The McGill Daily
Volume 98, Issue 6
September 18, 2008
5 of your friends attended the Mile-End Spelling Bee.
Anthony Masi was tagged in a photo.
Awaiting confirmation since 1911
The McGill Tribune and SSMU went from being “in a relationship” to “it’s complicated.” Heather Munroe-Blum just got back from the salon!!! Car Free Day has now been moved to Monday, September 22 at McGill Lower Campus. Drew Nelles added new photos.
Kittens 46 Photos More kittens 51 Photos Petro Canada poked Heather Munroe-Blum. 27 of your friends are attending McGill Daily Pub Night on Thursday, September 25 at Miami. Ali Withers commented on Lindsay Waterman’s photo.
Looks a bit... awkward
Concordia bans Facebook on desktop computers news 3
Pot politics Medical marijuana at Montreal’s Compassion Club features 10+11
3 of your friends are attending Redmen Football: Fill the Stadium!!! Morton Mendelson and Max Silverman are now friends. McGill Security joined the group Campus is for cars, not bikes or students! Kay Turner joined the group Are you McGill’s next bachelorette!? Erin Hale, Aaron Vansintjan, and Ian Beattie joined the group The McGill Daily. The McGill Daily added new photos.
It’s about time we gave a fuck culture 14
Friends with food: fixing to impress mind&body 8
Critically Endangered The Office 15 Photos
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The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Concordia bans Facebook
University criticized for making decision without consulting students and staff Samuel Neylon
The McGill Daily
oncordia banned access to popular social networking site Facebook on the university’s hard-wired computers on the first day of the month. Concerned that Facebook threatens the reliability of the wired network due to spam, viruses, confidential information leaks, and phishing – soliciting confidential information under false pretenses – the university decided to block the site. Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota explained that the volume of information exchanged on Facebook poses problems for the wired network. “The access [on Facebook] is so free, a lot of information moves where you wouldn’t expect,” Mota said Computers wired to the Concordia network, including staff computers and workstations in the libraries and computer labs can no longer open the Facebook homepage. Students can still visit Facebook through the university’s wireless connection accessed through laptops or computers in residences. Mota explained why the wireless network had not been restricted. “[The wireless network] is not necessarily less vulnerable, but it’s not our key network. If the main network goes down...we can’t function,” She said. Foregoing consultation with students and staff, Concordia announced their decision to ban Facebook in an instructional and informational tech-
nology services (IITS) post. The post failed to reach many students and staff, who are finding out about the ban either through word of mouth or by trying to access Facebook themselves. Concordia undergraduate Miriam Zgodzinski found out about the ban when she tried to access Facebook from a Concordia computer lab. “I asked the guy next to me to check Facebook, and he asked the person next to him. So there was this chain reaction down the computer lab,” Zgodzinski said. “A lot of people were outraged.” While Concordia Communications professor Matthew Soar thinks Facebook can be a distracting timesuck for students, he criticized the university for implementing its decision to block the site without consulting students and faculty. “What I would like to see is an open discussion,” Soar said. Soar argued that Information Technology (IT) experts decide arbitrarily how to restrict web access for businesses and university networks large and small. IT experts are continuing to conduct research to identify sites that are problematic for the network – the process that culminated in the September Facebook ban. The IT department responded to roughly 20 complaints from faculty and staff members by suggesting several ways users bypass the restriction, including an antenna attachment that allows the computer to access the wireless network. Facebook has also served as a useful tool to facilitate organization around issues like social justice by
Stephen Davis / The McGill Daily
Concordia students can no longer use library computers to stalk friends while pretending to study.
helping people with common interests network through groups. McGill campus activist Cleve Higgins, U3 International Development Studies and Sociology, for example, used a Facebook group last spring to garner support for a proposed student-run café in Shatner. The group currently has 612 members. “I think the most important part of social activism is walking around and talking to people face-to-face,” said Higgins. “But [Facebook] can be a useful part of that, for contacting people you might not reach otherwise, and getting messages out to a
large amount of people.” Facebook has also been used to affect changes in government and in businesses, such as protesting Canadian copyright reform and Bell’s incoming text messaging fees. Soar saw the importance of social networking sites like Facebook in promoting freedom of expression and access to people and information. “We need to acknowledge [Facebook] is not just about social networking, but about social activism,” Soar said. Jake Silva, a Concordia undergraduate, was skeptical about the motives
behind Concordia’s decision, but given the shortage of computers in the library and the Hall Building – areas that see a high volume of students – thought there were advantages to blocking Facebook. “I don’t have problem with them blocking Facebook for the reason that maybe too many people are on it when other people need to use the computers for actual schoolwork,” Silva said. According to Zgodzinski, students wait in long lines for computers at the computer lab on the Hall Building’s ninth floor and in the library.
MUNACA workers worry potential strike will cause financial instability Tension between administration, execs, and workers strains negotiations Elizabeth Cody News Writer
set of McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) union members are unwilling to strike as a potential pressure tactic if their personal financial security will be compromised. With contract negotiations set to resume Friday, MUNACA executives said they are working to reconcile workers’ demands with the University’s proposals’ and acknowledged that a motion to strike may become a reality if the negotiations prove unfruitful.
Maria Ruoco, MUNACA president, said she has not ruled out the possibility of a strike as a strategic move. “If that’s where this takes us, then that’s where we’re willing to go,” she said. Some of MUNACA’s 1,800 members, however, stated that they cannot strike because of financial and familial realities. One MUNACA executive, who asked to remain anonymous, noted that certain employees are getting nervous because the cost of living over the summer increased drastically, as oil and basic food prices jumped. “[My colleague] can’t afford a strike; she’s panicked. she’s got a four-
year-old son and her husband can’t work right now,” explained another member of MUNACA. “If people are too weak to stand up for themselves initially, then eventually they’ll never be able to.” She pointed to the painful paradox facing MUNACA workers: those who have the most to gain from the strike can’t afford it, and as a result those employees oppose the strike. “[The possibility of a strike] is scary especially after watching what they did with the TAs. I’m prepared for the strike, I’ve done the calculations, but I wouldn’t vote for it,” said one clerical worker, who has worked for McGill since 1974. She acknowledged a strike could offer benefits to younger employees, but claimed she could not personally support it because she would never make up the loss of income on a
$200- a-week strike salary in time for a $300 signing bonus for employees in the top quarter. her retirement. Still, many of the MUNACA The relationship between MUNACA and the administration has employees insist that they maintain been strained since last December loyalties to McGill. “These negotiations aren’t about when the University withdrew its initial proposal to improve wages, claiming Quebec’s [My colleague] can’t afford demands for universities to maina strike; she’s panicked. She’s tain balanced budgot a four-year-old son and her gets by 2010 conhusband can’t work right now strained them. MUNACA’s – MUNACA member special General Assembly (GA) on August 28 failed being dissatisfied with our jobs” said to put a strike motion to vote due to another union member. “We are very dedicated to our a fire alarm interruption. MUNACA members then voted down their jobs and to the students. This is September 2 GA motion to accept about being treated fairly and with the University’s contract proposal for respect. Are we under-appreciated? a 12 per cent pay increase along with Absolutely. But we love our jobs.”
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The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Protestors urge Canada to let U.S. war deserters stay David G. Koch
The McGill Daily
n downtown Montreal Saturday, protestors called on the federal government to stop deporting U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada to avoid military service in Iraq. It was one of about 20 demonstrations that took place across the country in solidarity with U.S. military deserters. Protestors in front of federal government offices at Complexe GuyFavreau demanded the government abide by a resolution passed in the House of Commons on June 3 that called for the Harper government to stop deporting conscientious objectors – those who refused to participate in armed conflict based on moral, religious, or ethical convictions. It applied specifically to those who refused or
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left military service in a war not sanctioned by the United Nations, a reference to the U.S.-led Iraq war. But as the resolution was nonbinding, the minority Conservative government can legally ignore it. Matt Jones, a spokesperson for the anti-war group Échec à la Guerre, said that giving refuge to military deserters sends a strong message to the U.S. “If ever this law was passed [and] if resisters were allowed to be here, it would be a huge blow to the American military and their ability to fight a war, because it would give a green card to soldiers who have a conscience to get out of that system,” Jones said. Bill Rogers, a spokesperson for the Conservative Party of Canada, defended the government’s stance on war resisters. “We don’t think that the creation of a special program for war resisters is necessary, and it’s at odds with our belief that every applicant to Canada should be treated fairly and equally,” Rogers said. “Once somebody brings their case to Canada and goes through our system here, which we believe is fair and internationally recognized, we accept those decisions.” U.S. soldier Jeremy Hinzman and his family have an immediate stake in Canada’s policy. Hinzman fled to Canada in 2004 after learning he would be deployed to Iraq, to fight in a war which he calls illegal and unjust. Jones read a letter from Hinzman to protestors at the rally Saturday.
“Canada refused to take part in the war in Iraq because it felt it was illegal, according to international law. I was not willing to make myself complicit in a criminal enterprise,” Hinzman wrote. Hinzman had initially volunteered for military service, but claimed later that he was incapable of killing another human being. He applied for conscientious-objector status, but his claim was ultimately rejected by the U.S. military. He completed his tour in Afghanistan as a non-combatant. Hinzman received his deportation order last month, after his appeals to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds were rejected by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. He must leave Canada with his wife, son, and daughter by September 23. The government’s refusal to abide by the resolution also led to the deportation of Robin Long, believed to be the first Iraq war resister to be handed over to the U.S. by Canadian authorities. A court martial in Colorado sentenced Long to a 15-month jail sentence and a dishonourable discharge, the equivalent of a felony conviction in the U.S. Olivia Chow, a Toronto-area MP and the Immigration Critic for the NDP, argued that the refugee determination process is “completely broken.” “We’ve had instances where people that were sent back to their home country have faced torture [and] had to go in hiding,” Chow said, adding that Canada has a history of providing refuge to U.S. soldiers. “During the war in Vietnam,
over 50,000 draft dodgers [and] war resisters came to Canada at that time and [none] during that period were deported,” asserted Chow. But Rogers noted that Iraq war resisters in Canada were not drafted, throwing into question the legitimacy of their claims for refugee status. “When you volunteer for military service, it means what it says: you volunteered, you signed up, and I don’t think there’s really much more to say about it,” he said. Chow disagreed, and noted that some soldiers signed up to do humanitarian work with the National Guard or to defend the U.S. against weap-
ons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. Michael Hendricks, a Vietnam-era draft dodger who came to Canada in 1969, also spoke at the rally, and agreed that U.S. soldiers in the Iraq war were misinformed. “These people that were in the U.S. Army, and realized that this was the wrong thing to do, were misled – in every sense of the word,” Hendricks said. The Bush administration claimed Saddam Hussein – who was the president of Iraq prior to the U.S.-led invasion – possessed WMDs, but they were never found.
David G. Koch / The McGill Daily
Refugee status must be provided to Iraq deserters, demonstrators say.
Reclaim Your Campus plans campaign with small steps Low turnout is a further exemplification of student apathy Julie Mannell News Writer
n an effort to incorporate a plurality of voices into the Reclaim Your Campus (RYC) campaign, roughly 20 students met yesterday to set the groundwork for what is to be a year-long initiative to challenge the administration’s hold over student life on campus. The campaign kicked off last Wednesday with a rally that involved students, bikers, and workers calling for a fair collective agreement for the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA); remuneration for teaching assistants (TAs); more accessible means for student groups to organize on campus; an elected Board of Governors; and greater steps toward democratic decision making within the administration. At the meeting yesterday, an extra demand for better financial accessibility to education was added.
