Archive

Gender

Flame-haired American songstress Tori Amos turned 50 this month. Fifty years old! Above is her video from her first solo album, 1992’s Little Earthquakes, for the single Silent All These Years. The simple piano accompaniment throughout most of the song is very characteristic of Amos’ early works, and I actually really enjoy the vintage feel of the music video. When I think about Tori Amos entering her fifth decade, I think about the talented female musicians today, and the debates about feminism in pop culture. And there sure are a lot of talk about the feminism label amongst female musicians these days.

Read More

SAM_0714

Beaudry metro station in The Village

Montréal Pride week, or the LGBT festival, is in full force this week. Recently, I took a mid-week and mid-day walk through The Village in downtown Montréal along rue Ste-Catherine. During the summer the portion of this main street is closed for pedestrian use only, which becomes lively during the evenings and weekends. As expected, Montréal’s LGBT community is brightly decorated with equally vivid storefronts. The Montréal LGBTA Parade took place on Sunday August 18, 2013. Click here for more information.

SAM_0708

Read More

110714_MTL_Just For Laughs (3)

Just For Laughs Festival at Metropolis

Welcome to the fifth instalment of the Montréal Bachelor(ette) Party Planning Guide. Previous posts on the series outlined the bachelor/bachelorette party scene and hotels here in Montréal, restaurants (parts one and two), and bars and clubs. A listing and links to the previous posts can be found at the end of this post.

Today’s guide focuses on the various activities that your party group can plan for your trip to Montréal. Thankfully, in addition to all the restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, and pubs that the city has to offer, we also have a slew of city-planned events happening year round. We love the arts, culture and shamelessly sexy business so Montréal has just about something for everyone. Summers carry the bulk of the major events (and attract most tourists) since, well, Montréal is pretty cold city during most seasons. If you get here for July and August, you are almost guaranteed the hot and sticky weather many Americans and Canadians from the rest of the country experience; May and June can sometimes hold onto the regular programming. That being said, make sure you check the weather forecast for the city prior to launching on your trip, and remember that carrying an umbrella and dressing in layers can thwart the possibility of you walking around the city cold and wet (it happens to us all the time).

So here is a (non-comprehensive) list of major events in Montréal starting from the beginning of the year in January. Note that some of the events listed take place in multiple seasons, especially the festivals that start in spring and end in the fall, so check out the Spring listings if you are planning your visit for the summer or fall months. Additionally, year-round activities that you and your group can pursue regardless of the season are also listed at the end of the post. Make sure to click on the links (in bold) to find out the exact dates and more details of each event.

SAMSUNG

Igloofest in the Old Port

WINTER

Considering how cold the city can get in the winter (-30°C without windchill anyone? I will go ahead and translate that to -22ºF for American readers), you would think Montréalers would be huddled away at home toasting our baguettes on an open fire. Well, if you have been living here in this city long enough, you know that the winter stinks and you cannot get away from it. So what do you do? Embrace it! Which means we even hold outdoor festivals in the dead of winter in the form of Igloofest. Igloofest — as the name implies — is an outdoor electronic music festival that is scheduled in mid-January to early February. Here you will find bars built with ice blocks, revellers bundled in parkas and snow boots (do not attempt to wear skimpy running shoes!), and DJ’s rocking away in the cold. And pick up some kitschy but cool Igloofest hats as your souvenir and proof that you braved the Montréal winter.

Read More

01_FAMILY_AB (2)

My dad in Banff, Alberta, as a recent single parent

Is it enough to only have a father?

I have a mother, of course, but she died more than a decade ago. And since my undergraduate university years, my dad has fronted the parent fort, watching my sister and I go through years of tuition fees and multiple boyfriends. And as much as I felt the gap left by the absence of a parental figure, I never thought I lacked a looming force of authority in the family. A feminine one.

But I often rethink this when certain people react to the fact that my sister were still relatively young when our mother passed, and we are guided by only our father at the helm. For example, when I was working full-time in Toronto I worked with “Tom” who was nearing his retirement, an older gentleman in his 70’s. This was at a financial firm and the recession of 2008 hit us big, meaning Tom had too much nervous energy and time to wring his hands, filling his days with multiple coffee breaks and some times intrusive chatter. Tom often barged into the office I shared with two other co-workers, all female, and we would all politely listen to Tom’s banter while multitasking on Excel sheets. He was an interesting character, an old-fashioned but a vehement feminist, shaking his head with emotion as he talked (yelled?) about how “Women are going to rule the world!” and “Children are nothing without women!” The latter statement being not really a feminist one … but Tom meant well.

I had to graciously interrupt him, however, when Tom minimized the role of fathers, to phrase it nicely.

“Well, I only have a dad and I think I turned out OK,” I chirped in, smiling.

