It’s Igloofest in MTL – bang! It was fairly cold Friday night, so you know, I had running shoes on and no scarf, right!? I did on the other hand have a good homie hook me up with one of those fleece neck warmer joints, though. Respect. The scene was wild: people in full digital camouflage snowsuits, characters that looked like they’ve just walked off a ski resort, and these five or so dudes that were pimping full length fur coats. I was chilling in the heated area for a bit, they have these bleacher type structures – not comfy so one can’t stay long.

Time to check this party out though – finished my water and zipped the North Face up. We walked right into the Sapporo Scene. Diagraf, also known as Patrick Trudeau was spinning – great visuals too. That euro-house flavor, except the dude’s from here. The grounds really started filling up around 9 PM and I had to go for shelter again. There’s something disconcerting about big juicy bass lines and -20 with the wind chill.

Got some spiced hot chocolate and went to check out BBBlaster at the Videotron stage. It was bumping hard, people had become good and lubricated by then. I made my way to the front center, you know. Lol. Very good set, though. I actually sweated; then paid the price in chills after. At some point I got a text saying hold up your phone – and bang, one of the most exclusive dudes I know appears out of a throng of dancers and bear hugs me in the pit. Big respect. Classic session, was a lot of smoke in the crowd, everyone grooving. We know how to get down in MTL. I ended up at the Sapporo stage for Gui Boratto. The place was bonkers by then. I stayed and kicked it for about 20 minutes but could not regain an acceptable core temperature. Real talk, blue lips.

Igloofest is its own thing, unique vibes. The night was fresh. Cool people, some all city chillers even. For real, though, if you’re planning on going to Igloofest this year, bring a scarf. I’ll see you around one of those hobo cans filled with burning wood. Holla.

Igloofest Opening NightIgloofest Opening Night

Click on the photo above to open the gallery. All photos taken by Bianca Lecompte.

WTSP, the World Truth Speakers Posse, officially launched with two shows in Montreal on two different nights. Thursday was the Mic Chek open mic show at Le Bull, followed of course by an open jam and Friday saw PsynLangwage’s David Destroya, Jay Manafest and Lucky Lex take the stage at the Hip-Hop Cafe on Parc.

Now, WTSP is one step closer to realizing its plan of building a learning centre teaching off-grid living combined with an organic farm and recording studio.

Here are some photos of both events by Gerry Lauzon and Jay Manafest:


What can I say, I’m addicted to Instagram.

I’ll admit, when I discovered there was an Instagram-branded digital camera I bemoaned the death of Polaroid, but hey, who am I to tell the free-market what to do?

Personally, I like the filters and the way by which the filters are able to ameliorate otherwise low-quality digital photos, but I’m sure that will change too as the technology improves. Regardless, here are some of my favourite snap-shots of people and places in our fair city.

Tour KPMG (Place de la Cathedrale)
Tour KPMG (Place de la Cathedrale) – Montreal
St-Henri depanneur
St-Henri depanneur

The quintessential Montréal Dépanneur, commerce integrated directly into a residential plan, optimizing convenience while maintaining the link between vital small business and the neighbourhood that supports it. I read somewhere the estimate was that a single Montréal dépanneur typically serves a base of 1,000 regular customers, and as such, these small mom and pop operations tend to cater to specific local needs, not to mention offer some unique treats. One of the finest lunches to be had (on the cheap) in this city involves homemade soups and sandwiches sold by a lovely Polish lady in a dépanneur located at St-Marc and René-Lévesque.

Montreal World Trade Centre instagram
Montreal World Trade Centre

A hidden gem, the Centre du Commerce Mondiale de Montréal (located next to Square-Victoria and a component of the Réso underground city), this massive atrium was built over the former Ruelle des Fortifications and as such unites several heritage properties into a single complex. It was conceived of as a horizontal skyscraper, with the Intercontinental Hotel anchoring the base. The fountain at one end of the reflecting pool was built in France in the early 18th century and, along with a piece of the Berlin Wall also located here, were together with the complex, part of the city’s numerous 350th anniversary presents.

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Windsor Station & 1250 Boul. René-Lévesque taken from the Place du Canada viaduct

An afterthought – both of these buildings have lost their anchor tenants. The tower was originally jointly owned by IBM and Marathon Realty, another 350th anniversary gift to the city from the private sector. It was built in competition with 1000 de la Gauchetiere West and though both are icons of the city’s post-modern architecture, both lack anchor tenants. Odd considering how beautiful both are, how centrally located they are. Windsor Station was the corporate head office of Canadian Pacific Railways until 1997 when they consolidated their operations in Calgary. Today I believe CSIS maintains an office there. I wonder if new residential developments in the area will have any effect on their future significance in the urban tapestry.

