price-compare results for meta vendor sites


10 February 2007

Nobody is an Authority on Nuttin' - But We Try


Blogaulaire likes to jerk people's heads around . . around the very same issues he finds his own head is being jerked around. I guess misery loves company, or something like that.

Perhaps I think that I am an iconoclast. I like to break up other people's preconceived notions and the icons of complacency that rule in their thinking in their little niche, their little nest. I would like to think of myself as a radical, able to 'get at' the root of, the core of, things . . without pussy-footing around with other people's preconceived notions.

But what those descriptive, value-laden words above amount to is merely one more of the most familiar North American stereotypes that are current (and have been for a long time) current among the ranks of Young Turks practicing journalism, literature and/or among today's million-member mass of the scribes who blog on the Internet today. So even THAT image of me as an iconoclast is hardly worth a hill of beans!

There are many, many challenges facing the bookselling trade today.
And there are many, many booksellers who are failing to meet these challenges while many others are succeeding financially in today's market. Where I place myself is as one who is outside this sort of mêlée yet one who can, while learning from others, see through many conceptual traps booksellers are laying down for themselves as they attempt to see through each challenge that presents itself.

Blogaulaire refuses to jump into the groove of those who complacently argue that somehow 'we' (the booksellers) will muddle through. And I see a large gap between the successful booksellers who fit neatly into their local community of book readers/bookstore patrons and the unsuccessful ones who have not made a similar organic connection with their own local book-buying public.

At times, pessimistically (with a touch of hubris, admittedly) Blogaulaire smirks at the emails on a listerv written by wise-old book purveyors who seem totally preoccupied with queries about how to connect with buyers on the Internet. I say to myself, self says I, maybe they should first start worrying about their disconnect with their own local community. In fact, I know deep down that these wizened owners of brick 'n' mortar bookstores have given up on their own local community because that particular community is no longer rushing their bookstore to buy more books!

So people who no longer have a face-to-face community are looking for a virtual community. But, wonder of wonders, it seems that everybody and her brother is searching for the same thing! They are all uploading their titles to the half-dozen or more meta-vendor websites and, generally, slashing their prices. The iconoclast in me says "Duh?". The realist in me asks "What do we do about it? How do we resolve all these obvious disconnects between these book sellers and their clienele, and the book suppliers (the pickers) who are suddenly The Competition?"

What I see that is stable and continuing to flourish surrounded by this maelstrom of turbulence is the voluntaristic approach of non-profit book fairs, such as the University of McGill's and the Sir Thomas More Institute's book sales in Montreal or any one of the even more local sales such as Verdun's St. Willibrord's Church's monthly event. (Plus, I could name a dozen mor local book fairs on the West Island).

Obviously, the worst prescription to offer to anyone working to put meat on the table is to tell that person to go out and volunteer their time and forget about earning money. Yet there are elements of the book fair that can be brought into the formula for the commercial boutique bookstore owner.

Let me just name a few for starters with the caveat that more experienced people could parse such a list better than I could discuss these issues.

Publicity. The fairs are announced in public service announcements in the local papers.

Support. Large numbers of residents attend because it is 'for a good cause.'

Price. Everybody expects bargain prices - even the pickers who intend to list their treasure discoveries on ABE and e-Bay.

Timing. The events are announced well in advance and last, at the most, a couple days.

Space. Charity events do not pay rent and they have access, normally, to vast spaces such as auditoriums and church basements.

Volunteers. The grunge work is done by unpaid, usually enthusiastic, members of the community.

Expertise. Retired leaders from the bookish professions serve as unpaid co-ordinators.

Few constraints to turn a profit or pay out a percentage. I think I'm on weaker ground on this one. Maybe there is more pressure from 'the administration' to turn in a good income than some of us realize.

I think I've listed enough elements that describe the volunteer sector of used book selling. Let me just list another, singular, element -- then I can pat myself on the back self-righteously for being an iconoclast:

One thing that
The book fair people know --


I think that commercial bookstore owners have a handle on ALL of the basic elements listed above -- or at least they seem to in their own email discussions -- but that as a group they are unwilling to air-out in public purview two subjects. The following points are the dirty laundry of the book trade.

What is not being discussed, in my humble opinion, follows:

When a bookstore no longer enjoys local, public support, the owner has to be hog-tied and practically tortured to admit this is so. Not that I think all this is their own fault. But book people really do need to take personal ownership of how, why and the commercial consequences of losing the support of their local community.

