Category Archives: …and many more

Let’s Be Civilized, Like Cavemen

Here’s a crazy fact about our ancestors that you probably remember from History class: we used to live in tiny houses. Whole families shared small huts that were basically drafty broom closets, because “small” also meant “warm”, and staying cozy in the Stone Age hacienda – maybe after fending off prehistoric hyenas or runaway woolly mammoths – was a top priority.

Small homes also meant no privacy. Everything you did – eating, sleeping, whittling, sexing – you did to an audience. It must have been awkward pretty much all the time but, on the plus side, there was, literally, no room for fighting.

If you suspected Cousin Thag of stealing your favourite sharp rock, you couldn’t passive-aggressively ignore Thag because he slept two feet away from you. You couldn’t slip an herbal laxative into Thag’s food because you all ate from the same clay pot. You couldn’t even libel Thag in the press because there was no press yet and you were not a wizard.

Conflicts, then, needed swift resolution, which meant talking things out ASAP. Sure, you could escalate to wrestling or maybe trading blows with a club until one of you bled a lot, but neither of those options was really popular.

So talking things out became the ultimate problem-solver, and not only for settling arguments but also for keeping the day-to-day stuff running smoothly. (“Carl, whose turn was it to lay out the mammoth trap? We need to figure that out before everybody goes to bed. Also we need to deal with that draft in the hut, before the Great Long Freezing Time comes – also you should maybe bathe again. Alright, good talk.”)

We got to be great talkers, and it was good.

And then a funny thing happened. As we evolved and technology progressed; we harnessed the power of fire, modern science, naked selfies, etc., we began to devolve as communicators; we got less good at the “talking” thing.

Fast forward to today and, at least in the First World, things have become too good and easy – to the point where we no longer need to constantly talk things out in order to survive; the conversational muscle has begun to atrophy.

People point to social media and video games as examples of how bad it’s gotten. It’s true that it’s probably not healthy to only communicate via Tweet or to go on a 30-hour World of Warcraft bender, occasionally barking at Mom for more nachos while your online avatar idly threatens other avatars with beatings and rape. But those folks seem more like outliers than the norm.

Air travel is the way better example, an indicator of how the most affluent and educated – those who can afford an airline ticket – are behaving and, at the risk of stating the obvious, it’s fucking horrible.

This brings me, inevitably, to the recent saga of the Knee Defender. That, of course, is the infamous air travel gadget that’s quietly been on sale for about a decade, but only recently made international headlines.

Available for purchase online for the sociopathic air traveler in your life, the Knee Defender comprises a pair of plastic claws that attach to an airline passenger’s seatback that, once in place,  restrict said seat from reclining in front of you, preserving your own knee room. The Defender is selling well because it’s cheap and evidently effective at its intended purpose, if that purpose is to incite a riot at 35,000 feet.

See, it turns out passengers don’t like being tricked into keeping their seatbacks un-reclined: there have been numerous reported in-flight violent incidents related to the Knee Defender’s use, occasionally resulting in police being called and flights being diverted.

Obviously starting a fight on an airplane is idiotic, but there could be no other outcome with the Knee Defender. It would be like sitting at a bar, pulling out a slingshot and firing it at a fellow patron, and then acting surprised when he, in turn, knocks you out. (In my defense I had just bought the slingshot and could not wait to use it.)

Or how about this example: imagine looking for a seat on a crowded bus and seeing an otherwise empty chair being occupied by one of those “fake vomit” novelty gags, because a passenger placed it next to his own seat to free up more space for his elbows. You don’t question the vomit because you’re a reasonable human and sometimes vomit happens, especially on buses. You move on your way, but you’ve been had – bamboozled by a jerk with rubber puke and boundary issues. Not a nice feeling.

Actually that may not be a perfect analogy, because there are obviously times when fake vomit is absolutely called for, whereas there is never an appropriate occasion for the Knee Defender.

To wit, the gadget has since been banned by most Canadian and American airlines, which is as it should be. But it does beg the question, how did we even get to the point were people thought the Knee Defender in any way resembled a “good idea”?

The answer is, of course, we’re sadly at the point where we’d prefer to use an absurd gadget rather than talk things out, like our cave-dwelling ancestors.

