well, that was certainly a New Years Eve of a Nuit Blanche, if ever so ignominious a comparison could be made. given our failure to plan any specific activities/itinerary, it may be tempting to charge us with responsibility for the night being (oblique pun intended) a total washout, but given that my stated standards leaving the house this evening were “go to the old port and see some touristy shit,” and, “eat a sausage,” and that so meagre demands were not met, despite the substantial historical and experiential weight that suggested that if nothing else, those were the precisely, perhaps the only, desires that one might reasonably expect to satisfy on a typical Nuit Blanche, i feel perfectly at ease placing the blame, nay, plopping the blame, squarely in the lap of the city of Montréal.
mind you, and this may not be immediately clear, i say the city of Montréal, and not the City of Montréal, because i mean to implicate not solely the Powers That Be, but The People themselves, for so tamely settling into mediocrity.
perhaps i need to take a step back. the germs, or at least the catalysts, of this discontent, lie in part in my arrival in the Old Port around 2:30am only to find the area cloaked in shadows, fast in the grip of Wrapping Things Up At A Respectable Hour. no sausage cookouts, no ice-rave, no mysterious orb (well, there was a mysterious orb, but it appeared to be closed). in my mind, this represents a fundamental misconstrual of not only the spirit but the “literal” (ie: figurative) meaning of a nuit blanche (ie: all-nighter). at the time, however, i was in inexplicably high spirits, and decided that if i was already out and about, and the metros were running all night, i may as well grab a bowl of pho in order to end things on a hight note. as it turns out, there is not a goddamn pho restaurant to be found open in Chinatown on goddamn Nuit Blanche, night of all nights.
now it is possible that was the Montréal public transit system not so riddled with inadequacies that i was eventually forced to walk the hour and a half home through the snow, i wouldn’t be so quick to vitriol. but fuck it, the cookie lays where it crumbled, and i have to say that Montréal really is a shit food town.
don’t get me wrong, i think there are all sorts of good things to eat in this city, some perhaps even unique to the place, but on the whole it has little excuse, as one of the major metropolitan centres of the country, for its pervasive culinary shortcomings.
one could get way into this, and i know that i have friends who might be champing at the bit to argue the contrary (for it is not a claim that is newly issued from my lips – i have made it many a time before, but just now i have decided that i am tired of admitting the possibility that i am wrong, on the basis of the most intangible and affective of evidence on the part of my objectors), but i’ve had a good long walk to think about it, and i believe that i can make a fairly strong argument on but a few points that i believe to be adequately and compellingly synecdochal:
1. if a city is large enough to have a Chinatown, and there is not a single 24h pho restaurant therein;
2. if there is no street food, indigenous or otherwise;
3. if the majority of restaurants upon which the basis for a claim that the city is a good food city are out of the price range of even a dick like me who is willing to spend more than 12$ for an entrée;
then the city is not a good food city. at best, it is a city which is capable of catering to rich people, which is about as meaningless praise as i could come up with, without being given a specific mandate of backhandedness.
* because it is all touched off by a succession of decreasingly good-natured repeals of what we have set as the minimum standards of satisfaction, but where satisfaction has already been tactically recast as “making do.” like, i imagine, love. trying to find good pho (for example. or shit, good pizza, jesus) at times feels like one has awoken to a land populated by spectres – one reaches out repeatedly, hoping to feel the warm resistance of flesh, only to find what? water, ashes, and dust? the empty greenery of indifferent lime and sprigs of cilantro that seem to have forgotten why or how they got there in the first place?
the pity, and the irony of it, that one fears discovering, is that it is not that one walks among the dead, but that – as evidenced by the vitality and success with which they speak and make meaning – it is those about one who still live, and it is just by some accident of a small, internal death that one manages to tread this terrain unperturbed by pleasure or satiety or the accomplishment of congress.
wait, did i say love? i think i just meant New Years again.