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Volume 98, Issue 9

September 29, 2008

McGill THE

DAILY

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News

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

3

Course packs go digital through library Publishers still reluctant to grant digital distribution rights to company that negotiates copyright Will Vanderbilt

The McGill Daily

A

system that capitalizes on existing online materials in library databases could significantly minimize McGill’s paper trail by cutting down the number of pages used to make hardcopy course packs. Students already pay the library to access academic material online, and linking course reading lists to the library’s databases could reduce dependency on course packs that still haven’t made it online because of copyright rules. Right now, professors can direct students via WebCT to readings in the library’s digital collection of journals, historical documents, and e-books. Materials not included in those databases would be sold in a small course pack. SSMU VP University Affairs Nadya Wilkinson hopes the direct linking system would save students money and reduce the use of paper. “In the short term, we want to get the [printed] course packs as small as possible,” she said. The library spends more than half of its $14.5-million budget on a constantly growing bank of online materials according to Diane Koen, the library’s Associate Director of Planning and Resources. Students can access 40,000 e-journals and 1.2-million e-books through the

library’s database. “The library holds far more journals online than in print,” Koen wrote in an email statement to The Daily. Koen estimated that hundreds of professors are using the direct linking system this semester. The size and volume of course packs decreased this year from an average of 340 to 333 pages, according to course pack coordinator James Warne. On the scale that McGill prints course packs, that’s 700,000 pages of material. Warne explained that administrative expenses – acquiring material, scanning pages, and reporting use of each page to publishers – accounts for a large portion of the ten-centsper-page fee that students pay for course packs. Most of those tasks are outsourced to Eastman systems – a Montreal company contracted by McGill to obtain copyright clearances for all content and deliver an electronic file back to the University for printing. Eastman also collects an additional copyright fee for readings that use either 25 pages or more than ten per cent of their original source material. According to the company’s president Craig Park, Eastman has been ready to put McGill course packs online for six years, but haven’t been able to because a scanned image of a page and a paper copy of the same material are treated differently under copyright law. Publishers are

reluctant to grant digital distribution rights, and when they do agree, they charge exorbitant rates. “I think the best thing to do is to change the copyright legislation, which would make digital copies the same as printed copies – they’re the same thing, why are they treated differently?” said Park. This alternative approach to electronic course packs is shared by Warne, who explained that with a digital distribution system, copyrights still needed to be cleared with publishers for the content’s distribution. “Obviously if you move to digital, you still have to do the entire reporting step,” Warne said. Arts Senator Zachary Honoroff who is exploring the option of electronic course packs, said that putting entire course packs online was a longterm goal. For now, he hopes that students will encourage their professors to use the Library Databases that they already pay for. “We just want to give students a choice,” Honoroff said. Barry Schmidt, the General Manager of the McGill Bookstore, said that while course packs represent about 25 per cent of his textbook sales, he’d still like to see them be available to students digitally. “If they’re available online through the libraries, and it reduces the cost of course materials to students, I’m pretty much in favour of it,” he said. The packs are sold with little

Yasemin Boluk for The McGill Daily

markup – only enough to cover the operating costs of selling packs and handling rain-check slips, according to Schmidt. He added that students will likely still want to purchase the printed material, as a matter of convenience. “If it’s on WebCT, you can’t read it on the bus, or take it on the train, or

read it in bed,” he said. With the University’s contract with Eastman up next summer people are already discussing the future of course packs at McGill. “Everybody wants to do what’s best for the students,” Warne said. “I don’t think anything is out of the question.”

Stars hide your fires, let McGill see your space desires Theatre groups face flawed booking systems and steep prices to perform Sarah Babbage

The McGill Daily

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cGill’s theatre groups are sick of jumping through hoops to secure space for rehearsals and performances. This autumn, McGill’s theatre community started their own advocacy group, Student Theatre Artists, Groups and Executives (mcgillSTAGE), to increase theatrical publicity, outreach, and develop a support system for members fighting for space. At their first meet-and-greet of the

year last Wednesday, many theatre groups expressed concerns about booking rehearsal and performance rooms. Claire Hughes of V-Day McGill, a club that raises money to fight gender-based violence and that performs the Vagina Monologues every February, said many groups are vying for rooms because students wind up last on McGill’s list of priorities. “McGill administration gets first choice of rooms and we get whatever scraps remain,” she said. McGill’s charges between $800 and $1,400 to stage four-night runs in Leacock 132, plus extra for the tables and chairs needed to sell tickets and baked goods. “We give all our proceeds to charity, so it’s a shame to spend several thousand dollars every year on room booking and have to make it up by having samosa sales,” Hughes said. McGill doesn’t have enough funding to cover the costs of extended

hours of building use, noted Debbie is available for theatre purposes. “The University needs more space Yacoulis, McGill Events Administrator, desperately. I understand that they’re in an email to The Daily. “Anyone wishing to use the not doing this willfully,” she said. The events booking system is an University facilities outside the normal timetable must assume the cost,” she wrote. McGill administration gets Rental rates cover the first choice of rooms and we costs of operating the ventilation systems, security, get whatever scraps remain cleaning, and insurance – Claire Hughes, V-Day McGill and permits, according to

Yacoulis. English Professor Myrna Wyatt Selkirk, academic advisor to the Tuesday Night Café Theatre and the Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society, said booking rooms this year has been particularly challenging. “Blanket bookings, where people book rooms for a large number of dates so they will be available if they need them, takes up a lot of time,” she said. Selkirk added that as McGill hires new professors and transforms classrooms into offices, less and less space

equally contentious issue. For security reasons, the system can only be accessed from McGill IP addresses. While Yacoulis promised that McGill is working to expand the system so it can be used from any location, Hughes said the present system is still problematic for groups. Students have to use the computers in the Ancillary Services Office because it’s difficult to access the room booking systems from other computers at McGill, according to Hughes.

James Iarocci, Vice President of the McGill Savoy Society, added that McGill’s system does not allow for last-minute bookings. Groups must request rooms in February for the fall semester – almost six months in advance. As a result of these difficulties, theatre groups are starting to turn to alternative rehearsal spaces. The Savoy Society has been rehearsing at a room in the McGill Neurological Institute, which they booked through the Society’s former president who is now employed there. The Players’ Theatre – Quebec’s oldest English-speaking theatre– has also found its own space in a theatre on the third floor of SSMU. “[SSMU has] been very understanding of our needs,” said Stephanie Shum, Executive Director of Players’ Theatre. She noted the limited presence of the fine arts at McGill in spite of their importance. “We’re a small community, but we’re so vibrant.”


University of Ottawa

Call for Candidates

Study Law in the National Capital Obtain a uOttawa LL.B. degree in either English or French with concentrations in t t

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The Daily Publications Society, publisher of The McGill Daily and Le DĂŠlit, is seeking candidates for

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--#--- Programme de droit canadien XJUIV0UUBXBT$JWJM-BX4FDUJPO --#.#"XJUIV0UUBXBT5FMGFS4DIPPMPG.BOBHFNFOU --#+%XJUI.JDIJHBO4UBUF6OJWFSTJUZ$PMMFHFPG-BXPSXJUI"NFSJDBO6OJWFSTJUZ 8BTIJOHUPO$PMMFHFPG-BX --#."XJUI$BSMFUPO6OJWFSTJUZT/PSNBO1BUFSTPO4DIPPMPG*OUFSOBUJPOBM"ĂľBJST

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a student position on its Board of Directors. The position must be ďŹ lled by a McGill student belonging to any faculty other than the Faculty of Arts, duly registered during the upcoming Winter term, and able to sit until April 30, 2009. Board members gather at least once a month to discuss the management of the newspapers, and make important administrative decisions.

Candidates should send a 500-word letter of intention to

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by September 29. Contact us for more information.

Classifieds To place an ad via email: ads@dailypublications.org phone: 514-398-6790 fax: 514-398-8318

The cost McGill Students & Staff: $6,70/day; $6.20/day for 3 or more days. General public: $8.10/day; $6.95/day for 3 or more days. 150 character limit. There will be a $6.00 charge per contract for any characters over the limit. Prices include taxes. MINIMUM ORDER $40.50/ 5 ads.

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CHATEL

A federal general election is taking place on October 14, 2008. Did you receive this card? FEDERAL GENERAL ELECTION

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Tuesday, Octobre 14, 2008

Le mardi 14 octobre 2008

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Keep the voter information card you received by mail from Elections Canada. It tells you where and when to vote. You’ll get through the voting process more quickly if you have it with you. If you haven’t received it, or if you found an error in your name or address, please phone your local Elections Canada office. You’ll find the number at www.elections.ca by clicking on “Voter Information Service�.

Where and when to vote? Advance voting You can vote before election day. Advance voting will be held Friday, October 3, Saturday, October 4 and Monday, October 6, from noon to 8:00 p.m. Locations of advance polling stations appear on the back of the voter information card. You can vote by mail or at your local Elections Canada office using the special ballot if you make the request by 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 7. To download the registration form, go to www.elections.ca and click on “I’m Mailing My Vote!�, or call Elections Canada to obtain the form and information.

Do you know the new identification rules to vote? When you vote, you must prove your identity and address. For the list of acceptable pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, please see the pamphlet you received by mail from Elections Canada or visit www.elections.ca and click on “Voter Identification at the Pollsâ€?. To vote, you must: • be a Canadian citizen • be at least 18 years old on election day • prove your identity and address

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News

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

Sex workers push for new laws Federal solicitation laws endanger and isolate sex workers, activists say

can’t allow mentalities to change.” Members of Parliament are also criticizing the current state of solicitation laws. In 2003, in response to a string of prostitute killings and disappearances in Vancouver and Edmonton, the House of Commons decided to review existing solicitation laws through a Parliamentary committee. Current legislation also increases the chance of HIV infection for sex workers, according to a 2005 report by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Richard Elliott, Executive Director at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, said that as the current law criminalizes solicitation in both public and private establishments, sex workers are forced to make swift decisions about accepting clients – leading to greater risk of violence and HIV contraction. “If you’re running the risk for being arrested and charged because you’re having a conversation with a potential client on the street, then

Olga Redko

The McGill Daily

O

n September 18, less than a month before the federal election, sex workers took to Parliament Hill to claim their rights as honest workers. The protest attempted to increase awareness of federal law that fails to protect sex workers and forces them to the fringes of society, and was led by the Ottawa-based group Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work to Educate and Resist (POWER). Chris Bruckert, University of Ottawa professor and member of POWER, explained that current solicitation laws, found in sections 210 to 213 of the Canadian Criminal Code, that criminalize soliciting or accepting money for sex, produce dangerous working conditions for sex workers. “In the existing legal structure, sex workers who are victims of violence find it very hard to turn to the police...because they’re often criminalized,” she said. Bruckert explained that existing legislation isolates sex workers, because anyone helping sex workers – by offering housing, recording clients’ license plate numbers for safety purposes, or sharing money with a partner – is assumed to be living parasitically off of sex work. As a result, friends, family members, and clients, can be charged as criminals. Stella, Montreal’s support group for the city’s sex workers, protested at the POWER demonstration. Emilie-Cloé Laliberté-Danel, a Stella outreach worker, explained in an email that current federal policies on sex work, crafted largely by the Conservative party, seek to reinforce repression against sex workers as a means of eradicating the profession. “Criminalization...reinforces the stigma of the bad girl, sends the message to assaulters that it is okay to hurt [sex workers, that] they are criminals,” she wrote. “It also reinforces prejudices in the society and

Criminalization... reinforces the stigma of the bad girl, sends the message to assaulters that it is okay to hurt [sex workers, that they are criminals – Emilie Cloé Laliberté-Danel Stella outreach worker you don’t have as much time to assess that situation,” Elliott said. “You are probably then, and this is what we hear from sex workers, at greater risk to going with an unsafe client.” Elliott, however, says that the chance of Parliament altering current laws is slim because even the Liberal, NDP, and Bloc parties – involved in crafting the House Committee report – have been reluctant to take a strong stance against the current Criminal Code. He said there is greater hope in a favourable Supreme Court ruling. “If the courts actually weigh in on this and declare unconstitutional some of the provisions of the existing law, that will put the issue back before Parliament,” Elliott said. In the meantime, Bruckert, said the protests will continue. “It continues to keep the pressure up,” she said. “Hopefully people are talking about it and it’s something people are thinking of.”

5

Stephen Davis / The McGill Daily

Trash continues to sprawl in the Mile-End – a borough unaffected by composting pilot plan.

Montreal finally jumps on the composting bandwagon Montreal’s new organic waste pickup plan would cut down on the volume of garbage winding up in landfills

Julie Mannell News Writer

M

ontreal trucks will pick up eggshells, apple cores, and other organic waste this month from 3,000 Mont Royal Plateau homes. The pilot project, which will last until October 15, follows the trend of other Canadian cities. Alan DeSousa, a Montreal Executive Committee member responsible for sustainable development, explained why Montreal lagged behind Toronto, Halifax, and Edmonton, where infrastructure for organic waste pickup has been in place for years.

