It’s Sunday night, and the snow is falling like Hallmark movies and Christmas cards, all of which I’m well over by this stage of the season. I’m sorting through my wardrobe to find a summer dress that can be winterized long enough to get me to Chef Molotov Fiona Genevieve‘s Jardin d’Hiver.

It’s her first Montreal pop-up, and I’m honoured to be here. While the term “adventurous eater” serves up questionable imagery, I consider myself “adventur-ish”; I’ve been known to throw a peach into a stir-fry, and was pretty sure I invented strawberries with basil when I made some jam once. All that to say, I’m eager to sample creative flavour pairings I didn’t know I needed in my life.

Turbo Haüs, photo by Josh Kirshner

As a bonus, I’ve never been to Turbo Haüs, and it’s been on my to do list. Walking along St. Denis on summer nights, the punk and metal coming out of the bar has always been up my alley, and the crowd looks like people I would hang with. Still, I can be reluctant to visit new places without a “reason”, and here it is.

I absolutely want to stick to the awe-mazing dinner and a show, but I have to say that Turbo Haüs is a wonderful and warm space, carefully decorated so that while it gives all the dive bar vibes, it’s still artsy af. The bar is a guy who looks like a mechanic doing delicate glasswork, and I’m here for it.

Once we’re shown to our seats, the summer theme is in full bloom. Pink and white faux flowers cover the drum kit, the speakers; vines of fake leaves have been wrapped around VIP chairs, bringing a sense of pagan royalty, a fae feast of sorts. The combination of set and setting are in themselves a careful choice; Andrew Jamieson is producing the event, and his gritty graf vibes underscore the lush decor. Lights dance around the room, laughter and chatter bounce off the walls, it’s a party before anyone has said or done anything.

Kola was the perfect opener to ease everyone in. His grooves were summer sexy, and just when you thought that was the whole thing, he started to sing. Smooth and bright, his voice brought honey soft sunshine, and I could’ve been laying out on the fountain at Jazz Fest feeling the warm concrete on my skin. I’d never heard of him before, and now I’ll be adding him to some playlists.

I’d never been to a fancy-ass tasting menu thingy before, so I’m trying to look cool while being full of excitement. The first course arrives, Melon with a Mint Salsa Verde, Wrapped in a Curried Butternut Squash Ribbon, and these are the combos I’m here for. Three perfectly balanced bites, and I’m marvelling at Fiona’s mind. It makes sense in the mouth, but it’s weird in the brain.

Mina Minou takes the stage, and I’m already cheering for her. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her before, and while her moves and creativity rightly captivate audiences, I must add that she has the brightest, kindest smile I’ve ever seen a burlesque performer bring to the stage. As such, she’ll get you in your cockles and your —

Chef Molotov’s Juniper Berry & Coffee Salmon Gravlax with Fermented Strawberry Creme Fraiche & Picked Sumac Beets, photo by Josh Kirshner

We eat the best halloumi I’ve ever had (Seared Halloumi with Z’attar and a Pickled Peach Salsa with Confit Cherry Tomatoes), and I’m already wondering if I can convince Fiona to hold a workshop so I can learn her ways. While the presentation is picture perfect, the ingredients are accessible, the methods are doable. Pop-up today, cookbook tomorrow..?

Stepping outside for a break with friends, I’m shocked by the cold. When was the last time I had watermelon in winter?

Lea Keeley was also new to me, and she sang the room into silence. Her range and heart, her intimate lyrics — she played the guitar and keys, and even looped herself live into a layered and haunting song. Definitely not her first rodeo, even if the instruments were stripped away, her voice would stop you in your tracks and take your breath away.

I’m not going through every course here, mostly because I’m still thinking about the stone fruit gazpacho (yes, you read all that right). When Fiona called it the evening’s showstopper, she was absolutely right.

Reading it, I couldn’t imagine what it would taste like. While I’d caught her on Insta making the tomato caviar, you couldn’t see them in the rich, purple gazpacho, just feel them in my mouth, like little flavour pearls. And a perfectly seared scallop with stone fruit?! Yes; definitely yes, I would eat it again right now.

Turbo Haüs was the perfect host, and kept the cocktails flowing. Fiona had selected cocktails to pair with courses, and the couple I had were wonderfully matched. More intricate than “white or red”, the combinations were a continuation of her bold pallet.

