Saturday, November 23, 2013


Here we are in the midst of a temporary and all too short reprieve for North American turkeys.  Somewhere on the calendar between Canadian and US Thanksgiving.

That certainly doesn't mean that there is nothing to be thankful for, far from it.

Bob (yes that Bob) took up the production of a modest, little, and oh so exclusive, clothing line.  The production run was microscopic by normal fashion industry standards.
What the garments lack in runway finesse, they more than make up for in the exquisite and refined beauty of the micro-limited-edition artwork.  I may have to keep mine under lock and key.

Hopefully Karen, or Steve or Bob may one day put one up in a Sotheby's auction and the rest of us (or our lucky estates) will be able to watch the price get driven to stratospheric levels.  But not me... I'm holding on to mine.

Let us all give thanks to Bob.

Thanks Bob!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Let the shopping begin

This is a post for the trendy jet-setters among you.

Now that the Vespa riding season has closed, it's open season on Christmas shopping.

Ogilvy's has a Vespa LX50, skinned in the store's iconic tartan, front and centre in one of its Ste-Catherine street windows.

Ogilvy's windows, and particularly its Christmas displays, make even the grinchiest scrooge want to shop till he drops.  As you can see, the bike is laden with undoubtedly expensive chi-chi gifts suitable for the most discerning trophy wife or trophy husband.
This baby makes its appearance every few years or so in the holiday windows at Ogilvy's.  By the look of this bike it spends its substantial idle time between appearances safely stored in the store's prop department, because it bears not a single sign of wear or tear.

It's a fitting tribute to Vespas everywhere.  Vespas are perhaps, just perhaps, the bikes that best evoke that free-spirited, carefree, upscale, totally cool, yet eco-friendly urban lifestyle that the store feels will lure the fancy-pants crowd to spend, and spend.

For those who have the means to make a trip to Montreal just to do their money-is-no-object holiday shopping, the two city blocks  between Sherbrooke to the north, Ste-Catherine to the south, Mountain to the east, and Crescent to the west, are home to the toniest, most exclusive, and most expensive shopping Montreal has to offer.  Ogilvy's anchors the south-east corner.  The flagship Apple store is two doors west.  Holt Renfrew anchors the entire north end on Sherbrooke street.  In between you will find boutiques offering the nec plus ultra for Christmas, from Cartier, to Louis Vuiton, to Rolex, to Louboutin, to Jimmy Choo, and beyond.  Sadly, there are no Vespas for sale there, notwithstanding the promise Ogilvy's vitrine seems to make.

I suggest you book a suite at the Ritz Carlton right now.  While you<re at it, better make some reservations at Maison Boulud in the hotel, because that place will be hopping with hungry and wealthy holiday shoppers.  Snooze and you lose.  It may already be too late.

The gold diggers among you who aspire to become trophy wives should be able to find a suitable perch at Chef Daniel Boulud's bar where you'll be able to angle for a suitably wealthy sugar daddy.

I can almost hear the sleigh bells.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The thrill is gone...

... the thrill is gone away, the thrill is gone baby...
'Cause the snow has come, the snow has come my way...

Yes indeed, B.B. King and the weather has me singing the blues.

So long black Vespa...
Hello black Honda.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Think big, not small - thoughts on Quebec's charter of values

If there is a season or time of the year for thinking, it has to be November.

University students have exams looming and they have to be thinking.  Remembrance Day is this coming Monday, and that invariably gets me thinking.

This morning I set out for the office on my Vespa.  I had to think about that quite carefully.  The exquisite calculus of low temperatures and the probability of icy precipitation is more art than science.

The year is ending and my work requires me to be thinking, mostly about compliance filings and satisfying the myriad requirements of securities regulators and investors.  Christmas is also on the horizon. I need to think about gifts, holiday plans, and Susan's birthday.

Some thoughts are somber however.

Remembrance day brings my grandfather to mind.  He was a World War I veteran.  I only knew him through my grandmother's voice and her eyes, how tenderly and reverently she spoke of him.  Those are thoughts of loss, of pain.  You get to a point when you seem to know more people who have left this good earth than those who walk it still.  There are people in my iPhone address book who have left us.  Telephone numbers that only evoke memories, that either lead elsewhere, or nowhere, but that used to lead to the well known tones of peoples' voices.  I can hear them now.  "Hello!"  That simple word with the many lilts and intonations.  My mom, my grandmother, my mother in law, father in law, aunts, uncles, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, mentors.

When it comes to thinking, bigger is better than smaller.  Higher, is better than lower.  Anything that gets us to think, really think, is better than the alternative.  Life presents many opportunities to resist thought.  It takes guts to think.  Thinking leads us to the boundaries of our knowledge.  To where the fear of the unknown lurks in the shadows.

There are those, intellectually speaking, who prefer the comfort of the known.  The small circle of friends and family, the familial and familiar.  People who prefer simple explanations.  Sometimes, perhaps often, the comfort of simple explanations and familiar surroundings can best be found by walling out aspects of life, aspects of our humanity, that challenge the simplicity and comfort of our smaller, simpler lives.

I find that many people who succumb to the temptation to live simple, neat and tidy lives, in the midst of simple, neat and tidy surroundings, are small-minded.  They think simple low thoughts.  Often they get their comfort at best by exclusion, at worst by oppression.  This is how ghettos happen.  These are the headwaters of xenophobia, prejudice, biggotry, and racism.

This thinking season, there are stark choices facing those of us who live here, in the Province of Quebec.

A bill has been tabled in our legislature.  We like numbers here.  We especially like numbers when as a society we embark upon the politics of exclusion and oppression.  It's simpler, more comfortable, and invites less thought, when we use a number instead of a name.  Bill 22, Bill 101, Bill 60, now what's not to like?  It's certainly much better for the mover of low-brow, simple thoughts, to give the thing a number than to call it by its rightful name, like The Suppression of Other Cultures Act (Quebec).  It's easier to pretend you aren't a bigot when you promote Bill 60.  Isn't it?  To encourage people to use the number, you give the draft legislation a name that no one can manage in a single breath, much less commit to memory: Charte affirmant les valeurs de laïcité et de neutralité religieuse de l’État ainsi que d’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes et encadrant les demandes d’accommodement.  It even has the words égalité and charte - "equality" and "charter".  How bad can it be?

What better way to protect our culture, to make it shine brightly, than moving other cultures, different from ours, out of the light, into the shadows, towards darkness, and out of sight.  We can stand tall if we march onto the bowed backs of our minority neighbors, can't we?

Bill 60 is the latest and most odious example of institutional, government-sanctioned biggotry.  It's state of the art exclusionary politics of the worst kind.  It's the heavy leaden hand of the state, preparing to take a hefty swing at the usual suspects, all in the name of the mother culture.

To protect our culture we must take deadly aim at the virus that threatens us.  Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs.  Unless they hide their identities, mask their differences, become white like us, we will drum them out of public office, herd them out of public service, banish them from our government offices, schools, hospitals, municipal offices, recreation centres, remove them from our police and fire departments.  Heck, we don't even want them collecting our garbage.

Torontonians are hanging their heads in shame, wringing their hands, and squirming uncomfortably in the glare of world opinion because they have a mayor who is by all accounts failing as a mayor, and failing as a human being on many levels.

I would prefer every Quebec municipality to have its very own Rob Ford if it meant that Bill 60 simply vanished.

As a Quebecker, I feel anger, and deep, deep shame.  I also fear the inevitable consequences of the vile politics of exclusion.  This will get much worse before it gets better.

Those are my November thoughts for now.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.