Friday, December 11, 2009

Montreal Olympic Hypesters

The couple in an Aug. '73 photo
  Louise Wronski, 28, and Philip Wronski, 32, drove their minivan - which they nicknamed Pitou- 86,000 miles through four continents to hype the Montreal Olympic games, all on their own nickel. 
   It cost them $16,000, although they were paid $4,000 by CKVL radio in exchange for doing on-air reports. 
   They handed out leaflets and talked enthusiastically about the Montreal Olympics, which must've been a pretty big letdown because Montrealers were never that charmed by the event and the political situation went to rot soon after. 
   In Africa a guy blocked a road with a log for the purposes of extortion, in Panama a robber came at them with a knife and in Congo they were surrounded by hungry tribesman but in each case the 6'5", 250 pound gym teacher and judo expert was able to scare his would-be assailants off. 
   The trip was meant to take four years but they came back after two due to homesickness. He appears to still be among us.

Chomedey and St. Catherine

Quiz - what does this photo portray?

We have a winner!
On Friday Sept 7 1973, the City of Montreal gave Israeli developer David Azrieli a permit to demolish the historic Van Horne Mansion on Sherbrooke in Montreal's Golden Square Mile.

Reporters asked him if and when he planned to actually demolish the beautiful structure built by the great Last Spike railway baron between 1868 and 1870.

He replied, "I have time, I don't have to rush."

The next morning at 7;30 am workers were inside prying off parts of the gorgeous building with crowbars. Azrieli had told the same reporter that it would take about three weeks to demolish. Two days later the entire building was gone and city dwellers stood out front mouths-agape, some weeping and others, as seen in the photo above, picking through the debris.

The building had been uninhabited since Mrs. William Cornelius Covenhoven Van Horne had departed and left it to the maintenance people.

The wife of Van Horne's grandson is
to have lived there full time from 1936 to 1963.

Prior to shoving off, she made many happy by giving much of the other valuables in the home to such establishments as the Canadian Railway Museum, whose then-curator, Robert Nicholls expressed appreciation.

The event is considered the birth of the preservationist movement in Montreal, around which architect Michael Fish became the head with his Save Montreal Group, which was eventually supplanted by Phyllis Bronfman's tamer Heritage Montreal. In spite of his smiling face in the photo, Fish was, and remains incensed and depressed by the demolition.

Among the art hanging in the home was this painting that she sold 1963. It's now at the MMA in NYC.

In November 1975, many were surprised when Concordia University gave demolitionist David Azrieli an honorary doctorate. He had given $250,000 to the university over the previous five years. Local social group Head and Hands made a symbolic protest.

Last year Azrieli was estimated to be the seventh wealthiest Canadian with an estimated worth of over $4 billion, rich in money, not necessarily in appreciation.

The leapin' bank teller

On April 18, 1929 Dominion Bank teller Robert G. Patenaude simply cleared out his cash and leaped out the side window of the branch where he worked at 6045 Christopher Columbus, corner Bellechasse. He hopped on a train to New York to spend the dough.

As you can see it does not appear to have any side window these days.

In New York Patenaude partied hard with a hostess named Ann Kelley of the Artists and Models Club in Manhattan.

She said she had a sick aunt in Detroit so the duo rented a room at Detroit's Hotel Stattler and pulled the same trick, they hopped out the window rather than pay their bill.

The previous September he had been sentenced to one months hard labour for stealing golf clubs out of cars. May 4 1929 Montreal Standard

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

An unlikely artist - Alouette legend Tex Coulter

The lively portrait above, from the cover of a 1958 magazine selling cheap on Ebay displays, of course, Henri Richard, the Pocket Rocket, younger brother of Maurice Richard. It's a beaut. The artist was none other than Montrealer Tex Coulter, an Alouette from Texas who moved here to play football and offered much of his skill as an artist. Coulter, who never drank and was from a Masonic background, was a gruff Texan who fell in love with Montreal so much that he stayed here 15 years after his career ended. He had played six seasons in the NFL become coming here in 1953. He blamed his desire to play all 60 minutes of every game - including punting - for cutting his career short. During his tenure here he helped take the team from the pavement to the penthouse, alas - familiarly - the Als had little luck in the finals, as they failed to win a Grey Cup between 1946 and 1970.

Coulter stayed in Montreal with his wife, Ruth, and four children for 15 years after his playing days. He loved Montreal, even the winters.

Before dying in 2007 on his eighty-third birthday, Coulter told The Gazette's Ian McDonald: "I'll take Montreal winters over Texas heat any time," he said. "If it was up to me, we would have stayed in Montreal, but my wife had brothers and sisters down here. She didn't lay down the law, but I knew she wanted to be with her folk."
Coulter lived at 2294 Beaconsfield, below Sherbrooke in NDG, according to 1962 Lovell's

He was never elected to the CFL Hall of Fame.