The event ran late, and people still lingered, ordered another, chatted with the friends they came with, and new ones too. I was pleased to see how many people sought out the performers and of course our Chef to express gratitude and joy.

My fingers are crossed that we’ll be talking about another Chef Molotov event soon enough.

Featured Image: Chef Molotov’s Melon with a Mint Salsa Verde Wrapped in a Curried Pickled Butternut Squash Ribbon, photo by Josh Kirshner

When I first walked in to the International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) event Praise the Violence the
night of Saturday, January 21, 2023, I was prepared for the worst. I imagined a den of toxic masculinity:
sexist dudebros who abuse women behind closed doors all gathered in one place to fuel their excessive
need for violence as muscle-bound costumed men pretended to beat each other bloody for their
delight.

What a found wasn’t that at all. The audience was as varied in gender as it was in age, and when the
fighters or performers- how they prefer to be known depends on the wrestler – gathered around the
merch table to schmooze with their fans they were friendly and congenial, eager to hear feedback about
their performances.

“The IWS tends to bring in all sorts of people,” says wrestler Sonny Solay, The Rockn’ Roll General, who
speaks on behalf of his own experience, not the IWS. “Wrestling was generally marketed towards young
men, and as they got older they have their families and it’s more of a family show. The best way to
understand professional wrestling is we are the three ring circus: if you’re there for the lion tamer, you’ll
like the lion tamer; if you don’t like the lion tamer, you’ll like the clowns, if you don’t like the clowns,
you’ll like the guy who gets shot out of a cannon…There’s somebody for everyone at our shows.”

As for the concerns of women regarding toxic masculinity and sexism, there was at least one women’s
wrestling match at the event. Solay encourages women to give IWS events a shot, saying that the
perception of professional wrestling as an area where women were objectified may have been justified
in past wrestling eras, but since the women’s revolution in wrestling, that’s all changed.

“There’s a lot more women-forward promotions and the work that they’ve been doing in Japan, women
have shown that they can hang with the men and even surpass a lot of us as far as skill and intensity
goes. So I say give it a chance and you’d be pleasantly surprised,”

The IWS –initially named the World Wrestling Syndicate – is the biggest wrestling promotion in Canada. It was founded in Montreal in 1998 by pro-wrestler SeXXXy Eddy, with Manny Elefthriou and Nic Paterson.

In the year 2000, the professional wrestling promotion was renamed the Internet Wrestling Syndicate when one of the founders partnered with Wild Rose Productions, an adult entertainment company.

In 2004, following tons of pro wrestling matches including tag-team bouts, No-Rope Barbed Wire matches, and Tag-Team Championships, the promotion was renamed the International Wrestling Syndicate or IWS.

The promotion group based out of Montreal has helped launch the careers of such World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly the WWF) stars as Sami Zayne and Kevin Owens, as well as IWS legends like The Green Phantom, who fought an intense table match last Saturday, wresting the belt from The Maniacal Maredes.

The IWS women’s championship match pitted Dani Leo, Melanie Havok, Jessika Black, and Katrina Creed against one another, with Havok emerging victorious.

Photo by Sebastien Jette

The matches were everything one could hope for from pro-wrestling: blaring high energy intros, breathtaking stunts, snazzy costumes, and performers with their ring personas on full display. As a martial artist and self-defense instructor, it was obvious to me when hits did not connect, and the faking of injuries rivaled what one would see in any FIFA match. The ring, according Sonny Solay, who spells his second name phonetically after the French spelling was butchered by one-too-many announcers outside of Quebec, is designed to maximize sound, thus giving the crowd a better show. As to whether fights are actually real, they are not, though whether the outcomes are set in advance varies.

“It’s not a matter of it being a real fight, but there are certain beats that need to be hit. I can’t really go into it too much without getting to specifics…It’s not a real fight, but the outcome is usually pre-determined. And when I say ‘usually pre-determined’ I mean sometimes things happen, sometimes there are surprises, that’s the magic of professional wrestling, that’s why people love going to the shows.”

In terms of the violence of the shows, Solay reminds me that shows are still a three-ring circus, and that sometimes things happen that wrestlers weren’t aware of beforehand. The show I saw involved a table match or two, in which an opponent could only be beaten when their bodies made contact with a wooden table hard enough for the table to break. Other times fluorescent light tubes are broken on the backs of wrestlers and both carry the risk of bloody but minor wounds. That said, Solay points out that any contact sport comes with risks, and more common injuries include cuts, bruises, and ankle and wrist injuries.