This seems fundamental. Especially in communities where the book fairs thrive and the bookstores do not.

The second point is neither openly discussed by the book fair people nor by the bookstore owners, viz: How do you get rid of the left-overs at the end of the day?

Because, if and when the book event and sales venue has community backing from the grassroots, that same public will inundate you-the-bookseller with all kinds of books, including titles that no one in his or her right mind would want to purchase and take home. And to stock and store these books at your own expense will cost YOU money and/or valuable resources like floor space.

Do you send these leftover books to Africa on the next freighter out? Then pity the poor Africans is what I will add. (But of course you don't send them abroad . . that, at least, is one urban myth of the book trade we can quickly dismiss.)

There remains one final point to all this: The book fair people do try to head off the magazines, old newspapers and unsalable print material at the door before it becomes a burden to their organization. But when the commercial bookseller tries to head off 'trash' coming in from a regular, loyal customer, this puts the store owner in the role of a snarky, penny pinching and mean gatekeeper.

But who knows. Maybe the next load of books this same patron drops off will be loaded with priceless treasures?

You don't want to look mean to such a bountiful supplier as this well meaning customer, now do you?

At the end of the day and the end of this long post, what I advocate is that bricks 'n' mortar bookstore owners try to emulate that same communty-based formula that works so well in the volunteer sector I counsel all of us to remain as graciously in the good graces of even the most benighted client. Be as friendly to them as possible.

The shopkeeper must have a quick EXIT STRATEGEY. A backdoor procedure that centres around some local friend with a good pickup truck. A guy or gal who will help haul all of what is mere 'printed material' from your store's receiving end to the shipping end at the back of the store -- STRAIGHT to the collection bins at the local recycling or paper-drive collection centre!

Short of everybody closing shop and operating out of their own basement or apartment, Blogaulaire's proposal to bookstore owners about reconnecting with their communities (while still remaining Spartan about display and storage space), PLUS the idea of holding big open-door sales evebts, are topics that deserve more wide discussion by book bloggers and subscribers to bookish email listservs.

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 10 Febuary


from Justin Wintle

"There's no entombment like marriage to a malevolent man."

. . (164) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

09 February 2007

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 9 Febuary


action reflections

from Justin Wintle

"If one son becomes a monk, nine generations will reach heaven."

. . (190) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

08 February 2007

An Open-Ended, Unending Rant on Used Book Selling


At an open-air flea market about 6 years ago, amongst my junk on a table I had a few books. paperbacks mostly if not entirely. I put a price of $15 on my copy of Naomi Klein's book "No Logo". I just knew I would get the price I asked, never mind what I paid for the book (probably at another flea market) myself. It sold for $15.

This summer, if I sell some junk there again, it will be pretty much the same routine, though my computer parts and peripherals probably won't sell as well as they did back in 2001. I'm not certain what the $15 paperbacks will be, maybe it will include a French-language copy of Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi.

What people will want most this year in Quebec is very different from what it was 5 or 6 years ago. At a flea market I have no problemo adapting. But, in a well stocked bookstore, I can see these changes in 'taste' presenting a very serious problem. (One sells 100s of diverse titles 'all at once,' so to speak.)

I remember from days spent in Chicago a period when there was a craze over every printed title about surrealism. Maybe it was local, probably not. I remember from Montreal entire knick-knack and lit boutiques devoted to New Age, to the Cabala and crystals and tarot cards and nuatl-whatever mythology. Folk music and disco were also in, then out.

I know, there still exists a solid-selling literature that includes Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. I hope this bedrock lit also includes Cervantes's 'Don Quixote' but I forget. I believe Octavio Paz is out today and Carlos Fuentes is in, but I'll pass on that one as well.

The bookseller people who are specialised in one genre, say science fiction or, say, comic books, probably have a better handle on these changes in taste than I do or than most used book store owners as well. And these specialist dealers know which title & author ages so well so they pop that one straight into a Mylar baggy affair. I suspect that many of the mainline booksellers, however, operate on not much more than a hope and a prayer, plus lots of shelf room, when they decide to stock a particular book. Or do they just stock everything that comes their way?

Let us not underestimate the genius of SOME used booksellers to adjust to The Long Tail (the eternity of demand), their sensitivity to local preoccupations and who is or is not a celebrity, or their grasp of the world historical trends. But from looking at sellers closely, I seem to see an equal amount of plain old good luck, like when somebody dumps freebies on one bookseller's doorstep and that lot fetches hundreds of dollars the next day!

