Monthly Archives: December 2008

Beware the tow trucks

An army of tow trucks clear out one side of a single block

An army of tow trucks clear out one side of a single block

Leaving work late last night, I noticed an army of tow trucks hooking onto cars parked on Ste. Catherine St. near Peel and hauling them away. The orange snow-clearing signs say no parking between midnight and 4am, so there’s no excuse for being there past 2am when this photo was taken.

Just because there wasn’t any snowfall that day doesn’t mean the guys with the snowplows don’t need the street when they’ve reserved it.

(And what were these people doing parked on the street downtown at 2am on a Monday anyway?)

Soggy newspaper

Last weekend, the paper didn’t show at my apartment. I don’t usually make a fuss about it, since I work at the newspaper and can always get another copy there. And half the time I discover it in some hidden spot under a step or in a recycling bin.

Besides, it was exceptionally snowy and there were apparently problems at the plant, so few of my coworkers got the paper that morning. I figured it might be delivered later in the day or with the next day’s paper. It never was.

Or so I thought. Yesterday, a full week later, I found it in a receding snowbank. Frozen solid.

To add insult to injury, it happened to be the issue wrapped in the Christmas card from my carrier. (We’ll ignore for a moment the irony of having a French Christmas card wrapped around an English paper, especially since many carriers distribute more than one paper.)

It took a few hours to thaw out, and it’ll be a few days until it dries. Even though I picked up another copy of that day’s paper, I’m kind of curious if I’ll be able to read it.

Wanna be my neighbour? Just burn down your apartment

One of the tenants of my apartment building co-op has moved out, and is offering to help out with January’s rent if anyone who lost their home in the big Beaubien/Christophe-Colomb fire last week wants to move in. That got some attention at Montreal City Weblog.

$610 a month for a 4 1/2 (actually two big double rooms), heat included, is a good deal. But living near me? Well that’s just awesome, no?

(If nobody from the Beaubien fire takes it, it’ll be up to anyone who wants it and can convince the co-op they’d make a good tenant)

UPDATE: The Gazette has picked up the story.

More retro STCUM ads: “Vous connaissez pas Telbus?”

I actually remember this ad from 1994, when the then-STCUM introduced and publicized its seemingly revolutionary system where you could call a phone number and get the arrival time of the next bus.

The Telbus system (in which each stop for each route had a phone number attached to it) was eventually replaced with the current AUTOBUS, which has a single phone number and a five-digit code for each stop.

A second ad returns to a dry, if accurate, talking point for public transit: It’s cheaper and more reliable than a car in the long run.

Plenty of other (non-transit-related) retro Quebec ads uploaded recently too, including some related to the 1994 Quebec election, a station ID for Musique Plus and a French ad for CHOM FM.

Fagstein’s 2009 suggestions

The fine folks at Hour asked me to provide some “suggestions” for The Man various powers-that-be for 2009, which would then be used as free holiday filler quoted in an article to come out on Christmas Day.

The piece, which puts me the bottom with the rif-raff and interest group leaders, includes pretty well verbatim what I sent them.

Specifically, that:

  • Gérald Tremblay and Benoît Labonté think for a few more seconds before their next project to blatantly pander to voters before next December’s election
  • STM provide real-time updates online about metro service disruptions
  • Montreal police and other emergency services post their breaking news about car accidents, fires and murders online so that curious Montrealers can check for themselves what’s going on instead of having to wait for one of the media outlets to take dictation from the PR guy
  • more Montrealers start up niche blogs about their communities and their areas of expertise
  • TQS and Global TV, who are third in the franco and anglo TV ratings for their local newscasts, realize that slashing budgets isn’t the only answer and start experimenting by covering the news in some unique way
  • 940 Hits die a slow, painful death for having replaced 940 News with crap
  • Montreal music radio stations stop desperately clinging to the lowest common denominator and take a chance by allowing their DJs some freedom in choosing what goes on the air
  • Montreal newspapers, radio and TV stations stop giving lip service to the Internet and put some real focus online – the Journal [de Montréal] could start by dealing with its union issues that are preventing it from launching a real website
  • local TV stations start creating local programming that goes beyond the evening newscast that gives us the weather, fatal car accidents and fluff every day
  • Montrealers stop complaining about the snow and take public transit if they’re so annoyed at having to shovel out and move their cars all the time
  • Amir Khadir brings hard work and new ideas to the National Assembly instead of spending his time as an MNA whining about how the government isn’t helping poor people enough
  • the next major public transit expansion project take fewer than 20 years to plan and execute.

Any you’d like to add?

Merry Christmas

(I’d celebrate your birthday, Vishnu, if only I knew when it was.)

If I had a life, I’d put a message here about how I’m on vacation and there won’t be any posts for a little while (you know, like all the really cool bloggers are doing). But I don’t, so I’m not going anywhere (except to work later this afternoon).

