The linguistically-incorrect playlist

The words “only in this province” are usually reserved for someone from the English community reacting angrily at some salvo on the language-war front.

This week entertainment critic Marc Cassivi of La Presse probably muttered, under his breath, a variation on the same theme.

Last week Cassivi, back from the holiday break, decided to write a light piece for his readers about the music he listens to when he’s out jogging.

The column also included funny advice on losing weight. The day after the column appeared Cassivi received an email from a Le Devoir fellow journalist saying “So what you’re really saying is that there’s only English that can motivate a runner. You could actually have entitled your column ‘When Elvis Gratton starts jogging.’”

Most of what Cassivi had put on his playlist was in the language of Shakespeare. Arcade Fire, DJ Champion and the “Franglais” of Radio Radio that were, brought calls of “odieux” from some readers that felt that more French artists should have been included.

Some readers went as far as saying that Cassivi was aligning himself with the Caisse de dépôt, the Banque Nationale and the Montreal Canadiens.

Cassivi reacted yesterday in his column in La Presse with: “Pousse, mais pousse égal, would say my mother! Should we impose a linguistically-correct musical list that includes a francophone quota for journalists who go out on a jog? Should we force them to lie to better promote ‘la chanson francophone’.”

Should I be forced to watch only French TV and movies that have been translated into French? That I read only novels that have been translated? That I pretend only to drink wines from Burgundy but not from Oregon?”

When I run, I don’t run in French, in English or in Spanish. I run listening to music to forget that I’m pushing myself. I don’t really listen to the words. The mood, the rhythm guide me.”

The last thing I do when I run is do politics.” To end his column Cassivi went on to list his favourite French song when he runs, Philippe Katerine’s Je vous emmerde.

It would seem that the linguistic correctness that has brought even the storied Montreal Canadiens in the maelstrom knows no bounds.

If Marc Cassivi of La Presse can’t even listen to Arcade Fire in the privacy of his own earphones I think in Quebec we may have crossed a linguistic rubicon.

I wonder what the guardians of my language will think up next. Should we force Apple to remove English albums and songs from iTunes so that Quebec customers promote, with their hard-earned dollars, la chanson de chez nous?

Maybe we should add Françis Cabrel to the black list, he’s not Québécois enough, c’est un Français de France. All this at times becomes a bit too ridiculous for my tastes.

There is no doubt that this latest episode in the language wars of Quebec has a bit of the surreal. Since the beginning of the sixties, decade by decade, we have become maître chez nous.

But sometimes I think that some outside observers may also think that were a bit une gang de fou.

Brahms Symphony No. 3, so romantic

The New York Philharmonic graced La Maison Symphonique Saturday afternoon. I attended with my classically challenged girlfriend. She loved it and the New York Philharmonic’s version of Brahms Symphony No. 3 in F major was majestic. Especially my favourite part, the third movement, the Poco allegretto in C minor. It is romantic and melancholic to a T. 

15 Weird reasons for calling in sick

Employee’s 12-year-old daughter stole his car and he had no other way to work. Employee didn’t want to report it to the police.
Employee said bats got in her hair.
Employee said a refrigerator fell on him.
Employee was in line at a coffee shop when a truck carrying flour backed up and dumped the flour into her convertible.
Employee said a deer bit him during hunting season.
Employee ate too much at a party.
Employee fell out of bed and broke his nose.
Employee got a cold from a puppy.
Employee’s child stuck a mint up his nose and had to go to the ER to remove it.
Employee hurt his back chasing a beaver.
Employee got his toe caught in a vent cover.
Employee had a headache after going to too many garage sales.
Employee’s brother-in-law was kidnapped by a drug cartel while in Mexico.
Employee drank anti-freeze by mistake and had to go to the hospital.
Employee was at a bowling alley and a bucket filled with water (due to a leak) crashed through the ceiling and hit her on the head.

Mike Ward, a little risqué, actually a lot

It’s a little after 8 p.m. last Thursday and Mike Ward has taken the stage at Salle André-Mathieu in Laval, and no sexual practice will be left unturned. Mike Ward may have an Anglo name, but his standup routine is in French, and his show Mike Ward S’eXpose is definitely not for the squeamish or the prude. Ward doesn’t beat around the bush and dives in with abandon.

 The court jester of sex comedy doesn’t stray much from his main obsession, riffing on his diabetes as close as he will come to straight stand-up. A few references to more obscure sexual pratices elicit a few questions from my girlfriend but all-in-all the show is funny and the public at Salle André-Mathieu is going along with Ward, hook, line and vibrator. The problem that rises up, as with many Ward jokes, is that a couple sitting in the front row had decided to bring along, to this X-rated comedy show, their 15 and 12-year olds.

Mike Ward’s humour can be quite scatalogical, and if my girlfriend is asking a few questions, lets just say that there were many moments when Ward not only crossed over the line but basically erased it. I have no problem with adults listening to Ward discussing the finer points of fisting and squirting (don’t ask), but I object to 12-year olds coming into contact with extreme humour of this kind. I will not blame Ward personally for this. Ward was quite surprised to see the 12-year-old sitting front and centre, in the first row.

Early in the show Ward singled out the kid, and asked who he was with and even reminded the audience that his show was rated 16-year and over. The ones to blame are the Salle André-Mathieu personnel who let the 12-year-old waltz in, and the parents of this young boy who thought that it was appropriate for their son to see a show of this kind. I can only imagine what type of questions a 12-year-old would ask after listening to a female member of the audience discuss her personal experiences with squirting.

I am not a prude, and when I bought the tickets to Ward’s show, I knew exactly what I was getting into. But I never expected that fairly young teens would be present. The audience was mixed, a bunch of 20-year-olds filled the row behind us and a man who looked like my father was sitting in front of me with his spouse. Both rows laughed heartily at Ward’s jokes, and the sexual entendres (There was no doubles here) were appreciated by every generation. After a few exchanges with Ward the young brothers in the first row were promised tour T-shirts.

As I was leaving I passed next to the souvenir booth and I saw the kids in line waiting for their reward. I couldn’t help but think that the over-sexualization of our teens doesn’t come first from advertising, the media or the internet, but with the sheer recklessness of parents who don’t show any judgment when bringing a young teen to a show like this.