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"You live your life as if it's real...a thousand kisses deep"(1)
― Leonard Cohen

He hasn't always looked the same. Leonard Cohen has grown and matured over the years. The songs that make up his life story have transformed him into an international singer songwriter Canada can be proud of, and one of my favourite Montreal artists.

In his early years Leonard Norman Cohen resembled any normal young adult. He had short brown hair, blue eyes, a slender figure, and a gaze that dreamers often wear. His dream - to write. A McGill graduate Leonard won the Chester MacNaghten Literary Competition for his poems "Sparrows" and "Thoughts of a Landsman" and was published in his first magazine in 1954 (2). Cohen continued to expand his literary portfolio, he published The Spice-Box Earth in 1961 followed by The Favourite Game in 1963 and Beautiful Losers in 1966, whose revenues are well into six figure sales today (3).

Carla DiGiovanni is no ordinary high school teacher. Considered a veteran among her colleagues, she has been teaching French and Spanish at Iroquois Ridge High School for over a decade. Known to her former and current students as "DiG" (pronounced deej), she still teaches at IRHS despite approaching retirement. However, what sets her apart from any other teacher is the high regard in which she is held by the many students of varying age who come back to visit her, myself included.

Dream Cycle: A Portrait of Neil Gaiman - Montréalités Comics

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"Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins." (Neil Gaiman)

We've all been there. I'm sure writers, young or old, can attest to this. Now I'm sure you're asking: "Andrew, where did these wise words of wisdom come from?" My answer is simple, they came from Neil Gaiman. Who is that you ask? Simple. Neil Gaiman is a writer. He is a son, a husband and a father. Heck, from behind, with his curly dark hair, he might even remind you of a British Tim Burton, although I'm not sure he would take that as a compliment. However, what is undeniable about the curly, greying-but dark haired writer is that he has career has taken him to all corners of the literary world. No genre is safe, no medium untouched!

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Musician, recording engineer, poet, activist, Brahma Blue's beard hangs over his collar. His hair is cut in a way that no trained barber is capable of. He's a skinny man; it's an amalgamation of body-type, and a lack of income. Many musicians have a home-recording studio. For Blue, it isn't clear if he has a home. In exchange for mixing and engineering upcoming artists, he has a bedroom above the Vancouver Island garage that makes I.G. Studio.

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It is 3:30 pm on a Wednesday. I am sitting on my balcony watching the hustle and bustle below. There is a group of young kids, possibly no more than thirteen, stomping and laughing their way down the sloped street of Cote-Des-Neiges. They're yelling, and I can hear them-- but I can only understand half of it.

These children are, like a substantial number of young Montrealers, totally bilingual. They switch between languages with an ease that I'm sure I couldn't acquire with years of studying French. It's likely that some of them, if not most, have been bilingual from birth. They have, as Montreal-based bilingual researcher Fred Genesee would say, two first languages.

Heeere's Massimo!!! - Montréalités Theatre

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If laughter is the best medicine then Montreal's very own Massimo Cannistraro could be considered a doctor who uses comedy as a form of healing. Born in Laval into an Italian family with two older brothers, Massimo's interest in stand up comedy started at a very young age. He grew up idolizing comedy legends Johnny Carson and Eddie Murphy and hoped to one-day follow in their footsteps. With hard work and dedication, Massimo has brought his talents outside of the city boroughs and onto various comedy platforms. From performing on stage at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival to appearances in blockbuster films, there's no denying his versatility. While he prefers to be referenced on a first name basis like Bono or Drake, his stage presence and high energy certainly make him a recognizable name in the world of comedy.

Robin Williams: Driven by Madness - Montréalités Hype

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"You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." -Robin Williams

Arguably, the single-most repeated question newcomers to stand-up comedy repeat themselves when watching a performance is "Was what he said true or is he making it up for the show?" Well, for Robin Williams, the argument can be made that, yes, most of it was true. The interesting aspect about Williams' life is that what drove him to the peak of both his intellectual and vocational career as a writer, producer, director, comedian and actor was also what slowly led him to his suicide; it was a case of bitter irony.

A Rising Star in Montreal - Montrealites Culture

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Joel Massinon playing with Soap-box Assembly (Photo: Facebook)

Montreal is home to one of Canada's most diverse and flourishing music scenes; it is an overwhelming sea of genres and styles that has given birth to countless talented artists. Montreal is also home to 24 year-old Joel Massinon. The city is a prime destination for bands and artists on the rise, and regularly hosts already-successful bands (local or not) at its many diverse venues. Being such an important stronghold for new music in North America, it also attracts many others looking to become involved in the music industry: the producers, managers, record labels, etc. It was in pursuit of this dream that Joel first came to Montreal five years ago.

Jean-Richard Beaudry: Going Indie - Montréalités Gaming

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Jean-Richard Beaudry is a 3D animator who has worked at several video game studios in Montreal. At 27 years of age, he's witnessed much of how video games evolved, and is as excited as ever to contribute to such a dynamic branch of entertainment. Now, he's a part of an ever-growing trend in the industry: indie games.

