, but they are not of capital value.
My Opa’s handmade flour scoop.
MOMA machine exhibition catalogue 1968.
Big blue, a sweater my mom made.

What is your present state of mind?
Disappointed.

What is your first memory?
Being on the wrong side of the door to the basement in our house in [the Winnipeg neighbourhood of] Fort Garry and hearing my mother asking for me. I was exceptionally aware of the place I had gotten myself into, the kind of space – dark, slightly damp wood in humid Winnipeg summer, and the sound…. Spatialized and complex.
Her voice such comfort.

What was your worst job?
It might be my current one
As there is such a disconnect between its potential and its environment
Essentially anywhere you’re power doesn’t match your responsibilities

Your favourite colour?
Grey

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Warm light rain, mid afternoon, reading, he’s in the house but not necessarily right beside me, just in parallel, wine, (a very chilled sancerre), no plans for the evening.

Of misery?
When faced with overt cruelty.

If not yourself, who or what would you be?
A me with discipline and certainty.
I have no need to be other, just different.

If you could go back in time for one day, anyplace, but for just one day, when, where and with whom?
Paris, 1924, somehow I would know both Colette and Eileen Gray. Or maybe this is the answer to the last question – somehow I would be both Colette and Eileen Gray.

What is your favourite journey?
Summer, Manitoba, very, very, hot, midday heading to the water, either the pits or Whytewold.

What food, dish or meal takes you back to a special time?
Almost every one as I am cooking. Most things I cook are constructed from memories.

Name the person who influenced you most and how.
Overtly my mother Liz Moore/Elly Goring – she made me in so many ways.
But as far as someone changing you, Donald Lloyd McKinley.
 He was the studio master in the Furniture program at the School of Crafts and Design. He gave a 4 hour lecture on screwdrivers once that fascinated me.
Yes, screwdrivers. He talked about mechanical advantage, tools as an extension of the body, innovation, and nationhood all embodied in – or performed via – this everyday object. His ability to inform and expand on how our world has come to be changed my way of looking at every thing. He taught me to see that what is in front of us, is many things all together at once.

Name the film/song/book/art that influenced you most and why?
Just one? Impossible.
There have been so many and there continue to be new ones every year.
From my childhood, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew changed my world, but did so simultaneously to the Jungle Book soundtrack and Jesus Christ Superstar. I would perform special contemporary dance routines that involved the couch for especially gymnastic rolls, the fireplace used as a barre mixed with various floor routines. Anything that had a lyric I felt I could sing, was sung into this very large, blown glass, decorative brandy snifter, the kind of which was often filled with commemorative match books or a cork collection in the 70’s. That would produce the kind of reverb and resonance that made me certain I was an awesome singer.
I would pay money to have footage of any of those performances. (and there were many). I want to see and feel that joy again.

In this or any time, which real-life figure(s) do you most admire?
Virginia Woolf, Eileen Gray, every day people that make the difficult choices to stay true to what is right.

Who is your favourite fictional hero?
Franny in John Irving’s, Hotel New Hampshire.
Almost anyone written by Alyssa York in her short story collection, Any Given Power.

What fault can you most easily forgive?
Almost anything really, if one acknowledges it as a fault.
Though inflexibility is my least favourite thing.

Not forgive?
Knowing you have a fault and not working to change it seems unforgivable, though maybe it is admirable to fully embrace oneself. Though not if it involves cruelty.

What is your motto?
“There is no try, only do.”

How would you hope to die?
Quick and clean with no witnesses.

Anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like to volunteer?
Not on paper, though feel free to ask me anything.

Deep dark secret?
Because I have told steve everything, I feel like I don’t have any secrets. No one else really needs to know.

