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  2. http://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/dining/a5818/montreal-restaurant-scene/ Asked to name the best restaurant city in America—meaning the United States—I offered the only reasonable answer: Montreal, a city with the culture, the cooks, the restaurants, the provisions, and the hospitality. (Also of significance is Canada's nicely diminished dollar, which makes dining a deal.) Such a welcome package was neatly summed up by a Canadian pal, Mike Boone, who worked with me at the Montreal Star in the 1970s. He said, "We're not just nice, we're cheap." Of course, Montreal isn't exactly in the United States, should you be hung up on such details as international borders. (Obviously, I am not.) The city is in the province of Quebec, a part of Canada as long as there has been a Canada. My belief that Montreal is really a lost colony of the United States is strengthened by the indisputable fact that our Continental Army captured and briefly held it in 1775. One need only glance at a map from those days, when the province of Quebec was nestled just north of the 13 colonies, to admire the logic. Allow me to add this: The citizens of Quebec practically exhausted themselves trying to secede from Canada in the latter half of the 20th century, only to fail when a 1995 referendum lost by a few thousand votes. To me Montreal is spiritually a part of the U.S., a kind of New York City in miniature, although it's even more like an independent city-state. OLD MONTREAL AT NIGHT. DENNIS TANGNEY JR./GETTY IMAGES The restaurants of Montreal are the attraction. Their evolution, which started in this century, has been swift. They are modest in size and technically proficient, and they provide a sense of casual fine dining that is embraced more wholeheartedly here than anywhere in the U.S. The dining culture is descended from those of both France and England— thankfully, more from France—leaving Montreal a sort of culinary orphan, free to seek its own path. New York, which was considered the best American dining city in most eras, but no longer, has become ground zero for casual dining. (A restaurant critic for the New York Times recently announced his top dish of the year: a sticky bun.) Montreal has developed an engaging dining personality at the same time that New York has been losing the one it had. Famed Montreal restaurateur David McMillan (Joe Beef, Le Vin Papillon) says, "I'll tell you why Montreal is the best restaurant city, and it's not about the skill of our cooking. We have the most advanced dining public in North America. I serve lamb liver cooked rare to 17-year-old girls. I sell tons of kidneys and sweetbreads. Manhattan is one giant steakhouse. Everybody there wants steak, or red tuna. I don't want to know how much red tuna is sold every day." Chef Normand Laprise, the grand old man of Montreal chefs (even if he is only 54), adds, "I visit pastry shops in the States, and I know Americans are not open- minded customers. It's hard to sell any- thing other than cupcakes and macarons." Montreal has had multiple culinary revolutions in the past 50 years. When I worked for the Star the restaurants primarily served French cuisine, albeit not quite what you'd find in Larousse Gastronomique. The Beaver Club at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel featured such fantastical dishes as Le Coeur du Charolais Soufflé aux Splendeurs du Périgord. The top chefs, who came to Canada from France following World War II or stayed in Montreal after working at Expo 67, were a little too fixated on flambéing and melting cheese. After the financial debacle of the 1976 Olympics, which almost bankrupted Quebec, the restaurants declined precipitously. The only noteworthy and enduring establishment was Toqué!, operated by Laprise. In 2001 came Au Pied du Cochon, which was informal and inventive. Chef Martin Picard embraced local products and reinvented old, somewhat primitive dishes such as jellied pig's head and poutine, an ungodly assemblage of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy that arose in rural Quebec in the 1950s. Picard created a regional cuisine and, more important, prized local products as few before him had. ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW Joe Beef, the next great restaurant, did away with tablecloths and menus (using blackboards instead). That was followed by Les 400 Coups (in the French tradition) and Lawrence (quite Anglo), establishments embracing either side of the local language divide. They were among the places that made Montreal the best for restaurants in this hemisphere, one where fine dining has been transformed into a modern ideal. No other city does it as well. DAY 1: FARM FRESH MEETS CRAZY GENIUS Daniel Boulud, who has a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, tells me that a visitor can grasp the essence of the dining culture before arriving, simply by looking out an airplane window. "Twenty minutes before you land, you pass over the farms, the greenhouses. This isn't California. Here you have really small farms next to each other, not industrialized." So as I fly in I peer out the window. First I see mountaintops and lakes, then silos and barns. Boulud is right. After we land, my traveling companion and I head to Les 400 Coups for lunch. The room is primarily in shades of charcoal and black, understated. The clientele, like most people in this city, dresses stylishly. The food is auspicious. Our squash soup is not like other squash soups. No bulk. No boredom. It's speckled with drops of olive oil, as though they had floated down from a cloud. The duck croquette is precisely as duck should be: rich, savory, skinless, and easy to eat. If there were such a thing as a wagyu duck burger, this would be it. AN ARRAY OF DISHES FROM LE MOUSSO, WHICH FEATURES A NEW TASTING MENU EVERY DAY. @ONDEJEUNE Les 400 Coups also has a pastry chef, a category of professional disappearing from American restaurants. I don't mean to overdo the compliments, but the desserts are notable as well: delicious and artistic, a little Georges Braque, a little forest tableau; the lemon cream dessert includes sea buckthorn. I would not be surprised if the pastry chef forages when off duty. I feared that our choice for dinner, Le Mousso, an all-tasting-menu restaurant that had just opened, would be like all the tasting-menu joints in America, the chef desperately seeking to express himself. Such food is occasionally brilliant. Too often it's awful. My friend was intrigued, certain it would be different here. She was correct. The restaurant is very Brooklyn, with an array of seating options at tables and counters, plus hanging lightbulbs and a chef, Antonin Mousseau-Rivard, who sports a short beard, a knit cap, tattooed arms, and Adidas shower sandals. He is self-taught, mostly via Instagram, and he says, "I didn't even work at a good restaurant in my life." We are handed a printed menu. It looks weird, but tasting menus always do. We eat seven dishes, all marrying ingredients never previously combined. But the wagyu beef from Quebec accented with slightly salty sturgeon caviar is masterful, as is the cool arctic char nestled in what appears to be a paint box of colors and flavors. Even the desserts are arresting, and desserts prepared by savory chefs are rarely that. The first is labeled sang, which means blood. I'm frightened, as I'm sure the chef means me to be, but it's blood sausage ice cream as Häagen-Dazs might make it, plus Quebec cheddar crumble in an apple-vinegar reduction. (Yes, Quebec has a flourishing cheese industry.) I suggest to Mousseau-Rivard that he might be a crazy genius, and he replies, "I like the word crazy more than genius." DAY 2: LOCAL HEROES A few blocks from the Parc du Mont- Royal, a revered green space designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, sits Beauty's, a luncheonette owned by Hymie Sckolnick, 95. He is always there. Hymie bought the shop in 1942 for $500. He is nice enough not to brag about his investment prowess. BREAKFAST AT BEAUTY'S, A LOCAL FIXTURE SINCE 1942. MICKAEL BANDASSAK Breakfast at Beauty's followed by a park stroll serves two vital purposes: The park provides visitors with an aware- ness of the physical glory of the city, as it's built on the slopes of the multitier hill Mount Royal, and Beauty's remains a notable example of Montreal's enduring (and somewhat inexplicable) fascination with Jewish food, most famously its bagels—smaller, sweeter, and superior to New York's—and its pastrami-like smoked meat. ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW At Beauty's, bagels from the St.-Viateur bagel shop (officially La Maison du Bagel) accompany the "famous mishmash," a kind of omelet that would be scorned by French chefs, inasmuch as it is not golden yellow or elegantly contoured. It consists of eggs, scrambled and browned a bit, the way my grandmother made hers, plus hot dog, salami, green pepper, and fried onion. You will sigh. You will burp. Unmatched in Montreal (or anywhere) is Le Vin Papillon, owned by David McMillan. The food is casual, mostly vegetables. The place takes no reservations and for a long time was nearly impossible to get into, although recently it doubled in size and the struggle has subsided. I recommend arriving at 3 p.m., when it opens, although take care not to wait by the wrong door, the permanently closed one, or you'll feel as if you've been locked out. We have celery root ribbons bathed in bagna cauda, a Piedmontese sauce made with garlic and anchovies; charcoal-roasted white turnips with housemade pomegranate molasses; and the best dish of all: a curiously savory hummus of hubbard squash with homemade focaccia. LE VIN PAPILLON'S CHALKBOARD MENU. RANDALL BRODEUR We don't leave until 6 and decide to skip a formal dinner, choosing instead a late smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's, which seems to be open day and night. Schwartz's never changes, although the ownership has. The original proprietor, a Jewish immigrant from Romania, is long gone, and Schwartz's is now the property of a consortium that includes Céline Dion. I order my smoked meat fatty—most customers request medium or lean—and the waiter says, "Good for you." Maybe the place has changed: That's a long speech for a Schwartz's waiter. The rye bread continues to be tasteless, the smoked meat is still really good, the cole slaw reminds me of North Carolina, and the fries aren't as great as they used to be, but they're not bad. DAY 3: OLD FRENCH, NEW BRITISH Maison Boulud is admirable for who owns it (Daniel Boulud), for where it resides (in the historic Ritz-Carlton), and for its lovely location adjoining a small garden and duck pond (request a table overlooking both). The restaurant is among the last of its kind, a French one (well, mostly French) in a city where French cuisine is vanishing. (This is happening everywhere in North America; it just seems more baffling in Quebec, where more than half the population is French-speaking.) I order a lunch that spins me back in time: housemade pâté of startling freshness and eminent richness, and confit of guinea fowl leg in a miraculously silken foie gras sauce. The kitchen sends out lovely ravioli stuffed with sheep's milk cheese. It doesn't taste French, and shouldn't—the executive chef, Riccardo Bertolino, is from Bologna. THE MAISON BOULUD KITCHEN. Dinner that evening is entirely anglophile, at Maison Publique, an appealing tavern that offers only Canadian wines (and somehow pulls it off) and plates of mostly meaty foods that sound peculiar, as British cuisine almost always does. I never miss a chance to eat here. We order andouille sausage (reddish, dreamy, and fiery) spread on toast, and tender lonza, or salumi, made from free-range piglets raised for the restaurant in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The main room has an old wooden floor, dark paneling, and mounted deer heads with soccer scarves wrapped around their necks. The menu is a well-lit corkboard to which is pinned a list of food and drink. Folks gather around it to discuss the dinner choices, a sign of changing times. When I lived in Montreal in the 1970s, during the separatist movement, concerned young people gathered in bars and pubs to sing protest songs demanding freedom from Canada. Now they chat about the origins of local meats and vegetables. DAY 4: A POUTINE CHALLENGE We have made no lunch plans, but when desperate I always call the nearest hot dog joint. On Saint Lawrence Boulevard is the Montreal Pool Room, which opened in 1912 in a different location not far from the current one. (Other changes have occurred: no more pool tables.) In case you have trouble finding it, directly across the street is the garish marquee of Café Cléopatre, which features stripteaseuses and danseuses à gogo. ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW My friend calls the Pool Room and asks, "Are you open? Are you serving food?" A sweetheart of a counterman replies, "Yes, madame. Hot dog, hamburger, cheeseburger. You come, you eat." She has her first Montreal hot dog. They're famous, even if they're bland compared with New York's. Here they're served correctly: steamed and topped with mustard, relish, and mild chopped onions. She also insists on poutine. I await her disappointment, but she loves it, saying, "It filled my every poutine expectation." If you're from New Jersey and enjoy disco fries, you might love poutine too. Hot dogs followed by poutine can be filling, which makes Hôtel Herman—it's not a hotel and there is no Herman—an excellent option for dinner. It offers small plates that are unusually small. The food is unexpectedly elegant, given the rough-hewn decor (wide plank floors that look as old as Montreal itself, tin ceiling, bare lightbulbs). Little logs of housemade foie gras are brilliantly composed, topped with crumbs and cranberries. The chef, Marc-Alexandre Mercier, bakes his own bread, dark and earthy and easily worth the $2 surcharge. The sweetbreads come with mashed potatoes from a variety called Ozette, grown in Quebec. They are mesmerizing, and it's not just the added buttermilk and cream. Mercier tells me his way with vegetables is a result of childhood trauma: His mother made him eat a bowl of rutabaga so awful it made him cry. DAY 5: GENTRIFICATION FLAMBEE Lawrence, among the most Anglo of the Anglo establishments, is blessed with big windows that allow in an abundance of light, a major reason I love to have lunch there. The staff is sweet, the wine list just right, the crockery seemingly from a church basement sale, and the menu filled with dishes you might never have eaten before. Fried endive topped with snowy crab, an unlikely concoction, is crunchy and juicy, impeccably fresh. The desserts are simple but superlative, the "burnt" chocolate pudding much like an all chocolate crème brûlée, and the warm ginger cake is topped with a crème anglaise that I'm tempted to drink. In the evening we set out to see two new restaurants with unusual appeal. Both feature wood-burning ovens, which are unusual in Montreal, and both are in newly gentrified sections of the city. A TRAY OF OYSTERS AT HOOGAN & BEAUFORT. ALISON SLATTERY PHOTOGRAPHY Hoogan & Beaufort is in a former industrial park in Rosemont where the Canadian Pacific Railway once built locomotives. An excellent consequence: It has stunningly high ceilings. William Saulnier, one of the partners, says that in the restaurant's opening days many of the calls they received started out, "Where are you?" Foxy is in a neighborhood once largely populated by Irish immigrants. Both of these spots are following an established American trend, moving away from midtown to more remote locations where rents are cheaper and space more generous. We weren't able to eat at Hoogan & Beaufort, only peek in, because we were dining with Lesley Chesterman, a friend who is the restaurant critic for the Montreal Gazette, and she was reviewing Foxy. She seemed to like my theory that Montreal belonged to the U.S. She said, "Montreal has never felt less Canadian to me." I leave the analysis of Foxy to Chesterman, enthusiastic about everything except the two dishes prepared in the wood- burning oven. About my favorite she wrote, "I loved the flatbread we ordered. Covered in melted raclette cheese, red onions, potatoes, and house-smoked ham, it was reminiscent of an Alsatian tarte flambée. We scarfed it back in minutes, the only problem being that one of the pieces of ham popped off my slice and, as I discovered the next morning, fell into my purse under the table." DAY 6: END ON A SWEET NOTE For me, departure days begin with a trip to the St.-Viateur bagel shop, where I buy a few dozen to take home. The price these days is 80 cents each. Hymie Sckolnick told me they used to cost two cents. When I complain to the counterman, he laughs and tosses in a few extra. Hymie's is a good name to drop in Montreal. PATRICE DEMERS WORKS HIS MAGIC AT PATRICE PÂTISSIER. MARC KANDALAFT Our getaway meal is lunch at Toqué!, which is run by Laprise, that most essential of Montreal chefs. His new establishment is a member of Relais & Châteaux, and his kitchen is a marvel, overflowing with cooks. The food isn't what I think of as new Montreal cuisine—it's too precise and luxurious—but it's up there with the best haute cuisine in North America. An appetizer of arctic char is creamy and silky, tasting of smoke and lemon. My Montreal Star pal Boone, joining us, calls it "the cotton candy of fish." Chicken, prepared sous-vide, is so moist there's beading on the breast. My friend has what the waitress calls "a perfect egg," cooked slowly, with a sauce made from a long-simmering duck reduction. Dessert is so ethereal—mostly honey, jelly, and cream—that on the way to the airport we stop at Patrice Pâtissier so I can pick up a few stuffed-on-the-spot chocolate-banana cream puffs. Patrice Demers, the owner of this new shop on Notre Dame West, was the first pastry chef at Les 400 Coups and thus is a hero of mine. But then, so many Montreal chefs are. Alan Richman is a 16-time winner of the James Beard Award for food writing.
  3. Lecture intéressante!! CARY PLANTATION, Me. — Up here, near the end of Interstate 95, a single main road ridged with stately conifers runs past the odd house that at night casts an orange glow over the snow. There is no school. No police department. Not even a stoplight. But there are property taxes. And some residents say the taxes’ growth has pushed this community of about 200 to the brink. To save Cary Plantation, they say, they want to dismantle it. “What do you do, what does the town do, when they can’t pay their bills? Do we go bankrupt? Do we lose our homes?” asked Diane Cassidy, a former nursing assistant. “There was no answer, other than deorganization.” Ms. Cassidy is leading an effort to dissolve the local government and join the Unorganized Territory, a vast swath of forest and townships in north, central and eastern Maine run by a partnership between the state and the counties. Last month, residents here voted, 64 to 0, to continue the process. At a time of rising municipal costs, local governments around the country are looking for ways to rein in tax bills, pursuing privatization, the consolidation of services, mergers and even bankruptcy. But in northern Maine, as operating costs have increased, the economy has stagnated and the population has aged and dwindled, a handful of struggling towns have pursued the unusual process of eliminating local government entirely. In the West, citizens are protesting to constrain government power. And over all, Americans tend to resist ceding their local authority. But these communities are handing their governing power over to the state and the county. “Knowing how dependent towns are in Maine on the property tax, they may have just reached a point where they’ve decided, ‘We’d be better off just not existing as a town,’ ” said Elizabeth K. Kellar, the chief executive of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence in Washington. Under state law, dismantling a local government takes 12 complex steps, often over at least two years, including legislative approval and a series of local votes. When a town deorganizes, state agencies and the county administer its services, like snow removal, policing and firefighting. Children are assigned to appropriate schools, often in a nearby district. Town-owned buildings and land are sold or held in trust by the state or the county. And every local government job is eliminated. Thus, there are no local officials’ salaries to pay and no infrastructure to maintain locally. And the cost of servicing each township is spread across the Unorganized Territory either in each county or statewide. “It’s basically like a company: There’s so much less overhead,” said Paul G. Bernier, the public works director for Aroostook County, who is responsible for overseeing services to the unorganized territories at the very top of Maine. “Sometimes it’s half of what they were paying.” In Aroostook County, Bancroft, population 60, completed the process last summer and now exists in name only. Besides Cary Plantation, Oxbow, about an hour northwest, is well on its way, although both have legislative approval and a final vote yet to go. State officials said that an effort to deorganize Atkinson, which began in 2013, may soon take a step forward, and that more municipalities had told the state that they were interested. Advertisement Continue reading the main story “Just the price tag to keep their local governments up and running is more or less untenable,” said Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine. “It’s the final step in this long, drawn-out process, which really starts with population decline.” Marcia McInnis, the fiscal administrator for the Unorganized Territory, estimated there have been 41 deorganizations in Maine’s history, about half of them during the Great Depression. But “it has become recently more common than it has been in the last, really, two decades,” she said. The last town to deorganize before Bancroft was Centerville, population two dozen, in 2004. There have also been deorganization attempts that failed at the local level, often because residents did not want to lose local control, or in some cases did not secure legislative approval. Photo A map of Cary Plantation. Residents there recently voted unanimously to continue the deorganization process. Credit Tristan Spinski for The New York Times “I attribute the recent increase in interest in deorganizing as a direct result of the economic Great Recession and in the loss of jobs in the logging industry,” Ms. McInnis said. Steve Sherman, a lifelong resident of Oxbow, where roughly 50 people are spread across six miles, began working to disband the government after years of watching the local labor market for papermaking and farming shrink along with the population. In November, 21 residents voted unanimously to move forward with deorganization; a third vote will take place in the future. “We’re not growing here. We’re headed the other way, it would seem,” said Mr. Sherman, a logger and Christmas tree farmer. “That’s just life, in northern Maine especially.” In Oxbow and in Cary Plantation, local government is already all but gone. Local meetings in Cary are held in Ms. Cassidy’s heated garage. With no public building, records are generally stored in officials’ homes. And most services are already contracted out. “I figure the state can do a better job,” Ms. Cassidy said. Other states have unorganized or unincorporated areas, but in Maine about half of the land is Unorganized Territory. The area predates the state itself — it was laid out when Maine was still part of Massachusetts and new settlers were expected to flock there. But the harsh climes of Maine’s wild lands, as they used to be known, never filled out with enough people to self-govern. “Maine has this oddity of having all of this space in an area of the country that cherishes town meetings and town governments,” said Kenneth Palmer, a professor emeritus at the University of Maine. “These tiny towns don’t have enough people to generate the municipal staff to really run the town. It’s this abandonment of a town structure.” But some in Cary say deorganizing is a way to give the community a new lease on life, not to abandon it. “I think it’s going to bring more people in,” said Kai Libby, 55, a retired Border Patrol agent who became the town’s first assessor last year to help shepherd the deorganization effort through the multistep process (and thus eliminate his own position). Mr. Libby and his wife, Tina, who led the withdrawal of Cary from its school district, live in the only house on their road, with a vast tract of land, enough space for four dogs and stacks of documents related to deorganization near their kitchen table. “There’s privacy, and it’s so quiet,” said Ms. Libby, 51. “We want to stay here. And to do that, it needs to be affordable for us to stay here.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/us/in-maine-local-control-is-a-luxury-fewer-towns-can-afford.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0
  4. http://www.cyqm.ca/en/home/aboutus/news/kfaerospaceannouncesnewdomesticandinternationalcar.aspx Too bad YUL (prob due to curfew) and YMX couldn't get this business. Does anyone know how the Cargo Market in YMX and YUL are doing? Anything besides just local services?
