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2006 01 17
Dribbler™ 3.2 [Product Of Neglect Art Collective Ltd.]

Dribbler™ 3.2

by Product Of Neglect Art Collective Ltd.

I asked around, curious to find where people felt was the best place to find cheese in this town of wine. Everyone I asked told me the same thing; anywhere. They were somewhat right, even the corner grocer has more than a little cheddar, because the corner grocer also sells hooch, and the two usually go hand in hand. That means they also sell pretzels to go with the beer. But whereas in Toronto's Kensington Market they have a place known as the cheese hut of hogtown, Montréal had to have some kind of curdish sinkhole of bacterial culture, and I was determined to find it. I am not sure if I have found it, but what I have discovered is what i can only call the Planet Of Cheese.

I am not sure what the name on their business license actually says, something French with a word in it that sounds like "europe", but I have never seen anything like it. A myriad of different cheeses, familiar and not, some pronounceable while others from the eastern bloc are overrun with consonants and letters you need a special keyboard to type, all shrinkwrapped and waiting for crackers, bread, a bit of wine, whatever's your platform for the glory that is fermented milk. The Planet Of Cheese also offers up a fine array of chocolate from the Swiss, but when standing before such a staggering variety of cheese, any chocolate, no matter how refined, or ethical in its manufacture, comes off as little more than a tarted up garnish giving $5 blowjobs in the back seat of minivans to fathers who told the kids they were going out to bring home some gelato.

Casa Del Fromaggio on Commercial would represent less than a quarter of the Planet Of Cheese's displayed inventory (lord knows what secret treasures they have in the back, likely cheese made from virgin goats, or teat-nectar of golden calves milked by blind romanian grandmothers who sing folksongs all day to soothe the bovine aristocracy while working supple nippular magic). Consider the size of your average video rental store, now replace all the movies with (etible) cheese, and you have The Planet Of Cheese.

That said, Montréal's cheese harbour was sorely lacking any of Gort's Gouda, BC's best kept lactosecret. Salmon Arm's Gort knows how to spice a gouda like nobody's business, and after personally visiting his milking pit, I can attest; those are happy cows. The Planet Of Cheese would be wise to pay him heed. However, Gort's wares are a tough find in vancouver too, so I guess it's just something where you have to go to mecca to really understand the cheese you're eating.

The graffitti festival just wrapped up; a week of hip hop, break dancing, and enough Krylon to cover half a city block three stories tall. I went to the closing ceremonies where one of my co-workers was going to be "rapping" for the youngsters. I was a cultural interloper, having never been to a big city hip hop spectacular before, though I've also never been to watch animals get slaughtered, so really that's not a very good reason to go, but hey, when in roam...

The phattness was going down at Foufounnes Electrique, and thanks to the 90's, the bar has now become the better part of a city block. Out back in the alley behind the club there was a skateboard ramp and two DJ stages playing hip hop at one end, and breaks at the other. Cardboard had been provided in case anyone needed to "bust a move". Thousands showed up to watch or participate and it seemed like few surfaces were sacred. Street asphalt, dumpsters, and walls all got sprayed up, scaffolding three stories tall had been erected across four buildings to let people paint. Inside Foufounnes the gothtastics scowled downstairs in the pub area, i suspect none too pleased about the b-boy invasion, but once I went upstairs to the second floor I found there was a handfull of open minded blacktastics bobbing their heads and throwing their hands in the air like they just didn't care, whenever instructed to do so.

Merchandise was being thrown to the crowd at any break in the beat, and hip hop crews had come from across Canada to perform. That led to a packed roster of performers, so everyone got three songs and then the next act came on. 4th World from "Hong-couver" was there to "reprazent" the west coast, Calgary's black guy flew out to do his thing, then my co-worker whose name is D-Shade, came out to pump the crowd. Turns out he's a bit of a known commodity and popular with the kids. This morning at work I complimented him on his set and twice he tried to give me a soulful handshake, failing miserably both times because i just don't know the special handshakes. A friend pointed out that, unlike the Masons, there's no defined set of handshakes in the "funky handshake" world, that it's more like Tai Chi pushing hands, however he's given up on me and just waves hello and goodbye now.

Oh for the firm handshake of simpler times.

Riding the bus I saw a family whose single digit age daughter wore a tank top featuring a Playboy™ bunny logo where someday her breasts will be, the son was in his low-teens and done up all in pink Polo™ shirt finery and slacks, accessorized with a thick leather studded rock-n-roll© bracelet and fauxhawk hairdo, while the late-teen eldest daughter bounced braless under her trailer trash tank top and mid-80's extreme-pleat miniskirt. I am not quite sure what the parents are thinking, but they looked proud and happy. I am also not sure what that means about our culture.