Any last words?
Let’s do this in person soon, but you answer the questions : )

Admit it. You read those celebrity Q&As and you know you’re easily as worthy of being profiled. I know I do, but my friends are way more interesting. So, with nods to the “confession albums” of the late 1800s  made famous by the fabulous Marcel Proust’s answers, to French TV host Bernard Pivot who adapted the questionnaire, to Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton who gave it another spin and to Vanity Fair, which uses its own elegantly spun version to anchor the magazine’s back pages, I submit for your entertainment and enlightenment, my own version of the Proust Questionnaire, re-retooled for a blog age.

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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?

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Proust Q 5.0 modified: Shaney Komulainen

December 11, 2013

I have known Shaney (or Shani) Komulainen since shortly after I moved to Montreal, in November 1997. I knew her as a photographer among the many that I came to know through my work in the Montreal media at the Mirror and then at The Gazette, where I would soon work. Beers in the American, the great horrible seedy bar opposite the old Gazette building on St. Antoine St., a grimy old pub where many a great journalistic venture was hatched or threatened and where photogs would hang out. I knew she was a photographer who didn’t work as much as she once had, but didn’t know why, though I’d heard some rumblings about an accident. Then I discovered she was the one behind one of the most iconic photos of the last … (cripes!) 23 years in Canada – soldier nose to nose with a Mohawk warrior wearing a scarf over his face, in 1990. A moment in time, during the Oka crisis, that caught the breath of anyone who saw it.

This Q&A with Shaney, conducted by Mark Taylor and posted by Tamara Baluja at j-source, is a very thoughtful profile of Shaney, her past work, her accident and what she’s up to now. A pleasure to fill in the blanks on a relentlessly cheerful, generous person. (Incidentally, the Q&A is part of what will be more photo coverage at this journalism project, which you can read about here.)

Here’s Shaney. Catching up with the photographer behind the iconic Oka standoff photo

And I’ll be getting back in the Q&A business myself. Stay tuned. And hey, thanks for dropping by.

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Proust Questionnaire 5.0: Richard Burnett, but you can call him Bugs

May 11, 2011

I first met Richard Burnett on the pages of the Montreal weekly Hour, where he wrote the self-syndicated column Three Dollar Bill. But “met” is such a tame word. Bugs, as he is known (“My life is a veritable cartoon!”), is not just “met”. As Richard Burnett the columnist and activist, he provokes, engages and enrages, amuses, shocks, delights and seduces. Impressive and also a little intimidating. When I met the man face to face, to fete outgoing Gazette film critic John Griffin last winter, I was nervous as a triple-espresso chihuahua. But (of course) this was not Richard Burnett the columnist. This was Richard Burnett the “sweetheart”, as I’ve often heard him described, who unsettled only with how hard he watches and listens. He has moved his TDB column to his own website, and long may it prosper in the wake of the crumbling of Hour. For this month’s edition of the Proust Questionnaire 5.0, here’s Richard Burnett.

Since we are conducting this interview via email, the world is ours for the inventing. If, as I some day hope, money is no object, in what city and establishment would you like this interview to be taking place? Any dive will do, in one of my favourite cities – New York, London, Sydney, Istanbul, New Orleans, Montreal or Grand Baie (in Mauritius). There are a couple of blues nightclubs that I love too, Buddy Guy’s in Chicago, or the Blue Café on Beale Street, home to the hardest-working man in Memphis, Preston Shannon and his big band. I remember one night there the joint was packed with US. Air Force pilots and the bar was serving us two-ounce tequila shots. Wow!

Who and what would you be wearing? Leather pants between October and April, or Levis and a T-shirt, usually with a single-breasted suit jacket. People now think I’m dressing better for my age (I’m 45). I’ve phased out the halter-tops and hot-pink hot pants!!! Seriously, I still love accessories — you know, like 24-year-old twinkies!

Richard Burnett, refreshed. Photo courtesy of Bugs

And, most importantly, what would we be drinking? Double-vodka on the rocks. With an ice-cold beer chaser. Or an ice-cold glass of white wine, a Pinot Grigio.

Okay then. What are the qualities you most admire in others? Honesty, integrity, generosity and a sense of humour.

