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

It’s been a year, y’all. We shook off the collective nightmare of lockdown, put on our dancing shoes, and partied. Bars, theatre, concerts, comedy, art, all the stuff that keeps the lights on in our city and our souls returned from the forced hiatus.

It didn’t take long for us to get used to it, and every now and again I stop myself while doing some mundane thing like walking through the Eaton Centre and remember how much I craved the basics.

As some of you may know, I have a lot of well thought out complaints about the ways of the world (catch me on FTB Weekends with Jason C. McLean), but provincial elections and healthcare crisis aside, the gratitude was especially delicious this 2022.

January

It’s a mind bender to recall that we came into 2022 under curfew, and in lockdown, but at the time it was hard to think of much else. Instead of show announcements, we kept our ears to the ground for cancellations, wondering how far ahead they were planning.

It was miserable. Igloofest was canceled. Online shows offered some reprieve, but meh. If we were in a tumbleweed climate, they would be rolling through this month.

The whole thing was gloomy.

February

February is often called the most depressing month, and in the COVID time it was at least doubly so. We were still under partial lockdown, but hope was on the horizon!

Nuit Blanche was finally coming back and Osheaga announced its lineup, signaling that normalcy was within reach. Some performers would change before the show, but all we heard is that there would be shows.

In fact, some local shows started to pop up and bars were scheduled to reopen February 28. Is dancing allowed? Is singing allowed? No one’s sure, but we’re stoked to get out there and find out.

March

The show is finally going on, which is really saying something considering the curtain on CATS was originally supposed to go up in March of 2020.. Just For Laughs announced its lineup and things to look forward to were starting to pop up everywhere.

This is when Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was doing what it could with limited capacity: starting at the end of February, you could get in if you booked your time slot (in 15 minute increments) online, masking and distancing are mandatory, giving the security staff the new task of keeping people from moving through the rooms too quickly or getting too close to one another. Only the major exhibit was open, and I learned that I don’t like Riopelle, but being back feels momentous.

Concerts have begun, but safety measures are in place there too, making the whole thing seem weird. My bf goes to see Sepultura at a fully masked metal show, and it sounds dystopian to me.

April

The MMFA is actually factually all the way open, though you still need to book a time slot. I beeline for The Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion, which is open for the first time in ages, having been “closed due to reorganization” or some such even before the pandy. I am in my happy place.

The MMFA’s Decorative Arts and Design Pavilion (photo by Dawn McSweeney)

As part of an experiment on our party rules, the SAT serves up drinks and tunes for 24 hours straight which gives me some hope that maybe the “new normal” will allow for some reconfiguration of things we’ve taken for granted as status quo for too long (writing this at the end of December, that hope has long since crashed and burned, but it was lovely while it lasted).

I’m comforted knowing that while everything feels like it’s on the brink, Montrealers can unite against some showy corporate silliness as we all discuss the city’s new giant ring.

May

Spring is springing, and the good times are indeed rolling. I finally get out to my first post-COVID show. I’ve seen Symphony X before, and they put on a good show despite not being on my regular rotation. This is about getting out, and bring with people and not wearing a mask in a crowd.

We meet up with friends for drinks and food. No vax passes. No masks. We come and go from the show so much, it’s about the band the same way high school dances are about dancing. I’m jazzed.

I also leave town for the first time in years, and head to Halifax for the first time ever. We hit some familiar territory, and hug people we’ve missed.

Back in Montreal, masks were still in place at Mainline Theater where performers wore them throughout Carrie: The Musical rehearsals. As someone who’s still masked at work, let me say that phone calls are hard enough, kudos for pulling off a musical.

There were no masks on stage for Contact Theatre’s Next to Normal at Monument Nationale and Cirque du Soleil came back strong with Kooza.

June

At this point our regularly scheduled Montreal programming seems to be rolling right along, and Fringe is next! James Gartler checks out Tango to the Pointe along with Al Lafrance’s Is This Yours? and Josephine, a burlesque cabaret dream play, saying of Josephine that “it stands easily as one of the best shows to ever play at the Montreal Fringe Festival”.

I peep What About Albert? and enjoy the heck out of it.

Photo by Joseph Ste-Marie, courtesy of The Malicious Basement Theatre Company

July

I smiled through this whole month. There are events at every turn, and Montreal summer is thriving. At the beginning of the month, our Editor Extraordinaire says to me “hey, someone approached us with a creative thing that made me think of you”, which is how I met my creative soulmate, and that will come up later.

ComicCon is back, and the fits are fierce. Flipping through the cosplay pics, I get a little sentimental thinking about how long it’s been since we’ve all been able to let our freak flags fly in all their carefully crafted glory. Man, we’re beautiful.