SSMU VP External Devin Alfaro, who chaired the meeting, begun with a critique of McGill’s poor prioritization of issues. “Across the board there seems to be a lack of respect for people on the ground, and we question where values and priorities of McGill are,” he said, explaining that RYC will try to reverse the trend of students as low-priority by forming a united front of student groups to ensure student autonomy. Samantha Cook, SSMU VP Clubs & Services, explained that the idea for the campaign came together when many student and independent groups grew increasingly frustrated with the administration’s resistance. “We were seeing frustration from a lot of corners,” Cook said. “We realized it was really important to channel all of this energy.” Despite recognizing that the administration’s actions affect all students, the meeting drew only
a small crowd, roughly 20 people mostly affiliated with unions or student groups, a smaller turnout than hoped. Alfaro said poor publicization and conlfict with students’ class schedules and Midnight Kitchen – the popular pay-as-you-can vegan lunch – contributed to the low attendance. Alfaro also noted that less politically inclined students are not aware of how the administration affects their student life. “Our challenge is to show students who aren’t normally involved politically that these broad and farreaching trends affect everyone,” he said. “Instead of every group having individual troubles with administration, we should work together.” Alfaro pointed to rampant underfunding as the primary cause for burdens facing students. “McGill is under-funded, and the administration’s response to this is to pass down the burden,” he claimed,
pointing to the effects this is having on the deterioration of education quality at McGill. “The point of the campaign is to show that the problem is systemic,” he added, explaining that the campaign will fight long-ranging administrative trends. The campaign coordinators decided to coordinate their efforts this year under three separate committees – outreach, logistics, and communications – to apply external pressure to the administration, and will likely hold another general meeting for all students before the end of the semester. Jesse Hahm, U2 Philosophy, stressed that the motive behind the campaign was to return the campus to the students. “Everything can be derived from the general idea of who does the University exist for, and a university should exist for its students.” – with files from Alison Withers
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Outgames subsidises developing world participants Human rights conference at the games empowers LGBT individuals to confront discrimination in their home countries Shannon Kiely
The McGill Daily
n an effort to help bring together people from countries in the developing world that suppress open expressions of homosexuality, the 2009 Copenhagen Outgames’ Outreach Program will subsidize participants of their “Love of Freedom– Freedom from Love” conference. The three-day conference will focus on the concerns and issues of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals, who will participate in the 2009 Copenhagen Outgames – an international event started in Montreal in 2006 that offers LGBT individuals and supporters the chance to compete in athletic tournaments of 38 different disciplines. Stephen Barris, the head of Communications at the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), thought it was crucial that conference attendees represented diverse areas of the world. “[The Outreach program] creates a space, a platform where people
who can’t afford to travel can share the work they’re doing,” Barris said. Expected to bring together 1,000 attendees without regard to their sexual orientation, the conference will focus on the global struggle to fight discrimination against LGBT individuals. It will feature keynote speakers, including gay Muslim filmmaker Parvez Sharma, and up 90 workshops on themes ranging from family and relationships to LGBT history. Julie Thaarup, the project manager for Copenhagen’s 2009 Outreach, explained why the participation of delegates from the developing world was crucial. “The conference will create awareness and build knowledge so that participants can affect change in their country,” Thaarup said. Bruce Amoroto, the coordinator of Team Pilipinas, further explained the importance of the conference. “For gays and lesbians who are either out or not out it builds on their confidence,” said Amoroto. “When they go back to their country, they can share with other people, and inspire them to come out or be strong with whatever discrimination they have here in the country. “People are
still not comfortable or fully accepting so these are communities who live silently.” Amoroto added that Team Pilipinas – named after the Filipino word for the Philippines – is a good example of more localized outreach by Outgames participants: the team networks with smaller LGBT communities through sports that allow locals to share ideas and information about sexual diversity without attracting hostile attention. “To be able to talk about sexual health, sexual rights, and sexual diversity you need to take other avenues that won’t be strongly opposed by [Catholic] church and other conservatives,” said Amoroto. The added that although the intensity has decreased in recent years, bystanders of Manila’s annual Pride March still heckle and call the participants names. While the Outreach Program only grants funding to enable individuals to attend the conference, chosen applicants can apply for additional funding for sporting and cultural events at the Outgames. The program aims to fund 200 people from Eastern Europe and 200
Anne Haldane for The McGill Daily
from the Developing World, with an equal number of men and women. The program has so far secured enough funding to subsidize 130 participants. 170 applications have been received. The online application requires hopefuls to declare their annual
income, list any sport, cultural, human rights, or community organizations they are involved in, and submit a 100-word explanation of why they would like to participate in the 2009 Outgames. The Outreach Program will be accepting applications until October 1.
Pow-wow reaches out to first nations high school students James Albaugh
The McGill Daily
on’t be surprised if you hear Inuit throat singers on your way to class tomorrow. The First Peoples’ House (FPH) began holding annual pow-wows in 2002 to address the McGill community’s lack of attention to First Peoples’ culture. “We are able to celebrate our culture and share it with the McGill population,” said Lynn Fletcher, secretary of the FPH. “We take great pride that it’s successful every year.” Since McGill’s first FPH powwow on McGill’s lower field seven years ago, the event has expanded in scope by adding a series of workshops for Grade 11 students from the Kahnawake, Kanesatake, and Akwesasne reservations around Montreal. “The pow-wow shows [First Nations high school students] that we include them and that we have a culture here at McGill,” Fletcher said. Seven McGill faculties will be participating in the workshops, which are designed to present opportunities available to First Peoples’ students at McGill. Courtney Montour, acting-coordinator of the FPH, said the event helped broaden students’ horizons. “The idea is to open their minds
to what possible opportunities are open to them,” said Montour. In August, the McGill administration helped the FPH introduce a new position that would organize outreach initiatives to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students across the country, including Nunavut. Also acting as a career placement advisor, the new member of the FPH would assist First Nations students in finding jobs. The FPH could not identify what else the administration is doing to help the First Nations’ community at McGill. The pow-wow will feature Cree storytelling for the first time this year, in a session with Elma Moses, a PhD student in the Faculty of Education. The FPH provides social and academic support for students who seek out their services, including study groups and twice-weekly lunches of soup and bannock, a traditional native bread. According to Montour, the FPH sees an increase in student involvement each year following the powwow. However, Fletcher said the FPH is unsure how many first peoples’ students are at McGill because not all are involved with the house. “Over the past couple of years, we have seen a larger group coming into the office,” said Fletcher. “But it’s hard to measure the enrolment,
because First Nations students have to self-identify on the application, and that’s their choice.” However, the FPH does not exclusively cater to the first peoples’ community at McGill. “We invite any student or member of the McGill community to come to the office,” said Montour. – with files from Shannon Kiely First Peoples’ House Seventh Annual Pow-wow Sep. 19, 2008, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lower field, centre of campus just inside of the Roddick Gates 9 a.m.: Introduction & Grand Entry 10 a.m. & 2 p.m.: Iroquois & Pow-wow singing and dancing 11:30 a.m. & 1:45 p.m.: Inuit Throat Singers 12 p.m.: Lacrosse Demonstration 12:30 p.m.: Inuit Spoken Word Performance by Taqralik Partridge 1 p.m.: Cree Storytelling with Elma Moses 3 p.m.: Alumni Honouring Ceremony For more information, call (514) 398-3217, go to mcgill.ca/ fph, or visit FPH at 3505 Peel.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
by leah pires
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
How to impress your roommates Friends with food Sophie Busby & Olivia Hoffmeyer
ith so many of us coming to university straight from the nest where our darling parents cook every meal or order us Chinese food with care, it’s a wonder that any of us survive our first week in the kitchen. We want to help you make that other room in your apartment – you know, the one with the fridge – somewhere you want to be. Food is more than nourishment, it’s a creative process, so enjoy it. Our column will help you figure out the specifics: how to cook it, how much it costs, how long it takes, how difficult it is to make, and who to cook it for. We’ll include a few tips and tricks, as well as some suggestions for variations and complementary dishes. These can help you make a meat dish vegetarian, or a cookie go vegan. Don’t forget to check mcgilldaily.com for extra recipes, suggested sides, photos, and other fun stuff. Plus, on special holidays we plan to include a few dishes to help you host that perfect festive dinner party! We want to help you, beloved Daily readers, get a kick out of making and sharing food with friends. Besides, this is what we do, and we have a lot of happy friends, so why not share the secret with you?
What: Gay Pasta – combat homophobia everywhere and infuse your kitchen and life with a sense of gaiety and fun. How much it’ll cost: about $15 Why: Because it’s impressive, fresh, cheap, and feeds six with leftovers! It’s September, you just moved in with your super-sweet, awesome, new roommates. Impress them with this easy, fresh pasta recipe that you can whip up in less than 30 minutes – watch out Rachel Ray. Make this on “roommate night” and knock their socks off with an $11 bottle of red wine (eight dollars makes you look cheap). This is the perfect time of year to make this recipe using all fresh ingredients. Gay Pasta also makes great leftovers, so impress your roommates even more by sending them to school with a bag lunch, but draw the line somewhere and remember to label a Tupperware for yourself. And in case you were wondering about the name, it’s called ‘Gay Pasta’ because it is pretty and festive, and because a sequin-prone relative calls it that.
Gay Pasta • 900g pasta shapes (rottini, fusilli, bow-tie, shell, or if you’re trying to prove that you’re funny as well, try to find penis pasta) – $2 for a bag • 2 C whole milk mozzarella cut into 2 cm cubes (don’t get the cheapest kind, but there’s no need to splurge on the fancy kind in water) – keep it under $10 • 2/3-1 C olive oil (add more if pasta is too dry) – buy this in bulk, you will use it often • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, minced (this has to be fresh – check out the tips and tricks below for more info on economizing and mincing greens) $3 for a plant at Jean Talon, $3.50 at Metro • 2 C chopped tomatoes (they’re amazing and in season right now, buy local) go to the market, and get a million for next-to-nothing, or shell out about $3 at the grocery store • Salt to taste (start with 1 tsp and then taste it!) – why don’t you already have salt? Boil a large pot of water and make the pasta according to the directions on the bag. I blame your parents for not teaching you how to make pasta if you have a problem with this; get one of those university survival guides they sell at the bookstore. While the pasta is cooking, cube the cheese, dice the tomatoes, mince the basil, and throw it all in a bowl. When the pasta is cooked and drained, dump it on top of these fresh ingredients. Add olive oil and toss together. Salt to taste and serve. Bon appetit!
Buying fresh on a budget:
A basil plant gives about three times the basil for the same price as the bagged flakes, and you can’t get any fresher. For this recipe about three stems worth of leaves will do, and you can really see and taste the difference from the dried stuff. Don’t worry about taking care of the plant, just water it once or twice a week. Spoiler alert: as soon as the chill comes we’ll teach you how to make pesto with the rest of the plant. Tomatoes are in season these days, so it’s the perfect time to buy local and support the Quebec farming community.
Chopping, dicing and mincing made easy:
Chopping is an umbrella term: cut the tomatoes into large bite-sized pieces. Cubing is a little bigger than dicing, each piece of cheese should be about two centimetres squared. Chopping greens can be a bit tricky if you don’t know what to do: take a bundle of basil and loosely roll it (we know a few of you are good at rolling greens) then slice thinly using a sharp knife.
