Culture & Conversation

The Real Haiti

Fred Voodoo is not a real person. He has never existed. This made-up name is the shorthand used informally by some foreign correspondents to refer to the man (or woman) in the street in Haiti, often in a condescending tone.

Brother to brother

In 1972, twenty-one year-old Gino Vannelli showed up in LA, with his trademark Italian-afro, bell-bottoms, low-buttoned shirt and medallions. Ready to make it big. “People looked at me like, ‘Where the hell are you from?’ ” he laughs. “The look there was the roadie look – everyone in LA looked like Jerry Garcia. They all thought I was from the Greek islands.”

Howard’s end

The last days of Howard Hughes seem like the perfect material for a certain kind of play. The kind where the human machine has gone kaput yet still coughs out dreams and desires. The kind of play, in fact, that Samuel Beckett would write, which is why Sam Shepard’s Seduced often feels like a Texan-accented Endgame, or the one where a chirruping old lady is gradually engulfed by the literal sands of time.


Mot/town: Monique Polak

Mot/town is a video and literary collaboration between myself, Elise Moser, and some of Montreal’s writers, poets, and spoken word artists. We meet in their neighbourhoods, in their kitchens, on their front stoops, at their work place and bring a camera.

In the company of inspiration

Founded in 2011 by the phenomenally talented Emily Gualtieri and David Albert-Toth, the bilingual young company Parts+Labour_Danse premiered their outstanding new creation, In Mixed Company, at the Monument-National, preceded by a reprise of the solo performance La Chute.

It’s All Science Fiction

Montreal-based artist and writer Joe Ollmann returns with Science Fiction, a graphic novel that more or less follows the same thread as his highly successful 2010 Mid-Life. However, Mark, the protagonist in his new work, is facing a mid-life crisis that’s out of this world – or so Mark thinks. After watching a bad sci-fi movie with his girlfriend, Sue, Mark suddenly finds himself in the fetal position, grappling with repressed memories of his abduction by aliens when he was in college.

No country for criminals

When we talk about the success or failure of a film, all too often we are implicating the strength of the script — the narrative choices made within the film and the effectiveness of the dialogue. In this auteur-driven age, we are apt to place the burden of responsibility on the shoulders of the director. However, most directors are simply craftsmen confined by the parameters of the script. In light of this, it is surprising that, aside from Charlie Kaufman and a precious few, screenwriters are a generally undervalued group. The Counselor is an excellent example of the difference a scriptwriter can have on a film.

Of mice and men and corporations

In 1990, the US Supreme Court granted a patent on a mouse. I was in attendance at a major environmental conference in Vancouver when that decision came down and we were shocked. Can anyone own a life form? Would ownership evolve from rodents to bovines to, gasp, humans? And what is life anyways?

5 Songs: New Psych, Vol 2

If I had had 6 slots instead of 5 when I initially wrote my first New Psych article, the Wavves would have been on it. The Wavves are the epitome of sun-drenched stoner rock, conjuring images of skateboarding, surfing and endless summers at the beach. Their exclusion from that list was a major impetus for me to add this second instalment.


“Let them eat compost”

POLITICS. In this mayoralty race urban agriculture has hardly been on the lips of the front-runners. When asked by a Radio Canada journalist if he composts, Denis Coderre quipped: “I eat my compost,” a one liner that surely sums up his party’s well thought out environmental program.

Risky theatre

Let us just say that this reviewer has never been a fan of hip hop. It was only fair then that I brought with me an aspiring actor who is. That said, I realized pretty quickly that this play was so much more than a musical. It had all the dramatic structure and passion of a great tragedy.

Taking an info-dump

The last time we saw Benedict Cumberbatch, he was maniacally driving a burning starship into a centre of military power. It might be said that his character in The Fifth Estate is up to much the same thing, though arguably with a bit less wrath than is summoned by Star Trek’s arch villain, Khan.

Manifest destiny

Although there has been a cornucopia of talented black actors in film since the early days of Paul Robeson, black directors are something of a rarity.…

Carefree highway

Michael Hingston is a writer who knows what he wants in a book. As he should – he’s been reviewing books for several years for the National Post, the Globe and Mail, and the Edmonton Journal. But while developing good critiques is an art in itself, crafting stories is, to employ an under-used expression, quite a different kettle of fish. It was with some relief and much delight that The Dilettantes, Hingston’s first novel, proved to be an uproarious and thoroughly readable debut, one this reviewer isn’t hesitating to recommend.