Sure, pre- Knee Defender, air travel etiquette wasn’t perfect – once in a while an irate man-child would refuse to turn off his smartphone during takeoff, or a crazed zealot would try to ignite a bomb he hid inside his Jockey briefs, but at least you were assured no one would use  a pair of plastic hair clips to lock down their neighbour’s seat, like a true psychopath.

So that’s the takeaway here, for all of us. It should apply at 35,000 feet and on terra firma. Don’t resort to using passive-aggressive gadgets; don’t be a sociopath with air miles. Let’s go back to using our mouth-holes, like reasonable communicators; let’s get back to talking things out and being civilized, just like our caveman ancestors.


Win Butler on EDM at Coachella

From Yahoo Music: “All She Wants to Do is Dance: Is Rock Losing the War to EDM at Coachella?”

Win Butler: “Shout-out to all the bands still playing actual instruments at this festival.”

Times writer: “Coachella should give up its noodly classic rock ambitions and give into our new wave overlords.”

Great article.


While I don’t entirely disagree with Win Butler’s sentiment, holy shit, what a pretentious blowhard. Fuck that guy. Really? You have a band with, like, 12 people in it and half the time their musical contributions to a song are best described as a make-work project; your wife plays the tambourine like she thinks she’s curing AIDS. Also, you have red paint on your eyes like you’re David Bowie, and you are not David Bowie.

I honestly wish I didn’t like their music.


Rock Violin or: Things You Shouldn’t See At A Boxing Match

I am occasionally asked if we have a distinct style in Quebec – a unique sensibility that permeates how we present ourselves and what makes us tick. Beyond the obvious bilingualism, what else separates us from the rest of the country; from BC’s unhurried coastal cool, from Albertan cowboy oil-&-gas swagger, from the quaint modesty of the Prairies, and the seafaring bonhomie of the Maritimes?

The answer is yes, we Quebecois have our own style. It’s called “One notch too far” or alternatively: “the result of overfunded arts programs.”

It’s the bad-ass looking biker dude who sewed “flames” onto his leather jacket. It’s the businessman who chooses to unicycle to work. We take a delicious char-grilled rib steak, and smother it in macaroons. We like to take things too far and ruin them, is what I’m saying.

We are indeed a “distinct society” – one that is distinguished by its lack of taste, tact, and…cool. We just aren’t inherently cool. The latest version of homegrown stylistic sadism reared its bedazzled head the other night, at a boxing match of all places. In fine Quebecois form, the mid-bout entertainment wasn’t the expected rock band or hip-hop DJ. No, it was option # 3: leather-clad rock violinist. Obviously. What, were you expecting something…cooler? Not here homie.

Apologies for the low-quality photos – I was shaking in incredulity throughout the display and couldn’t keep my camera steady.



Monsieur “Rock Violinist” flounced and fiddled his way through 10 minutes of  “Le Violon Roquant!” – delivering the whole arena to a dark, awkward place. Why did he have to leap around so much? Why a leather suit?? How many boxing fans were digging this?? (immediate anecdotal evidence at the venue suggested a roughly 0% take rate).

The Land of Milk and Honey and…oh.

Hey Israel, can we talk?

I want you to know: your awful settlements in the territories aside, you’re still kick-ass. Your beaches, uzi-wielding babes, Western values, history of science and tech innovations, and impossibly huge grapefruits are all awesome. However, your graffiti is WEAK.

Seriously, if these photos I snapped in Florentin, the hipster-est part of hip Tel Aviv, are anything to go by, you are still, clearly, laggards in the subtle art of shit-disturbing. Your game is off, my brethren. Where is the colour? The inspiration – the bubble lettering? And what’s with the obsession with bodily fluids?

I don’t blame you. If I spent the whole of my own short existence fending off rocket attacks and building universities and irrigating land and developing portable lasers that cure sleep apnea or whatever, I would not be the best at “cocking about” and defacing public property. Hey, it took America 200 years before graffiti got good – and they weren’t even distracted by having to develop techniques for subsistence agriculture or defend against murderous neighbours. So I do get it.

But still, this is embarrassing:

Israel Graffiti "Sperm"

Israel Graffiti BLOOD

Israel, please get on this NOW.