What this world needs is a good computer program, distributed widely to the trade we are discussing, that tells sellers what to do in lock-step with what will sell well. Barring this prescriptive, management-by-prediction, hardwired map, booksellers will remain hard done by. End of paragraph.

So far, despite my appeal for a software program to solve every body's problems, I have not said one word about the Internet. Nor am I going to. It's been discussed thoroughly enough, even though you wouldn't be able to read these line without it.

Bookseller are condemned to be "overstocked" when tastes change rapidly and dramatically. Not only would efficient operations require a guerrilla army of suppliers to stay in stock with what's HOT but efficiency would also demand a guerrilla army of disposers (if not buyers) to get rid of what is NOT HOT, what is in fact quite COLD.

Publishers used to dispose of their 'overstock' at a quarter to job-lotters in the remainders trade. (Now that they print less, I guess it's up to fifty cents per book.) The used book dealer, though, living life at the bottom of the food chain, cannot pass on his stagnant paper and board to an even lower bottom-feeding odd-lotter. Wishing it were so does not make it so, so sorry.

This is why I am skeptical regarding the long tail optimistic approach toward the hoarding of books. It is so much a case of the wish being father to the thought that it borders on being pathetic. Relying on the long tail finishes up with what I saw today on Bibliophile Bullpen: an engraved tombstone reading 'The one who has the most books at the end wins.'

My post is here not to offer solutions but to offer very subjective impressions, nothing more. Here are my subjective reactions regarding book hoards.

First: that the dealer has little discriminating judgement. The stock whatever gets tossed over the transom;

Second: that I should low-ball to get the absolute dirt-cheap price for what I would otherwise pay a premium for to own;

Third: that if the entire stock is not readily at my finger tips but is in the basement or behind glassed-in cases, that it is the bookseller who is trying to cheat me and not vice versa (which is how I'd rather it be);

Fourth: (this is the hard one) I feel real repugnance at seeing row after row of titles that were once my true 'flames' but with which I have had a bitter falling-out, viz certain unnamed conspiracy theories, New Age treatments of Atlantis or Nostradamus, recent books about 'Empire', true crime fiction of the poltergeist sort, etc., etc.

I do not intend my oh so subjective list to be a put-down of anyone (I could have used more judgemental language, but held back). I'm merely underscoring some of the dangers of trying to be everything to everyone. And I think that keeping everything from every reading craze threatens being slotted in the customer's mind with being nothing to nobody.

There is a bookseller friend of mine who stocks whole sections of books in Renaissance Literature. These are equal in shelf footage to her offerings in Esoterica as well as her stock in Communism. I take that back, if you include Religion, the esoterica far outweighs the Marxism et al. And the stuff on First Nations and Judaism tends toward the occult. I don't know where to place the vegan cookbooks: do they go with the political or the religious? In any case, this is definitely an 'alternative' bookstore. But the vast majority of her trade is in popular fiction, of which she stocks more than all the other categories combined! Need I add that financially her bookstore is in ruins!

You get the picture. The bookstore might do fine on a college campus, but, unfortunately, is located in a working class district with a 50%+ high school dropout rate. Go figure!

If I had a prescription to offer the owner of a bricks 'n' mortar bookstore it would be to not attempt being all things to all people: something that your customer base is not into. Or at least to have no more than two public faces, one for the carriage trade and intellectuals and another for the local market -- but have all your stock within easy view and arranged based the target market for the books. Classics and Philosophy do not mix well with popular snuff lit and Harlequin romances. If you hve to stock Readers' Digest Condensed to get by, just forget it all!

(This post has been edited to exclude from purview all the complications arising from doing any and all of the above in two languages simultaneously.)

Has David Streitfeld at the L. A. Times Revealed to Booksellers a New Prophet-Poet? Is the Prose Proselytizer of Books Now in Print?


Shop Lewis Buzbee's book "The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop," (US $17) online if you want to save mucho. Just use the form box at the top of this and every other page on Cheap Priceless Editions.

Streitfeld's piece is a remarkable one-shot summary of the crisis that metropolitan bookstores in North America have been facing over the past 6 or 7 years. Truly, this is not at all like the stereotypical occupational complaint the way hog and milk producers bitch about subsidy programs. On the other hand, there is always the trap of psychosomatic sympathetic identification with the Californication of Culture. You make up your own mind.