“Technically all injuries are possible, but we train to make sure that they happen as little as possible.”

Now let’s say someone wants to become a pro-wrestler. Solay says that every wrestler has a different road they travelled to get to the IWS.

He initially started as an athletic wrestler, only to stop due to injury. He got into the IWS via a friend, but ultimately joined the IWS Dojo which puts the emphasis on getting people in the ring, teaching them the basics and allowing them to explore the type of wrestler they want to be.

He recommends the IWS Dojo as a way of making sure someone can be the best wrestler they can, speaking highly of the mentoring and training offered by Super Star Shayne Hawke. Those 18 or over (or 16 and have parental consent) who are interested in becoming pro wrestlers are welcome to message the IWS Dojo’s Facebook page. They are more than willing to offer a one-time trial to see if it’s a good fit.

Featured image by Sebastien Jette

The IWS has monthly shows in Montreal that are entertaining and fun. Check em out and follow your
favorite wrestlers on social media.

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the Doomsday Clock reaching 90 seconds to midnight and how Montreal might fare in a global apocalypse. Plus Quebec’s plan to dam 4-5 rivers for Hydro production without saying which ones, Archambault closing its iconic Berri store and more.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

The Bluest Day of the year is over. We’re cruising into February without once having scary windchill. The days really are getting longer. All the things we wished were open and available this time last year, are here and poppin’. It’s the small things, Montreal; don’t forget to count them.

Did you say intestine?

MAI (Montreal, Arts interculturel) always has interesting offerings, and Rock Bottom is no exception. The multidisciplinary piece explores what happens to the body when we hit our own rock bottom. It’s billed as “a movement performance that forms an intestine with the gut feelings of Emile Pineault (choreographer, performer) and (author) Gabriel Cholette”.

Teaser rock bottom – Emile Pineault & Gabriel Cholette from emilepineault on Vimeo.

Rock Bottom @ MAI 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance, January 25-28, Showtime is 7:30 p.m.. Tickets availabe through the MAI website

Jazz exists all year round, you know…

Double bass player Ira Coleman interprets jazz compositions and traditional Mandinka (Senegalese, Gambian, and Sierra Leonean) themes supported by flute, piano, and balafon, exploring where they overlap.

It’s in connection with the MMFA exhibition Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music (which you should also see, and I’ll keep saying so through February 19).

Ticket prices vary, but if you’re under 34 or under, it’s 18 bucks, so do something classy on the cheap.

Jazz and Mandinka Music @ Bourgie Hall, 1339 Sherbrooke Street West, on Thursday, January 26, Show at 6pm. Tickets and info on the MMFA website

Pretty sure I saw him live in the 90s?!

Jon Spencer & the HITmakers are in town this weekend, and if you’re old enough to ask if I mean that Jon Spencer, then yes. Jon Spencer & the Blues Explosion broke up in 2016, but the beat goes on, and Jon Spencer & the HITmakers put out their first album in 2022. His Spotify bio calls him “an elder statesman of noise rock and punk blues”, and while that’s niche af, he might be right.

Jon Spencer & the HITmakers @ Bar Le Ritz PBD, 179 Jean-Talon Ouest, Friday, January 27, Doors at 7:30, Show at 8:30. Info & Tix

Dinner and a show!

Catch me putting on a summer dress and having foodgasms at Molotov Cuisine owner Fiona Genevieve (aka Chef Molotov)’s Jardin d’Hiver this Sunday. She’s a fab chick with wholesome, delicious food, and she’ll be bringing summer vibes right when we need them.

Darragh Mondoux will be Mistress of Ceremonies, Mina Minou will be shaking what God gave her, and there will be musical performances by Lea Keeley, and KOLA.

Oh, look! I met with Fiona and sampled some tastiest! Tickets are flying, so grab ’em while you can.

Chef Molotov’s Jardin d’Hiver takes place Saturday, January 29th at Turbo Haüs, 2040 Saint Denis St. Cocktails at 6:30pm, Tasting & Performances at 7pm. Tickets and more info via Eventbrite


Featured image of Rock Bottom © Gabriel Cholette, courtesy of MAI


If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

When I was asked to review Holly Rhiannon’s witchy YA book, A Time When Demons, it sounded like just what the doctor ordered.