  5. The Bilbao Effect: is 'starchitecture' all it’s cracked up to be? Every struggling post-industrial city has the same idea: hire a star architect (like Frank Gehry) to design a branch of a famous museum (like the Guggenheim), and watch your city blossom with culture. After all, it worked for Bilbao ... didn’t it? Tomasz Kacprzak, chairman of the city council of Łódź, the third-biggest city in Poland, was telling me about the time he met David Lynch. “We went to his house in California,” Kacprzak said. “He loves Łódź. He wants to build us a cultural centre.” (Lynch’s plan for a 90-acre site comprising a film studio, cinema, gallery, offices and bar in an abandoned power plant in Łódź – the city that also inspired the cult director’s film Inland Empire – is expected to open in 2016.) “Actually,” Kacprzak continued, “Lynch’s house is not great. The interior. It is not modern.” “Oh, no,” I said. “Retro? Nineties?” “No,” Kacprzak said. “Eighties. Gehry’s house was much nicer.” “You went to Frank Gehry’s house, too?” This was interesting. We were standing in the soaring atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, designed by Gehry. Through the window, in the courtyard, you could make out the back of Jeff Koons’ huge, Edward Scissorhands-style plant sculpture, Puppy. “Yes,” Kacprzak said. “We asked for the Guggenheim in Łódź.” “You wanted Gehry to design a new museum?” “No,” Kacprzak said. “The same.” He swept his arm over the pine, glass and steel that curved above our heads. “You wanted him to build the exact same building?” “Yes,” Kacprzak said casually. “The same. But we would use it for a concert hall.” Much is made of the so-called ‘Bilbao effect’, the idea that attracting a world-class cultural institution – in Bilbao’s case, a branch of New York’s Guggenheim art museum – will put your city on the map, and in turn attract more investment, brands, tourism and cultural energy. This was the first time, however, that I’d heard someone say they wanted to copy Bilbao’s building exactly, swooping metal sheet for swooping metal sheet. “What did Gehry say?” I asked. “He said, ‘OK – but it will very expensive.’” Kacprzak shrugged. “We are a small city.” So, of course, was Bilbao 18 years ago when it rose to fame almost overnight. The fourth-largest city in Spain had lost its former glory as a manufacturing centre: its factories shuttered, its port decrepit. But after Spain joined the EU in 1986, Basque Country authorities embarked on an ambitious redevelopment programme for their biggest city. They drafted in expensive architects to design an airport (Santiago Calatrava), a metro system (Norman Foster), and a footbridge (Calatrava again), and in 1991 landed their biggest fish – the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, which decided to bring a new branch of the legendary Guggenheim Museum to the city, and hired star California architect Frank Gehry to build it. The building was an instant hit. Critics agreed Gehry’s deconstructed meringue of sweeping metal, which opened in 1997, was a work of “mercurial brilliance”. The collection inside, featuring art by Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Anselm Kiefer and Richard Serra, was world-class. The construction even came in on budget, at $89m. What’s more, Bilbao now had a landmark. Visitor spending in the city jumped, recouping the building cost within three years. Five years after construction, Bilbao estimated that its economic impact on the local economy was worth €168m, and poured an additional €27m into Basque government tax coffers – the equivalent of adding 4,415 jobs. More than one million people annually now visit the museum, which became the centrepiece of the Bilbao Art District: a cluster composed of the maritime museum, the fine arts museum and the Sala Rekalde art centre. In 2010, French designer Philippe Starck completed his renovation of a former wine cellar to create the Alhondiga culture and leisure centre (recently rebranded as Azkuna Zentroa). And Zaha Hadid has presented radical plans to redevelop the neglected Zorrozaurre peninsula and turn it into a high-tech residential and cultural island. A struggling city, decimated by the decline of its manufacturing base, had seemingly reinvented itself by – of all things – betting big on culture. Other post-industrial cities noticed. When I told Kacprzak’s story to Maria Fernandez Sabau, a cultural and museum consultant for cities around the world, she sighed. “Yes, many of my clients say the same thing: give us the Guggenheim,” she said. “Often the exact same building! But you can’t just copy it.” Don’t tell that to Abu Dhabi. Possibly in an attempt to buttress itself against the day the oil runs out, the city is building a museum complex called Saadiyat Island, which will feature branches of not just the Guggenheim (again) but the Louvre as well. In Hong Kong, the West Kowloon Cultural District will be home to M+, a new museum of Chinese contemporary art. There are plans for new cultural hubs centred on museums in Mecca, in Tirana, in Belo Horizonte and in Perth, Australia. It’s the same in the UK: Dundee has drafted in Kengo Kuma to build a new V&A Museum of Design, while Liverpool and Margate have welcomed the Tate Liverpool (designed by James Stirling) and the Turner Contemporary (David Chipperfield). Every city, it seems, wants to create the next Bilbao-Guggenheim-Gehry vortex. Praise for this model reached its zenith last month, as mayors, cultural attachés and city representatives descended on Bilbao for the UCLG Cities and Culture Conference. Walking the streets with Kacprzak from Łódź, I could see what the delegates liked so much. The city centre is clean. There are lots of expensive retail shops. “El Fosterito”, the glass-tube metro entrances designed by Foster, are slick and futuristic. And the people seem disproportionately well-off. Presiding over it all, like a monolith of gentrification, is the Guggenheim. Yet despite this icon of culture, the city seems strangely quiet. Where are the local galleries, the music, the graffiti, the skateboarders? Spain’s difficulties with youth unemployment are well-documented, but I expected more twentysomethings in what is regularly billed as a cultural capital. Does the Guggenheim actually encourage creativity in the city, as advertised, or is it a Disneylandish castle on the hill with a fancy name and an expensive entrance fee for tourists and the well-heeled? Is the Bilbao effect to spread culture, or just to spread money? “The Guggenheim put our city on the map, no question. But you also can’t get anything support here unless it’s top-down,” says Manu Gómez-Álvarez, an animated man of around 40 wearing earrings and a black hoodie, who is the driving force behind ZAWP, the Zorrozaurre Art Working Progress, a cultural group based on the Bilbao peninsula that Zaha Hadid proposes to completely redevelop. ZAWP is precisely the kind of cultural organisation that gets praised in megacities like London and New York. It’s a decentralised collective of young artists, theatre-makers, musicians and designers, with co-making spaces in the old industrial buildings of Zorrozaurre and a thriving entrepreneurial atmosphere in their colourful, funky headquarters – which also house a bar, a cafe, a gig space and a theatre. Gómez-Álvarez is leading a movement he calls Meanwhile, which aims to use the still-derelict buildings of the peninsula as temporary sites for plays, gigs, artistic interventions or even just cafes. Every proposal, at every turn, gets the same answer back from the authorities: no. “There’s no support for grassroots culture,” he says. “We waited 20 years before we got any funding from the government at all.” Last year, he says ZAWP finally received a grant – but they still don’t get a permanent home in the new Zorrozaurre, and will almost certainly have to move again. It’s hard to imagine: ZAWP’s premises are huge, stretching through half a dozen buildings and decorated in amazingly elaborate detail. And yet “we are nomads”, says Gómez-Álvarez. I asked Igor de Quadra, who runs Karraskan Bilbao – a network of more than a dozen theatre groups, venues and creative organisations – what he thought of the Guggenheim’s effect. He struggled to frame his words carefully. “It is fine for what it is,” he said at last, “but it gets a lot of attention from people who are just passing through. Events like this [uCLG forum] take up a lot of attention, but don’t leave much behind for Bilbao culture. Frankly, we don’t think about the Guggenheim.” The Guggenheim certainly doesn’t claim to be in the business of fostering local culture, nor would you expect it to. The museum has some Basque art and occasionally runs cultural workshops, but it’s an international art museum, rather incongruously plonked down in northern Spain. (Extreme Basque nationalists didn’t take kindly to its arrival: the week before it opened, ETA killed a police officer in a foiled attempt to bomb the museum.) There are, of course, Basque cultural organisations in the city, such as Harrobia Bilbao, a performing arts group established in a former church in the Otxarkoaga area in 2011, but their presence feels surprisingly marginal in a city that is supposed to be at the heart of Basque culture. “In English Canada, culture’s nice to have – in French Canada, it’s crucial,” says Simon Brault, head of the Arts Council of Canada, talking about a similar dynamic between French-speaking Quebec and the rest of the country. Brault helmed what you might call an “anti-Bilbao effect” – a completely different type of culture-led regeneration in another struggling post-industrial city, Montreal. Brault helped found an open, non-hierarchical cultural network called Culture Montreal, which rather than speaking only to the Guggenheims and cultural superstars of the city, was open to everyday Montrealers – bar owners, teachers, musicians. “An artist just in from Chile would be at the same table as the head of Cirque du Soleil,” he says. The aim wasn’t to secure funding for massive projects, but to put culture at the heart of the city’s regeneration. It was controversial at first. “The cultural groups thought it was a distraction and that what the culture sector needed was more money,” he said. “But within a year, we got what cultural groups had been asking for for 20 years: a seat at the table.” Rather than championing culture only for an elite group of professionals – and asking for money just for the huge institutions – Culture Montreal was better received by city and provincial governments, says Brault. Their goals were less arrogant: to increase cultural access for Montrealers, and to include culture as part of the solution to any civic problems. They achieved this, Brault says, by making everyone feel as though culture was a daily part of everyone’s life, not something for a sophisticated few. “There is definitely room for starchitects, but it’s always better to tap into local culture rather than buy it from outside. You can’t do culture in a city without involving citizens,” he said. So, which is the better way for cities – bottom-up cultural movements or big-ticket splashes? “Of course, there will always be top-down decisions,” Brault said. “The key is to look for a middle ground.” Hadid’s billion-pound redevelopment of Zorrozaurre will be a test for that middle ground in Bilbao. Will its 6,000 new houses, two new technology centres and park genuinely engage with local culture, or will it simply be a flashy area for rich Spaniards looking for a waterfront property? The Bilbao effect might be famous, but it’s here that it could be truly tested. Those cities around the globe hoping a brand-name museum will save them should be watching carefully. “The Guggenheim Bilbao was a rare occurrence,” says museum consultant Maria Fernandez Sabau. “There was an incredible confluence of amazing, talented people. You had a museum that was hungry to expand, available land for cheap, a government with money, an architect itching to make a statement, and a city that desperately needed a new reason to exist. You can’t just buy that.” http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/30/bilbao-effect-gehry-guggenheim-history-cities-50-buildings?CMP=twt_gu
