Pensées & Observations

Have been exceptionally busy with work – of all the times to not be able to fully devote myself to all the going’s on of our fair city!

First of all – how about that flood?

I suppose my question is – why was she trying to cross McTavish? Did she get stuck there or did she figure it wasn’t nearly as strong and made a break for it? And why not turn around?

I guess we’ll never know – what would any of us do in such a situation as discovering you’re in the midst of a raging torrent of water where once a walkway stood? I think she hit it out of the park on the way down – is it me or does it seem she has her hand extended as if to say, (dare he say it?) …yolo!

A magic carpet ride to Sherbrooke Street.

Buddy’s comment at the end of the video irked a few who came out and said on social media it’s a damn shame no one did anything to help her, and how it’s indicative of x,y and z social pathology etc etc.

What could anyone do? McGill doesn’t come equipped with throw lines and life jackets (though I suspect some over-zealous helicopter parents will doubtless soon request it). Perhaps a human chain could have assisted her, but it could just as easily could have resulted in many more people tumbling down McTavish.

In any event. No harm no foul, one hell of an anecdote and 15 minutes of fame. Bully for her.

***edit – Feb. 17th 2013***

Had to replace the video and as you can see it looks like she was swept down from far higher up McTavish, but I can’t help but feel this may be done on purpose; it almost looks like she’s trying to surf down. If I were trying to get across, or had somehow been pulled down by the deluge, I doubt I’d be as calm. Certainly a lot more flustered, panicky even.

***

Nothing like a freak flood to brighten one’s mood.

Though I was quite literally at the epicentre of major downtown flooding when it occurred, I only saw the aftermath, having been far too engrossed in the task at hand (that pays the man).

The truth is I really didn’t notice it at all.

Leaving late at night my twitterfeed informed me of water infiltration at Gare Centrale and Place Ville-Marie, and that alternate routes should be considered. My hat’s off to the AMT tweeter who quickly responded to my questions (in both official languages); excellent customer service. I decided to have a look anyways, figuring I’d continue on to Bonaventure if the Deux-Montagnes Line was fully down and out. A detour through PVM’s expansive underground corridors led me to a tunnel I had never walked through, despite about a decade’s worth of regular commuter train use. The corridor on the easternmost edge of PVM running towards Gare Centrale is unique – softly lit, a long, well-proportioned, satisfyingly rectangular tube with tasteful black and white photographs all long the way detailing the evolution of this veritable heart of the city. Emblematic of what I’d call the best parts of the Underground City. The shopping centres are a bit much.

So bully for me I guess. I love how this city manages to keep me on my toes, and leave something left to discover after all these years.

For reference, this is where all that water was gushing out of. There’s a reservoir under Rutherford Park, and if I’m not mistaken it’s absolutely massive (37 million gallons). The four foot diameter pipe that burst is apparently a solid 100-125 years old, and the reservoir’s last major renovation occurred in (wait for it) 2008-2009. And a pipe burst in 2011 that also sent a torrent of water down McGill’s elegant spine, though it was not as severe. If I had to guess the on-going construction work around the reservoir on Docteur-Penfield may have had something to do with it, though Rad-Can indicates the wild fluctuations in temperature may have also played a role. They also note that Louisbourg Construction is involved in the multi-year $1.3 billion renovation of the complex.

Hmmm. Perhaps when public probes into corruption in the construction industry hit a little too close to home, accidents start happening. Isn’t that what the mob does? Protection rackets?

Interesting fact; the reservoir was built in 1852 and remained uncovered for just over 100 years. It was built after a devastating fire in the mid-1850s, replacing the former primary reservoir where Carré Saint-Louis stands today. It’s pump-house is Chateau-styled, in keeping with much of the architecture of the upper McGill Campus, and it uses the stone face of the mountain as its walls on three sides. When they were blasting it open large chunks of rock flew off and penetrated the roof of the Administration Building.

Ah, the good old days.

***

Hot off the digital presses, a story by local journalist Christopher Curtis concerning panic on a commuter train stalled in the Mount Royal Tunnel during Monday’s inondation.

Apparently the train was stalled with no power, lighting or ventilation for twenty minutes, and some people started freaking out. Admittedly, it would get pretty uncomfortable pretty quick, what with those train cars jam-packed with 1500 or so commuters, all cranky and hungry and what all. But twenty minutes? I suppose it’s an eternity if you have to take a piss, but otherwise it seems kinda quick.

Question now is how to make the high traffic tunnel a little safer. Some want emergency exits, while others point to industrial fire-fighting equipment and better lighting as the answer. Either way it’ll cost a lot and few seem inclined to move on it – Marois has other priorities. (I recommend listening to the podcast – like nice old time CBC radio news.)

