Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Alfie Segal and his strip club

 For almost 18 years, the empty lot on Decarie and Kenmore sat silent and empty but for over two decades prior to that, the same geography hosted one of the city's most legendary strip joints, a reflection of its loud-and brashy boss.  
  Alfie Segal was the city's best-known stripper impresarios of his times and the bar he operated on Decarie from 1975-1996 was a reflection of his quirky character.
  Segal's bar was known as Le Strip but was only known as Alfie's, a reflection of his larger-than-life character. The Cadillac-driving Segal didn't shy away from attention and once described himself to a reporter as a “nightclub operator, entrepreneur and actor” and even made a failed bid city council bid in 1982.
 Alfie was not a quiet man, and would often greet people with, “Hey howya fuckin' doin'!?”
  His bar had walls adorned with vinyl records from the 50s, unpretentious dancers who were not always drop dead gorgeous and the songs were often famously short.
  The music was from the 50s and 60s and was played quietly on an inadequate sound system. When a song ended it, one could hear conversations from other tables easily.
  Alfie was so well-known that a female fiend of mine, then a teenager called up as a prank to to ask for an audition. "Sure doll, just come up and bring your funky disco tapes.” Her comic imitation of his cackling intonation and corny phrase became her go-to funny yarn for years.
   Although I never frequented the bar or ever even spoke to Alfie, data-mining suggests that the dancers deemed to be the wildest were the most fondly remembered by patrons: Jamie aka Tara, sisters Charmaine and Kelly, Latina sisters Carolina and Cassandra, a dancer in an American flag or Budweiser bikini, loudmouth Bobbie with slicked back hair, Afro-Canadian Amber, a bodybuilder stripper, Greek Voula, Jane, aged 40 and the frequently-inebriated Brandy.
  They would give $5 dances to songs such as Stupid Cupid, Age of Aquarius, In the Ghetto and these Boots were Made for Walking.
   Staffers included Warren the dwarf doorman,  Brian, who enjoyed getting to know the dancers and his brother Earl who moved to Ottawa and married a dancer, as well a janitor frequently dressed in red  that looked like the wrestler Moon Dog.
  Customers' fond memories include a night when the place improvised in silence and darkness during a power outage. Another claimed that the urinals were a useful place to have intercourse with dancers, although officially such things were shunned and nobody else in this decade-old nostalgic discussion seemed to recall such shenanigans.
 In late 1982 city officials attempted to shut the place down because police noted that Normand, Roland and Maurice Dubois of the famous St. Henri crime family were spotted there.
   Maurice Dubois once walked out with a wad of $1,500 cash hidden in a rag in 1981, so they were either the secret owners or were collecting some sort of extortion. And about 10 other known criminals were said to hang out there, according to police.
   Segal was pretty honest but cryptic when asked to explain. “I'm caught in a bind between you and them. There is not much I can do about it.”
   The bar lost the ruling but survived nonetheless, only closing for good when the building was set afire and destroyed by arsonists on December 9, 1996. Propane canisters and a can of gasoline were found nearby, so there was never any doubt of the cause of the blaze.
 Neither Segal nor building owner Normand Tousignant said they had a clue of who might've targeted the property, which also  housed a pawn shop on the ground floor and a pool hall on the third floor.
  Alfie attempted to open another club called Gentleman's Choice on St. Catherine near Drummond from about 2000-2010, employing his two sons and many of the same dancers. 

Toy car over the Orange Julep - who's in?

For a long time I've had a stubborn impulse to see if this would work.
 You see that remote-controlled toy car in the video above? It can drive along walls and ceilings thanks to a small fan inside sucking it to the surface, gravity be damned.
   So my plan is to pop it at the bottom of the Orange Julep on Decarie and see if it can make it all the way over the top and down the other side.
  This will be the first time such an awesome feat has been attempted and if it works we'll try it with increasingly larger objects.
  I plan to do this with or without permission sometime this year.
   Who's in?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mystery of a broken monument

   For quite some time in the 40s and 50s the John Young Monument statue at the Old Port was known for its Neptune with the amputated left leg.
   The statue was done in 1895 and placed in Place Royale in 1908. It was moved to Common St. in 1997 so it remains prominent but with its leg fixed.
    Legend had it that the leg went missing after being pulled off by a brawl participant to be used as a weapon. Another version has it that a truck drove into after it swerved out of the way to avoid bales of clothing that fell on the road.

