WRITE STUFF: Artist Derek Mehaffey gets happy selling his works at last Sunday’s Under Pressure block party. This marks the ninth year that Under Pressure has been showcasing the world of hip hop – complete with MCs, breakdancing, graffiti and more – at its usual location behind Foufounes. » Photo by Rachel Granofsky
Quote of the week:
“It’s the election that would give us the clear mandate.” – Former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau, opining that an electoral victory for his party should automatically mean sovereignty, in an essay in Monday’s La Presse. Current PQ leader Bernard Landry disagrees.
Custom greeting for Palestinians
They may not be bigger than Jesus, but Al-Awda, a Palestinian folk music band from Galilee in the Occupied Territories, still don’t have that easy a time touring. Instead of shrieking 13-year-old girls causing chaos, however, it’s North American customs bureaucrats.
“There were originally supposed to be eight musicians, but one was denied a visa to the United States and another was denied a visa to Canada,” says Ahmad Hamad, who’s organizing the group’s Montreal show this weekend. Co-organized by the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees and the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition of North America, the six-city tour is designed to raise awareness both about the plight of Palestinian refugees here and Palestinian culture in general. Hamad says that while the music will highlight Palestinians’ difficult living conditions, the evening will not be overly political.
Al-Awda – which means “The Return” – is one of the very few Palestinian bands that can visit another continent. Travel restrictions and of course money considerations have kept many Palestinian cultural troupes at home, barely able to keep working. Hamad says he hopes the concert series will cover the group’s expenses while here, with any leftover funds going to help the Coalitions.
Al-Awda will perform this Saturday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. at Concordia’s D.B. Clark theatre (1455 de Maisonneuve W.), $20. For more info call 947-8394. » Patrick Lejtenyi
Super- hospital plan panned
The McGill superhospital’s ambitious proposal to rework the West End road network – at a cost of $42-million – has raised eyebrows. The superhospital road planners want the city to allow cars exiting from the southbound Décarie Expressway to zoom straight down Addington, turn left onto de Maisonneuve and continue on to Décarie Boulevard. The plan would cut off the overcrowded intersection to Upper Lachine Road. Traffic towards the hospital would then turn right onto Décarie, which would become a two-way street south of de Maisonneuve.
“That’s absurd, it’s juvenilia. It’s beyond silly, it’s stupid,” says Loyola city councillor Jeremy Searle. “Since we’re going to throw them in the garbage can, the [traffic plan’s] details are not too important. The hospitals should stick to planning the hospitals rather than redoing the city traffic network.”
Searle says that the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is no different than any other real estate developers, and suspects their plan intentionally minimizes entrance and exit configurations to “allow the hospital to retain the greatest amount of re-sellable commercial real estate on their property.”
NDG-Côte-des-Neiges boss Michael Applebaum is more diplomatic but admits the plan is a non-starter for the borough, which must approve any traffic schemes. Applebaum emerged from “an excellent meeting” with new MUHC executive director Dr. Arthur Porter last Friday. “I explained several things to him,” says Applebaum. “We are the door of entry for anything that happens with the superhospital. Whatever happens has to have a positive impact here.” » Kristian Gravenor
Covering court costs
One way to squelch resistance to unpopular policies is to throw dissidents in the slammer and slap them with charges, says Clifton Arihwakehte, a Mohawk activist and the editor of Karwatatie, a cultural journal published by the Kanesatake Cultural Centre. This, he says, is how both the provincial and federal government have opted to deal with the tumultuous situation on the reserves west of Montreal. “I have seen the criminalization of this community to a greater extent than I have ever seen before,” says Arihwakehte. “We have been painted as a bunch of hooligans.”
Currently 24 community members face charges from the Jan. 12 demonstration that led to the torching of band council Grand Chief James Gabriel’s house. But Arihwakehte believes many of the charges won’t stick. “My feeling is that they are going to drop the charges because the government won’t want to disclose their own misdeeds.”
Nevertheless, with two dozen people facing the courts, there’s money to be raised and lawyers to pay. To help with mounting legal costs, the Montreal-based Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement is hosting a benefit featuring speakers from Kanesatake and the IPSM itself, a film about Kanesatake by the Les Lucioles film collective, along with live music, on Friday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at Café La Petite Gaule (2525 Centre). For more information, call 398-7432.
Arihwakehte says that after the court cases are settled, he and fellow activists can concentrate on longer-term goals. “We want to cut that federal umbilical cord and become autonomous,” he says. » Shannon Devine
17 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK
Aug. 21–Sept. 3, 1987
On the cover: Kenny Easterday, a child actor in Claude Chagnon’s Kid Brother, playing at the Film Fest. Although set in the States and made with Japanese money, Chagnon says, “It’s the most Québécois film I’ve ever made.”
• Tempers begin to fray as Quebec plans to lift its moratorium on condo conversions. “The power game between tenants and landlords is extremely tense,” says Dida Berku, of the Association of Tenants Against Condo Conversion.
• Commenting on the liner notes of his 1984 LP Fried (“Namdam am I, I am a madman”), Julian Cope says it “was my statement saying the world is very bewildering. You take a lot of LSD, and it becomes even more bewildering.” He is in Montreal touring his St. Julian album and claims to no longer do acid.
• The new, self-titled LP by Echo & the Bunnymen album is reviewed as a “welcome return.”
• Reviewing the German restaurant Berlin, Byron Rempel praises the staff as “very friendly, without being oleaginous (I’ve always wanted to use that word).”
Angels & Insects
Angel >> Hybrid car tax breaks Like it or not, consumers tend to think with their wallets rather than with good intentions. That’s why, says the PQ’s environment critic Stéphan Tremblay, Quebec should eliminate sales taxes on hybrid cars, a move that would mean savings of up to $2,400. Thomas Mulcair, the provincial Environment Minister, also says he’s proposed it and will propose it again, which would bring Quebec in line with Ontario and PEI. Only 100 or so hybrids were sold in the province last year, but, with a money-saving scheme for consumers that might eventually cut down on the province’s health bills, the extra incentive could help.
Insect >> The Protestant work ethic A survey carried out by Ipsos-Reid and www.expedia.ca revealed that the biggest workaholics in Canada are in Ontario and the Prairies, where only about 40 per cent of workers take all their allotted vacation days. The grim mindset that infused much of North America’s European Protestant population when the continent was settled, then, is still very much in evidence. Quebecers are the most vacation-prone of all Canadians, with 73 per cent of us taking advantage of much-needed time off. Unlike the more civilized and sensible Europeans of today, however, many Canadians and Americans evidently still subscribe to the misguided notion that hard work has an intrinsic value.