Archive for May, 2009

Montréal Museums Day

It’s Montréal Museums Day today.

Admission to over 30 local museums and public transit are both free.

Red-light rally at Café Cleopatra

redalertAs mentioned in a previous post, a coalition is forming to protest the proposed “revitalization” of the lower Main, and the destruction of Café Cleopatra and much of the red-light district. For those who are interested in supporting a more democratic approach to revamping this space, there will be a “Friends of Cabaret Cleo” rally event happening on Saturday, June 6, starting at 8 PM at the cabaret (1230 St-Laurent, 2nd floor). Attendees will be able to sign a petition (also available online and in PDF format, if you want to collect signatures beforehand), and there will be lectures, entertainment and performances, so if you can come on out, you should!

For more info on the rally, check out the Club Sin website, read Louis Rastelli’s article in the Montreal Mirror, or join the Red Alert! group on Facebook.

Dawson design show

Dawson College - interior design vernissage The interior design school of Dawson College is having their annual vernissage of the final masterpieces of this year’s graduates. Appropriately hosted in the resplendent lobby of a building designed by Mies van der Rohe himself, this is a great event for the graduates to get exposure and for the public to get a good look at what three intense years of design school can produce.

Where: 1 Westmount Square, in the lobby (metro Atwater)
When: Thursday, May 28, 5:30pm – 9:00pm *
Complimentary food & drink: yes!

Check out the Facebook invite.

* The vernissage is this evening, but the projects will be left up for the public to see all day on Friday and Saturday.

Win free transportation for a year from the STM

With lots of new green initiatives happening here in Montreal, like the recent introduction of the Bixi rental bikes, the STM has also decided to hop on board the environmentalism bandwagon. Montreal’s transit service is currently offering a contest that will allow 20 lucky folks to win free yearly passes for the bus and metro system. To enter, all you need to do is head to the newly redesigned (and much more bilingual!) STM website and click on the link.

The new OPUS cards (photo via

The STM's new OPUS smartcards (photo via

Of course, this is all a part of the promotion of the STM’s new OPUS card, since May 2009 is the last month that the old monthly passes are being sold, and the June 30 deadline for purchasing a reduced-price card for only $3.50 (the cards themselves will cost $7 a piece thereafter) fast approaches. Everybody eventually needs to switch over to the new smartcard service that OPUS provides, which allows for rechargable cards that can be used as daily, weekly or monthly unlimited service passes, or on a pay-per-ride basis. Paper tickets will no longer be accepted in the system after September 30, 2009, so it’s important for citizens to start the transition to the new reusable plastic cards.

On a final note, if you’re into Cirque du Soleil, they’re also offering free tickets to the “OVO” show, along with free monthly passes to get you there. Pretty sweet deals from our much-maligned public transportation system. Perhaps this will help bring the STM back into people’s good graces after their perpetual rate hikes and worker strikes.

Red-light district demolition project greenlighted

UPDATED: May 25, 2009, 4:44 pm

Cause for concern or mere progress? Montrealers will be interested to know that our so-called red-light district of lower St-Laurent is currently slated for some controversial renovations by a group called Angus Development Corp.

The scoop: The stretch of St-Laurent slated for reno is between Ste-Catherine and René-Lévesque, and according to a March 6, 2009 article in The Gazette, has been purchased by Angus, a “non-profit development corporation that wants to transform that part of the red light district into an eco-friendly showcase of art and socially responsible retail.” Sounds good, so far. Problem is, this developer is also trying to acquire the building that is currently home to such colourful (and historical) businesses as Café Cléopatra and the Montreal Pool Room.

Though the Gazette article also notes that “The report says the street level on St. Laurent would become an avenue dedicated to ‘responsible retail,’ lined with stores selling fair-trade and bio- and eco-friendly products that promote Quebec design,” and that although the company plans to put in a “restaurant, lounge or café,” no fast-food restaurants will be allowed, nor any chain stores.