Tom did not expect that, and he became flustered, repositioning his head back inwards after stretching it out and wide for his rants. And then it became awkward at the office between me and Tom, that is, until I soon packed my bags and moved to Montréal.

I knew Tom was only trying to extol the place of women in society, but he was falling into that belief that women are better parents than men. And such perspectives embrace women as “natural” caretakers, caregivers, and parents unlike men, whose natural space is elsewhere, usually at an office where he can bring home the bacon. This belief is very hardwired in Korea, where I was born, but as I was raised in Toronto I was not aware that Korean culture perceives children without mothers with a critical eye. So when my mom died my dad warned me that other Koreans may see me differently, that they would think that my character and foundation was lacking because I did not have a mom. And this meant, to some Koreans, that I was not marriage material. (Not that I really care about my grading on the marriage-worthiness scale. Plus I was never meant to marry a guy straight from Korea and not raised in this culture.)

Read More

IMG_0208

Montréal is a city that likes to party.

Even in the dead of winter, we have events like Igloofest where revellers congregate around ice bars and DJs bundled in parkas pump out night beats. We always want to go out, and are drawn to spectacles, music or liquor. Whether it is in the dead of winter or a beautiful summer day, Montréalers love their cinq à sept (5 to 7, or “happy hour”), and fill watering holes that the city offers: bars, pubs, breweries, and wine bars. And of course, the city loves clubs — both music clubs and strip clubs, but this bachelor/bachelorette party series has only music clubs to recommend. (A little bit of background on the city’s strip clubs can be found in the first post of this series found here.)

First: Some tips for bar-hopping or clubbing in Montréal
1. Legal drinking age is 18 years old.
2. Bars and clubs in the city close by 3 am.
3. Last call is typically around 2:30 am.
4. There are a few after-hours clubs in the city that run from around 2 am to 10 am (more on that below).
5. Ordering bottle service for your table may make sense if you are a relatively large group. With the right number of group members and by ordering bottle service, you may also not be charged cover. Call the club or bar ahead for pricing and details, and be prepared to show up a bit early for a club night to secure your table.
6. Check music listings in websites such as Nightlife.ca (mainly in French) and Montreal-Nightclubs.com (English) to see see if your favourite DJs and musical acts are in town, and other club events in the city.
7. Clubs are mainly found around Crescent street (downtown) or Saint Laurent street (Plateau).
8. Bars are found mainly around Crescent, Saint Laurent, Saint Denis Street (Plateau), and the Old Port.
9. For LGBT bars and clubs, hit the Village located on Saint Catherine street between St. Denis and Papineau.
10. Make sure you check the dress codes for each venue and if in doubt, no running shoes and wear clean, tailored clothing to secure your way in.

So with these tips in mind, here are some of the bars and clubs recommended by flashbracket for bachelor and bachelorette party planning.

Read More

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 7.55.47 PM

It was around midnight when I saw The New York Times’ Twitter feed linked to an article on its opinion page about Angelina Jolie. It read: “Angelina Jolie on why she had a double mastectomy, and how it could save lives.” I clicked on the link.

Reading Jolie’s explanation of her recent decision to undergo a double mastectomy — as a preventative measure against breast cancer — was fuzzy late at night. I had been engrossed in my school work and holding late night vigils in the glow of my laptop, eyes at half mast but open from the effects of too much coffee. Jolie wrote about how, in 2007, her mother died of cancer after a ten-year battle. Jolie had then decided to become tested for the genetic mutation that substantially increases the risk of the carrier of developing breast cancer. The tests confirmed that she did indeed carry a gene mutation and in her case, she had approximately 87% chance of developing the disease. She completed her series of preventative medical procedures and surgeries in April.

Well, both myself and the rest of the world had not been privy to Jolie’s health circumstances until the publishing of her article. For a Hollywood actress and paparazzi magnet such as Jolie, her private life and medical decision had been very carefully under wraps. But she chose to write a public and very moving account of her medical counselling and surgery through her own words and terms. Her article is clear in that her motives are not to broadcast circumstances of her non-acting life to the world but to spark a discussion on women’s health, breast cancer, and cancer prevention.

Jolie’s article comes two days after Mother’s Day was celebrated here in Canada and many other nations abroad. I had sent a message to a friend now living in Hong Kong to wish her a happy first Mother’s Day, then enquired about whether Mother’s Day is actually celebrated in that part of the world. It was, in fact, and her husband took her and their infant son to Hong Kong Disneyland. I laughed at the photo she sent to me of her and her family posing with Mickey Mouse.

On Sunday I was and still am away from my family in Toronto, and spent the day here in Montréal with my head in my books. But I thought about my mother who passed away when I was twenty years old after battling cancer for eleven years. It also happened that I saw a breast cancer surgeon a few days earlier because, as I explained to my boyfriend, it was time again to have old doctor hands feel my boobs in ways no one else has ever felt my boobs.

Read More