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Leonard Cohen’s Birthday And A Trudeau Election In Canada

I take advantage of the fact that there was a federal election in Canada yesterday, featuring a Prime Minister Trudeau, and today is Leonard Cohen’s birthday. I present this excerpt from my novel, Fame’s Victim, when Cohen was still alive and attending the funeral of a former Prime Minister Trudeau.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from Fame’s Victim

ST is present-bound enough to be aware when the end of the funeral arrives. Vested clergy group at the front of the church and the RCMP poll bearers again emerge. To the mournful strains of the organ they begin to slow-march the coffin along the aisle. He has no desire to mill about to meet the family for he has never met any of them before. He only encountered Le Monsieur the one time, but it was obviously significant for the older man.

     This ceremony of death makes everyone equal, and ST takes his place comfortably among the hundreds of other mourners who begin to leave the Basilica. Their progress along the center aisle is orderly but slow and he has time to inspect the interior of the building. As he looks at statues and woodwork and stained glass, a hand taps him on the shoulder.

     “That’s one of my favourites.”

     ST turns to see Leonard Cohen nodding and pointing to the left. He follows the other man’s finger and eventually perceives a somber painting enlivened with splashes of mystic colour.

     “I see ecstasy.” Cohen’s voice is a low murmur.

     “So do I.” ST immediately understands what the quiet voice means. “It breaks out.”

     “The way death should be.” The poet glances at ST with a half smile. “Something to look forward to.”

     “I’ve never doubted that.”

     “Ah.” Cohen shrugs. “If Pierre could only speak to us now.”

     “Do you think it possible?”

     “No.” His eyes hold ST. “Not the way I mean, at any rate.”

     “The tongue stilled.”

     “Something I will regret.” He leans toward ST. “Do you have plans after the funeral?”

     “Not really.” ST keeps to a muted tone. “I thought I’d look around the city. I don’t leave until this evening.”

     “Then perhaps we could take a noontime stroll to a place of refreshment.”

     “I don’t want such public exposure.”

     “This is the Prime Minister’s day in Canada.  It is understood why you’re here, and you will be left alone.”

     They come out into the sunshine. Media attention is heavy, but it is directed elsewhere. ST is pleased to discover that his companion is adept at quickly moving through crowds. They descend the steps and start along the street, garnering glances but no intrusions. They turn a corner, cross another street, and traverse a Square that leads to a narrower street. ST notes it is Rue le Royer and the pedestrian traffic is slight.

     “A restaurant or an outdoor café?”

     “I’d like food and to be outside.” ST speeds up to keep pace. “But I’m not sure about a public display.”

     “There is a favourite place of mine. We will be left alone.”

     The street enchants ST, much as many of the ornate, narrow streets of Europe do. He can imagine himself standing on one of the small, door-sized balconies looking down as pedestrians, such as two, black clad men, scurry along below. In a few minutes they come into the direct sunshine of a broad avenue. They are on Place Jacques-Cartier, and it is ringed with cafés and restaurants. There are also hundreds of people milling about in the crisp October day.

     “There might be the occasional ‘hello’.” Cohen glances at ST. “Nothing more than a smile is required. Most of these people are on their lunch hour, intent on a bite and a glass.”

     “I’m certainly intent on a glass.”

     “That’s where we’re headed.” He doesn’t point but starts across the square. “There are many tables still free.”

     ST again keeps pace, walking beside the other man as they go up the hill. People do indeed notice them, but after an initial surprise comes a look of understanding. The day still belongs to Le Monsieur.

     The outdoor café has hanging baskets of flowers, many in robust bloom. The tables are of ornate wrought iron and have burgundy table clothes. The chairs appear to be actual wooden kitchen chairs.

     “Perhaps that corner.” ST points to the back.

     “But – non.” Cohen smiles as he grabs ST’s arm. “Here – at the front. We are to watch the street go by in all its tousled glory.”

     “Will they not be watching us?”

     “Give and take.” He begins to steer ST to a table. “We will be taking more than they.”

     A couple of the tables have wide umbrellas open over them. ST prefers one of these but instead is gently nudged to the street front. All of the other patrons do look as they walk among them, but although their eyes linger no one says anything. At the table ST begins to pull out a chair which will put his back to the street, but Cohen clicks his tongue and moves the chair until it is nearly beside the other.

     “We’ll sit together. We’ll twin their delight.”

     “If they approach . . . “

     Cohen winks. “You won’t have to sing a note.”

     ST settles beside the poet and gives himself up to the street scene. Regardless of the chill in the air most of this early afternoon crowd have made little concession to the time of year. The women especially seem as fashionably and attractively attired as he has seen in any public place.

     “The ladies are alluring.” ST smiles.

     “Antidote to the black of funeral garb.”

