Tuesday, June 30, 2009

For all those who have left us

I am dedicating this song to Neda and to everyone who has left us too early.

I was listening to "Under Pressure" and "Hammer to Fall" poped in my mind, because the two song follow each other in that order on the Best of Queens CD.

Queen was amazing, the lyrics of this song are genius, and Freddie Mercury's delivery is magical. I was really moved while listening to the song on YouTube.

"For we who grew up tall and proud
In the shadow of the mushroom cloud
Convinced our voices can't be heard
We just wanna scream it louder and louder louder

What the hell we fighting for?
Just surrender and it won't hurt at all
You just got time to say your prayers
While your waiting for the hammer to hammer to fall

It's gonna fall
Hammer..you know..hammer to fall
While you're waiting for the hammer to fall"

What exactly is meant by these words? I am not sure, but most importantly, I am not concerned with the meaning of the song as it's author intended it; I've built my own understanding of the words, and of the choruses, of the guitars, of the base and drums, and of Freddie's voice.

I think that was the ultimate message of the song, make your own message of hope and passion out of it.

PS: For all those who wondered about the "Choose Life" t-shirt that the drummer of Queen is wearing, here is what the Choose Life t-shirt is all about according to it's designer, Katherine Hamnett, who by the way seems to be a very engaged person, especially with her Organic Cotton campaign.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Freedom for Iran

I am having shivers; the hair is rising on my body. I see violence in movies, but I have never in my life seen anything like the video of Neda Agha-Soltan's death during a protest in Tehran on June the 20th, 2009.

The videos are horrifying and scary.

The blood on its own is already too much; but what makes this recording heart-tearing is her eyes, Neda's eyes, staring for one last time directly at the camera, with so much life in them, yet with that life visibly seeping out of her eyes, like a flow of water racing out of a pierced dam.

I am afraid of writing about Neda; I am afraid my word, these words, cannot live up to her, to her courage and to the tragedy that beset her at such an young age.

What I hope for is that she is not forgotten. I hope that the memory of Neda remains forever, as a remainder of how privileged some of us are on this planet, and as a remainder of the work that is left to be done by others, and by us, on this planet, so that one day all human beings can live knowing that the system that our societies and governments have erected are here to protect us and not harm us.

Did Neda want to become a symbol of the thirst of freedom of the youth of Iran? Certianly not; but she has become one, and this is something that can no longer be reversed.

Here is a link to a search query on YouTube about Neda.

When the youth is protesting in the streets, when the youth is getting attacked and killed by the police, then you know that the state is a failed one. Why? Because the youth is a state's future. And if you attack your future, you attack yourself and everything your country will one day become.

During 1968 with the Prague Spring, Czechoslovakia was a failed state. During the Kent State shootings in the USA in 1970, the USA was a failed state. During the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, China was a failed state. And on many other occasions in the 20th and 21st century, almost all countries have attacked their youth. All these failures led to changes, some minuscule, some enormous. But none will be forgotten and all are beacons of light on our path to a just and free society for all humans, regardless of which country they are in. Today, Iran is a failed state. Hopefully this will change.

Religion and state were never meant to be together.

And peace and love to all my sisters and brothers, in this and in the other world.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Guerrilla tree planting

(Monday the 22 of June)
Today I planted the two trees I had bought for my building. The planting was done on land owned by CN, on the other side of the fence in the back of our building and I have a clear view of both trees from my bedroom.

Planting the trees wasn't that easy, it took me about two hours; I started at around 8PM and it was pitch dark when I finished. The biggest hurdle was that I needed to get all the material (both trees, four bags of earth and the tools) on the other side of the fence. The bags and the tools I could throw over, but the trees I needed to somehow transport correctly. There is no door or any other opening, so I had to climb two parts of the fence in order to get them over over to the other side.

I got cuts on my hands, I got dirty, I removed tons of weeds that had grown to gargantuan sizes, I made both holes, I had to remove the trees from their pots (which was way harder to do than it sounds) and I had to water them. The watering was an adventure on its own, as I had to throw the water from our side of the fence and make it land in the holes dug on the other side.

We have a bit over two months of summer weather left, so I hope the trees will have enough time to make big roots. I am afraid I left them in the pots for too long behind the building, but at least I have a good excuse: I couldn't do all this gymnastic earlier because of the unkillable warts on my right foot.

I will take a few pictures of the trees and add them to this post, and I will try to follow their growth over the years.

I also decided that from now on I will plant illegally two trees every year. It's so rewarding to touch earth with your hands and to plant a tree, a living being that contributes to preserving our environment in an acceptable state. And there is a certain level of excitement in doing something forbidden yet good: this is why I will call my yearly planting (which I will hopefully do) guerrilla planting.