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McGill College Avenue at Dusk from the PVM Belvedere

One of the better achievements of 1980s city-planning, Vincent Ponté’s re-design of McGill College Avenue. Plans to create a showcase street date back to before the Second World War, but didn’t come to fruition until the 1980s. Prior, it was a far narrower street, with much of the space above Boul. de Maisonneuve nothing but parking lots. Redevelopment began when the Capitol Theatre was torn down in the 1970s and replaced with the squat, ugly brown building off to the left (out of frame).

A more comprehensive plan came to fruition in the early 1980s that would ultimately lead to the development of several gleaming post-modern office towers and one of the city’s premier show streets. If I have one complaint, it’s that despite the large number of people who pass through here, work here etc, no one lives in this part of town. I can imagine it would be a rather fetching address. Sometimes I wonder why there isn’t a trend in this city to redevelop old office buildings (such as the aforementioned brown monstrosity) into condos. Seems like a natural evolution.

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Avenue du Musée

I like the gradual development of the Quartier des Musées and the new pavilion of the MMFA – this is progressing in the right direction. The city has a plan for economic stimulus in this area, as they want to increase the number of stable local high-end boutiques and galleries. It could use a café and a bistro and it would be wise for the city to help in the quartier’s branding if they were able to offer various incentives to help concentrate galleries in the area.

Also, while I’m a big fan of the outdoor sculptures, they’re overwhelming given how close they’re grouped together. Would it be so bad if they were spaced out a bit? Maybe the presence of art installations could be used to delineate the boundaries of the Quartier?

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We have beautiful balconies in this city…

A place where everyone can pass a long summer day thinking about tomorrow, pondering what could be. I think we’re lucky it’s considered an element of good design to include some type of balcony, front porch or rooftop terrace on urban residential construction here. In some places, it’s quite the rarity, considered old-fashioned. Odd no?

Place Ville Marie Montreal instagram
The Sun Life Building (1931), PVM 5 (1968) and PVM 1 (1962)

Olympic Stadium Montreal birds instagram

We’ve really got to figure out what to do with this place. How much longer do we let it slowly decompose?

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Downtown Sucre, Bolivia, was like a ghost town during the national census.

The door to my hostel was shut, the streets were empty like the opening scene of 28 Days Later and I had no clean water or food. I would go to a country with a forced curfew.

I happened to be stuck in the Bolivia’s constitutional capital, Sucre, during its first national census in 11 years. If caught outside I could have faced a 1500 Bolivianosfine ($214 CAN) or even jail time.

So obviously I went outside to check it out.

I was caught by this platoon of Bolivian police during the census curfew. Photo by Niall Flynn.

300 Bolivians were detained by police for violating the curfew and 1927 arrests were made against people who were riding in vehicles without a permit. Fortunately for me, I was simply told by the platoon of police to head back to my hostel.

On Wednesday night, the Bolivian government called the census a “success,” despite reports of a lack of ballots, conflicts over boundaries, the disorientation of the canvassers and the forced return of residents to their communities. Some people with holiday homes argued with the government of their inability to be in two residences at once. Most spectacularly, pollsters in the northern province of Beni were kidnapped over boundary disputes.

Nevertheless, the results of the estimated $50 million census will be extremely crucial to Bolivia’s political and economic future. It will help determine the population (estimated at 11 million), what languages are still spoken, living conditions, education, health status, income, and basic/unmet needs; all important statistics for designing public policies.

At the top of the list will be to pull Bolivia out of it’s infamous reputation as South America’s poorest country – something not dissimilar to other resource-rich countries that suffer from what is often dubbed as “the resource curse.”

Unlike in Canada or the United States, Bolivia has no effective postal system to distribute census forms. Instead, 35 000 policemen and 200 000 hired canvassers had to scale the country’s sky-scraping mountains, dense tropical forests and desert-like plains personally asking every one of the estimated 11 million citizens about their language, material possessions, level of education, household details etc. Even tourists and foreigners were asked one-by-one to fill out the questionnaire from their hostel or temporary residence without being asked to present their passports.

Left off the questionnaire was the option to define oneself as a “mestizo” or mixed race. Deciding on one could be particularly difficult for the estimated 40 ethnic groups listed on the census.

“This would be like dividing Bolivia,” said the country’s charismatic indigenous leader Evo Morales.

Evo Morales’ palace overlooks the massive metropolis that is La Paz.

Since coming into power in 2005, Morales has made sweeping changes to the political climate in Bolivia. A self-proclaimed socialist, the former union leader for a coca-growers union has advocated strongly for indigenous rights and political autonomy. He has re-initiated the teaching of indigenous languages in schools and attempted to limit the transition towards English.

When speaking with people around La Paz, the de-facto capital, I have been told that Bolivians are more confident in calling themselves indigenous now that one of their own is in power – especially among those of Aymara and Quechua decent who are Morales’ strongest supporters.

An indigenous woman sells traditional native clothing mostly to tourists outside the indigenous museum in Sucre.