***

I had a neat experience – also transit and weather related – last Wednesday. It was the coldest it’s been as long as I can remember, and more significantly a prolonged deep freeze at that. Truly miserable when compared to today’s balmy hint of springtime. My early-morning commuter train stalled on the Deux-Montagnes Line at Montpellier Station; I snapped off a picture, tweeted it, and by the end of the day had done an interview for the CBC. Managed to turn a pain in the ass commute to very small scale media domination – photo got tweeted about, put up on the old cathode-ray, interview was broadcast twice on the radio – it happened very quickly and was fascinating to watch unfold.Photo’s here.

What concerned me is that we are all told to get off the train and go to the other side of the station for the next one, a train which, as we all expected, was completely full. The next two were as well. People huddled in the waiting room and café adjacent the station while others waited for slow moving buses and others still crowded into the small kiosk of a shell station. I milled about in the freezing cold waiting for cab that never showed. When I spotted a group haggling over who called the cab I lept at my opportunity, stating unequivocally that it was mine and I was getting the hell out of there.

Twenty-five dollars later I had managed to get from Montpellier to de la Savanne Métro station; the cabby told me not to waste my money, that the Métro would be far faster trying to get across town at 9:30 in the morning. By the time I reached Lionel-Groulx, already pissed at the lost productivity (I had taken a train to get me to ork for 8:00) I heard the dreaded ‘attention a tous les passagers’ as I was half way from one side to the other, the Métro doors of the orange line train slowly closing behind me. Fortunately it was in the other direction, at the other end of the Green Line. My heart was sunk anyways – such an ordeal and so far from ideal.

Many thanks to the fine people at the CBC for making it so worthwhile…

***

Urbania‘s Anglo edition is a must-read. Visit their site for free content but I recommend actually having a physical copy. It’s an exposé on Québec’s duality as seen through the looking glass – a minority’s viewpoint of a hidden minority, a series of revelations about the nuances of Québec society on the whole and with special respect to an Anglophone community that is increasingly seeing itself as Québecois. The magazine does a superb job crafting an intelligently designed report on the complex web of inter-relations, demonstrating, in my eyes, the immense socio-cultural wealth we glean from Québec’s special relationship.

In their cheeky and rambunctious style, Urbania threw open the door and welcomed a potential new readership base most francophone media would otherwise ignore. I think they’re on to something – Anglophones in Québec are sufficiently proficient in French all they really need to take it a step further into fluency is to be extended a hand to read something hip. I’m impressed. I’m more than impressed. From what I’ve heard the academic community specializing in the philosophy of inter-culturalism is also quite impressed.

So bully for us.

***

I’ve come to the realization that should Québec ever vote to secede from Canada, there’s really no reason why Montréal should find itself as no longer being a part of Canada. I don’t mean to argue in favour of the partition of Québec (the Cree, Mohawk and Inuit have already made their positions quite clear on the matter, and ultimately I think it’s their call to make given our hydro dams are on their territory, but I digress), but simply to say that Montréal is as much a part of Québec as it is Canada, and that we would not recover economically from the population loss, wealth transfer, reduction in property values and loss of key Canadian corporations, including the substantial crown corporations and federal agencies operating out of Montréal.

So why even bother going down that road? The people of the region don’t want to be stuck (again) between the opposing views of Ottawa and Québec City (and frankly we’ve been held back by both for too long as is), and have deep cultural, social and economic links stretching across provincial and national borders. So if Québec were to pull-out of Confederation, so be it, I won’t be happy, but there’s no reason Montréal can’t be shared by both. Berlin without the Wall; a post-modern solution to what is in essence a festering 18th century scab we just can’t help ourselves from picking at.

Let it be.
Let it be.
I’d like to see how this city moves and shakes when all the pistons are firing and we’ve abandoned our inefficiencies, our indifference and our self-imposed incompatibility.

***

A couple weeks back, a conversation between two people on the commuter train (yes, I do nothing but ride the rails all day in a suit and tie, as you might expect) I saw one of those quintessential Montréal moments. Two middle aged people, colleagues, a man and a woman. He with Baltic features and a former Soviet Bloc accent, she multi-generational Chinese-Canadian, the two of them having a splendid little conversation in both English and French. And manke no mistake – they were both speaking both, interchanging as if on a whim. Both spoke both languages with such fluidity I couldn’t tell which they used more frequently. Fully intelligible and intelligent too. They say bilingualism is good for the brain.

***

Last points – two recent small business discoveries I’m quite keen on.

Crossover Comics at 3568 rue Notre Dame West (a hop, skip and a jump from Lionel-Groulx) – excellent selection, affable, knowledgeable staff, highly recommended.

&

Freak Lunchbox, a confectionary funhouse at 3680 the Main. While it’s pricey and very easy to spend a lot of money there, you’ll have a blast doing it. Excellent place to pass by if you’re off to see a flick and want something to nosh on that’s actually considerably less expensive and more satisfying than most multiplex offerings. They also have a lot of high-sugar treats most of us generally don’t have access to. Highly recommended for people seeking the ideal gift for the ‘hard-to-buy-gifts-for’ people we all know and love, as well as those who enjoy 1980s power pop.

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