And this guerrilla planting was done after my hockey cosom team came back from a 3 - 0 score (all scored in the first 2 minutes of the game) to winning the game 5-4 with less than 30 seconds left in the game.

Just one of my crazy nights.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Letter to the Centre Social Autogéré

Last week-end, a band of anarcho-communists hippies from Le Centre Social Autogéré ("Autonomous Social Center" in Ponte St-Charles) staged a quick protest through my neighborhood, and marched on my street in front of my balcony while yelling out a threating message to condo owners. This protest was conducted after the group attempted to squat two different buildings, one destined to be luxury condos on the Lachine Canal, and got evicted by the "friendly" Montreal police. As a young resident of the Pointe St-Charles, and somewhat of an idealist and dreamer myself, I used to respect and somewhat sympathise with the ideals and goals of the Centre Social Autogéré. All that changed after I saw/heard their protest on my street.

I wrote the group a lengthy email (twice because I once lost it in Firefox, by hitting the Backspace Key), asking for an apology.

Obviously I have yet to receive an answer from the group.

My letter is bellow:


Je viens d’assister, du haut de mon balcon, à une manifestation de votre groupe sur la rue **** (Samedi, le 30 mai, vers 17:20). Le dirigeant de vos chants scandait le slogan suivant :

« pas de condo dans nos cartier,
Pas de cartier pour les condos »

Ce message m’offusque puis qu’il est dirige directement vers moi : je suis un de ces « personnes » qui ont emménages dans un nouveau développement de condo, terminé sur la rue **** il a prés de 2 ans sur un terrain minuscule de la CN.

Votre attaque est aveugle et irréfléchie. Vous devez comprendre que les nouveaux développements de condos à la Pointe St-Charles m’ont donne la chance d’accéder à la propriété, quelque chose que je n’aurais pas pu faire dans un autre cartier de Montréal parce que les prix y sont trop élèves. A moi et a des centaines d’autres gens honnêtes et travaillant, qui se forcent de construire un avenir pour eux et leur enfants, qui payent des taxes énormes, qui maintiennent les systèmes publics dont voues et moi profitons également et qui n’attendent pas l’aide de l’état et qui ne vivent pas sur le dos de la société en général.

Et alors que votre groupe scande ce message, moi je me considère comme un membre productif de notre communauté, enrichissant la vie de la Pointe. Je participe souvent au processus démocratique de la vie dans notre cartier et de la vie municipale de Montréal en général : j’ai l’habitude d’écrire aux media et à nos élus sur les questions qui nous touchent directement (comme l’échangeur Turcot par exemple). Il est vrai que mes positions ne sont pas toujours les mêmes que les vôtres, mais elle sont, je le crois au moins, seulement plus nuancées.

De plus, souvent, a ma propre initiative, tout seul ou avec mes voisins de rue, je ramasse les divers déchets qui se retrouvent que trop rapidement sur notre rue ****. Je maintiens aussi le jardin que la collectivité a crée sur la rue ****.

Mais je n’ai jamais vu un de vos membres participer à un nettoyage de la rue ****; cependant je viens de vous y voir manifester contre moi, sur cette même rue. Ironique et même fort triste.

Et tout ceci en considèrent que personnellement, j’appuie plusieurs de vos projets, surtout le jardin libre (prés du canal) et la bicyclette libre.

Cependant, je ne peux pas dire que j’appuie votre idée de squat. Ceci pour l’unique et simple raison que lors d’un squat, vous bafouez un des droits de l’homme principal et protège par toutes les institutions démocratique de notre payes : le droit à la propriété privée.

Donc, j’espère que l’explication de mon outrage a été suffisamment claire, et je demande une réponse ou explication de votre part. Vous pouvez me joindre a mon courriel xxxxxx.xxxxxx@gmail.com.

Il est certain que, dans l’avenir, je vais réfléchir une deuxième fois avant de vanter vos projets aux personnes qui m’entourent.

Bien sur, si je vous vois nous aider à maintenir notre rue en un état salubre en notre parc vivant, je vais peut-être regagner le respect que j’ai perdu pour votre groupe.

Xxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx
Montréal, le 20 mai 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

New article published on Le Mondial de la Bière

Yesterday night, with 2 pints of Grolsh in my body, and after a long day of work and a tumultuous condo-union meeting I wrote up an article on the Mondial de la Bière, Montreal's beer festival.

I am somewhat proud of it, it's short and sweet, so I don't think it will get boring as you read it, and it treats a subject I find difficult to write about: a beer festival; I mean, how much can be said about a simple beer festival? And finally, I got the chance to linked to an organization that fights against sexual abuse at the Oktoberfest in Germany.

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