News brief U.S. war resister can stay in Canada for now Iraq war resister Jeremy Hinzman and his family were granted a lastditch reprieve from their scheduled deportation from Canadian soil last Monday. A federal court reached their decision just one day before Hinzman,

“We don’t want to make the same mistakes as Toronto,” said DeSousa. “We wanted to get this done as fast as possible, but we also wanted to do it well. So we took the extra time to ensure we have a successful program.” To create Montreal’s program, DeSousa visited composting plants across the country to survey effective techniques and technology. Executives selected the Plateau to pilot the project because the residents are avid recyclers. “The Plateau has reached 58 per cent [recycling] which is why it was natural to implement the pick-up there,” DeSousa said. “Also Plateau representa-

tives said they wanted the program and so because the people were keen.”

his wife, and his two children were due to be sent to the U.S., where Hinzman would likely face punishment by a military tribunal. But their stay in Canada may be temporary, as Justice Richard Mosley ruled that Hinzman – who fled to Canada in 2004 to avoid deployment to Iraq – would only be allowed to stay until the court decides whether or not to hear his appeal of the government’s deportation order. This verdict comes less than two weeks after protesters in about 20 cities across Canada called on the government to stop the deportation of U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada,

avoiding participation in the Iraq war. According to the Canadian Press, there are currently 12 U.S. soldiers seeking refugee status in Canada, with over 200 reportedly hiding nationwide. Robin Long, another U.S. war resister, was deported from Canada on July 15. He is now serving a 15-month prison sentence for desertion along with receiving a dishonourable discharge – the equivalent to a felony conviction. Long was the first deported soldier since the Vietnam War.

While the details of the plan have yet to be ironed out, the city plans to transfer the organic pickup to Quebec farms that will use it as fertilizer. The city is also looking to expand the scope of the project to Côte St. Luc and Westmount. “We want to apply this [project] there, but first we need to look at where the community is in regards to recycling: What is the public’s will and are they ready? These decisions will be made...when we are sure we have the capacity to receive and treat their added quantity of waste,” DeSousa said.

– David G. Koch


6

News

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

But 23,000 Montreal families are still on the waiting list

Josh Chapman / The McGill Daily

The UN says Canada has drastically cut social housing.

Janina Grabs News Writer

T

he Quebec government declared on September 14 that Montreal will receive $65-million – half of the funds the province allocated for Quebec public housing – in order to construct 1,000 new units. But despite the new wave of funding, AccèsLogis, the government’s financial assistance program for social housing, will not be able to meet the high demands for new units, community groups said. Marie-Jose Corriveau, a represen-

tative of Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), a social advocacy group, said there is still a lot to be done. “We have certainly reacted positively to this announcement. But we demand that the government adopts and finances an ambitious plan for five years at least,” she said, adding that an annual investment of $2-billion for Canadian social housing is necessary, and still feasible. Nathalie Normandeau, Quebec’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Regions, noted that the provincial government has focused more attention on social

housing in recent years. “For the past five years, our government has increased its actions to improve conditions for those who are less fortunate in Quebec,” she said in a press release. FRAPRU claimed that such funding has been lacking for years, as federal budget cuts in 1994 eliminated the possibility of an additional 52,000 housing units in Quebec. And with 23,000 families on the waitlist and one in five Montreal renters spending over half of their income on housing, the aid that was recently approved remains insufficient, according to the groups. Simon Dumais, internal coordinator for the Housing Committee of the Plateau, agreed the government poorly prioritized its budget allocations. “We are appalled how much money is spent on the war in Afghanistan... without thinking about the crying need for housing in our own country,” Dumais said. An additional problem, according to community group Project Genesis, a grassroots community organization in Côte-des-Neiges, is that only Canadian citizens and permanent residents can obtain a waitlist spot for a social housing unit. Cathy Inouye, a community organizer for Project Genesis, noted that immigrants were unfairly affected. “It is not fair that recently-landed immigrants that are among the most disadvantaged are deprived of governmental aid,” she said, explaining that those who are ineligible needed to look to co-ops or non-profit housing to receive shelter. Robert Sylvestre, a representative for Commission des Droits de la Personne et des Droits de Jeunesse, an advocacy group for youth, regretted that AccèsLogis had free reign to deny certain people. “The AccèsLogis administration

has the legal right to establish certain eligibility criteria, even though they are discriminative,” he said. With immediate distribution of the 1,000 new units, some are concerned that inadequate funding, coupled with AccèsLogis’s criteria, could stall projects that might otherwise be underway. “There are a lot of groups with projects that are ready, but which are waiting for the money to be realized,” said Inouye. “For example, financial restrictions that didn’t consider increasing building material cost removed several projects from the program.” Inouye also explained that the creation of new indexes would hopefully remove bureaucratic hurdles that blocked the initiation of new housing units. And it has not only been local groups accusing the Canadian government of disrespecting their responsibility to ensure housing rights. In October 2007, the UN Special Reporter on Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari, was dismayed that the devastating housing crisis existed in one of the richest countries in the world. “Canada’s successful social housing program, which created more than half a million homes starting in 1973, no longer exists.... Canada has one of the smallest social housing sectors among developed countries,” Kothari said in his report. Kothari stressed that investing in social housing throughout Canada would bring a positive change to the situation. “Additional housing allowances – funded by the federal and provincial governments – are an immediate, although short-term solution, as part of a comprehensive national housing strategy.”

What’s the haps

Quebec funds 1,000 new public housing units

Yapping Out Loud: Contagious Thoughts from an Unrepentant Whore Tuesday, September 30, 7:30 p.m. Lev Bukhman Room, Shatner building, 3480 McTavish A screening will show transsexual sex worker and performance artist MirhaSoleil Ross deliver a monologue detailing the way anti-prostitution discourses and actions often tragically impact sex workers’ conditions and lives. Admission is free, although a $5 donation is suggested. Rolling back the Coup d’Etat: Barriere Lake Algonquins Panel Wednesday, October 1, 6 p.m. New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Spokespeople from the Barriere Lake Algonquin community will talk about the federal government’s unwillingness to honour agreements they signed with the community. They will also discuss their first meeting with Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, whose assistant made what the band called racist remarks. Donations of dried food or money will be accepted. Rwandan musician speaks and performs Wednesday, October 1, 7 p.m. Dix Mille Villages, 5674 Monkland Jean Paul Samputu, a renowned musician and ambassador for peace whose parents and four siblings were killed during the Rwandan genocide, will speak and perform some of his music at the fair-trade store in NDG. Admission is free. Have a not-for-profit event coming up that you want more exposure for? Send your listings with “haps” in the subject line to news@ mcgilldaily.com.

Write news. McGill pushes independent politician off campus It feels really, really good. No experience necessary.

Meetings 4:30p.m. Mondays In Shatner Cafeteria on the second floor. news@mcgilldaily.com

Mookie Kideckel News Writer

D

avid Sommers Rovins, an independent candidate running in the riding of Westmount–Ville-Marie in the upcoming federal election, butted heads with the McGill administration this week over the right to campaign on campus. McGill Security removed Rovins twice in the last two weeks for trying to speak to students during classes in the MacIntyre Medical Building. Rovins also tried to access student

class schedules that, according to McGill receptionist Susanne Gomes, are confidential. Associate Vice-Principal Jim Nicell said the University was justified in its actions. He claimed Rovins was disruptive and violated protocol by entering campus without permission or notifying administration. McGill requires candidates show proof of registration and details of their intentions – steps Nicell claims Rovins skipped before campaigning on campus. “All we’re asking is for people to follow our process,” said Nicell. Rovins, however, argues he had the

legal right to campaign on campus. “I proved to them I was a candidate, showed them the law allowing me access to public places, and showed them further proof of identity,” Rovins wrote in an email to The Daily. “They still escorted me off campus telling me not to return.” The law gets tricky when it comes to campaigning in public space: section 81.1 of the Canada Elections Act states that while candidates are allowed to campaign in all places “open without charge to the public,” there is an exception when “campaigning in or on it would be incompatible with the function and purpose of the place or

inconsistent with public safety.” Nicell said that security was responding to several independent complaints they had received about Rovins. Rovins encountered more confrontation even after he exited the campus gates. After issuing a complaint to Elections Canada after his first removal, the police barred him from making a second complaint at Elections Canada’s riding office in the Scotia Tower, Rovins said. “Two police men suddenly came in, refused to let me get on the elevator, and blocked me from going up to Elections Canada,” he said.


BLOG FOR YOUR DAILY

Have a penchant for media criticism? The McGill Daily wants you to be its Public Editor! The Daily Publications Society seeks a good writer and critical thinker

to write a regular column evaluating the journalistic quality of the McGill Daily. This volunteer position will involve corresponding with Daily readers, listening to their concerns and criticisms of the paper, interviewing Daily editors and staff, and exploring the issues raised by those discussions in print. For details, email chair@dailypublications.org. The application deadline is October 6th.

A federal general election is taking place on October 14, 2008.

New identification rules to vote! WHEN YOU VOTE, YOU MUST PROVE YOUR IDENTITY AND ADDRESS.

YOU HAVE THREE OPTIONS: Provide one original piece of identification issued by a government or government agency containing your photo, name and address. e.g.: driver’s licence

OR

Provide two original pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Both pieces must contain your name and one must also contain your address. e.g.: health card and hydro bill

OR

Swear an oath and be vouched for by an elector who is on the list of electors in the same polling division and who has an acceptable piece or pieces of identification. e.g.: a neighbour, your roommate

PIECES OF IDENTIFICATION AUTHORIZED BY THE CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER OF CANADA IDENTITY CARDS

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (containing name and address)

— Health Card — Hospital Card — Social Insurance Number Card — Birth Certificate — Driver’s Licence — Provincial/Territorial Identification Card — Canadian Passport — Certificate of Indian Status — Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Citizenship Card — Credit/Debit Card with elector name — Canadian Forces Identity Card — Veterans Affairs Canada Health Card — Employee Card issued by employer — Old Age Security Identification Card — Public Transportation Card — Student ID Card — Library Card — Liquor Identification Card — Canadian Blood Services/Héma-Québec Card — Fishing Licence — Wildlife Identification Card — Hunting Licence — Firearm Acquisition Card/Firearm Possession Card — Outdoors Card and Licences — Local Community Service Centre Card (CLSC)

— Credit Card Statement — Bank Statement — Utility Bill (residential telephone, cable TV, public utilities commission, hydro, gas or water) — Attestation of Residence issued by the responsible authority of an Indian band or reserve — Local Property Tax Assessment — School, College or University Report Card or Transcript — Residential Lease, Residential Mortgage Statement or Agreement — Canada Child Tax Benefit Statement — Income Tax Assessment Notice — Insurance Policy — Government Cheque or Government Cheque Stub with elector name — Statement of Employment Insurance Benefits Paid (T4E) — Canada Pension Plan Statement of Contributions/Quebec Pension Plan Statement of Participation — Statement of Old Age Security (T4A) or Statement of Canada Pension Plan Benefits (T4AP) — Statement of Benefits from provincial workplace safety or insurance board — Statement of Direct Deposit for provincial works or provincial disability support program — Vehicle Ownership — Vehicle Insurance — Attestation of Residence issued by the responsible authorities (shelters, soup kitchens, student/senior residences, long-term care facilities) — Letter from public curator

Note: The pieces of identification required under the Canada Elections Act are not the same as those for provincial or municipal elections. The above information is also available in a number of heritage and Aboriginal languages on the Elections Canada Web site at www.elections.ca.

www.elections.ca

1-800-INFO-VOTE 1-800-463-6868

TTY 1-800-361-8935

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The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

News

Meet the big kids on campus The Daily gives you a rundown on the five Post-Graduate Student Society executives from the Thomson House jungle gym President John Ashley Burgoyne Street cred: After collecting a handful of degrees – a BA at Harvard and two Masters – Burgoyne is now chipping away at a PhD in Music Technology. He joined the PGSS after the VP Academic resigned last November, but says his people skills will be better put to use as President, not in closed-door meetings representing the Society. So far he is on good terms with SSMU – let’s hope his skills keep it that way. Sandbox projects: Burgoyne has plans to make a “more user friendly PGSS” by revamping its web site, filling Thomson House’s social calendar, and encouraging interaction between grad students outside of labs. Playground verdict: So much for worker solidarity. Burgoyne has steered clear of the Teaching Assistant strike, and doesn’t plan to help TAs with reimbursement projects. Although he established the Graduate Students and Post-Doctorate Employment Committee, which unites TAs, work-study students, post-doc fellows, and research assistants, he has no concrete plans for what they’ll be doing this year.

VP External Adrian Kaats Street cred: Kaats is on his way to a biomedical PhD, and is jumping headfirst into untangling PGSS’s membership in government lobbying groups. Sandbox projects: Kaats is fed up with PGSS's provincial and federal student association, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and its Quebec section. When he was elected last May, he was already talking about dissolving the Quebec section and joining another provincial student group. He also intends to campaign for greater prioritization of student demands and for graduate students over 25 years old having access to reduced-fare transit passes. Playground verdict: We worry that Kaats is biting off more than he can chew because he will need support to make the CFS responsible to its members. He complains that fellow CFS members agree that the body is ineffective and opaque, but few are willing to fight with him for a more democratic body.

VP Academic Alexander DeGuise Street cred: With three years behind him at McGill and some experience in campus politics – he represented PGSS on the Senate’s Academic Policy Committee – DeGuise feels well qualified to be VP Academic. Sandbox projects: DeGuise says the privatization of research on campus creates a conflict of interest within the University, and that the use of public funds for corporate research is inappropriate. Yet while DeGuise hopes that students will care about this issue, noting that most graduate students are also research assistants, hope is certainly not enough. And in what will undoubtedly be a massive task, he wants to restructure the inner workings of PGSS to make it more efficient, by revamping everything from committees to Council. Playground verdict: While we admire DeGuise’s crusade against the corporate presence on campus, we just hope he is able to mobilize the troops – graduate students are notoriously apathetic to campus politics. We also wish him good luck with his restructuring; we’re just glad we don’t have to do it.