James Gartler went to Malcolm McDowell’s talk and he learned that the only time in his 60 year career he was ever stiffed on gig was by a producer in Montreal, so we have that dubious distinction.

JFL is back for its 40th edition, and I’m desperate to laugh with strangers. From late July into early August, all my friends have to listen to me fangirling about who I’m interviewing. I loudly tell everyone I know that I can’t make their things ‘cuz I have media passes to comedy shows, and article deadlines. Everyone calmly assures me that I wasn’t invited to their things, and pats me on my head for being so cute and excitable.

Seriously though, when you look at it all in one place our FTB Team had JFL on lock. Samantha Gold spoke to Canadian comedy royalty Rick Mercer, comic, Hollywood and Bollywood actor Vir Das and even Randy Feltface, an actual puppet. Jason C. McLean spoke with Letterkenny star Mark Forward and caught Irish comic Tommy Tiernan’s new show. James Gartler took in Trixie Mattel’s free outdoor drag show and SNL and stand-up star John Mulaney’s latest one-man show.

I spoke to a bunch of folks I never thought I would such as Alonzo Bodden and Pete Holmes. Despite Big Jay Oakerson closing out our phone interview by saying I should come up and say hi at the show, I freeze and never say hi. I see him outside with Brendan Sagalow on another day, after a different show, and I stare like a weirdo, but keep my distance.

July/August

As Montrealers we’re confident in our summers, but painfully aware of their fleeting nature. By the end of July squeezing in all the summer activities becomes a full time job, and this year it’s coming to a head as Osheaga & JFL share a weekend.

Osheaga 2022 photo by Chris Zacchia

As one FTB team was all over JFL, another team covers Osheaga with Joe McLean and Jerry Gabriel‘s previews and coverage from Jerry Gabriel of the rock-oriented Day One and the mix of everything Days Two and Three, plus Chris Zacchia’s festival photos.

Meanwhile, my Maritimers BIL & SIL come to town for their first Osheaga, and they haven’t been here in years. We live it up, and I fall in love with MTL yet again as I experience it through tourist eyes. They had a blast at the show.

August

Oh, I remember August because before we’d even sent the Scotians home, my bf tested positive for COVID. Damn it. We lock ourselves in, and I catch it in short order.

Considering I’ve been working at an office this whole time and taking public transit throughout, it seems fair. We both feel like bags of poop, but we’re super glad it wasn’t worse.

Meanwhile, Samantha Gold was checking out Repercussion Theatre’s All Shall Be Well and the POP Montreal lineup is released giving us more to look forward to.

September

In September I interviewed a fictional character when I sat down with Andrew Jamieson as Conor Blaine, (the aforementioned creative thing and the aforementioned creative soulmate). It was like playing with someone else’s imaginary friend, and it tickled me.

Drinks with fictional character Conor Blaine (photo by Dawn McSweeney)

Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival returns for it’s 14th edition, and I didn’t know this existed until it was over, so as I write this I’m marking my calendar for next year.

At MMFA, Nicolas Party’s pastels surprised me as the colours spilled off the pages and onto the walls. The Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion is closed again as pieces from there are used as part of another exhibit.

POP Montreal started at the very end of the month which takes up right into…

October

POP Montreal taught me a lot about how to better cover a multimedia, multi location arts festival. There was so much to do and see, but for me the highlight was catching Sophia Bel, who I’d never heard of, and now I tell other people about.

Samantha Gold interviewed Rocky Horror Show director Amy Blackmore and the time warp was live for the first time in years. Me First & The Gimmie Gimmies come to town, and it’s a fun time.

November

In art news, MMFA puts on a fantastic Jean Michel Basquiat exhibit called Seeing Loud: Basquiat & Music. It features works by the artist, but is specifically designed to showcase the importance of music in both his career and life. The music plays throughout.

Big famous pieces aside, there are framed journal pages, concert posters, and a super cool map where you can track his path via concerts in NYC. This bad boy runs through February 19, 2023.

In other museum news, the Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion is back to being closed for reorganization or whatever. I sigh dramatically.

Anti-Flag brought old school punk to town, and image+nation celebrates 35 years.

December

The beginning of December already feels like a year ago. The Candyass Cabaret brought sexy back, the Stygian Caravan brought creatives together, and speaking of together, Glass Tiger still is.

Andrew Jamieson’s Sleazy Christmas introduced me to comedian Morgan O’Shea who I thought was just some friend of a friend, and next thing you know, he’s going up on stage, and I’m laughing till it hurts. Turns out he’s profesh. I’ll be intentionally seeking out his comedy in the future.