     ST notes the usual ‘double take’ of those pedestrians who happen to look their way. Barely is eye contact made however before it is quickly removed. Couples immediately chat together, but there is not one finger pointed in their direction.

     “What would you like to drink?”

     ST looks away from the street and smiles as an unexpected thought takes him.

     “Champagne.”

time?” Cohen glances at his watch.

     “Will they have something decent here?”

     “They will offer a selection.”

     With a half-raised arm and the gesture of a finger the waitress is summoned. Upon hearing the request she lists a half dozen champagnes. ST chooses one he knows will be as crisp as the day.

     “Any food?”

     “Dear God – yes.” ST smiles at the waitress then glances at the other man. “Any suggestions?”

     “They stuff a chicken breast here with portebello mushrooms, feta and wild rice.” He touches his lips. “With a Greek salad it is a meal to embrace.”

     “That sounds fine.” ST looks back to the waitress. “But bring the champagne now.”

     “Are we to toast?” Cohen watches the waitress walk away as he speaks. “Or are we to mourn?”

     “I less and less mourn the dead.” ST also watches the waitress leave. “They are lost to us but they are not lost to time.”

     “Then we acknowledge?”

     “Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”

     “Memory – the ghost at every table.”

     The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.

     “They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.

     “There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.

     “In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.

     “That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.

     “It should be the news of the world.”

     The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.

     “You can not share my déjà vu but trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”

     ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.

     “We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.

     “By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.

     “By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”

     “With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.

     Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”

What Goes Up Does Not Necessarily Come Down

This is a story told to me by a lawyer who seemed to be pondering his future. I do admit I have embellished what, originally, had barer bones. And – perhaps – I assumed too much

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

retro-style-escalator-4759569

“Have you ever been in the train station at Place Ville Marie in Montreal? The escalators that come up by the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  I had a lot of travel to get to work when I lived in Montreal, and made train and bus connections.

“One morning – a Thursday – as I was going up the escalator, I saw a girl coming down from the street. She had short red hair, and a green skirt with a white blouse. Coming down that escalator, with that wide space between us. She was looking at me the way I was looking at her – interest and excitement and whatever potential that leads to. We stared into each others eyes as we came level, and craned to look back as we passed.

“That was stupid enough. I should have jumped that barrier, or at least gone down after her. But I had a job, and was young, and things like that just don’t happen.

“Next morning, even though I was looking for her, and hoping so much, I couldn’t have been more shocked by a ghost. when I saw that red hair. She had that same look – of shock.

“God, to be so unsure of what to do, and stupid to the ways of the world, and even to have that stabbing thought that it can happen again tomorrow. We stared and stared, you could almost feel electricity between us. At the top I waited as long as I dared, hoping she would come up. I had to get my bus. I just jumped it as it was pulling away.

“That was a Friday. I sweated through the weekend, full of grand plans about telling her to wait, or to come up to me, or yelling my phone number. She wasn’t there, of course – on Monday or any other day. I looked the rest of the summer, then it was back to university.

“I mean, to be given one chance like that and waste it. But two. I’ve never forgotten, even now with a wife and kids, I wonder what might have been.

[Image] https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/b/retro-style-escalator-4759569.jpg

Leonard Cohen Toasts A Dead Prime Minister

210014-pierre-elliott-trudeau

An excerpt from my novel, Fame’s Victim (at times, an altered history of Canada.) Here, ST (the person of Fame in the novel) dines with Leonard Cohen after Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s funeral.

++++++++++++++++++++++

“Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”

“Memory – the ghost at every table.”

The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However, word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.

“They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.

“There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.

“In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.

“That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.

“It should be the news of the world.”

The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.

“You can not share my déjà vu but trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”

ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.

“We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.

“By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.

“By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”

“With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.

Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”

(Image) https://thehaberdasherhistory.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/210014-pierre-elliott-trudeau.jpg

Travel But No Sex On The Night Train Of Years Ago

women-in-pullman-section-berths-january-1930-hulton-archive-getty-images_600px

The night train goes between Halifax and Montreal, and Montreal and Halifax. You can’t get there from here in daylight . . . by train. The train chug chug chugs out of Halifax early afternoon, and out of Montreal early evening. The two pass somewhere in Quebec. Arrival in Montreal is early morning (breakfast time) and early evening (supper time).

Although I’ve had some association with trains for decades (the father of a next-door childhood friend was even the conductor on a train) I came to my pleasure and interest in trains from my first trip to Europe. Both in Great Britain, and the continent, I had great pleasure on the trains (much due to the scenery I had never seen). It was really after that first trip that I travelled with any seriousness by train in Canada. And, as I said, any travel from east to west must include the night train to Montreal.

I have been blessed in that I have never had to ‘sit up’ on this trip (though, these days, even that is not too bad). I’ve had berths (upper and lower) and compartments (these days – again – even with their own shower). And I love the dome cars, sitting there for hours even after dark. It is a grand sensation travelling though the darkened forests with often no more than moon light and stars. And the red and green signal lights of the track itself.