VP Finance Eric Pollanen Street cred: Originally from Ontario, Pollanen worked in a law firm in Montreal until he decided to get a Master’s at McGill. Serving on boards of various organizations, including a non-profit Montreal choir, has given him a drive to reform PGSS. Sandbox projects: Compared to other executives, Pollanen has a quieter voice on PGSS, but he still wants to improve the controls and standards of the organization’s operations. He also said there is goodwill between PGSS and SSMU in spite of last year’s spat over club funding. Playground verdict: Pollanen wants to see the reorganization the Board of Governors of PGSS, and to bring in people from outside McGill. While we have seen the negative impact of board reform at McGill – such as the corporatization of McGill’s board – Pollanen says he wants to solicit community organizations, social groups, and volunteers.

VP Internal Rabia Khan Street cred: Khan has fast-tracked her way to a PhD in human genetics, and though bound to her lab, she’s found the time to pull together an impressive line-up of events. Sandbox projects: Khan is committed to an event calendar that will keep Thomson House lively: she’s planned monthly DJ, movie, and Nintendo Wii nights. She's planning apple-picking trips for graduate students with families, and is in the midst of organizing “Gay October" with other campus groups, in which Thomson House will host documentaries and panel discussions about LGBT issues and homosexuality. Playground verdict: Khan is proud of the variety and volume of events that happen at McGill and she wants postgraduate students to take full advantage of what’s on offer. While there seems to be some clout to her goal – her facelift of PGSS’s online newsfeed included introducing sections for off-campus events – her ideas for how to get overworked grad students to attend events run out after postering and word-of-mouth.

Camille McOuat / The McGill Daily

9


10 Features

The hit

Madeleine Ritts and Orion Keresztesi


October 4 & 5 / Eastern Bloc (7420 Clark) / With Beach House, Lizz King, Teeth Mountain, Lesser Gonzales, Creepers, Lexie Mountain, Santa Dads, Jana Hunter (Eyes Night) & Dan Deacon, Smartgrowth, Nuclear Power Plants, Videohippos, Deathset (Feet Night)

Dan Deacon is a hard man to get in touch with. His flourishing music career is just the tip of the iceberg: as a prominent member of Wham City, a collective that Deacon formed alongside fellow students from New York’s public University at Purchase, his music is one of many artistic endeavors piloted by 18 or so 20-somethings shacked up in a loft in the industrial district of Baltimore, Maryland. Wham City aims to foster and support individual creativity while promoting their organized collective consciousness. They do this by constantly producing and involving themselves in each other’s work. It seems fitting, then, that Deacon comes to Pop Montreal this weekend with his Wham City counterparts, other B-More acts, and an entirely restructured idea of performance for what he calls the Baltimore Round Robin. The event consists of two installments – Eyes Night and Feet Night – and

was curated by Deacon to showcase Baltimore talent. Eyes Night, as described by its creators, is an amalgamation of “folk, noise, theatrics, improvisation, [and] music that is spiritual and dreamy.” The orchestral Casio and pipe organ of Deacon’s labelmates, Beach House and heartfelt acoustic crooner Jana Hunter, will round out a lineup of 11 bands. Feet Night’s premise is simpler: it’s music you can cut a rug to. The frenetic Nintendo-inspired epics of Adventure and 12 other Baltimore gems will reinforce Deacon’s set. Megashows that last all night are nothing new, but the catch here is in the performance itself. Participating bands will set up as a circle in the Little Italy loft Eastern Bloc. Then, with the audience in the middle, each band will play one song and pass the baton to the next act, going round and

round as the night progresses. The desired effect is to create shows with “no headliner, no opener, no front row, or back of the room.” On Eyes Night, the industrial noise of Wzt Hearts will be followed immediately by the staged comedy of Ed Schrader, which precedes the electro-trance Indian ragas of Teeth Mountain. The next evening, the pop-heavy hooks of Future Islands, the post-modern punk of Double-Dagger, and the post-hip-hop grungy beats of Height will set toes a-tappin’. The man holding the puppet strings is Deacon, who hardly needs another thing to do. He has been on tour since the spring in support of his latest album Spiderman of the Rings. It was this album that solidified Deacon’s popularity, and it was named to multiple best-of lists at the end of last year. Though tickets to Round Robin may be bought solely because Deacon’s name is

on them, the goal isn’t self-promotion. This is a concert that is less about presenting any one band and more about presenting the music scene of Baltimore. In experiencing what the minds at Wham City have made of their art, it becomes clear that their driving force is experimentation. That is what lies at the heart of the Round Robin – rethinking what it means to be a band playing a show and to be an audience listing to a show. But, as with all things these days, we must question what happens when the experimental becomes available to the public, who appropriates it as cool and dismisses it just as quickly. Collectives like Wham City are actively combating this saturation point the only way they know how, by constantly striving toward the new and innovative with the force of experimentation. – Joseph Watts

October 3 / Club Soda (1225 St. Laurent) / With Heidi Mortenson, Erock, Panther

As I sit and listen to the electronic rhythms thumping from my computer, I can’t help but immerse myself completely in the rhythm of each tone. I am lost – tapping my foot and bobbing my head along to the brilliantly constructed movements of sound – temporarily shrugging all responsibilities. The musical ingenuity I speak of is that of New York City duo Ratatat. Guitarist Mike Stroud and producer Evan Mast met as stu-

dents at Skidmore College in upstate New York, but eventually wrote and recorded tracks for their 2004 debut album from the inspiringly hip streets of Brooklyn. Their name is perfectly suited to the type of music they create: as you pronounce Ra-ta-tat, the syllables jump off your tongue just as their beats encourage one another in a progressive pattern. Although the album is entirely instrumental, it possesses a captivating qual-

ity that overwhelms your bones: your body itches to let loose. Originally recorded and produced with laptops, the band’s instrumental range has expanded on their third album, LP3, incorporating manipulated guitar, keyboard, and other string and percussion instruments that haven’t been previously explored. A story develops in each song, and the clever collaboration of tones, pulsations, and back-

wards guitar take more than one listen to fully appreciate. This effect would not be entirely possible with lyrics. With a deeply layered sound, Ratatat have brought innovation to the electronicrock genre. The tune “Loud Pipes” has an upbeat and surprising note sequence, granting it immunity from the dreaded label “Overplayed.” – Juliana Atallah

October 3 / La Sala Rossa (4848 St. Laurent) / With Passion Pit, Au

Everyone knows drummers get a bad rap – or at least that’s been the rock stereotype throughout music history. However, Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, together forming the Dodos, are proving that the backbeat of the band can take back the reigns in a big way. Hailing from San Francisco and born out of Long’s solo work, this duo combines percussionheavy psychedelic folk with collegiate pop to make a hybrid that is something else altogether. The Dodos follow in the footsteps of indie sweethearts the Magnetic Fields and the Shins, manag-

ing to envelop their poignant lyrics in a catchy pop framework that still finds time to indulge in their fair share of extended instrumental interludes. Clearly, this band’s got a lot going on, but rather than overwhelming the listener, diversity serves as their greatest strength. What is really remarkable here is the ability of two people to pull off what many larger bands could only hope to accomplish, with each component of the duo flourishing in their own right. The Dodos create catchy rhythms, but simultaneously seem to project walls of sound reminiscent of the orga-

nized chaos achieved with much larger outfits like Broken Social Scene and Animal Collective. The Pop Montreal festival is merely one stop on an extensive tour the band is currently undertaking in support of this year’s release, Visiter. The buzz surrounding the Dodos’ critically praised album definitely warrants a listen: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll dance around a bit, guaranteed. Within the confines of Visiter’s 14 tracks, the band manages to cover a lot of ground: finger-picked guitar and whimsical vocal ballads draw comparisons with freak-folk artist Devendra Banhart,

while the beautiful, idiosyncratic chaos present on other tracks proves that the Dodos have no qualms venturing well outside the comfort zone of the typical tame folk duo. Despite their inherent parallels with other coveted indie rock successes of recent years, this band is anything but a cheap imitation. In the age where the label “the next big thing” is more of an expiration date than praise, the Dodos might prove to have more lasting power than their name would suggest. – Laura Anderson

October 3 / La Sala Rossa (4848 St. Laurent) / With Great Lake Swimmers, Herman Dune

Little is known about this quirky band. In fact, it seems as though it is a deliberate effort to emphasize their music and shadow everything else. Their web site’s history page is only a scorecard from a miniature golf game, clearly irrelevant to what we’re after. But then again, it should be music we’re looking for, and that is exactly what we’re forced to do. We can be sure, then, that Akron/Family is a genuine proj-

ect where music is not only the focus, but rather all that exists. What then is the music all about? It is essentially a folk sound. What makes them unique are the combined tweaks of lo-fi and psychedelic esthetics. Their most recent album, Love is simple carries heavier country rock/psychedelic tones than the others and loses some of its atmospheric qualities. Indeed, their hippy

side truly shines through as they chant, “Go out and love, love, love, everyone.” Their music and message are extremely optimistic. They have an amazing quality of flux, flowing from one style to another, from one emotion to another with such fluidity that it’s sometimes hard to tell when one song ends and the next one begins. If you’re planning on going to see them,

expect their high energy and general playfulness to dominate the stage. And don’t be surprised if you encounter a 20-minute version of one of their songs with an extended jam that grows and grows and grows until its climactic end. As their songs proclaim, music is a shared experience and their style of performance demands your participation. – Livingston Miller


October 4 / Saphir (3699 St. Laurent) / With Hot Springs, The Virgins

What’s in a name? When your band’s called the Black Kids or the Virgins, maybe your title sounds a little too intriguing for your own good. The unusuallynamed bands share the stage October 4 with a show that promises to be earmarked by anyone who’s paid attention to online music buzz over the past year. As many have pointed out, Black Kids is somewhat of a misnomer. Truth be told, the quintet sports three white kids; the other two account for the accurate portion of the band’s title. Inanities aside, the Black Kids play what has been described as My Bloody Valentine meets The Cure, but in reality sounds more like Bloc Party meets White Williams. Perhaps this explains the great strides

the band has made over the last year and a half. Going from relative obscurity to playing The David Letterman Show didn’t exactly happen overnight either – but, close enough. To clarify, the Florida band won national attention in August 2007 after playing at the Athens Popfest in Athens, Georgia. Not one scant month later, they received highprofile coverage from Vice and The Village Voice, with NME even printing an article simply titled, “The Black Kids Are Amazing.” So there you have it: instant success. It doesn’t hurt, though, that it’s physically impossible to not dance to their debut single, “I’m Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You.”

While the accuracy of the latter band’s name is beyond the scope of what I know to be fact or fiction, I can say that the Virgins have remained highly hyped since their inception in 2005. After members Donald Cumming and Wade Oates met on the set of a Ryan McGinley photo shoot in Mexico, they returned to New York to form the group with its other two members and began playing live shows. They have since toured alongside Patti Smith and Sonic Youth, in addition to the perhaps more regrettable tour they shared with Jet. It was the widespread attention they garnered following 2008’s SXSW, however, that truly cemented them in the public eye. Even if their music has appeared

on both The Hills and Gossip Girl (shudder), you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a hipster who wouldn’t pop it to their track, “Rich Girls.” Titles and labels aside, the show promises to be mercilessly fun. While one could easily point out that both bands have passed their blog-hype expiration date and that their successes could in part be chalked up to their next-big-thing statuses, they’ve also clawed their way to notoriety by playing some seriously entertaining music. Call them what you will, in the ever-revolving door that is the independent music scene, these bands are names to pay attention to. – Benjamin Brown

October 3 / Cinema L’Amour (4015 St. Laurent)

Once upon a time, Montreal’s klezmer hip-hop darling, Socalled, a.k.a Josh Dolgin, embarked on a quest for interesting porn. His friend Ryan McGinley – coincidentally a photographer who almost exclusively features nudes – held the answer to his prayers: Cruisin’ 57, a 1970s hardcore gay porno film by Toby Ross. If we were dealing with an average pornography enthusiast, the tale would end here. But Socalled – who’s collaborated with everyone from Killah Priest to the Addath Israel Choir for High Holidays – is not one to embrace normalcy. Instead, he’s taken his enthusiasm for Crusin’ 57 to a whole other level: Porn Pop. The x-rated evening will open with a talk by Thomas Wa, an expert on porn and homoerotic art, followed by Dolgin’s own documentary on the life and work of director Toby Ross. For the piecede-resistance, a rare 16 mm print of Cruisin’ 57 will be screened as Socalled and friends (Al Watsky, Owen Pallet of Final Fantasy, Snef Schneider of Bel

