Montreal is known for its arts and culture talent. Yup, it’s true. I mean we are designated as the arts and culture hub of Canada. But just because we’re labelled this, doesn’t mean they all make it out beyond the city. I’m not sorry, but it’s true. Of course, you always have your exceptions.

Exceptions? Yes my friend, exceptions. I shouldn’t even bother introducing them locally (yes boys I’m flattering you), but I will. Well, Montreal and beyond, meet/hear-about-again Winter Gloves. Ahhhh, yes. Montreal natives, Winter Gloves have been nationally syncing to your iPods and music devices since their second album release, About a Girl in 2008. This release put them on the “Best of” lists, including “Best New Artist” of the year on iTunes Canada.

In 2010 they took it a step further. We’re talking global, kids global. Last year, Winter Gloves released their fourth album, All Red. The success of this stellar album has allowed them to venture far and wide playing with acts such as Born Ruffians, Tokyo Police Club and You Say Party! We Say Die!.

Oh no! What? Didn’t see them? Well, no worries. They’ll be back in Montreal on August 10 playing with The Naked and Famous. The Naked and Famous  yes, you read that right (over 100,000 likes and counting).

Anyway… enough of my talky-talk. To kick this HUGE show off, we’ve scored a sweet interview with Winter Gloves… only for you.

So, enough of me… and more of the music:

Travelling, sleeping (questionable), eating…how is touring going? How did you enjoy your first trip to Europe?

Nico and Charles: Every aspect of touring is intense. You get to travel, meet with your fans, and see a different city every day, but all that action makes sleep pretty impossible. You’re on a constant buzz while you’re away, so coming home is always a hard crash of deep sleep! One of the highlights on this last tour we did in the UK was being able to taste the traditional English ‘Sunday Roast Dinner’ they have at the pubs on Sunday nights.

Who has the best dance moves? And which move is most notable?

Nico: Pat Sayers has to win this one. He is our Dirty Dancer!

Do you still throw copies of your albums into the audience during your shows?

Charles: It’s been a while since we’ve done that but we love the idea of giving away fresh music to show what we’re working on. I’m pretty sure we’ll throw our next demos in the crowd again soon.

Guidance! Tell us, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned to date…

Charles: Don’t drink and text.

What do you miss most about Montreal when you’re on the road?

Charles:   Well, it depends on where we are. Good food and coffee is one thing we miss a lot on the road especially in the U.S and Canada, but personal space is a big one too. It’s a challenge to find time for yourself on the road between the driving, the interviews and the shows.

Tell us your best tour bender story of 2011…

Charles: The day we arrived in the UK last May, the van we were supposed to rent wasn’t available so we had to take a smaller model with   a standard transmission. The same day, we travelled 6 hours through the night and we also had to drive a standard in downtown London. Driving on the left was very difficult with the jetlag. The following few days we had multiple tires blow, but everything came about very nicely after that!

Okay, you’re only allowed to eat either pancakes or hash browns for your entire tour, which is it (hypothetical of course!)?

Charles: I’m a big fan of red jelly made from ‘who knows what’, so I can last a while on a sugar rush eating pancakes.

Winter Gloves will be playing with Naked and Famous in Montreal on August 10 at Sala Rosa. Advanced tickets are $15 (or 4-$9) and $17 at the door. They’re going fast, so get them ahead of time via indiemontreal.ca. Don’t be hearing about it, be there.

band photo from duckduckgeese.com

flat tire from Winter Gloves facebook page.

Winter Gloves by Charles F

I look fantastic.

Even though it’s 11:30 at night, I’ve been wearing a hat and won’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve had time for a proper shower. My haircut is that good.

On the lookout for a new stylist, I’d been asking friends with excellent coiffure where they get it done. One woman directed me to Bikurious on Amherst. “A bike shop?” I asked. “Lesbian Haircuts for Anyone,” she replied.

Sold.

Lesbian Haircuts for Anyone, owned and operated by the charming JJ Levine, is the type of business I hope to run into every time I leave my house. It shares space with a bike shop, is host to a store cat named Store Cat, isn’t gender-normative, has great music, provides fantastic service, and – as if that weren’t enough – the non-traditional business model (pay-what-you-can) proves that you don’t have to sell out or fit the mold to make a living.