Suggestions and additions:
We’re leaving the options open because telling you what to do would boring. You could serve this with a green salad, throw on some grilled chicken, or if you don’t like wine, grab whatever beer is on sale. Check mcgilldaily.com for our salad suggestions and how to make an easy and delicious dressing. Look for more flamboyant recipes from Friends with food in next Wednesday’s Mind & Body section.
A clean bill of health Head & Hands clinic offers an alternative philosophy on health care Emma Gray
Mind & Body writer
old waiting rooms, confusing forms, and being talked at in technical terms have become hallmarks of most North American health care experiences. But Head & Hands, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing youth health care and health education, has a different approach. Founded in 1970, at the height of the Women’s Health and Free Clinic Movement drive in North America, Head & Hands started as an attempt to counter an increasingly medicalized and impersonal view of health care. Today, using a model based on egalitarianism and accessibility, it still offers an alternative, holistic approach to the distribution of medical services. Armed with a mission to “facilitate social change and the empowerment of youth,” and to “promote [youth] physical and mental well being,” Head & Hands provides outreach, sexual education, support networks for young parents, and counseling services. They also run a free clinic. The clinic, which, according to Executive Director Marlo Turner Ritchie, is “one of the cornerstone services at Head & Hands,” is an example of a truly personal and inclusive health care space. Located in a converted apartment at 5833 Sherbrooke O., the clinic provides a wide variety of medical services – from STI testing, pre-natal care, and hormone replacement therapy, to caring for a sore throat or stomach ache – to anyone between the ages of 12 and 25 years. If a patient has medical coverage, Head & Hands bills their insurance companies for care costs, but it covers the fees for those without coverage. “It’s a ‘you can’t pay, we don’t turn you away,’” policy,
Ben Peck / The McGill Daily
according to Ritchie. Donations are suggested in order to keep Head & Hands’s services viable and accessible, although, as Fundraising and Developing Coordinator, Leah Dolgoy says, “if [that donation] is a barrier in any way, then it absolutely is not expected.” As they work toward a more equitable health care system, Head & Hands organizers say that education, empowerment, and the provision of non-judgmental spaces also play a large role in the philosophy and approach of the clinic and its organization. Dolgoy describes the clinic – a contrast to the cold and sterile atmosphere that is often encountered in traditional hospitals and doctors’ offices – as having a “youth-friendly vibe,” and a “homey” waiting room that offers reading materials and fairtrade coffee. “We believe that given the right tools and kind of space, then people are in the best position to make decisions for themselves,” Dology says. The clinic – open on Tuesdays and Thursdays – accepts 20 youths per week by random draw. The clinic’s doctor, Pierre-Paul Tellier – also director of McGill’s student health services – and a health educator see no more than ten patients per evening, to ensure there is sufficient time to have a dialogue with each patient, creating a more intimate relationship between patient and caregiver, and allowing for a better understanding of individual needs. By breaking down the patientdoctor dichotomy, and attempting to integrate education and a more open dialogue into medical care, Head & Hands provides an invaluable service: putting health back into the hands of those who experience it. On September 21, Head & Hands is working with the Farha Foundation for Ça Marche, a walk that serves as a fundraising initiative for AIDS prevention and care, and raises money for Head & Hands educational initiatives. For more information visit headandhands.ca
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Voices for choice Reproductive rights are brought to the fore in panel discussion over two new documentaries
attacked. While the language of the bill specifically excludes abortion, the bill’s opponents argue that the legislation could be a step toward the criminalization of abortion in the future.
Reeling it in
Mind & Body writer
n Tuesday night, Canadians for Choice and the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy joined to present two groundbreaking documentaries about women’s reproductive rights. Abortion Democracy, directed by Sarah Diehl, and The Coathanger Project, directed by Angie Young, address some shocking truths about abortion laws around the world. The screenings were accompanied by a panel discussion with the two directors and representatives from Canadians for Choice and the Centre for Gender Advocacy. The discussion was used as a forum for debate over Canadian reproductive rights and how they relate to broader international issues. The screenings were organized partly as a response to the introduction in Parliament earlier this year of Bill C-484, which threatened to compromise women’s reproductive rights. Also known as the “Unborn Victims of Crime Act,” the privatemembers bill proposes to allow separate homicide charges for the death of a fetus when a pregnant woman is
The two documentaries, screened at Concordia, look at abortion issues from an international perspective. Abortion Democracy explores an ironic parallel between Poland and South Africa with respect to abortion law. The Coathanger Project deals with the state of the current pro-choice movement in the United States. The films reveal that cross-culturally, women face similar challenges regarding their reproductive rights. Abortion Democracy addresses abortion rights and access issues in South Africa and Poland. Despite South Africa’s legalization of abortion in 1994, an extraordinary 60,000 to 80,000 deaths are reported per year due to complications resulting from illegal or do-it-yourself abortions. Meanwhile, Poland has gone in a different direction. In 1997 it banned abortion except in very specific cases such as rape, gross deformation of the fetus, or when the fetus poses a serious threat to the health of the mother. Yet paradoxically, today abortions remain safer and more accessible in Poland than in South Africa. In The Coathanger Project, Angie Young looks at American society post-Roe v. Wade, examining the
current generation of women who have grown up knowing legalized abortion, but have no memory of the struggles over reproductive rights that came before their time. The movie was inspired by Young’s experience in South Dakota, where she worked to defeat the absolute ban against abortion proposed by the state government in 2006. South Dakota successfully turned down that ban, but is now facing a second challenge of abortion rights. The film attempts to remind this generation of why it should not take freedom of choice for granted.
Canada’s unborn victims? The two films illustrate the vulnerable state of Canada’s own abortion laws, and contextualize the importance of Bill C-484. Although abortions are fully legal in Canada, there are no laws specifically addressing the right to an abortion. In 1995, Diane Marleau, the Canadian Health Minister at the time, declared that an abortion, as a “necessary medical procedure,” should be covered by every health care insurance plan in every province, regardless of whether it is performed in a free-standing clinic or a hospital. However, there remain marked differences throughout Canada’s provinces. According to Canadians for Choice, just 17.8 per cent of Canadian hospitals provide abortion services. Prince Edward Island does not have any hospitals that do, and New
Ben Peck / The McGill Daily
The coat hanger was once considered a universal sign for illegal abortions. Brunswick has only two. Neither province provides adequate funding for the cost of abortions, technically violating the Canada Health Act. New Brunswick, for instance, only funds abortion at hospitals and does not cover the costs at clinics. Furthermore, as noted in the panel discussion, women from rural areas often have to travel great distances to reach a clinic or hospital that can perform the procedure, and their travel and accommodation costs are not covered by their health care plans. The two documentaries screened Tuesday night underscore the importance of upholding the right to repro-
ductive choice. They address not only the difficulties faced by people fighting for these rights, but also the continuing struggle of maintaining reproductive rights where they are already in place. Even here in Canada, as the appearance of Bill C-484 shows, our freedom of choice is vulnerable; although abortion is legal, the choice can be effectively denied if services are not made more accessible. Angie Young and Sarah Diehl are currently on tour screening their two documentaries across North America. The films will be released on DVD, along with footage from various panel discussions.
A man for all saisons... and IPAs, and bocks McGill grad starts his own big city beerfest in each apartment I moved to over the years in Montreal; an unintentional circle around the place was a side benefit.
All hopped up Joseph Watts
t your average beer festival, a ticket gets you a plastic mug and some tokens allowing you to join a few hundred likeminded individuals in two-ounce samples from more breweries than you can count – all under a tent in some park. Nothing about the experience jibes with the way beer is meant to be drunk. Enter Josh Schaffner McGill grad (’06, Geographical urban systems) and wavemaker on the New York beer scene. At just 24-years-old, he has conceived and brought to fruition NY Craft Beer Week, featuring 95 beers from the northeastern United States and happening right now in New York. The festival is organized around a number of events, includ-
ing bar crawls in nine neighbourhoods, partnering craft beer with specific watering holes that exemplify that neighbourhood. The result is a festival where it is as much about where you are drinking as it is about what you are drinking – championing the local allure of craft beer. I caught up with Schaffner at the height of Craft Beer Week to talk about the work he’s done and how his motives relate to beer culture, and specifically that of Quebec. The McGill Daily: Did your affinity for beer have an outlet during your time in Montreal? Josh Schaffner: I never lived in rez, but instead made a home at Dieu du Ciel. I lived only a couple blocks away
MD: What challenges do you see for craft beer culture, both in general and in Quebec? JS: There’s the main challenge of craft beer being relatively new and so successful that it’s creating its own hurdles. It’s a crisis of identity for a small brewery to ask, “What does it mean to have national distribution? How does that change the identity of your brand and your product?” [Ed. Point of Reflection: How does this crisis affect a brewery like Unibroue, now available all over the U.S., but with roots in rural Quebec?] MD: Could Craft Beer Week happen up here? JS: I think it would happen in a different format, but with the same goal of promoting the idea of better beer. I got the idea from Philadelphia, adapting it to fit New York, and since then San Francisco has a beer week slated for February. More and more
cities have expressed interest. I think that one of the motives for me doing this is that there is no reason for it to be specific to one place. There are so many places with great beer culture and there’s always room for more. MD: How do you see the role of geography, your field of study, in beer culture? JS: Actually, it’s rather profound. In the U.S., and also internationally, beer has a history of being extremely regional. At its current stage, it is at this point of transformation where you have beer identified as being local distributed nationally, and beers that are found to be regional distributed internationally. There is a strong association and identification of place with beer. As much as certain breweries being distributed nationally has blurred regionalism, it is still rather definable and stark. MD: How does this feed the “local appeal” of craft beer week? JS: I am rather proud of the expression of “local” in this festival; be it the local neighbourhood, be it the local
community, be it the local brewery, be it the local food that is being paired with the local beer. My over-arching goal, though, is simpler: to promote better beer to more people. Bringing the concept of enjoyment and flavour behind beer to as many people as possible. MD: Given the amount of time and money you have expended getting Craft Beer Week off the ground, would you say it has been a success? JS: If you mean that after devoting thousands of dollars and hours, I’ve turned a profit, then no, but in terms of my over-arching goal, yes it has been a success. Beer has been brought to the table, both literally and figuratively, and I think Craft Beer Week will be around next year. For a roundup of some bars, featured in Craft Beer Week, not to missed on your trip to New York, visit mcgilldaily.com. All Hopped Up appears every other week, serving up a frosty mug of beer news, commentary, and culture.
Daniel Lametti steps behind the counter at Montreal’s Compassion Club – a medical marijuana dispensary operating on the fringes of Canadian law
very morning when Boris Saint-Maurice shows up for work he breaks the law. Saint-Maurice is the owner of the Compassion Club on the corner of Rachel and Coloniale – a store that sells marijuana illegally to people who can demonstrate a medical need for the drug. He has been arrested for drug trafficking numerous times. Sitting with Saint-Maurice in a coffee shop drinking tea and pints of beer, he tells me about one of his more memorable arrests. “The third time I got arrested I had, like, 100 grams,” he says. “They brought me to the station and held me overnight. It sucked. I cried. I was, like, freaked out!” Saint-Maurice claims it was this 1991 arrest that convinced him to become active in the fight for the legalization of marijuana. While in jail, he stumbled upon a group of prisoners smoking hash in the cell’s bathroom.