Back ‘in the day’ I even almost had a Night train romance.

This was in the upper berths, where nothing more than a curtain flap and a zipper kept the sleepers private. One usually undressed while supine upon the mattress, sloughing off one’s outer clothes.

On one particular journey to Montreal, in the dark of that Quebec landscape, across the narrow aisle, was a beautiful teen-aged gal, not many years younger than myself. And she indicated ‘interest’, with smiles and giggles and some gentle teasing of undress.

However, she travelled with her (I presume) parents, safely ensconced in the lower berths. And Daddy looked as if he:

a) would brook no nonsense

and (more to the point)

b) would cease and desist any interest by me

The sweet lass keep appearing from behind her curtain with smiles and gestures, but finally realized that an athletic leap from my side to hers was neither safe nor wise. We arrived in Montreal as pure as we set out.

*Sigh*

(image)http://www.museumoftheamericanrailroad.org/Portals/0/Gallery/Album/21/Women-in-Pullman-Section-Berths-January-1930-Hulton-Archive-Getty-Images_600px.jpg

Going Up And Down In Montréal

 

fountain-titled-female

(Place Ville Marie)

At one time I shared a whole house with four other people. Two were in the process of becoming lawyers. I noted that most of their stories did not contain much whimsy. The following is a story one of the fellows told us. I, of course, make up the dialogue but, though fiction, it is based on his facts.

*********************

“I don’t mean to stare – I apologise. I’m not in the habit of doing this, but you remind me of someone. That has to sound like a line – the look on your face. But I’m not after ….

“Have you ever been in the train station at Place Ville Marie in Montréal? The escalators that come up by the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  I had a lot of travel to get to work when I lived in Montréal, and made train and bus connection.

“No, thanks. I don’t want another.

“One morning – a Thursday – as I was going up the escalator, I saw a girl coming down from the street. She had short red hair – that’s the main reason I’ve been staring – and a green skirt with a white blouse. Coming down that escalator, with that wide space between us. She was looking at me the way I was looking at her – interest and excitement and whatever potential that leads to. We stared into each others eyes as we came level, and craned to look back as we passed.

“I guess I’ll have another of the same, after all.

“That was stupid enough. I should have jumped that barrier, or at least gone down after her. But I had a job, and was young, and things like that just don’t happen.

“Next morning, even though I was looking for her, and hoping so much, I couldn’t have been more shocked by a ghost when I saw that red hair. She had that same look – of shock.

“God, to be so unsure of what to do, and stupid to the ways of the world, and even to have that stabbing thought that it can happen again tomorrow. We stared and stared, you could almost feel electricity between us. At the top I waited as long as I dared, hoping she would come up. I had to get my bus, and just jumped it as it was pulling away.

“That was a Friday. I sweated through the weekend, full of grand plans about telling her to wait, or to come up to me, or yelling my phone number. She wasn’t there, of course, on Monday or any other day. I looked the rest of the summer, then it was back to university.

“I mean, to be given one chance like that and waste it. But two. I’ve never forgotten, even now with a wife and kids, I wonder what might have been. It can make my hands shake, seeing someone like you, and with too much drink in me.”

For The Anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s Birth

leonard-cohen-frazer-harrison-staff-getty

Happily, I managed to see Leonard Cohen twice (at the beginning, and near the end) of his last extended tour. Once was in the intimate venue of a few hundred folk in a small theatre. The other was in a civic stadium holding thousands. He was exquisite in both.

In my novel, Fame’s Victim, my famous protagonist, ST (famous for his discoveries of Space/Time)  and Leonard Cohen, dine out in Montréal after attending the funeral of yet someone else famous, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

The following is part of their day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From Fame’s Victim:

At the table ST begins to pull out a chair which will put his back to the street, but Cohen clicks his tongue and moves the chair until it is nearly beside the other.

“We’ll sit together. We’ll twin their delight.”

“If they approach . . . “

Cohen winks. “You won’t have to sing a note.”

ST settles beside the poet and gives himself up to the street scene. Regardless of the chill in the air most of this early afternoon crowd have made little concession to the time of year. The women especially seem as fashionably and attractively attired as any he has seen in any public place.

“The ladies are alluring.” ST smiles.

“Antidote to the black of funeral garb.”

ST notes the usual ‘double take’ of those pedestrians who happen to look their way. Barely is eye contact made however before it is quickly removed. Couples immediately chat together, but there is not one finger pointed in their direction.

“What would you like to drink?”

ST looks away from the street and smiles as an unexpected thought takes him.

“Champagne. Will they have something decent here?”

“They will offer a selection.”