What do you like most about yourself? I’m honest, I’m funny, I’m generous. I’ve got a big heart and I’ve also got a really big mouth.

Least? Unless I have a deadline I tend to procrastinate. I call it creative procrastination. Like Scarlett O’Hara used to say, “I’ll think about it tomorrow – after all, tomorrow is another day!”

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Proust Q 5.0 April 2011: Mike Boone, Gazette columnist, Habs blogger, man of letters and words

April 11, 2011

"This handsome man is my father," write Chloe, of this photo she took of Mike Boone.

We’ve had words, Mike Boone and I. Envy was probably the first one. I wanted his job as TV columnist even before I was hired as a copy editor for the Montreal Gazette in 1998. The next word was, inelegantly, wow. As a reader, I admired and enjoyed Mike’s writing, but to work as an editor — where writing becomes a thing to place here, cut there, top with a headline — to reduce the experience of reading to those mechanics and still say wow, that is something. After that came some form of expletive, my trademark NSFW mutterings, to which Mike, a couple of cubicles over, memorably yelled “Enough!” or some such. Point taken (though habit not broken). And then there was the word on which turned my life as a writer, a single word of praise, single not as in miserly, but as in succinct. In response to my first freelance article for the Arts pages, about attending a taping of TV’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in NYC, he pulled out the one phrase over which I had fretted the most and emailed it to me with, well, I think it was the word “perfect”. I’ve lost the email, but not the moment: Prairie girl comes to Canada’s most sophisticated city, lands a job at the big paper and counts down the days until she will be revealed a fraud … until a single word makes her think, maybe, she might be on the right track after all.

And now the word, for my friend and colleague, is thanks. May I present Mike Boone, Montreal Gazette city columnist and Habs blogger, who answer’s this month’s Proust Questionnaire 5.0.

Since we are conducting this interview via email, the world is ours for the inventing. If, as I some day hope, money is no object, in what city and establishment would you like this interview to be taking place? In a bar at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Montreal.

Who and what would you be wearing? I’d be wearing a button-down blue Oxford cloth shirt, open at the neck, jeans, a black blazer and black Doc Martens or Dansko clogs. Luckily, I have all these items in my humble wardrobe. I would have shaved carefully, but I would not be wearing a fragrance or any jewelry.

And, most importantly, what would we be drinking? Very dry Bombay Sapphire martinis.

Okay then. What are the qualities you most admire in others? Intelligence, patience and good humour.

What do you like most about yourself? I’m soft-hearted, incurably romantic and slow to anger.

Least? I can be spiteful. I’m insecure, pathologically shy and a world-class procrastinator.

What is your greatest achievement? I’m a pretty good father.

What is your present state of mind? Cautious pessimism.

Where and when are/were you happiest? In the delivery room when my daughter was born. Distant runner-up is the legendary 1975 New Year’s Eve hockey game between the Canadiens and Central Red Army.

What is your first memory? A dog when I was about two or three.

What, currently, do you most love doing? Getting baked for movies and hockey on TV.

What was your worst job? Rock music critic.

Your favourite colour? Blue.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? No such thing. But I’m very happy when my daughter is around.

Of misery? Being ill or not being able to help a loved one who needs me.

If not yourself, who or what would you be? Bobby Orr, circa 1970.

Where would you like to live? Right here in Montreal.

What is your favourite journey? The Atlantic seashore.

What is your favourite or most memorable meal and when is the last time you indulged? I’ve had several with my friend Alan Richman, the GQ food writer. But he hasn’t been up here for a few years. Au pied de cochon is pretty special.

Name the person who influenced you most and how. My grandfather. My parents split up when I was five. My Mum and I moved to Montreal, and my maternal grandfather lived across the street. He was retired and had loads of time for me.

