Friday, January 17, 2014

5 Reasons Montreal is a Pretty Cool Place to be Right Now

Talented writer Maxwell Turner (@BuckDevil) at IX Daily wrote up great piece summarizing Montreal's deplorable state. While I agree with all the points made, it just wasn't acceptable that the best rebuttal to the article be a 1970s bedtime story about festivals and a multicultural melting pot. There are a few good reasons why the 1.6 mil don't abandon ship. I'm by no means jumping to the defense of Montreal's corruption, only pointing out the coolest parts hidden in plain sight.

The Cold
For those of you who haven't yet realized, Montreal is cold...REALLY cold. In fact, it's the coldest city with a population over 1 million. Whether in accommodating tourists or creating internet memes, we wear the bitter cold like a badge on our shoulders. When it drops to -36 we still drudge our way to class, cursing aloud that we didn't hear our school's name on CJAD that morning. Sure we'll spend most of the day bitching about frosted windshields and posting screenshots of weather apps, but as soon as an American looks our way, we turn into Rocky (IV); happily converting the day's wind chill into Farenheit.

The Schools
I realize education is still a hot topic in Quebec, but it wouldn't hurt to think outside the (red) box for a moment. We're churning out students like no other city in Canada. It's not the people like Jay Baruchel, Leonard Cohen and Arcade Fire who deserve our attention. Leave the flaunting of B-level celebrities to college newsletters and focus on the pure knowledge Montreal manufactures in the form of 350,000 students with a higher education. This isn't another cheap "McGill is Canada's Harvard" type argument. This is a testament to a mass of people who will pay Canada's lowest tuition rates but still shake the streets demanding more simply because they don't want to be spoon fed bullshit (other than Raman noodles & Belle Pro's).

The Language
Montreal has spent a long time in conflict over its language. So much attention has gone to fighting restaurant menus and office keyboards that we've lost sight of the benefits as result of our Superkid bilingualism. Forgetting bill 101 for a moment, who wouldn't want to raise their child in an environment that conducive to better attention and problem solving? It's no wonder every Montrealer thinks they know exactly what's wrong and has all the answers. As long as a Francophone orders a "hotte-dogge" and an Anglophone passes through "Lionelle-Groulx", I know the influence is mutual, usually for the better, in spite of what we rant on Facebook.

The Food
Montreal is, in a word, delicious. It has the most restaurants per capita in North America. Our poutine alone comes in more ethnicities than the UN. Maybe that's the result of welcoming immigrants and telling them their only marketable skills are driving and cooking, despite any educational background. Whatever the reason, the fact that Montrealers can snootily have an opinion on what makes a good shwarma, samosa or bibimbap is proof enough that we run culinary circles around many McCities.

The Haters
The purlaines hate English, the Habs hate the Leafs, West Islanders hate going to Laval and hipsters hate everything. Whatever your flavor, there's always something to hate with a passion in Montreal. Of course we have a new protest every week. No matter what you choose to hate in Montreal, there will always be a large body of Montrealers willing to hear your cause and hate alongside before you can even say "Bro, me I don't like that." It's inevitable that many will eventually have their fill and leave Montreal, but they leave as Shane Smiths, Kevin O'Learys and GSPs; ready to call bullshit on instinct and always focused on what needs to improve.

It's not for any one of these reasons that Montreal is a formative place to live, but for all of them combined. True, it's all looking like a big mess right now but, for 1.6 million people of wildly different backgrounds wedged on an island the size of a large iceberg, we've managed to keep our Atlantis afloat quite well.