“So I had two or three tokes,” he says, “and I started to think, ‘Fuck, I’m in jail for possession of pot, and the first thing I do is smoke pot, and the only positive thing that has happened to me is pot.’ And the light bulb went on and that’s pretty much when I resolved to do everything that I could to change marijuana laws.” Shortly after this arrest, Saint-Maurice started organizing marijuana marches and “smoke-ins” around Montreal. He pursued this form of activism for almost six years until his lawyer suggested he might simply try getting elected and changing the law himself. He took the advice to heart and in 1997 founded the Bloc Pot, a Quebec provincial party. The Bloc Pot’s mandate is to have marijuana legalized. According to the party’s web site, one essential step in this process is legalizing marijuana for medical use, a goal that also addresses the party’s commitment to individuals’ “fun-
damental right to health.” With this in mind, in 1999 Saint-Maurice and two other Bloc Pot members opened the Compassion Club, at the time directly across the street from a police station.
Hazy laws The Montreal Compassion Club – one of many similar organizations across Canada – falls into a legal gray area, just outside of Canada’s medicinal marijuana law. The current status of medical weed in Canada stems from the arrest of an epileptic man named Terrence Parker. In 1996, Parker was busted for having more than 70 marijuana plants and subsequently charged with possession and cultivation, among other things. Parker was no stranger to the police; he had been arrested and acquitted for possession several times before. For each acquittal, his
defense rested on his claim that he needed to smoke marijuana to control his seizures. After the 1996 charges were laid, Parker was determined to permanently free himself from future prosecution. He told the judge that, due to his condition, the drug charges violated his rights under the Canadian Charter. The defense worked. In 1997, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that, “forcing Parker to choose between his health and imprisonment violates his right to liberty and security of person.” In response to the Parker ruling, the government passed legislation in 2001 that made medicinal marijuana licenses available to some chronically ill patients provided they prove that no other legal drug could treat their symptoms. To discourage licensed patients from purchasing black market weed, a $5-million contract was awarded to a Saskatoon-based company to grow the plant in an abandoned mine shaft in
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
I figured that, for someone who smokes a lot of pot, he’d at least look the part: glazed eyes, hemp clothing, maybe a marijuana leaf or two tattooed in some highly visible location – a sort of French-Canadian Woody Harrelson. Alas, I got a Woody Allen: not a single tattooed leaf to be had. Indeed, with thinning brown hair, glasses, shirt, and jacket, Saint-Maurice looks like the average 39-year-old Quebecker. But talking to Saint-Maurice one quickly realizes that he’s far from normal, even by activist standards. He’s something of a marijuana crusader. Not content to limit his cause to a provincial political party, he founded the federal Marijuana Party of Canada in 1999 and proceeded to travel the country waging weed war in elections. As the party’s leader he ran against the likes of former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day, Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, and former prime minister Paul Martin (he garnered 349 votes against Martin, finishing sixth behind the Green Party, slightly ahead of the Marxist-Leninists).
Stephen Davis / The McGill Daily
Manitoba. Patients who qualified for a license could receive marijuana in the mail, direct from Health Canada. Since 2001, court challenges have seen Canada’s medical marijuana law undergo several revisions. Licensed users can now buy marijuana seeds from Health Canada and designate someone as a “primary care giver” to grow the drug for them. Even so, most marijuana activists believe the law to be flawed. In seven years, Health Canada has granted only 2,500 medicinal marijuana licenses. Some estimate the need is close to a million. Compassion Clubs, like the one Saint-Maurice runs, are willing to break the law to fulfill this need.
Not your average pothead When I met Saint-Maurice for the first time, I must confess, I was somewhat disappointed.
When discussing the Montreal Compassion Club, Saint-Maurice is surprisingly open. “The Compassion Club is illegal,” he says. “I mean, there are precedents in court, which make it pretty much impossible to prosecute. But according to the letter of the law, it’s still illegal.” There are more than a dozen compassion clubs, cannabis clubs, and marijuana buyers’ clubs across Canada – Toronto alone has four – and all of them break the law. As Saint-Maurice explains, it doesn’t matter if his customers have a Health Canada license – there are still no legal provisions that allow for licensed medicinal marijuana users to buy from compassion clubs. At the Montreal Club, Saint-Maurice and his employees play the role of Health Canada. Potential members present a doctor’s letter that diagnoses them with an illness, and the Club then decides if marijuana can help treat the symptoms. A prescription for marijuana is not required. According to Saint-Maurice, when it comes to verifying a patient’s diagnosis letter the Compassion Club has higher standards than most pharmacies. “We call the doctor’s office and verify their license number,” he says. “We always ask for ID and we keep a record of everything patients buy.” The Club’s web site cites more than 195 chronic conditions that have been treated with cannabis, and describes the symptoms the drug alleviates. Among other benefits, marijuana is known to relieve pain and nausea, reduce muscle spasticity, and decrease seizure frequency in epileptic patients. Thus, the drug can treat conditions ranging from AIDS and cancer to anxiety and writer’s cramp – for which this writer is now seriously considering soliciting a diagnosis. The Club buys its marijuana from a variety of
sources, including patients that have a Health Canada license and grow the drugs themselves. “They are not supposed to supply us,” SaintMaurice says, “but they do.” Sometimes the Club will even buy weed from people who walk in off the street. “We have a certain expertise and we test it out,” he says. The Club owns a 60X microscope that they use to determine the quality of street weed. “The one question I ask [sellers] is that they are not involved with organized crime,” he says. Taxes present another legal gray area for the Club: how does a business pay tax if the product it sells is illegal? They don’t. A few years ago a B.C. Compassion Club sued the government to make marijuana taxable, but the case was thrown out. “If five years down the road Revenue Canada comes after us,” he says, “I’ll say, ‘where the hell were you when this case wanted to be tried!’” Besides, Saint-Maurice believes that marijuana shouldn’t be taxed. “It’s a medicine,” he says. “All the revenue that we generate goes to help advance different legalization causes.” In 2000, police tried to shut down Montreal’s Club; in a raid, they confiscated 66 grams of weed and slapped Saint-Maurice with a trafficking charge. Two years later, a Quebec judge decided that the charge should be dropped. He ruled that it was unconstitutional to let some people use medicinal marijuana, but then deny them an opportunity to get the drug. Three weeks after the ruling, with legal precedent on his side, Saint-Maurice reopened the Club.
let form,” he says. “So you can add it to your coffee or your tea.” Greenblatt takes some marijuana from a plastic container and places it into the middle of a metallic grinder that looks like a hockey puck when closed. He rotates the two ends of the puck in opposite directions, forcing the marijuana through steel forks within the puck to break it apart. “The clientele we track varies,” he says. “You know, you have your poor, drug-abusing clients that have contracted hepatitis or HIV. And you’ve got your 50-year-old Westmount Jewish women,” he says, adding, “Everyone gets sick.” Greenblatt knocks the now ground-up weed out of the hockey puck and starts to roll a joint, all the while explaining the differences between the strains of weed that the Club sells. “If you have some serious, like, physical pain, we’ll probably recommend something along the Indica lines, for its analgesic action. Sativas, you’ll forget about pain, but it’s not taken away,” he says, throwing the now completed joint in his pocket. Like Saint-Maurice, Greenblatt is quite open about the Club’s activities. “We’re actually engaged in civil disobedience, like, everyday working here,” he says. “We’re not following any law. We’re selling marijuana from a store. But we’ll win in court ultimately.”
“Everyone gets sick”
A week after our initial meeting I call SaintMaurice; I had forgotten to write down the exact number of times he’s been arrested. “Hold on,” he says, “I always forget the number.” I can hear him counting on the other end of the phone, presumably recalling times and places. “Either nine or ten times,” he finally replies. “Yes, I think it’s nine times. But I’ve only been convicted five times.” I point out that he is running almost a 50 per cent acquittal rate. “Yeah,” he says, “I guess that’s pretty good!” These days, Saint-Maurice gets arrested less often, possibly because he has slightly toned down his activism. In 2004, he left the Marijuana Party and joined the federal Liberals. He’s now the president of the Liberal riding association for Laurier Sainte-Marie, where his Club is located. “Without naming names,” he says, “there are a lot of people in the Liberal party that enjoy marijuana.” As for the future, Saint-Maurice believes that his fight with the Montreal Compassion Club will one day lead to a Canada where marijuana is legal. “Social change happens on the ground and then the lawmakers catch up,” he says. “Whether it’s gay marriage, gun control or abortion, society takes a position way before legislatures act on it. And I think that’s what’s happening with marijuana.”
As we finish our drinks, Saint-Maurice arranges for Adam Greenblatt, who refers to himself as the store’s “horticultural consultant,” to show me around the Club. Upon entering, I’m immediately overwhelmed by the sweet smell of marijuana. To the left and right of the entrance, on the walls, hanging chalkboards quote the day’s specials. “Hammerhead” is selling for $10 a gram and, “M-39,” for $8 a gram. Fun names, for a serious business, but then again, they are selling pot. The front of the store is separated from the back by a waist-high display case that features the Club’s products, which not only include straight-up weed, but hash, marijuana pills, and marijuana cookies. “We have a professional pastry chef that makes most of the cookies,” Greenblatt says, adding, “I make them sometimes.” As we talk, Greenblatt reaches into a display case and pulls out a bottle containing a thick green liquid. “Tincture,” he says. “I make the tincture as well. It’s, like, marijuana soaked in alcohol. You just chop up a bunch of weed and soak it in alcohol for, like, three weeks. You leave it in the fridge and shake it up everyday.” He unscrews the top of the bottle to reveal a medicine dropper hidden inside. “It’s in drop-
Rolling with the punches
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Hey Daily, don’t forget about the workers
volume 98 number 06
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tudents often take it for granted that there are more than 3,000 workers on campus who make up the McGill community. This was blatantly evident in The Daily’s leading story on the Reclaim Your Campus (RYC) September 10 rally (“Students unite to take back campus,” News, September 11). The Teaching Assistants’ union (AGSEM) and the non-academic workers union (MUNACA) are also active members of the RYC campaign, which aims to unite students and workers on a common goal to reclaim McGill. As far as I can remember, RYC is the first seriously organized coalition between students and workers that goes beyond the usual nice-gesture-but-weak-solidarity of past protests. Now, I won’t even get to the disturbing fact that about 300 out of 540 words in that News piece were dedicated to the bike protest, and that the subheadline was also about the bike protest. This shifted the focus from the real demands of the campaign, which include the following: a fair contract for MUNACA, justice for TAs who were victimized during the strike, a democratically elected McGill Board of Governors (BoG), student space and freedom to organize events, and respect for referendum result. However, I am not trying to attack The McGill Daily or their writer for underreporting the workers’ participation in the RYC campaign. The point of this article is to expose a big-
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ger problem we have on our campus, which is the chronic ghettoization of student movement and student life in general. For many students, workers on campus are almost invisible; they are not part of campus life. Instead, the librarians are just staff members who are paid to maintain the library. The janitors are just some people paid to mop the floors. Student issues are the students’ only. Worker issues’ are the workers’ only. And not for the better. This process of alienation is part of the privatization and underfunding of our public education system, in which students and the workers are pitted against each other by university administrations. If students demand lower tuition fees, the administration responds by saying this will lead to a decreasing quality of education – which is an euphemism for sacking
workers. If the workers demand better working conditions and salaries, the administration complains that they are working on a deficit budget already, which is another way of saying that this will require an increase in tuition fees. Although, in reality, neither the students nor the workers ever win, since tuition fees are still shooting through the roof while the workers aren’t getting better working conditions. However, if we frame the issue in such a way that all members of the McGill community should be treated with respect – not only in words but also in deeds – which can only mean accessible quality education for the students and better working conditions for the workers, then we can clearly see that students and workers have the same interests. The only thing standing in their way is the cor-
porate interest – represented by the high-ranking officers at McGill and the BoG – which is encroaching on our education system. This is not a personal appeal for each student to start getting buddybuddy with the workers on campus. No. This ghettoization of student life is a social issue and cannot be solved through individual actions. It will take a collective effort from all members of the McGill community – students and workers – and the people of Montreal to break the stronghold of corporate interest on our campus, the driving force behind the alienation of students and workers. Furthermore, this collective effort has to be organized, and the RYC is the first step toward that. Ted Sprague is a Master’s II Chemistry student.