In which a motorist, with Darwin’s help, makes peace with the Reckless Cyclist

It happened again yesterday evening – twice in the span of fifteen minutes: driving through the Plateau, turning onto a one-way street, when a cyclist, unhelmeted and barely visible in dark, non-reflective clothing, shot out of said street, going the wrong way, as I narrowly missed mowing him down in my Subaru. I slammed on the brakes and honked my horn, all to little effect, as the biker wheeled on without looking back. Idiot!

This isn’t a rare occurrence. If you’re a motorist in this city, you’ve likely had a similar experience.

So what’s my point? That Reckless Cyclists are a nuissance, a scourge on our roadways? Brilliant, you say. And in other news, our city has a ton of potholes.

No, my point is the Reckless Cyclist is a specific breed of scofflaw, and he/she must be treated as such. In place of helmets, high-visibility clothing, and a general respect for the rules of the road, the Reckless Cyclist favours smugness and a sense of entitlement for being on a much smaller machine – one that has a Zero Carbon Footprint, dontcha know? It’s an attitude that deludes them into feeling entitled to not just the whole road, but their own set of rules of the road – above those existing rules that motorists and pedestrians are expected to follow.

Sure, some will say, what about the other side of the coin? What about reckless motorists? What of the stereotypical absent-minded soccer mom, chai latte in one hand, iPhone in the other, hurtling down the road, recklessly changing lanes without signalling, in her huge, gas-chugging SUV? Yes, her Range Rover has a truly obnoxious carbon footprint. But at least she isn’t driving the wrong way up a one-way street and burning stop signs and red lights like she’s in her own imaginary Presidential Motorcade Of One. And she doesn’t – nay she can’t –  conduct herself with impunity. Motorists are Goliath to cyclists’ David.

Reckless Cyclists do indeed seem immune to public scorn – and that’s the problem. They expertly play the underdog in the ongoing, roadgoing discourse between motorist and cyclist. It’s easy to see why – just look at them: so fit, so economical, so deft – weaving in and out of traffic, flouting the rules and, seemingly, the laws of physics. They look so cool – look at that one there, barely visible, blending in seamlessly with the nighttime scenery in his dark, non-reflective clothes – he’s not even holding onto his handlebars and – oh look, he just burnt a red light.

Let’s be clear: I am not a sociopath. I am a decent human being. I hold the door for people. I send Thank You notes. When I’m on the road, I am courteous, respecting speed limits and using my turn signals, and when I see cyclists, I give them as wide a berth as I can. And I’m all for urban cycling – I use my own bike a lot and I appreciate Montreal’s ongoing efforts to make our roads more bike-friendly.

But it’s always that same scenario: I barely miss a Reckless Cyclist as they barrel the wrong way across an intersection, and then they speed off, unconcerned by the near-miss that nearly ended their burgeoning career of on-road idiocy.

So what happens if I accidentally hit one of these clowns? I have to deal with that guilt for the rest of my life? I wish there existed a ray gun that could blast a “guilt ray” (patent pending) at such offending cyclists, so they might instantly feel remorseful for their lousy road manners. The smart money is on an Israeli – Jewish (we know a thing or two about weaponized guilt) and well versed in “high-tech” – developing this. But until science catches up with science fiction, we need a different, more immediate solution.

And then it hit me: rather than be worried about a potential accident with a reckless, two-wheeled miscreant, I should relax and approach this scientifically. In the most pragmatic sense, a serious accident with a Reckless Cyclist, while tragic, is perhaps a necessary approach to population quality control. It’s Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest theory at work on our local roadways. In simplest terms, if I accidentally hit a Reckless Cyclist, I will have just done the world a favour, eliminating one more wrongdoer from the gene pool.

Hence, I’m now totally cool with Reckless Cyclists. I’m Zen. If the aforementioned happens, I understand it’s just Darwin’s will.

I’ve already experienced backlash from this approach: my girlfriend, for one, was not thrilled with my new laissez-faire attitude. But as I clarified to her, I don’t wish ill upon anyone, and I’m not about to start hunting Reckless Cyclists down, like some crazed vigilante. I will not be retrofitting the front of my Subaru with a Mad Max-style brush guard, fashioned from old, mangled bicycles – though i admit that would look kind of cool. I’m still going to brake for these heedless idiots when I can, but if my braking effort proves tragically insufficient, I won’t feel badly that I failed to prolong a Reckless Cyclist’s career of jack-assery – and neither should you.