  6. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-re-imagined/montreal-reimagined-cityscape-is-more-than-only-a-view The Montreal Re-Imagined section is presented by Concordia University Concordia University Montreal Reimagined: Cityscape is more than only a view MONTREAL, QUE.: April 02, 2015 -- Logo staff mugshot / headshot of Luca Barone in Montreal Thursday April 02, 2015. LUCA BARONE, SPECIAL TO MONTREAL GAZETTE Until I graduated, my daily hike up to McGill’s Faculty of Law on the corner of Peel St. and Dr. Penfield Ave. began at the corner of de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., where I would emerge into daylight from the métro station. Ascending into the world from the underground takes a little readjusting: you look around to get your bearings, check the weather, and let your eyes readjust to the sunlight. I was never afforded much to look at until I began walking north up Peel and glimpsed the mountain. The east-west view along de Maisonneuve is disappointing. Look left or right and the view is the same: dark towers pockmarked with windows rise up on the horizon. When a building obstructs a view down a street and becomes the focal point of what you see, it is known as a terminated vista. They can be a blessing and a curse. They also can help create a sense of destination and diversity in a city and can be manipulated to highlight significant landmarks. The view of McGill’s campus against the backdrop of Mount Royal from McGill College Ave. is one of Montreal’s iconic landscapes. Looking south down St. Urbain St., the view of the Art Deco waterfall of the Aldred Building on Place d’Armes is another example of a successful blocked view that beckons rather than repulses, as is the view of the dome of the Hôtel-Dieu looking north along Ste-Famille. These landmarks create a sense of place and they are symbols of our city. But look south down Parc Ave. toward Place du Parc (the Air Transat building) and the view is hardly inspiring. When the view down a street ends in a blank tower, the terminated vista does not help create a more livable city. Not every building should be monumental or iconic, but any urban building should make you want to walk toward it rather than avert your eyes. Downtown towers should be built because they have many virtues, from proximity to public transit to the lower environmental effect of higher population density, but we should not ignore how these buildings relate to their surroundings. Uniformity should not be the goal, either: a building should not have to look exactly like its neighbours, but it should complement them. Without exaggerating the importance of the look and shape of buildings, Montrealers deserve more than what we’re getting from urban planners, architects and real estate developers. We should trudge out of the métro and be delighted by what we see. In a city full of talented architects, much of the blame for uninspired buildings lies with real estate developers who don’t hire local talent, and city councillors and urban planners who give construction permits without paying sufficient attention to buildings’ visual impact. The Louis-Bohème building on the corner of Bleury and de Maisonneuve is an example of a building that succeeds on many levels. Its apartments make the best use of the land by increasing the density of residents in the area. It also has underground parking and shops at ground level, from where you can also access the Place-des-Arts métro station. In many ways, the building represents exactly the kind of development Montreal needs. But it fails as an element of the urban landscape. When you see it rising above Parc or de Maisonneuve, the view of its charcoal concrete panels leaves you unmoved at best and intimidated at worst. In a city that suffers from interminable winters exacerbated by short days and little sunlight, buildings clad in light-absorbing, dark materials are not merely ugly — they should be considered a public health concern. One way to improve urban design would be to develop a sustainable local architecture that is responsive to our climate. Initiatives like the Quartier des Spectacles’ Luminothérapie winter light installations are a great start, but the city should take a more active role in promoting architecture that makes long winters more bearable. For example, Edmonton has issued specific winter design guidelines that promote architectural features that block wind, maximize sunlight, and enliven the cityscape as part of its “WinterCity Strategy.” It is not easy for a building to enrich its surroundings while responding to the demands of a city and its inhabitants, the climate and the economy. But our buildings speak eloquently about who we are and what we value. We have to live with them for decades, if not centuries. It’s worth getting them right sent via Tapatalk
  7. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/two-montrealers-striving-to-improve-citys-economic-lot?__lsa=4920-2f19 Among the people charged with promoting Montreal’s economic development, Éric Lemieux and Dominique Anglade are on the front lines. They’re battling with other cities around the world as Montreal vies for scarce new jobs and investment dollars, often competing against lucrative incentives offered by other jurisdictions. Lemieux is trying to breathe new life into the city’s financial sector while Anglade seeks out high-tech companies, aerospace firms and life science businesses willing to invest here. Banks and insurance companies have moved their headquarters to Toronto and local stock exchanges have closed but Lemieux, who heads the private-public agency known as Finance Montreal, sees new opportunities ahead. “Canada has a stable economy with good financial regulation,” he says, and the country emerged from the 2008-09 financial crisis with a healthy banking sector. That should help to attract international banking activities. The city has an “excellent pool of talent supplied by its universities and business schools,” he says, with 8,000 students enrolled in finance programs. It also boasts much cheaper operating costs than places like New York and Boston. “Banks like BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Morgan Stanley all made the decision to locate some of their operations here.” Montreal has over 100,000 jobs in the financial sector and derives close to 7 per cent of local GDP from the 3,000 financial firms working here. It’s become an important centre for pension fund management, led by the giant provincial agency the Caisse de dépot et placement as well as other large players such as PSP Investments and Fiera Capital. The sector includes more than 250 money-management firms. The city is developing a new area of expertise in financial derivatives like futures and options on stocks, currencies and bonds, which are traded on the Montreal Exchange. And financial technology is also a selling point for Montreal. It has a growing presence in software development and information technology for the asset management industry, as traders look for every technical edge they can get. Part of Lemieux’s effort comes through the International Financial Centre program, which offers employment-based tax credits to financial firms that set up international operations here. “I think it’s a good success story,” he says. “There are more than 60 companies and 1,000 jobs that have located here” under the plan. “Seventy per cent of them would not be in Montreal if there wasn’t this support. We’re talking of $100 million in direct and indirect benefits.” Another important asset is the local venture capital industry, which finances startups and early-stage firms founded by entrepreneurs. The sector is led by such funding institutions as Teralys Capital and the Fonds de Solidarité. Put it all together and the portrait of the city doesn’t look too bad. According to the Global Financial Index — an international ranking that measures both size and industry perceptions — Montreal is the world’s 18th financial centre, up from 31st spot four years ago. Dominique Anglade runs Montreal International, the agency that prospects worldwide for foreign direct investment on behalf of the 82 municipalities in the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. Like Lemieux, she sees fierce competition for investment dollars. In this tough environment, the Montreal area has had its share of successes. 2013 was an exceptional year, as Montreal International helped to secure a record $1.2 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI). The year just ended will fall short of that mark but will “continue our momentum,” says Anglade. The city was recognized as having the best attraction strategy in North America in a survey by FDI Magazine, a sister publication to Britain’s Financial Times. The record performance was driven by several major expansions of foreign multinationals in the Montreal area, including French video-game maker Ubisoft and Swedish telecom giant Ericsson. The presence of multinationals is critical to the Montreal economy. They account for 20 per cent of local GDP and nine per cent of jobs, as well as a large share of private research and development. Montreal International’s task is to convince them not only to stay but to invest and expand here. Multinationals often pit one plant location against another to see which one will produce the best value proposition. Montreal International’s job is to stay in constant touch with the companies that have a presence here to find out what they want to accomplish and what they need to survive. Anglade targets certain niches where the city is already strong such as information technology, video games, special effects for movies and TV, aerospace and life sciences. Information technology represented by far the biggest share of the new money coming into the city in 2013. The video game industry also remains a strong performer, with five of the world’s top 10 selling games produced in Montreal. A significant percentage of deals — about 60 per cent — involve government financial assistance through provincial tax credits but Anglade doesn’t apologize for the financial aid offered to the private sector. “The competition in the U.S. has no limit. They have billions in terms of incentives and that’s why we have to be extremely strategic in Montreal and focus on specific sectors.” She notes that Swedish appliance maker Electrolux opted to close its plant in nearby L’Assomption, employing 1,300, and shifted operations to Tennessee after it was offered a rich package of incentives by three levels of government. Still, in industries that require more skill and knowledge, the availability of talent is Montreal’s strong point, Anglade says. “One of the surprises that people have about Montreal is its talent pool. I can’t tell you how many companies have said ‘wow, this is amazing’ when they start to fill positions here. It’s why we need to stress the importance of education. It’s critical for the future of Quebec.”
  8. Nouveau resto qui va ouvrir dans l'ancien local de L'Aventure dans la Place Jacques-Cartier http://montreal.eater.com/2014/12/5/7341641/first-look-harlow-game-changer-restaurant-place-jacques-cartier-old-montreal#4353296 sent via Tapatalk
  9. #12 - Montreal (Courtesy of GOOD) Read more The 50 cities they selected are quite interesting; #1 Hong Kong, #2 Johannesburg and #3 Mexico City.