Delaney in the Griff in the '40s and more recently

         The person who broke the leg off was - however - Denis Delaney, who said that it was a secret he had for quite some time.
   Delaney, from Griffintown, was playing with his friends around the thing one day until accidental contact pulled the leg right off.
   He carried the metal piece around not knowing exactly what to do with it and eventually sold it to a scrap metal guy for a small sum and nothing was heard of it again.
  The city placed a wooden replacement on it in 1942 but that broke off in 1948
   Another published account, however, gives a different timeline that says that the leg was lost in 1932 and  replaced by wood the same year and  in 1940 English seamen were overheard in the Joe Beef tavern concocting a plot to unscrew and steal it and it thereafter had one leg.
   Money was finally earmarked to fix it in 1957 but the actual repair of the half ton statue was only done in October 1962 by sculptor Joseph Guardo.
    Delaney, a great source for local history of the Griff, says that another hobby for the kids in the Griff when he was growing up in the early 1940s was to jump off the pier into the water near the entrance to the Lachine Canal. Alas occasionally a ship would shift and the kid would drown as the gap that would have allowed him to come back up had disappeared.

Ghoulish actor Vincent Price's connection to local art

 The Vincent Price collection came to Montreal 50 years ago tomorrow, as the actor-and-art-expert's selection of inexpensive art works chosen by Price went on sale at Simpson's with paintings going for as little as $17.50.
   The bearded Arnold Mazelow, who had a gallery in Toronto, helped assemble the thing and is seen here with a Simpson's manager. Mazelow died of a sudden heart attack about two years later age age 40.
   The Vincent Price collection thing lasted from 1962 to 1971 at Sears, but no word on how long it stayed in Montreal.
   Price died in 1993 at age 82. The art? Well, judge for yourself but apparently there's still a lot of paintings floating around with a sticker on the back noting its origins. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Newly-released old-thyme Montreal newsreel items

British Pathe has released a whole slew of new Montreal-related videos.

Not a whole ton of forechecking in old time hockey as these images from a 1932 hockey game between the Habs and Rangers and nobody can skate backwards!
This one shows Mayor Mederic Martin golfing with the future King Edward VIII in Montreal in 1919. Eddie would come back to visit Martin who was voted in and out of power a few times by a chubby guy, in a sort of earlier version of Coderre-replacing-Tremblay.
Some views of the city as the metro opened in 1966.
Big fire in 1951.

A Montreal Lacrosse player gets swatted on the back of the head by a Toronto rival. Note that the teams are wearing Habs and Leafs jerseys. I can't tell, however whether these are actual hockey players from those teams. Anybody?
Ships caught in ice.
Habs win 1966 Stanley Cup.
 Here's some more luscious views of 1966 Montreal. Scenes from the Lafontaine Park zoo in 1967. Mass weddings in Montreal from 1939. 

Midway Bar closed for good?

   One of the epic longstanding dive bars on the lower Main has closed.
   But the good news is that the Midway, just south of St. C, will reopen in late June with the same name but under different management.
   The bar has been owned by current owner Albert Auclair and his wife for about 30 years and by Auclair's father before him.
  Haven't got time right now to crack open the Lovells to find out how long it has been around but I think it's over 50 years. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Youppi attains new levels of awfulness on unwatchable kids show

Chimples says that we are guilty of nostalgia on this site.
He says that the only antidote is posts like this, showing that the past was, in fact, known most for its limitless attempts to oppress citizens with total crap.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Montreal casino's upcoming facelift

The Montreal casino is supposedly about to undergo a massive facelift and architects are busy thinking up original and not-so-original ideas on what changes could be made to better entice citizens to break out their beleagured after-tax wallets so they could gamble away little Tina and Timmy's college funds and then shoot themselves in the parking lot in front of their loan sharks.
   You'll note that the third image seems deigned to make the joint look like the Starship Enterprise. Lots of flickering LED lights all over the place to dazzle the epileptics.
   These pics are ideas for the renos, don't think they're officially accepted.
A marble stair walk bathed in pink light, who could ask for more?
The vertical loft concept is still popular with architects seeking to persuade their clients to bite on this space-wasting design. Does anybody eve bite on these?
   Beam me up Scotty.
 A new and improved gambling suicide lane, blood conveniently drains downwards into the shrubs. 

