Some bitter yet somewhat funny notes edited onto STM’s single-use fare cards, from blogger Stony Curtis.
From two expat Vancouverites, Adrian Underhill and my friend Kai Nagata, comes Montreal Postcard, a rhythmical expression of all that is sweet about living in this fine city (though no mention of poutine, bagels or
smoked meat Club Super Sexe).
Thankfully, most of the print media people I know aren’t quite this antiquated. Though some of them come close.
If you don’t know what it’s about, you can see their first episode on their website for the next week and catch up.
Loto-Québec, which runs ads in the daily newspapers with the previous night’s lotto results, pulled a fast one on everybody by printing tonight’s results instead of last night’s. In the ads, Loto-Québec announced the change saying it wanted to be more forward-thinking about its announcements and stop reporting “yesterday’s news.”
The ads ask that readers not look at the results until after the draw this evening.
An April Fool’s Day prank I’m sure, Le Devoir this morning printed its front page backwards for home delivery editions. A note on Page 2 explains the reverse, wishing readers a “Joyeux poisson d’avril”. Interestingly, all the news printed on the front page is real, but needs to be held up to a mirror to read properly.
UPDATE: According to my source at the paper, the front page on the newsstand wasn’t reversed because that would have messed up the bar code and caused chaos for retailers. Newsstand editions instead come with a complimentary copy of the People’s Weekly World.
Bernard Derome, the former anchor of Radio-Canada’s Le Téléjournal, and the most respected television journalist among french Canadians, announced this morning on CKOI that he will be joining Sébastien Trudel and Marc-Antoine Audette to become the third wheel of notorious Montreal pranksters les Justiciers Masqués (you know, the guys who prank-called Sarah Palin?). Trudel said on the radio this morning that he looks forward to gaining access to Derome’s Rolodex of contacts, and hopes Derome will help the group mature and expand into more serious commentary. Derome, meanwhile, said he wanted to have a bit more fun in retirement and not take himself too seriously. He also wanted to improve his acting skills.
Derome’s first prank aired this morning. It features him having an increasingly uncomfortable interview with U.S. treasury secretary Timothy Geithner about the U.S. economy, bank bailouts and … well, I don’t want to spoil the ending. It’s worth a listen when it’s posted online.
Claiming that Mayor Gérald Tremblay is “in bed with the snow-removal industry”, city opposition leader Benoit Labonté issued a press release this morning saying that, if elected mayor in November, he would reduce the length of Montreal’s winter season by at least a month, a move that could save the city millions of dollars every year in snow-plowing costs.
Labonté, who was coy to reporters about whether his first name has an accent on it (he says he’s in a period of reflection about it, but that many unnamed local business and cultural leaders have urged him to adopt the circumflex), said the month deleted from winter would be added to early summer, when the temperature is at its best and “all the sweet ladies are wearing almost nothing.”
TQS announced today (no web link, sadly) that the wildly popular late-night movie series Bleu Nuit will be returning to the airwaves starting in a couple of weeks. Though the cash-strapped network says that classic series like Emmanuelle will return, the plan is to also feature homegrown adult film artists though an agreement with Anne-Marie Losique and Productions IDI, who are behind the upcoming Vanessa cable porn channel.
Bleu Nuit will air at its usual timeslot at midnight, immediately following UFC fights.
The publisher just sent this out to all Gazette employees:
As you know, Canwest has been experiencing some financial difficulties lately with its large debt load and evaporated advertising market. In order to raise capital, the newspaper chain has decided to sell the Montreal Gazette to competitor Quebecor Inc., which owns the Sun Media chain of newspapers and the Journal de Montréal. Financial terms are not being divulged, but the price was substantial for a newspaper in this market.
Quebecor says its plans for us will involve a partial merger with their flagship paper. Some content from Agence QMI and Sun Media will run in our paper to replace content from Canwest News Service we’ll be losing. We expect this transition to happen smoothly and you should not notice any major difference in the way you do your job.
The only immediate change you’ll see is that our name will become The Montreal Sun and we will begin a new SUNshine Girl feature, profiling a pretty local girl in our pages every day.
For now, the Journal and the Sun will remain separate, independent newspapers with their own editorial boards. But over time, we expect that efficiencies will be found that allow us to share resources on such things as local crime reporting, columnists and editorials. We’ll also be switching from a broadsheet to a tabloid format some time in the fall.
More details will follow at our 10 o’clock meeting. I hope to see you there.
Waiting for a response from the union. Your thoughts?
Two months ago, a group of local underground sewer explorers stumbled onto an interesting find: a large tunnel that seemed to go on forever but didn’t have any obvious purpose. After some investigation and searching through archives of the government and the local transit authority, a clearer picture is finally starting to emerge: that tunnel was part of a secret metro extension from Snowdon to the West Island that has been hidden from the public for mostly political reasons.
The tunnel’s history is actually quite extensive, and predates the metro itself. Most of it used to be two small rivers that connected to Lake St. Louis. The rivers were replaced by larger than normal sewers some time before 1890. Around WWII, most of those sewers were turned into trench roadways and tunnels to be used for transportation, but without proper ventilation the long stretches of tunnel would quickly accumulate carbon monoxide. After a truck driver died in the tunnel somewhere under Lachine from asphyxiation, and another worker died in a cave-in, the tunnel was permanently sealed off.
It’s not clear what happened over the ensuing decades, but the tunnel was to be used as part of a planned metro extension of the blue line from Snowdon to the West Island. The only problem was, nobody could find the tunnel.
It was incredibly embarrassing for the government, but all records relating to the long tunnel were lost in a fire in 1951. All the known access points had been built over, and no one could come up with a way to get access to the tunnel, much less bring in equipment safely to build a metro system inside.