Doing justice to the new New Rez Floorfellows at the 515 MORE House
The Daily is published on most Mondays and Thursdays by the the Daily Publications Society, an autonomous, not-for-profit organization whose membership includes all McGill undergraduates and most graduate students.
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as a portion of The Daily’s article on the newest MORE Residence missing? The September 2 News story, “New New Rez at 515 Ste. Catherine,” begins by acknowledging the Rez’s perks – such as its amenities and “brand-new apartment” feeling – but it ends negatively and abruptly, incorrectly citing the distance from other MORE Houses and exaggerating minor building problems with floors on which MORE residents do not live. Further, the article concludes with a scathing quotation from a trusted residence expert (read: a random frosh leader) that calls McGill Residences “ill-prepared,” and the scenario for this newest MORE Residence “ridiculous.” Regarding the incorrect citation about distance: the complete MORE community consists not only of the houses on Pins and University,
but also the Dio, PrezRez, and the Greenbriar. The Dio – MORE’s geographic centre – is as far from 515 Ste. Catherine as it is from the houses on Pins. Simply, 515 is not geographically isolated from the other MORE buildings. We applaud The Daily for consulting and quoting both Janice Johnson, a face of the McGill Residences system, and Julia Huggett, a student at 515. However, we wonder why The Daily would consult a Frosh Leader. Who is Roland Lindala-Haumont, and how valuable is his opinion about a Rez that neither is nor was his home? It looks to us like The Daily fished around for a biting quotation, and found one from someone who has nothing to do with the issue. Here’s a quotation: Laura Garfinkel, a U0 Arts student who lives in the 515 MORE Rez, said that The Daily’s article “didn’t do the Rez justice.” What was the intention of the article? As the floorfellows living in 515 Ste. Catherine, our primary concern is the happiness, safety, and wellbeing of our students. Surely, first years
who have just moved into their new home at 515 MORE can’t feel too comfortable reading such an article. It’s been a tradition of The Daily to criticize the McGill administration at every possible opportunity, but McGill Residences is a separate entity – and a proven defender of student rights at McGill. Any university that guarantees first-year housing deals with issues of overbooking. McGill Residences dealt with this year’s housing challenge in a brilliant way – offering the option of moving into a brand new apartment building in a great location, just seven minutes from the Roddick Gates. With regard to the article’s observation of a “hasty arrangement and scramble to complete construction,” the truth is that the building is completely and comfortably livable, with some unobtrusive scaffolding lingering around the exterior. Further, we take deep umbrage at the article’s analysis of fees. It may not have been intentional, but the paragraph on fees trivializes the entire McGill Residence experience. Are
the floorfellows, Director, and Rez Council not worth the marginal fee? Floorfellows are trained upper-years who provide social programming, academic advice, personal support, and friendship for students in the most transitional year of their lives – are they not worth it? Directors are University faculty and staff that serve as mentors, liaisons between students and McGill’s bureaucratic administration, and disciplinary officers – are their services not valuable? And do Council funds not enable events that make first year so memorable? 515 students on the McGill-leased floors, like any other MORE students, have the opportunity to run for MORE council and decide how these funds are invested. 515 MORE provides students with a beautiful home. Ask anyone – anyone who matters, anyway – and you’ll find that your article “didn’t do justice.” Adam Harris Levine, Alexandra Mealia, Alexander Metz, and Nikki Shaffeeullah are floorfellows at 515 MORE.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Letters: Piss, tuition, and the many faces of Manosij
Letters Smelling pee vs. saving the environment Re: “McGill takes first steps in male washrooms toward a sustainable campus” | News | Sept. 15, 2008 It is admirable, sustainable, and hopefully cost-effective for McGill to attempt to reduce the amount of water its bathrooms consume. However, I remember many an afternoon last year where I, having drank plenty of liquids during lunch at Bishop Mountain Hall in an eternally flawed attempt to get my money’s worth from an Upper-Rez meal plan, would find myself in the basement of the Birks building, using the urinal. Those of you who are privileged enough to have had both a class in Birks and the requirements for using a urinal will remember the overpowering stench emanating from that bathroom throughout all of second semester. The University had installed urinals which did not flush, but instead drained the urine somewhere (based on the smell, it couldn’t have been very far away). As my memory serves, those who, like me, were displeased by the smell recorded their displeasure on the wall next to the urinal. Now, the new urinal system The Daily wrote about is quite different, and let’s hope it doesn’t flood the surrounding area with the inextinguishable smell of piss, because saving the environment is great, but at what cost!?
dominant discourse of the student movement was “for a free and accessible education for all,” thus, it included demands for the abolition of international student fees too. Also, I’d like to draw attention to University Services Associate VicePrincipal Jim Nicell’s comments in last Monday’s issue. In response to questions about the place of cyclists on campus he said: “We’re blocking off more of the campus every year, and we’re growing and moving in a sustainable direction.” Come on! How vague can he be? I’ve asked around and no one is really sure what was “blocked off” last year on campus for cyclists! If you know, please tell me. Furthermore, how is controlling bike traffic on campus “growing and moving in a sustainable direction?” In my opinion, a sustainable direction would direct resources to creating bike lanes on campus, and having a car-free campus every day, not just once a year. Tessa Vikander U2 Sociology
Totally Freaked Manosij! I don’t get it. The Daily and I are supposed to disagree and outrage each other, not find the same causes close to our hearts. First, international tuitions. Now, copyright. What next, a movement for Enterprise seasons five to seven direct to DVD? An editorial on why Earl Grey rules? Are you guys channelling me or something? Creepy. But keep it up. I like. Freaked out, Manosij Majumdar U2 Chemical Engineering
mystery of the universe), McGill could find itself observing a mass movement of a different kind. Right now, McGill is simply less of a leech than other places. As the recent fall of giants (Lehman, AIG, Merrill Lynch… this is giving me heartache) reminds us, the market changes. Where will dear old McGill be when it does? Sincerely, Manosij Majumdar U2 Chemical Engineering
Geeky Manosij! Re: “Daily-inspired insanity” | Commentary | Sept. 15, 2008 Thanks but no thanks, Devon. I could never associate with someone like you; someone who hates “space aliens” so indiscriminately and blatantly. Even that term reeks of blackand-white, klaatu-barada-nikto-era xenophobia. Sure, the Xindi will attack Earth in the 22nd century, and the Breen in the 24th, but can we ignore the centuries of co-operation from the Vulcans? And how am I to face the antennae of my blueskinned friends I meet over a glass of Andorian ale every other Friday? Narrow-minded anthroposupremacists like you are the reason the Romulans are so suspicious of us. And I thought The McGill Daily didn’t publish hateful letters. No more doses of obscure Star Trek fanboy references for you! From now on, I shall stick to Kung-Fu Panda references, my new(est) instrument of torture to make people around me roll eyes and wish they were somewhere else. There is no charge for awesomeness. Or geekiness. Manosij Majumdar U2 Chemical Engineering
James Hirsh U1 Politial Science
You’re good, almost
Re: “You gotta fight for low fees” | Commentary | Sept. 15, 2008
Just a simple, friendly, quaint suggestion
Thank you for the history lesson, Dave, but it seems to me no one is quite putting their bodies on the line now that their own demand for non-fees has been met. I wouldn’t – couldn’t – fairly expect it. If my country had foreigners lining up for its universities, I’d be all for milking them to fund my fellow sons and daughters of the soil. I understand the Quebec/Canada situation, but why a French non-Canadian should pay differently from a Korean nonCanadian is one of the mysteries of the universe to me. We international students are a rather apolitical bunch (this is anecdotal; don’t ask for a survey report, but I probably know about 100 internationals here), and our concerns revolve mainly around get in, get a degree, get out. Our choice is simply the best value-for-money, and if American or British universities were to cut their international tuition enough (and that would be another
I would like to remind students (especially first years) that from September 14 to 28 you can opt out of paying certain fees, totaling about $30 per semester. To opt out, go on Minerva/Student Menu/Student accounts/Student fee opt out. If you’re wondering whether organizations like CKUT-Radio are worth your four dollars this semester, I encourage you to listen to some of their fine programs. I am confident you will be able to make an informed decision.
Re: “It’s time to care about international tuition” | Commentary; “McGill switches gears on cycling Montrealers” | News | Sept. 8, 2008 Last Monday, The Daily published an editorial concerning the hike of international student fees at McGill. Thanks for calling McGillians on the fact that there was little to no mobilization specifically against MunroeBlum’s $1,000 per year increase. At the very least, SSMU could have notified folks about the issue over their listserv. However, I would like to correct The Daily on one point: In suggesting that “International students take a cue from their in-province counterparts, who led a high profile fight against the de-freeze of their tuition fees” (emphasis mine), The Daily suggested that the Quebec student movement does not address the issue of international student fees. To the contrary, last year, the
Karl Tennessen U3 Science More letters were received than could be printed in this issue. They will appear on Monday. Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, and try to cap them at 300 words. The Daily does not print letters that are sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise hateful.
