Tuesday, September 28

Red Rocks

Yesterday after work I rode to Red Rocks Park. Now that the sun is setting earlier everyday it's hard to finish a ride and swim before dark so I found myself alone at the park's cliffs as the sun was already falling behind the Adirondacks. I just had time for a few spooky dives off the cliff before I ran back to my bike and then rode home in the semi darkness.

The cliffs at Red Rocks Park. I dive from a spot that's right in the middle of the photo. It's about 25 feet above the water. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 22


Someone I know from New Jersey once drove to Montréal with a friend. When they got there, she turned to her friend and remarked, without irony, "Wow, it’s like a whole different country here."

I drove up to Montréal on Friday night after work. It took me about two hours not including the half hour wait at the border. After you cross the border the interstate ends and you drive on local roads through farm towns and past grain silos. It was like driving through an alternate reality where the French settled Western Australia. About an hour after the border the skyline of the city becomes visible in the distance and the road is a freeway again and then suddenly you’re in downtown Montréal.

I drove to the Plateau neighborhood and found my hostel. My reservation had been lost and they only had one space left (a mattress on the floor). I managed to convince two Ontarian cousins and a French girl to go back out for drinks and we wandered around until we finally found a quiet but crowded bar. Oriel barely spoke any English and I speak no French so the increasingly drunken conversation had to be translated back and forth for us by Natalie the Ontarian who had gone to a bilingual school.

Later when we all got back to the hostel at 2am people were still up playing guitar and singing. I warbled some Silver Jews songs. The hostel was fun but it was difficult to sleep on a thin mattress between a couch and a wall while people drunkenly stumbled back in all night.

On Saturday morning I started by walking around the Plateau neighborhood. It’s sort of a French version of Williamsburg Brooklyn if not quite as solidly dominated by 20-something hipsters who are trying too hard. From the Plateau, I walked around to McGill University and then up to the top of Mont Royal (you might remember the Mont Royal views from the movie Jesus of Montréal).

After lunch back down at McGill, I walked to the Old Town. I got to the Old Town and turned right around and walked out of there and back up to the Plateau. I wasn’t in the mood for streets populated solely by fellow tourists. When I got to the Plateau, I still had a couple of hours to kill before meeting up with my friend Luc so I saw Riding Giants. If you can put up with all the self importance and two-cent surfer mysticism the big wave footage is worth it. As I walked back to my car I saw a small flier advertising a show for that night. It was for Macha, a super-obscure band from Athens Georgia, play indierock on traditional Indonesian gamelan instruments.

I drove to Luc’s place in Rosemont, a neighborhood next to the Plateau. Luc was a post-doc at Rugters while I was there; He has achieved the almost unheard of feat of finding a philosophy teaching job in the city he actually wants to live in. Luc’s main passion is cycling and three weeks ago he had a horrendous accident. He was in the middle of the peloton turning a sharp corner at over 50kph when a rider in front of him had a tire blow out. Luc crashed into him and went over the handlebars. He realized his body was going to land on the other rider’s bike so he used his arms to protect his body from the pedals. Unfortunately his hands levered him face first into the pavement. Luc found himself on his side watching a large pool of blood forming in front of his face and he wondered if he was going to die. His injuries (including a badly broken jaw and lost teeth) turned out not to be life threatening.

Anyway, Luc was looking a little worse for wear when I arrived at his place. We went to a Brazilian restaurant where the waiter, after initial confusion about our language preferences, comfortably settled into talking to Luc in French and to me in English. After dinner, Luc was too tired from his post accident medications so I headed to the Macha show by myself.

When I got there the first band, Mahjong, was going on. The crowd of about 8 people only just outnumbered the band. Mahjong were pretty damn good. They were not unlike Godspeed You Black Emperor. This was strange as Mahjong had traveled from the U.S., while Godspeed’s recording studio was only a few blocks away (according to Olivier, the Montréaler I was chatting to). The second support, The Creatures, didn’t even go on until 11.30 so I knew it would be a late night. Macha finally played at 12.45am. They were fantastic. According to Olivier, who had interviewed them the day before for a newspaper, the instruments Macha play are not designed to be miced so they sound different every night. They were getting an excellent sound that night out of a Javanese zither, a Sumatran shawm and a hammered dulcimer. It was a scandal that only about 20 people where there.

After the show, I walked back to Luc’s taking the occasional detour down one way streets. Finally, I found Luc’s and crashed on a spare mattress that I had to share with his cute golden retriever Bill. After a quiet breakfast chatting in the sun on Luc’s balcony, I drove back to Burlington.

I’ll go back to Montréal soon. It’s like a whole different country there.

Monday, September 13


I'm working in my office as the sun sets. From my desk I can see over lake Champlain to the Adirondacks in New York State. The air is so clear today that I can see ridges of high mountains that I haven't been able to see from here before. Maybe next weekend I'll head out there and do some climbing.

Sunday, September 5

Play Book - Snowboarding at Bondi

The NYPD used some of the same tactics at the Republican Convention that I experienced first hand in Washington DC. It makes me so frustrated to hear that police can conduct mass arrests like these with impunity. The excerpt below is from an article buried deep in the New York Times. Note that even though the journalist makes it clear that these people were arrested illegally, little is made of the point. As far as I can tell, NPR is the only other mainstream news organization that covered this story. Apparently, massive violations of first amendment rights are not newsworthy.

It is increasingly clear that police departments know that they can illegally arrest large numbers of demonstrators with impunity. Armed with this knowledge they are obviously using the same play book whenever they are faced with large demonstrations. They do it because it works. It keeps people from turning up at all when they know that they risk arrest even if they carefully avoid breaking the law. (See Bree's August 31st post for an example of someone who was successfully deterred from legal protest.)

Anyway, here is the NYT excerpt:

Indeed, the turning point appeared to come as several hundred protesters with the War Resisters League tried to begin a march up Fulton Street that organizers had negotiated with police, although they did not have a permit.
Ed Hedemann, one of the organizers, said their understanding was that if they stayed on the sidewalk and did not block foot traffic or vehicles, they could proceed toward Madison Square Garden.
But within minutes, the protesters were confronted by a line of police officers who told demonstrators they were blocking the sidewalk and would be arrested, although they did not appear to be blocking pedestrian traffic at that point.
A commanding officer, telling the crowd of about 200 "you're all under arrest," ordered other officers to bring the "prison van" and the "orange netting" with which to enmesh the protesters.
"We don't know why we are being arrested, we were just crossing the street," said Lambert Rochfort, who was among the protesters. "We were told if we don't do anything illegal we would be allowed to march on the sidewalk and we did just that. Then they arrested us for no apparent reason."

. . .

NPR also mentioned that many tourists and bystanders had been caught up in these sweeps. In fact, even a man walking to work in a suit was arrested. This is disturbing for two reasons. First, doesn't the NYPD know that the impunity of men in suits is a fundamental tenet of our society? Second, I'm a man who walks to work in a suit! I didn't realize I was putting myself in such danger.

. . .

US readers might want to check out this gallery from the Sydney Morning Herald. In scenes weird enough to be out of The Day After Tomorrow people are snowboarding (on hail) at Bondi Beach. Nicholas also has some good photos from outside his book store.

Finally, as a favor to self confessed 'link whore' Nicholas (designer of this site), here are two spammy links:

Pulp Books - Sydney second hand book shop

Pulp Books - Newtown King Street second hand book shop