  10. via The Gazette : German magazine shines spotlight on Montreal’s Bernard St. BY JESSE FEITH, THE GAZETTE JULY 30, 2014 The biannual Flaneur Magazine dissects and features one street per issue. Photograph by: Flaneur Magazine , . Two years ago when Berlin-born Ricarda Messner moved back to her hometown after having lived in New York City, everything seemed a little different as she walked around, wandering from block to block and trying to get a feel for the once-familiar streets. She started thinking about those streets, about how they’re the fabric of any city: each one representing a different aspect of its neighbourhood. Wanting to put that idea into print, she founded the biannual Flaneur Magazine, which dissects and features one street per issue. Manfred Stoffl, director at Montreal’s Goethe Institut, which promotes German culture in Montreal, happened to be in Berlin when he read about Flaneur in Germany’s national daily newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine. He contacted Messner to find out where he could get a copy of the first issue. The two met over a coffee and Stoffl left her with the idea of the magazine featuring a street in Montreal. In October of last year, Messner found herself wandering around again, but this time in Montreal. She hopped on a Bixi bike and followed her gut, ending up on Bernard St. “Bernard is one of those streets which might not seem so obvious at first, but it made sense for us,” she said in an email. “Still to this day, there was no other street which gave us the same feeling — representing Montreal in a hyper local microcosm.” Messner says she was aware of what she called the special role Montreal’s bilingualism plays in Canada, but didn’t have a real picture of it until spending time on Bernard. She was intrigued by the stark contrast between the street’s Outremont and Mile End sides, as well as the francophone, anglophone and Jewish communities that populate its sidewalks, restaurants and shops. Messner and two editors moved into an apartment on Hutchison St. for two months, and together with local talent, got to work talking with shop owners, approaching people on the street and turning as many stones as possible. The result, published earlier this month, is a 136-page issue of Flaneur, written in English, that “embraces the street’s complexity, its layers and fragmented nature with a literary approach.” There’s a spread profiling Tammy Lau, of Dragon Flowers, who’s had different shops open on the street for the last 25 years, selling handmade sweaters, Chinese porcelains and eventually settling on flowers. Another two pages feature Dominic Franco Kawmi, who owns a shoe shop on the street. And yet another section speaks of Peter Hondros of Loft 9, an antique boutique in the Mile End. “Outsiders who come in and stay briefly are bound to see things differently than those who live here,” said Hondros after seeing the magazine. “So it was interesting to read their take.” When Flaneur worked on its second issue, featuring Georg-Schwarz-Strasse in Leipzig, the team faced a lot of skeptical people who wished the magazine would pick a different street. In Montreal, said Messner, the opposite happened. “The people we came across didn’t react like that at all. People were enthusiastic, debated with us if Bernard was the best choice or not, and at our launch party, those present seemed genuinely interested and excited about the magazine,” she said. “I can’t believe how quickly the team clicked with Montreal,” Stoffl added. “The issue gives a real authentic view of the city. They were here in the cold of the winter, but the issue is still very lively.”For the 52-year-old Hondros, Bernard is a street that’s in a state of flux, becoming younger, trendier and a little less “laid back” than it used to be — changes the magazine couldn’t necessarily pick up on during its two month stay. “To us, it was a compliment to have someone come here and like what they see,” he said. “But now we’ve moved on, and we’re just back to our daily routines.” The magazine’s Montreal issue was financed in part by the Goethe Institut and is on sale at Drawn & Quarterly on Bernard St. It can also be ordered online at flaneur-magazine.com. The Flaneur team is now setting up shop in Rome to work on its next issue. [email protected] Twitter: jessefeith © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  11. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Obituary+David+Azrieli+touched+many+parts+society/10014707/story.html By Paul Delean, THE GAZETTE European-born David Azrieli, who fled the Nazis as a teenager, fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and then found fortune in Canada, died Wednesday at age 92. According to Forbes magazine, the Montreal-based real-estate developer and businessman was one of the richest Canadians with an estimated worth of $3.1 billion. He also was one of the most generous, contributing more than $100 million to philanthropic causes around the world, many of them in the fields of medical research, education and the arts. “It’s a great loss,” said Susan Laxer, president of local Jewish organization Federation CJA. “He literally changed the landscape in Israel with his office towers and architecture, and with his philanthropy, he touched many parts of our society and community. Through his legacy, he’ll continue to touch the lives of many people.” Norma Joseph, professor of religion and associate-director of the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies at Concordia University, described him as “a formidable person, very strong-minded. And he used his mind for a wonderful vision of community and building.” The institute got its start in 2011 with funding provided by the family foundation, “but he did more than give money. He also gave his personal time and effort,” Joseph said. Born into a Jewish family in Poland, Azrieli escaped ahead of the Nazi occupation and kept moving, winding up in British Mandate Palestine in 1942. He studied architecture at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and fought in Israel’s war of independence before settling in Canada in 1954. In a rare 1973 interview with the Montreal Star, he said he arrived here with no family connections and “literally, penniless.” “Nobody gave me anything,” he said. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Université de Montréal and working at a number of jobs, he had enough saved for his first solo project in 1957, construction of four duplexes on vacant lots he purchased in Ville D’Anjou. It was the start of a real-estate juggernaut that would eventually include thousands of apartment units, office buildings and shopping centres in Canada, the U.S. and Israel. Among his local holdings is the downtown Dominion Square Building housing The Gazette, acquired for $78.25 million in 2005, and the Sofitel Hotel. The Azrieli Group also held interests in companies active in the fields of energy, water and finance. He remained its chairman until last week when daughter Danna succeeded him, a move prompted by his medical condition. A sometimes controversial figure, Azrieli made headlines in the 1970s when he razed the former Van Horne Mansion on Sherbrooke St. and erected a 17-storey office tower on the site. In 1984, he sued The Gazette for libel over an editorial about a local development, but lost. “From the times of the pyramids to those of the skyscrapers, the works of architects and builders have been monuments to their glory or to their shame,” Superior Court Judge Paul Reeves said. “They build before the public eye and the public rightfully says whether it likes or dislikes what it sees.” In his later years, Azrieli split his residency between Israel and Westmount. “I have two homelands,” he once said, “two places that I love and where I have been blessed to do what I love best.” Active in and supportive of Jewish causes throughout his lifetime, he served as president of the Canadian Zionist Federation and in 2008 authored a book called Rekindling the Torch: The Story of Canadian Zionism, which told the story of the contribution of Canadian Jews and non-Jews to establishment of the state of Israel and their continuing support for the country. He also made Holocaust remembrance a personal crusade after it took from him two siblings and both parents. “This is my vision, to be able to use the tangible rewards of my career in building and construction to create a legacy for education and educational institutions in both of my homelands,” he said. A recipient of the Order of Canada, Azrieli also was a “chevalier” of the Ordre National du Québec. Married for 57 years to Stephanie Lefcort, he had four children: Rafael, Sharon, Naomi and Danna. He died surrounded by family at his country home in Ivry-sur-le-Lac, Que. [email protected]
  12. Nouvelle adresse dans le Quartier des spectacles : Café Parvis : un petit nouveau, rue Mayor Publié le 4 février 2014 par Quartier des spectacles Les huit partenaires derrière le Furco frappent encore. Situé dans le grand local adjacent au populaire bar, le Café Parvis, ouvert depuis quelques jours à peine, est un café et une pizzeria. L’endroit séduit déjà les Montréalais le jour et on prévoit une ouverture en soirée d’ici le printemps. Rencontre avec Éric Bélanger, chef superviseur et associé au Café Parvis, au Furco et à la Buvette Chez Simone. Comment est né le Café Parvis? Quand nous avons ouvert le Furco, en octobre 2012, nous avions prévu qu’il serait en opération midi et soir. Nous avons d’abord ouvert le soir, pour le rodage, puis, après une semaine, le bar était déjà plein tous les soirs. C’est devenu très rapidement un endroit où c’était continuellement la fête. Nous n’avons donc jamais ouvert le midi. Puis, on nous a proposé le local adjacent. Au départ, nous étions plus ou moins intéressés parce que nous étions satisfaits du Furco. Mais l’idée d’ouvrir un café me trottait dans la tête depuis un moment. Puisque le local était parfait et que ça fonctionnait bien avec les associés du Furco, nous avons décidé d’aller de l’avant. Le Parvis, lui, sera ouvert seulement le midi? Notre objectif est de l’ouvrir matin, midi et soir! Le Parvis ouvre dès sept heures le matin. Nous servons un café haut de gamme – notre barista est même allée suivre une formation en Oregon! – ainsi que des viennoiseries qui sont cuisinées sur place. Nous nous préparons pour l’ouverture de soir, qui se fera d’ici le printemps, quand tout sera à mon goût. Pour le moment, donc, nous sommes ouverts du lundi au vendredi, de 7 h à 15 h, et, bientôt, nous ouvrirons les soirs et les week-ends. Qu’est-ce qu’on retrouve au menu? Il y a six sortes de pizzas, autant de salades et une soupe. On peut manger sur place ou commander pour emporter. Le concept ressemble à celui de la Buvette chez Simone [où Éric Bélanger est aussi associé], c’est-à-dire que, sur le menu, vous encerclez ce que vous voulez et nous l’apportons sur des plateaux pour permettre le partage entre les convives. C’est parfait pour le midi. Cela nous permet de faire un service rapide en moins de 45 minutes. Nous proposons des pizzas romaines, qui ont une pâte plus épaisse et plus croustillante que la pizza napolitaine. Les recettes se veulent inventives. Il y a, par exemple, une pizza avec du boudin maison et des oignons caramélisés. Une autre est garnie de saumon fumé maison, de salade fraîche et d’huile citronnée. Vous avez un permis d’alcool? Oui. C’est un permis pour restaurant, donc il faut manger pour consommer de l’alcool. Nous proposons six bières en fut d’une microbrasserie québécoise. La carte des vins est restreinte, mais bien choisie : il y a douze bouteilles et au verre, nous proposons deux vins d’importation privée qui ont été créés spécialement pour nous. Le vrai bar, il est à côté; c’est le Furco. Ici, nous voulions créer une pizzeria conviviale où les prix sont abordables. Quelle est l’ambiance du Parvis? Nous avons voulu créer une ambiance un peu seventies. Nous souhaitions déménager l’esprit du Mile-End au centre-ville, parce qu’il n’y a pas vraiment d’établissement de ce genre ici. C’est le designer Zébulon Perron, aussi partenaire dans l’aventure, et moi-même qui avons pensé le décor qui comprend des références rétro et beaucoup de plantes. Quels autres projets avez-vous en tête pour le Parvis? Nous souhaitons avoir des places de terrasse sur la rue dès le printemps. La demande de permis a été faite. La terrasse serait ouverte du matin jusqu’à environ 21 h ou 22 h. Nous pourrions la garder ouverte jusqu’à 23 h, mais nous voulons nous assurer d’une bonne cohabitation avec le voisinage. Aussi, j’aimerais ajouter une serre sur le toit. Nous pourrions y faire pousser nos propres piments. Nous allons probablement commencer les travaux en mai. Quelle image vous vient en tête quand vous pensez au Quartier des spectacles? L’Église Unie Saint-James. J’aime beaucoup l’architecture et je venais souvent me promener dans le quartier pendant les travaux de revitalisation de l’église. C’est comme ça d’ailleurs que j’ai trouvé le local de la rue Mayor, derrière l’église, et que nous nous sommes installés ici. Café Parvis 433, rue Mayor