Internationally, Morales is a leader considered to be part of a political leftwards shift in South America over the past decade – akin with the governments in Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil and Peru. He is also quite hostile towards the US “imperialists” and strongly opposed to their anti-narcotics policies.

However, I have also been told that Morales’ support has begun to shift since being re-elected decisively with 64% of the vote in 2009. His unsuccessful bid to cut government fuel subsidies caused protests and forced him to withdraw from the plan in 2010. Also, his eccentric personality and sometimes unfiltered public speaking has gotten the charismatic leader into hot water. At the 2010 World Summit on Climate Change in Cochabamba, Morales made a speech that implied that eating chicken causes men to go gay. And just this year, Morales asked American actor Sean Penn to be his international ambassador on the decriminalization of coca leaves. No lie.

Morales is up for re-election in 2014, but only if he calls a referendum according to the Leader of the Opposition party Juan del Granado – Article 168 stipulates that a leader may only rule for one successful term. However, Morales argues that his first term was incomplete and thus is entitled to one more term. Time will tell. Until then, there still is two years of Morales’ rule, which should be enough to draft new policies due to the results of the census.

There were a plethora of nice photos taken in 2010. Forget The Box covered a a great deal of News events, Music, Theatre, Dance and Art shows. Photo editor Chris Zacchia looks back at his 10 favorite photos of 2010. Enjoy the Forget The Box Photos of the year!

10.* Cindy & friends taking a trip out west to PJ’s pub to cover the Habs game.

9.* Wooden Sky lights up the stage @ Sala Rosa

8. The Dead Doll Dancers – Photo by Hugo Trottier

7.* The furry lovable Rex @ Club Sin with his gal

6. Policemen in Toronto at the G20 protests – Photo by Ally Henderson

5.* Protesters marching against plans calling for the government to raise or impose fees for education, healthcare and other government services.

4.* Contortionist Brianna performing with the Blood Ballet Cabaret @ Le Belmont

3.* The adorable and stoic Rich Aucoin @ Le Belmont

2. Post Cards From The Edge – Photo Series by Hugo Trottier


1.* My favorite photo of the year is this picture from Glam Gam’s Tit’s The Season 2 be Naughtier. Creator of the show Michael J. McCarthy takes a toy pistol to the @rse!

Hope you enjoyed the pics and we got lots more fun stuff on the way!

*(photos by Chris Zacchia, except where otherwise noted)

Photo by Hugo Trottier

Hugo Trottier presents his latest series, Warriors. Warriors is a tribute to Caroline Néron, a local actress and Québécoise singer from Montreal. Caroline Néron has been featured in various local, national and international films including: L’invitation (1998), Ice Cold (2002) and 3 Saison (2009).

In 2004, Néron launched her own jewelery collection, Bijoux Caroline Néron, focused on creating modern warriors in urban princesses. Néron’s jewelery shows pull the audience into a world of unexpected sparkles and magic through her personal creations, comprised of various precious stones and luxurious diamonds.

Aside from her busy dual career as an entrepreneur and entertainer, Néron is environmentally conscious, committing to plant 14,000 trees in Quebec and has donated over $25,000 from profits generated from her beautiful and eye-grabbing jewelery line to support the Breast Cancer foundation.

Hugo hopes to portray this wonderfully talented and caring woman through his Warriors series by capturing the modern day woman warrior. Though these warriors’ may drizzle themselves in jewels, it is utmost important that they maintain their composer in the most dyer situations. A female fighter understands herself and is aware of her surroundings, knowing that is her best weapon in the 21st century, as she helps herself, while holding the hands of others.

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Until We See series By Hugo Trottier

This week’s Carte Blanche by Hugo Trottier is a provocative, mesmerizing series entitled, Until We See. Until We See features the laced-lined burlesque artists who participated in the 2010 Montreal Burlesque Festival this past September. His adapted versions and visions of these fearless burlesque artists was inspired by the Hope for Haiti soundtrack and more specifically Beyoncé Knowles’s wonderfully deep and uplifting song, Halo.

Throughout the series you will noticed the majority of the images are captured from a back view. We ask you to consider this idea: why are we always looking for beauty from the front? It seems we are always in search of beauty in face, we always question truth in the eyes, yet we never stop to appreciate what is in front of us until it is walking away. In this case, we want you not think of the concept of ‘someone walking away’, rather someone walking towards the beauty, towards the truth, towards another person or object that draws them closer to who they’re truly meant to be – even if it’s in the darkest night, they will stand tall.

Hugo wants us to recognize that though beauty may be beneath the skin, It is vividly seen when we bare our naked (almost naked for these women) bodies, when we expose our souls and spirits. Hugo’s images capture the truth of these artists spirits. Look closely at the poses, the attire and the attitudes that shine through each and everyone of these Gothic, black and white images. Notice the confidence these artists have. Notice the emphasis on creative angles and Hugo’s integration of his own personal artwork that accompanies them. Pay close attention to this series, can you see the Halos?

Click each image to see the slideshow.

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