Orchestre, and Mike Dubue of Hilotrons) accompany the film with a live musical score. Promising to stay faithful to the 1950s songs featured in the original, Dolgin envisions a soundtrack performance that playfully alternates in volume with the film’s diegetic noise: copious amounts of onscreen sex. Theoretically this should grant the live music as much attention as the porn, but Dolgin divulges that the x-rated onscreen antics will be “pretty hard to ignore.” While the prospect of these five innovative musicians collaborating on a film score has definite appeal, and every decent porno needs a quality soundtrack, Porn Pop is unapologetically more about pornography than it is about music. “It was totally different porn, something I had never seen before. It looked like people were actually having fun, it was well shot and there was this hip music playing,” an enamored Dolgin says of Cruisin’ 57. He was so inspired that he tracked down the director. Although the filmmaker boasts

a small cult following, Ross was happy to correspond with his fervent Canadian fan. Dolgin’s original master plan was to bring Ross to Montreal: “I wanted to have him speak, maybe make a little porno in Montreal.” When Ross was unable to cross the border into Canada, Dolgin trekked all the way to Chicago to meet him. Fascinated by Ross’s filmmaking philosophy and experience as a pornographer since the seventies, Dolgin began shooting a film (a documentary, that is) of his own. What began as an innocent search for porn has morphed into an artistic, historical, and musical take on one of the industry’s more interesting gay filmmakers. As was the case with many of his early films, Toby Ross directed Cruisin’ 57 in an era when radical feminist groups like Women Against Pornography were violently anti-porn and HIV/AIDS had not yet been identified as an epidemic ravaging gay communities. Cruisin’ 57 is a historical, sexual artifact, pointing a 1970s camera

at the sights and sounds of gay sex in the fifties. With this nostalgic interest in onscreen sex – as it was back then, it’s only fitting that Porn Pop take place at Cinema L’Amour. Montreal’s red-carpeted house o’ porn opened in 1914 and is one of the oldest erotic cinemas in North America. While it’s too simplistic to argue that older, alternative pornography is easier to see in an artistic light, it’s hard to imagine the contemporary, mainstream films shown at Cinema l’Amour being targeted by hip, young musicians – Big Butt Teens and MILF Cruiser are two of this week’s featured titles. “MILFs” and “big butt teens” may not be my idea of a good time, but I’m no anti-porn crusader: an introduction to the world of 1970s gay porn with live violin, electric guitar, drums, and vocals thrown in for good measure promises to be one of the most interesting (and sexiest) events this Pop Montreal. – Caitlin Manicom

October 3 / Sala Rossa (4848 St. Laurent) / With Akron/Family, Great Lake Swimmers

Herman Düne is easy listening for the lovesick soul. Quick, cool, catchy, sweet as syrup – like Ricola for your ears. Ricola: those delicious “medicated” throat lozenges that do so much more than psychologically soothe, they quench your candy cravings. The band describes themselves as “surf, folk, grunge,” with a whiff of anti-folk, wrapped in a delicate upbeat rhythm. “I Wish That I Could See You Soon,” a love song about a long-distance romance, made #89 on Rolling Stones’ list of the 100 best songs of 2007. The starling indie team achieved understated success, slowly but surely blasting through the blogosphere. Just like Ricola, Herman Düne is originally

from Switzerland! The Franco-Swiss duo is based in Paris, France, yet their influences are overwhelmingly North American. Influencing their sound, you hear the poetry of Leonard Cohen, boyish charm of Jonathan Richman, and melancholic soul of Nina Simone, to name a few. They have played backup for The Moldy Peaches and collaborated with Kimya Dawson on numerous occasions. The band’s sound is simple yet substantial, with David-Ivar Herman Düne on guitar and vocals and Néman Herman Düne on drums. Herman Düne’s music is ripe with heart-throbbing sincerity, and extends the invitation for you to sing along. David’s voice endearingly wavers with passionate adolescent frankness as he sings

“I hope you know how bad I like to be with you” in “1-2-3 Apple Tree,” while in “My Best Kiss” he croons, “I will miss you when I go to bed without you / and I will miss you when I wake up by myself.” It’s not always about sunshine kisses and lollipop tears for Herman Düne – but even their heavier songs are something to smile about. Songs like “Your Name My Game” and “Not on Top” speak to those more pensive, languid melodramas us postadolescents go through, while remaining hopeful nonetheless. Life is not without its problems, but if you set your sorrows to some toe-tapping tunes, they drift away with a tender melody. Formerly a trio with Andre Herman Düne

as their front man, their current duo status has lead to a discography with a lighter heart. Andre Herman Düne penned serious songs with a somber tinge; titles such as “My Friends Kill My Folks” and “Land of Long Shadows,” with lines bitter as “When you hate yourself / It’s the mirror you break.” Rumours have circulated that David and Andre are estranged from one another, with Andre Herman Düne touring as a musician under the name Stanley Brinks. Whatever ill will led to this schism, it’s not something they sing about. Herman Düne now strum lighthearted riffs and starlight anthems ripe with nostalgia and longing, perfect for a late summer night. – Aditi Ohri

Oct 2 / Le Divan Orange (4234 St. Laurent) / with Grambleton Geraldine

Bonjay is a Torontonwian duo that may have found the key to clubbing happiness: electronic-infused soul and (genuine) reggae. Alanna and Pho offer an appealing new standard for club music: songs like “Stumble” have the breakbeat backbone of an M.I.A. piece

while also incorporating the softer, warmer tone of R&B. Alanna’s Caribbean roots toss just enough booty into the band’s reworkings of indie masterpieces such as T V on the Radio’s “Staring at the Sun.” Bonjay’s diversity is marked by

the impressive array of groups they have performed with: rising electro DJs Jokers of the Scene, French technopop princess Yelle, and hip-hop artists Kid Cudi and Megasoid. “Gimmee Gimmee” offers the irresistibility of “Giiii-mmee” callings layered over softer

“Gimmee-gimmee-gimmee” chants. Bonjay’s music has an immediacy and intimacy that makes the audience itch to comply. Dancing is mandatory; no statuesque concertgoers allowed. – Megan Wray


October 5 / Club Soda (1225 St. Laurent)

Brazilian Girls have long enveloped themselves in layers of mystique, purposefully thumbing their noses at classification. Achieving the unexpected appears to be one of the trio’s primary goals – none of them are, in fact, Brazilian. The group is comprised of the gyspy-glam Sabina (vocals), Didi (keyboards), and Aaron (drums). Their newly released full-length album New York City has proven to be an artful, nearly inconceivable melange of genres: pop, world, tropicalia, electronic, bohemian, psychedelic – shall we call it experimental? Didi is quoted on the Girls’ web site proclaiming that New York City is a “musical hybrid of an

indefinite, undefined, unidentifiable nature.” It’s true, the thesaurus does little justice to the diverse sound of the Girls, but “unidentifiable” they are not. Over their multitude of backdrops, many of the songs offer catchy, repetitive lyrics with the buoyancy of dance classics. New York City opens with gay whistling and inviting percussion – a near-subliminal come-hither calling. Within the gaudy clutter of their myspace (filled with purchasable ring tones) blithe pop pieces can be found. “I Want Out” is reminiscent of Thievery Corporation in its spacey, psychedelic sound. The band’s carnivalesque throwback to Parisian

cabaret, Berlin, hints at the Brazilian Girls’ true quirkiness, often evident in Sabina’s fantastical stage costumes. “Losing Myself” and “Good Time” have the bounce and fanciful lyrics of a Yelle song, with phrases which border on nonsensical such as “some people go woo quack quack they go key.” Still, all this is balanced by Sabina’s dizzying pentalingual performance. But the most intriguing tracks of the Girls’ new album don’t appear on their myspace. Unlike the repetitive (if popular) “Good Times,” songs like “Strangeboy” and “Ricardo” are more fulfilling trance-like creations. And not trance as a genre

– a literal trance. Sabina’s voice is siren-like in “Strangeboy,” submerged within a multiplicity of softly chiming percussion. This might seem a little off-kilter, but the hypnotic chanting of Ricardo seems almost appropriate of a fantasy-world of lost lagoons. Sabina’s voice – in its ever fluctuating languages – has the unmistakable sultriness of mermaid-hood. But relax! The Brazilian Girls will not drag you down to the deep end of weird. A clip on the Girls’ site depicts Sabina explaining once and for all that “it’s all about fucking, ultimately.” What a relief. – Meghan Wray

October 2 / Ukrainian Federation (5213 Hutchison) / With Denitia Odigie

Hip Shakin’ Mama Shoots the Straight Shit: A conversation with the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas. Irma Thomas has been in the music business for a long, long time – coming up on 50 years. Pregnant and married at 14, divorced by 17, and with four children under her belt, she was fired from her job at a cocktail bar when her clients began asking for the “singing waitress.” She left the restaurant industry for the stage and never looked back. At 67, Irma still has the voice and the moves that made her the Soul Queen of the New Orleans and she ain’t takin’ no shit from nobody. When we first speak, it’s apparent that my fancy university-talk is not going down here, as she responds to my first question with “Are you asking

me a question or are you making statement?” Fair enough. I rephrase, refocus, and we get down to business. McGill Daily: Tell me a little bit about your new record, Simply Grand, and what direction you hope it takes. Irma Thomas: Well, whenever an artist records a new album, their direction is to make something the public will love and a make a hit record. That’s all. I mean, I love what I’ve done. The album is a piano-based work designed to showcase my vocals, which is something we did with the last record [After the Rain, 2006] which won us a Grammy, so we figured if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know? MD: If you were entering the music business

now, what would you do differently? What advice would you give to young artists just starting out? IT: Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t want to get into this business. Talent don’t have anything to do with whether you have a hit or a miss. In the old days, record companies would pick up a young artist, develop them, spend time on them. They don’t do that nowadays. They just want the whole ball of wax put together for them. MD: Who have been some of your favourite touring partners? IT: In the nineties when Sing it! came out with Marsha Ball and Tracy Nelson, that was a fun tour. We’d get to a town and all the reporters would come out and they’d want to know who was dissin’ who, it was real funny. When they found out that

we were mature women in our fifties, and we all respected each other and were interested in just getting the job done instead of cat fights, they just would lose interest. That’s showbiz, though. MD: What can we expect at your live show? IT: Just what they hear on the record. Usually I start out with a couple songs from the new ones, and then all do the old stuff because that’s what people want to hear. I won’t put my gospel songs in the middle of an R&B show, though. How you gonna get up on stage and sing “Hip Shakin’ Mama” and then turn around and sing about God, while everyone’s drinking and getting it on, huh? I don’t do that. For me, gospel is prayer and R&B is about hardships, joy and having fun. They don’t mix. – Julie Alsop

October 5 Theatre National (1220 Ste. Catherine) / With WIRE

For North Americans, the Wedding Present is a rare dose of classic British indie rock – a refreshing reprieve from the triple threat of Pavement, Guided by Voices, and the Pixies that characterizes every halfway-hip college student’s “old-school” playlist. And while their name hasn’t achieved the same sort of ubiquity this side of the Atlantic, they’ve had an astoundingly prolific and influential career since their inception in 1985. Their story begins with a series of successful singles, but comes to a peak with 1987’s George Best, a manic, personal indie pop album with an originally melodic charm. Zippy tempos and hyper guitar lines characterize this momentous record, which is matched by Gedge’s witty and often vitriolic lyrics. Take iconic “Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft,”

a delightful fuck-you to an ex-girlfriend and her new prospect; it slyly bounds between perfunctory small talk and cathartic pettiness, building to a satisfying chorus of “Everyone thinks he looks daft/But you can have your dream.” Later albums would reveal a depth to the Wedding Present’s style. 1991’s fan favourite, Seamonsters, eschews the band’s prickly mania in favour of a noisier approach. Produced by ultrascenester Steve Albini, it sounds modern and somewhat more American, but Gedge’s unmistakable vocals and compositional spasticity keep things distinct. As is typical, the songs here come from a frequently lovelorn spot. Hard-rocking “Lovenest” muses on lost possibilities, while tense “Heather” is a heartbreaking study in self-torture.

But part of the Wedding Present’s appeal is that they play songs about scorned love but never sink to cheesy whininess. Sure, there are lots of love songs out there, but it kind of feels like Gedge was the first guy to write one. Meanwhile, 1994’s unusually varied Watusi could be the band’s greatest accomplishment since George Best. A return to the less amped-up, more melodic pop of the Wedding Present’s yore, its melodies flail around like a sock filled with change, producing some of the band’s most infectious material in perfect “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” and charged “It’s a Gas.” A few pretty slow songs (“Spangle” and “Big Rat”) are even attempted, and the results are unexpectedly straightforward and unsurprisingly good.

