World vibe at Montreal jazz fest
David Rubien, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, June 21, 2007
"Jazz is a tree that has many leaves," says André Ménard, artistic director of the Montreal Jazz Festival -- a terse and apt summation of not only jazz but also his festival and the city of Montreal itself.
The festival -- beginning its 28th annual edition June 28 and running through July 8 -- is the biggest of its kind in the world, an event that features more than 350 free outdoor concerts and 150 paid indoor shows. It is expected to draw more than 200,000 attendees, yet it manages to feel intimate. It's hard to imagine how a music festival that traffics in such numbers could be as sophisticated, smooth running, user friendly -- and inexpensive -- as Montreal's, but it is.
Purists may raise eyebrows over the fact that two of the festival's headliners are Bob Dylan and Van Morrison (both shows are sold out), but this festival long ago got past distinctions of genre. In fact, in booking nonjazz acts, which Montreal started doing about 20 years ago, it pointed the way to survival for every major jazz festival, including San Francisco, whose fall lineup includes nonjazz acts Caetano Veloso and Ravi Shankar, and Monterey, where Los Lobos and DJ Logic will perform.
"In 1986, when we last programmed Van Morrison, people questioned it, but he was on the cover of (jazz magazine) Down Beat three months later," Ménard says. "I wish every jazz album was as spiritually strong as Van Morrison's music. ... And as for Dylan, the way he redoes his songs -- that's a jazz attitude."
Attitude is the right word. It's the thread that connects jazz acts the festival is producing this year, like Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Wayne Shorter and Bill Frisell, with world music acts like Angélique Kidjo, Femi Kuti and Richard Bona, with rock acts like Garth Hudson, Rickie Lee Jones and the Cowboy Junkies. It's not a punk or grunge attitude, obviously, but a dedication to musicianship and exploration -- a willingness to stretch and take chances. A jazz attitude.
The strong world music presence at the festival -- 30 countries are represented, from a Chinese jazz singer covering Patsy Cline, to French new-wave pop, to Italian barrel percussionists, to Malian kora, to Australian didgeridoo, to Garifuna singers -- is appropriate, given the diverse ethnic mix of Montreal, which, as home to 80 nationalities, is considered North America's gateway to Europe and beyond. That is true even though almost everyone younger than 60 speaks English fluently.
Centrally located downtown at the complex of theaters, museums and hotels called Place des Arts, the Montreal Jazz Festival packs all the action into a relatively compact space. Free outdoor shows are on nine small -- and one whopper -- stages, and 12 indoor venues feature the paid nighttime shows. The festival doesn't only stick the little-knowns on the outdoor stages, either. This year, a Brazilian carnival bash with Carlinhos Brown gets things going June 28; last year, it was the Neville Brothers.
With more than 50 performances a day, it's clearly too much to take in, so it's a good thing adventure beckons outside the Place des Arts from any direction you choose. Heading south toward the St. Lawrence River, you'll hit Old Montreal, where you can easily spend an afternoon investigating the cobblestone streets, some with buildings dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Stop at any of the many bistros offering mussels and pomme frites, usually with a good selection of French and Belgian beers and, of course, wine.
Continue south to the river and at 27 De La Commune, you'll find Boutique Ça Roule, where you can rent bicycles -- a great way to see the city. But if dodging traffic sounds daunting, there's a leisurely ride to be had along the tree-lined Canal de Lachine, where heading west you can stop at the Marché Express, Montreal's equivalent of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, only it's open every day.
Less than a mile northeast of the festival grounds are enticing residential neighborhoods of many ethnic flavors along Boulevard St.-Laurent and Rue St.-Denis -- including the Latin Quarter, where last summer a spontaneous parade broke out, clogging streets, when Portugal defeated England in the World Cup soccer quarterfinals.
Keep heading north along St. Laurent and you'll hit the Jewish neighborhood that gave the world, believe it or not, William Shatner. Now we can settle for old-school deli sandwiches and soda-fountain drinks at Wilensky's Light Lunch, or superb bagels at La Maison du Bagel or St. Viateur Bagel.
Heading back south to the festival, consider having dinner at what many call the most authentic French bistro in the city, L'Express. There's nothing pretentious about this spot. It's all business, packed with locals who seem ecstatic to be there, digging into bowls of bouillabaisse or scarfing pate foie gras or bone marrow, and tossing back wine that practically dances in the glass.
There's so much more to do: great museums, galleries, beautiful parks, a 20-mile underground city where people spend much of their time in the frigid winter, day trips to the Laurentian mountains.
Once you've spent a day exploring the city, the music back at the festival -- be it danceable, cerebral or both -- offers a way to relax and synthesize your experiences, processing them through the sensual to the aesthetic to the spiritual and back. That's jazz, and that's Montreal.
If you go
All locations are in Montreal. Prices are in Canadian dollars.