I had my appointment about three weeks ago, a little hung over from the election night drink/sob fest, and feeling the slight case of nerves one always has when venturing into new hair territory. Still, I was fairly confident because the friend who referred me is noted for her excellent coiffure.

When I arrived, JJ was just finishing up with another client, so after poking around the bike shop portion of the store and considering a new pink helmet, I took a seat in the admittedly snug hair-cutting nook. I eyed my seatmate with some trepidation, but was quickly won over by the purring, squirming, suck-up of a Store Cat. “Won’t be long,” JJ told me.

It wasn’t. Soon, my predecessor was standing up, dusting off and looking fabulous. I took my seat, removed my glasses and put myself into the hands of a consummate professional.

“So what would you like today?” s/he asked me. This is always my least favourite part of a haircut. I never know what to say.

I gave my standard “you’re the pro, please don’t ask me to make decisions this far outside my realm or it will end badly” reply, and we got started. I don’t have a photo of myself to show you, but rest assured the results were very pleasing, and have worn incredibly well to date.

As mentioned before, this is the type of small business that renews faith in small business, so I asked JJ if s/he would give us a brief interview to shed some more light on the concepts involved. S/he kindly agreed, so read on, then book your appointment!


How long have you been cutting hair? Did you ever study it?

I’ve been cutting my own hair and my friends’ hair since I was 14 but started cutting professionally about 5 years ago. I’ve studied different hair dressing techniques over the years with other stylists, but never in a formal beauty school setting.

What exactly is a ‘lesbian haircut’, as opposed to any other type of haircut? Good for both boys and girls, or more of a girls thing?

A lesbian haircut is anything you want it to be. The name came out of a joke unrelated to any actual hairstyle. That’s not to say that people don’t come to me for something specific though; I’ve developed a reputation for specializing in asymmetrical, edgy haircuts “for anyone.” The cuts I give (asymmetrical or conventional) are intended to work with people’s preferred gender presentations, which often amounts to a “women’s cut” or “men’s cut,” but is certainly not limited to either of those categories. I have an extremely diverse clientèle that spans four generations, and a multitude of gender identities and sexualities.

Why pay-what-you-can? How does that work for you? Do you think it would work for other types of businesses?

It is very important for me to be accessible. A good haircut is something that makes people feel good about their appearance. Not everyone has 50-100 dollars to spend on a haircut, but everyone deserves to feel good about the way they look. It works for me because most of my customers understand the “pay-what-you-can” concept. Some pay me the same amount that they would pay if they went to another salon with fixed prices because they can afford it or they recognize that my work is on par, and others can pay me the 15 dollars they’ve been saving up. It really does balance out for me in the end. I think a sliding-scale model can and should be applied to other business endeavours.

Can you describe your ideal customer? The type that annoys you?

My ideal customer is nice and respectful. An annoying thing that happens sometimes is that because of the name of my salon (Lesbian Haircuts for Anyone), people make assumptions about my gender and assume I identify as a lesbian.

How did you get into a bike shop?

The bike shop and the hair salon came into being around the same time. My ex, Danielle Flowers, started Revolution in 2006, and I started cutting hair there casually which pretty quickly turned into the salon space that exists today. When the bike store was sold to Marissa Plamondon-Lu and Mackenzie Ogilvie, in 2008, and the name changed to Bikurious, it was agreed upon that I would stay. The new owners were also interested in preserving the community-based, queer feel of the shop that Danielle and I had been cultivating for years.

Do you have any plans for the next few years? Opening your own shop? Staying with Bikurious?

I plan on staying at Bikurious as long as the shop is around!

Favourite Books/Music/Movies?

My favourites are constantly changing, but I recently enjoyed the novel Holding Still as Long as Possible by Zoe Whittall, I’ve been listening to Big Fredia from New Orleans and Rae Spoon’s new album, Love is a Hunter, and I loved the Denis Villeneuve film, Incendies, from Montreal.

Any comments or thoughts for Forget The Box readers? Something interesting I didn’t touch on?