Name the film/song/book/art that influenced you most and why? The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I’ve never been more immersed in a work of fiction. And many recordings: Kind of Blue, Astral Weeks, Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations, Blood on the Tracks … dozens and dozens. And many movies: The Apartment, Singin’ In the Rain, The Godfather, Breaking the Waves … many, many more

In this or any time, which real-life figure(s) do you most admire? The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, my late Mama.

Who is your favourite fictional hero? Yossarian in Catch-22.

What fault can you most easily forgive? Envy. (Phew! Thank you, Mike.)

What fault can you not forgive? Hypocrisy.

What is your motto? Semper ubi sub ubi.

How would you hope to die? In my sleep, without warning or protracted illness.

Anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like to volunteer? My favourite dinner companions would be my daughter, the Dalai Lama, Leonard Cohen and Mary Louise Parker.

Deep dark secret? Sorry, secrets stay secret.

Any last words? I’m 62 and kinda falling apart. But I tell my daughter the redeeming virtue of old age is you come to dislike yourself a lot less.

Admit it. You read those celebrity Q&As and you know you’re easily as worthy of being profiled. I know I do, but my friends are way more interesting. So, with nods to the “confession albums” of the late 1800s  made famous by the fabulous Marcel Proust’s answers, to French TV host Bernard Pivot who adapted the questionnaire, to Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton who gave it another spin and to Vanity Fair, which uses its own elegantly spun version to anchor the magazine’s back pages, I submit for your entertainment and enlightenment, my own version of the Proust Questionnaire, re-retooled for a blog age.

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clip: spooky web TV series Take Me Back

April 11, 2011

Al’s life is about to take a turn for the weird. I stumbled on Joe and Seth’s Web series, Take Me Back, and couldn’t stop watching. In 10 parts, each around six minutes apiece, it begins with Al, and his horrible sweater, getting increasingly perturbed about the weird guy who definitely seems to be following him around Montreal. It begins by toying, I think, with the expectation of corny badness that is not undeserved by some web video series. And then it goes strange and scary and good.

Start watching Episode One. Six minutes. What can it hurt?

Denise Duguay

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read, cook, eat: Farmer-direct delights of Equiterre and Lufa

April 11, 2011

Anne Desjardins recipe for Parsnip Soup with Chevre and Chives, from Equiterre.org

April is a perfect time to pick a farmer in the Montreal area and sign up for a spring, summer and fall schedule of deliveries of seasonal, locally grown vegetables. Thanks to Gazette colleague Monique Beaudin for her blog post reminding me that the time is now.

Hey you Winnipeggers: Anybody know of a similar service in the Winnipeg area? If so, please share the link in the comments section here or email me and I’ll add it.

Click here at Equiterre’s site and follow the instructions. It’s French only, but even I can figure it out.

And click here at Lufa’s site and follow the instructions.

In the meantime, Equiterre has lots of other cool stuff relating to food and environmental issues. But of equal value are, of course, the recipes. I haven’t tried them yet, but this one has my vote: Parsnip Soup with Chevre and Chives. (Finally, here is the translation of the original recipe, Soupe de panais, fromage de chevre et ciboulette, as promised)

Parsnip Soup with Chevre and Chives

Recipe from equiterre.org by Anne Desjardins, of the restaurant L’eau à la Bouche Restaurant-Hôtel-Spa à Ste-Adèle, Quebec.

Serves 4 (guessing a bit, as this was not specified in the original recipe)

4 cups (300 g or 1 L) parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small potato peeled and roughly cubed
1 medium onion, minced
dash of cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) apple juice
2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock
1 cup (250 ml) water
salt, Tabasco to taste
60 g fresh chevre or goat cheese
10 blades chive, minced

  • In a medium size pot on medium heat, saute the parsnips and onion in a bit of oil.
  • After a couple of minutes, add the vinegar and other liquids and cook until the parsnips are tender.
  • Empty the pot into your food processor and puree.
  • Add salt, Tabasco to taste. Serve topped with a crumble of chevre and a sprinkle of chives.

Merci Mme. Desjardins!

Denise Duguay

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