Thursday, August 12, 2010

My article on the incredible tale of Montreal's Yank Barry - (click images twice to see a readable copy)



The early 90s - when Montreal's downtown was a bombed out core


Coolopolis' summer 2010 - Sizzlin' and Frosty

It's time for us to give you the unadultered truth on what's cool and layyyyyyyme in Coolopolis.

FROSTY - Men dressing like bums. Short pants. Sleeveless shirts? On the beach only please. Men who don't wear ties when they should. Neck tattoos.

SIZZLIN' - Female cleavage. Uber efficient bra technology be damned, we pine for the 70s.

FROSTY- bad signal to noise ratios. People with nothing to say banging out 2,000 words, (hello internet experts, including marketing and spam experts) please stop trying to explain nonsense.

SIZZLIN' - Independent journalists. These writers are freed of editorial oppression and advertiser influence.

FROSTY - Montreal Canadiens. Unlike last year's flood of new faces, this years edition will be an aging letdown, people forget that pre-Xmas hockey is unimportant.

SIZZLIN' - St Anne de Bellevue and the main drag. After a facelift and a groovy pediestrian/bike/skateboard ramp up to the top this area is hopping in the summer. Great parking too.

FROSTY - Verdun, specifically East Verdun. poorly run, poorly planned, gas stations everywhere, indifference to democracy, desperate place full of folksy liars, hookers and crackheads.

SIZZLIN' -QQQ Industries' patent pending memory goggles allow people to record everything they witness. Only that person can watch the playback as the retinal scan is required for viewing within the lens, to avoid legal issues.

FROSTY - Pit bulls and other large dogs. Big dogs are worse than guns because with a gun someone has to pull the trigger, when a big dog attacks the owner wriggles off the hook by claiming that they don't usually do such things.

SIZZIN' - Vintage crime reporting. The Allo Police has gone, the Photo is barely alive and, the police divulge little and soccer moms get work the crime beat. Crime reporting from the past never looked so good.

FROSTY - Westmount mayor Peter Trent. Grumpily turning down the bixi and Glen access to the superhospital site isn't exactly a triumphant return to politics and puts the lie to the anti-megacity arguments.

SIZZLIN'- The Newfoundland - Labrador causeway. If this sucker ever gets built our region will enjoy milder weather.

FROSTY - Andre Dawson. Not only would this guy strike out in every clutch situation, he bit the hand that grew him as other teams had overlooked him well into the draft. Sucking up to Chicago might mean a few extra gigs but there are better ways to handle these things. He also now looks like Frankenstein.

SIZZLIN' -The CFL. Talk of expansion to Quebec, new stadium in Vancouver and one upcoming in Hamilton, it's a little exciting.

FROSTY - Mtl tennis coverage. Our local reporter's petty print vendettas against certain tennis stars might have perennially cost fans the chance to see some of the top players.

SIZZLIN'- The Turcot Interchange. Fix it and save it. She's a beaut.

FROSTY - The new Pine-Park Interchange. What a letdown. Makes downtown look like the prairies.

Yours?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What makes this so beautiful?

Anybody who has walked the streets of the isle-city-of-the-St. Lawrence has seen this logo on stylized caps and other garments. Years after the team has departed the logo has endured and remains possibly more popular than ever. Several explanations have been offered, including nostalgia, support for the underdog or the triumph of the unspoken consumer boycott that led the city to sacrifice its beloved team rather than submit to the oppression proposed by the evil cap-opposing lords of baseball, (Steinbrenner, Selig et al). But the main reason is that it's a beautiful logo. What makes it beautiful? The round shapes. The human mind, Chimples tells us, has an aversion to corners and sharp objects. We dislike edges because we fear that we can fall on them and lose an eye or something. We love roundness, that's why children love Charlie Brown and Caillou. It's the most pleasant shape. The Canadiens' logo has too many sharp edges to ever be appreciated like this beauty. The OUI referendum signs, with their generous roundness, greatly outclassed the NON signs in the last referendum, surely contributing to the closeness of the vote. So go out and wear your Expos emblem proudly, it will put a smile on the faces of those around you.

How needle trade disappeared

This might bore some of you but some of us recall an age where Montreal was full of clothing production. We were Canada's snappiest dressers, which isn't that difficult a title considering we compare against Calgary and Toronto. Now that everything is imported there's no easy way to keep an edge by homespun stylings.

Everybody seemed unhappy about the needletrade. Sure there were jobs and money but unions complained that the workers were exploited, the owners were mad for various reasons. Of course the whole thing was pretty much wiped out with the adoption of NAFTA.

I once interviewed a poor kid from Cote des Neiges named Alan Zeman (aka Zenman) who said he was one of the first to import clothing from China, which made him a self-made millionaire by the age of 20. He has since gone on to be one of Hong Kong's wealthiest citizens. Here are a few links that could give some idea of how this once thriving industry shrunk to nothing.
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April 1936, GB Gordon, boss of Dominion Textiles closes Sherbrooke rayon mill, denies the closure was a threat to government against Japanese imports.

August 1964 japan agrees to voluntary reduction of textile exports to Canada

1971 - import quotas were slapped onto imported shirts 1.2 million would be allowed in.

Voluntary quotas
are proposed in 1976, some ridicule them as ridiculous

March 1977 US threatens trade war after Canada renews limits on imports

September 1984 Canada Textile Association says that 37 percent of Canadian clothing sales are imports. And warns it could rise.

1985 foreign countries oppose textile quotas but Canadian textile industry wants it.

1985 Canadian shirt imports from Bangladesh rise from 12,000 in 1983 to 800,000 in 1985.

1986 Canadian homemade clothing slipped to 57% of all clothing sold in Canada from 69 five years earlier.