Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Also seen in Ontario...

Here's an interesting way the City of Toronto has developped to prevent homeless people from sleeping on park benches. Sadly, it doesn't prevent birds from crapping on the bench as evidenced below.

Seen in Ontario...

Don't leave your keys on a martini glass

(Yes, James Bond, we're talking to you.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Montreal photo booths

I'm not sure if the photo booths displayed below are unique to Montreal. The uninspired branding of these booths suggests that (a) the maker had too much to drink the night before ordering the signs or (b) he figured PHOTOS was one of those English words that was also French and therefore would spare his investment from being repeatedly vandalized.

The photo booth at Snowdon metro station

But what is most interesting about these photo booths are the people pictured on the side. A friend tipped me off to the fact that some of the people pictured on the outside of the booth appear on several machines from different eras.

For instance, the guy below appears in black and white outside the photo book at the Biodome (near the bathrooms downstairs). He also appears in color outside the photo book at Snowdon metro station (near the turnstiles).

"It's the same guy, Dave!"

I hope there is a good reason the same guy appears in different machines, in different parts of town, and in different eras. My fear is that the guy is being held captive by sadistic photo booth distributors who trot him out in front of the photo booth's blinding light every 15 years in some kind of sick Dorian-Gray-inspired fantasy.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Montreal's rose line?

According to the Da Vinci Code, Mary Magdalen married Jesus, fled to France after he died and raised their child.

The book speculates she's buried under the Louvre on the rose line in France. But what if she's buried near St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal?

Just look for Montreal's rose line... and then look behind it...

Roslyn Ave in MontrealMarie de France school stands at the western end of Montreal's Roslyn Avenue, just a few blocks from St. Joseph's Oratory

Monday, June 12, 2006

The cleanest sidewalk in Montreal

I frequently see the stocky, bald owner of Cordonnerie Queen Mary sweeping the sidewalk outside his modest shoe repair business. His house is probably as immaculate as the piece of public land outside his store.

Cordonnerie Queen MaryThe cleanest sidewalk in Montreal

Unfortunately, that part of Queen Mary Road (between Decarie and Snowdon metro) is littered with white paper plates (from the $1 pizza shops) and McDonald's wrappers (from the burger joint to the east). The strip of land outside the shoe shop is an oasis of calm in a sea of disgustingness.

That strip of Queen Mary Road has seen better days. The old bank building (with the Reitman's sign on the roof) is vacant. The old Steinberg store is now a Metro supermarket. (The owner of that store doesn't share his neighbor's commitment to cleanliness. The sidewalk outside Metro is always a mess.)

I don't know if the City of Montreal gives awards or certificates to residents who improve the public good. If it does, I hope someone nominates the owner of the shoe repair shop.

But I wonder if the City of Montreal will even care. According to an article in The Suburban newspaper, elected offcials get angry when residents try to clean up their own neighbohoods on their own.

Graffiti busters hit streets
By Diodora Bucur, The Suburban
June 7, 2006

A handful of Côte des Neiges residents have decided to take removing graffiti into their own hands.

The C.D.N./N.D.G. Residents Association has launched an anti-graffiti crew of volunteers committed to keeping their community clean — with the help of a $1,000 high power pressure washer.

“It’s actually the family’s but I kind of hijacked it for my own use,” joked association vice-president Alex Montagano. “It’s a very powerful gasoline pressure washer. I’m using it to clean my property and when the need arises I’m going to go out and clean graffiti.”

C.D.N./N.D.G. borough mayor Michael Applebaum warned against cleaning public property.

“When it comes to public property, I hope they will not touch public property; it is the responsibility of our blue collars to clean public property and we don’t support any organization that doesn’t have written consent from our services to touch public property,” he said.

But he welcomed the initiative.

“Anybody who wants to help in order to remove graffiti is improving the quality of life of our residents. I encourage any community group or individual who wants to clean his private property or other properties,” Applebaum continued. “The only concern that I have is that they have to make sure that they know how to do it and that they have the appropriate insurance.”