  13. Source: http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20130531-how-the-quebecois-came-to-love-poutine/1 The day began eight hours earlier in Europe, under the light drizzle of Switzerland’s rain. As the plane began its descent into Montreal through layers of blue, pink and peach-streaked skies, the vast Canadian landscape came into view. Soon we were on the ground, making our way through the buzzing airport, past maple syrup souvenir shops and a cacophony of French and English conversations. Almost immediately, a familiar craving crept up and my stomach began to rumble. Poutine was calling. Poutine is the ultimate Quebecois comfort food – a pile of thick-cut French fried potatoes, generously sprinkled with fresh cheese curds and slathered with velvety gravy. When in the province, duck into a greasy spoon, stop by a cabanes à patates (roadside chip wagon) or take a seat at some of the city’s haute cuisine hotspots – invariably some version of poutine will be on the menu. As Montreal food blogger Na’eem Adam put it, “we all have a little gravy in our blood”. Here that gravy is usually made with a chicken, veal or turkey stock mixed with a roux of equal parts butter and flour. The result is a savoury sauce thick enough to coat a spoon and hot enough to warm – but not melt – a scattering of cheese curd. The by-product of cheese making, the curds are separated from the liquid whey of coagulating milk and heated until they reach a doughy consistency. In poutine, their freshness is paramount, measured by an unmistakable “squeak” between the teeth while chewing. European legacies Cheese making is a deeply rooted culinary tradition in Quebec. Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec City, introduced cattle from Brittany and Normandy around 1610. At the time, arriving French brought with them a taste for cheese – as well as the recipes to continue the tradition abroad. As the rate of settlers increased, so did the cattle, and soon dairy farms and cheese making were vital to local economies. Canada’s history meant that settlers benefited from both French and English influences, and cheese was no exception. After the American Revolutionary War (1775 to1783), a wave of defeated loyalists moved to Canada, bringing the quintessentially English cheddar cheese. With the invention of pasteurisation and the advent of industrialisation in the late 19th Century, cheese production flourished in Quebec. By World War I, Quebecois factories were even exporting cheddar back to England. Where cheese curds fall in this timeline is imprecise. The dominant theory points to a milk surplus from Quebec dairy farms around the 1950s. With a plethora of cheddar cheese factories and an excess of milk, the leftover curds found their way into takeaway shops and diners around the province. Posh poutine Rumour has it the Quebecois harbour a hint of embarrassment over their love for poutine – an apparent juxtaposition to their branded sophistication. Combining French-influenced style and North American affability, Montreal brims with creativity and swagger. And at one hip eatery, Au Pied du Cochon in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood, the city’s penchant for cool meets their not-so-secret love for chips and gravy. Here, chef Martin Picard makes a play on French-Quebecois flavours with adventurous and brilliantly executed nose-to-tail dishes, throwing in a heavy dose of off-the-wall culinary creativity. Heaps of pork, duck, foie gras and boudin (blood sausage) dot the calorific menu, and under low hanging Edison light bulbs and butcher-block wooden tables, you dine on fat. The poutine is no exception. Picard’s interpretation starts with a chicken velouté gravy enriched with pork stock, foie gras and egg yolks. The decadent sauce is ladled over cheese curd-dotted chips fried in duck fat and topped with 100g of expertly seared goose liver. Picard’s poutine is gorgeously fatty, rich, savoury, sublime. It is the kind of dish that inspires scheduled layovers through Montreal just to snag another taste. A messy history But poutine was not born topped with a slab of foie gras. Its origins lie 150km northeast of Montreal in the town of Warwick. History points to restaurateur Fernand LaChance who, in 1957, added cheese curds to a takeaway bag of chips at the request of customer Eddy Lanaisse. Legend has it LaChance replied to Lanaisse’s request saying, “ça va faire une maudite poutine” (that's going to make a damn mess). It is argued that the etymology for poutine lies here with LaChance. Others point to an adaption of the English word “pudding”, while some Quebecois claim poutine is the evolution of the local slang, poutingo, or “bad stew”. Nevertheless LaChance indulged Lanaisse, and soon word of his chips-meets-curds creation spread. However, gravy did not enter the equation until seven years later. It was in Drummondville, a small town 50km southwest of Warwick, that sauce married chips and cheese. At a local restaurant, Roy le Jucep, owner Jean-Paul Roy was slathering gravy on his chips when he noticed diners throw cheese curds, displayed for sale on the countertops, into their takeaway bags. He put the mash up on his menu, thereby effectively creating poutine as we now know it. Roy le Jucep still stands in the same spot today. Word-of-mouth steadily carried poutine from local villages and cheese-making towns around the province into Montreal, and by the 1980s, poutine was so engrained in Quebecois culinary culture that Burger King and McDonald’s had it on their menus. In 2007, Canadian news agency CBC conducted a survey that rated poutine 10th on a list of Canada’s best inventions. Local love In Montreal today, you can find everything from classic to avant-garde poutine. La Banquise in Plateau Mont-Royal is one celebrated eatery where you can do both – even at 3 am. A family-run local favourite, La Banquise opened in 1968 as an ice cream shop before growing into a snack bar specialising in hot dogs and chips. Poutine first hit their menu in the 1980s, but when Annie Barsalou took over the restaurant from her father, Pierre, they started to experiment with the dish and never looked back. Today, La Banquise is a 24-hour dedicated poutine joint with more than 28 varieties on offer, such as poutine with merguez sausages, hot peppers and Tabasco. Lunchtime is saturated with a loyal crowd of nearby workers, while at night the students roll in. This is the kind of rowdy spot you seek out after an evening of boisterous drinking – it is informal, packed and noisy. And their poutines are exactly what you crave after midnight, with fat chips that retain their texture against smooth, well-seasoned gravy. Along with late-night greasy spoons, the Quebecois also have a shared love for poutine from cabanes à patates. These roadside food trucks dot the province serving up classic poutines that make purists swoon. Lucky’s Truck is a contemporary take on the traditional, serving up haute street food out of a repurposed Fedex truck that traverses Montreal’s cobblestoned streets. Theirs comes with duck confit, caramelised balsamic onions and a foie gras and red wine sauce. The confit is melt-in-your-mouth, the gravy is full-bodied and indulgent and the onions are beautifully sweet with a touch of balsamic tartness that cuts through the richness of the sauce. Poutine party. And then, there is Poutine Week, an entire week dedicated solely to poutine. Founded by blogger Na'eem Adam, the first ever celebration took place in February 2013 and more than 30 restaurants featured the Quebecois icon on their menus as the city embarked on a culinary food tour to uncover the best. Diners hopped from spot to spot, taste testing poutines and voting for their favourite on the festival’s website – which got more than 100,000 hits in the week. From amateur eateries to poutine connoisseurs, the Quebecois spent the week indulging in jazzed-up versions – such as Le Porky Pig at St Laurent Boulevard’s Macaroni Bar, which served theirs with sliced porchetta, fontina cheese and sweet potato fries – alongside the classic, where the focus was on hand-cut fries, perfect gravy and the freshest curds. By week’s end, Poutineville on Ontario Street was voted the best for their General Tao Poutine, made with crushed potatoes, cheese curds, scallions, sesame seed and General Tao sauce, a North American-Chinese sweet, sour and spicy sauce. Next year’s Poutine Week is already in the books for 1 to 7 February. Quebec has not one, but two poutine-related celebrations, with the St Albert Cheese Curd Festival taking place from 14 to 18 August 2013. Held each year by one of Montreal’s most prominent cheese curd producers, the St-Albert Cheese Co-operative, the festival celebrates the factory, the small town about 150km west of Montreal and – of course – cheese curds. This year’s event is particularly meaningful; in February 2013 a fire destroyed the factory. For this village of 500 residents, St Albert’s has served as the backbone for the community since it opened in 1894 as a collective of 10 milk producers. Today, the Quebecois are rallying around St Albert’s, supporting the rebuild and working together to ensure the factory’s survival. The soul of Quebec It is perhaps this camaraderie – more so than all of the events, roadside wagons, poutine hotspots and jazzed-up versions – that speak to the deep connection to this iconic dish. Simply, poutine is in the Quebecois consciousness. And from the moment you land in Montreal airport to finding your way through to the city’s beautiful and bustling centre, this feeling of fellowship is palpable, best expressed over a generous plate of warming poutine.
  14. http://www.mercer.com/qualityoflivingpr#city-rankings Montréal figure assez bien pour les infrastructures en 13e position, et devant Toronto. Les infrastructures sont definis comme tel: 'electricity supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, public transportation, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports'.
  15. as much as Aubin is a loud mouth - he;s not far from the truth. A wake up call to forum members.. we all love Montreal but we need to seriously wake up. 2011/2012 was a bad 2 years - we need to improve MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin Inc. — founded by francophone Montrealers, headquartered in Montreal and active in engineering and construction projects in more than 100 countries — has long been the proud symbol of Québec Inc. Now, however, it risks becoming a symbol of something else — the decline of Montreal’s place on the world stage. The company announced last week that it is creating its largest corporate unit (one focused on hydrocarbons, chemicals, metallurgy, mining, the environment and water) and locating it not in Quebec but in London; heading it will be a Brit, Neil Bruce. As well, the company also said it was creating a global operations unit that would be based in the British capital. To be sure, SNC-Lavalin denies speculation by a La Presse business columnist that the company might be slowly moving its head office from Montreal. The two moves to London must be seen as reflecting “our healthy expansion globally,” says a spokesperson. “The corporate headquarters and all its functions still remain in Montreal.” Nonetheless, this unmistakable shift of authority abroad takes place within a broader context of fewer local people atop the SNC-Lavalin pyramid. In 2007, six of the top 11 executives were francophone Quebecers; last year, three. Note, too, that only two of 13 members of its board of directors are francophone Quebecers. When the company last fall replaced discredited Pierre Duhaime of Montreal as president, CEO, and board member, it picked an American, Robert Card. What’s happening to the company based on René-Lévesque Blvd. is the latest sign of the erosion of Montreal’s status as a major business centre. Of Canada’s 500 largest companies, 96 had their head offices in this city in 1990; in 2010, says Montréal International, only 81 remained, a 16-per-cent decline. It’s true that Toronto, too, has seen a decrease (with some of its companies heading to booming Calgary), but it’s only of six per cent. As well, because Hogtown has more than twice as many head offices as Montreal, the trend there has far less impact. Anyone with a stake in Montreal’s prosperity should care about what’s happening here. Head offices and major corporate offices, such as the SNC-Lavalin’s units, bring more money collectively into the city than do big events — the Grand Prix and the aquatics championship — whose threatened departures cause political storms. Such offices employ high-spending, high-taxpaying local residents and attract visiting business people year-round — people who represent income for cabbies, hoteliers, restaurateurs, computer experts, lawyers and accountants. Indeed, this week’s controversy over the absence of direct air links from Trudeau International Airport to China and South America is pertinent to this trend. It’s not only federal air policy over the decades that’s responsible for this isolation. It’s also that Montrealers have less money, and one reason for that is, as Trudeau boss James Cherry notes, “there are far fewer head offices in Montreal.” Keep losing them and we’ll be a real backwater. But how do we avoid losing these offices? We don’t need more studies. Tons of studies — good ones — already exist. The No. 1 factor for a company when choosing a head office location is corporate taxes, according to a Calgary Economic Development study. Quebec’s are the highest in Canada and the U.S. Thirty-four per cent of the executives at 103 local companies say that Montreal’s business climate had “deteriorated “ in the previous five years, Montreal’s Chambre de commerce found a year ago. The main reason: infrastructure (not only roads but also the health system). A study called “Knowledge City” that Montreal city hall commissioned in 2004 is still relevant. Its survey of 100 mobile, well-educated people (some of whom had already left Montreal) found that their top three biggest complaints with the city were, in descending order, high personal taxes, decaying infrastructure and political uncertainty from sovereignty. All studies agree that the quality of Montreal’s universities helps attract companies. Weakened universities would lower this power. The Parti Québécois government’s minister for Montreal, Jean-François Lisée, declared before Christmas that he was “Montréalo-optimiste.” He did not, however, spell out concrete steps for addressing the above-listed problems. Too bad that his government on Jan. 1 imposed higher personal taxes for people with high incomes — which hits business people. Too bad it has reduced spending on infrastructure by 14 per cent. Too bad that it has not only reduced funds to universities by $124 million over the next three months but that it says it might cut their funding in other years as well — in effect weakening them. And, finally, too bad that Premier Pauline Marois said this week her party would soon launch a campaign to promote sovereignty and that her government would step up its strategy of wresting powers from Ottawa. In the next few says, she’ll further promote Quebec independence with a meeting in Edinburgh with Scotland’s sovereignist leader. Staunch the hemorrhage of corporate offices from Montreal under this government? The very idea is Montréalo-irréaliste. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Henry+Aubin+avoid+losing+head+offices/7862525/story.html#ixzz2IrXbVaOH
  16. http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/north-stars/ The Montreal neighborhood of Mile End, long a working-class Jewish enclave (and the namesake of two culty New York delis), has changed considerably in recent years, getting quietly but unmistakably hip, with dozens of restaurants, bars and boutiques now dotting its streets. Librairie Drawn & Quarterly The offshoot of a local publishing house, this shop attracts fans of graphic novels and art books with regular readings and workshops. 211, rue Bernard Ouest; (514) 279-2224; drawnandquarterly.com. Éditions de Robes The owner, Julie Pesant, believes every woman needs a good dress. She stocks mainly her own designs, many in black or white, all on-trend and priced at about $250. She’ll even alter them. 178, rue St.-Viateur Ouest; (514) 271-7676; editionsderobes.com. Royal Phoenix All are welcome at this gay bar, which also serves as an informal clubhouse for members of Montreal’s red-hot roller derby scene (mtlrollerderby.com). Other reasons to go: the music, the warm-weather terrace and the over-the-top poutine, which comes with pulled pork. 5788, boulevard St.-Laurent; (514) 658-1622; royalphoenixbar.com. Thierry Arnold Boulangerie Guillaume Boulangerie Guillaume This artisanal bakery’s bread is often described as the best in the city. Other delicious offerings include the sticky apple-caramel buns, white chocolate brioche and coffee from the local roaster Saint Henri (sainthenri.ca). 17, avenue Fairmount Est; (514) 507-3799; boulangerieguillaume.com. Les Montures A favorite of plugged-in stylists, this small shop specializes in dead stock and vintage eyeglasses and sunglasses. Though big names like Dior are represented, the owner, Nicolas Hamel, values style over pedigree, with a preference for specs from the 1960s and ’70s. 174, rue Bernard Ouest; (514) 507-8282; lesmontures.com. A version of this article appeared in print on 09/23/2012, on page M218 of the NewYork edition with the headline: North Stars.