Over their two decades of existence, the Wedding Present has put out eight albums and 36 singles. They’ve gone through members like boxes of Count Chocula, and only David Gedge – eternally the band’s main songwriter – remains from the 1987 incarnation that spawned George Best. The release of 2008’s El Rey has motivated their recent venture onto our fair continent, and nobody will be excused for missing out on such a rare chance to experience this indie rock institution. A few grey hairs and some extra rings in their trunks may alienate the members of the Wedding Present from all the hip young bands on offer at Pop Montreal, but that’s all the more reason to lend them your ears on Sunday night. – Michael Tau

Headlining show October 3 / Preloved (4382 St. Laurent) / With Heidi Mortenson

Hip hop and rap artists have always been a minority at past Pop Montreal festivals, which is why those that do pop up at the festival get particular attention from hip hop junkies. Previous Pop Montreal hip hop and rap acts have included TTC, Spank Rock, Kid Sister, and the Cool Kids. All have been dubbed “alternative” hip-hop artists – if such a genre even exists. The Knux is a pair of classically trained musician brothers, Rah Almillio and Krispy Kream, labeled as “alt-rap saviors” and “leaders of the new school”

by Complex Magazine. Their first official single, “Cappuccino” has been increasingly buzz-worthy in the blogosphere, but it’s a weak representation of their overall funky musical style. It’s clear that the duo seem to be trying hard to step out of the box, but “Cappuccino” is an unfortunately overengineered work with weak similes like “clear like Visine” and “sweet like fruit punch”. The Knux’s sound is a mix of old-school A Tribe Called Quest and new-school OutKast. They were tour buddies with Common in 2007, which

gives them some cred, but the pair simply don’t possess the swagger that brings that je ne sais quoi to hip hop. As much as you can improve your flow, your beats, your lyrics, and your production, you can’t fake that type of swank. What the Knux lack in swag, they make up for in fashion sense: plaid button-ups, fat gold chains, cardigans, wornin sneakers, large-lensed glasses, acid wash, and backpacks worn on stage make up their atypical hip hop getup. But, style isn’t everything – otherwise, the

pair might potentially drift into a realm of mediocrity. Nevertheless, I’m anticipating that their live shows (they’re scheduled to perform thrice at this year’s festival) will incorporate a number of live instruments that will captivate the audience. The Knux are a multifaceted duo who are not only rappers, but producers and instrumentalists – this alone should stand for something in today’s hip hop circle of soulja boys and soulja girls. – Tiana Reid


October 3 / Le Divan Orange (4324 St. Laurent) / With Hot Springs, Pony Up

Roger Tellier-Craig is a man of contradictions – and thank God, because his band, Pas Chic Chic, wouldn’t be nearly as good if he wasn’t. Though it’s only been a few months since it was released, their debut album already sounds oddly timeless, like a wrongly neglected oldies record, far ahead of its time. Part of that feeling I could attribute to the sound – a shimmering bastardization of 1970s French pop music, psychrock pioneers The United States of America fronted by Brigitte Fontaine. But looking past the name-drops, it’s clear that Quebec, as a French cultural entity, could have used a band this smart long ago. Tellier-Craig wouldn’t quite frame it the same way, but his disappointment in his native Quebec’s music scene is palpable. “The French music that

gets made here,” he sighs, “is either a francophone version of something that’s been produced elsewhere, or it revolves around a dated conception of Quebecois identity.” And considering the bands he’s referring to – Eric Lapointe’s trashy, barroom rock and Jean Leloup’s trite singer-songwriter-isms – that statement is almost flattering. But it’s one also one that smacks of irony. After all, Pas Chic Chic’s closest musical debts are several thousand kilometres removed from Tellier-Craig’s homeland, not to mention a couple decades past. Nonetheless, his musical upbringing doesn’t just make these tensions inevitable – it makes them downright personal. “Listening to Stereolab as a kid,” he recalls, “led me to discover musicians like Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, and Brigitte Fontaine. And listen-

ing to them…it hit me – like, ’fuck! Now there’s French music that isn’t afraid to rip shit out!’” And as a long-time fixture on the Montreal postrock scene – having played in the likes of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, and Fly Pan Am – Tellier-Craig finds himself in an unusually good position to follow his idols’ paths of destruction. Less of a songwriter than an architect, he obsesses over structures and sounds, nailing the aesthetic before ever getting to work on the emotive. That he’s hoping to breathe life into a genre so fundamentally guided by feeling and expression stands as somewhat paradoxical, yet it affords him the chance to create a sound that’s entirely his own. “I’ve always wanted to generate synthesis by sticking contrasting influences on top of each other,” he reveals. “It’s like, you’ve got reference

points here, there, all over the place and when you bring them all together, they cancel each other out and form something entirely new.” Well he’s obviously done something right. Pas Chic Chic’s pristine cacophony is one of the most unique things I’ve heard all year, equal parts maximalist pop and kitschy pastiche. But beneath all that noise, we’re still dealing with a regular guy trying to make sense of his cultural identity. “But what the hell is cultural identity, anyway?” he implored. “That’s what I want to know. Is there any way for me to acknowledge my roots without picking up a wooden spoon and a violin?” If Pas Chic Chic’s first album is any indication, then the answer is probably yes. – Nicolas Boisvert-Novak

October 3 / Le Divan Orange (4324 St. Laurent) / With Double Dip, Career Suicide, Brutal Knights, An Albatross

What started as a tough, metal-sounding name sprayed on the walls of Brooklyn laneways and walls has, in the past six years, become a distinct noise institution. Brooklyn’s Japanther, consisting of Ian Venek (drums, cassettes, vocals) and Matt Reilly (bass, keyboard, vocals), has attracted a devout following thanks to their raucous concerts, eccentric rhythms, and blaring vocals. “We give it all our all every time and try to think of funny shit to keep from boring our brains out,” said Vanek in an exclusive interview with The McGill Daily. “We played on the Williamsburg Bridge with Ninjasonik the other night and it was the best concert of the whole summer in New York

City. Keeping it fresh and interesting is what graffiti is about, and we tend to be more of a gang of bad kids than a traditional band.” In the modest period of time that they’ve been playing shows, Japanther has managed to embark on 16 sizable tours – nine of them in the first two years of their career – as well as release four seven-inches, two CDs, and two LPs. They have performed in just about every venue or location imaginable, from art galleries to bedrooms, bathrooms, and showy ballrooms, at street corners, under the Williamsburg Bridge, on boats and, once, in 2006, at New York University’s Palladium Pool, where they teamed up with synchronized swimming team Aquadoom and

played their piece “Dangerous When Wet.” To no one’s surprise, Japanther has earned the complete support of their musical counterparts. Pitchfork Media calls them New York’s most underrated act, and Thurston Moore has described them as a “slam boogie machine with no time for boredom.” Their distinct sound is simply too rambunctious not to love. Japanther is to the New York music scene what Judd Nelson’s character, Bender, was to the Breakfast Club. They’re a rapscallion duo fueled by adrenaline and a disregard for authority, writing songs that evoke the poetry of those dancing days, a disregard for Kofi Annan (“two words,” says Valek, “push

over”) and the sweat, blood, and cheers of their supporters. Usain Bolt, with his damn hubris and arrogance, and Michael Phelps, despite his determination and drive, could only hope to fetch a bronze and silver behind Japanther’s rhythm and beat. Where touring and venues seem like a nag for most bands these days, Japanther is conscientious of their fan base and haven’t forgotten why bands were put together in the first place: to perform. “Maybe people are getting less inspired as the world comes to an end,” said Valek, “but people dance like a motherfucker at our shows.” – Nick Cameron

October 3 / Portuguese Association (4170 St. Urbain) / With Ghostbeard, Bonjay

Take off your Converse knock-offs. Trade your modest, tight indie-wear for something a little more demonstrative. For goodness sake, take off that scarf. Get something a little baggier, a little less plaid, maybe some more solid colours – black, or white, right? Not for this show, a perfect opportunity to branch out from the McGill indie-rock-hipster tri-force without venturing too far. The Bug, Kevin Martin’s pet project, takes its cues from no one and everyone, dipping into all the wonderful sounds of dubstep, dubtronica,

dancehall, grime, reggae, and techno covered in a thick layer of hip-hop. Chummy with Flying Lotus and a worshiper of Public Enemy, the Bug has proven to be one of the more accessible names in the wave of Jamaican-influenced underground groups coming out of London’s eclectic club scene in recent years. If you’re looking for that next great British rock band to emerge, don’t hold your breath – they probably bought some decks after a long night of club hopping. Listing some of his biggest influences as David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and Philip K. Dick (the

novelist behind Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report), Martin doesn’t limit himself to London clubs while shaping his art. In fact, he branched out so far as to use the Bug to release 1997’s Tapping The Conversation as a homage to Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation. That was 12 years ago. Now, after releasing the critically aclaimed London Zoo on Ninja Tune (an 8.6 on Pitchfork, if that means anything) he seems more focused on pumping your headphones full of some of the fleshiest, most gratifying dubs since Caspa and

Rusko headlined 2007’s FABRICLIVE.37. The show at the Portuguese Association will feature Warrior Queen who, as the most prolific of his long list of sidekicks, cuts through the sweaty basslines with a melodic but combative flow. All the live videos floating around point to a ridiculously energetic performance. So go ahead – catapult from the familiar indie-popdom we just can’t get enough of into a realm of vibrating sternums, involuntary head nodding (hat optional) and let loose. – Nicholas Van Beek

October 3 / Ukranian Federation (5213 Hutchinson) / With Women, Julie Doiron

Like Emily Dickinson, Chad VanGaalen’s creative process occurs largely inside the home. Secluded within his basement, the multi-talented Calgarian singer-songwriter and artist not only plays every instrument on his recordings, but he also creates most of them. Having taught himself how to play guitar by imitating Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, VanGaalen’s songs are still written in the non-standard tuning he invented in his youth. Although commonly labeled as a member of the all-encompassing indie-rock camp, VanGaalen personally refers to himself as fundamentally a folk artist. His use of electronic circuit-bending and homemade instruments harks back to earlier traditions of DIY instruments that resonate most strongly

with folk music, which he calls the “original punk-rock aesthetic.” Clarinets fashioned by VanGaalen out of wood are a frequently featured instrument, and only add to the rustic quality of his music. The recently released Soft Airplane is considered to be VanGaalen’s first true album, fully realized and conscientiously sewn together. Its 42 minutes confidently explore genres ranging from jaunty electronic to pre1975 Neil Young (a name almost synonymous with VanGaalen’s feathery falsetto). In comparison, his initial two albums – Infiniheart and Skelliconnection – are more fragmented compilations created by compiling tracks selected from hundreds of songs accumulated in over ten years of back-catalogue.

“Willow Tree,” the opening track of Soft Airplane, features a breezily strummed banjo, deceptively sweet in accompanying lyrics which depict an undaunted perspective toward the aftermath of death: “When I die / I’ll hang my head beside the willow tree. When I’m dead / is when I’ll be free.” Electronic music in its most danceable form appears on “TMNT Mask” as VanGaalen’s voice wavers over the poppy glitches juxtaposed with a flowing harmonica interlude. The minimalistic ballad-like “Molten Light” and shimmering “Rabid Bits of Time” lay VanGaalen’s warbling voice bare in all its vulnerability. In contrast to bands such as Of Montreal, VanGaalen is the opposite of exhibitionist.

“Singing in front of people is probably the most embarrassing thing I can think of,” he says. But despite foregoing fishnets, kimonos, and spacesuits in his concerts, VanGaalen manages to still deliver a captivating performance. The recent birth of his baby daughter has perhaps even driven him further away from any radical tendencies. “You make changes in yourself for the best because you don’t want to pass on bad habits to your kids,” he muses. “You get rid of your car and stop swearing in front of people.” Oh, and like Dickinson, VanGaalen’s lyrics frequently return to themes of death, a topic he says “sets [his] mind in motion.” But the similarities end there, I swear. – Jane Hu


The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

tchhiker’s guide to the

11

Canadian imagination

This summer, Madeleine Ritts and Orion Keresztesi stuck out their thumbs on a three-week, cross-Canada odyssey. The goal? To get to the bottom of our national identity.

I grew up with a really romantic vision of Canada, one defined by canoe trips every summer and listening to the CBC in the mornings before going to school. Though my parents never failed to highlight the flaws in this country’s mythology, I’ve always harboured an inherent, and I think idle, Canadian pride. That is, until this summer. My friend Orion and I spent three weeks tramping along the shoulder of the legendary TransCanada Highway with 4,000 miles between us and our final destination – Vancouver. We wanted to get to know Canada, to acquire a founded sense of the land and the people. Neither of us had hitchhiked before. Why were we doing this? I’ve been called out on my Canadian enthusiasm; my friends think it’s too idealistic or embarrassingly earnest. But I have trouble swallowing what many of them seem to believe – that being is Canadian nothing more than living within a set of borders. There must be some broader experience, some unifying theme that spans our diversity. Maybe figuring out what makes Canada Canada requires some imaginative effort – and a touch of wide-eyed enthusiasm. Part of our plan was to keep company with geographically appropriate literature, hoping to discover how the literary voices changed according to the places we would roll, for the most part, right on through. Before we set off on the trip, a good friend gave us a copy of Noah Richler’s recent book, This is my Country, Whats yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada. The book is described as a “cultural portrait of contemporary Canada through the work of its most celebrated novelists, short story writers, and storytellers.” Richler has true confidence in the potential of literature to provide Canada with a real and binding sense of cultural belonging. Storytellers act as guides, unveiling the extraordinary in the everyday, and give voice to Canada’s scattered and diverse communities. But there simply seems to be such a magnitude and diversity of stuff across Canada – what could possibly hold the fabric of this country together? We started in Sudbury. Packs a-swaying, we lumbered through town and walked right out onto Highway 17. It feels ridiculous at first to stick out your thumb, like it’s some bad joke and everyone’s going to laugh at you as they whiz by. We couldn’t fathom how we were going to get across the whole country this way, but within ten minutes an old and beaten red pickup pulled onto the shoulder. The driver was a beef farmercum-business-traveller-cum-scrap-metal-hauler. Hoping to gain some sort of enlightenment about Canadian identity right off the bat, we asked him to characterize the different areas of the country based on his own travelling experiences. In his opinion, B.C. has the most “socialist” feel, Calgary is “cosmopolitan,” and Edmonton, he said, is a “frontier town, where you can be talking to a millionaire in a pickup truck. He’ll own a couple oil rigs, and he’ll still have grease in his crack.” “Prairie people” are nice, he told us, but they are often resentful toward Ontarians. We realized pretty quickly that the more profound answers

we were after would have to be sought out in other ways.

People really went above and beyond for us.

Although the ease with which one can get across Canada makes it seem small (it helps that all of the major cities are in a straight line), it’s hard to ignore the country’s vastness and its geographical diversity. There are hours and hours of scrubby pine and exposed Canadian shield, hours and hours of flat grassland against huge soaring sky, hours and hours of cows and oil wells, hours and hours of mountains. There are smaller, more unexpected land formations, too. In Saskatchewan, you can tumble unexpectedly into a little valley – carved by water, not created by the space between mountains – and all of a sudden the flat expanse has turned into rolling green hills.