As is always the case, this year isn’t over yet, and we’re already looking to the next.

Osheaga 2023 headliners have been announced, and I already have Lizzo tickets for May.

Entertainment this week? Personally? So much chilling.

All the best to you, yours, and the dreams you’re chasing. Blessed be & haribol.

Featured Image of Sophia Bel @ POP Montreal by Dawn McSweeney

I’m currently procrastinating most things into 2023, but there’s always space in the calendar for parties, burlesque, self care, and documentaries!

It’s pretty cool (and scary) stuff

Worlds of Ice is a film by Philippe Baylaucq, produced by the National Film Board of Canada in collaboration with the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan. It’s a 360°, 35 minute immersion into exactly what it says it is: the power and fragility of ice. It was created with the intention of putting ice at the forefront of our environmental thoughts, and is intentionally being run at the same time as COP15.

Worlds of Ice runs until February 27 at Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, 4801 Pierre-de Coubertin Ave. For showtimes and tickets, please visit the planetarium’s website

Curves & Comedic Timing

While you stuff those stockings and fa all your las, Candyass Cabaret presents A(nother) Covid Christmas Special Xmas Show to really jingle your bells.

With the MC stylings of Monica Hamburg and Jimmy Phule, plus a lineup of talent including Velma Candyass herself, it’s the perfect salve for the seasonal blues. They’re promising “wacky contests with mediocre prizes”, which I love. Bet you end up horny and laughing at the same time.

MCs Monica Hamburg and Jimmy Phule (via Candyass Cabaret on Facebook)

Xmas Show Candyass Cabaret is at Café Cleopatra, 1230 boul Saint-Laurent, 2nd floor, on Friday, December 16, 9 pm all the deets are on the Facebook Event Page

‘Cuz classy’s overrated

This Wednesday Andrew Jamieson presents A Sleazy Christmas. It’s a multidisciplinary performance event, and a fundraiser for Ever After: The Revival!, but mostly it’ll be a helluva good time. The line-up’s got comedy, spoken word, burlesque, and music.

The party’s got a cash raffle with multiple prizes, plus karaoke after the show! I’ll be schmoozing and hawking raffle tickets for the aforementioned artsy cause and fab winnings, so blow off your office party and come say hi.

A Sleazy Christmas Party is at Le Basement, 3716 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in the basement on Wednesday, December 21, 9pm. Info and tickets available through Eventbrite

We’re all broke & stressed, happy effin holidays

At a time when debt is soaring, the gifts aren’t even all bought yet, and you’re about to sit down with the family you intentionally avoid for 364 days a year, stress is high. Therapy’s too expensive and spa days are way out of the question, but I came across this free meditation class so maybe we can all chillax.

I’ve never heard of Sahaja Yoga, but they offer free events both locally and on zoom. There are loads of times and dates, and they have a sizable online community, though their online presence is a bit scattered. I haven’t tried it yet, but this is now on my to do list. Namaste.

Find out about and book the free online and in-person meditation


Featured Image from Worlds of Ice (NFB)


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

This summer was my first foray into trying my hand at reading poetry. The Résonance Reading Series is not even a year old and this summer saw a new addition to regular poetry events in Montreal.

Kafein began hosting Poetry Nights: a combination of poetry readings, DJ sets (Noah Bick), and delicious drinks. A small eclectic community has begun to form around these word wielding nights. Below are four pieces by poets who have left impressions on my poetry crushin’ heart.

untitled by Ariana Molly

I want to be a kid and do kid things and follow (break) kid rules.
Adulthood is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.
What happened to time outs and 8 p.m. bed time?
What happened to being my dad’s little fish and my mom’s little helper?
I just want to dance to ‘Beat It’ and the Beach Boys Endless Summer vinyl in my basement that had the swings my dad built.
I want my backyard pool and my turtle shaped sandbox.
I want my mad science birthday party where I wore metallic purple lipstick to match my purple butterfly dress.
I want platform shoes and colourful scrunchies and barrettes.
I want to be a virgin.
I want my powder pink room with the hand painted accents my mom paid a fortune for.
I want my canopy.
I want it to be cute when I act like a princess.
I want my hair to curl with the innocence it used to and I want to cut it badly with safety scissors.
What happened to my Dr. Seuss collection?
What happened to my parents’ wedding photos?
What happened to my childhood home the eggplant coloured dining room?
I want my pink plaid window seat I built with my dad.
I want my pink polka dot mini skirt because it made me feel like a rock star.
I want my collection of tapes.
Is it wrong to miss prissy private school and backstabbing little girls?
Is it wrong to miss my normal family?
I wanted to be an adult so badly because adulthood was romanticized.
I walked out of the womb an adult.
I wanted to wear a g-string and have boobs.
I wanted a boy to call me baby.