  17. http://edition.cnn.com/CNNI/Programs/cnngo/?iref=allsearch CNNGo Wednesday 8 August at 1030 BST / 1130 CET and 1730 BST / 1830 CET Saturday 11 August at 0530 BST / 0630 CET and 1930 BST / 2030 CET Sunday 12 August at 1230 BST / 1330 CET Duration: 30 minutes CNNGo visits Montreal in August This month 'CNNGo' sets its sights on Montreal, exploring the contemporary art scene around 'The Mile End' with local artist Gene Pendon. With summer in full swing, the programme takes viewers to the vibrant and bustling Jean Talon market, and samples the local produce. Talented singer and former child prodigy Nikki Yanofsky welcomes CNN to the internationally renowned Montreal Jazz Festival. And in this high flying city – that many street performers, acrobats and entertainers call home – cameras are there for the opening night of a thrilling new show from 'Les 7 Doigts de la Main.' All that, plus a stroll through the trendy Plateau district, as well as a bike ride over one of North America's most significant waterways.
  18. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Deal+would+bring+Citytv+Montreal/6560252/story.html Rogers Media buys Montreal TV station Metro 14 By Steve Faguy, The Gazette May 4, 2012 9:36 AM MONTREAL - Citytv could be coming to Montreal soon. Rogers Media announced on Thursday that it had reached a deal to purchase Montreal multicultural television station Metro 14 (CJNT) from Toronto-based Channel Zero Inc. Rogers plans to turn CJNT into a Citytv station, expanding the national network’s presence. Citytv has stations in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The company also announced that it will sign long-term affiliation deals with three stations owned by the Jim Pattison Group: CHAT-TV in Medicine Hat, Alta., CJFC-TV in Kamloops, B.C., and CKPG-TV in Prince George, B.C. All three have been Citytv affiliates since 2009, and are, like CJNT, former members of the Canwest CH/E! network. Rogers also announced in January it would purchase educational regional cable channel Saskatchewan Communications Network from Bluepoint Investment Corp. and rebrand it as Citytv Saskatchewan. “Citytv, up until recently, has only been available in 7.2 million homes, and when we buy and produce programming, the cost of that is similar to what other networks pay when they buy national footprint rights,” Rogers Media president of Broadcast Scott Moore told The Gazette. “It’s essential for us to expand our footprint.” Though the new deals give Citytv good coverage west of Montreal, there are no stations east of the city. Moore said there are no specific plans for expansion into Atlantic Canada, but said it represented a gap in the network and “we’ll continue to work on that in the next six to 12 months.” The deal must be approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission before Rogers Media can take over. In the meantime, Rogers and Channel Zero have signed an affiliation agreement that will see Citytv programming on CJNT as of June 4. Citytv programs include American shows like New Girl, Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother, as well as original productions like Canada’s Got Talent and the upcoming The Bachelor Canada. Channel Zero president Cal Millar told The Gazette the station also will air some programming from Rogers’s OMNI network of ethnic stations. Channel Zero also owns CHCH television in Hamilton, Ont. It purchased CHCH and CJNT from Canwest for $12 in 2009 after the struggling company (which also owned The Gazette) decided to shut down its secondary network of conventional television stations. Moore said he would not comment about the purchase price, but joked that it was “more than double” the $12 Channel Zero paid for it. CJNT’s licence requires it to broadcast 14 hours of local ethnic programming each week and at least 75 per cent ethnic programming from 8 to 10 p.m. But after the sale from Canwest to Channel Zero, the station stopped producing its ethnic programming. It has since been airing reruns – some of them three years old – of its local ethnic shows. The rest of its schedule is made up of music videos, foreign films and some low-rated U.S. programming whose Canadian rights haven’t been scooped up by CTV, Global or Citytv. Moore did not comment on any changes Rogers might propose for CJNT’s licence, or whether it would even continue to be a multi-ethnic station. “We’ll be spending the next couple of months in Montreal, speaking with stakeholders in the community,” he said. As far as local programming, Moore said it was still too early to tell, but it was unlikely the station would produce a daily newscast. “I don’t know that Montreal needs another English-language supper-hour newscast,” he said. Citytv stations outside of Toronto meet local programming requirements with morning shows. Moore said it was “a good bet” that a similar strategy would be used in Montreal. Millar said the sale was bittersweet for Channel Zero, which he said had been making progress building its audience with a new morning show that’s heavy on music videos. He said Rogers has been trying to buy the station since “shortly after we acquired it” and made multiple offers. But this time, “Rogers was more determined than ever to expand their national reach,” Millar said. “It was far more valuable to them at that point than to us.” Channel Zero had been in talks with a local producer to bring back some local ethnic programming this fall. Millar said he doesn’t know if those plans will continue as the company waits for a decision on the acquisition. Rogers said it would expect a decision by the CRTC in the fall. [email protected] Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Rogers+Media+buys+Montreal+station+Metro/6560252/story.html#ixzz1tuid8rb0
  19. Ottawa is preparing to crack down on employment-insurance recipients who are not seeking work in areas where employers are forced to bring in foreign workers to fill jobs. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday the government wants to reduce disincentives to work by creating a “greater connection” between the EI program and the temporary foreign worker program, which is under Mr. Kenney’s purview. “What we will be doing is making people aware there’s hiring going on and reminding them that they have an obligation to apply for available work and to take it if they’re going to qualify for EI,” Mr. Kenney told the National Post editorial board on Wednesday. He was touting immigration reforms that will try to streamline the entry of immigrants and foreign workers, favouring entrepreneurs, innovators and those with high quality professional credentials. The reforms would require unemployed Canadians to accept local jobs that are currently being filled by temporary foreign workers. “Nova Scotia province-wide has 10% unemployment, but the only way Christmas tree operators can function in the Annapolis Valley is to bring in Mexicans through this agricultural worker program,” he said, also pointing to the increased number of Russians working in Prince Edward Island fish processing plants and Romanians working at the Ganong chocolate factory in New Brunswick. “Even on the north shore of New Brunswick, which has the highest unemployment in the province, the MPs keep telling me the employers definitely need more temporary workers. What’s going on here?” Minister of Human Resources Diane Finley will soon address the issue in further detail, Mr. Kenney said. The coming changes were first revealed in last month’s federal budget, which proposed spending $387-million over two years to align EI benefit amounts with local labour market conditions. The government will consider more measures to ensure the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will continue to meet those labour needs by “better aligning” the program with labour demands, according to budget documents. At the same time, businesses will have to have made “all reasonable efforts” to recruit from the domestic labour force before they seek workers from abroad. When an employer looks to the government for a labour market opinion, which is one step in getting approval to hire foreign temporary workers, Mr. Kenney said the government will soon point out the number of people on EI in that employer’s region and ensure the people collecting EI are aware of that job opportunity. “If you don’t take available work, you don’t get EI,” he said. “That’s always been a legal principle of that program.” http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/04/18/conservatives-want-unemployed-to-fill-jobs-going-to-temporary-foreign-workers-jason-kenney/
  20. Some of the measures in the Snøhetta concept sound familiar... http://nymag.com/arts/architecture/features/times-square-2012-4/ Could it become a place where New Yorkers actually want to hang out? By Justin Davidson Published Apr 15, 2012 Snøhetta's plan for Times Square: a low-key, pedestrian-friendly base for the riot of lights above. (Photo: Rendering courtesy of MIR) For two decades, New Yorkers have viewed Times Square as the city’s heart of brightness, a candy-colored hellhole to be avoided whenever possible. At either end of a workday or just before curtain time, we may dart and jostle past slow-moving out-of-towners, but the notion of meeting friends for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe or whiling away a weekend afternoon held rapt by the symphony of screens doesn’t cross our minds. Starting next fall, workers with jackhammers will tear apart the bow tie, temporarily making it an even less congenial place to hang out. But one major goal of the $45 million construction project is to persuade New Yorkers to love Times Square—to convince them that it’s not just a backdrop for a million daily snapshots but Manhattan’s most central, and most convivial, gathering spot. Architects and visionaries have often addressed that old ambition with high-energy concepts that gave us the current high-tech razzmatazz. Even in this round of ideas, the city has fended off proposals for colored LEDs embedded in the pavement, for ramps, staircases, pavilions, digital information kiosks, heat lamps, trees, lawns, canopies, and, of course, more video screens. Instead, the city hired the architectural firm Snøhetta to produce a quiet, even minimal design that doesn’t try vainly to compete with the glowing canyons. Its beauty lies in dark, heavy sobriety and a desire to be a lasting pedestal to the frenzied dazzle above. In the most straightforward sense, the new plan enshrines a transformation that has already taken place. Ever since vehicles were banned from Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets, in 2009, Times Square has felt like a temporary art installation. Pedestrians have been able to step off the curb and into the weirdly motor-free street. Rickety red café tables, which replaced plastic beach chairs, dot a blue river painted on the asphalt. Streetlights, lampposts, mailboxes, hydrants, and pay phones remain clustered along the Broadway sidewalk, staying clear of nonexistent traffic. The new construction will eliminate that feeling of making do. Curbs will vanish. Pedestrian areas will be leveled and clad in tweedy concrete tiles that run lengthwise down Broadway and the Seventh Avenue sidewalks, meeting in an angled confluence of patterns. Nickel-size steel discs set into the pavement will catch the light and toss it back into the brilliant air. Instead of perching on metal chairs, loiterers will be able to sit, lean, sprawl, jump, and stand on ten massive black granite benches up to 50 feet long and five feet wide. Electrical and fiber-optic-cable outlets will be