Fiction is important. When studies cite the importance of reading (which include, but are not limited to, stress relief, along with improved concentration and memory), it’s based on fiction (this is your brain, this is your brain on fiction).

Now think about what you’re usually reading: probably mostly comments and texts, atrociously written at that. Next in line is most likely articles, be them summaries or editorials, skillfully written (sometimes), but still non-fiction. In fact, even though I’m a fiction writer by preference, I’ve noticed that for the past few years I’ve been reading more non-fiction than anything else, stuffing my head with facts rather than reaping any of those fabulous fiction benefits.

Firstly, I dunno how or why things get classified as YA. I know some wonderful children’s books that are arguably even better as an adult (Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice for instance). Secondly, I wouldn’t say this book is appropriate for under 16s for some of the same reasons some adults will really dig this. While the writing is accessible, it’s got all the thrilling stuff: lust, puppy love, murder, and magick (plus one scene that merits the book a suicide trigger warning).

I don’t read romance novels. Now, this isn’t a romance novel, but it has more infatuation and longing than I’m used to, which was fun. There really was a time when every crush became the centre of the world, and you could love someone you’d never spoken to so much that it hurt.

It’s intense, and a nice place to visit, but man, I’m glad I don’t live there anymore (how did any of use survive the beautiful heartache?!). These characters are about 18, so they’re in the thick of it.

I appreciated the way the magick was handled here. Powers were clear and limited, and the parameters followed the whole way through, thus preventing any of the characters from becoming invincible. That might sound like a low bar, but it’s all I ask of stories with superpowers. Superman used to just “leap” over tall buildings, you know, but I digress.

I can’t tell you too much about the murder bit, as I’m trying hard to avoid spoilers. What I can say is that I believe there are mysteries where the astute reader can pick up clues throughout the narrative and make an educated guess (albeit probably a wrong one that you’ve intentionally been led to), and there are the kind where at the end of the story we’re all equally surprised together, and probably couldn’t have seen that coming. This falls into the category of the latter, with the wrap up bringing the murderer, means, and motive together and putting a bow on it.

It’s probably fair for me to say that I’m not a fan of “pop” literature. If it’s “this season’s hottest novel” or “flying off the shelves”, it’s probably not my bag. Love stories make me roll my eyes, murder mysteries rarely catch my attention, and I’m certainly no youth (as much as that pains me to admit). If we’re talking bookstore categories, I’ve been a consistent “lit fic” chick since puberty.

With A Time When Demons, I enjoyed the magick, and the sense of emotional chaos created by a character trying to be true to themselves while also being aware of the expectations pressing in on them.

This might work for the youth / magick / murder lover in your life, or someone looking to give those genres a try. It’s available in hard copy and ebook formats, and written by a Montreal based author, so support your local artists.

It’s the first real snow, and Montreal is moving slowly. It’s not cold out, but as every Canadian knows, winter is more complicated than temperature.

Walking along sidewalks is ever shifting all terrain trek, metro platforms are slippery with puddles, and the snow just keeps falling. All anyone can talk about is the weather, and I made it through the whole day without hearing a single word about the fact that it’s Friday the 13th.

I trudge through, grateful that it’s just a few more steps to my destination.

I’ve never interviewed a stranger in their home before, and I’ve certainly never been promised a professionally cooked bite to eat on a gig. Stepping into chef and entrepreneur Fiona Genevieve’s home is a warm and welcoming relief from reality; I already smell something delicious that I can’t put my finger on.

The founder of Molotov Cuisine is back in Montreal for a while (or longer) from the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia where she moved during the lockdown.

She’s lived in a lot of places — Ukraine, Russia, China — a journey that’s influenced her palate, contributed to her disdain for food waste, and led her to fermentation.

“Everyone that I met there, they were doing that already. And everything I ate there was fermented; I’m like, how do you get this flavour? And also, I started to garden a bit and I’m like, I don’t want this to just die away and like for me not to use it…I don’t want to toss things away because food waste is shit and awful, so I decided: dehydration, pickling, chutneys, all that.”

Fiona’s garden is growing well in Nova Scotia, as is her network. She’s met local farmers, allowing her to work within a pristine supply chain as she caters, hosts pop-ups, and teaching workshops. This month she’s holding first Montreal event at Turbo Haüs, a one night pop-up called Jardin d’Hiver.

