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The Front 2

CUP ON THE BRAIN: A dedicated and perhaps delusional Habs fan shows up at the Bell Centre prior to Monday’s Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canadiens won, forcing Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday evening, the result of which was unavailable at press time. Photo by WILL LEW
Quote of the week

“We spoke with the neighbouring businesses before moving in, and the city council. When we sent them letters, they didn’t respond…. [they] didn’t seem to have a problem with it.” —Gary Webber of Culture 4-20 Compassion Society, a medical marijuana dispensary which recently opened a second location at 5828 Parc. The original is in Lachine.

Party chez Jean

The provincial budget announced last March has provoked enough ire to sustain weekly demonstrations across the city. Now anti-poverty activists are taking it personally, as they bring their protest to Jean Charest’s residence in Westmount.

“Fighting poverty means sharing the wealth and you can’t find a better symbol of wealth than Westmount,” says François Saillant of the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU). Organizers plan to set up a “bed-in” in front of Charest’s digs to contrast the Premier’s living arrangements with those in need.

The FRAPRU is demanding more investment in social housing and a new program of housing at moderated rents. They criticize the budget for its plan to fight poverty by constructing 3,000 units of housing. “If you compare that to what was announced in 2004, when they were talking about building 16,000 units, that’s really unacceptable,” he says. As for the budget’s proposed income tax credit for people who can’t afford increases in taxes and user fees, Saillant thinks it’s a smokescreen: “It has nothing to do with fighting poverty,” he says.

The demo takes place May 16 at 11 a.m. at the corner of the Boulevard and Argyle. See frapru.qc.ca for details.


Love on Oxygène

While the future of the little stretch of alleyway turned neighbourhood green space Oxygène Park remains in doubt, Milton Park residents near the disputed property along Hutchinson near Prince Arthur W. are stepping up the fight this summer to keep their beloved park from being transformed into condominiums.

Created, paid for and maintained by local residents for almost 20 years, a recent zoning change has put the park’s future in jeopardy, so in the effort to better confirm their physical presence in the park, the Ad Hoc Committee to Save Parc Oxygène will be hosting a free, summer-long, outdoor open-stage artistic “love-in” every other Sunday, from May 16 until August 8, from 4–6 p.m., in the lush green inner-city oasis.

“We’re not clear what will happen to our park,” says resident/organizer Norman Nawrocki. “We’re still trying to work out a solution with the city but we’re far from one yet. So it’s really important that these gatherings show that we not only have the public’s support for Oxygène Park, but that it’s a gathering space as well as a green space for our community.”

For details about each week’s Love-In activities, go to miltonparc.org.


Grow your own

Green activist Cameron Stiff makes no bones about the importance of changing the way people eat. So the urban agriculture project that his group, Greening Duluth, in partnership with several others, is starting has much bigger consequences than ownership of a nifty balcony garden, he thinks. “There are much bigger issues at stake,” he says. “Look out the window—anyone with a brain can see the seasons are changing. So this isn’t just a cool little summer project. There are much bigger issues at stake, like global warming and working conditions for farmers in the global South.”

The cool little summer project he’s working on is a workshop on building your own self-watering container—basically, a balcony garden with a false bottom that sits on a small reservoir of water and allows the plant to water itself. “It’s the miracle of nature,” says Stiff.

It’s also a good example of neighbourhood cooperation. Stiff says he approached a variety of Duluth merchants who agreed to provide material for the workshops. He’s also hoping to hold more over the summer. The workshops will be held at the House of Friendship (120 Duluth E.) on Saturday, May 15 at 1, 3 and 5 p.m., $10–$20 sliding scale. More info at greeningduluth.org.


Getting by outside

As convenient as jail is as a backdrop for kick-ass prison riot scenes, local documentary filmmakers Santiago Bertolino and Steve Patry are worried that such television voyeurism doesn’t tell the whole story of the prison experience.

“We often see films about prisoners and about what happens inside prisons, but we rarely see films that take place after incarceration,” says Bertolino. “How do former prisoners reintegrate into society?” Neither he nor Patry claims to know the answer, but they’re determined to find out by following the wacky adventures of five ex-cons for a year for their film De prisons en prisons.

To kick off their research, they’re holding a panel discussion on how the post-prison process functions in Canada. Criminologist Sylvie Frigon will explain what transition programs exist for former prisoners, Dominique Dickey will discuss what it’s like working with former convicts and filmmaker Catherine Proulx will share her experiences making a film about prisoners. The event is rounded out by presentations by former prisoners themselves.

The launch of the project takes place Tuesday, May 18 at 5 p.m. at the Cinémathèque québécoise (335 Maisonneuve E). For details about the panel and to follow the progress of the film, see parolecitoyenne.org/blogs/prisons.


Rear-view mirrorrearview

12 YEARS AGO – MAY 14–21, 1998

On the cover: Terry Gilliam and Johnny Depp for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Gilliam says he doesn’t do drugs, but “I do experience hallucinogenic moments and various drug states: paranoia, depression, speediness.”

• The Media Circus column defends Teletubbies. “That both E-freaks and toddlers have gravitated to this charming if slightly demented program is merely a testament to the show’s innocence.”

• Describing his adventures aboard Paul Watson’s good ship The Sea Shepherd, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue’s Ryan Young says the Scottish engineer’s bacon-and-butter sandwich diet caused “small mutinies” in the mess. “Some of the vegans were like Nazis,” he says.

• In response to the question “‘New York is dead.’ Discuss,” DJ Juan Vasquez answers via fax, “New York? Absolutely not. The mayor should die, though.”

• To a brown shower enthusiast, Sasha writes, “If Details proclaims shit as the fetish du moment, you’ll really be ahead of the fop squad. If they don’t, I’m afraid you may be stuck with ‘pay-per-poo.’”

• Under the logo: “Lizards and leeches and bats, oh my!”

Angel >> Beaver-Canadians In a startling development of planetary importance, an ecologist using Google Earth discovered something to truly make all Canadians proud: the largest beaver dam in the world. The amazing structure, found in a remote part of Wood Buffalo National Park’s Birch Hills in Alberta, measures some 850 metres long and took an estimated 40 years to make, and can even be seen from space! At long last, Canada has an artificial monument that can stand proudly alongside Stonehenge, the Pyramids, the Coliseum and the Great Wall of China. Three cheers for our industrious beavers, congratulations on your historic achievement. Keep up the good work!beaver

Insect >> Facebook’s privacy mess Facebook’s new Instant Personalization feature is a nifty enough thing if you want music streaming service Pandora to automatically create a playlist you’d like. But it would be even better if Facebook let you know about it, or made it at least somewhat easier to opt out of. But they don’t, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and 14 other consumer protection groups lodged a formal complaint against the social networking site last week, saying its claims to upholding user privacy are a sham. They may have a point: the site’s sometimes baffling interface puts the onus on the users to protect their privacy, as meanwhile Facebook peddles your data.