Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Prologue: In the Neighbourhood

“. . .THIS IS MILE END, MY FRIEND, the hollowed out ruins here &a train runs straight thru them. . .”

This post was birthed in my 3½ room apartment in Mile End, an historic and rapidly-gentrifying neighbourhood in north Montreal. Mile End was mythologized in the liner notes of Godspeed You Black Emperor’s f#a#infinity at precisely the moment of its transformation: formerly a post-industrial enclave of Mediterranean immigrants, Hasidic Jews and working-class francophones, the neighbourhood is now a highly-desirable real estate market and temporary refuge for hipsters in exile from the adjacent Plateau. I came to Mile End and to Montreal just over five years ago, and although I regularly bemoan its rising rents and specialty shops and profusion of “New York-style” lofts, the place has become, for lack of a better term or a more viable alternative, my home.

This is, at root, because Mile End encompasses a statistically disproportionate number of the relationships that are most important to me and, in turn, it is this synthesis of intimacy and proximity that defines my experience of the neighbourhood. By way of illustration: my apartment is situated at the northernmost edge of the neighbourhood, which ends finally and abruptly at the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. My closest friends all live within five blocks of this radius point, each clinging tenaciously to their cheap and spacious apartments as they anticipate the inevitable arrival of their registered eviction letters. In the meantime, we meet regularly for coffee and drinks at our local café, which is just one of many local cafés but which by virtue of being our café is therefore, for the purposes of this blog, the Café. The Café’s proprietor lives on the other side of my street, as does James, who is as it happens partially responsible for the existence of this blog.

Like myself, James is a doctoral student who, in the language of the post-Martin Canadian university, is “failing to progress.” He is also a writer whose current level of prolificacy is, I suspect, inversely proportional to his talent, but that is quite another story. While drinking at the Café the other night, which James and I do altogether too frequently, we discussed the Blog and its potential uses (e.g. as diary, as political soapbox, as research aid, as writer’s therapy) and by the time we staggered home at our usual late hour we had made a fool’s pact to both start one. Not more than twenty-four hours later James triumphantly posted his first entry, and being a woman of my word, I have somewhat belatedly followed suit.

I’m not at all certain which of the aforementioned categories this blog will fall into, nor do I possess any discernible sense of its utility to anyone other than myself. Having said this, I am at my worst a compulsive story-teller and I imagine this will become readily apparent to any readers who may stumble across these pages. To them I offer a warm welcome and my sincere apologies. And yes, you may smoke here.

8 comments:

Oblivia said...

Congrats Vila! Look forward to your news...

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhh...
Vila Hysteria returns... bring on the screechy distorted violins. I wanna be your dog.
-Maz Fusion

cow said...

hmm Mile-End starts to have a lot story tellers out-there. So Welcome in the neigbourhood. :)

Signed the "Moo" of 7am

Anonymous said...

let me give thanks to one of the few, precious smoking sections available in this rapidly dulling world. looking forward to more of your mellifluous words. i'll bring the gauloises.

b

Anonymous said...

i like to smoke too
matias

Anonymous said...

So, is this blog well ventilated?

Michele said...

Good evening. 'Can't wait to hear more. It is my belief that of 555 people who read your blog, 1 will reply. In the quiet times, return.

Vila H. said...

Thanks, all! :-)