With a half-raised arm and the gesture of a finger, the waitress is summoned. Upon hearing the request she lists a half dozen champagnes. ST chooses one he knows will be as crisp as the day.

“Any food?”

“Dear God – yes.” ST smiles at the waitress then glances at the other man. “Any suggestions?”

“They stuff a chicken breast here with portebello mushrooms, feta and wild rice.” He touches his lips. “With a Greek salad it is a meal to embrace.”

“That sounds fine.” ST looks back to the waitress. “But bring the champagne now.”

“Are we to toast?” Cohen watches the waitress walk away as he speaks. “Or are we to mourn?”

“I less and less mourn the dead.” ST also watches the waitress leave. “They are lost to us but they are not lost to time.”

“Then we acknowledge?”

“Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”

“Memory – the ghost at every table.”

The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.

“They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.

“There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.

“In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.

“That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.

“It should be the news of the world.”

The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.

“You can not share my déjà vu but, trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”

ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give, he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.

“We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.

“By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.

“By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”

“With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.

Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”

 

Summer Heat And Lost Love In Montréal

1491593780482

A story told to me which I have (it must be admitted) embellished.

“I don’t mean to stare – I apologize. I’m not in the habit of doing this, but you remind me of someone. That has to sound like a line – the look on your face. But I’m not after ….

 

“Have you ever been in the train station at Place Ville Marie in Montreal? The escalators that come up by the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  I had a lot of travel to get to work when I lived in Montreal, and made train and bus connection.

 

“No, thanks. I don’t want another.

 

“One morning – a Thursday – as I was going up the escalator, I saw a girl coming down from the street. She had short red hair – that’s the main reason I’ve been staring – and a green skirt with a white blouse. Coming down that escalator, with that wide space between us. She was looking at me the way I was looking at her – interest and excitement and whatever potential that leads to. We stared into each others eyes as we came level, and craned to look back as we passed.

 

“I guess I’ll have another of the same, after all.

 

“That was stupid enough. I should have jumped that barrier, or at least gone down after her. But I had a job, and was young, and things like that just don’t happen.

 

“Next morning, even though I was looking for her, and hoping so much, I couldn’t have been more shocked by a ghost when I saw that red hair. She had that same look – of shock.

 

“God, to be so unsure of what to do, and stupid to the ways of the world, and even to have that stabbing thought that it can happen again tomorrow. We stared and stared, you could almost feel electricity between us. At the top I waited as long as I dared, hoping she would come up. I had to get my bus. I just jumped it as it was pulling away.

 

“That was a Friday. I sweated through the weekend, full of grand plans about telling her to wait, or to come up to me, or yelling my phone number. She wasn’t there, of course – on Monday or any other day. I looked the rest of the summer, then it was back to university.

 

“I mean, to be given one chance like that and waste it. But two. I’ve never forgotten, even now with a wife and kids, I wonder what might have been. It can make my hands shake, seeing someone like you, and with too much drink in me.”

The Time He Could Have Been King Of Montréal

underground-city

“I don’t mean to stare – I apologize. I’m not in the habit of doing this, but you remind me of someone. That has to sound like a line – the look on your face. But I’m not after ….

 

“Have you ever been in the train station at Place Ville Marie in Montreal? The escalators that come up by the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  I had a lot of travel to get to work when I lived in Montreal, and made train and bus connection.

 

“No, thanks. I don’t want another.

 

“One morning – a Thursday – as I was going up the escalator, I saw a girl coming down from the street. She had short red hair – that’s the main reason I’ve been staring – and a green skirt with a white blouse. Coming down that escalator, with that wide space between us. She was looking at me the way I was looking at her – interest and excitement and whatever potential that leads to. We stared into each others eyes as we came level, and craned to look back as we passed.

 

“I guess I’ll have another of the same, after all.

 

“That was stupid enough. I should have jumped that barrier, or at least gone down after her. But I had a job, and was young, and things like that just don’t happen.

 

“Next morning, even though I was looking for her, and hoping so much, I couldn’t have been more shocked by a ghost when I saw that red hair. She had that same look – of shock.

 

“God, to be so unsure of what to do, and stupid to the ways of the world, and even to have that stabbing thought that it can happen again tomorrow. We stared and stared, you could almost feel electricity between us. At the top I waited as long as I dared, hoping she would come up. I had to get my bus. I just jumped it as it was pulling away.

 

“That was a Friday. I sweated through the weekend, full of grand plans about telling her to wait, or to come up to me, or yelling my phone number. She wasn’t there, of course – on Monday or any other day. I looked the rest of the summer, then it was back to university.

 

“I mean, to be given one chance like that and waste it. But two. I’ve never forgotten, even now with a wife and kids, I wonder what might have been. It can make my hands shake, seeing someone like you, and with too much drink in me.”

DE

(image)https ://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/04/34/64/1f/underground-city.jpg

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