Return of the living-dead
Halloween is just around the corner. This means, the city will be full of zombies, vampires and multiple other breeds of living-dead creatures. They now even stage a yearly march, displaying the strength they have through their sheer number (see the pics here).
Halloween has become the Christmas of party-goers, holding the second party spot; beat only by all the New Years celebrations that happen in town.
But there was already much said about Halloween parties on these pages. I want to tell you about a different breed of living-dead: the "free cultural weekly".
Now, if you're a first year student at McGill or Concordia and just moved to Montreal, you're probably saying, "what the hell is a free cultural weekly". Simple, it's a dying breed of newspaper, that covers culture (arts, music, food, nightlife, whatever else not covered in traditional papers), that is free and usually comes-out on Thursday.
The last remaining species of those is the French-language Voir. But back in the days, we used to have more, much more. We had the French ICI, and in English, we had the Hour (sister publication to Voir), and finally the long-lived Montreal Mirror.
Yes, this is true; this is not a made-up story. At some point, our beloved Montreal was teaming with publisher activity and we had a full 4 free cultural weeklies.
What happened? you're probably asking. Many things happened, and on all fronts: Craig's list stole all the classified ads (mostly of adult services), the daily rags that the Metro and 24 Heures are stole all the "older" readers, and Facebook stole all the "younger" readers. And then there were also, blogs, websites, online ads, citizen journalists, social media …
With no advertisers and no readers, the rest is history.
Why should we care then? The world changes, but keeps on turning. I of one won't really miss any of these gone newspapers. I even had a public confrontation, through reader's letters, with the Hour at some point, because of a dumb cover photo they had. The Mirror was mostly unreadable too. Sometimes pretentious, but what these newspapers all had in common was that they were actually boring.
Except for little gem the Montreal Mirror used to print: the Rant-Line, a column that printed the short rants that people left over the phone. That was plain genius, and would I be a little less procrastinating, I would revive this in an online way. Or maybe it can't be done online, because the beauty of it was that it was like a discussion, with one week in between replies. You can't do that on the web, everything is instantaneous around here, and gets stale within a day.
And except for Sasha's, the sex columnist, advice. Her smart and honest responses were always interesting to read.
And maybe except for the heads-up that the Mirror used to give us about a concert happening over the week-end.
And that odd review for a movie, which actually made me go watch it.
Ok, so it seems that the cultural weeklies might be missed after all.
Unfortunately, they will not be back anytime soon. The world has changed, if you want to be a journalist, better start your blog now, cause there isn't much paper real-estate to print your words on.
Maybe this Halloween we'll see a few Montreal Mirror costumed ghouls rising-up from the dead?
PS: It seems my dreams were answered, and the Montreal Mirror is resurrected indeed. You can find some of its remains online at CultMontreal.com, and most importantly, the Rant Line and Sasha are still there!
They even have a little daily "to-do list" on the website, with suggestions of activities. Amazing work to everyone at Cult Montreal; this is exactly what we still need.
Now this news disserves a nice pint of beer.
It's your turn now. So speak-up.
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