AngryFrenchGuy

About French Music at the Bell Center

with 252 comments

Wordy Word

My friend Vince is one of those prototypical couch jocks who’s whole lives revolve around NFL football, hockey playoffs and three-day NHL ’08 marathons.  Amazingly, Vince also finds time to get some work done between his ultra-realistic and complex online baseball league simulations. He’s a very successful disc jockey who’s been rocking dancefloors since way before he was legally allowed to even be in the clubs.

For the last three years Vince has also been working as the DJ at the Bell Center during the Canadien’s hockey games.  Up there on the gallery with the best seat in the house for every single home game and 25 000 cheering Habs fans below, Vince is as close to heaven as he’ll ever be if lust, gluttony and sloth are indeed deadly sins…

Since last May, however, some bad vibes have been drifting up to his happy place.  Nothing major.  Just a very persistent controversy about the amount of French and Québec music that is being played at the Bell Center.

The debate started with an online petition by publisher Michel Brûlé demanding that the Bell Center respect the CRTC requirements imposed on French commercial radio stations and play at least 65% of French music.

The Bell Center is a private business, not a broadcaster and that idea got very little support.  The debate about the amount of French music and local artists played at the Bell Center, however, lived on and today, just like Bob Gainey, Carbo and the guys on the ice,  Vince is discovering the joy of hearing people second guessing how he does his job on TV and in the papers.

Vince is very lucky to have his job, but he absolutely deserves it.  Before he was drafted by the Canadiens, he was the Expo’s DJ at the Olympic stadium.  Not many people know this, but before hockey games on Saturday nights Vince is at the Université de Montréal stadium playing music for the college football team Les Carabins.  He doesn’t need the money.  They can’t afford him anyway.  Vince is just really intense about sports and music.

Ever since Vince first appeared at our school in the fourth grade with his strange and cool breakdance LPs under his arm, it’s always been about the music, and the music could only be about what we were, French-speaking kids from this place called Québec.  Singing in English or changing your accent made you a poser and earned you our sincere contempt.

Vince led the way for the rest of us white kids into the then-scary world of Rap or deep into his dad’s collection of old Offenbach, Harmonium and Charlebois records.  He can say he’s battled Kool Rock of the first ever Québec Rap crew Mouvement Rap Francophone (coolest band logo in Québec music history) way back when you and your dad wouldn’t even acknowledge Hip Hop as music yet.  Fifteen years before the Cowboy Fringants, Vince played the drums for for Trad Rock band les Pères Verts, and wrote the lyrics for their nationalist anthem Racines (Roots).

Later, with his band Phénomen, Vince recorded two crazy eclectic albums, one of which was nominated as best Hip Hop album at the Gala de l’Adisq, the Québec equivalent of the Grammy’s.

Speaking of the Gala de l’Adisq, this year’s edition was held last sunday at, precisely, the Bell Center and I watched the gala with Vince at his house. He’s not going to like me telling you this, but when Luc Plamondon payed homage to Québec’s most successful artist ever, recalling Céline Dion’s rise from Charlemagne to worldwide stardom, her sincere loyalty to the Québec public and how she never stopped recording in French, Vince cried.

A few minutes later another legend, Claude Dubois (the guy the CBC edited out of it’s broadcast of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame along with all the other francophones artists) sang Si Dieu Existe.  Vince cried again.

I very seriously doubt that in it’s 100 year history the Montreal Canadien has ever had an employee who is more passionate about Québec music and culture.

The average hockey fan watching the game on TV, however, doesn’t actually hear much of the music played at the arena.  The “music” during the game is really just a quick succession of 5 and 10 second snippets: “We will, we will, Rock You!”,  hand claps, an organ riff and face off.  If you listen to any sports event from anywhere in the world, you will quickly notice there is a very small cannon everyone seems to be working with: Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll part two, I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett and… that’s about it.

Vince makes it a point of playing Québec artists that he likes during intermissions, when he actually gets to play the whole song.  The TV viewing crowd, sadly, is watching beer commercials or game “analysis”.  Montreal already does have it’s hometown classic sports anthems, although they are getting a bit old: Illégal by Corbeau when the other team makes a nasty hit and Éric Lapointe’s Les Boys or Rocket (on est tous des Maurices Richards).  In fact, I seriously wonder if you’ll hear as much properly ‘local’ music at any other NHL’s team home games…

Smarter artists, Loco Locass to name one, understood this and instead of calling for legislation or quotas, went to work and did their jobs and recorded a hockey song for Vince. (Btw, les Locos, Vince aimerait bien avoir un .wav…)

And let’s hope they keep doing it and keep putting out high impact rocking anthems Vince can play during Hockey games.

