Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Am told that in the more upscale Anglophone parts surrounding the McGill campus, you can spot them, but I don't spy an iPod once during my week in Montreal. The city itself is so bereft of noise pollution (the whumph! of Nerf maces don't count) I have no need to even pull mine out. Instead I can feel my skull de-pressurize, no longer battered on all sides by truck brakes and indie rock deadlines.

Sans earbuds in the populace, it means conversations and interactions beyond the norm, but in a city where girls will do something as crazy as make eye contact with strangers, that is almost a given. Where such a dearth of ayo technology is most noticeable is in the shop soundtracks. Rather than being subjected to employee iPod shuffles that put The Grey Album next to Nirvana next to Madonna next to Sufjan Stevens next to Journey that ruin almost any bar/ coffee shop/ boutique experience in Gotham, instead it seems that full albums still rule Montreal. (Radio rules as well: my first night, I hear not just cuts from the On the Corner box set, but also Alice Coltrane and a noise that could only be Pierre Henry's brainwave-melting Cortical Arts III.)

Not saying it's all great. When you go and get a crepe and "Two Tickets to Paradise" blares out from the kitchen, it means that if you sit to manger, you'll soon be subjected to the rest of Eddie Money's hits, which doesn't include the follow-up "Two Pickets to Tittsburgh." Better to let the cold drizzle fall on that folded-up Nutella goodness. And while sipping coffee to the somnambulent strains of Cat Power's The Greatest offsets the effect of the caffeine, almost every girl seated there rocks that Chan-look, so I give it a pass.

In the course of a single day I hear:
Serge Gainsbourg Comic Strip at an internet café
Ali Farka Touré Red Green at a soup spot
Albert Ayler (one of the weird later vocal albums) at a used bookstore
and Joe Tex at another café, which basically means that I want to move there.