Maybe Ron Silliman is the new prophet-poet of what is happening in the book trade. He's at least eloquent and articulate, coming up with apt comparisons with past techno-family challenges.

Quotes from:
Bookshops' latest sad plot twist
By David Streitfeld
Los Angeles Times
February 7, 2007

When sliding sales forced Cody's to close its store next to the UC Berkeley campus, the poet Ron Silliman wrote on his blog that it was once the anchor of "the best book-buying block in North America." But in the discussion that followed, the attitude was one of resignation if not indifference.

"Why would anyone want to perpetuate small independents by paying higher prices?" wondered Curtis Faville, a poet who sells rare books on the Internet. "Most of these proud little independents were poorly run anyway."

Less harshly, Silliman suggested in an e-mail that "we're simultaneously caught in the wonder of the new and true mourning for the losses of the old."

It's an unsettling if inevitable process. Half a century ago, Silliman said, he would play chess and checkers with his grandfather as they listened to the radio. "That stopped once the TV arrived, because now we all had to face the same direction," he wrote.
END QUOTE--------------
hippie cowboy hats
If you think everything '60s started in California, then you probably think everything '60s will end there.

Blogaulaire thinks that the last thing these California scribes will write about is the large number of ex-patriats who have left the state to discover some other New Eldorado elsewhere. Native Californians would much rather believe that Silicone Valley (with, perhaps, a little help from Seattle) still RULES; that we're all into California Dreamin, one way or the other.

On another personal note, Berkeleylost its magnetic appeal along with The Haight so long ago . . it was almost exactly on my 15th birthday. The point is: the demise of these culture icons up and down Shattuck is not the demise of The Culture ipso facto.

I'm even surprised that Cody's survived in that venue for as long it they did. (Blogaulaire still adores North Beach bistros in San Francisco.)

"The bookstore as we know it is in dire straits," said Lewis Buzbee, a novelist who spent many years working in the local shops.

"The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop," (US $17) Buzbee's loving memoir of his time as a clerk in the Bay Area (is) interspersed with a history of the bookselling trade, has become a small but genuine hit. It's just gone into its fourth printing, with enthusiastic crowds flocking to the writer's appearances.

"One thing books do is offer us concrete definitions for sometimes hazy feelings," said Buzbee, 49. "My memoir gives people a venue for sharing their emotions about bookstores."
A good bookstore, he notes, is unlike any other retail space. Where else can you linger, sample the merchandise and then casually reject it if not quite right? Your local pizzeria would frown on such behavior. In a culture that worships money, bookstores are one of the few commercial institutions where cost doesn't trump all other considerations. Massive bestsellers share shelf space with the most obscure tomes.
Buzbee exalts a place where time seems to slow but hours can disappear in an instant, where browsers coexist in a companionable solitude, where a chance encounter with the exact right volume might create an explosion in your head.

"Not only could your world change, but the rest of the world could change," he told an audience at the venerable City Lights bookstore in North Beach."

Violent Death by Assassination Still Haunts Ivory Coast


The gunshot death two nights ago of Michel Niacel, EU officer in charge of staff security in the southern zone of Côte d'Ivoire, has turned into a civil police investigation and not an international affair involving political recriminations.
ball of flame
Staff writer Emmanuel Akani for the Abidjan Matin, however, exaggerates when he implies that it is typical Western paranoia and prejudice that tries to make more of a domestic murder or suicide than is warranted simply because it happens to occur in Africa. Only three days prior to the death of Niacel, there was an attempt on the life of the Ivorian commander Captain Kipré, at the headquarters of the militarised demarcation-line between northern and southern zones. His adjoint, Lieutenant Drihé, was seriously injured by a grenade rigged to explode when anyone opened a bureau drawer in Kirpé's office.

Given recent Ivorian history of violent politico-military reprisals, assassination, and even death squads controlled remotely by Ivory Coast's highest officials, every violent death of a prominent figure in the multinational peacekeeping operation becomes cause for suspicion and alarm.

We, living peaceful lives in industrially advanced countries, like to get our African Realities in movie theatres and suspence-filled novels. We give prizes to the creative authors and directors of the sort of drama that lets us shed a tear for our imaginary Africa. For us, politics goes on in Ottawa, Washington, D.C., London and Paris while what happens in African capitals is intrigue and conspiracy (frequently genocidal).