Another ban that shouldn’t be
Want to be a Daily columnist? You still have time! Send three 500-word sample columns and a short cover letter to Commentary@mcgilldaily. com by this Sunday, September 21 at 6 p.m.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Mind your fucking manners! A new CTV documentary discusses the downfall of common decency Aaron Vansintjan
The McGill Daily
ou can tell you’re in for a good ride when a television documentary starts with the words: “Hello, I’m William Shatner, and I’m here to tell you how fucking rude people are these days.” That’s right, To Hell With Manners! The Decline of Civility – directed by documentary veteran John Curtin and narrated by William Shatner – is definitely worth a watch. Airing this Saturday, the documentary is a 40-minute blurb on bad manners in contemporary society. It features chats with journalists, etiquette specialists, office workers, pregnant women, women pretending to be pregnant, victims of the Internet, chubby highway cops, and McGill’s very own Professor Jonathan Sterne. It takes bits of North American life and presents them on an entertaining platter. While the documentary is often funny, it also has a more serious side. The situation of April Branum, the overweight woman who didn’t real-
ize she was pregnant due to her size, is at first absurd to the point of hilarity. However, she presents a good case when she expresses her grievances over slander on the Internet. When one woman pretends to be pregnant on the Toronto subway and is not once offered a seat, you can’t help but feel slightly crestfallen at the current state of manners in society. Don’t expect too much in-depth analysis from this film, however. While rebellious hippies are regarded as one potential origin of recent incivility, Curtin only briefly interviews a handful of professors, a specialist on office manners, and a lamenting journalist about the particular theory. Questions fail to enlighten and the documentary is nothing more than thought-provoking. It would have been nice to see deeper questions asked, such as trying to pinpoint a possible moment in time that tipped the balance: maybe it was Marilyn Monroe revealing her “scandalous” white underpants in Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch that had an impact on audiences’ behavior; perhaps it was a movie like The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman’s
exceedingly bored character relishes in rudeness and breaking society boundaries. One theme in particular was very interesting; Josh Freed, the lamenting journalist, stated, “Rudeness and rage are a by-product of the increasingly anonymous world we live in.” Rampant celebrities, according to the documentary, also play a major role. This strikes true. The modernday anti-hero is no longer Humphrey Bogart as the troubled Rick Blaine; it’s Samuel L. Jackson as Pulp Fiction’s loudmouth Jules Winnfield. Our Cary Grant may well be George Clooney, but Brad Pitt in Fight Club is every boy’s wet dream. What could shine a light on the problem is the “online dis-inhibition effect.” The Internet, because it is often impersonal, is a perfect place for people to vent their rage and insecurities without receiving direct retribution. How many forum threads or YouTube comments have you read that slander and put down someone’s honest work? How many ignorant readers state their misguided opinions and insult writers? The key that the documentary mentions is ano-
nymity: people have distanced them- Shatner! Thinking of wasting time selves from one another, so that they watching random YouTube videos no longer respect others as human and commenting on them angrily? Watch this instead. beings. It is likely that discourtesy graduTo Hell With Manners! The Decline ally emerged: rising stress and techof Civility airs on CTV nology, as To Hell With Manners! this Saturday at 7 states, may cause angrier drivers, cop.m. workers, and pedestrians. Maybe bad manners are just another product of history – there is no definite perpetrator in this “conspiracy without conspirators.” It could all be part of our changing sexual mores. Perhaps society uses the degeneration of manners as a kind of catharsis for underlying problems that are even more deeply rooted. The film only briefly touches on these problems, but that’s okay. Take it for what it is: a documentary that is entertaining, thoughtBen Peck / The McGill Daily provoking, and, well, narrated by Humphrey Bogart was the anti-hero of his time, William “Fucking” but a lot less rude than Samuel L. Jackson.
Director John Curtin comments on the decline of civility
he Daily had a chat with Montrealer John Curtin, a journalist with 17 documentaries to his name, about his latest work, To Hell With Manners.
Ben Peck/ The McGill Daily
Marilyn Monroe changed a generation when she showed off her scandalous legs in The Seven Year Itch.
The McGill Daily: What sparked the idea to make this documentary? John Curtin: It’s funny, everyone asks me that. Unfortunately, I don’t have a very interesting answer. I think that people think that one day someone said “Fuck you” or gave me the finger and I just decided to make a film. It wasn’t that spectacular. It was just sort of an observation. I thought of this topic like ten years ago, and even suggested it to a broadcaster [then], and they weren’t interested. And I thought, “Well, maybe this is an interesting topic,” since I’ve read dozens if not hundreds of articles about it, and it seems to have bubbled to the fore. I guess the next question is why [rudeness has increased]. I think one important factor is certainly all
the gadgets that distract us from the people that are right in front of us. Unfortunately, electronics draw your attention, and it’s hard to ignore a ringing phone or a screen that’s lighting up and flashing, so you tend to [pay attention to] your technology and forget about the person in front of you. MD: How did you manage to get William Shatner to narrate? JC: (Laughs) Lots of money! That’s the only reason. I won’t tell you how much, because it’s way over my budget. I had some contingency funds and dumped it all – and some more – into Shatner’s fee, which is unbelievably high. He did say, since I’m from Montreal, that I get a 50 per cent discount, but when you’re discounting from that high.... Really it was extremely expensive. It’s a funny little story. I arrived at this studio in L.A. and someone told me that 20 minutes beforehand [Shatner] had run out of there and shouted, “People are so fucking rude!” so he was all worked up. But he was actually very good [in the film], and this gave me an idea: maybe he could introduce himself this way. He
actually thought it was very funny. At some points, he burst out laughing reading the script – he enjoyed it very much. I think I would enjoy anything if I got the fees he gets. MD: How do you think films such as Pulp Fiction, very prominent in today’s pop culture, have affected the rise of rudeness? JC: Oh my god! You know what, I had a section that I put in there – CTV wasn’t convinced – but I did insist. I think that it’s a valid comment to say that our culture is one that seems to say bad is good. In fact, doesn’t the expression “It’s real bad,” now mean “It’s good,” and I can’t remember the expression.... MD: Badass? JC: Yeah yeah, badass, that really means cool or admirable or something. I do believe that the prevalent cultural icons, whether it’s Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, are just misbehaving to get attention. MD: One woman in your documentary, April Branum, displayed the amazing feat of being pregnant without noticing. How comfortable
was she, and were you, while filming this story? JC: Well I told her this was a story about incivility, and she felt that people were very unkind to her. I think she comes across as very sympathetic and she is, in fact, a very kind person. It was a good example of how people just trash anyone. I guess it was kind of brave of her, I personally probably wouldn’t have gone on television to talk about it if I had been humiliated, but, you know what, it came across quite well, and I’ll send her a DVD. I’m sure she’ll be very happy with that: one of the more dignified stories is about her, and I think it makes a point. MD: Do you think it’s true that, in our society, nice guys finish last? JC: Well, certainly the experts will tell you that’s not true; nice guys, and gals, will eventually prevail. Sure, being treacherous might have some short-term gain, but treating other people well is certainly a more likely way of getting not just to your goals but getting other people to help you get there. I don’t think there’s a clear distinction between civility and morality, they cross over in certain areas.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Montreal’s magical mystery tour
Dynamo Coléoptera channel bottomless energy into swirling surrealist performances Joshua Frank
The McGill Daily
ou are completely surrounded! Resistance is useless! Give yourselves up!” François Girouard screams through a screechy bullhorn. “It is evident that you are compl-e-t-ely circled,” singsongs his partner, Maya Kuroki, “by an ENORMOUS EGGSHELL!” This is the startling opening to Dynamo Coléoptera’s joyously raucous show, and they couldn’t have put it better. Fantastic, energetic, and allencompassing, the Montreal duo’s performances meld surrealist stories with traditional Japanese theatre, psychedelic krautrock repetition, and eerie film-soundtrack hooks. Across the quilted barriers of their threewalled, self-designed stage scroll Japanese-English translations: otherworldly tales of a man who dreams he is being chased by an enormous floating egg. And among the audience, on a raised platform, Tomomi Morimoto, a petite woman in a large, cat-head mask jumps, bends, and generally rocks out to the noisy narrative being tinkered and hammered out onstage. “We share a vision of how music should be,” says Girouard of his relationship with Kuroki, over cherryinfused green tea at Café l’Escalier, the sunny hangout where Dynamo Coléoptera first began to perform. “Like a trip, it should change, and tell a story,” he explains. Singing in Japanese, French, and English while pounding out guitar chords or noodling spaghetti western riffs, Kuroki expresses her desire to “create a universe in each song.”
“We don’t want people to know the song before we play it,” explains Girouard. “Sometimes you go to see a rock band, and you can kind of expect the next beat, the next thing. With the kind of music we make…we want people to wonder where they’ll go next.” Dynamo Coléoptera hold fast to this aesthetic, both to their success and detriment. Certainly, they achieve their goal: pieces meld into each other, forming an unpredictable narrative that teems with recurring motifs and expository vocal passages. These are not songs, but movements, the acts of a play – only in a live setting can their craft be fully expressed. “It’s one show,” insists Girouard, whose concert attire includes a goofy top hat that complements the bright ribbons in Kuroki’s braided hair. “Each element is just a part of the whole experience, which starts when people come into the [performance] space. An album is different. On a CD, everything is fixed; there are no surprises.” Dynamo Coléoptera’s performances, continues Girouard, are ideally as exciting for the musicians themselves as the spectators to whom everything is new. In their shows, “It’s about sharing energy with the audience,” he affirms. In fact, the group’s aesthetic interests have more to do with energy than Kuroki’s stage moves and Morimoto’s cavorting cat-woman. The name Dynamo Coléoptera comes from a verse by 1920s poet Kenji Miyazawa. Especially interested in the future, Miyazawa envisioned a world where power could be tapped from beetles, known in Latin by the order Coleoptera. To Kuroki, the hard-shelled insects exemplify beau-
ty: “They’re maladroit and gentle, but [have] so much energy inside them.” “[Today] we have to be serious about energy, because it’s a serious problem,” she cautions. Still, Kuroki’s solution may seem too deeply rooted in her own surrealist exercises. “It’s not about looking for energy from outside,” she reveals, “but from inside ourselves.” Consider the wonder with which she regards the natural world, however, and it’s hard to deny she’s on to something. With surrealism, notes Kuroki, “We can become more compassionate, and understand that things are just there, that they’re beautiful.” Though hardly a raging political diatribe, her emphasis on appreciating the environment carries a certain heft. It’s the same deep-rooted appreciation for their surroundings that allows Dynamo Coléoptera to develop their craft in Montreal. “It’s rare that cultures mixing can turn out so positively,” smiles Kuroki, who made the city her home seven years ago. “In this small town, there’s so much diversity. There are so many people, and still we don’t kill each other – we’re happy and smiling. It’s a miracle.” Indeed, Montreal’s left-leaning roots and communal energy have brought a certain degree of acceptance for Dynamo Coléoptera. For the past year, they’ve been working with the technical and logistical support of Montréal arts interculturels (MAI), preparing for this week’s series of performances. The Conseil des arts et des letters du Quebec have also offered financial support to the group. The result: “We feel we’re on track,” notes Girouard, “and [we will go] where we want to go.” While seemingly better suited
to avant-garde artists’ lofts than the café-bars or youth centres the band often plays, Dynamo Coléoptera’s clanging, euphoric multimedia productions have steadily broken boundaries over the past four years. “We will not be imprisoned by definitions,” affirms Kuroki, softly. “We are not scared.”
seven years, playing his first show at the age of 13. Today, he writes all of his own music and lyrics, and is looking to sign his first completed EP, What We Talk About. If he must, Bourque cites R.E.M., the Counting Crows, and Ben Kweller as influences on his sound. “My music is melody-driven with a pop-rock influence, although I don’t find my music sounds like anyone else’s. I just appreciate their wellcrafted pop sound,” he says. When it comes to writing music, Bourque possesses a sincere, natural talent. Although not formally trained in music composition, nor studying music like some of his band-mates, he does not find any sort of antipathy between the two camps. “Musicians
may bring different skills and knowledge to the table, but it usually leads to collaboration rather than division.” And what does Bourque think of this dynamic and diverse Montreal music scene? “People can write whatever music they want, and I prefer to play music that is more pleasant to the ear because that is what I like to hear. I don’t have a pop-rock sound because I know that more people will like it – it just comes out that way. It’s supposed to be uplifting – and I wouldn’t make music that sounds odd just for the sake of being weird.” Compared to bands which force originality to the point of aggravating or alienating their listener, Bourque’s clear and unabashed
Dynamo Coléoptera play at 8 p.m. today, tomorrow, and Saturday at MAI – Montréal arts interculturels (3680 Jeanne Mance). Student tickets are $15. They’re also performing a family matinee at 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free for anyone under the age of 16.
Dynamo Coléoptera want to take you on a trip.
Courtesy of Dynamo Coléoptera
Not afraid to be catchy The charming guitar hooks of McGill’s Laurent Bourque Sara Duplancic Culture Writer
t is not bold to claim that Montreal is known nationally, and even internationally, for its dynamic, diverse, and exploratory music scene. Especially when compared to its smaller and more sensible neighbours such as Ottawa, artists of all types flock to our metropolis craving its opportunities for creative input and output.