So, to the red light-burning, wrong way-riding, helmetless, barely visible cyclists out there, do not treat this as a threat – treat it as a note of encouragement to carry on, dear sirs and madams, per usual.

Darwin’s got my back.

For heaven’s sake…no.

Ski Quebec

Sweet jesus in a Cabane-à-sucre. This is, apparently, how the Quebec Toursim Bureau once promoted the sport I love. I realize the 1970′s were a dark period: the OPEC crisis, Watergate, Vietnam, The October Crisis, disco music, but….skiing? Daaamn.

I could see the crack team of creative directors back in 1976 having a brainstorm session:

“Eh, Jean-Yves, we need to promote ski tourism in La Belle Province. What do you think of a picture of a guy performing le Ski Ballet?”

“That’s a great start, Pierre-Luc. That shit is hot right now. But is it homoerotic enough? Maybe give him wings.”

“You think?”

“Mais oui! And make them big. They will connote power and freedom.”

“Freedom from Anglo oppression!”

“Errr—sure I guess. Maybe also give him a moustache – the bushier the better. It will counteract the ballet stance and make him look tough.”

A Movember Story

This is a short, true story about a series of choices I made one night, long ago. It is my hope that this story will prompt you to part with some “sympathy” dollars, which, when donated, happen to work just as well as regular dollars, and which you might consider pledging towards my Movember campaign.

Twenty years ago, when I was in the sixth grade, I attended my first weekend house party. I was both excited and terrified, because I went to an all-boys school and I had heard there would be girls at this particular party.

I made sure I had my outfit picked out many days in advance: navy blue blazer with brass buttons, white t-shirt, acid-washed jeans, white sport socks, black Doc Martens. Yes, I thought, this would be the perfect ensemble — classy, but not too showy.

At this point, feel free to take a few seconds to close your eyes and imagine me, 1 foot shorter, 90 lbs lighter, with a voice three octaves higher, dressed like a 1980′s New York City stand-up comedian – or more accurately, how someone from Saskatchewan would have envisioned a 1980′s New York City stand-up comedian.

I made sure I knew the address of the house ahead of time. And I made darned sure I did not arrive late, because that would be very uncool, I thought. It’s cool to be on time, I had figured, and probably even cooler, by that logic, to arrive waaay early.

So I arrived at the house two hours before the party was scheduled to begin. The hostesses (they were twins) ushered me downstairs to their basement and then returned upstairs, where I overheard them complaining to their mom that there was “a weird kid downstairs who arrived super early,” and what should they do with me? Suffice it to say, I was embarrassed. I was actually devastated. I was not “cool” at all, it seemed, and I don’t think the twins had even noticed the brass buttons on my blazer.

I was so traumatized that I honestly cannot remember what I ended up doing in that basement, as I waited those two hours for the other party-goers to show up. I blocked out that memory completely — so painful, it must have been.

I probably sat in the basement and ate  the snacks that had been laid out for the thirty other awaited guests. I probably put down at least a few lbs. worth of Cheetos. I remember really enjoying Cheetos back then. Alternatively, I may have just passed out for 2 hours. I do not remember.

Since then, as a result of that mortifying faux-pas, I have often erred on the side of tardiness for many important events.

Which brings us to Movember 2011. It’s already the 22nd of the month, and I am very late to this party. Do you like how I tied this story to Movember? I hope you did.

I have been growing my moustache, or ‘Mo”, since November 1st, as the Movember rules stipulate. So in a way I haven’t missed the party at all.

Attached is a picture of how I look today, Movember 22nd. Not very pretty. I’ve been getting a lot of strange looks from people. It’s not easy having this thing on my face — ask my girlfriend, who hasn’t even cast me a sideways glance since November 15th.

Worse yet, my moustache is only getting longer, bushier, and more unruly. If I can borrow a quote from the U.S. Navy SEALs, whenever they are asked to describe their brutally intensive training course, they famously state “the only easy day was yesterday.” Having a moustache, I can totally identify with that sentiment.

But at the end of the day, my Mo’ is for a great cause, as you can read about here,, so I press on, all the way to November 30th.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I really hope you’ll consider donating.

