February 2012 Archives

February 2012 Archives


Many institutions declare that gambling is addictive. I believe anything is addictive if you like it enough. As I have discovered, I like gambling a lot. It demonstrates the power the mind has over the body. It is a mental sport with incredible physiological effects. Cards on a table; I contemplate whether to receive more; accompanying this contemplation is increased heart rate, restless legs, tension in my neck and shoulder region; a decision is made; I lose and the stress ties a knot in my stomach; or I win and the tension in my body eases quickly like the release of a spring and all my muscles pop, sending a wave of euphoria from my lower back, up my spine and neck and into my head, whirling around and around. The body is never physically touched, nothing is ever consumed; the adrenaline rush is comparable to a life or death situation. All of this from gambling.

The closest I had come to gambling before moving to Montreal was scratching a lottery ticket. I grew up living in New Brunswick; the closest casino at the time was a four to five hour drive away in Halifax, Nova Scotia--and the legal gambling age is one year older than it is in Quebec, 19. When I arrived in Montreal to attend university at the age of 18, not only was there a large and well-known casino in the same city, but I was of legal age to gamble, which put going to the casino to the top of my bucket list.

Montrealites.ca reviews community & family-owned businesses in NDG, Montreal.
Multicultural backdrop music (very quickly) created and produced by local musical legend Alan Springer. Merci mon ami!

Montrealites on Sherbrooke Ouest.jpg
The reviews in this publication all take place on Monday, February 20th, 2011.

I spent the day From 9 a.m. to midnight, shopping and interviewing family or community run businesses on Sherbrooke Street Ouest in NDG. 

The idea to review local businesses came from my City Councillor who, during an interview about saving the Empress Cultural Centre, mentioned that stimulating the local economy by revitalizing Sherbrooke from Decarie to Cavendish with community projects and small businesses would capture the attention of developers.

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Café * Bistro MATE LATTE
5837 Sherbrooke St. Ouest (Close to Melrose)

They've only been open for about 3 weeks, so it's a bit early to give a definitive review. There's no regular menu as of yet as the ladies in charge are still sussing out the hood's cravings. I'm served by Andrea Senchey, an easy on the eye veteran in the service industry who owns the café bistro with her charming mum Susana, and with Susana's husband. They're a bit hesitant to be filmed this early in the game, but allow me to take pictures of the bistro. You can see some of them here:

Papeterie Harvardx500.jpg

PAPETERIE HARVARD 5856 Sherbrooke Street Ouest

The personable Markaryan Brothers, Arsak and Sahan have run their family print-shop PAPETERIE HARVARD for the past 29 years. They live in NDG, walking distance from their workplace.

MICRO-JET Technologies and Supplies
5484 Sherbrooke Street Ouest

Bassem Saman is usually behind the counter with helpful tips and suggestions about what paper is best to use for various professional or academic projects. He's always steered me in the right direction.


McWhinnie's Cycles 6010 Sherbrooke Street Ouest

The Mastantuono brothers from oldest to youngest are Nicola, who has worked at the bike store for over 52 years; Giuseppe, who has been doing repairs at the shop for the last 40 years, and Bruno, who has worked there for 30 years. That's collectively 132 years of experience selecting, fitting, repairing, and selling bicycles and accessories right here in NDG. Don't let their godawful website fool you - these guys have it together.

Screen shot 2022-03-10 at 9.43.14 PM.pngShäika Café is a home away from home. It's a twenty second walk from my front door, and the faces of faithful regulars is a comforting sight. In the evenings there's usually free live music, or an open mic for local talent to (hat donations are welcome).

In fact, from morning to night, whether live musicians or choice recordings over the sound system, the music is always right on. The staff, mostly comprised of artists, students, and local residents, invariably selects amazing blends of music from almost every genre and era, but the volume is moderate, which allows students to study and patrons to chat.

Image source Flickr

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Screen shot 2022-03-10 at 9.48.26 PM.pngKavanagh Vintage and Décor 5922 Sherbrooke Ouest

The leather coat I've been wearing for the past 2 and a half years, aka my skin, is like my unofficial trademark. I wear it all year long, with or without some form of lining. It is distinctly reddish brown with a pointed 70's style upturned double-breasted lapel collar. We are easily spotted from great distances; if I had any natural predators I'd be an easy target. If I were a hunter, I'd never catch a damn thing, but I still wouldn't take it off. It is easily 30 years old, but it doesn't look a day over 2.

I've had it since moving back to NDG. I'll have it as long as my house stands because they used to manufacture things to last, and the guy who sold it to me knows that's true. His name is Kavanagh, owner of Kavanagh Vintage and Décor. His first name is Beau, and according to my wife, "he sure is."