Lost sounds of Montreal - the once-ubiquitious steamwhistle

   Friend of Coolopolis MP&I supplied this photo of a now-silenced steamwhistle on a building on Westminster that once provided a soundscape to his childhood in Montreal.
   Steamwhistles were common back then and used industrial sites, such as railways and and on the Lachine Canal.
   The one that stood out was at the roundhouse at the top of Westminster. It told CPR rail employees when shifts started and ended and when to take their breaks. The one photographed was affixed to the roundhouse that was build just prior to 1949.
   You could think of the whistles as a sort of industrial version of the church bell, as people would use it as a reminder of the time.
MP & I in a very difficult-to-shoot mountaintop selfie
    "We used the whistle when walking to and from school on Mariette to judge how much time we could waste," he writes.
   The whistle went silent sometime in the 1960s as more residents came to the area. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Drug queenpin Elizabeth Barrer's life in Montreal

      Fugitive American drug queenpin Elizabeth Barrer, who was killed a few weeks ago in a gangland slaying in Ville St. Pierre, was - according to a source - connected to a local crew.
   Someone who had met her several times told me that she seemed nervous, had dyed her hair blonde and had a slight Russian accent. She was Jewish.
  She also wore knee-high boots, the same style popular with strippers and escorts, so there's a possibility that she might have given the impression that she worked in that domain but she did not.
   Her skin was bad on her face but her backside was a thing of beauty, according to my source.
   She wore tight clothes and was a little rough around the edges.
    The gangsters that she was reputedly seen with were unaware of her real identity or fugitive status. She may or may not have been involved in credit card scams.
   One woman wrote to tell me that Barrer had lived with her in Oregon for a year in the early 90s while both worked as strippers as Jiggles in Tualatin. But I'm not convinced this is the correct person because her age is about 10 years off.
   Another man from Philadelphia said that he went to camp with her in Philadelphia and was quite smitten with her.
  Yet another person reports to having perhaps known her in the summer of 2010. He said he believes she was working as a waitress at O'Regan's on Bishop.
  "One of the waitresses was avoiding prosecution in the US and was very open about it. This woman had a friend that I had seen on occasion but only met once. Her friend came in calling herself Anna. She didn't draw much attention. She had a non-alcoholic drink and sat at the corner of the bar where she could scan the door. Anna (Barrer) looked more like the first picture. She was 'dressed-up' kind of like she was 'working'...... but it was the middle of the day. Expensive clothes, she had a silk shirt on that was open, exposing her chest. She had found a phone and was exchanging sim cards.".
   My source suggests that the root of her problem lies in her dealings with credit cards.
   Another source - who was good friends with Barrer - said that Barrer was involved only in selling marijuana and nothing else. I had a long interview with that woman in which she expressed fears that she too would be killed by whoever killed Barrer. 

PKP's firm grip on reality

   So media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau has really got to be regretting entering politics right now.
   Firstly his side didn't win, so he's a powerless backbencher and he's been fingered with the blame for the loss, as he's the one who totally went off the rails and took a normal-looking speech and injected it with his pitchfork-revolution le-Quebec-au-Quebecois-vive-le-Quebec-libre proclamation by saying that he wants a country for his kids. 
   Jeez, when you're rich your kids want big things I guess.
   So this entire scenario seemed bizarre in the first place because he's already massively powerful and influential and his out-of-Quebec papers are rabidly anti-separatist and as a serious businessman, his denial of economic disturbance under separatism seemed entirely bizarre. 
    He also said in his speech was that he had been counselled by a psychotherapist for his marriage strife.
   Most politicians would likely refer to going to a marriage counsellor or something, so this was a bit of a surprise and even seemed - at the time - a possibly extremely cunning way to gain sympathy. 
   But is it possible that the media baron actually has some large issues? 
   I've been told several gossipy-stories by someone who suggests that they conclude that he might have a difficult grip on reality but was not convinced by the anecdotes. One involved a situation in which a big dog supposedly jumped into his parked convertible at a barbecue in the Laurentians and chewed up the front seat of the very expensive ride, something that apparently drove Peladeau into a wild rage. Not really sure, however, that I would not have been extremely pissed off at such an event myself, so Ima give him a pass.
   Ultimately an argument can be made for anybody being uh, mentally imbalanced and I'll need more evidence before I come to that conclusion in this case, but love the theory nonetheless. 


Quebec's worst artist jailed for being really bad at art

  David Dulac has been kept in a Quebec City jail since last July because his proposal for a performance art school assignment was really, really, really bad.
   How bad was the proposal he submitted?
   Dulac wrote that he would lure children from an elementary school with candy and then kidnap and hit them with a big metal item.
   There's cutting edge and then there's crazy, I guess.
  Seems that he had already done some unsettling performance art stuff in the school prior to that.
   He had rejigged a Duck Hunt game to shoot people. He had cut himself in another performance while walking among the crowd with only a tiny loincloth covering his genitalia and he sang a song about accused killer Luka Magnotta, possibly at at the same time.
   Oh and he also submitted art painted with his own sperm.
   And he also previously proposed another performance art project: someone committing suicide.
   Oh and then there was the fake Molotov cocktail stunt which scared the shit out of everybody.
   He was convicted and jailed. He recently appealed his conviction on the grounds that he didn't actually intend to hurt children but the judge nixed that request about one month ago. .