From San Francisco, Air Canada flies nonstop to Montreal. A number of airlines offer one-stop connecting flights.
Where to stay
Hyatt Regency Montreal: Online rates for doubles from $244 (about $229 U.S.). 605 modern rooms and suites across from the Place des Arts. 1255 Jeanne-Mance. (514) 982-1234, montreal.hyatt.com.
Hotel Place des Arts: Eight air-conditioned rooms, studios and suites in a renovated Victorian building downtown. $40-$80 ($37.55-$75.10 U.S.). 270 Rue Sherbrooke W. (514) 995-7515, http://www.hotelplacedesarts.com.
Where to eat
L'Express: Bustling traditional French bistro. Entrees $12-$22 ($11.27-$20.65 U.S.). 3927 Rue St.-Denis. (514) 845-5333.
Wilensky's Light Lunch: Tiny shop serving classic deli fare 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Entrees less than $10 ($9.39 U.S.). 34 Fairmount St. W. (514) 271-0247.
What to do
Montreal Jazz Festival: June 28-July 8. Various venues across the city. $12.50-$87.50 ($11.73-$82.14 U.S.); many free performances. (888) 515-0515, http://www.montrealjazzfest.com.
For more information
Tourisme Montréal: (877) 266-5687, http://www.tourisme-montreal.org.
E-mail David Rubien at [email protected]
This article appeared on page E - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Video games: the next generation
By Marc Cieslak
Reporter, BBC Click
The video games industry is obsessed with the phrase "next generation", but what does it actually mean? What can gamers expect from any game given that name?
It would be easy to dismiss the next generation gaming experience as simply eye candy.
Every single thing in the city can be grabbed, climbed on, jumped from
Jade Raymond, Ubisoft producer
The latest games all look great but the potential offered by the processing power of consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PS3 does not end there. They also give developers a wealth of new gameplay possibilities.
At Ubisoft's Montreal studio, a team of 300 designers, programmers and artists have spent four years developing Assassin's Creed, a next generation medieval action adventure.
"A lot of people have heard the term 'next gen game' thrown around and so far what we've seen as far as next gen games mostly means better quality graphics," said Ubisoft producer Jade Raymond.
"So you've seen in fighting games where boxers are up close, you get more detail on the facial animation. Or in car racing games it looks exactly like the car, and you get more shiny cars and the environments are more realistic.
"But for me personally, next gen game had to mean new types of gameplay."
Assassin's Creed is set during the Crusades and the action takes place in three huge cities. Each is populated with thousands of computer controlled characters. Players can take Altair, the character they control, anywhere in the city.
"We made this rule and gave ourselves the challenge to try and make huge cities that are completely interactive, which means that every single thing in the city can be grabbed, climbed on, jumped from," said Ms Raymond.
"Which means that we created tools to be able to recognise the 3D models and automatically generate interactive edges on everything."
The gaming environment took so long to develop because everything that sticks out of a wall more than two inches can be an anchor point for Altair.
Bumping into people affects the direction of the main character
"Our challenge was to make it readable for the player as we're using games to see the level design ingredients or the game designer path," said creative director Patrice Desilets. "This time there is no path whatsoever."
Vincent Pontbriand, Ubisoft associate producer, said: "In a regular, more linear, game what you would do is create game levels. In our case, since it involved cities in which you could travel anywhere, we quickly realised it was going to be impossible to customise the entire city that way, polygon by polygon.
"So what we did was we created a bank of objects, what we call a Lego system, and this allowed us to produce the first templates for the cities quickly by adding and removing blocks.
"Then we were able to do the same things with objects and eventually with the characters and the population itself."
While larger environments that allow the player more freedom are certainly a bonus, there is still more to be done before a game can earn that next gen title.
Probably one of the biggest challenges facing games is to make computer controlled characters more lifelike.
This is where the hardware buried inside the latest consoles proves so useful.
"The tendency in technology is to move towards multi-core, multi CPU type of machines," explained AI programmer Matthieu Mazerolles. "What this means is instead of having just one processing unit you literally have several, sometimes up to a dozen all within the same box.
More than 200 models were used as the templates for characters
"What this allows us to do is to take all of the calculations, which are highly complex, that go into making the AI seem alive, and distribute these across many different processors."
Said Ms Raymond: "We worked on this whole kind of physics systems for when you bump into people and push them out of the way, so that tactile thing really felt real.
"So bumping into a group of people will make you fall over, running full force into a small woman will knock her over."
One of the tools the company has worked on is something which generates crowds of diverse people.
"For NPCs we have hundreds and hundreds of different looking characters, that were the templates we used to create our initial models," said Mr Pontbriand.
"But then we created our own technology to take those templates, cut them down into pieces and then, with the technology, added the ability to randomise between skin colour, clothes, hair colour.
"We ended up with a multiplying factor, so these sketches that became models ended up producing thousands of different variations in game."