Given the shroud of doubt about the death of Michel Niaucel at age 53, while serving 'our' West in 'some part of' Africa, while he sleeps with a Western wife in his Western bedclothes . . Given the joint police investigation being closely supervised by French officials, I guess the rest of us can get back to literature and the seven arts.

We still have a raging debate to engage over which is better cinema: "Babel" or last year's "The Constant Gardener". (But first I'll have to rent one and go out to see the other.)

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 8 Febuary


from Justin Wintle

"No man on a horse can remember what it is like to go on foot."

. . (154) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

07 February 2007

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 7 Febuary


robber baron

from Justin Wintle

"Wealth gives a man the respect due to someone thirty years his senior."

. . (152) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

Breaking News: Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire: EU Diplomat Murdered


06 to 07 February 2007
Last Night
Tuesday to Wednesday

A diplomatic representative of the European Union residing in Abidjan, Michel Niaucel (aged 53) was murdered by gunshot in his home last night. Police in the Ivorian capital did not offer a motive for the attack. The murder was officially confirmed by the foreign office in Paris overnight.

Neither Niaucel's wife nor his 13-year-old daughter were physically harmed, although both were present in the family's residence when the murder occurred.

M. Niaucel, a former commander in the French armed forces (gendarmerie), worked with the European Union commission in Abidjan and was charged with the security of staff and officials posted in that civil war torn West African nation.

Background (provided by the Agence Français de Presse) and details are quoted in French below. For the Internet source, click on this post's title.

As of 5:00 AM Atlantic Time, there were no other news releases available via Internet, not even from reliable French-language media in Abidjan.

Michel Niaucel, un ancien commandant de gendarmerie de 53 ans, était notamment chargé des questions de sécurité à la délégation de l'UE à Abidjan, selon des sources diplomatiques concordantes.

M. Niaucel a été tué par balles à son domicile, situé dans une résidence de l'UE au Plateau, le quartier des affaires d'Abidjan, dans des circonstances qui restaient obscures mercredi matin, selon ces sources.

A Paris, le ministère français des Affaires étrangères a confirmé la mort d'un ressortissant français travaillant pour la Commission européenne à Abidjan.

L'épouse et la fille de M. Niaucel, âgée de 13 ans, étaient présentes au moment des faits, selon plusieurs sources diplomatiques à Abidjan.

Aucune hypothèse -- assassinat pour des raisons politiques ou crime crapuleux ordinaire -- n'était privilégiée mercredi matin, selon plusieurs diplomates.

06 - 07 February 2007

The assassination of Ivorian civil and military officials has a 'long tradition' in Ivory Coast. So do attacks against French officials. Given this West African nations present situation, divided between national forces loyal to Pres Gbagbo and the New Force 'rebels' in the northern third of the territory, all ears will be to the ground listening for rumblings of a heightened level of state or rebel-sponsored violence directed at the Gbagbo or rebel leadership.

The background below relates how French civilians were already evacuated over the past 4 years following the outbreak and fallout from the civil war. Peacekeeping military forces in Ivory Coast have reinforced a cordon sanitaire between the opposing sides, further dividing the territory geographically between a more Christian and developped south and a depressed agricultural north, where Muslims and adherents of indigenous religions are in the majority. Class, caste and revolt against French neo-colonial control are big factors that fuel violence and incidents such as the assassination of Michel Niaucel have potential to precipitate or figure into new outbreaks and fresh attempts to precipitate such outbreaks deliberately.

Les relations entre Paris et Abidjan, autrefois partenaire privilégié de la France en Afrique, se sont détériorées à la suite de la tentative de coup d'Etat des FN contre M. Gbagbo en septembre 2002. La France est depuis régulièrement accusée par les partisans du président de soutenir la rébellion.

Elles sont devenus glaciales à partir de novembre 2004, lorsqu'un bombardement de l'aviation ivoirienne a tué neuf soldat français à Bouaké (centre). En représailles, l'armée française avait détruit l'aviation ivoirienne, provoquant une série de violentes manifestations antifrançaises à Abidjan et des affrontements meurtriers entre soldats français et manifestants ivoiriens.

Près de 8.000 expatriés français avaient alors été évacués en catastrophe par l'armée française et rapatriés en France.

Environ 3.000 civils français (hors binationaux) vivent encore aujourd'hui à Abidjan, contre 50.000 dans les années 1980.

