Saturday, January 3rd, 2009


Filed under: business,consuming,economy,sewing,unwanted knowledge — alison @ 19:44

I went on a little stroll today to buy sewing notions. The fabric store I hit first was out of what I needed, so I headed up the Plaza St-Hubert. One of the three dressmaker supply stores on the strip had disappeared; another was closed (for the week?) and the third was open but also out of what I needed. So, onwards and upwards to the fabric stores above Jean Talon, where I found what I needed and more.

I love the Plaza. It’s four blocks of stores with glass-roofed sidewalks, known throughout Montreal as a centre for wedding dresses, white shoes, and MOBs. There are both a Salvation Army store and a Renaissance. You can get furniture overruns; $20 shoes and $300 shoes; slutty underwear and medical foundation garments; luggage; clothes for men and women, kids and grownups, skinnies and fatties; electronics; housewares and kitchen equipment; handmade items from India and Africa; sewing machines. You can mail a letter, get your legs waxed, sign up for driving lessons and send money overseas. You can duck through an alley and go to a peep show before you start work in the morning. North of the Plaza are the remains of the old needletrade sector, with fabric stores and jobbers supplying and buying from manufacturers. There’s a Vietnamese restaurant and a Roi du Smoked Meat, but it isn’t really a place for strolling and munching aimlessly; it’s for people who have a purpose.

When I first moved to the neighbourhood I found the street a bit sad, a bit soulless. In the past few years though it’s picked up, a busy place for working people. But today I noticed something had changed.

On the way down I counted:
– Between De Castelnau and Jean-Talon: two empty store fronts, one going out of business sale.
– Between Jean-Talon and Bélanger: two empty store fronts, two going out of business sales.
– Between Bélanger and St-Zotique: four empty store fronts.
– Between St-Zotique and Beaubien: one empty store front.
– Also about five signs advertising commercial space available for rent over the storefronts.

I think this is the worst I’ve ever seen on this street.


Saturday, March 22nd, 2003

Getting specific.

Filed under: fallacies,naïveté,unwanted knowledge — alison @ 16:08

Smoking is bad for you. Saddam Hussein is a very bad man. These are statements we accept without thinking, though we don’t necessarily really believe or understand them.

Mona stopped smoking when her naturopath told her that the yellow streaks on her arms meant that she would develop emphysema if she didn’t quit. (Well, yes Mona: we’ll all get emphysema if we smoke long enough. That is, if we don’t get cancer first. What is it you didn’t understand about “smoking is bad for you”? Did you not think it referred to you?)

My mother, as Director of Information Services for the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, was recently required to obtain a document from a kurdish woman in england who hates Saddam Hussein and has dedicated her life to documenting bad things about him. The document detailed the bad things he does to kurds. My mother, being tender-hearted, carefully avoided reading the document but the man who ordered and read it offered the following tidbit: Saddam Hussein has a people-shredding machine. Thinking about the people-shredding machine puts a different colour on the war as we watch the video version on television… but what did we think that “Saddam Hussein is a very bad man” meant? That he didn’t call his mother on the weekends?

[originally transmitted by e-mail March 22 2003]

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