5866 Sherbrooke Ouest

The worst thing about teaching in large business offices is that I can't just throw my suits into the wash with my jeans and undies. Dry cleaning is very expensive and inconvenient, and uses substances like Tetrachloroethylene, a toxic contaminant that leeches into the soil, seeps into groundwater, and destroys whatever marine and plant life it contacts. It can also severely irritate your skin as badly as picking-up dry-cleaning irritates me. Dry-cleaning fluid depresses the central nervous system and increases the chance of developing Parkinson's disease by sixfold. If you don't care about any of that, it's also a Group 2A carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer in humans. If you don't use dry-cleaning, but know people who do, tell them that tetrachlor...oeth...y...lene...
Ah, just tell them that dry-cleaning fluid seeps into our water and food supply; whenever we eat or shower, our skin and organs get a little taste of the dry-cleaning process.

ROYAL NETTOYEUR ECOLOGIQUE uses cutting-edge water and steam tech that has little to no environmental impact. They don't just dry-clean, the also do repairs and alterations, and offer other services like natural preservation of keepsakes (wedding dresses, etc), and sterilization of sporting equipment.

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Café 92 (degrees)
6703 Sherbrooke Ouest

We N.D.G.ers can't seem to get enough of that rich brown stuff. It's not just addiction, either. There's a whole social element to getting a coffee, even if you're face down in your novel or laptop. We often crave company, even from a distance, and music and ambiance, and eye-candy. Shaika and Café 92 aren't close enough to be directly competing, though many of the regulars at one are seen just as regularly at the other. Both places offer elegant and comfortable surroundings, but their levels of coziness aren't comparable.

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coop la maison verte x500.jpg

Sprouts are one of nature's healthiest, least expensive, and tastiest whole foods. During my active spring and summer months, about half of my daily nutrition comes from grains, seeds, and beans sprouted at home in simple mason jars. It's cool to know that just one handful of my assorted sprouts contains twice the amount of completely bioavailable enzymes, protein, nutrients, vitamins, and fiber than any daily supplements, and literally costs pennies to produce. It is also tons of fun for kids to watch them transform. Best of all, If you buy the grains, seeds, and beans (Rowan and I call them 'dry-babies') from an organic provider, there is no negative environmental impact... well, other than the side-effect of your new regularity.

Coop La maison Verte
5785 Sherbrooke ouest

The only pain in the ass about sprouting is time wasted picking out pebbles or broken pieces of seed or other forms of debris that can cause your batch to rot if you're not hyper-vigilant about rinsing. Thankfully, I haven't had that problem since I started buying all my dry goods and Eco-friendly detergents at COOP La Maison Verte. Wow, does that ever sound like a commercial. No matter, it's completely true.

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Screen shot 2022-03-10 at 10.08.11 PM.pngEncore Books
5670 Sherbrooke Street Ouest

This is my all-time favourite used book and music store. They sell everything from classical music and literature to the pulpiest fiction to VHS and DVDs to vintage PB mags to milk-crates full of old comic-books to educational fridge magnets...etc. I'll be doing a full review of them once school and work let up, in the spring. 

Image source Flickr

encore books x500.jpgThe romantic image on their business card / bookmark reminds me that my wife and I let Valentime's (I just call it that, ok?) slip by unnoticed this year.  When she got home from work today, exhausted as usual, she was relieved that my older son Cameron offered to babysit so that we could go out to dinner.

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So, breakfast at Mate Latte; lunch at Shäika; coffee and desert at Café 92; but where for supper?

Being surrounded by so many great restaurants makes choosing difficult, especially when we have precious little time for just the two of us. I decide to follow the Markaryan brothers' advice from earlier this morning. They insisted I review STAR OF INDIA, which is a local burger shop. Just kidding. It's our cozy trove of Indian delicacy right next door to Papeterie Harvard between Regent and Clifton. Star of India  5860 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

My wife spent a few months traveling through India, so she's no pushover when it comes to authenticity. I leave it to her to express how it holds up to the real thing, or in comparison to other Indian restos. Apparently, the facilities are way to spotless here to remind her of trekking through India.

Scrumptous scents of curried stews and spicy grilled vegetables seduce my appetite. The lighting is very subtle yet still accentuates the alluring hues of both the décor and the various platters. Before ordering, I speak with Kabir who, since 1999 has co-owned the Star of India with other family members from Bangladesh. He agrees to say a few things on camera.

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Screen shot 2022-02-03 at 8.47.49 PM.pngBy: Sara Bojarsky

"The arrow, you don't see it?" my graphic designer asked. No, I replied. "Turn the logo sideways, don't focus on the letters," he insisted. Still no arrow. "Look between the E and X." And there, nestled brilliantly between the negative spaces, the arrow in the FedEx logo surfaced.

E-readers vs. Books: Will Technology Kill or Revive Reading?


Screen shot 2022-02-03 at 12.43.46 PM.pngE-readers like Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and the Kobo have been around as early as 2007, but now, more than ever, are proving that they may really change the way the world reads. In 2010 e-reader sales hit almost 13 million dollars worldwide while e-books made up more than 8% of sales in the trade (Carlson). Imagine the amount of books bought worldwide every day, from Twilight to The Bible, than consider that 8% of those innumerable purchases were for e-books. E-readers and their corresponding e-books are certainly rising in popularity, but is this a positive evolution or marring disadvantage for literature? (Image source flickr)

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