A few years ago, there was a push to rename Lionel-Groulx Metro after late Montreal jazz legend Oscar Peterson. Now that movement is back, currently in the form of a petition.

Of course it has returned now. With statues to racists and colonialists toppling all around the world, and in particular in the US, people are re-evaluating not only who needs to go, but who needs to be honoured instead.

Oscar Peterson was an eight-time Grammy winner praised by Duke Ellington as the “Maharaja of the keyboard” despite the keys only being his second instrument with a career that lasted over 60 years. He also grew up and honed his talents in Little Burgundy, one of the two communities directly served by the metro station.

As for the current namesake, Lionel Groulx, he was a vocal member of a far-right Quebec nationalist group from 1929-1939. Some, most notably Esther Deslile and Mordecai Richler, argue that the group, Groulx included, were borderline fascist and quite anti-Semetic.

Groulx also opposed Jewish immigration to Quebec in the time leading up to World War II and wanted people to boycott Jewish-owned Montreal businesses.

Was Groulx a slave-owner, murderous colonialist like Amherst, or avowed Nazi? No. Was he a virulent anti-Semite? Sure seems like it. Is he, at best, a problematic figure? Yes. Does he have anything to do with Little Burgundy or Montreal’s Sud-Ouest? Absolutely not.

So why name one of the most used metro stops in the city after him? There’s a small avenue bearing his name that intersects with Atwater Avenue right in front of the metro and the STM likes to name their stations after streets or places.

So, a quick fix would be for the city to rename Avenue Lionel Groulx in Little Burgundy Avenue Oscar Peterson and then the STM would have no excuse not to follow. Or, they could simply name the green area surrounding the metro Place Oscar Peterson, as with the area surrounding Place-St-Henri Metro.

Renaming a metro station won’t be erasing Lionel Groulx. There’s also a CEGEP named after him and a street in Saint-Leonard.

But isn’t Oscar Peterson already honoured? Yes, Concordia’s concert hall on the Loyola Campus bears his name, as it should, but that’s at the western end of NDG, two metro stops and a bus ride from the community he grew up in.

Shouldn’t our metro stations and other landmarks honour our local communities and, in particular, our racialzied communities? Why does some white Quebec nationalist theorist with problematic views get a Montreal Metro station in between Little Burgundy and St-Henri named after him when there is clearly a better, more locally representative and internationally renown option?

It’s not just about removing, it’s about respecting and reflecting our communities. We need Metro Oscar-Peterson. If you agree, sign the petition.

Featured image of Peterson in 1977 by Tom Marcello via WikiMedia Commons

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Andrea Dworkin’s death. On September 26th, 2015 she would have been 69 years old. Opening on September 17th and running until the 27th, Montreal Theatre company Waterworks will be presenting a world premier full staging performance of Aftermath.

Based on a text written by Andrea Dworkin after her drug-rape in Paris in 1999. Her life partner, well known author and activist John Stoltenberg, found the original document on her computer.

“…what I discovered was a 24,000-word autobiographical essay, composed in twelve impassioned sections, as powerful and beautifully written as anything Andrea ever wrote. It was searingly personal, fierce and irreverent, mordantly witty, emotionally raw. It was also clearly not a draft; it was finished, polished as if for publication.”

The piece was edited and cut in half to about 90 minutes and directed by Stoltenberg and Dworkin’s longtime friend and collaborator Adam Thorburn. It was performed as a staged reading in New York by Maria Silverman in May of 2014. “At each step in putting this theater project together, I have wished I could talk with Andrea about it. I would want to tell her how the words she showed no one are now reaching and affecting audiences in live performance,” Stoltenberg writes.

The Montreal production is being directed by Waterworks artistic directors Tracey Houston and Rob Langford and being performed by Montreal actor Helena Levitt as Dworkin.

We’ve heard of this type of story before, more recently with the Bill Cosby allegations and Jian Ghomeshi spectacle where the victim’s creditability was brought into question. “If she can’t remember everything, then maybe it didn’t happen.” It was so long ago, maybe she’s a little sketchy on the details” ad infinitum.

In the text, Dworkin refers to the drug Rohypnol and GBH. “This isn’t an aspirin in your drink. It’s not like getting drunk. It’s not like getting high. This is so easy for the boy. This is so simple for the boy. This is foolproof rape. The gang who can’t shoot straight can do this kind of rape. You can do this hundreds of times with virtually no chance of getting caught. I think how easy this evil is to do.” She goes on to describe how powerless one is to fight back from this kind of rape even after the fact, when there is no memory to report or very little if any evidence left behind.

Aftermath is a very passionate, personal account of Dworkin’s life, family, work and thought process that very few people not familiar with her writings have yet to see or be aware of. Stoltenberg explains, “[Dworkin’s] stirring writing ranges dramatically over many themes—her aspirations when she was young, her erotic and romantic relationships, the marriage in which she was battered, her understanding of the connection between Jews and women, her take on President Clinton’s behavior, her deep commitment to helping women, her critique of women who betray women. And the fact that Aftermath is acted means audiences get to hear an emotional dimensionality in Andrea’s voice that in life she shared only with me and her closest friends—trenchant and oracular, as the public knew her, but also tender, sardonic, sorrowful, vulnerable, funny.”