If they can come up with the beats and the chants, they’ve got a very good friend up there.

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 16, 2008 at 7:07 pm

252 Responses

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  1. Hebrew were the smallest nation of the roman empire, but….

    Katmandoo

    November 23, 2008 at 3:19 am

  2. Katmandoo, je l’aime bien cette replique..

    midnightjack

    November 23, 2008 at 3:24 am

  3. “The coming bad economic times will escalate the differences and the people in the ROC will understand how much money has been wasted on french imperative programs. I doubt they will be happy campers when they recognize the outrageous numbers. All for what.”

    In 1995 people from west called me at home crying to convice me to stay in Canada…I hope next time let leave us alone with our decision.

    Katmandoo

    November 23, 2008 at 3:25 am

  4. “Do the federal government have to subside (again) the auto industry?”

    Hard to say…but…the auto industry became very glutonous. The workers paid way too much considering global economics in this industry…Canada..about 75.00 per hour, Japan about 50.00 per hour..other countries a lot less. (This includes wages plus deemed benefits)

    The major auto producers went to Washington last week..looking for handouts. .they all took their own private jets. Why couldnt they “jet pool” or take some commercial flights with their apparent bankrupt companies. Not the best optics for someone looking for free money from the people.

    If you let them go there are going to be a lot of people out of work…on the other hand the industries will be reborn, with investment by others but it may be that they will be viable as opposed to now being not viable.

    Putting money into the existing system will not be of any benefit long term. The industry must make major changes.

    You be the judge.

    ABP

    ABP

    November 23, 2008 at 3:25 am

  5. “Katmandoo, je l’aime bien cette replique.”

    Well, I think it is time to claim high and strong the power beyond the mind that we begin to understand here in Quebec….

    Katmandoo

    November 23, 2008 at 3:28 am

  6. “In 1995 people from west called me at home crying to convice me to stay in Canada…I hope next time let leave us alone with our decision”

    Clearly a mistake predicated by those in Ottawa who painted a false onerous future for Canada after a separation. (selfishly saving their own livelyhood.)

    Try again…might work out. I hope so for all of us.

    ABP

    ABP

    November 23, 2008 at 3:32 am

  7. “Well, I think it is time to claim high and strong the power beyond the mind that we begin to understand here in Quebec….”

    What is understood in Quebec is not beyond the mind..it’s really about money extracted from the ROC. Thats really all it is. For if it wasn’t the second largest province by population in Canada would be a net contributor to the country rather than the negative commodity that it is.

    A plus tard

    ABP

    ABP

    November 23, 2008 at 3:38 am

  8. Katmandou, are you talking about B DE MTL?

    midnightjack

    November 23, 2008 at 3:48 am

  9. For ABP, Katmandoo is talking about a new way of thinking, beyond the subjectives thoughs…

    midnightjack

    November 23, 2008 at 3:52 am

  10. For the auto industry ABP, i agree with your analysis, that will be a big decision to make, on both sides of the border. Although the big boss of those companies don’t have my sympathy, it’s difficult to abandon all those workers..

    midnightjack

    November 23, 2008 at 3:57 am

  11. Katmandoo, are you talking about the fusion? About 1969? Let me know..

    midnightjack

    November 23, 2008 at 4:05 am

  12. Don’t get too excited Midnightjâco…I am just Kriss on another computer…..

    Katmandoo

    November 23, 2008 at 5:36 am

  13. That’s what i though..sacre farceur

    midnightjack

    November 23, 2008 at 5:38 am

  14. “Although the big boss of those companies don’t have my sympathy, it’s difficult to abandon all those workers..”

    Same for me.

    ABP

    ABP

    November 23, 2008 at 10:15 am

  15. “But in Ontario they don’t have the choice..english or nothing..do you think it is fair?”

    If I am not mistaken, the University of Ottawa is a bilingual university, offering programs in both French and English.

    “I remind you than in quebec, at the college and university level, you HAVE CHOICE”

    And at the high school level, the choice is available in Ontario, but not to the majority of the population in Quebec.

    AM

    November 23, 2008 at 11:36 am

  16. AM ” And at the high school level, the choice is available in Ontario, but not to the majority of the population in Quebec.”

    Yeah only anglos are free to go to both school systems….

    Katmandoo

    November 23, 2008 at 2:09 pm

  17. “Whats your thoughts RB?

    ABP”

    Well, I think a lot of it will come down to population shifts. How many leave Quebec and where they end up. It is pretty easy to predict the short term economic crisis that would occur in Montreal (which, for the record is the only reason I oppose separation) but how would say, southern Ontario for example, handle a large population influx? Would wages go down with an increse in qualified workers, or would the abundance of labour invite more business investment? Of course there could be an accompanying influx of francophones into Quebec, which could produce some big regional shifts in Ontario.