This other portrait Coulter did of Henri Richard recently went for $800 at auction.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Then and now Ontario and Papineau

Hippies: build a park before you die

Here's a buncha early 70s Mtl hippie activists working at recapturing an empty lot for a park in the McGill ghetto which had been put aside for the Milton Park project. Note the chubby guy in the middle taking a break to push his hair out of his eyes and certainly not to pose, he will reappear tragically below.
Not exactly sure where this cool park was put up but the kids seemed to be enjoying this rickety bridge. The only way it could be made better is if were ideologically correct, complete with greedy developers waiting below to catch any stray children and sell them off into sweatshop slavery.
Alas the guy in the first photo soon died of a heroin overdose alongside his girlfriend, a French Canadian lass who had acted in a small role in a movie or two. I could tell you their names but lost the link, if someone can fill us in, please add it in the comments below. Edit: As someone mentioned in the comments, it turns out he was Dr. Hymie Shuldiner and she was Marie-Claire Nolin.

Monday, December 07, 2009

New major motion picture features familiar looking villains

Roald Dahl's 1970 book The Fantastic Mr. Fox is now a Wes Anderson film with big name narrators, such as Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. The villains Boggis and Bean appear as portrayed above and are the "meanest, ugliest, nastiest farmers in the valley." Canadians will spot the resemblance between the characters and former separatist Premier Jacques Parizeau and the chain smoking former separatist Premier Rene Levesque. Coolopolis shall try to find out how they chose to use these likenesses for the characters. (Spotted initially on Peter Wheeland's FB posting)

Death of a pornographer

Montreal: you love porn. So much so that when a university sought men who didn't consume porn, they couldn't find one
   Yet not so long ago in June 1986 Justice Minister John Crosbie had planned to outlaw, "any visual matter showing vaginal, anal or oral intercourse, ejaculation, sexually violent behavior, bestiality, incest, necrophilia, masturbation or other sexual activity."
   Back then one could watch porn in theatres or rent tapes at one of the three Flixxx locations (including one on St. Denis) run by Montrealers Peter Grace and Stuart Shore. These charged a then (and still) hefty $25 membership fee plus $5 per rental for such titles as For Your Thighs Only and Desperately Sleazy Susan. The Flixxx duo boasted that they were grossing $40,000 a month.
   At the time many felt that the women in the movies were being manipulated and mistreated.
   That notion was encouraged by the 1981 film This is Not a Love Story, an old school feminist crucifixions of the men who make porn.
   Bonnie Klein was the force behind the film, which also starred the recently-deceased Montreal stripper named Lindalee Tracy, who was a feature act at such places like the Lodeo on the Main at Lagauch, where she called herself Fonda Peters.
   Klein gained additional notoriety as the mother of the high-profile Noami Klein, who also has latched onto popular points of view to create media fame. A young Noami is apparently somewhere in her mom's film re-enacting a scene of some sort.
  The chief scapegoat in the film is Montreal smut mag publisher named John S. Wells who shows up amiably willing to discuss his views on porn but gets ambushed.
In this scene these two articulate Jewish media types go head to head: Wells, in his beautiful dulcet Brit-tones reports that, "Men prefer to dominate these women...the greatest turn on for a man is to have a woman kneeling at his feet performing fellatio."
   Back then fellatio was seen as a deviant act, quite the opposite of the pedestrian way it's viewed today. Klein doesn't exactly smile at Wells' portrayal of a delirious man receiving frantic oral love from a kneeling woman. (Cut that out... Chimples)
   So Klein hits him with questions that include such terms as "degrading to women," and "(porn) must carry over to how men treat us," and so forth.

The film didn't help Wells' career. His titles, such Canadian Beaver, featured photos largely printed from porn movies he had sent away for. Presumably those copyright holders weren't inclined to sue him. Wells eventually continued his publishing enterprises with a sort of American Yellow Page directory. Wells' bookkeeping got screwed up and he ended up having more investors owning more percentages than was numerically legitimate. A financial Armageddon ensued and he was soon sought for fraud.
   Wells fled to the Caribbean but bounty hunters kidnapped him back to American territory. He was convicted and sentenced to US prison time but then sought a transfer to a British prison. In the UK gaol he was diagnosed with a terminal disease for which he received inadequate medical care. Various Orthodox Jewish Rabbis offered him moral support in prison even though he had never been religious. David S. Wells died soon after.

Quiz-what Montrealer made the cover of ths olde issue of Playgirl?

Sure looks like some bad 80s Pre-PShoping. Winner gets a raised eyebrow.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

1968 - when elephants came to Verdun

There was some sorta zoological display of elephants in Verdun Stadium in 1968. I don't know this stadium and am kinda doubting that it's even there anymore. The guy in the middle of the top photo dressed in old fashioned cap and pedal pushing trouz should serve as a warning to photographers, beware of people dressed in retro 1920s clothing trying to confuse & anachron your shot! Tricky tricksters! Photos lifted from Verdun Connections.