As a child, Beaudry watched and rewatched characters flesh themselves out on screen as they pranced around in The Lion King or floundered wildly in Toy Story. He also dove into games like Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country for hours on end. "I always liked to play with stories and characters," he says, "whether it was role playing or drawing, there was always something about giving life to a persona that I enjoyed." Beaudry confessed that he got the idea for studying animation when he cleaned out his room and stumbled upon pen-and-paper flipbooks he had made as a boy.

Meet Scott - Montréalités Wellness

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On the surface, Scott Simcoe is not a very impressive man. At twenty-six years old, he is shorter than average and slender, with reddish-blonde angel curls, soft blue eyes, and a gentle smile. He wears a mishmash of brand-name and vintage clothes that he finds in a variety of second-hand shops. On a warm day, he can most often be found sitting under a tree at the Mont Royal Park, blasting Indie Rock with his earphones on, a pair of light brown-tinted Ray-Ban aviators slipping down his nose.

What people don't usually see, however, are Scott's insatiable lust for life, his inspirational mind, and his incredibly warm heart.

frontpikepoke.jpgPokemon trainers gather at Concordia university for a halloween themed tournament

I remember trying to catch rare Pokémon with my cousins in my first generation Pokémon Blue game. As one game after the next came out, the franchise grew exponentially. I held onto the first two generations until many of my CEGEP friends encouraged me to get back in to the spirit of collecting all of the Pokémon. The game had changed for the better and there was no question about whether or not I would continue with sixth generation. This is what led me to the Montreal Pokémon League and their project.

Captain Cholesterol - Montréalités Habitat

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Tony Koulakis, the founder of "The Famous Restaurant" Cosmos on Sherbrooke St West is almost as legendary as the eatery itself. The chain smoking, larger than life local celebrity has lovingly been referred to as "NDG's grandpa", "Captain Cholesterol", "The Lord of the Potatoes", and, after starring in Ezra Soiferman's award winning 2000 documentary by the same name - the "Man of Grease".

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Slicing tomatoes and onions, mixing ground beef with secret spice combos, hand cutting potatoes into perfect French fry slices, and warming handmade buns to perfection: Working at a high end burger joint requires more than just flipping patties. Burger fabrication is an art that only cooking experience can help you with. For 21 year old Wesley, finding new ways to gain experience is how he got to his sous-chef position at Montreal's Burger Bar.

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Corruption will always exist in the world, no matter the subject or area. As kids we may be exposed to it early on, as we perceive one or both parents favouring a sibling over another, or a teacher favouring a student. We deem corruption unfair or hazardous to our well-being; but what if it isn't? What if a little corruption would be able to help keep you afloat or on equal ground with a competitor? What if laws or rules worked not in your favour, but in those that are more than capable of sustaining their livelihood? This is what I wish to investigate through my profile of Mr. A.K., someone who has experienced this first hand.

Siddhartha, Who? - Montréalités Wellness

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(Image source: Flickr)

Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, that's who! Today, many in the Western world are becoming more and more interested in Buddhism. In Montreal, there are eleven Buddhist temples. In fact, a new Buddhist center called Diamond Way Buddhism, founded by Lama Ole Nydahl, exists in Montreal. In spite of this, when I recently asked several Concordia students at random about what they know of Buddha and Buddhism, I got answers infused with great misunderstanding. When I first asked my victims who Siddhartha Gautama was, none of them could answer me. Then I asked who Buddha was and what Buddhism is. A few answered that Buddha is a God. Someone said that Buddhism demands people to be vegetarians and to practice meditation all day. Out of all these answers, one made me chuckle nervously: someone said, "Buddha is a big-bellied guy seen in almost every Asian restaurant."

KEY TO KNOWLEDGE.jpgMeeting language professionals, whether they be translators, linguists, or simply teachers, is undoubtedly always of a great moment to someone who aspires to, one day, pride themselves on being one. Gabrielle Delisle, a linguist with long-standing expertise and seasoned medical translator, is also a versatile professor at the Department of Linguistics and Translation at the University of Montreal. This accomplished woman knows how important it is to mix with right people as you are carving out a languages-related career for yourself. She knows what it is like to scramble up the long and tortuous staircase of the linguistic world as well as to live through all vertiginous ups and downs related to the phenomenon of the translator`s pessimism. And, what is more, Madam Gabrielle knows when the moment of wanting to share your knowledge with the younger generation comes and marks the level of the overall professional maturity you have achieved over time. Besides, it was the latter that spurred her to eventually become a simple teacher who, nevertheless, does not let her translator`s skills blunt.

She's In Flames - Montréalités Arts

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The spot lights flashed off her golden mini dress as Kandle Osborne slinked onto stage as her band, the Krooks, performed the James Bond theme song. In the intimate bar-like atmosphere of Montreal's Cabaret Mile-End, Kandle and The Krooks were playing for the first time since the release of her album In Flames. She stood sly and shining, looking like a sleek cat surrounded by four adorably scruffy dogs. The crowd, a mixture of young and old, all pressed close to the stage and moved to the music as she sang in a sultry, bluesy voice.