During the 1970s workers discovered an access point near the Decarie trench at Queen Mary, just west of what would become the Snowdon metro station. (In fact, Snowdon was built in part through this access, saving the government millions of dollars in construction costs.) Weeks were spent exploring the tunnels and redrawing their maps. Retrofitting the largest and longest tunnel to accommodate a metro system wouldn’t have been cheap, they discovered, but would certainly have cost less than starting from scratch, and probably less than a bus system. It also had the advantage of passing close to the airport terminal.
That’s where politics comes in. The 70s were a rather volatile time in Quebec, especially with the 1976 election of the Parti Québécois. According to recently released documents, the PQ minister of transport did his best to stop the plan in its tracks. The tunnel’s route takes it through Hampstead, Montreal West, Dorval and Pointe-Claire. It couldn’t be more anglo-friendly if it tried. And party hardliners would blow a gasket over the idea of spending millions of dollars providing high-speed transit for anglo suburbanites, especially before much-needed service to St. Leonard, St. Laurent and Verdun (not to mention the Université de Montréal).
Citing vaguely-described security concerns, the minister of transport classified all records relating to this tunnel for 30 years in 1978. The government had actually forgotten about it until a large part of the tunnel was recently rediscovered through an abandoned sewer. Inquiries to the province about it prompted the full release of the file (or at least, what’s left of it). It should be up on the government’s website soon, and I’ll link to it when it is.
Additional searching through the STM’s archives as well as what’s left of the city’s gives us a clearer picture of what the tunnel looks like. But nobody is sure if that’s even all of it. There may be other tunnels that have been sealed off for decades and nobody knows where they are.
For now, based on information provided to me through paper files I have, I’ve constructed a map of what the tunnel we do know about looks like. Much of it is in a state of advanced decay, and some sections aren’t connected with each other, but you get an idea of roughly where the tunnel goes.
Though the truth is out now, and the government is more open to suburban metro extensions, the tunnels are even less suitable for metro construction than they were 40 years ago. A back-of-the-envelope estimate by one engineer put the cost at over $9 billion, or about 10 times what it cost to extend the metro to Laval. In fact, some tunnels would have to be destroyed first, meaning the work would have to start from scratch.
That’s a shame. It could have been so easy.
UPDATE: I just noticed this post at Spacing Montreal which describes an underground sewer which runs through Lachine and the southwest that’s large enough for a metro car to travel through. I’ll just pretend like it was all part of my master plan.
CJFM, the station formerly known as Mix 96, is celebrating its 96th day on the air under the new brand on Friday, April 17, with a somewhat unusual gimmick: a lucky virgin couple will get to pop each other’s cherries live on air during the morning show.
Though this sounds a bit PG-13, CJFM’s program director assures nervous listeners that the audio from the encounter will be tasteful and won’t scare away small children. Still, he’s not encouraging them to tune in and start pestering parents with questions about what it means to pop a cherry or be a virgin.
The couple, who will be chosen through a contest, will be put in a private room with no cameras but with microphones – far enough away that they won’t pick up sloppy noises but close enough that they’ll pick up the moaning and screaming.
In addition to signing an affidavit attesting to their virginities, the couple will also have to prove that they are in a committed loving relationship.
Still, this idea is probably going to get some religious groups’ knickers in a knot. We’ll see what their reaction is.
Rue Frontenac, the online publication put out by 253 locked-out employees of the Journal de Montréal, has been looking at journalism students and others to freelance in order to supplement its coverage and give employees more time to spend on the picket lines as the weather gets warmer.
In addition to Martin Brodeur, who moved his column from the Journal de Montréal in solidarity with unionized workers, the website says it is prepared to offer competitive (though not necessarily better) rates to freelancers than would the Journal. They add, though, that there is no risk of copy being repurposed in other publications with Rue Frontenac as it is with Quebecor publications.
So far Journal stars like Richard Martineau have refused to move over, saying they wouldn’t be allowed back once the conflict was over if they abandoned the Journal now. Others, however, say they have to spend more time reflecting on what they want to do.
In the meantime, French-speaking journalism students who wish to freelance for Rue Frontenac should send pitches to the managing editor.
A flash mob has been organized for 10am today to disrupt another flash mob taking place at the Berri-UQAM metro station.
At 10am today, an “artistic experiment” organized through a Facebook group that was taken over by a PR company that somehow is expected to fight cancer will annoy wow travellers at the Berri metro by having random people sing parts of a song. Though the event is choreographed, the participants will seem to emerge randomly from the crowd, amplifying the WTF-effect.
Another flash mob being organized through a secret group is going to play a prank on the first, singing out random phrases instead of the agreed-upon lyrics. Details of the supposed stunt aren’t yet available, but various methods are planned to disrupt the flash mob event (non-violently of course) by beating them at their own game.
Let’s see which side wins.
For those of you who are up early enough to hear it, CBC Daybreak this morning is introducing the newest member of the CBC Radio Montreal news team, the Autobot Seven Alpha, its automated news reader.
According to CBC, the automated news reader is designed to replace the mindless task of reading text over the air, allowing the network to free many employees from having to go into a studio every half hour and repeat the same story introductions over and over again.
Needless to say the union isn’t happy about it, but in the face of 800 job cuts they’re trying to pick their battles. Creating efficiencies in these non-journalistic tasks keeps the network from having to cut actual journalists.
A sample of what the Autobot Seven Alpha sounds like is available here:
The Autobot Seven Alpha will be tested over the coming weeks along with carbon-based humanoid news readers. If all goes well, they’re expected to take over on June 1.
A rumour of a similar system for TV news announcers turned out to be false, much to the relief of Michel Godbout. Reports of human enslavement were, it seems, exaggerated as well.