Tag Archives: Montréal Media

Ah, the good old days…

This is a keeper.

Back in the late 1980s there was a TV program called Caméra 88 (which aired on I’m not sure what – guess I’ll ask Fagstein) which was running a kind of early 48hrs type game, albeit with a more local focus and a shorter running time.

Anywhootenanny, apparently Montrealers were as bored with themselves back then as we are today, and Montreal’s basic offerings for entertainment and leisure may have felt a bit stale even to locals twenty-five years ago. City’s with major tourist draws always tend to make the locals a bit cranky, as though they themselves have not delighted in the city so many tourists go gaga for. I get that feeling time and again, like I’ve seen it all, but I’m a creature of habit who’s easily entertained.

Enter Caméra 88 which decides, all the way back then, that they need to ‘shed some light’ on Montreal’s otherside, it’s ‘underground’ as it were, as if to learn the locals a lesson – what do they really know about Montreal? It’s almost as if this episode was anticipating Kristian Gravenor’s Montreal: the Unknown City, a kind of Hipster bible popular amongst Ontario ex-pats who settled here to get a cheap and dirty education right up until the economy sank.

Well this mini-doc would certainly appeal to Hipsters. For one, the ‘tour guide’ Errol or Harold, seems to be the quintessential proto-Hipster, washed up on our shores from what was doubtless a less open minded community in the United States. He takest he camera crew to visit some of the various odds and ends that made late-1980s, early-1990s Montreal a lot of fun.

Second, there’s a fair bit of urban exploration going on, as our host somehow manages to finagle his way to the top of the Université de Montréal’s phallic tower and and later visits a squat. Back then the sensation that we had fallen behind was not only sinking in mentally but further, manifesting itself in a whole lotta urban decay, traces of which can still be seen strewn somewhat helter skelter along the downtown’s southern fringe.

Third, and here’s the icing on the cake, our intrepid host takes us what then passed for seedy entertainment (like going to a, gasp, heavy metal show at Foufounes), or getting your car washed at the erotic car wash.

Perhaps my older readers could fill me in – did we all get a little strange back then? I seem to recall a proliferation of strip clubs with video arcades on the ground floor, teen prostitution rings, Jo Jo Psychic Savard, street-side erotic photography studios, a lurching Serbian strongman who pulled buses with his beard and a whole lot of other stuff seemingly all coming to fore back then.

The episode also features a Hare Krishna dining experience, a dépanneur proprietress who served her clients in a Playboy Bunny outfit, a restaurant that provided psychic consultations between the third and fourth course, oddball vendors and ‘hands-off voyeurism experiences’ that pushed the limits of social acceptability a quarter century ago.

Suffice it to say, this mini-doc is kind of adorable. In retrospect I think we really are a far more conservative society than we like to admit if this is what passed for ‘scandalous’ twenty some-odd years ago. It’s comparatively quite tame.

A critique of the hyperbolic newspaper *updated*

Another example of this terrible paper: is the actual situation this cut and dry?

This is the letter I just fired off to David Johnston of the Gazette for the rather poor working of this particular article: Westmount Mini-war

Sir –

“Mini-war”? Really?

A bit hyperbolic don’t you think? I think what’s going on in Bahrain, Libya or Yemen right now qualifies as a ‘mini-war’. Ask an Iraqi or an Afghani what war is like and you’ll be surprised to learn there’s usually very little talk of burying hockey rinks or ameliorating community services.

From my experience, debates of this nature during war time are typically interrupted by massive explosions, choking via chemical gas and the constant, droning rhythms of machine gun fire.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you want to be taken seriously – and trust me when I say this applies to the Gazette as a whole – you can’t keep submitting ridiculous headlines and bylines like this. It’s not the first time I’ve written to complain about your paper’s poor (or exploitative) command of the English language, but I’ve typically been given the run-around. A lot of ‘it’s not my decision, pass the buck, I’m not responsible etc etc’.

The Gazette likes to think it is a Montréal institution, and it should be. But as long as it feeds the innate human desire for scandal and uses the worst kind of Fox News rhetoric to convey information, it will remain a joke. A bad joke, one which brings shame and humiliation to the entirety of the local Anglophone population.

We need a newspaper of record, one which is taken seriously. But more and more I see a scandal rag with an editorial board taking cues from Hearst’s portrayal of the Spanish-American War.

Try harder…

With utmost sincerity,

Taylor C. Noakes


And here is Mr. Johnston’s response:

Hello Mr. Noakes:

Thank you for your letter. I couldn’t agree with you more. You might not know that writers don’t write their own headlines. That’s a job for copy editors and, like writers, they have good days and bad days, good habits and bad habits. I also think that war metaphors are greatly overused in our business – and as you say, they are particularly silly and inappropriate these days, given what we are seeing in the Middle East. I’m going to talk to the senior editors here and see if we can start making it a policy not to use the word war so loosely.
Thank you,

Dave Johnston


Frankly, I couldn’t be happier with this response. I think we have a friend on the inside!