One guy, hauling with him all his worldly possessions in garbage bags, actually altered his route to accommodate us.

The physical aspects of the ride – simple things like the vehicle’s height or window size – can really affect the way you experience the landscape. One of the best ways to watch the geography shift and mutate is from the passenger seat in a truck’s cab. The view takes on a striking cinematic quality. On one ride in particular, there had been a really subtle progression from flat prairies to the soft, rolling foothills of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Then, just outside of Calgary, we hit the Rockies. The sudden appearance of jagged crests peeking through the clouds was utterly surreal. One of my favourite things about hitchhiking is how it invites you to occupy forbidden spaces. The side of a highway is a hostile place for pedestrians, but after a few days of hitching you feel like you own a part of the road. I once read an article in The Globe & Mail discussing an emergent, widespread “pod” culture. The article argued that this trend toward extreme individualism isolates people and groups, and reduces opportunities for encounters with strange things and new ideas. For example: Podcasts that give you only the radio you’re interested in; Internet ads tailored to your interests; and a seeming refusal to venture into public without your headphones on. Picking up hitchhikers means allowing strangeness and uncertainty into your pod. Being a hitchhiker means becoming a brief part of someone else’s bubble. One of our most interesting rides was with Gabriel, a truck driver from Rivière-de Loup. Despite his choppy English, far superior to our own clumsy attempts at French, we managed to cover some pretty hefty topics of conversation. He got riled up when Maddie told him she studies political science. Gabriel was disgusted. “I hate politics! Every time I go to vote – I write Bugs Bunny! I vote for him,” he said. We were suspicious of his professed hatred for politics, since he was obviously not apathetic – he voted in every election and purposefully spoiled his ballot. We kept pressing, and, to both his and our surprise, we concluded that he subscribed to some type of anarcho-communism. By hitchhiking, we admittedly put ourselves in a pretty vulnerable position. But rather than putting us at a disadvantage, our naive intentions were met with enthusiasm and kindness.

I don’t even think he was headed in either direction we were considering – he just seemed to want the company. He said: “There’s a road coming up that heads to Kelowna that I haven’t been on before. There aren’t many roads I haven’t been on before. I’d be happy to go down it.” We flipped a coin – it sounds hackneyed but it’s true – and he drove us five hours to Kelowna, B.C., then took us to dinner at East Side Mario’s – a gesture he wanted to reciprocate, in kind, from his own hitchhiking days. Afterward, he insisted upon circling the city until we found a decent place to camp. In Peachland, B.C., the highway is particularly tricky because it’s far too large for hitchhikers. A young house painter drove us around for over an hour trying to find the perfect place to drop us off. We got lots of friendly advice from everybody we encountered. At a small café in Saskatchewan, a waitress, also from Ontario, gave us free pie because she thought we were “so cute,” two young kids going on an adventure. But there were also some chancy rides. We listened to one pot-smoking, ex-Hell’s Angel’s prophecies of a coming trucking apocalypse. He drove us across Manitoba in the decked-out cab of his 18-wheeler, replete with two televisions – one visible from the bed in the back, one directly underneath his rear-view-mirror – and complete box sets of Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond, which he watched more closely than he did the road. In B.C. we careened along the mountain roads of backwoods Okanagan, sipping a peer-pressured Budweiser to blasted gangster rap, chauffeured by three thugged-out teenage girls, all apparently in a relationship with each other. We desperately nibbled trail mix to try and appear calm. This ride was irrensponsibly dangerous, but a damn good memory. It’s difficult to feel like any retelling does our trip, let alone Canada, any justice. It’s hard enough to find a common thread between, say, Gabriel’s political views and our life-threatening experience in the care of three teenagers, so how can we presume to have understood any unifying truths about the country as a whole? I don’t think that Orion and I would have internalized all of the images and experiences we crammed into our trip if we’d done it any other way. But, I do feel like we experienced an echo of what Richler’s book was getting at, the “nowhere” quality of Canada that encompasses both the empty spaces and the smaller pockets of culture and community. Maybe we’ve constructed a narrative where there isn’t one, but I like the thought that every time I recount our hitchhiking stories, these other parts of Canada and other ways in which people relate to the country seem less daunting to comprehend, less remote from our own understandings of ourselves.


12 Commentary

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

Sittin’ and hopin’ for change

volume 98 number 09

editorial 3480 McTavish St., Rm. B-24 Montreal QC, H3A 1X9 phone 514.398.6784 fax 514.398.8318 mcgilldaily.com coordinating editor

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Ricky Kreitner

“W

e’re going to wait a few minutes for stragglers.” My seat neighbour and I exchanged a few quips about the “fierce urgency” of the next five minutes. At the first McGill for Obama meeting of the year, there was an overabundance of Clark Kent-style English teacher glasses. A full three quarters of the Obamanauts were wearing Converse sneakers, as far as I could tell from where I was sitting. I figured half of them were there for the $15 “Yes We Canada” t-shirts. Oh my God, Susie will die when she sees my display pic. Probably much like the hosts of the meeting, I really expected there to be a hundred people in the room. It ended up being 30, more or less. Contrary to the famous Obama slogan, this was a strictly Sitting For Change meeting, a variation that operates perfectly as a metaphor for the depressed state of Obamania in the last few months of his campaign. There was the middle-aged Obama voter registration official wearing a blue blazer with a tie-less open collar that screamed Wobama (short for “wannabe Obama”). His outfit

brought back memories of my first grade lunch table, where I had such a massive crush on this girl Nicole that I would mimic her every move. I ate when she ate. I drank from my sippy cup when she drank from her sippy cup. I scratched my nose when she scratched hers. Obama fans: We really have to work on not being so easy to ridicule. Stop dressing like him. The official, whose name I never cared to remember, drove all the way down from Toronto to give the single most boring presentation I have ever experienced. He droned on and on about the intricacies of voter registration laws in the several nearby battleground states. For anyone who thinks the Obama campaign is nothing but lofty rhetoric, check out McGill for Obama. The meeting was long on the trivial minutiae, but quite short on the punchy, idealistic slogans that really rev my Obamengine. I wanted chants. I wanted sweeping vagaries. Shit, gimme a Frisbee, at least. After daydreaming for a while about roasted corn, my ears piqued at the mention of Russia. Yes! Yes! That’s it, give me something to chew on. Georgia, missile defense, Dmitry

Ben Peck / The McGill Daily

Not even Clark Kent or his bespectacled admirers were feeling the fervor at the first McGill for Obama meeting. No We Can’tada? Medvedev’s hot wife. Alas, it ended up they were talking about how prohibitively expensive it would be to send in a voter registration from Russia. I tuned out again, trying to see how many distinct words I could spell from the word “registration,” no plurals. Answer: 47. It was time to leave when they started discussing the promising prospect of possible stamp donations. As I quietly exited, the last sentence I heard was the alarming possibility of the club being accused of “buying votes with stamps.” Pigs will probably wear lipstick before I return to a McGill for Obama

meeting. It’s not that he doesn’t have my vote, it’s that his campaign just does not excite me anymore. Obama lost my enthusiasm right around the time he changed his position on campaign finance and wiretapping. Change though it may be, it’s not the Change We Need. Here’s hoping he turns it around before it’s too late. Unfortunately for the Senator, hoping is an awfully passive activity. Piñata diplomacy will appear every Monday. You can send Ricky your Obompliments and Obomplaints to pinatadiplomacy@ mcgilldaily.com.

A car-taunting, French-talking primer to Montreal Life Lines Johanu Botha

T

here are two things newcomers immediately notice as they take their first steps into the heart of Montreal: the speaking of French and the honking of horns. Now naturally, being a newcomer, it took me a while to differentiate between the two. But as I did, I realized that Montrealers honk their horns as often as they speak French – which is quite often. For me, this step into Montreal was Ste. Catherine. It seems to stretch out unendingly from one side to another, offering a rainbow of cafés, malls, street-musicians, and bars. My eyes fell on a particularly bright sparkling of lights above a café about two

hasn’t changed it into “raw wildebeest” or something of the sort, and then I sat back and watched my new home through the café’s large windows. And yes, despite having just arrived, home it has become. The stories you hear about Montreal’s mirth and joie de vivre are not mere stories. There are indeed restaurants that let you bring your own wine and the air is truly too crisp for its urban setting. Not simply seeing, but feeling the culture is something that does not happen in every city. Thousands of

blocks down. But after being honked at once, nearly driven over twice, and finding that my apologies in French to various drivers usually caused them to also reply in French, I resolved to go I ordered a glass of white to a much more mundane, much less sparkly, but much wine, since this is the one thing closer café. I can say feeling relatively Once seated I made two certain my accent hasn’t clear mental notes: one, keep working on speaking changed it into ‘raw wildebeest’ French; two, start working on understanding it. I ordered a glass of white wine, students have arrived here as comsince this is the one thing I can say plete foreigners, and even though feeling relatively certain my accent we’re still figuring out whether or not

Mont Royal is an actual mountain, we know that we’ll leave here as friends. About leaving, I did a lot better walking back home from the café. I noticed I was not alone in my pedestrian battle against the cars and that many soldiers were fighting by my side. So together we taunted drivers, waiting right on the line and starting to walk a fraction before the green light came on while making damn certain to let the drivers know in solid French if they came too close. I had walked a good six blocks with my brothers in arms when I realized I was walking in the wrong direction. But c’est la vie; it did not even dent the forming love for my new home. Where else in North America could I order white wine during midday and not get as much as a doubletake from the waiter? Life Lines will appear every Monday. You can contact Johanu at lifelines@mcgilldaily.com, especially if you know what comes after “Je me souviens.”


Commentary

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

Sir, the free market gives you no options Ted Sprague

HYDE PARK

“B

ecause in a free market, untainted by bureaucratic decision-making, what you want is what you get.” This is how Timothy Mak gloriously ends his McGill Tribune article, “You Had An Option, Sir: A strange way to hate the arts,” (September 16) where he defends the Conservative’s cuts to the arts. The government has no business in helping aspiring independent artists because the free market will take care of it. One only has to look at the sorry state of our present commercialized arts and culture to see what free market really brings to the fields. Now, Mak and his Tory friends will defend that this is what the people want. If the people want garbage like Britney Spears then garbage is what they’ll get. Freedom of choice and free competition! This is the rallying cry Tories use to justify their policies of cutting social programs. Well, let us look how this freedom fares when we bring it down from its heavenly pedestal to the world we are living in. We are living in an unequal society. Some people are born with a

silver spoon in their mouth; they have more opportunities than most people. Working hard brings you nowhere if you don’t have the opportunity. Would Bill Gates have been able to launch Microsoft if his parents were making eight dollars an hour? Not a chance. Most likely, he would have ended up in the same eight-dollar-an-hour job. This is the reality of life. People have been fighting for the creation of social programs – not only education and health care, but also funding for aspiring entrepreneurs – so that every individual has the opportunity to explore their talents. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best given the circumstances. The whole era of “if you work hard you will succeed” ended decades ago. Two hundred years ago, when capitalism just emerged out of the decaying corpse of feudalism, the market was truly free and not dominated by the monopolies and oligopolies we see now. Rising merchants and entrepreneurs had relatively equal opportunities to compete against each other, and those who were more creative and efficient were rewarded. By doing so they pushed society forward. But at the same time, this free market favours concentration of capital and monopolies – in other words,

less competition. I’ve seen so many very talented musicians receding into oblivion because they don’t have the opportunity to air their songs on radio and TV, while big record companies with billion-dollar advertising budgets push their artists on the media. There is no more fair competition between artists. And this is true for everything under capitalism. This is not about a smaller government as Mak would like us to believe. When the Tories speak of having a smaller government, what they mean is they want free reign in their way of doing business. This includes, but is not limited to, relaxed labour codes, environmental standards, and working conditions. Of course, as the recent $500-billion bailout in U.S. banking shows, they would like a big government to give them a big handout when they are in deep trouble. Mak, you have no option, only an illusion of choice. Because in today’s free market – the one controlled by corporate bureaucrats in cahoots with their lackeys in the government, the Tories and the Liberals – you don’t usually get what you want. Ted Sprague is a Master’s II Chemistry student. He totally loves unregulated economic systems.

Letters: ramblings and findings from trusted readers

Letters More crazy shit from theatre students RE: Geeky Manosij! | Commentary | Sept. 18 Manosij, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that you are some sort of “speaker” for the extraterrestrial beings...a kind of “gatekeeper,” if you will. Sever all ties with the Xindi and the Breen now, or face some asof-yet undetermined punishment of the intergalactic sort. There will be ray guns, Manosij! There will be lasers...my anthrosupremacism is well-justified...only we have toilet paper...but on the other hand only we have trecherous alien-lovers like you who backstab the species and perhaps the whole planet!!! I bet you’re behind this “global warming” hoax as well...Kung-Fu Panda will NOT save you...neither will The Daily...they know what dangers your so-called Vulcan “friends” have up their sleeves. The aliens denounce copyright laws, only so they can take

all of our best creations (television, the band Television, nuclear arms) and peddle them as their own around the galaxy. Myself and my many warriors (real and imagined) are on to you, Manosij! Devon Welsh U2 Religious Studies and Drama & Theatre

The latest conclusion from Bronfman High The Bull & Bear couldn’t help but notice that Reclaim Your Campus is a waste of time. Protesting and being confrontational is a great way to lose a fight with McGill. Most students graduate after three or four years, so the administration can simply wait it out and ignore you. From what we’ve read and observed, Reclaim Your Campus seems to be about students whining for their fundamental right to do whatever they want on McGill property and to ride their bikes at 30 kilometres per hour into a crowd of pedestrians. Believe it or not, the world doesn’t revolve around students. Heather Munroe-Blum does not spend her time in a dark room with a tumbler of brandy, plotting the demise of fun while Vesti la Giubba plays in the background. Our ace reporters have discovered that HMB actually spends

her time running the University. Even more scandalous, our reporters have found evidence that McGill likes to avoid lawsuits and embarrassing press coverage. It actually tries to prevent students from being sodomized with broomsticks, posing nude for Playboy, and other crazy things that could never happen here. We believe in pragmatism. If you want to make headway with the administration, drop the four-yearold-having-a-tantrum-in-the-supermarket routine and debate issues rationally. Consider McGill’s financial and legal constraints and develop realistic solutions. Don’t demonize the principal and then act all smug about it. Please let us know if this approach appeals to you. Until then, viva la revolution! Patrick Hartford U3 Economics Jessica Delfino U3 Finance Bull & Bear Editors-in-Chief Send your letters to letters@ mcgilldaily.com, and please keep them to 300 words for style and brevity. The Daily does not print letters that are sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise hateful. Please send letters from your McGill email address.