***

Ariana Molly kick-started Poetry Night and has watched it blossom from infanthood to what it is today. She came here one year ago from Ottawa and has nestled quite nicely into life in the big city. She also works as the Style Editor of local web magazine The Main and attends Concordia University as a photography major.

***

gonzo

itching to break this bone prison by Gonzo Nieto

if you’re still itching to break this bone prison
be your own prism, shatter the lights and grow brilliant
there’s a billion of folks who froze quick and won’t listen
they call themselves adults, I relate more to grown children
with a sense of wonder and some jokes cracked, ponder the smokestacks
if it’s about the process, why are we rushing through so fast?
I barely made it out the door though the choke gas
now I’m out here in the cold breeze, eyes closed
hands out not asking for change, just to hold peace
.. actually I take back the change bit
I’ve got this list written, I could try and explain
see I’ve been doing some thinking, not on purpose, it just happened
but I don’t think I’d be happy with my final pictures caption
if it said, “this man had talent but he didn’t have the passion
had the tools to make it work but never worked to make it happen
grappled with abstractions and was always glancing backwards
losing focus and being passive were the hallmarks of his actions”
I dealing with a loss of potential, the cost of correcting
the habits passed down from the past to the present
gas, too expensive, I’ll find my own ride inside
to find comfort in and ride out these messes
with pride intact, ‘til I die, in fact
‘cause you can’t own your present ‘til you own your past
existential facts you can’t avoid or evade
you’ll go mad trying to find holes to escape from ‘em
I once thought I knew more than I do now
sporting a loose crown, core resting on loose ground,
battles and feuds waged, but no challenging truths found
and when I look back now, all I wear’s a confused frown
so short-sighted.. guess it’s good that we grow, right?
or grow left or grow despite our best efforts to freeze time
but never regret strides, and keep in mind it’s just a ride
and find clarity behind those closed eyes
‘cause if you’re still itching to break this bone prison
be your own prism, shatter the lights and grow brilliant
there’s a billion of folks who froze quick and won’t listen
they call themselves adults, but I relate more to grown children

***

Gonzo is a spoken word performer and writer. His work seeks to reflect the fluidity and nonlinear nature of thought, and tends to put an emphasis on complex rhyme schemes and tightly-controlled rhythm. He performs around the city of Montreal, where he is pursuing a degree in psychology and neuroscience.

***

Concrete Lights by Cam Novak 

We are lost in the darkness of city lights.
The truth is concrete will never replace the dirt beneath our feet.
The trees reach for space they created and look for refuge.
There are too many feet on this trail, where do the bloodless live anymore?
A forced intervention in a conflict never imagined. A hole in the heart that swells the eyes of those who look at the horizon.
A birth of an idea, this is what we need.
Those Cherished feelings of hope to help those who walk their path and face their dreams and not their feet.
We’ve left this too long, my lips wont stay shut.
They have a mission to open wide and encourage the mind to follow.
Strange how we have forgotten what gave us our minds.
Memories are piled into garbage bags and turned into soil for rotten thoughts.

***

Cam is a self-taught, multi-disciplinary artist who’s work tackles many issues and questions revolving around the use of public space and identity. For more of his work, see is website.

***

andrew

the martyr by Andrew Jamieson

spewing from your mouth
that stench
cheap smoke
cheap drink
yah, you’re shaking with that rage

and this boy is sad,
you, you made him sad
and this boy is scared,
yah man you made him scared.

he is trying so hard to hate you

because YOU’RE GETTING WORSE
and suddenly! it’s common fucking knowledge

you tell him no, no
like he’s a child
and he wants to defy you
but his mouth
it’s filled with blood.
and he wants to beg for mercy
but that kiss took more than his breath away.
this is your fantasy and you know everything he is going to say.

you want him to leave,
don’t you?? to run,
run run run runaway
but he won’t, he caaan’t,
cuz you’re a drug…
YOU’RE A DRUG!

(but nobody will tell me what it fucking means.)

***

Andrew Jamieson is a  writer, director, actor and performance artist living in Montreal. Andrew’s prose exhibits an uninhibited, unrelenting honesty through  personal experiences, all the while encompassing an unwavering unapologetic ethos. His book, Faith and Force – The Egoist’s Complex will be available in January 2014. 

***

Check out Kafein’s next Poetry Night on September 17th at 8 p.m.

Photos by Michael Colatruglio.