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Longtime former Westmount sports director accused of molesting boys

   Johnny Garland was so closely identified with Westmount hockey, that the program he led for 34 years was informally known as "Johnny's League" from 1953 to 1987.
   But sadly, Garland - who died in 2012 - allegedly sexually abused at least two boys who were devastated by the experience and now cope with great difficulty due to profound psychological trauma they were forced to endure.
   Garland, as we have mentioned, was a lifelong bachelor who lived either alone or with his mother at Sherbrooke and Grosvenor.
    I have confirmations of two separate cases of sexual abuse, experiences which devastated the young men and deeply undermined their mental health and well-being.
   One former player observed the culture Garland cultivated among the elite players.
    What I've heard is dark and deeply disturbing,. I've heard these rumours periodically for 20 plus years.
   The most persistent rumours I've heard involve a great athlete; easily the best hockey player in my age group in Westmount. He probably had the talent to go pretty far. He was also known as being one of John Garland's favourites. However, he basically disappeared from the Westmount sports scene when I was about 13 years old. He was in drug rehab at 14 years old.
  I recall a story from when I was playing Atom hockey. In our first game after the Christmas/New Year's break, a few kids on my team talked about having gone to a New Year's Eve party of John Garland's place. I specifically recall that they talked of being served alcohol and getting drunk. These were 10-year-old boys. As far as I could tell, there was no other adult supervision at the party. In and of itself this would prove nothing other than that he may have had poor judgment, but the story has always stuck with me because even as a 10 year old it seemed creepy to me.
   I have since received confirmation that the individual described was indeed sexually molested and have separate confirmation of a similar story with a slightly older victim involved.
    Both victims were from good and caring families who also ended up sharing much of the terrible damage wrought by this awful selfishness.
   Of course with those two stories sprouting from within a five year time-span, one must wonder about the possibilities of others in the other 29 years. Please write me if you have any other information at 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Legal battles of strip club employee-turned substitute teacher

  Maria Stergiou, seen in these pix, is a former Montreal strip club employee who is now a substitute teacher at the EMSB with a unique knack of being at the centre of a lot of things.
   She has become locally noteworthy for her involvement in a couple of high-profile legal cases, one of which was resolved on Feb. 25 when she successfully overturned a refusal for workmen's compensation, as explained in this court judgment.
   On May 18, 2012 Stergiou, now 40, was working at Wanda's on DeMaisonneuve when another employee pushed her head downwards as a playful gesture.
   Stergiou reacted by pushing back and then hit her head and suffered a concussion.
   "Another waitress (L.) pushed my head down for a reason that is unknown, by reflex I pushed my head up, she still had her hand on my head so the impact was severe. This was all unexpected. I felt a lot of pressure on my neck and a crack. The reason I told employer a few days later is because I didn’t feel the symptoms of the whiplash right away and the employer wasn’t there." 
   Stergiou continued working for two months before filing for workers' comp and was eventually turned down but won on appeal and will now get that cash.
   Stergiou was previously involved in an legal epic saga indirectly involving Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.
   Coderre, when serving as federal immigration minister, was accused by an immigration counsellor named Marie-Claude Montpetit of a variety of misdeeds. She said that Coderre allowed Eastern European sex workers into the country and also permitted 500 Pakistani terrorists into the country as well.
   Monpetit has explained all of the details in a series of easy-to-find blog postings which I won't link to, but they're um, quite intense.
   I've studied Coderre's career closely and don't feel very disturbed by the allegations.
   It's well known that Canada long offered sex performer visas, likely intended to discourage nice Canadian girls from filling those jobs, so the first complaint seems a bit obscure and as for the 500 Pakistani terrorists, well it seems that a decade later no problems have emerged from that.
   Some time after going after Coderre, Montpetit found herself under attack, as Stergiou complained that Montpetit had misrepresented herself as a lawyer when she hired her to help get her boyfriend citizenship.
  Stergiou attempted to sue Montpetit for $378,000 and there were charges against Montpetit as well, but both fizzled out and were unproven.
   Montpetit struck back with a lawsuit against Stergiou and 26 other individuals or institutions, including the local police. (Some links to those cases).
   The ever-determined Montpetit also claimed that Coderre had put Stergiou up to making the complaints.
   I do not know if Stergiou and Coderre have met.
   It's all a very messy business, probably not worth looking up, but I thought I'd do the service of explaining it to you in brief to save you the trouble.
   If you're interested in the Wanda's strip club angle, here's another management-worker saga that involves quite a bit of ugliness as well.