Monday, July 26, 2010

How Bixi stations are located, or what it tells us about the priorities of the City of Montreal for our economic development

You probably don't know it yet, but you will know now: I currently live in the Point St-Charles neighborhood of Montreal. It's a poor, once Irish populated and train-industry related neighborhood. It is poor today, it has always been poor, but hopefully it won't always be poor.

Also, as you might know, the city of Montreal started a public bike system 2 years ago, called the Bixi. It's pretty popular; I have never used it in Montreal, but I used the Velib service in Paris, and I found it to be brilliant and extremely useful. Velib changed the way I see Paris, it gave me a new perspective on the city by allowing me to discover it from the street level while traveling at an acceptable speed and in a pleasant way.

I am one that firmly believes in the relation between infrastructure development and economic and social development: the three go hand-in-hand. I am also one that firmly believes that the main responsibility of governments should be the creation and maintenance of these infrastructures. Because of its large size and not-for-profit nature, governments are best at starting, creating and maintaining large infrastructure projects (obviously with the help of private entities, but the public vision is especially support is needed for building these infrastructures that are usually not revenue generating but quite the contrary).

All this lengthy explanation to say that there is only 1 Bixi station in Point St-Charles. I find this unacceptable and insulting. Basically, the city of Montreal does not care about my neighborhood, and does not want to help in lifting it out of its current situation and improving the lives of its citizens.

While le Plateau and Ville-Marie have hundreds is stations, while Cote-Des-Neiges has tens of stations, while St-Henry has about 5 stations, Point st-Charles has only 1. This is realty favoritism at a municipal government level. Good luck trying to make something different out of the Point if you don't try.

So I wrote a letter to the Bixi corporation. Hopefully they will reply.

Montreal, July 26th, 2010
To whom it may concern

I am writing with regards to the choice of location for Bixi station that your corporation has made and is currently masking.

I am a resident of the City of Montreal, the South-West borough. More precisely, I live in the Point-St-Charles neighborhood, on street XXXXXXX.

I find it appalling and strange that there is only a single Bixi station in my neighborhood (Point St-Charles). It is clear that your organization is under-serving the South-West, and favoring le Plateau and other neighborhoods around it. But the South-West has a rapidly growing youth population and is home to the Lachine Canal, a popular biking spot. I therefore do not understand the logic in not putting more stations in our neighborhood.

I also find that the fact that there is only a single station in the Point St-Charles is border-line insulting. Economic and human development comes hand-in-hand with infrastructure development. The Bixi is a fundamental new infrastructure, and you seem to have no intention to implant it in our neighborhood, which is located less than 10 min away by bicycle from the Atwater, Guy and Peel areas in downtown.

The Bixi network is need in the Point St-Charles in order to attract visitors, businesses, new residents, and in order to raise awareness about commuting issues, environmental protection and sustainability.

I expect a response to my email; do not hesitate to contact me, I will be greatly interested in learning about the future plans for Bixi stations around Montreal.

Thank you

Bellow is my (artistic) interpretation of how the Bixi corporation sees the utility/reality of the Bixi stations infrastructure.

Friday, July 09, 2010


Yesterday, when I was writing about Ina, a person dear to me left us. He was 83, he had seen a lot and lived a lot. He was there during the 2nd World War, he was there building socialism, the whole of it, and he was there 20 full years of building capitalism afterwards. He told me many stories, but I wish I could hear much more.

Like Goran said, there are 2 big events in life, weddings and funerals. I would add a 3rd, births.

In fact they really are 3 parts/continuations of one and single event.

Ciao diado.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Bolero and Ida Rubenstein

I love le Bolero de Ravel.

I first heard it at one my best friends place, on Dr Penfield Avenue. We were going to a model UN conference, and I was staying in his apartment for a few days, so we could go out and party with the people from the conference and I wouldn't have to worry about going back home late at night with public transport.

My friend could never wake-up (he still can't). His wake-up alarm was Le Bolero. He would play it 3 -4 times in a row, always sleeping in while le Bolero was slowly trying to wake him up. Laying there, in the floor of his room, half asleep, myself trying to wake up, I heard Le Bolero for the first time. And ever since le Bolero has been a half-dream for me.

Then Pink Martini covered it, and my brother made me discover the cover version. It looped and looped on the computer in the office of my parent's place.

Then on a blog I read about the Russian dancer Maya Plisetskaya and watched her perform le Bolero.

Today I went on Wikipedia and read about le Bolero. I learned it was commissioned by another Russian ballerina: Ida Rubinstein. And this women stole my imagination. She seems to me like she was something else, something from another time and world (which she actually was, considering she commissioned the work almost 100 years ago, that is another time).

I can't exactly say what it was that drew me in, but I think it was mostly this strange painting of Ida:

But it's more than just that painting: it's her name (the combination of Ida and her family name), it's all the other paintings of her, it's her story, it's the fact that she was bisexual, that had wealthy supporters.

And it's mainly the fact that she commissioned le Bolero. It was written at her request, and it was written for her. Ravel had her dancing, her acting, her movements and her figure in mind when he wrote the piece. I don't want to take anything away from Ravel. He is the genius here for having come up with such a beautiful work; but it seems to me that there is something of Ina embedded in this slowly moving piece, in this long and continuous crescendo.

Ina does indeed come from another time. She was born in imperial Russia, she started dancing late, she was showing much skin on stage than what was accepted at the time. She moved to France, she lived through both World Wars. And then she died, not so long ago, my parents were already born.

What is left behind is a mysterious shadow of a woman. It is numerous paintings, black and white photos of Ida, in costume or contorted or playing the mysterious story telling Scheherazade. Maybe she wasn't playing Scheherazade, maybe she was a Scheherazade of her own.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Some more on our photographer friend Pepita

You probably don't remember, but a few months ago I blogged about my Montreal baby photographer friend Pepita (read my old blog post here).

Well, I just visited her blog again, and I wanted to share the fact that, not only does she excel at photography of newborns and kids, but she also does amazing photography for expecting moms. All this to say that, if you want to immortalize these beautiful moments in life, don't hesitate to requests the services of professional photographers.

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