July 3, 2001

Help, I'm Being Held Prisoner...


I'm living in a godforsaken cultural wasteland.
More specifically, the suburbs.

It's not like I didn't know this already - I just hadn't realized how bad it was.

I needed a video (really, a set of videos) of an old PBS series. I thought I'd try the local library before the video rental stores.

All went well for awhile. I found the website for the City of Laval libraries, and even found I could access their catalogue online, including search function and availability.

The search turned up the companion book to the series in question, but not the videos. Still, not a bad start, and they might yet have the videos. The book was listed as "available" so I decided to pick it up.

I even checked their hours online. Open until 9PM Monday to Thursday.

I drove up around 7 PM to find the parking lot empty. While it's never packed, empty is not a good sign.

The doors were locked, and a notice said, closed for the Canada Day holiday, July 2 and 3. The statutory holiday was yesterday because July 1 fell on a Sunday and of course we mustn't lose a holiday day on account of that.

Yesterday.
NOT today.

It's bad enough the library is closed on weekends through the summer.

Typical city hall bureaucracy. When do people have more leisure time to read?
SUMMER!
When might people actually have TIME to go to the library?
WEEKENDS!
Therefore, you close on summer weekends. Simple.

But this is the same city that closes their outdoor pools on August 9, give or take a day.
Really. I am NOT exaggerating.
They only open on June 24.
It's often hot enough to swim here from mid-May to mid-September. Reasonable pools remain open until Labour Day.
Not City of Laval pools.
The LIFEGUARDS need to get back to school.
(Translation: we're too cheap to pay them any longer.)

Anyway.

Since the library was closed I decided to try the video stores. There are two nearby that we're members of, a large one on a main street and a smaller one (no website!) deeper in the residential area.
I thought my chances were better with the large one.

Not only did they not have the video - they had NOTHING!

They had lots of floor space, with racks tastefully scattered around.
They had the new releases, children's movies (mostly Disney crap) and video games.
They had large sections for comedy, drama, action-adventure, horror, sci-fi, and the inevitable "adult" room, separated from the main shop.

I looked for music.
I looked for sports.
I looked for educational videos.
NOTHING!

I thought maybe they didn't have what I was looking for because of the language thing - I know that English movies can't be screened in theatres in Quebec unless a French translation (dubbed or subtitled) has been released. This tends to delay theatrical releases sometimes. I don't know if the law applies to video stores.

But if that were the case I'd expect to see some French-language documentaries.

Nothing.
No lions of the Serengeti.
No religion.
No history.
No politics
No propaganda.
No NOTHING.

On the way home I passed by the smaller store.
The nothingness there was slightly better.
They had a small section called "other" where they had two small racks of sports (largely WWF wrestling) and one small rack of music - concerts and movies.

But nothing even close to a documentary.
Nothing that could even loosely be termed educational.
It's all entertainment.

Entertainment is fine, sure.
But you can't survive only on candy.

I labour under the delusion that things must be better in the city, near the universities; maybe even halfway to the city, near the junior colleges.

I'm going to need to get myself out of here.

Eventually, permanently.

On a more sombre note:

Canadian author Mordechai Richler died yesterday, in Montreal, at the age of 70.

He's probably best known for his novel, "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" which was made into a popular movie starring Richard Dreyfuss in the title role.
I remember once, about ten years ago, attending one of Richler's readings. He carried on in his weathered, gravelly monotone but it was part of his charm.
He wrote about, and at times personified, the Montreal Jewish community.
Even though he wintered in London England, he continued until recently to write a year-round weekly column for the Montreal Gazette .

I miss him already.

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