Construction in Montréal takes forever. Pass by a construction site for a new condo building and there will be three people working on it with the speed of african tree sloths wearing tool belts full of lead. I have been here a month and numerous construction sites I pass daily show no progress what so ever. Once a year ALL construction stops simultaniously for summer vacation, which is odd considering the warm months are their main time to get work done without freezing to death. During that 2 week stretch this year, 30 people died in traffic related accidents involving construcion sites, likely because the last day of work before the "construction holiday" the hired goons put down their tools, MAYBE put out a few pylons, and walk away leaving huge open pits, half formed sidewalks, confusing redirect signage... If vancouver crews ever came here they'd knock this city on its ass, but then it's likely The Rock Machine would get involved for messing with such a fine work schedule. If I have to give the French kudos for anything, it's their ability to engage in Slack when at the blue collar level. What I can't figure out is how they have managed to keep hold of that slack without heavy union involvement, when the management level seems mad keen to work themselves to death.

I was told by a transit ticket panhandler that i didn't look like a visitor, i looked like a Montréaler, which I took as a compliment. Other than him, people tend to default to talking to me in English first, so maybe he was loony. That said, there are way more PIB's (People In Black) out here than out west, basic blacks being the uniform of both the service industry as well as "creative professionals". I think I come off more like a waiter, or at least I strive to. However, at a recent street festival I was noticing I may also come off a bit like a blacktastic TinTin, only without the Jimmy Sommerville bangs.

People's walking habits can tell a lot about a culture, and people here have even worse walking habits than people in vancouver; they are very self-centered while simultaniously being completely tuned out to what they're up to. As if they were the center of a universe full of nothing. I am not sure exactly what that says about the Quebecois, but you can read into it however you want. Nonetheless, in effort to better the world a bit, or at least the walking culture of a handful of my friends who knew just where the groundskeeper could find the rubber hose, I offer a few guidelines in walking ettiquette:

-a male should always walk closest to the curb to shield the female from gutter flow and careening out-of-control cars.
-if two people walk together on a narrow sidewalk and one person is coming towards them, one person of the couple should fall back to allow the oncoming single to remain on the sidewalk while passing. If the couple is mixed in gender it is the male's responsibiliy to fall back.
-people exiting buildings always have right of way over those entering
-the area closest to the curb is the fast lane
-when exiting an escalator, keep moving forward, the people behind you have no choice in the matter
-when exiting a store into perpendicular traffic, be aware of the traffic flow you are interrupting. You may not know which way to turn, but others have figured out where they are headed, and are already in motion.
-say thank you when someone holds a door for you, and it is courteous to shoulder check behind you when going through a door to see if you should hold it for someone behind you.
-just as bikes are not welcome on the sidewalk, neither are those electric scooters for people who should have been taken care of by The Culling, but who have unfortunately been supported as a Target Market™ by the medical industry. They belong in the curb lane on the road where The Cull still has a chance to take them out of the equation.

All these guidelines seem lost in this city.

There's a significant difference to the philosophies behind the Metro vs. the Skytrain. The Metro is very long, it carries lots of people at once, and comes less frequently, kind of like a male porn star from the 70's. The Skytrain is smaller and comes much more frequently, carrying less people, perhaps like high output demands the porn industry puts on men in the glut of 21st century internet product. After a few weeks of comparasin, I prefer the Skytrain's model, as for one, less people will die when the thing goes off the rails. But aside from earthquake fantasies, the size of the trains may carry less people, but their frequency makes up for it, leaving less time for a bunch of people to accumulate on the platform, and everyone gets in motion faster. That means regular transit sex and less wet dreams of public movement.

So Vancouver wins the light rail transit seduction, even if Montréal pimps out the cars. You'd think Quebec might learn a bit from this and make their Metro trains smaller, running them more frequently, however then they'd wind up with people having to sprint down platforms to catch up to where the train stops, since they planned for this whole "many people less frequent" approach and the trains red light districts are about a block long.

I suspect one of the key factors for this difference between models is human, cost being the deciding factor in most things large-scale, and a stable of ho's are always a cost that corporations will cut if a machine will get you where you want to go. Consider that the Metro has a human behind the wheel, whereas Skytrain is driven by robots. In order to run smaller trains more frequently, the Metro would have to hire more humans, and that's a union gig. Since the Skytrain is operated more like phone sex, with someone sitting behind a few monitors, a joystick, and a big red "stop the trains" button (I hear on long weekends it's a rhesus monkey behind the stick), vancouver could even double the frequency of Skytrain service and not affect their costs that much. They might have to hire a couple more people to troll the platforms for deadbeat Johns, but as far as drivers are concerned; no worries there.

Regardless, most buses in Montréal really do only come every half hour here, and that blows.

Keep well, travel safe, until Then:

Product Of Neglect Art Collective Ltd.
[[ PONACL Dribbler™ ]]

"Product Of Neglect Art Collective Ltd. is an umbrella organization allowing its members to operate creatively with relative anonymity and obscurity. It began unofficially in 1988 and officially began archiving output online in 1994. Based out of vancouver, the collective has been enjoying a residency in Montréal for the past half year, during which the Dribbler™ was repurposed for archiving things to write home about. Besides the Dribbler™, PONACL produces music, radio programs, visual art, and public events, all through the gracious ignorance of the Canada Council For The Arts."

editor: tobias c. van Veen
[email this story] Posted by tobias c. van Veen on 01/17 at 06:00 AM

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