packed into the benches so that, for outdoor performances, special-event crews will no longer need to haul in noisy, diesel-burning generators or drape the square in cables and duct tape. Even on ordinary days, the square will be de-*cluttered of the traffic signs, bollards, cones, and boxes that cause foot traffic to seize up. With any luck, crowds will gather and mingle only in the center plain between the benches, leaving free-flowing channels on either side for the rest of us, who have somewhere to be, people! Originally based in Norway and now firmly ensconced in New York, Snøhetta in 2008 created one of the most successful public spaces in recent memory: the pedestrian pathway that winds its way around, inside, in front of, and on top of the firm’s new opera house in Oslo. It’s a cosmopolitan yet utterly local place, an exquisite juncture of sea, sky, and glacier-like building, which seems to be slipping calmly into the fjord. It suggests that the architects understand the interaction of local culture and public space. “We’re not trying to make an instant photograph of happiness,” says the firm’s co-founder Craig Dykers, explaining that Times Square needs a little grit. “There’s been quite a lot done to make the city feel more delicate, which is good, but we shouldn’t forget its industrial history. At Times Square, there were rivets on the old marquees, the steelwork on the signs was industrial, and the lighting was naked bulbs. We want that whole history to be reflected in the experience of the space.” That may be a lot to ask of benches and pavers. Toys ’R’ Us isn’t slinking back to the suburbs, and all the happy, shiny logos won’t be dimming anytime soon. But Times Square has always reinvented itself every decade or two, and it may be shifting again. It’s been the epicenter of the media world, but Condé Nast will soon be moving to the World Trade Center, and Google has settled in Chelsea. In the nineties, Times Square lured law firms and financial outfits with the city’s freshest, most technologically advanced office towers, but new models inexorably supersede the old, and this time they’ll be in lower Manhattan and Hudson Yards. This is not to say that the glitter is flaking off, only that the least likely option for the future is stasis, so Snøhetta had to design a permanent platform for the unpredictable. There are two distinct approaches to public-space renovations: the grand design and the perpetual tweak. If Snøhetta is pursuing the first path, the apostle of the second is Daniel Biederman, who led the fabulously successful renovation of Bryant Park in the early nineties and has been managing it ever since, filling it with activities, temporary structures, and retro details. “If I were the czar of Times Square design, I would do the traditional stuff: plants, kiosks, movable seating, games, programming—small touches,” Biederman says. “Most people look down as far as two feet from the ground and up to fourteen feet off the ground, so at Times Square they have a chance to waste a ton of money on a surface that nobody’s going to see.” Yet Bryant Park’s charms don’t constitute a recipe. Times Square is not a graciously bounded piazza, and it shouldn’t be a verdant oasis. It’s an accidental wedge formed by two major avenues. Seventh Avenue will keep its traffic, and so will the cross streets. Even below ground, ancient water mains, electrical lines, telephone cables, subway tunnels, and long-buried trolley tracks tangle chaotically. The square’s getting a face-lift and major surgery at the same time. Quaintness has no place here. Every bit of this area acts as a showcase of some kind. The new design is to the street what the M&M’s store is to candy and Good Morning America is to television: an urban launchpad for a global commodity. In this case, the product is the philosophy of public space preached by the Bloomberg administration’s impassioned transportation commissioner, Janette *Sadik-Khan. For decades, American cities have treated their streets as traffic conduits meant to speed cars along as efficiently as possible (which is often not very efficiently at all). Instead, the new thinking goes, they should be a flexible network equally comfortable for drivers and dawdlers, parents with strollers, cyclists, truckers, and anyone who would rather just sit for a while and rest. Until 2009, the theater district embodied the disjunction between the way streets were conceived and the way they were used, as Sadik-Khan points out with data-driven fervor. “Times Square had 137 percent more accidents and crashes than any other avenue in the area,” she says of the way she found it when she took office in 2007. “It was a hot spot of congestion. You had 356,000 people coming through on foot every day and less than 10 percent of the space allocated to pedestrians. It wasn’t working, and it was a problem that had been lying in plain sight for 200 years.” You remember: Crowds spilled over the curbs into the street, gridlock stranded taxis in the triangular crossroads, and hurried theatergoers battled through the stationary herds. The Times Square Alliance, which represents local businesses, suggested an incremental solution: Widen the sidewalks a little bit. Sadik-Khan one-upped them and completely closed five blocks of Broadway to traffic. The result was a harvest of happy data: fewer accidents, cleaner air, more satisfied survey respondents, and popular events like the Summer Solstice free yoga classes that last year attracted 6,000 people. (The 2012 edition takes place on June 20.) Clearing out cars also brought a surprising economic roar. Before, annual commercial rents in the area averaged about $800 per square foot. Last week, the eyewear emporium Oakley opened a new store, paying about $1,400 per square foot. Everyone in the Bloomberg administration is watching the countdown to the end of the mayor’s term, and Sadik-Khan’s Department of Transportation seems to be rushing to set her revolution in concrete so that her successor can’t merely paint it over. Times Square is only the most visible representative of a program that spans all five boroughs: Another 50 permanent plaza renovations are completed or in the works, from Madison Square to Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and Roberto Clemente Plaza in the Bronx. Uncharacteristically for a city agency, the DOT is resisting uniformity, trying to gear each project to local desires, so the Snøhetta design won’t be an archetype, but it will be a much-*scrutinized example. Tourists already make the crossroads of the world an obligatory visit, but Tim Tompkins, the president of the Times Square Alliance, wants to change both the composition of the crowds and the reasons they come. “Ten years from now, we want people to want to see what public art is happening here,” he says. There is of course the possibility that a rejuvenated Times Square will appeal to New Yorkers so intensely that it will once again become as unbearably crowded as it was before. That’s a risk the city is willing to take.
  21. Brazil’s economy The devil in the deep-sea oil Unless the government restrains itself, an oil boom risks feeding Brazil’s vices Nov 5th 2011 | from the print edition DEEP in the South Atlantic, a vast industrial operation is under way that Brazil’s leaders say will turn their country into an oil power by the end of this decade. If the ambitious plans of Petrobras, the national oil company, come to fruition, by 2020 Brazil will be producing 5m barrels per day, much of it from new offshore fields. That might make Brazil a top-five source of oil (see article). Managed wisely, this boom has the potential to do great good. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, wants to use the oil money to pay for better education, health and infrastructure. She also wants to use the new fields to create a world-beating oil-services industry. But the bonanza also risks feeding some Brazilian vices: a spendthrift and corrupt political system; an over-mighty state and over-protected domestic market; and neglect of the virtues of saving, investment and training. So it is worrying that there is far more debate in Brazil about how to spend the oil money than about how to develop the fields. If Brazil’s economy is to benefit from oil, rather than be dominated by it, a big chunk of the proceeds should be saved offshore and used to offset future recessions. But the more immediate risks lie in how the oil is extracted. The government has established a complicated legal framework for the fields. It has vested their ownership in Pré-Sal Petróleo, a new state body whose job is merely to collect and spend the oil money. It has granted an operating monopoly to Petrobras (although the company can strike production-sharing agreements with private partners). The rationale was that, since everyone now knows where the oil is, the lion’s share of the profits should go to the nation. But this glides over the complexity in developing fields that lie up to 300km (190 miles) offshore, beneath 2km of water and up to 5km of salt and rock. To develop the new fields, and build onshore facilities including refineries, Petrobras plans to invest $45 billion a year for the next five years, the largest investment programme of any oil firm in the world. That is too much, too soon, both for Petrobras and for Brazil—especially because the government has decreed that a large proportion of the necessary equipment and supplies be produced at home. How to be Norway, not Venezuela By demanding so much local content, the government may in fact be favouring some of the leading foreign oil-service companies. Many would have set up in Brazil anyway; now, with less price competition from abroad, they will find it easier to charge over the odds. Seeking to ramp up production so fast, and relying so heavily on local supplies, also risks starving non-oil businesses of capital and skilled labour (which is in desperately short supply). Oil money is already helping to drive up Brazil’s currency, the real, hurting manufacturers struggling with high taxes and poor infrastructure. When it comes to oil, striking the right balance between the state and the private sector, and between national content and foreign expertise, is notoriously tricky. But it can be done. To kick-start an oil-services industry, Norway calibrated its national-content rules realistically in scope and duration, required foreign suppliers to work closely with local firms and forced Statoil, its national oil company, to bid against rivals to develop fields. Above all, it invested in training the workforce. But Brazilians need only to look at Mexico’s Pemex to see the politicised bloat that can follow an oil boom—or at Venezuela to see how oil can corrupt a country. Petrobras is not Pemex. Thanks to a meritocratic culture, and the discipline of having some of its stock traded, Petrobras is a leader in deep-sea oil. But operating as a monopolist is a poor way to maintain that edge. Happily, too, Brazil is not Venezuela. Its leaders can prove it by changing the rules to be more Norwegian.
  22. "][/url] http://blogs.montrealgazette.com/2011/10/24/montreal-graffiti-artists-paint-five-storey-ndg-masterpiece-dubbed-our-lady-of-grace/
  23. http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/travel/36-hours-in-quebec-city.html Hmm... might take a little trip to Quebec for the weekend. Seeing I haven't been in over a decade.
  24. http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/08/23/light-rail-disease/
  25. (Courtesy of Monocle) She is actually 1st of 5 people Monocle profiled for "city voices" for their July/August issue.