Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the fascist swimming hole of my dreams.

One of my most favorite things about living in Montréal is that for some obscure reason, swimming is free at certain hours each day. Apparently it's the law. I admit that I haven’t actually researched this. Like most local lore, I rely on friends. Friends who may themselves be relying on other friends. Someone may simply be making it all up.

But, I do walk through the door of the swimming pool at the appointed hour, and no one ever stops me.

Free swim isn’t a secret though. So other people show up too.

Bringing me to my least favorite thing about Montréal; traffic.

It doesn’t seem to matter if you are walking on a sidewalk, or driving down le 40, or getting on a metro train, common sense is absent while moving. The swimming pool is no different.

When a lane is posted as fast, medium, or slow, it isn’t the measure of a swimmer, merely the speed at which the person is swimming. Maybe it bruises the ego to be in the slow lane, even if you are slowly kicking a flutter board back and forth.

Today everyone was working hard to be in first. I’m not sure why, as there isn’t a finish line. Just another 25 meters, which was very similar to the last 25 meters. Vite lane was suffering from grid lock caused by girl in bikini slapping the water, which made her think she was swimming really fast.

I tried to space it out so I had a little distance to go, and slow things down a bit myself. Turns out she still got in the way. Then someone decided to pass her which caused a near head on.

So I switched to moyen lane. I figured that these people would be better behaved, and they were, due I think, to accepting their limitations.

But just like the sidewalks outside, the perfect place for a chat is right at the end of the lane. Standing in the water makes it feel like fitness, I suppose. Would those people invite guests over and just stand in a tub of water with a cup of coffee?

That sounds like a good idea, now that I write it down.

I realize that people in the moyen lane fail to understand that getting to the end of the lane is important to keep up the momentum. The people in the vite lane suffer from the same issue, but it comes from a different place. They are simply self centered.

I decided it was time to pilot a flutter board around the lente lane, because that is where you go when you move slow; the slow lane. Others like to cling to the vite lane because they think the slow lane makes you seem weak or dumb, which is why moving to the lente lane means putting up with water walkers. Apparently the do-whatever-makes-you-feel-good lane, which only caters to water walkers and those that like to kick wildly while holding the side of the pool isn’t good enough for the serious water walkers.

The most serious water walker had staked out his territory and there would be no talking to the old man. Admittedly, he was easier to pass in the pool. Not so much later on when he took up his usual post in front of the sauna door, naked, doing stretches. Some events require a great deal of distance to appreciate the humour, and naked old men are one of them. I write this aware that one day, I too will be the naked old man.

In some rare instances fascism has its place. The local swimming hole could use a little more.

But who to complain too? You can’t complain about free.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

winter in Montréal.

Everyone seems surprised when winter comes.
It happens every year about this time.
That first day of heavy snowfall reminds me of how stupid humans become when massed.
It also reminds me of how lucky I am not to own a car...

or a cell phone.
I don't care for cell phone cameras.
I was suspicious that this was an art project.
The phone was probably taking my picture.

Here's a pair of leaves that shouldn't have been so surprised.

These two leaves were getting ready to drop to the ground, but got up late.
I find I have the exact same problem when it's cold out.

look up.

I don't think people look up enough.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the new york bagel café.

This café was in Edmonton. It had the best soup; sour dill pickle.

My roommate back then worked there. She treated customers poorly because she thought she was pretty enough to get away with it. I am sad to say that she was right, and it annoyed me. But she was nice enough to me.

The entire staff communicated in polish. They were almost always women, and always looked interesting. I tried not to stare too often.

It was the smallest café possible. I often pretended to read something while listening to other people's conversations. I practiced listening a lot more back then, and it was hard to ignore anyone's conversation anyway.

One day the café burnt down.

The new age bookstore next door also burnt down. The psychic on staff didn't warn anyone.

what's the name of your high horse?

I'm looking for answers.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

don't smoke in bed.

I took this photo a few years ago when French Panic and I lived apart for 10 months or so. She was living in a smallish apartment in the same neighbourhood that we live in now. Because she was a graduate student, she had a friend find the most affordable apartment possible in a nice area.

That was how she came to live in Chateau Clark.

It was not much of a Chateau.

I visited twice. The police and/or fire department showed up on both visits.

I took this picture during my surprise summer visit. We were woken early in the morning by the fire alarm. French said sleepily not to worry, the alarm went off all the time. But I smelled smoke.

I looked through the peep whole to see a scrawny man with a small and very wet dog under his arm and a mattress being dragged behind him, cursing in french the whole way down the stairs.

From the shape and state of the mattress it was obvious that the idiot had fallen asleep next to his dog with a smoke still in his mouth. Hence, the lamest of fires.