For Laurent Bourque, Montreal seemed like a logical progression after his education at Lycée Claudel, a French secondary school in Ottawa. Now a Political Science major at McGill, his move to Montreal may be beneficial to his pursuit of higher education, but even more essential in nourishing his music – a lifelong passion. At the age of nine, Bourque began with guitar lessons and later formed a band with one of his childhood friends, with whom he still performs. “Marco [Taucer] and I were in a band called the Spark, but just as everyone grows up and changes, our music has evolved since those times.” Before his move to Montreal, Bourque had been performing in Ottawa for over
regard toward melody and music is, well, very nice. Bourque plays La Tulipe (4530 Papineau) tonight, along with Taucer (melodica, vocals), Dan Foreman Mackey (bass, vocals), Zoe Speed (keyboard, xylophone, vocals), Nicholas Schofield (drums), and Patrick Cruvellier (violin). They will be playing after Caroline Keating, solo piano, and before Miracle Fortress – a well-known Montreal band and recent recipient of the Polaris Music Prize. Tickets for Laurent Bourque’s show are $14 and can be purchased at admission.com. The doors open at 9:00 p.m. and the performance starts at 9:30 p.m..
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
V-I-N-D-I-C-A-T-I-O-N Over-the-hill orthographers shine at the monthly Mile End Spelling Bee Allison Friedman Culture Writer
Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily
Hitler’s willing entertainer Oooo! brings slapstick satire to the Third Reich Daniel Gurin
The McGill Daily
ear the beginning of Oooo!, a new play set in Nazi Germany toward the end of the war, two clowns sit in the bombed-out rubble of a circus tent discussing the moral responsibilities of comic performers trapped in real-life political tragedy. Charlie, whose character is based on a famous Catalonian clown, wants to keep current events out of the circus ring. His stage name comes from Charlie Chaplin, and his clown routine is pure slapstick – which is convenient for Nazi authorities eager to distract the people from Germany’s military losses. Witzi, in contrast, refuses to ignore the fascist nightmare around him. He tries to inject political satire into his comic pantomime, although his funniest jokes are deadpan statements of truth: “What is a Nazi? Someone who follows the ideas of a Führer. What is an antiNazi? Someone who understands them.” Representing the former category is Kraus, a Gestapo plug-ugly with a full set of Aryan features and an empty Nazi head. At the start of the play, which makes its English language debut this week at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, Kraus orders Charlie to perform at Hitler’s
birthday. “You know how the Führer admires your art. He wants to make you state clown.” Charlie seems willing enough to play the part of Reichstag jester, although he becomes more reluctant when Kraus adds a personal request: he wants to be a part of the act. The problem is that Kraus, like all Nazis, is pathologically unfunny. His attempts at clowning end in frustration, and his comedic ambitions quickly degenerate into murderous resentment of the more talented clowns. Kraus’s yearning to “be funny” is one of the ways the playwright, the Catalan Gerard Vàzquez, makes a potentially gimmicky premise – clowns in Nazi Germany! – into a drama of real political and psychological insight. With Kraus, the play convincingly shows how, in a culture built on hatred and violence, a man’s petty embarrassment over not telling good jokes could drive him to jealous slaughter. Meanwhile, with Charlie, the play illustrates how the most innocentsounding motives can give rise to dangerous complacency. Charlie insists his job as a clown is just to “make people laugh, to forget their suffering.” It only occurs to him late in the game that the people who come to his shows tend to be the ones inflicting the suffering. The only times that these characters ring false are in the instances they actually talk about Nazi atrocities. When someone broaches the subject of the Jewish deportations, Charlie responds, “In a time of war, what do you expect?” But no one in Germany could seriously subscribe
to such deluded folderol, since the persecution of Jews began years before the war. One of the Jews deported is Witzi, and the scenes of him on a train to Auschwitz, in which he has a oneway conversation with a mute child in clown costume, are the most moving in the play. These bleak soliloquies punctuate scenes of Charlie and Kraus practising their act for Hitler, and the contrast poignantly captures the double-sided reality of a brutally exclusionary state. Even more striking is the juxtaposition of Witzi’s morbid fate and his insouciant last words. He never stops cracking jokes, like the host of a latenight talk show: “I got 20 years and a day for saying Hitler was an idiot: a day for insulting Hitler and 20 years for leaking a state secret.” Meanwhile, Charlie realizes the folly of his complacent clowning, and teams up with an old friend of Witzi’s to plan a Stauffenberg-style surprise for Hitler’s birthday show. But of course the scheme doesn’t succeed: the war has to go on. Sometimes, the play suggests that the moral choices of individuals matter as little to history as they do to dictators. But even if tyrants stamp out resistance, they can’t really handle satire. their only comeback is more senseless violence. So when Witzi steps into the gas chamber, he still seems to be mocking the small-minded sadism of his executioners. “I’ve always had a fantasy about killing people with laughter,” he says. “I’m sure the S.S. will be furious. I’m going to make these people laugh so hard they literally die.”
ake a chance, folks. You have nothing to lose but your dignity.” From the small stage of Mile-End’s Le Cagibi café, Sherwin Tjia directed these encouraging words at the colourful assortment of people filling the room. The crowd was gathered to participate in the inaugural Monthly Mile-End Spelling Bee, a charmingly nostalgic event meant to give over-the-hill prodigies a second chance to shine. Though I began the evening with absolutely no intention of competing, I found myself impulsively overcome by the desire to make up for a childhood spelling bee career thwarted – before its inception – by a classic case of stage fright. That, and I don’t value my dignity very highly to begin with. Throwing caution to the wind, I added my name at the last minute to the dozen-long list of hopeful spelling bee champs. Tjia was the evening’s organizer and its emcee. A former McGill Daily columnist, he is now the brains behind Perpetual Emotion Machine Productions, a team that arranges a variety of weird and wonderful happenings around Montreal. “I like to create strange events that are participatory and slightly experimental,” Tjia explains, “so that people aren’t just watching a show, but creating it.” The unpredictable nature of these “shows” is, for Tjia, the best part. “I don’t really know what’s going to happen,” he told the crowd, before officially commencing the evening. “I run these events to [find out].” Feeling a bit like a guinea pig, but in a delightful way, I began to size up the competition. To my left was a man wearing a (rather tight) yellow t-shirt that read: “Newsday Spelling Bee Champ.” Later introducing himself as Joseph, he told me that it was a souvenir from a bee he won in the first grade. “But I lost at the next level,” he recalled, not without a hint of wistfulness. “The word was ‘bigot.’” Also contending was a woman,
somewhat older than the rest of us, who inexplicably went by the name “Shira Shakira” – and did a bit of a jig when she introduced herself to the audience. Besides having unusually mature contestants, this bee was also more forgiving than the traditional sort: we were allowed two strikes before being eliminated, and were given a series of coupons to help forestall humiliation. “We hate to see you fail,” said Tjia. One such coupon permitted the bearer to skip a difficult word, provided that they immediately bought the host a drink. But as the competition wore on, old-fashioned stalling turned out to be the most popular tactic. At one point, Shira Shakira requested the etymology of a word three times before Tjia finally insisted that she “just spell it already.” When my turn arrived, I realized with sudden embarrassment that my hands were trembling. But it was hard to remain nervous for long. The room was filled with an over-the-top yet Infectious camaraderie, as contestants vigourously clapped and cheered each other on. I began to get pretty absorbed in the game, even a bit competitive. In the end, I was eliminated after botching the word “tourniquet,” but was genuinely glad when Joseph emerged as the evening’s champion. Perhaps now he can finally put the “bigot” incident to rest. Those who regret missing the first bee are in luck as Tjia intends for it to be a monthly occasion. Perpetual Emotion Machine Productions is also holding several other events in the next couple of months, including a Love Letter Readings Open Mic Night and a Slowdance Night. “I’ve discovered that people have a hunger for strange events,” says Tjia. “But they also like the familiar, so I try to incorporate facets of both.” He hopes that the resulting shows are welcoming rather than isolating, and judging by the Spelling Bee, he has achieved success – that’s double C, double S. Perpetual Emotion Machine can be found online at facebook.com, just like the rest of us.
cul·ture \kul-chèr\ , n. 1: cultivation, tillage 2: the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education 3: the most charming and attractive section of The McGill Daily.
Want in? Meetings are every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in The Daily office (B-24 in the basement of Shatner). Dictionaries not required.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
“Unclassifiable” at the Darling Foundry shakes up conventional movie viewing expectations Nancy Termini Culture Writer
ometimes we watch films just to get swept away by the thrill ride, by the tear jerker, or by the love story that punches us in the gut. When we’re feeling particularly edgy, we rock our narrative socks a bit by watching other films that take us away from traditional continuity editing à la Tarentino. And then there are films that disengage us entirely from our filmic comfort zones; these are the kinds of films being screened at the Darling Foundry’s exhibition, “Unclassifiable.” Running from September 4 to October 5, this four-week series of short films is thematically grouped into four exhibits essentially designed to encourage the viewer to do some cinematic soul-searching. The films in the first series, “Pop Goes the Video,” which ran from September 4 to 10, each presented an irony or paradox that left the viewer slightly unsettled by the way that our traditional film-viewing sensibilities had been jostled. This is precisely the goal of the exhibition: to examine how film is used, what sort of conventional forms it has evolved into, and what creative limits mainstream media have boxed around it. “Pop Goes the Video” set the exhibit’s tone for engaging an active viewer – sometimes jarringly so. The memorable claymation pornography short, or the one of a typical meatmarket bar scene presented with placid, almost anthropological objectivity spring immediately to mind. This week’s series, “Re-Sampling Hollywood,” picks up where “Pop Goes the Video” left off. This second series more directly turns our Hollywood-informed cinema expectations inside-out and makes us shift our understanding of how we ourselves passively per-
Courtesy of the Darling Foundry
A condensed-soup version of Jack Nicholson’s role in Witches of Eastwick suggests an alternative understanding of his celebrity. ceive film. “Unclassifiable’s” films are like one big talk-back session to the Hollywood machine – they separate us from the patterns we don’t realize we apply when watching films, leaving us to examine these mainstream blueprints more objectively. In “Re-Sampling Hollywood,” film as a medium is examined, questioning modern cinema’s visual tendencies, and encouraging us to really look at how we perceive the entertainer. One of the films features every single one of Jack Nicholson’s lines from The Witches of Eastwick edited back-to-back. The borderline hilarity – flashing images of Nicholson’s trademark drawling, seductive growl suddenly cut to him projectile vomiting in a church service – conjures
interesting questions about the way an aura of celebrity influences our reaction to a film. Nicholson seems suddenly ridiculous. Granted, any movie that chops out every single line except for those of one character is bound not to make sense. But just as in the silent, tongue-in-cheek Rambo montage two films afterwards, we are reminded of how often we watch the celebrity and not the film at all. In another film, comprised of many shots of celebrities all talking reverently about an ambiguous “Him,” the viewer initially assumes that they are describing some televangelist-type preacher. About halfway through, we think that perhaps they are actually referring to a great director, before we ultimately realize
that each interviewee has been talking about an entirely different person. Again, our conventions of perception are shaken out like a musty rug as these clips decontextualize our assumptions. Once the celebrity figure has been thrown to the dogs by Nicholson and Rambo, we’re invited to question our perception of entertainers in another way, but with the same message: are we watching the story or the entertainer? In Cowboy Russ, we become increasingly less interested in Russ’s story than in the way he tells it – why on earth is this nondescript guy in an undershirt elaborately describing a fight scene from The Magnificent Seven? Ultimately, we just see his vulnerability as he stands by himself for
a solid minute, awkwardly watching the camera and waiting for it to cut as he gradually becomes aware that it is actually himself – and not the story – that’s being watched. This being said, “Unclassifiable” is not necessarily out to shred boxoffice hits with a knife sharpened by some holier-than-thou art film snob. The exhibit instead aims to reveal to us our carefully groomed cinema palates, and invites us to re-examine the way we personally view film, to understand the creative parameters of modern cinema, and to shake us loose of our viewer passivity.
