This week's choice cuts in news
The sinking of The Monitor
It served anglophones in Montreal’s West End since 1926, but print costs, advertising migration to the Internet and a little something called global economic Armageddon have all had a hand in the demise of the print edition of Montreal weekly The Monitor (distribution 35,000). The very last edition hits stands today, Feb. 5.
"On the one hand, there’s no denying that I am extremely sad to see the paper go," says Monitor editor Toula Foscolos, who will remain at the helm of the paper’s web version. "I love print, I loved putting out a weekly paper for an area as vibrant, exciting and community-minded as Montreal’s West End… It’s sad to see a paper with an 83-year history bite the dust. No matter how you choose to look at it, it’s one less outlet and one less voice in the community. I won’t even try to be eloquent about it – it just plain sucks!
"That being said," she continues, "not a week went by that I didn’t have to deal with the frustrations of extremely tight editorial space. I constantly felt like I was letting someone down when their event, their story, their letter to the editor did not make it into print… There’s a part of me that looks forward to taking advantage of the unlimited space the Internet affords me."
Montreal to get good Fisking
Internationally renowned journalist Robert Fisk he of 30 years of political sand-sifting in the Middle East, and currently that region’s correspondent for U.K. daily The Independent,, will, in something of a coup for Concordia University, be here in Montreal to speak on the subject of "Canada and the Middle East Wars," Feb. 19.
"The Iranians used to call the United States the ‘centre of world arrogance,’ and I would laugh at this," wrote Fisk in the preface of his landmark 2005 novel The Great War for Civilization, but I have begun to understand what it means. After the Allied victory of 1918… the victors divided up the lands of their former enemies. In the space of just 17 months, they created the borders of Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia and most of the Middle East. And I have spent my entire career – in Belfast and Sarajevo, in Beirut and Baghdad – watching the peoples within those borders burn. America invaded Iraq not for Saddam Hussein’s mythical ‘weapons of mass destruction’… but to change the map of the Middle East, much as my father’s generation had done more than 80 years earlier."
Oh, and Fisk has interviewed Osama bin Laden three, count ‘em, three times. Tix for Fisk’s appearance, presented by the Montreal Citizens Forum , are available (like tickets to a game 7 final against Boston are theoretically "available") by the following means: send an email to F19Fisk@gmail.com, give your name and indicate if you want one or two tickets. A donation of $10 for students and low-income earners, and $20 for everyone else, is suggested to help defray the big man’s expenses. Then cross your eyes and pray for dispensation.
Police and Régie aren’t one with Jah
In what must be a first for Montreal, a bar in town – the House of Reggae – actually got closed down last week for its alleged criminal ties (for the newbie: this is how they are often opened). Police allege that $50,000 that was used to obtain the purchase of the venue in the fall of 2007 came from dubious sources, four out of five of whom had police records for drug or counterfeiting offences, and that all are in some way affiliated or connected to various criminal organizations, including a gang called Black Dragon. In rescinding the licence of the St-Denis St. bar, the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) said they believed that, because certain of the aforementioned were not registered with the RAJC, "it’s possible to think that the request for [the bar's] licence is made for the benefit of other people." I.e., people whose first interest is not necessarily reggae music. And, again, why this makes the House of Reggae so different from so many other bars around town, we don’t know…