'A player's story'
Increased production values, emotional involvement, environments that have more bearing on the world - could all of these elements help shift games from what many perceive to be a marginalised ghetto into the mainstream?
"As an entertainment medium, games are really just scratching the surface," said Ms Raymond. "I think we are at where we were with film when we made the transition from silent films to films that were telling a story with sound and dialogue.
"We are just at the point of discovering what we can do with interactivity and what's an interactive story where you are creating a story for players, but it really has to become the player's story." Said Mr Desilets: "I strongly believe the more we go on with next gen the less we will see video game rules apparent, they will be more and more hidden and the experience will be a lot more immersive because you won't see the video game rules that only gamers really like."
Extreme Commuter: From Montreal to Queens
By Justin Rocket Silverman, amNewYork Staff Writer
January 28, 2008
This Extreme Commuter rides a plane the way most of us ride the subway.
Professor Adnan Turkey lives in Montreal but teaches computer science at DeVry Institute of Technology in Long Island City. He's been making that commute once a week for nine years, 45 weeks a year.
Although the flight itself is only about 75 minutes long, getting to and from the airport makes it impractical to make the ride daily. Price is a factor, too. Flying directly from Montreal is too expensive even once a week, so for half the ticket price he drives across the border to fly out of Burlington, Vt.
So every Monday at noon he leaves his house in Canada and makes that 2-hour trip to Vermont. He puts the car in long-term parking ($6 a day) and flies to New York, where he will sleep in a small rented apartment and teach until Thursday afternoon. Then he takes the flight and drives back home.
Door-to-door it's about seven hours each way.
"After working many years in Canada, I thought, 'why not come to New York City?'" he asks. "It's just next door and it's the capital of the world."
Adnan knows of no other commuters on the Montreal/New York City run, and says many of the border guards laugh in amazement when he states his business in the U.S.
Although the weekly $150-round trip JetBlue ticket, and the monthly rent in New York takes a bit out of his income (he won't say how much), Adnan says he has no plans to ask his wife, also a university teacher, and two college-age daughters to move to New York. Besides, money has never been his primary interest.
"Education is a noble mission, so salary is not the No. 1 concern, at least for me," he says. "When I see the next generation of students learning and becoming skilled, that's my job satisfaction."
Know an Extreme Commuter? Transit reporter Marlene Naanes wants to hear the story. Email her at [email protected]
Copyright © 2008, AM New York
World's 10 most loved cities - CNNGO
8. Montreal, Canada
Montreal is a frontrunner in at least one “World’s Most Livable Cities” list, was named “Canada’s Cultural Capital” by Monocle Magazine and has recently been granted UNESCO “City of Design” status.
Stuffy acknowledgements aside, what makes Canada’s original “sin city” such a draw not just for style mavens, 18-year-olds without fake ID and New Englanders seeking a quick, cheap Europe-ish fix, but for 7.5 million annual tourists of all stripes is the city’s certifiably festive attitude -- the kind that assures visitors they’re going to have more fun, stay up later and cure hangovers with tastier 4 a.m. poutine and smoked meat sandwiches here than wherever they’ve come from.
Summer draws the biggest crowds to Montreal with its lineup of legendary festivals and street fairs, including its International Jazz Festival (June 28-July 7) and Just for Laughs (July 12-29), featuring one of the world’s largest congregations of comics.
The real test: even when it’s 800 below zero in February, people still really dig this city.
10. Barcelona, Spain
9. Cape Town, South Africa
8. Montreal, Canada
7. New York City, United States
6. Paris, France
5. Petra, Jordan
4. San Francisco, United States
3. Santiago, Chile
2. Shanghai, China
1. Tokyo, Japan
Merci à MTLskyline sur SSP
Developer’s third design for riverside condo project up for approval
Cheryl Cornacchia | From The Gazette | June 25, 2013
Preliminary approval has been granted to a Montreal developer who wants to build a condominium complex in Pierrefonds-Roxboro alongside the Maison Joseph Théorêt and facing Rivière des Prairies.
At a special borough council meeting June 19, council unanimously adopted a draft bylaw to rezone three lots on Gouin Blvd. at Aumais St. so that the Vered Group could build a 115-unit, six-story condominium alongside the heritage home recognized by Montreal’s Conseil de Patrimoine.
The draft bylaw is now expected to come up for a second vote at another special borough council meeting, August 5, at which point, if passed, the bylaw would pave the way for the project could to go forward, at least, in theory.
On Tuesday, André Giguere said he and other neighbours of the proposed project plan to request the borough open a register that could in effect tie up, if not halt, the condo project entirely, should sufficient number of neighbours sign it and signal their opposition to the project.
Johanne Palladini, a borough spokesperson said on Tuesday once a register is opened, area residents would be given a specified day to sign it.
If the project is opposed by a certain percentage of area residents, determined by the number of electoral voters, Palladini said, the borough would be forced to hold a costly, borough-wide referendum on the project.