Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Montreal Forever & The Biebs

Like the photo of the Biebs? Well, so do I. Also, I figured it's a good way to grab your attention.

It's been too long since I've posted here. I've recently returned from a long weekend in Montreal, since last Monday was Family Day in Ontario (and other provinces) I hadn't been to Montreal since late August, so it was good to be back.

I enjoyed the chance to catch up with my friends Robin and Michael. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the gym Michael goes to on Rue St. Catherine near the Place des Arts, which is still under construction. Housed on the second floor of an older building with creaky wood floors, the place has elements of everything I love about Montreal except the graffiti. Most of the exercise machines are held together by black electrical tape, and the gym is only two rooms with a counter in the space between where the owner sells protein powders and overcharges for one day admissions.

When I was there I noticed a mix of ages and races going about their workout routines. In the change rooms, the shower 'room' is only three separate stalls and the lockers have seen better days. It really captures the grit and character of the city. Certainly a far cry from the squeaky clean gym I go to, which partly explains why I loved it.

In Toronto all our sidewalks are uniformly spotless, our roads well-maintained, and the little graffiti to be seen is usually near alleyways or somewhere away from main pedestrian areas. In Montreal the sidewalks are nearly all cracked, the graffiti is everywhere, and homeless people and loud, drunken students have the run of many of the Metro stations all day long it seems.

Where Toronto has lately decided to play up its Toronto the Good calling card (Mayor Rob Ford has declared a crackdown on graffiti in the city, the entertainment district is a shadow of what it once was) Montreal is as b-b-b-bad as ever. There are still drug dealers hanging out near the entrance to Mont Royal and strippers both gay and straight trolling Rue St. Catherine at night (though fewer now in the bitter cold of winter than glorious summertime)

Montreal's character is the heart of its appeal for me. One day I will buy a small apartment in downtown Montreal to keep as my home away from home.

Aside from Montreal, the other thing on my mind lately is Justin Bieber. Like you couldn't tell from the title of this post. These days he appears daily in Canada's newspapers, mainstream and otherwise, his songs were featured on a recent episode of Glee, and he's had a recurring small role in CSI. Also, he was on the cover of a recent issue of Vanity Fair and is on the cover of the Rolling Stone issue that hit newsstands last Friday. Oh, and his concert documentary Never Say Never is in theaters raking in money.

As one clever writer from Popmatters who reviewed Never Say Never observed, "His handlers do come across as part Svengali, part windowless van owners, maneuvering him through pre-programmed stages of saturation, all in the hope that he rakes in as much money before the kiddies learn better."

He's got the Canadian media in his corner, especially newspapers, because editors are figuring that by featuring Bieber they'll up their circulation numbers at a time when newspapers desperately need the boost. It would seem that he's at the height of his fame now - any future success will depend on his ability to prove his musical chops by releasing a second album that fares as well (if not better) than My World 2.0. Because Bieber rose to fame on his musical talents, his continued relevance in this age of continuous partial attention will depend on people still buying his music - not on his acting skills or how much nail polish the kid can move.

His fans hope he can pull a Justin Timberlake and come out smiling after the tween adoration fades. I, for one, hope he pulls it off. Here's to hoping the Bieb's next musical offering brings something just a little edgy and risky to the table.

P.S. Glad Day Bookshop is getting some much needed publicity in flyers for the upcoming Sodom dance party held monthly at Goodhandy's nightclub. This is where I respond in kind and tell you to check it out.

1 comment:

  1. Montreal is fun... but don't forget you've got friends in Ottawa too!