Rob Langford and Tracey Houston, founders of Montreal’s The Waterworks Company (Palace of the End, Gidion’s Knot, Glory Dazed), a troupe committed to staging the best of contemporary playwriting by women, found out about Aftermath last year from Stoltenberg’s Twitter feed, Langford contacted Stoltenberg, proposing to give Aftermath its first full staging here in Montreal.

Aftermath runs September 17th to 27th, 2015, at the Centre culturel Georges-Vanier, 2450 Workman, Little Burgundy, a couple of blocks northeast of the Atwater Market. METRO: Lionel- Groulx.

A special première takes place on September 17th at 8pm; the show runs over the next two weekends Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 4pm. Post-show talkbacks, with special guests, will take place throughout the first weekend.

Admission is $18 / $13 (buyer chooses price). Tickets are available, via Eventbrite, 
at waterworksmontreal.com, or at the door.

Sometimes, I feel as though accessories are not taken seriously enough. I am aware that accessories are meant to be personal statements that highlight outfits of choice, and I should respect everyone’s choice to accessorize the way that they want, but I must admit.. over the years, I’ve been annoyed by people who overdo it. Those who wear huge sparkly chunky belts with a tacky double C at the buckle- (way to ugly up Chanel, ladies.) Well.. those, along with other thick belts, are actually the only accessories that piss me off. Everything else is alright, but within reason.

That being said, first lesson of the day.
Keep it classy versus obvious: Accessories are meant to lightly highlight your outfit. They should be effortless touches, and they should accentuate your shades and overall mood. For example, these days, I’ve been in love with The Boyfriend look. This is a masculine meets feminine style that creates a classic 20th century male silhouette. Slacks, vests, ankle boots, blazers- you know the one.

This look is already powerful enough without having to add too much to it. Because I don’t enjoy walking around looking like a character from The Great Gatsby every single day, I try to avoid making my outfit look too costume-y. I encourage you to find your balance between being aloof and desperate.
IMG-20131016-WA0000 copyAccessories should reflect your taste. I don’t believe in trendy accessories. Personally, I wear mismatched earrings, not only because I almost have no choice but to do so, (since I’ve lost a the mates of most of my pairs) but because I find that it’s an edgy touch without trying too hard. If your lobes have multiple holes, you could literally create a story on an ear. Have FUN with earrings, people. Don’t take them too seriously!

That being said, here are my two cents on other basic accessories.
Bracelets: I’ve been crazy about the idea of taking an old, awkwardly short necklace and turning it into a bracelet. It’s easy- all you have to do is double loop around your wrist.. and it dangles in the most darling fashion. I’m personally down with understated, simple, precious looking bracelets that have a delicate chain and a simple charm. Maybe teamed with a thin bangle… but you’ll want to avoid huge cuffs. They’re too Real Housewives of Beirut/2008.

Necklaces: Is it weird that I’m over necklaces? I just don’t feel the urge to wear them anymore- I don’t know why… I’ve always been partial to one or two long chains with a simple charm like a key or a leaf hanging down, but I can certainly respect someone who dons an intense neck piece across their breastplate. Remember though, not every outfit needs a necklace! Sometimes it’s just not necessary. Respect the outfit you long to wear… and if you feel that you really want to wear a necklace and it just doesn’t go with your outfit, then stop fooling yourself and CHANGE the outfit.

2013-10-10_11-27-06-1Bags: This is my favourite part. Bags are a complex accessory- the most complex, because it really depends on the occasion and the level of maintenance you’re willing to pay to your bag at that time. For example, if you’re going out with your friends to get crunk on a Saturday night, you’re not going to want to take a gorgeous tote because some asshole could spill beer on it, it could get jacked.. and you’ll have to take in account that you’ll probably be wearing it all night- so really, the smaller the better. It will take over your outfit.

However- if you’re walking down the street on a busy day- if you’re going to work, going shopping, maybe grabbing a coffee with that cutie you met at the gym… then work it, sister! I have personally been IN LOVE with buckle bags. They look so retro, chic, and fit in with the coveted Boyfriend look.
I’m a pusher for bags to be in lovely, soothing tones that would look awesome against your outfits. Don’t just stick to black or brown, go for a nice mustard yellow, burgundy, or teal. I have a very good feeling about those three colours these days. Check out Beyond the Rack’s collection- they know just what I’m talking about. Even Aldo has a couple of cute totes.*Aldo and Little Burgundy also have some adorable accessories… including big knitted circle scarves which are an essential.

Respect your outfit, but more importantly, respect your accessories. While I encourage for them to be understated and low-key, they should really reflect your inner self, and the intentions of your outfit. Yes, your outfit has intentions. Respect those intentions, and don’t deny yourself the cherry on top of a perfect ensemble.