All the best,


22 days into Movember
22 days into Movember

Please consider donating to Dan’s ‘Stache Stash

Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you well. As we are all very busy, I will get right to the point: I have recently undertaken the growing of a moustache, in observance of “Movember”, the campaign to support the fight against male-specific cancers. I have created my own page within the “Movember” website, and I am writing to ask you to consider donating money to it.  You can view my site here:

For those of you with a bit more time on your hands, here are some FAQ’s:

What Is Movember? Great question: “Movember” is the annual month-long campaign, always in November, to raise awareness and, more importantly, money towards the fight against cancers that specifically affect men. Movember has an official website,, where you can learn more about the cause and donate money to it. The name “Movember” is a combination of “Moustache” and “November.” That’s right, moustaches are involved.

That’s weird – why moustaches? Another really good question. Moustaches are (thankfully) a uniquely male facial accessory, as uniquely male as the cancers that the Movember campaign was created to help combat. These days, moustaches are also conversation-starters, especially when sported by youthful types who would otherwise shy away from wearing a hairy broom under their noses. The moustaches get people talking about the cause of Movember, and they hopefully get people donating, too. The idea is for people to support your growth of a moustache – in this case, my moustache – by donating money.

Fine, but it’s still weird – and are you really earning these donations? You aren’t exactly running a marathon or climbing a mountain; it’s a bit lazy, no? Look, I didn’t invent the campaign, but it’s a cause that we should all get behind. For what it’s worth, I am trying to eat more iron in my diet, as I read once that iron promotes hair growth (yes, I know, my baldness would beg to differ). So you could say I am doing SOMETHING. That said, I realize that in order to be taken seriously as a fundraiser, it wouldn’t hurt to do something in addition to growing a moustache.

Ok, so what else will you be doing? I’m glad you asked. This is what’s known in the retail industry as a “value add.” For those who choose to donate, in addition to viewing daily photographic updates of my moustache – one that will guarantee me no female attention whatsoever for the next 3 weeks – I will also be writing a daily mini-blog about moustaches within the “Comments” section of my Movember page. I’ll be writing about famous people who had moustaches, why I think they’re great, and anything else that might fall into moustache-related subject matter. By the end of the month (that will be 22 separate blog entries), all who donate will effectively have a bachelor’s degree in “Moustache Studies,” thanks to my blog. When you think of the expense of a “traditional” university bachelor’s degree, it’s incredibly cost-effective, plus you won’t have to wear that silly cap and gown.

What is the target $ amount you wish to raise? In all sincerity, I wouldn’t want to limit your imaginations with a specific number, but however much you would like to donate would obviously be enormously appreciated!

I’m sold. This is such a great idea and you are truly leading by example. How do I donate to this cause? Glad to have you on board! Simply follow this link ( to my page, and click on the “DONATE TO ME” button – it couldn’t be easier!

So that’s it; that’s my pitch. I would also encourage you to pass this on to anyone else whom you think might be interested in giving money towards the cause.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope you’ll think about supporting Movember, a worthy cause that needs all the support and money we can throw at it.


Daniel Reitman

Tejas, Vol VI: Finale

Post tubing, we returned to our suite at the Austin Radisson to sleep off the delirium of the afternoon. We awakened in the early evening, and headed up to 6th street, Austin’s nightlife epicentre – at least for tourists. 6th had about as many bars and clubs as I have remaining hair follicles – that is to say, there weren’t thousands, but there were still a lot – more than enough to entertain you (ok, that metaphor doesn’t work).

We ended up at a place called Pete’s Duelling Piano Bar, which, as the name implies, was a bar that featured open mic spoken-word poetry. Just kidding, it was a bar that had two duelling pianists, playing customers’ song requests. The highlight was a bidding war that happened about an hour into the pianists’ set, when a drunken lady requested – wait for it – Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.” I don’t know why drunken women love this song, but they do. The song is, essentially, the vodka & cranberry juice of jukebox requests: it’s a safe and obvious choice, it goes down easy, and it gets you up and partying pretty quickly. Much like Vodka & Cran, I used to enjoy this song as a saccharine, guilty pleasure, but it’s just been overplayed and overdone, and I want nothing more to do with it.