While we chat she serves up one of the dishes from that menu, roasted carrots coated in apricot chamoy with mint and almonds. To call it basic would be an injustice: the flavours are complex — earthy and bright at the same time — the presentation beautiful.

Photo by Daniel Groleau

The word I’m looking for is something like fundamental, arcane, wholesome, ancestral. It’s the kind of food that fills you with more than calories, and I could live here, eating this forever while we chat and laugh in her kitchen. This is food for the soul, and the outside with all its weather disappears.

Bringing warmth to winter and balancing the blues is exactly her intention with Jardin d’Hiver.

“I’m trying to take the essence of summer, through preservation and fermentation, and bring those flavours into dishes now, mixed with the winter local stuff I can get…definitely the flower vibe, just the essence, the effervescence…Very summery, very tropical. We’re going to have the heat on. I want you to sweat a little bit when you eat my food.”

And while Fiona’s food could carry the evening by itself, the event is dinner and show, with Darragh Mondoux as Mistress of Ceremonies, Lea Keeley singing her soulful tunes, and Mina Minou performing burlesque.

“It’s going to be amazing; just eye candy, food candy; all the senses are going to be involved.”

Tables are selling fast, which is great; hopefully the response will encourage her to stay in town, host more delicious evenings, and teach some workshops. While we all had our proverbial come to Jesus moment about the importance of food during lockdown, we seem to have forgotten just as quickly.

Fiona’s quick to point out how accessible this all is. She has a mental library of hacks to avoid waste, and elevate ingredients, the kind of kitchen witch alchemy that used to be second nature to us.

“I think it’s honestly magickal,” she says, and I agree with my mouth full.

Featured Image by Daniel Groleau

Chef Molotov’s Jardin d’Hiver takes place Saturday, January 29th at Turbo Haüs, 2040 Saint Denis St. Cocktails at 6:30pm, Tasting & Performances at 7pm. Tickets and more info via Eventbrite

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney are joined by Special Guest Andrew Jamieson to talk about the recent behind-the-scenes drama at WWE – Stephanie McMahon resigning, Vince McMahon forcing his way back into power and a potential sale – ahead of the company’s three shows in Montreal.

Follow Andrew Jamieson at WhoTheFuckIsAndrewJamieson.com or @fakejamieson on Instagram

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss Kevin McCarthy finally being elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives on the 15th vote, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s collapse and recovery and Vince McMahon forcing his way back onto the WWE board.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney are joined by Special Guest Samantha Gold to discuss the top stories of 2022: Quebec Election, Elon Musk and Twitter, Quebec Healthcare & the return of shows.

Follow Samantha Gold @samiamart on Facebook & @samiamartistmtl on Instagram

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the major storm ahead of Christmas Weekend, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visiting US President Joe Biden in the White House and Elon Musk’s resignation poll.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the first major Montreal snowfall of the year, the tragic hit-and-run death of a 7-year-old and local car culture, Legault asking for more federal healthcare money with no strings attached and Elon Musk’s latest Twitter blunders.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney talk about Ye (formerly Kanye West)’s recent anti-Semitic and other outbursts, the PQ being barred from the National Assembly for refusing to swear allegiance to King Charles III and Montreal settling a class action protest lawsuit for $3.1 Million.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney on Montreal seniors getting free public transit as of July 23, 2022, new child medicine and free flu shots coming to Canada and recent testimony at the Emergencies Act Inquiry. Plus comments on the two mass shootings in the US last week.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss bizarre comments from FIFA president Gianni Infantino defending holding the World Cup in Qatar, the politics of letting oppressive regimes host huge global events, Twitter falling apart, Trump running for President and other reasons the world is on fire.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the near-routing of Trump-backed candidates in the US Midterm Elections, Elon Musk’s week of struggling to run Twitter, police in Mascouche, Quebec tazing an 18-year-old non-verbal autistic man and Daylight Savings versus Standard Time.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss Doug Ford’s use of the Notwithstanding Clause against striking teachers and Justin Trudeau’s plan to fight it, Elon Musk firing half of Twitter’s staff and potentially destroying the company and ongoing Iran protests juxtaposed with potential Powerball winnings.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Jason’s Op-Ed on Musk’s Blue Checkmark Charge / The Outside World (the radio drama mentioned)