French Panic and I watched all the excitement from the balcony. The one fireman doing the work seems to not even be in uniform. The other guys did things too, I just caught them standing around and laughing at the stupidity of the fire.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

it's a coup, a schoolyard coup.

Stevie is a bully. He’s the smartest guy from his neighbourhood and gets to run a pretty good racket with his buddies. His buddies aren’t allowed to speak much though, except for one of his dumber cousins, Stock. Stevie’s mom makes him take care of Stock.

Stéphane is smarter than Stevie, but he has glasses and as head geek, he is often made fun of, mostly by nasty viral videos that Stevie posts on the facebook. In private, Stevie likes to call Stéphane a fag. Stéphane doesn’t speak english all that well, which prevents him from getting in any good comebacks.

Jack is the guy trying to get laid. To impress the girls, he organizes rallies to free things like chickens from chicken farms, and Tibet from China. So far he has not gotten laid or freed anyone. He has collected many signatures and phone numbers... mostly from the girls.

Gilles is the goth kid. He doesn’t really give a shit about anyone at school. He’s from away and was home schooled by a set of hipster parents. He’s only hanging out at school to prove to himself, his parents, and anyone else that school is bullshit.

The geeks, jocks, goths and neo-hippies share the schoolyard. The problem is that everyone, minus Gilles, wants to be in charge.

Stevie is sort of in charge. As a bit of a big guy with a bit of a temper, he exerts a bit of authority. It worked fine enough the year before, and in the first weeks of class, it seemed everything was going to be the same. Stevie figured he’d get his way.

So one day, Stevie quietly tells his boys, except for Stock, that he’s got a plan that will bring the rest of the student body to their knees. He’s gonna shake down every student in the yard for all the lunch money they’ve got.

‘No one’s gonna complain’ he tells his crew, ‘cause the teachers are pretty much broke right now. They won’t care that the kids don’t have money for lunch. They don’t even have money for lunch.’

The reason the teachers were broke? The music room and theater had recently suffered fire damage. It was complicated, but somehow an overall reduction in payroll was the solution.

The teachers knew Stevie was involved somehow due to being vocally opposed to classes involving frivolous artsy activites. Faculty couldn’t prove anything and anyway, it was a matter best resolved by the schoolyard.

One Wednesday he sends his loudest buddy, Jimmy, to the top of the monkey bars. With his big, booming voice, Jimmy tells the schoolyard that no one is allowed to have lunch money anymore.

Stéphane’s mouth, as it was so often, was slack jawed in wonder. Could this really happen? He cleaned his glasses and looked over to see what Jack would do.

The crowd of girls around Jack’s card table suddenly parted. Jack quickly figured that no lunch money meant nobody buying his bake sale goods for the starving masses in far off places. It also meant fewer chicks.

Even Gilles suddenly raised an ever so cool eyebrow. Something deep within the cool was offended. Despite not wanting to even be in the school yard, he wasn’t going to have any lunch money revoked. No money meant no smokes. The goth crowd would not stand for it.

A quiet descended on the schoolyard.

Stevie’s smug smile changed to a frown. He had forgotten, until just now, that when alone, the goths, geeks and neo-hippies couldn’t possibly hurt him and his jocks.

But as he watched, Stéphane nodded slowly to Jack, and they started moving towards each other in a frighteningly determined fashion. For a moment Stéphane looked over at Gilles, perhaps remembering their time together in the younger grades, when times were simpler.

One could almost detect a faint smile pass across Gilles pale white face.

A panicked Stevie moved to the top of the monkey bars, looking down upon the student body and the teachers who had gathered by this time. Stevie knew he was forced to follow the schoolyard code. That called for matters to be resolved by his fellow students, or risk judgment from the faculty, which for some reason included the perverted janitor that lived in boiler room.

He tried to bully on, but now time was short. His lies trailed off to muttering, which trailed off into sobbing. His precious monkey bars, the pinnacle of the school yard, was about to become the property of Stéphane, the supposed wimp, and Jack, that sleazy hippy wannabe.

And that is just what happened.

Gilles holds still holds court over the back steps of the school. He spends a lot of time smirking and wondering why anyone at their age would actually want to hang out at the monkey bars.

Jack and Stéphane get along surprisingly well and even though Stéphane was planning to switch schools, well that’s not going to happen anymore. You see, Jack managed to get some action, due to actually doing something this last time instead of just yelling about doing something. Jack managed to get Kiley to french with Stéphane. Suddenly Stéphane is cool. Cool enough for Gilles to buy him a black coffee now and again.

Stevie still tried to bully. He often brings the whole affair up again, but people stopped listening to him so much. I heard the perverted janitor has been watching him pee though.