Montreal is not a constructed place.
When I first visited Dallas, I made the observation that nothing looked permanent, settled. Like a half-empty apartment whose objects are merely placed in rooms out of convenience and never rearranged.
The streets and rows of houses in most of Dallas sit,
like houses on a Monopoly board, in tidy rows.
I did not quite put my finger on it at the time. Something was askew in it's tidy organization, but i couldn't say what. Upon returning several times however, it began to sink in. It was just too organized. The power lines and other assorted cabling, are underground. The garbage bins are neatly tucked away in back alleys. There's nothing UGLY where it shouldn't be.
No wonder nothing looks permanent, connected. They're not, to the observers casual glances. I guess, in 1999, 'constructed' places don't have wires on the outside. That's part of what makes them constructed. And this is the key. Montreal is not a constructed place.
Of course there's much more about Montreal that makes it different than the fact that we see our garbage and have wires between our houses.
Montrealers live in their city. They shop in their city, dine in their city, bike in this city, and they use the plastic bags they carry their groceries home in to put their trash outside the front door. (until a bylaw prevented it that is)(bad bylaw)
What this city is, just is. Old unused, disconnected cable wiring hangs precariously over small backyards, trash has to be piled up in places that we can see it because there isn't anywhere we can't. There isn't the space, the money, the planning to avoid it. Things just are the way they are because no one has designed them to be something that they're not.
The 'flair' that American travel magazines refer to,
isn't chincy reproductions of the Eiffel tower; it's not croissants made
at POM, and it certainly isn't anyone forcing an attempt at constructing
an ambiance that seems European. It's just the way things are around here.
It's just whatever channel that corner restaurant can get on that old radio.
It's yesterday's bagels on sale for, it's people who eat bagette carrying it home from the store, bare-fisted. It's wherever Warshaw's can pile it's boxes after a busy Saturday. It's the space we have, and the space we live in.
It just ended up this way. It's not a constructed place.
We like it that way.
coin deBullion / Prince Arthur
Preamble: Writen September 18 1999
It is what I should be doing,
here and now.
The city I have inhabited for 33 of my 34 years
sometimes does not even recognize itself.
Let's take a look at this city, bit by bit,
for as long as it takes, from my perspective,
from others; and see what is recognizable.
The Leonard Cohen artcile
made me realize that so
much of who I am is integral to being a part of this