Video Vendredi

View of Montreal's McGill Ghetto from Mount Royal

Montreal's McGill Ghetto as seen from Mount Royal

I’ve been living in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada for about nine years and every once in a while I get really homesick for the city in which I grew up, Montreal.

I know Quebecers get some bad press then they travel elsewhere, and sometimes when outsiders travel to our fine province, but we’re not all like those who have earned us this reputation.

We don’t all insist that everyone everywhere must speak French just because we’re there. We’re not all political blackmailers, separatists, or high-pitched singers presently performing in Vegas. We don’t all know how to play “spoon music”, draw caricatures, or be the perfect forward for your local hockey team. Not that I’m biased or anything but I find most Quebecers to be genuinely warm, passionate, and worldly people, unlike the stereotype we have to live down.

I have to qualify my perspective saying that I didn’t spend a whole lot of time outside of Montreal so the entire population living off the island might very well live up to, or should I say “live down to”, your expectations. Also, I’m an English-speaking Montrealer (who does speak French, but imperfectly and with a thick “tête carrée” accent). I’ve had French-speaking separatist friends. Once we got past, or learned to avoid discussing, our differences on politics, the Queen, language laws, and whose music is better (Mahogany Rush or Robert Charlebois, for example. I like them both but understand Mahogany Rush’s lyrics much better), they can be fine fun-loving people and great friends just like anyone else.

Montreal is a kick-ass town and I have heard from people who moved there that it is one of the few places that is just as good or better to live there as it is to visit. The food there is out of this world or, more correctly, from every corner on Earth — the selection is incredible.

During the summer, there are back-to-back festivals through August for which the city blocks off sections of downtown, making the areas impenetrable to vehicular traffic, so if you’re visiting make sure your GPS has a traffic function. If people watching is your thing, Montreal is the perfect place to do it. During the winter the party goes indoors, so there are all kinds of bars, clubs, and activities.

The locals have a wacky sense of humour and a profound love of life and everything it has to offer. A word of advice:  don’t walk around sporting the emblem of a hockey team other than Les Canadiens unless you are about to burn it in effigy.

So in my haze of homesickness, I want to share a couple of funny videos from Quebec. The first is in English, the second in French.

Wasn’t that “unbelievable”?

Our next video is in Quebec’s own dialect of French. For those of you who don’t understand French, I’m just going to give you the gist of what is being said under the video — I think you’ll still find it funny even if you don’t understand every single word. I suggest that you watch it once, read my outline of the dialogue, and then watch it again. Or read the description and then watch it. Whatever… do what you want!

So here’s what’s going on…

A skunk comes home and tells his wife Manon that he’s just had a run in with a big black dog. He had been making his rounds of the garbage cans in the alley when a dog came around and chased him for at least a half hour. His wife asked him why he didn’t spray the dog to which he replies that he tried, but the spray was not like usual.

He demonstrates, letting off a small spritz in their den, remarking that his musk actually smells really nice. His wife smells the cloud of musk and remarks that it smells like lavender, and then corrects herself saying that it smells more like lilacs. He thinks his sprayer is ruined forever and his wife reminds him of all the times she’s told him not do eat the garbage in the garbage cans or something bad would happen to him. He tries to recall what he ate that could have caused the problem, but he tells his wife that he cannot think of what the offending food may have been. Take note that in the flashback, it shows him drinking a bottle or perfume.

Mr. Skunk expressed his concern that because of the new smell, his career is over. Mrs. Skunk asks him what happened to the dog and if she should be worried about him. Mr. Skunk tells her not to worry because the dog went home.

Meanwhile, the big black dog returns home and his wife Gina is angry that he came home reeking of perfume. He tells her not to jump to conclusions, it’s not what she thinks… he was sprayed by a skunk and that made him smell that way. She tells him not to take her for an idiot because skunk spray doesn’t smell like perfume.

I hope you enjoyed my little voyage home, in spite of the language differences!

About HoaiPhai

I'm up late digging up the dirt. View all posts by HoaiPhai

13 responses to “Video Vendredi

  • betharr

    a great surprise I have with this statement.
    I visited Montreal in 2005. lovely, beautiful, dynamic city.
    I can retour here to comment more. (après avoir lu le texte et je tiens à la fois voir les vidéos.)

  • betharr

    oui oui
    I watched them
    in French is easier for me – a litlle more 🙂
    now in Sao Paulo we have a short film festival that i love so much.
    if you like… see it : a short film by Peter Goldsworthy

  • Mike Lilly

    My family and I visited upstate NY last summer, and while driving the Northway I was shocked to see a sign saying “Montreal 180 miles” (shows how much I know about geography). We considered making the drive just to say we did it, and after reading your post I kinda wish we had done so.

    • HoaiPhai

      It’s a great place that can provide fun, refinement, history, beauty, and a whole lot of “local colour” all on the same afternoon. The thing about driving there is that all the signs are in French only, including the parking signs, so you had better bone up on the French days of the week and 24-hour military time before stopping the car! Also, there’s no right-on-red on the Island of Montreal.

      • Mike Lilly

        My wife has family in the Lake George area, so if we manage to make it up there again we’ll have to bring along a French-English dictionary and continue northward.

  • The Hook

    You reside in my neck of the woods? Very cool!

  • bb

    Are you still love Montreal? or as least miss your friends there, BB?

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