L'armée française, par l'intermédiaire de sa force Licorne, compte de son côté quelque 3.500 soldats, chargés de faire respecter le cessez-le-feu entre les FN et le camp présidentiel, qui contrôle toujours le sud du pays.

06 February 2007

Screen-Capture of Highlight Sites on CPE's Feature Blogroll Links


Blogaulaire put those links in the right-hand sidebar for our readers convenience and enjoyment. Just leaving the names and links on the right, though, serves no real purpose unless you click on them. Few of you do.

So, if you can't bring the mountain to Muhammed . . .

Here is a screen shot from the homepage at Denis-Carl Robidoux's Blog.

Entertainment Center Bookshelves

Screen-Capture: Today's Featured Link

Denis-Carl offers his beatiful photo images for free, to use as screensavers, backgrounds, or for scrapbooking to your own collection of borrowed art, artifacts and photographs.

Visit Denis-Carl's 'site' for an inspiring 'sight'.

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 6 Febuary


from Justin Wintle

"Around a widow's door slanders gather."

. . (148) Chinese

cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

05 February 2007

"Abandoned Turcot rail yards come to life with creative vision"


By, Andy Riga
The Gazette

Published: Monday, February 05, 2007

Photographs by Gordon Beck

It's a sprawling wasteland scarred by graffiti and dotted with tall, drab, decrepit concrete pillars - a scab on Montreal's landscape that grumbling commuters inch past in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

To you, maybe.

To photographer Ken McLaughlin, the Turcot interchange and abandoned rail yards in west-end Montreal are a visual feast, a hiking trail, an online passion.
To visual artist Doug Scholes, the interchange is a creative inspiration, a temple for the automobile that evokes Britain's Stonehenge.

To archaeologist Daniel Marchand, it's an unfinished work of art that he's anxious to complete, paint can in hand.

Cheap Priceless Editions could just as easily have blogged this item under the banner headline:

Local Blogger Makes The Headlines !!!

CPE has frequently called its readers attention to the blogroll (left sidebar) links. There, Blogaulaire links you to Walking Turcot Yards (WTY) as a photo-commentary site run by colleagues and friends. (There are other interesting links to check out as well)

Today, special mention should be made of one in particular.

The Montreal Gazette just now ran a piece based on interviews of the blog owner over at Walking Turcot Yards (WTY). The blogger and the site got a well deserved, long feature write up, signed by Andy Riga. CLICK on the title ABOVE and CHECK IT OUT.

The upside to all this media attention is that the publicity is clearly favourable: the text gives positive reasons to support the alternatives that concerned residents and urban reformers propose for reclaiming abandoned urban spaces to make the zone accessible, enjoyable and enriching for all local residents.

The potential downside to the attention now drawn to Turcot Yards is that it attracts still more speculators who also read The Gazette like vultures.(These real estate interests keep landing on the blog Walking Turcot Yards as well as our own Cheap Priceless Editions browsing around to check out what we post and see how all this may affect their own, self-interested commercial proposals!)

So all this increased regional attention sort of ups the ante on moving toward better alternatives for the abandoned site. Montrealers who yearn for more green spaces need to be mobilised sooner than later.

Montreal AutorouteThough these considerations are no marginal matter, YOU THE READER have a nice long article to enjoy and maybe bookmark. So we shall get on with the blogged content for your own further enlightenment!

"I'm sure people driving by or stuck in traffic think, 'How can they improve this piece of s---?' " McLaughlin said during a walk on the desolate stretch that he describes as the world's largest urban abandoned space. "But a lot of people have no idea what was on the ground here."

They also probably haven't meandered underneath, appreciating the view. He realizes his walks are illegal, but he has only ever been stopped once - by a Surete du Quebec officer who warned him he risks a $142 fine.

"Image-wise, it is very interesting because it looks so different at different times of the day. I like the shapes, the lines, the lighting, the fact that you've got this huge open space in a big city," said McLaughlin.

Big Sky at Turcot Yards

"I like the dramatic sky - you see a lot of big sky at Turcot Yards," he added, pointing to an expanse that is clear blue but for a few wisps of cloud. "There are also subtle little things - the way things grow here. You're constantly seeing nature trying to grab something back."

McLaughlin has taken 1,500 photos of the place, 75 of which he has posted online: colourful graffiti on pillars; views from a now-demolished observation tower; shots of stuff he comes across - an empty suitcase, piles of rocks, locked bikes.