Ambitious plans for Montreal’s storied Main, but some citizens are protesting these changes as signs of gentrification and the destruction of local history. Montreal-based burlesque troupe, the Dead Doll Dancers, are fighting to save this stretch of St-Laurent, as most of their shows take place at Café Cleopatra. In fact, a Facebook user named Amy Hudston has been circulating information about upcoming planning meetings, suggesting that “anyone who is concerned about cultural elitism, gentrification, sex workers rights, travesty theatre, historical architecture, expropriation, etc.” attend to voice their opinions.

The next meeting is slated for May 25 at 7 PM at 2-22 Ste-Catherine the Holiday Inn (95 Viger West). The meeting’s topic will be “Architectural concept and urban insertion and heritage.” There is another meeting scheduled for May 26 at 7 PM at the Quadrilatère Saint-Laurent same location on the same topic, for those who can’t make the first.

Further reading:

Street art Montreal: Omen

Today started off grey, cold and rainy—more like San Francisco weather than the type of stuff we normally get in Montreal! Since my original plan had been to go downtown, have lunch with a friend, and then wander around taking pix that I could share with you, and the rain had kept me from bringing my camera, I decided to instead consult Flickr to see if they had any interesting shots.

As it turns out, they do!

The first one I wanted to share with you is actually a shot of some rad graffiti, the photo of which was contributed by Flickr user christopher.woo:


"Montreal Graffiti" by Christopher Woo

This photo reminded me of a shot I had on my camera, another piece of street art I’d taken a picture of when I was out and about last week near Chinatown:

Jazz graffiti by Omen514 (photo by Laura Roberts)

Jazz graffiti by Omen (photo by Laura Roberts)

I snapped a photo of it because I recognized a famous shot of Billie Holiday in the design, and then realized the artist had also included John Coltrane and Miles Davis, three jazz legends. Who was this graffiti artist, who threw up images of jazz musicians instead of his own tags? As I cropped the photo down a bit in Photoshop, I noticed the tag that said ““, which I looked up to find the artist’s website and plenty more shots of his street art.

If you go to Omen’s gallery you can see a lot of cool pieces, including some that are painted “legally” (i.e. with a building owner’s permission), as well as some works on canvas. If you’re interested in checking out Omen’s work in person, he’s got a show coming up in July at the FIMA visual arts festival here in Montreal. I hadn’t even realized Montreal had a visual arts festival, so that was news to me.

Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about Omen, be sure to check out this 2002 article, “‘Trane spotting” from the Montreal Mirror, which gives a brief overview of his background and raison d’être.

Stay tuned for my next installment on street art: Roadsworth!

Concordia Co-op Bookstore

Entrance to the Co-op Bookstore, 2150 Bishop

Entrance to the Co-op Bookstore, 2150 Bishop (photo by Laura Roberts)

As my first post on Metblogs, I’d like to give a shout out to my friends at the Concordia Co-op Bookstore. These guys and gals rock my world, as they’re one of the best independent bookstores in Montreal. Oddly enough, they seem to have trouble getting bodies in the store, despite their extremely unique selection, with an emphasis on sexy books, feminism and queer literature, political and DIY stuff, and just plain rad savings on day-to-day items like pens, notebooks and even flat-tire kits for your bike.

Honestly, it’s a no-brainer to shop there. Why? Because they ALWAYS charge below suggested retail prices on everything in the store! If you become a member ($10 FOR LIFE!), you’ll get even bigger discounts, but you DON’T have to be a member to shop here.

All in all, it’s a winning proposition. You can find new books, used books, and even textbooks there. If you’re an artistic type who makes zines or t-shirts, you can even consider their Artisan Consignment services to sell your wares. They’ve always got interesting events happening, which you can find out via their Facebook page, or through their email newsletters, and the people who work there are super friendly and kick-ass.

Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go to the Co-op Bookstore at 2150 Bishop, on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between noon and 5PM (their summer hours), and check it out!

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