Although I am passionate about cutting hair, my true love is photography. My separate and simultaneous career as an artist is constantly growing and shifting.   Until my art practice pays for itself, I will always cut hair to make a living and to be able to afford to create new artwork. My portfolio is currently featured in a renowned and widely available Canadian art magazine called Ciel Variable, issue CV88. (Author’s Note: Do yourself the monumental favor of also checking out JJ’s art website)

If you’re planning on getting a new ‘do anytime in the near future, give Lesbian Haircuts for Anyone a try. Not only will you get a great haircut, you’ll be supporting exactly the kind of small business that makes our city so extraordinary.

Call JJ Levine at 514-625-4247 to book. Pay what you can $15-$50.

As many of you know, Forget the Box got a wee bit hacked last week.   Unfortunately, these things happen to the best of us.   No cloud being without its smidgen of silver lining, however, our website troubles soon led us into an acquaintance with Terry Cutler, the co-founder of Digital Locksmiths.

Digital Locksmiths is a Montreal-based data defence services company that helps organizations defend themselves against hackers and other malicious online activity. In addition to this, Terry is a Certified Ethical Hacker, speaker and lecturer on internet safety for kids and parents, and a regular contributor to Securityweek.com.

I was able to get in touch with Terry to get some more details about hacking, ethical hacking and being smart on the internet. You’ll find some of the highlights of our conversation below.

 

1. Ethical hacking what is it exactly? How does one become an Ethical Hacker?
Ethical hacking is, essentially, learning how the bad guys do what they do, so that you can prevent it and fix it. I got into it because I was inspired by watching shows like CSI and 24 and wondered how Cloe O’Brian was breaking into all those systems so fast. I did some research and found an organization called The EC-Council that created a course called the Certified Ethical Hacker and in 2005 I got certified through them.

2. Who hacks? (And I mean hacks for malicious intent, not ethically). Is there a profile of a hacker? What are they trying to do?
Hackers come in all shapes and sizes they can be anyone from disgruntled employees, to bored teenagers, to organized criminals. If you remember the Sony Hacker story from earlier this year, you can start to get an idea of how this type of hacking can come from within an organization as well as from without. People hack for fun or revenge or profit it’s often hard to tell what the motivation could be. There are also those hackers that fall under the title of Hacktivists. Remember WikiLeaks? This can range from what seems like espionage to whistleblowing. It’s for, in the minds of the hacktivists at least, in the public interest.

3. What can a blog like ours, or a small business owner operating online, do to protect themselves from hacking and other cyber threats? (Short of hiring Digital Locksmiths!)
Always stay current on your website updates. If you get a few updates behind you can really be opening yourself up to attack. There can also be issues with one hosting provider over another, so do your research and be willing to change if you experience problems.

4. Most of our readers have grown up using the internet for everything – it’s about as natural as breathing. Are there stupid mistakes you find people often make on the internet without giving it a second thought?
A lot of this comes down to social media these days. Most people open emails from what appears to come from someone they know and are easily fooled into clicking on links. What they don’t know is that those links can pull down malware and viruses to your PC. Have you ever gotten an invite on Facebook or LinkedIn in your email inbox and accepted it without going through to the website? This is how a lot of information gets stolen. If you’re dealing with a social media site, always manage your interactions on the site itself and not through the Hotmail inbox.

5. What do you imagine the coming years will hold for internet security? Will we all have retina scanners on our monitors?
Biometrics are a possibility, but what is really happening is increased mobility, especially smartphones. More and more is being done on cell phones pretty soon they could even replace your computer and equally open you up to malicious hacking. When that occurs, you’ll be pretty much back to square one. It’s something that we’re thinking about now, but it can be difficult to predict exactly what will happen.

 

Talking with Terry was incredibly interesting. It’s fantastic to meet someone so knowledgeable in his field and active in the community especially one so willing to share what he knows with the rest of us! Thanks Terry, from all the staff at Forget the Box!

You can find more information about Terry Cutler on his website: www.TerryCutler.com and about Digital Locksmiths at www.digitallocksmiths.ca. I’d also like to recommend you check out one of Terry’s presentations on internet safety for kids and parents. A refresher never hurts for those of us who use the internet every day!

Title photo courtesy of www.photoxpress.com, body photo of Terry Cutler from www.terrycutler.com.