Gazette reporters look back

As part of its year-end filler special series, The Gazette is having its reporters look back on the 10 biggest stories of 2008, with an emphasis on behind-the-scenes reporter-as-the-story making-of stuff. Self-important, sure, but it’s the kind of stuff journalists themselves crave.

Among the stories is municipal affairs reporter Linda Gyulai’s reports on the Société d’habitation de Montréal and the Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal, which merged and went private and had all sorts of shaky land deals and stuff. Dry as all hell, but important backbreaking work. As with many such stories, this one started with prompting from an anonymous source.

Fagstein’s Subscription Challenge: Thanks to all 402 of you

$450 of my money, and I just gave it all away! Im crazy!

$450 of my money, and I just gave it all away! I'm insaaaaaane!

I was supposed to do this on Saturday, but work kept me on a pretty hectic schedule. Now that I’m home for the pre-holidays (I’m back in the office on Christmas afternoon), I have some time to deal with unfinished business.

Last week, you’ll recall I promised to give $1 for each RSS feed subscriber (through Google Reader and other online applications that report them) to Dans La Rue, my charity of choice this year.

Having just checked the logs and done some quick math, I whipped out the ol’ credit card and made the donation tonight.

There wasn’t exactly a stampede of new subscriptions (most of the people who read the blog are subscribed already), but about 17 of you came on board to bump the number past 400.

Counting Google Reader (304 split over three feed URLs), NewsGator (41), Bloglines (36), Netvibes (18) and miscellaneous (3), that makes 402 subscribers that I know about. I bumped the donation up to $450 (mostly because it seems weird giving exactly $402 to charity). For my embezzled hard-earned I-can’t-believe-they-pay-me-for-this-job money, I get a nice tax receipt, my name gets printed in a book somewhere, and oh yeah some kid gets help.

On behalf of my inflated ego, I’d like to thank you all for reading this here blog and making my opinions sound important enough for journalism students to think I’m some sort of expert.

P.S. To my fellow bloggers with your so-called charity campaign, I just donated $1 for every RSS subscriber. Can you beat that, chickens?

Senator Duffy?

Yeah, his head really is that big

Yeah, his head really is that big

Part of me still can’t quite believe it. Sure, journalists have been appointed to meaningless ceremonial posts by politicians before, but to poach English Canada’s biggest name in political journalism (well, political TV journalism anyway) and just make him a politician (from P.E.I.?) seems strange.

Sure, technically there’s nothing wrong with a journalist becoming a politician. It’s the other way around that’s a problem (except on RDI). But it just feels wrong.

For what it’s worth, the National Post explores the ethical issues in play here. There are questions about how Mike Duffy may have acted toward the Conservatives while mulling this appointment, even if he says he’s not a partisan.

I don’t think Duffy’s journalism was biased, and will probably for the most part stand the test of time. But I still think it was a mistake to accept a senate appointment. Just as it was for Jim Munson or Joan Fraser or any of the other journalists who went to the senate thinking it would raise their profile and whose names have been forgotten by average Canadians.

Then again, this Margaret Wente column alone almost makes the appointment worth it. Not to mention the fact that there’s so little news otherwise this time of year.

Bernard who?

Luc Lavigne photo (with some improvements)

Luc Lavigne photo (with some improvements)

Back when Bill Haugland, a fixture of CFCF’s newscast for almost a half-century and the long-time anchor of Pulse News, retired from the anchor’s chair two years ago, CTV’s Montreal station made a big deal about his departure. There was even a half-hour special about it, which is saying quite a bit in an era where locally-produced English-language television is extremely rare.

One of the things that special included was some classy sendoffs from anchors of competing newscasts. Not only did Global’s Jamie Orchard (who worked at CTV before joining Global) and CBC’s Dennis Trudeau (for a long time his direct competitor) give heartfelt goodbyes, but there were messages from the anchors of TVA and Radio-Canada’s newscasts, the latter from Bernard Derome.

So when Derome, who has been in RadCan’s anchor chair since (insert lame joke here), retired himself last week (albeit for the second time), the anglos returned the favour. CTV’s newscast had an item on Derome’s departure, and The Gazette had a feature piece and an editorial on it (despite what some in the francophone media may think, my paper doesn’t completely ignore what goes on in the other solitude).

It wasn’t the kind of Deromania that’s been flooding RadCan and La Presse recently (note to self: retire in late December when there’s no other news going on so I get more ink), but there was an acknowledgment that one of Quebec’s biggest vedettes was ending a storied career.

As for TVA, RadCan’s biggest (and with the departure of TQS’s news division, only) news competitor … absolutely nothing, according to Le Soleil’s Richard Therrien. A big “fuck you” without saing a word.

It’s sad what the drive for competition can do to strip some people of any sense of class.

It’s something where, frankly, je souhaite que la tendence ne se maintient pas.