13

ELECTION 2008

Disappointing parties for all Jacob Stromberg

HYDE PARK

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ith the federal election just around the corner, the pundits have been feverishly speculating on which leader or leaders will end up with electoral dysfunction on the big night. The race to disappoint the electorate is on, and so far only one leader is set for a solid finish. Believe it or not, come election night on October 14, Stephane Dion will be the least disappointing contender for Prime Minister. The Dion strategy is eloquent: by already disappointing party faithful and Canadians alike, electoral doom is expected. Not only that, but if the Liberals aren’t completely trampled, they’re likely to breathe a sigh of relief before they neatly package Dion into a historical footnote and ship him to Thomson-Nelson for their next volume of Canadian history. With Dion’s masterful plan, the only way he could possibly disappoint is if he somehow wins the election. Think about it: a Dion victory would mean Canadians will wake up with one of the most awkward and pouty Prime Ministers in history – not to mention that Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff would have spent all that money sharpening their knives for nothing. If you really appreciate a good dose of impending disappointment, then look no further than the NDP, Bloc Québécois, Greens, or even the Conservatives. Since Jack Layton’s ascension to party leader, the NDP has been making small gains in popular support and seats in the House of Commons. The most recent edition was Thomas Mulcair in the riding of Outremont, located right next to the downtown campus. Now it seems Layton is prepared to make a huge splash in the Canadian electoral pool – the largest in NDP history. But the Liberals and Greens may drain most of his support enough by election night. Unfortunately, the result would not just leave an incapacitated Layton unable to lead his party, but would contaminate the waters for future NDP leaders. Next, there’s Elizabeth May’s quest to bring the Green Party of

Canada into the House of Commons. This includes the anticipated duel between her and Peter MacKay in the Central Nova Scotia riding. The Greens are hoping for a David versus Goliath scenario in which May unseats MacKay with her trusty slingshot – made, of course, from recyclable materials picked out of MacKay’s garbage bin. Unfortunately for May and the Greens, this is more likely to quickly turn into a modern remake of Godzilla versus Bambi. This tragic trampling of Bambi could end May’s political career and would send a clear message to the other Greens as well – if she couldn’t do it then you little chipmunks can’t either! Sure, the leaders’ debate could prove to be May’s slingshot, but she may end slaying Dion rather than the Conservatives. Then there’s Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Québécois who some political observers argue are being overshadowed by the Conservatives, and are guaranteed to prove disappointing on October 14. Finally, consider if the Conservatives lose: Canadians will quickly have to adapt to complaining about the new government after finally getting used to that nogood-Republican-style-anti-abortionhawkish-mean-spirited-oil-lovinghomophopic-misogynistic-corporatist Harper regime. Still, the most disappointing outcome yet would be to give those no-good-Republican-styleanti-abortion-hawkish-mean-spirited-oil-loving-homophopic-misogynistic-corporatist Conservatives a second mandate or even a majority government! Yes, this election will be a big disappointment. That is of course unless you already expect the worst, as the Liberals do. Keep in mind that similar disappointments happen in every election, so just make sure you avoid the greatest disappointment of all – wondering “what-if” the day after, just because you waived your right to vote on election night. At the very least, vote – so we can all be disappointed and complain about our next government together. Jacob Stromberg is a U1 African Studies student, and he’s voting Independent. Check out elections.ca to figure out that voting thing, cuz, y’know, it’s sorta important.

We like opinions. Send potential Hyde Park submissions to Commentary@mcgilldaily.com.


14 Exposure

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

MCGILLDAILY.COM

Foggy day Michael Garfinkle

Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church Saint Andrew’s is a new Anglican church in Montreal. We are committed to the foundational principles and historic standard of the Anglican tradition in Canada. We are gathering in Westmount with the goal of eventually uniting with other members of the Common Cause Partnership in a new Anglican Province for North America. We invite you to join with us in worship and fellowship. Wednesdays 12:15 pm Holy Communion Lunch & Bible Study at Westmount Baptist Church For more information: 514-288-1388 saintandrews@canada.com

Accordion Irwin Adam Egdelnant

EXP

SURE

The Daily wants to print your art and photos. Submit to photos@mcgilldaily.com


Science+Technology

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

15

Plastic poison resists regulation Calls for regulation of chemical BPA fall on deaf ears Lindsay Waterman The McGill Daily

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t runs in the blood of almost every person in the world. The chemical is Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen that has been used in plastics for decades and interferes with fetal development. In mice it can change the structure of genitalia, reverse sexual differences in the brain, and increase susceptibility to prostate and breast cancers. And although it may cause heart disease and diabetes in humans, few seem to care. Canada began to evaluate the chemical in 1999 when it was first detected in human serum. Since then, evidence for BPA’s toxicity has accumulated, and this September a paper by Dr. Iain Lang and colleagues established a correlation between BPA and human diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Canada labelled BPA as toxic earlier this year, a designation that allows ministers to regulate its use. Baby bottles containing BPA were banned, and many drink companies took bottles containing BPA off the shelves. So far, no other country has followed suit. According to Dr. Wade Welshons, a professor in the endocrine disruptors group at the University of Missouri, the lack of regulation in other countries is a result of industry’s efforts to keep the ten-billion-dollar per year industry going. “BPA [constitutes] such a large

and lucrative market that it just carries itself along. In 1999, the chemical industry hired a tobacco industry lobbyist – the Wienberg group – to protect the product. They did a very thorough job of creating doubt that second-hand smoke was dangerous, and the same kind of techniques are just being applied more broadly to BPA,” Welshons said. The industry response to the Lang paper is a typical example of such techniques. Officials are emphasizing that the Lang paper did not find that BPA causes disease, but only that it is correlated with it. It is important to note, however, that to confirm causation researchers would have to inject human subjects with BPA – which is illegal – and observe their health. Researchers instead use animal subjects, like mice and rats, to study causation. Through such studies, they have found that BPA does cause health deterioration, which might substantiate a causative relationship between BPA and disease. Stephen Hentges, of the proindustry American Chemical Council, ignored the numerous studies on animal models when he dismissed the Lang paper for not establishing causality. “At least from this study, we cannot draw any conclusion that BPA causes any health effect.... Further research will be needed to understand whether these statistical associations have any relevance at all for human health,” he said in a September interview with Reuters.

Michelle Kwok for The McGill Daily

Industry muddies the results of research on the dangerous chemical Bisphenol A. Welshons does not applaud this view. “That’s the usual absurd comment,” he said. Despite suggestions of BPA’s adverse effects on health, firmer evidence is still needed to convince regulators such as the FDA – who resist the idea of killing off such a lucrative industry – that BPA should be restricted. According to Dr. Robert Wallace, a co-author of the Lang paper and an epidimiologist at the University of Iowa, that may be difficult to achieve. “It’s a scientific problem that has many dimensions. The approach is

to triangulate different studies of tissues, lab animals, and cell cultures, all of which have a cumulative effect. What we’d like to do from a human perspective is find a population of people whose exposure to BPA is known and follow their health over a number of years,” Wallace said. But while scientists spend years building an unassailable fortress of evidence that BPA causes disease, the chemical continues to tamper with fetal development and potentially harm adult health. The vast majority of people have BPA in their serum; it leaches from the plastic lin-

ing of canned foods and water bottles, for example, and is often present in tap water. A 2007 consensus statement by 38 BPA experts noted that most adults have BPA levels above those that harm animals. According to Maricel Maffini, a professor at Tufts University, regulatory agencies shouldn’t wait on studies that may take many years. “Because these studies are so longterm, research on laboratory animals needs to be taken more seriously. In any science you do, animals are considered a gold standard – except in the field of endocrine disruptors like BPA,” Maffini said.

to specifically seek out cancer, rather than distribute the harmful drug to all cells in the body. This homing ability was one of the major challenges in designing the particles, and one of the greatest advantages that nano-technology has over other cancer therapies. After the therapy passes through human clinical trials, the particles will likely be used as a means of spotting and eradicating new growths in patients who have malignant tumors. Eventually, once the side effects and risks of the particles’ use are reduced, the particles could be used as a rou-

tine cancer screening method. These particles are not the first nano-technology to hit the biomedical scene. Abraxane, a breast cancer treatment that employs nano-scale structures, went on the market in 2005, and nano-sized bits of oxidized iron are already used in MRIs. But these new nano-particles function as both drug delivery and cancer imaging systems. Their dual function makes them more advanced than earlier nano-scale drug delivery machines, and their sophistication indicates that this technology has a bright future.

UNDER THE SCOPE

New nano-tech tracks and kills cancer cells Shannon Palus

Sci+tech writer

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ecently developed cancer-targeting nano-particles promise better cancer therapy, and a different experience at the doctor’s office. Administered to the body in doses of billions, each tiny machine can home in on tumors, inject a growth-stunting drug into one of the offending cells, dispense a speck of oxidized iron for MRIs, and call in its fellow nano-particles for backup. The particles, developed by the

lab of UC San Diego’s Dr. Michael Sailor in collaboration with Dr. Errki Ruoslahti’s Burnham Institute team and Dr. Sanjeeta Bahtia’s lab at MIT, measure just 50 nano-meters in diameter, and cruise through the circulatory system alongside red blood cells 40 times their size. They’re less harmful than the chemicals of chemotherapy, and more keen at spotting small growths than an oncologist. These microscopic, automated doctors may seem like the stuff of an Asimov novel or a Magic School Bus episode, but making them was much

more involved than coming up with a plot device, and their creators hope that their use will be more than episodic. The core of each particle contains a dose of the cell growth inhibiting antibiotic doxorubicin, and fluorescent quantum dots which allow scientists to track where particles are using scans. Particles also have a fatty outer layer similar in design to the outside of a regular cell. This outer layer is designed to bind to tumor vessels, and allows the particles to stick to and invade cancerous growths. It also allows the particles

Lindsay Waterman / The McGill Daily


Culture

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

16

Mediocre at St. Anna Spike Lee’s WWII flick falters

Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily

Daniel Gurin

The McGill Daily

T

hroughout World War II, the U.S. military was officially segregated. In a war where the Allies were supposedly fighting for freedom, platoons of black soldiers killed and died for a country that still treated them like men of an inferior race. Spike Lee underscores the irony in an early scene of Miracle at St. Anna, where one of the all-black platoons wades through a swamp in northern Italy, taunted by a German woman over truck-mounted loudspeakers: “Welcome, 92nd Division…We’ve been waiting for you. Do you know our German Wehrmacht has been here digging bunkers for six months? Your white commanders won’t tell you that, of course – they don’t care if you die. But the German people have

nothing against the Negro.” The eerily seductive voice continues for several minutes as the soldiers slowly advance. It’s not hard to predict their imminent slaughter by Germans waiting in ambush, which adds to the upsetting effect of the broadcaster’s most provocative words: “Why die for a nation that doesn’t want you? A nation that treats you like a slave!” But as the lurid speech drags on, the set-up starts to seem contrived. Lee could have shown American racism in action, but instead he gives us Nazi propaganda, as if endorsing its simplistic account of U.S. race relations. The technique is provocative, but ultimately shallow, and the film never explores racial issues beyond this superficial level. Part of the problem is the setting, a Tuscan village north of the front where four survivors of the platoon escape after the initial firefight. The GIs spend the rest of the movie in this idyllic enclave, flirting with local

women and occasionally musing on the slow pace of social change back home. But the civil rights discussions seem forced, since they don’t emerge naturally from the circumstances. In Do the Right Thing, Lee’s most celebrated film, political drama arose from everyday arguments in a black Brooklyn neigbourhood with an Italian-owned pizzeria. In Miracle, the blacks and Italians don’t even speak the same language, and their interactions are amicable, but dull. Padding out the film’s running time is a lengthy subplot involving anti-Nazi partisans living in mountains near the village. Their actions somehow incite the S.S. to massacre 560 civilians in the eponymous village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema, although the connection isn’t clearly explained. And while the depiction of the massacre is certainly unsettling – petrified hostages gather in front of a barn, a choleric S.S. officer shoots the priest in the temple, then

the camera sweeps across the rows of crumpling bodies in sync with the sweeping machine gun – the violence feels gratuitous, since it barely relates to the rest of the film. As with the Nazi propaganda scene, Lee substitues shock value for coherence. Lee should have focused on one side of his film – either the experience of black soldiers in the U.S. army or that of Italians during the German occupation – because both narrative strands suffer from their perfunctory treatment. It’s not just a question of historical completeness, characters in platoon movies need a compelling story because the appeal of such films lies in seeing ordinary people confronting extraordinary challenges. In Miracle, however, the soldiers spend most of the film cut off from the war, so they rarely have to take action. One of them befriends an orphan, one fixes a radio, and one has sex with an Italian girl, but the emotional interest of these

individual incidents is a casualty of the film’s unfocussed narrative. These shortcomings are a shame, since some aspects of Lee’s approach to the war genre are refreshing. He never portrays killing as noble, even when individual soldiers are brave. He doesn’t stylize the battle scenes, or give each character a distinctive, carefully-staged death, but instead emphasizes the chaos and waste of the fighting. And he addresses a genuine imbalance in Hollywood portrayals of the war. His is one of very few films to depict the experience of black soldiers in the war – if only it offered more insight into their personal and political struggles. A month from now, a lot will depend on whether Americans can overcome centuries of racial prejudice, and every bit of historical understanding helps.