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Anthony Benda serving coffee at Café Myriade (Photo: The Montreal Gazette)

You may know Café Myriade as the coffee shop across from Concordia with the wood paneled terrace you can never find seat on, or as the coffee joint with a waiting line that winds out the front door. For an independent coffeehouse, these are normally good signs. It screams, "Good espresso found here."

Sitting down at a café, sipping your hot beverage, you rarely think about the owners of the place. If you frequent popular coffee chains, you've probably already built up the image of the money-hungry CEO. In the case of Café Myriade, it's worth knowing a little bit about the owners. The reason for Café Myriade's popularity and status as one of the best cafés in Montreal becomes a tad clearer after knowing the man behind the counter.

Movie-Struck - Montréalités Film

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While assessing the audience of the 1973 film Day for Night, mordant film critic Pauline Kael reached deep into her arsenal of coinages and hauled out "movie-struck. All claws retracted, my respect for film critics runs very deep, and I admit unreservedly to being one of the movie-struck. I share with the medium of cinema a history and ongoing relationship that, mind you, is the subject of a decidedly uncinematic life-story. As a greatly contradictory individual with a particular outlook on people and behaviour, I can attest to various powers of the cinema--to shape, to illumine, to influence, to move.

Before it welded me into a mess of contradictions, cinema was merely a cultural product that struck my fancy. My most prized possession as a young'un was a library of VHS tapes, and all of my allowances were spent on movie going. I could, for the sake of convenience, attempt to isolate an instance of revelation in which it became clear that film would be the greatest and most enriching passion of my young life, but like the film reel that breaks a celluloid moment up into a series of frames, that wouldn't be possible.

Aqualung: A musical education - Montréalités Origins

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I grew up in an isolated town in a valley surrounded by high mountains on Vancouver Island. Everything revolved around forestry as well as the pulp and paper mills, the putrid, all-pervasive stench of which hung over the town, day in and day out like a heavy shroud. Due to the heavy rainfall, it at least appeared as a beautiful green place, with huge trees and flowers and gardens. That which we call culture was sorely lacking and entertainment usually involved boating, camping or fishing along with woodsmen competitions of various sorts. There was also a LOT of excessive drinking followed by numerous bar brawls, again a type of competition to see who was the stronger.

Art, in All Its Forms - Montréalités Chefs

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I've always been drawn toward art. Some consider it a hobby, I like to think of it as a life necessity, as an opportunity to create and open my flow of inspiration. I often daydream about all the beautiful sceneries that I could paint right here in my hometown, Montreal. I imagine Mount-Royal come wintertime, the Old Port at sunset, or a narrow street in the Plateau filled with Montreal's iconic spiral staircases. I've spent the last few years travelling South America and Europe, seeking inspiration for my next series of paintings. I found that each and every one of these locations stood out for their own reasons--the people, the architecture, the culture and finally, the food. A passion for art can lead to a great appreciation for food preparation and presentation.

Living in limbo - Montréalités Arrival

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casgrain.jpgI started from scratch three times in Canada, the way it goes in fairy tales. Tales are important to mention here, because I've always loved storytelling, and it was the idea of becoming a writer that first pushed me to leave the comforts of my home and my country.

When I arrived in Vancouver to go to Writing School, I thought I had it all figured out: I was going to write about important, universal things, in English, the universal language. I knew nothing about Canada. During that first year, from my basement room and venturing only to campus and the IGA, Canada was a blandness of wet weather, sameness of landscape and architecture, ultra-leftist views and annoying speech intonation. My first reaction to living abroad was a total refusal to integrate. I try to remember how I must have been then, lonely and scornful, judging everyone from my corner in workshops. But what Vancouver gave me, aside from a different perspective of the world, was the freedom of becoming unmoored. Once you pick up and leave, you see how easy it would be to just do it all over again.

First and foremost, I must preface the fact that I revel in keeping to myself. Seldom do I enjoy discussing intimate thoughts with others and self-disclosure has always been painfully awkward for me. In order to understand my state of mind, it should be noted that I'm, ironically, in a constant struggle to hide nothing. That being said, I bare you my soul in the form of contemplative rambling.

My ultimate goal in life is to perceive myself realistically, i.e. to actually be who I think I am. As simple as it may seem, it is thus far proving to be the hardest task I've ever undertaken, considering the unpredictable nature of my ego. My greatest hindrance to attaining higher self-awareness has been the tendency to delude myself into believing things about myself that are completely untrue, both good and bad. Therefore, I believe the only way to come to terms with every facet of my existence as a human being is honesty. The experience that drove this point home was when I told my Catholic father on my eighteenth birthday that after three dreadful years of regular church attendance, I no longer wanted to go. Telling him I didn't believe in his God was devastating for him and strained our relationship for a while. Eventually, he understood because it was the straight truth, and we were well again, which taught me that sometimes good medicine tastes bad, even if its benefits aren't immediate. Honesty has been an essential quality for which I strive ever since. However, apostasy isn't the only way in which I've damaged relationships.





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