Boroughs change garbage, recycling collection schedules

For the benefit of those of you who never read those borough newsletters which serve to waste so much of our tax money with pointless letters from elected officials, many Montreal boroughs are changing collection days and procedures for garbage and recycling as we cross into the new year.

In most cases, the changes are the result of a decision to contract out collection services to replace borough employees. I’m sure there’s a news story in there somewhere.

Here’s the breakdown.

Ahuntsic-Cartierville (PDF)

As of Dec. 29, all collections from 8am to 6pm

  • Ahuntsic: Garbage on Tuesdays and Fridays; recycling on Wednesdays
  • Bordeaux-Cartierville: Garbage on Tuesdays and Fridays; recycling on Tuesdays
  • Sault-au-Récollet: Garbage on Mondays and Thursdays; recycling on Thursdays
  • Saint-Sulpice: Garbage on Mondays and Thursdays; recycling on Mondays
  • Christmas tree collection on Jan. 7 and 14.


Schedule remains the same. Christmas tree pickup Jan. 7 and 14.


Changes as of Jan. 5:


No changes. Recycling and garbage pickup remains on Mondays.


No apparent changes.


No apparent changes. Garbage collection on Wednesdays, recycling depending on sector.


Garbage pickup changes as of Dec. 29. Recycling pickup changes as of Jan. 5. Collection dates vary by region (no information online).

Montreal North

Recycling collection throughout the borough moves to Thursdays beginning Jan 8.


No changes. Garbage pickup in Pierrefonds Mondays and Thursdays (except Christmas and New Year’s). Garbage pickup in Roxboro on Tuesdays (plus Fridays during the summer). Recycling pickup Mondays west of St. John’s and Tuesdays east of St. John’s.

Plateau Mont-Royal

No apparent changes. Recycling pickups remain on Wednesdays.


  • As of Dec. 29, garbage pickup begins at 7am (Residents can put garbage out as of 9pm the night before)
  • Large object pickup on Wednesdays as of Jan. 5
  • As of Jan. 1, recycling bins available exclusively at Accès Montreal offices
  • Residents whose recycling pickup was Fridays will now be on Wednesdays (PDF).

Rosemont-La Petite Patrie

No apparent changes. Garbage pickups by region. Recycling pickups by region. Christmas tree pickups Jan. 7, 14, 21.


Saint-Laurent begins garbage and recycling collection with large green wheeled bins starting in the spring. Residents have until Jan. 16 to choose which size bin they prefer. Garbage collection is once a week depending on the sector of the borough. Recycling collection is on Thursdays throughout the borough for buildings of fewer than eight units, though that will change in April.


No apparent changes. Garbage pickup Mondays and Thursdays. Recycling on Wednesdays.


As of Jan. 1

  • Émard (area bordered by Saint-Patrick, Briand, Irwin, des Trinitaires, de la Vérendrye): recycling collection moves from Friday to Tuesday.
  • Côte-Saint-Paul (area bordered by Saint-Patrick, Pitt, Le Caron, Briand, de la Vérendrye and Bonaventure autoroute): recycling collection moves from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Ville-Marie (PDF)

Note: Recycling collection (as of Jan. 2) happens between 8am and 7pm, garbage collection (as of Dec. 27) between 8am and 4pm. Bags should be placed out front between 5am and 8am.

  • North (above René-Lévesque, west of Saint-Laurent): Recycling on Wednesdays, garbage on Mondays and Thursdays
  • South (below René-Lévesque west of Saint-Laurent, below St. Antoine east of Saint-Laurent): Recycling on Tuesdays, garbage on Mondays and Thursdays
  • East (both sides of Saint-Laurent north of St. Antoine, and east of Saint-Laurent and north of St. Antoine): Recycling on Thursdays, garbage on Tuesdays and Fridays
  • Collection of Christmas trees during every Wednesday in January


  • Large objects such as furniture will be considered regular garbage, with the exception or large appliances and auto tires.
  • All garbage collection days remain the same, but will be during the day only (no evening pickup)
  • Apparently recycling is now being picked up by repurposed old garbage trucks.
  • Park Extension (west of Casgrain Ave.): Recycling pickup on Wednesdays
  • Villeray (Casgrain to Garnier): Recycling pickup on Tuesdays
  • François-Perrault (east of Garnier/Fabre, below Tillemont/Cremazie): Recycling pickup on Thursdays, large object pickup moves to Wednesdays
  • Saint-Michel (above Crémazie/Tillemont, east of Papineau): Recycling pickup on Mondays
  • Christmas tree collection on Jan. 7 and 14


No changes. Verdun’s collection system was overhauled in October. Christmas tree collection at all times

UPDATE (Jan. 7): The Gazette points out that the boroughs didn’t do a good job of letting people know about these changes (they were in the community papers and printed notices were sent, the problem is that people ignored the). It also includes a list similar to the one above of changes in various boroughs.