Mouré has translated from French, Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish into English. Her own poetry is often lyrical and considered “experimental” and “difficult” by her contemporaries. It has been lumped into L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E and post-langauge poetry, but reducing it to a category does not do her work justice. Howe, who will share a stage with Mouré, experiences similar compartmentalization, and finds herself often lumped in with the avant-garde L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. She explains that she is sick of being branded and would prefer to be thought of simply as a poet. One major aspect of her work that this label elides is her fascination with the local history of New England and Upstate New York. “I feel deeply in a poetics of space,” she says. “In the local and the ordi-

nary you will eventually find something perhaps universal.” Gizzi, an extremely engaging conversationalist, offers advice to aspiring poets and writers at McGill. “The good news is [that] you don’t need a [university] program. I didn’t have a program when I was an undergrad.” Rather, he suggests that young poets get together with friends and share their work with one another. He describes his work as “an example of simultaneity, a kind of rich relationship that people and landscapes and politics and machinery negotiate all the time.” “My subject comes to me only through using my body as a kind of instrument of perception,” Gizzi said, explaining that he lets his subject find him as opposed to beginning with a subject. Willis advises young McGill students:

“Read! Read widely! Read outside your comfort zones – not just contemporary writers but whatever interests or excites you.” When I asked her about her poetry she said that she really considers herself a lyric poet. One unique aspect of her work is the prose style she often uses in her poetry. “I think it has always held that potential for interesting collisions between art and politics, opinion and advertising,” she said. Without a creative writing program at McGill, many students often feel that poetry is not given enough attention. Though guest lecturers are commonplace, poetry readings are rare. Supporting this event and making these poets feel welcome and appreciated is the first step to building more of a creative writing community at McGill. They’re excited to be here, and hopefully we can show that we feel the same way.

Miracle At St. Anna is now playing at the Scotiabank Theatre (977 Ste. Catherine O).

Poetry without borders English department speaker series brings creative writing to McGill Livingston Miller Culture Writer

“I

t’s either revealing the world to you, or it’s not,” Peter Gizzi says of poetry. He’s one of four poets coming to speak at McGill this week, alongside poetry critic and scholar Marjorie Perloff, as part of the North American Poetry and the New Century event. Perloff’s lecture tonight, entitled Unoriginal Genius: Citationality in 21st Century Poetry, is expected to be the event’s main feature. Whatever

can be inferred from the title is all that is known about this lecture; not even the poets have been informed as to what exactly Perloff has planned. Two poetry readings will take place: the first, by Gizzi and Elizabeth Willis, takes place today at 12:30 p.m. in Birks 203, a small space that should lend itself to an intimate reading and discussion. The second, featuring Susan Howe and Erin Mouré, happens tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. in Arts 160. Mouré, a Canadian through-andthrough, was born and raised in Calgary, and now lives in Montreal. She is the only Canadian of the four poets, but thinks that her three American counterparts will add diversity to the event. When asked what advice she has for aspiring poets, she urged them learn another language and read as widely as possible.


Culture

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

The Silver Factory revisited Warhol’s pleasuredriven aesthetic and penchant for celebrity are explored at the Museum of Fine Arts Mikael Rubin

Culture Writer

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ne Elvis, two Elvises, three Elvises – The King greets you at the entrance of the Museé des Beaux-Arts’s new exhibit, “Warhol Live.” And it’s fitting that cultural royalty welcomes you into the exhibition, which feels something like a Warhol art-show-cum-tribute to the man as a cultural icon. It is by placing Warhol in the context of his cultural contemporaries that an interpretation of his art – and persona – is achieved. The show’s emphasis is not entirely on Warhol’s better-known work, though there is certainly plenty of it. Rather, “Warhol Live” seeks to explain how he did not

only immortalize cultural icons, but how he himself came to be considered one. The “alternative media” that Warhol, in part, created, illustrates how dynamic and extensive his ambition was. What he sought was not something tangible, but rather a sort of greater presence. Photographs are especially important in this respect; their inherent realism places Warhol, sometimes literally, beside other great artists of the time. The show does not stop at photography, but introduces Warhol’s record covers as an element of his artistic achievement. The most well known may be the The Velvet Underground & Nico’s banana, but the abundance of them – and Warhol was, of course, all about quantity – makes you realize how deeply involved he was with culture. He didn’t only sit in the Factory all day churning out art. It is impossible to understand Warhol as a pop-culture icon without acknowledging his deep involvement in music. The exhibit’s hall of album covers is a slickly-conceived room

featuring a glass hallway that houses didn’t feel like dancing. And the Warhol-designed album covers. It Factory room, which aimed to recall comes off like an homage to the glass Warhol’s workspace, down to the cases where famous musicians house foil-covered walls, was too obviously static; a museum setting entails no their gold and platinum records. Dance, another critically neglected element of production. Even though aspect of Warhol’s art, is less obvious- the Factory was undoubtedly a cruly present in the exhibit. Rather than cial element to Warhol’s art and artpresent dance in the literal sense, making, its attempted reproduction the exhibit often emphasizes move- did not cohere with the rest of the ment and frivolity. This is best illus- exhibit. trated by the Silver Pillow Room, which expresses This exhibit seeks to the playful nature of explain how Warhol not only Warhol’s Factory lifestyle. It’s a small room, but the immortalized cultural icons floating pillow-balloons – , but how he himself came that yes, you can actually to be considered one. touch – and the mirrors that reflect you to infinity are a playful reminder of Warhol’s pleasure-driven The last room of “Warhol Live” aesthetic. In a few places, the exhibit loses is, simply, a shrine to Warhol. A selfits cohesion. One of the last rooms, portrait of his head, massive and yelmeant to evoke Studio 54, was awk- low, beautiful and weird, takes up ward. I was the only one in an enor- an entire wall. A hallway leading to mous carpeted room with light dis- Warhol’s image is lined with portraits plays on the walls, and I definitely of artists from Aretha Franklin to Liza

Meanwhile, down on the farm Horror movie set in rural Quebec brings skeletons out of the toolshed Priam Poulton-McGraw Culture Writer

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grainy black and white sequence shows antique children’s toys scattered on the ground in front of a run-down woodshed. I’m sitting alone in the row at the press screening having the first sips of morning coffee and already I’m on edge. This was supposed to be a low-budget independent film based on Quebec history, comically bad, or at worst, boring. Or so I thought. A moment later a hand sharpens a scythe in a darkened room before the film fades to black. Suddenly I’m not sure what to expect. The first lines of dialogue between the main character and his girlfriend relieve some of the tension. The acting is not terribly convincing, and the initial premise appears to follow a fairly typical horror film format. After his mother passes away, James Duke seeks closure by visiting his grandparents to learn more about her side of the family. It is a quick setup, impatient to get us out of the city limits and strand us in the rural backcountry where people are strange and the bus only comes once every couple of days. For mysterious reasons, James’s mother had always forbidden him from contacting his grandparents. She even filled a box with letters and birthday cards that she inter-

cepted from them. Arriving alone at their run down, secluded farm, the protagonist quickly realizes that his mother is not the only one hiding something from him. Though his grandmother seems friendly and welcoming, old grandfather Duke and the neighbours in this small town are extremely reticent to receive visitors. Somewhere in the past lies a dark secret that still haunts them. Pictures are missing from the family album, strange unidentified bones are unearthed in the corn field, there are new locks on the dilapidated old shed, and someone or something seems to be watching James. Many of his innocent questions about the family also prove distressing to his grandmother, who is clearly dealing with an immense hidden guilt. A question of our own we might like to ask is why the characters in this independent Quebecois film do not seem to have any connections with the province’s culture or traditions. They are completely decontextualized from their location. There’s no trace of French in anyone’s accent, nor are their names in French; even Grandma Duke’s old-time gramophone recordings are English. This may be an attempt by the filmmakers to reach a more popular North American audience, and avoid associations that this is some sort of highbrow independent cultural or historical film. If this is its aim, The Descendant hits pretty near the

mark, emerging almost indistinguishable from mainstream fiction films with much larger budgets. Despite the poor dialogue and sometimes atrocious acting, the weaker elements of the film are overshadowed by the energy and tension once the plot begins moving. Shot on 35mm film, the cinematography is unexpectedly professional. In place of elaborate special effects, it creates suspense using disturbing black and white flashbacks and visions. The film also employs haunting ghostly voices and a very dramatic musical score. It evokes feelings of unease with uncanny objects like a grotesque handmade quilt, or a toy hobbyhorse recognizable from the opening scene. The Descendant banks on that nervous feeling you get when a character is spending too much time somewhere you know they shouldn’t be. Keeping us in the dark until the last minutes, the film disguises itself as a typical fictional thriller, all the better to surprise audiences with its shocking conclusion. The final scenes bring us face-to-face with the ghosts on the Duke farm, and revealing a shocking secret of family history and the history of Quebec. Though more of a dramatic thriller than a horror film, The Descendant certainly leaves a haunting impression. The Descendant runs until October 2 at Cinema du Parc.

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Minnelli. They are the court where Warhol is king. Warhol was, and continues to be, a force in a world that so quickly moves from one trend to the next. What is so stunning is that Warhol’s art seems to be so terribly –and wonderfully – ephemeral. It is too easy to see Warhol as a “pop” artist and only as that. This exhibition does an excellent job at attempting to dispel this narrow understanding of him. What the exhibit reveals about Warhol – through paintings, videos, photographs, and vinyl covers – is that his art and attitude were focused on enjoyment of the transient. Even though his art captured the moment in which it was created without sacrificing its inherent temporality, Warhol’s presence in contemporary culture is constantly recurring, incessantly renewed. Warhol Live is on display until January 18 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1380 Sherbrooke O). Admission is $7.50 for students and half price on Wednesdays.


18 Photo Essay

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

Charles Mostoller / The McGill Daily

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or decades, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have been fighting to protect their ancestral lands. Located five hours northwest of Montreal, they continue to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, subsisting to a large degree on wild animals hunted in their traditional territory, much of which is now part of Quebec's Verendrye Wildlife Reserve. Since the formation of the Verendrye Park a few decades ago, clear-cut logging has wiped out large swaths of the forest – over 50 percent of their territory – has now been clear-cut. Clear-cut logging severely affects local wildlife populations on which the Algonquins’ way of life depends. Through logging, the generation of hydro-electric energy, and fishing and hunting permits, some 100-million dollars are earned annually off the territory. Despite the wealth of their traditional lands, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are living in extreme poverty, with almost no job opportunities and little government services. Their reserve – called Rapid Lake (Kitiganik) – is overcrowded, with up to 16 people living in dilapidated housing that has been condemned by Health Canada. In 1991, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake signed a landmark agreement with the Provincial and Federal governments to provide for sustainable development that would benefit all users of the Park, and for revenue sharing of the profits earned from the territory. Despite being lauded by the United Nations, the Trilateral Agreement, as it is known, has yet to be implemented by the Federal government. Two Barriere Lake representatives, Norman Matchewan and Michel Thusky, will be speaking at the McGill Faculty of Law Moot Court on October 1. The event begins at 6 p.m., on the first floor of New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel. For more information, visit barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com – Charles Mostoller

From top to bottom: Algonquin hunter Eugene Nottaway pulls in his fishing nets on Lake Larouche. Subsistence hunting and fishing continues to be a significant part of Algonquin life; In recent decades, over half of the Barriere Lake Algonquins’ traditional territory has been clear-cut. The industry in the Verendrye Park generates millions of dollars a year. None of this money is reinvested in the community; Space is at a premium on the Rapid Lake Reserve. Family members of community spokesperson Marlynn Poucachiche play video games.


Compendium!

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 29, 2008

Lies, Half-truths, & Cultural references

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Fall flicks Regina Phelangi !

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9. “ Doubtfire” 10. Anteater 11. Biome of northern Canada 12. Cockeyed 13. Back of a boat 18. According to 22. Barber’s job 24. Day before a holiday 25. The War 26. Reverse current 27. Cabbage salad 28. Not yet final, in law 31. Cuba Libre ingredient 32. Pedophiliac relations 33. Look 34. Makes a mistake 36. Caught in the act 37. In addition 40. Orange or white cheese 41. Rwandan ethnic group 42. Thread 43. A pint, maybe 45. Rebel 46. One-celled organisms (var.) 47. Divided 48. Breaks a habit 49. “All My Children” vixen, played by Susan Lucci 50. These will be cast on October 14 54. Card game 55. “South Park” character 57. Prefix for eight 58. When doubled, a dance 59. Confederate soldier, for short

Solution to “Game Meats”



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