He also points visitors to other sites focused on Turcot, such as Urban Exploration Montreal, a group of people who trespass to explore, then document their endeavours online. At Turcot, they picked through the detritus of abandoned (now razed) buildings, then posted pictures and videos of the adventure.

On Walking Turcot Yards, visitors find historic photos and tidbits about the area's past. They also view pictures and articles about creative ways other cities are dealing with transportation and other urban projects: a colourful, functional and innovative highway/sound barrier in Melbourne, Australia; a green-and-yellow interchange in Dallas; an urban garbage dump turned into a 3-hectare public park in Cairo.

McLaughlin envisages a park at Turcot - "some kind of public space that connects to St. Henri and that has staircases coming down from N.D.G."

In the summer, he braves swarms of mosquitoes to walk a trail along the Falaise St. Jacques. The poplar-lined escarpment on the property's north perimeter is used by migratory birds and is one of the city's protected "ecoterritories."

The article also discusses St. Henri resident artist Doug Scholes's artistic renderings of Turcot Yards visions on canvas and with photo-montage.

" 'If you're on site, there is a sense of awe and wonder at its sheer size,' an experience he compares to entering a Gothic church."

Scholes, 45, lives in St. Henri, close to the interchange. He has researched its history and sees it as a symbol of 1950s and '60s urban idealism, when the raised highway was like something out of The Jetsons.

"There was always this underlying idealistic view that they were going to somehow make city living better (and) be able to move through the city freely without inhibiting or damaging the communities," he said. "In fact, it damaged the communities, creating fissures."

- emphasis adde by Blogaulaire

Links to websites

Links to websites that find interchange worth exploring

Walking Turcot Yard:

Meandres Urbains Essentiels:

Urban Exploration Montreal:

Bilingualism Has Protective Effect In Delaying Onset Of Dementia By Four Years, Canadian Study Shows


Thanks to Maud for posting this medical news link today on her blog and thanks to GalleyCat at Media Bistro for pointing at it.

5 February 2007

Medical News Today

Canadian scientists have found astonishing evidence that the lifelong use of two languages can help delay the onset of dementia symptoms by four years compared to people who are monolingual.

There has been much interest and growing scientific literature examining how lifestyle factors such as physical activity, education and social engagement may help build "cognitive reserve" in later years of life. Cognitive reserve refers to enhanced neural plasticity, compensatory use of alternative brain regions, and enriched brain vasculature, all of which are thought to provide a general protective function against the onset of dementia symptoms.

Now scientists with the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Research Centre for Aging and the Brain have found the first evidence that another lifestyle factor, bilingualism, may help delay dementia symptoms.

. . .

"The data show a huge protective effect," adds co-investigator Dr. Craik, who cautioned that this is still a preliminary finding but nonetheless in line with a number of other recent findings about lifestyle effects on dementia.

The study is published in the February 2007 issue of Neuropsychologia (Vol.45, No.2).
(Article Date: 12 Jan 2007 - 11:00 PST)

Although this study was carried out in Canada, which has an 'Official Bilingualism' policy, you may note that, in the majority, the subjects were not people speaking French and English, but languages acquired abroad, before immigrating to North America. Maybe (probably) it is impossible to find even a few hundred speakers of Canada's two official languages close enough to Baycrest to carry out similar investigations regarding French and English bilingual fluency.

Where such positive findings, however, could have great value is on language acquisition in the home. Here parents often need encouragement to speak to their own children in the parents' own mother tongue(s), not just adopt the language which predominates in the local community and school.

It was striking recently to see and hear a French-language Radio Canada televised interview of beat author and poet Jack Kerouac taped in the early '60s. To the surprise of his Québecois audience it seems, His French was quite good, because his parents had spoken French to him at home (though at school Kerouac was taught in English). Many mill towns in New England took two generations before the French Canadian descendents all had lost their language heritage.

I see more and more of the same among many immigrants I meet today, thankfully. It's quite a contrast with what looked like a trend toward parental unilingualism to foster quick integration and cultural camouflage, particularly among southern European immigrants.

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 5 Febuary


from Justin Wintle

"It is better to offend a guest than it is to starve him."

. . (144) Chinese

04 February 2007

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 4 Febuary


construction scaffold

from Justin Wintle

"Check the weather when you venture out; check the faces when you venture in."

. . (137) Chinese