Luckily, we had a saviour, in the form of a well-fed, sport-coated feller, who was having none of it. The woman had paid $10 for her Journey song to be played, but Grouchy Von Sportcoat, bless his heart, gave the pianist $20 to stop playing the song, immediately. It was a heroically dick-ish move. Our table cheered, as did most other dudes at the bar. But then, of course, the inevitable happened, and another guy swooped in, like a knight in shining armour (his shining armour consisting of a beet-red face, pleated khakis, and a Blackberry holster), and gave the pianist $40 to continue the song. We were pretty bummed, as I’m sure were the world’s millions of starving children, who had better ideas for how to spend 40 dollars.

After Pete’s, we headed back down to South Congress street and hit up the Continental, on the advice of one of the tubists we had met that afternoon, who was a bartender there. The Continental is one of the, if not ‘the’, great live music venues in Austin, which is kind of a big deal. Playing that night was the Dale Watson band, an Alt. Country Bluegrass act, and they were superb. Dale is a gracefully-aging Rockabilly legend, with the requisite wifebeater shirt, greying pompadour, and tons of ‘ink’. He’s one of those elder statesmen of coolness that you hope you, yourself, will be one day, but know you never will. That’s ok, though.

Apologies for the grainy image: Dale Watson Band at work, crankin' out a boot-stompin' good time for the crowd
Apologies for the grainy image: Dale Watson Band at work, crankin' out a boot-stompin' good time for the crowd

Halfway through his set, Dale introduced the band’s stand-up bass player as Mike Judge. The name sounded familiar, and then I realized it – Mike Judge, genius comedy writer and creator of “Beavis and Butthead,” “King of The Hill,” and the cult hit film, “Office Space,” was playing bass for Dale Watson. It’s not enough for Mike Judge to be a young and wealthy comedy legend, he now has to play bass – and play it well. That sort of info makes you take stock of your own life accomplishments, or lack thereof. Regardless, I was too excited to be in his presence to really care about such navel gazing, as the picture below indicates.

Me and Mike Judge. Yes, I realize A) how gay i look, grinning like an idiot, and B) how much Mr. Judge does not want to be in this photo with me. Too bad. Let him cry into his 900 thread-count pillow, bought with King Of The Hill residuals. Seriously, though, he was super nice.
Me and Mike Judge. Yes, I realize A) how gay i look, grinning like an idiot, and B) how much Mr. Judge does not want to be in this photo with me. Too bad. Let him cry into his 900 thread-count pillow, bought with King Of The Hill residuals. Seriously, though, he was super nice.

The owner of the Continental, a nice guy and another hipster elder statesman, was a hotrod collector as well. Being, as I am, a certifiable car nut, we got to chatting about his collection, which included a gorgeous, rusted-out ’49 mercury parked outside the club. Seeing my enthusiasm about cars, he recommended we check out the Austin Speed Shop on our way out of the city the next day, and so we did. We woke up the next morning, checked out of the hotel, and made our way to the Speed Shop.

Front office of the Austin Speed Shop. Evan's "Ron Burgundy" moustache is almost as badass as the rusted-out 'Rod behind us. Almost.
Front office of the Austin Speed Shop. Evan's "Ron Burgundy" moustache is almost as badass as the rusted-out 'Rod behind us. Almost.

It was basically like your typical, local independent garage, if your local garage did ground-up restorations of hot rods, from the 1920′s up to the 1970′s, with paint jobs more intricate than what’s found in the Sistine Chapel, and more metal fabrication than is found in some skyscrapers. The cars were simply incredible, and we were pretty excited that they let us walk around to check them out. I couldn’t get any decent photos of the cars in the shop, but if you check out their site, you can see their work. Pretty incredible stuff. Below is a link to their actual shop and their ongoing project cars, including a car being built for Jesse James. Whatever you think of the man, he has good taste in iron:

Anyhow, that was it for Austin, and Texas, pretty much. Following our visit at the Shop, we hopped in our decidedly non-hot rod rental Chevy, and headed back to Houston, and then finally home to Canada. We came, we saw, we ate BBQ, we two-stepped, we fired guns, we floated, we met some great locals, and we departed the Lone Star State with a true appreciation for the surprising cultural variety inherent in the whitest Nation-within-a-Nation we’d ever visited. Yeee-haaawww, indeed.