visual artists, and storytellers have participated in a variety of events. One of the special features this year is a series of events paying homage to de Beauvoir, in celebration of the writer’s 100th birthday. De Beauvoir personified the romantic ideal of Paris as the centre of intellectual conversation from the 1940s until her death in 1986. The “pure transparent freedom” that she wanted for every human life was physical as well as mental. De Beauvoir wrote memoirs intended to fuel the feminist movement, with her book Deuxieme Sexe (The Second Sex). She believed in freedom in every area of her life, including freedom
from normal social conventions that she thought kept many women from living the lives that they wanted. The festival begins showcasing the work of de Beauvoir this Saturday with Pourquoi je suis feministe, a screening of an interview with de Beauvoir, speaking of the future of feminism. Following this event is Premier plan: Simone de Beauvoir, featuring footage of an interview with de Beauvoir about her controversial work The Second Sex. The evening concludes with Simone de Beauvoir, femme actuelle, a documentary film by Dominique Gros that investigates the life of de Beauvoir. Finally, on Sunday there will be a Table Ronde,
on de Beauvoir’s influence in Quebec today and in the lives of women in the modern world. All of these free events are held at the Grande Bibliothèque. Other notable events taking place over the course of the week pay tribute to Yves Therault and Aime Cesaire. The festival also offers several “midis littéraires,” lunches accompanied by readings and discussions of francophone literature.
“Unclassifiable” is at the Darling Foundry til October 5. See fonderiedarling.org for details.
The Second Sex revisited Celebrating Simone de Beauvoir’s 100th at the Festival international de la littérature Jamie MacLean
wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom,” said Simone de Beauvoir, whose life’s work will be honoured at the Festival internationale de la litterature this weekend. The festival, an annual celebration
of francophone literature, is celebrating its 14th anniversary. The events begin tomorrow and continue until Saturday, September 27, with a series of readings, screenings, discussions, and performances at venues around Montreal. The festival was founded by UNEQ, a union of Quebecois writers seeking to fill a void of francophone literature in Montreal. It has since become independent of UNEQ, but it continues to bring new talent to the forefront of francophone culture and pay tribute to the legends of French literature. Over the short life of the festival, more than 2,500 writers, dancers, musicians, comedians,
For more information on these and other events that are part of the Festival internationale de la littérature francophone, visit festival-fil. qc.ca.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Burn after watching
The Coen brothers strike again Olivia Hoffmeyer Culture Writer
cannot believe that George Clooney is still hot – but he is. And Joel and Ethan Coen are still brilliant, and Brad Pitt is actually still an actor. The Coen brothers’ new film, Burn After Reading, opened on September 12 and after last year’s beautiful, bleak No Country for Old Men, it is a welcome return to the acerbic comic insight of some of the filmmakers’ earlier work. These guys may be dark and twisted, but they also made The Big Lebowski. The new movie does contain some Coen brothers’ trademarks: brutal violence, an emphasis on interpersonal relationships, and a striking attention to detail, but Burn After Reading laughs in the face of high stakes. The film is modeled after a highintensity CIA thriller – the likes of which Clooney is very familiar with – but does not derive its humour from typical thriller conventions. Though the premise could be easily mocked, the film doesn’t fall into the familiar trap of farce. Rather it is an intricate comedy of the mundane.
Dramatic emphasis is placed on inconsequential moments, whereas, serious events are treated flippantly to great comic effect. Burn After Reading focuses on two personal trainers at Hardbodies Health Club (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand), who uncover what they believe to be CIA secrets left on a CD in the lady’s locker room. This triggers a series of events that bring very different people face-to-face and expose fatal weaknesses in the film’s characters. The film is dazzling because of the Coens’ attention to detail, Clooney’s return to his comedic roots, and the entire cast’s commitment to their characters’ flaws. John Malkovich plays a CIA analyst with a sad life and a cold wife (Tilda Swinton). Pitt is wonderfully moronic and McDormand is self-involved in the most eccentric way. Clooney manages to make his sex-crazed and essentially despicable character human, and perhaps even likeable. The casting was perfect down to the remotest of secondary characters. Perhaps the best example was J.K. Simmons as a perplexed supervisor who voices the audience’s take on the whole proceedings with a
detached irritation. Essentially, this film is driven by a narcissistic desire for plastic surgery, a drinking problem, and serial internet dating. The focal moments, stylistically, are devoted to the seemingly inconsequential elements, asking us to laugh at the fact that the most important things in these characters’ lives are sex, money, and an inability to admit their insignificance. In a world where we are conditioned by the media to expect epic power struggles and dead spies, the Coen brothers manage to mock our expectations while still delivering on them. Burn After Reading is a comedy that acknowledges how outrageous the mundane really is, while acting as a saddening reminder of how pathetic people can be, and how maybe, we’ll never learn. Most of all, it is a showcase of the talented cast; there is no deep exploration of the human condition in the film – only a romp à la 1930s screwball comedies. There is no message, only the joy that creative artists at the top of their game can provide.
Whole lotta love Megalove, the band-about-town playing songs about love for everyone and everything, has had a pretty good run of it this year. Launched in summer 2007 as a “genre-busting” septet of singers and other legitimate musicians who happen to all be best friends, the band has held sway over venues such as Vinyl and Le Cagibi with their packed concertshindigs. The group performs funny, earnest tunes – favourites include “Who’s Going to Be the Next Guy to Have Group Sex?” and the Friends theme song – and often expand their
sets into theme parties with outfits to match. (Canada Day Karaoke was a particular success). The idea for Megalove sprung from the mind of Tara Mandarino, a former McGill student and pianist who began dabbling in song-writing a few years back. She’s said that Megalove was meant to be as much of a concept as a band, and it’s proven true: the band emphasizes good times, free love, and excellent dance moves, all of which have lured their devoted following to gig after gig. The Megalovers are throwing yet another event next Saturday night at The Playhouse, complete with opening acts, a dance show by Julliard students, and DJs spinning all night. The band and their guests have developed repertoires in accordance with the night’s theme: “Shitty Sloppy Drunk Sex.” Good times indeed. – Kelly Ebbels
Burn After Reading is now in theatres. Check cinemamontreal.com for listings.
Ben Peck / The McGill Daily
weekly pick Show: Wefunk Hosts: Mike Lai & Nick Foster, a.k.a. DJ Static and Professor Groove Time: Friday nights from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m.
few years ago, a hip-hopsavvy friend accused me of only listening to groups that every cool college kid likes: namely, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Digable Planets. “Well, that shit’s good,” I replied – but those three groups are hardly representative of an entire genre. Enter Wefunk, CKUT’s weekly two-hour slot dedicated to spinning out the musical lineage of soul and funk as well as hip hop. Spanning the spectre of both genres, the show is a prolific genre-mash of tracks from the last 40 years. Co-hosts DJ Static and Professor Groove joined forces over ten years ago, while both newbies were doing their volunteer training at CKUT. “I wasn’t deejaying before CKUT,” Groove relates. “I had been interested, but it was through doing the show that
I got my feet wet. I was just curious – I’d always listened to campus radio.” “Back when we were growing up, in the late eighties and early nineties, the only place you could hear hip hop was on college radio,” remembers Static. “Growing up in Vancouver and listening to college radio really inspired me to do my own show.” Upon meeting, Groove and Static drew the link between their musical specialties, and ran with it. “There are all sorts of different kinds of funk,” Groove explains. Static spins both commercial and underground hip hop, past and present. “We divide the music into sets, and create transitions that make a link between different styles and eras of music, where one is borrowing something from another.” Accounting and neuroscience students by day, the two McGill attendees have become internation-
Courtesy of Wefunk
If you like this guy’s glasses tricks, wait ‘til you see what he can do with the microphone. ally infamous over the past ten years – Wefunk is listed in iTunes’s podcast library, attracting listeners from Croatia, South Africa, South America, Switzerland, and beyond. The pair has toured Europe seven times. Wefunk also received the National Sylus DJ award in 2007 for College Radio Show of the Year. Their success came as a total surprise. “When we started, we definitely didn’t think it could or would go
this far,” muses Static. “It was totally unexpected – [we] started off as a college radio show like any other.” Whether you’re an enthusiast or a curious beginner, the pair recommends setting foot in the studio and trying your hand at deejaying. “All you need to do is come in with an idea and music,” advises the Professor. “[CKUT] provides the training and equipment for you. We walked in not knowing the first thing about radio,
except having listened to it. If you have a good idea for a fun show, run with it. Who knows how far it could take you.” Wefunk’s 530-show archive is online at wefunkradio.com; show archives are also available at ckut. ca. To volunteer at CKUT, check out the station’s open house on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 3647 University.
Compendium! Lies, Half-truths, & the Almighty Book
The McGill Daily, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Concordia admin gets one spam email, bans Facebook Issue gets tons of media attention, though federal election still happening next month Winston Jeffries and Sarah Mortimer The McGill Daily
fter perusing the Internet web site SweetKandy.com, an unsuspecting Concordia University administrator received a single spam email intended for mature audiences. Instead of deleting it, the administrator took the issue to Concordia’s IT experts at Videotron, who suggested the University ban Facebook on the campus’s wired computers. “That means ‘desktop’ computers in layman’s terms,” a Concordia IT representative said. “We swear, the only possible way for someone to hack into a computer at Concordia is through Facebook,” the rep added. When The Daily’s IT department pointed out that email – not to mention every other web site ever – can be a source of spam and viruses, and that the reasoning behind the ban
was overall a big heap of bullshit, and that they maybe should’ve consulted students before going through with the ban authoritarian-style, the representative got all flustered and left. “The Concordia representative is flustered,” their status later read. Second-year Political Science student Ezra O’Washington said he was relieved at the decision because he heard evil-doers used Facebook. “First our Facebook, then our liberty,” O’Washington said. Another Concordia undergraduate student was quasi-pissed. “McGill students get to check their Facebook updates all day. What’s next – banning laughter?” she asked seriously. The decision to ban Concordia students from maintaining their virtual popularity while using school computers has garnered considerable attention from every major media outlet, who have taken a break from an intense four days of Canadian federal election coverage. Apparently, Canadians were confused by the coverage, as they continue to be transfixed by the 79th month of the lead-up to the American one. In other news, the Canadian election is still on and Sarah Palin is afraid of cats.
Angel Chen’s illustrations will appear every other Thursday. Send questions, comments, genus, and species to email@example.com. Yep, that’s her personal email.
I see you baby Readin’ that Daily Readin’ that Daily I see you baby Thinkin’-aboutsendin’-comicsto-The-Daily Thinkin’-aboutsendin’-comicsto-The-Daily
Compendium@mcgilldaily.com Concept by Winston Jeffries, Graphic by Sarah Mortimer / The McGill Daily