Culture | Demystifying Montreal’s blogosphere

The Daily’s Leah Pires opens the gates to our city’s cultural hotspots on the web

As children of the digital age, navigating the internet has become an integral part of our daily routines, and we are far more likely to get our daily fix of news and culture from a web site than from the morning paper. But the sheer mass of constantly evolving content on the internet can be enough to be to dishearten even the keenest culture vulture. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, here is a survey of Montreal blogs that touch our city’s music, food, nightlife, and the city’s urban landscape.


While trapped in the midst of a Montreal winter and rarely wearing fewer than four layers of clothing, it’s easy to forget that a world outside of our city exists. Mp3 bloggers and Université de Montréal radio DJs Guillaume and JP – a.k.a. Khiasma and Masala – are here to take you on a musical vacation with Masalacism. The itinerary includes podcasted playlists of bhangra, dancehall, and funk, “Baile MTL” club nights at Lambi, and snippets of sun-soaked audio-visual delight culled from YouTube. “Our goal is to expose the mutation of global urban culture,” JP explains. “We showcase music from all over the world, [but] avoid the term ‘world music”; it is very limiting and colonial-minded.” Masalacism’s open-ended approach to music, coupled with thought-provoking posts examining issues such as gender dichotomies in bassline house and grime/dubstep music, is sure to broaden your horizons.


Rate the following on a scale of one to 10: irony, gold lamé, nu-rave, Blizzarts, doing the d.a.n.c.e., and wearing plastic toys on a chain around your neck. Depending on the results, you may or may not want to peep pictures from last night’s party on The Pregnant Goldfish and Thefriendattack – Montreal’s answers to LA’s (in)famous nightlife archivist and party-picture pioneer The Cobrasnake. “We like to talk about friends, but we love to talk about strangers” the Goldfish explain on their site, “and we have a lot to say about nothing.” Though it’s true that neither site is the most thought-provoking read on the world wide web, you have to admire their dedication to lugging their wide-angle-lensed Nikons around town and meticulously documenting the ins and outs of Montreal’s Beautiful People. Whether you are one of them, want to be one of them, or are just seeking the voyeuristic thrill of a glimpse into the underbelly of our city’s social scene, The Pregnant Goldfish and Thefriendattack are waiting – and watching.


Unlike many of their mp3-blogging contemporaries, Sean, Jordan, and Dan of Said the Gramophone don’t want to discover the next big thing; they want to uncover the next small thing. “The next awesome four seconds of your life,” Sean explains, with the mixture of glee and sincerity, or in his words, “verve and vim,” that characterizes much of this blog’s postings – and accounts for most of its charm. The sheer mass of new bands swirling around on the internet can be enough to overwhelm even the most dedicated music sleuth. That’s why Said the Gramophone’s attention to detail is so surprising, and so sublime. Faithfully updated with a new song, whimsical photo, and oft-fictional anecdote every day – and known as one of the first sites to break beloved bands such as Beirut, Miracle Fortress, and Arcade Fire – Said the Gramophone is ready to take you under its wings and introduce your next precious, small thing.


Q. What part of Montreal nightlife is as essential as a heaping, cheese-curd-covered, gravy-drenched pile of french fries? A. Midnight Poutine. To the casual observer the two concepts may seem synonymous, but to blog-savvy Montrealers, the phrase takes on an entirely new significance. They know that the self-proclaimed “high-fat source of rants, raves, and musings” is the go-to web site for Montreal event listings, news briefs, and concert reviews. Their volunteer-run network of twentysomething bloggers faithfully canvas the streets of our city and provide narrative accounts of cultural life, ranging from a discussion of the keffiyeh scarf (“fashion or politics?”) to an item-by-item menu evaluation of Connie’s Pizza. Though a super-slick layout and frequent updates make this site a quintessential starting point, readers seeking a grittier, more avant-garde perspective on Montreal may want to click on by.


Bloggers Michelle and Anthony have prepared …an endless banquet, and you – and all your friends – are invited. Since setting the table in November 2004, they have been serving up weekly portions of mouthwatering recipes (recent entries include spice bread and truffled eggs), narrative accounts of local culinary delights, and exuberant examinations of cherished cookbooks. Perhaps the most impressive course of this banquet is the exhaustive Montreal Food Guide, which surveys over 150 Montreal restaurants – each meticulously reviewed and rated according to price. “A life worth living for us is intimately connected to good, often simple food,” Anthony explains. His hungry readers seem inclined to agree.