Applebaum added that the borough will be kicking off its own anti-graffiti campaign this summer.

“We will be working with a community organization on attacking graffiti problems on private properties.”

This year, Montreal’s boroughs will be sharing $1 million on graffiti removal, including $600,000 to be used by the downtown Ville Marie and Plateau Mont Royal boroughs.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Language censors vs. union workers

Around the time the Catholic Church was declining in power and influence in Quebec, two movements were gaining steam: the unions and the nationalists.

Today, the union movement has the power to thwart a government's plan to scale back the civil service. They can mobilize thousands of workers to strike, block taffic, burn effigies.

Meanwhile, the nationalists took control of government and enacted laws mandating the supremacy of French and censored English on public street signs, billboards, bus ads -- even the junk mail flyers delivered to your home. They are a powerful force.

So, what happens when the the immovable force (the unions) hit the irresistable object (the nationalist language censors)?

I cannot be certain, but I suspect the two Montreal street signs (pictured below) was the scene of an epic battle between these two forces.

You will note that the offending "St." on the Snowdon St. sign has been covered up with white tape. Yet, the equally-offending Clanranald Avenue sign has been left unmolested.

Street sign in MontrealHere is what I think happend: City of Montreal union employees were sent to censor the two street signs. But their union bosses decided it was against union policy to cover up both signs even though the signs are inches apart. Like their brothers (and sisters) on pothole duty, the sign taper-uppers decided one tape-job per hour was all they would do.

So, the city workers censored the Snowdon St. sign and went to lunch. By the time they finished eating, it was 3pm and they forgot about the other sign.

That's my theory. How else can one explain why one sign has been covered up while the other continues to taunt the language censors with it's ugly English letters.

Remember, in Quebec, the unions always win.

This is Katharine McPhee's boyfriend

"Why, yes, doctor, I have noticed a horseshoe-like object in my rectum."

"Oh, no! I, Katharine McPhee hope Darryl doesn't see this photo of me and the monster I was stuck dating before I became famous and can't seem to shake off. Because I love Darryl and want to have his babies. Also, I want to have dinner with Darryl at Mr. Steer. Every week."

"Oh no! I, a Mr. Steer burger, hope Katharine McPhee doesn't see me chatting with these delicious Suzie-Q french fries."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Graffiti on the new buses

Thanks to the seat configuration of the low-rise buses in Montreal, graffiti and vandalism seems to be much worse on those new buses than on the older buses with their more open design.

If you have been on the new buses, you know what I mean. Instead of two parallel benches along the sides in the back, the new buses combine forward, backward and sideways benches. And the engine uses up a quadrant of space from floor to ceiling on the back driver's side.

The back of one of the newer Montreal transit buses

Graffiti is made easy thanks to poor bus design

The new buses are hideously-designed on so many levels.
  • There is only one door in the middle, instead of two, which causes panicked escapes by passengers who have an even chance of missing their stop because they aren't sure if the people crowded around the one door plan on existing sometime this month
  • The motion-sensor device is a Sphinx-like mystery to an absurdly high number of people exiting just ahead of me each day who alternatively bang the door with their fist or simply place their hand on the door, immobile, imagining the STM has invested in biometric sensors not unlike those military personnel use to gain access to the White House Situation Room
  • There is less room to sit or stand
  • The windows at the back don't open, making it the hottest place on the bus
  • And now graffiti criminals can cut up and paint the seats, scratch the windows and generally make the place feel like a gang-infested town
Way to go, STM. Hope you're happy.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Craigslist + Google Maps = Neat

HousingMaps is a neat site that combines properties for rent on Craigslist with the Google Maps mapping system to show you the location of the items for rent. This is a pretty neat use of these two popular and free services.

Visit the site and select your North American city from the menu. Then click one of the items on the map.

>> www.housingmaps.com