    Things like potential tariffs, incresed shipping costs etc. need to be considered. Of course there would be savings in some areas as well, for both sides.

    I think that if a compelling argument could be made that there would be a significant economic benefit, it might help sell the idea to more Canadians.

    RoryBellows

    November 23, 2008 at 2:45 pm

  18. “Yeah only anglos are free to go to both school systems…”

    Yes, and not providing the choice to Francos is a choice made by the Quebec government, not the other provinces or the federal government.

    AM

    November 23, 2008 at 2:46 pm

  19. AM. Why are you defending the rights of the francophone majority to assess school in English when its clearly not an issue of concern for most of us?

    tremblay

    November 23, 2008 at 2:54 pm

  20. correction *to attend*

    tremblay

    November 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm

  21. “Well, I think a lot of it will come down to population shifts. How many leave Quebec and where they end up.”

    I think in the short term, the population outflow from Quebec would probably not be significant. It will then depend on what kind of policies on language, business and education an independent Quebec implements. That being said, even a small increase in the outflow could have a disproportionate adverse effect on the economy and the fiscal position of Quebec because it will not be the poor and the old who will leave, but those with good educations and good jobs. Given that only 40% of Quebecers pay taxes,that is not a good thing.

    The PQ published a study a while back on the fiscal situation of an independent Quebec saying that the an independent Quebec would all of a sudden see billions in budget surpluses. The whole thing read like a fairy tale. I agree with ABP that the fiscal situation would get worse due to the absence of equalization payments. I think the way the government responds to that is going to have a big impact on these populations shifts. If they raise taxes to cover the shortfall, I think more people will leave. If they focus more on cutting spending, then probably not.

    RB, why do you think ROC Francophones would move to an independent Quebec in large numbers?

    AM

    November 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm

  22. “AM. Why are you defending the rights of the francophone majority to assess school in English when its clearly not an issue of concern for most of us?”

    I am not defending it, just stating a fact. Katmandoo was (in my opinion) implying that Anglos have more rights than Francos because they can attend both school systems. All I am saying is that denying that same right to Francos has nothing to with the federal government or the ROC. It is a decision of the Quebec government.

    AM

    November 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm

  23. AM “I am not defending it, just stating a fact. Katmandoo was (in my opinion) implying that Anglos have more rights than Francos because they can attend both school systems. All I am saying is that denying that same right to Francos has nothing to with the federal government or the ROC. It is a decision of the Quebec government.”

    Well of course!

    My point was Anglos are not oppressed in their education rights in Quebec. Period!

    Katmandoo

    November 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm

  24. “Very hard to predict what would be the total fiscal effect due to the dynamics involved. I do agree with Reed Scowen’s ideas that Canada would stay in tact without Quebec. There would be some bumps along the way but in the end, without Quebec, Canada might (notice I said might) evolve as a stronger and better nation.”

    The one thing I would worry about is that Canada would not be a contiguous territory. Other than that, I do not see why Canada should not remain a viable country.

    AM

    November 23, 2008 at 3:38 pm

  25. “My point was Anglos are not oppressed in their education rights in Quebec. Period!”

    And my point was that Ontario offers as much choice in respect to the language of education as Quebec. Even more so as Ontario allows its Anglo population into French high schools.

    With respect to Anglos not being oppressed in Quebec, yes and no. An Anglo can go to any school. However, loi 101 prevents the English language school system from replenishing itself because most immigrants are not allowed to use it. Hence, its shrinking and you had a lot of English elementary and high schools close over the past few years. If you are an Anglo in Sorel today and want to go to an English high school, you have to take 1.5 hour bus ride all the way to St. Hubert because the high school in Sorel does not exist any more.

    AM

    November 23, 2008 at 3:46 pm

  26. According to your vision, a french education in Ontario is a relative right, depending on the density of french population in a area, but the English education everywhere in Canada is A HUMAN RIGHT, not depending on that criteria…hard to follow…

    midnightjack

    November 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm

  27. AM:

    “With respect to Anglos not being oppressed in Quebec, yes and no. An Anglo can go to any school. However, loi 101 prevents the English language school system from replenishing itself because most immigrants are not allowed to use it. Hence, its shrinking and you had a lot of English elementary and high schools close over the past few years. If you are an Anglo in Sorel today and want to go to an English high school, you have to take 1.5 hour bus ride all the way to St. Hubert because the high school in Sorel does not exist any more.”

    That means there is no need for those schools.
    Like someone said about the lack of education systems for french out of Quebec, where anglos are “too spread out” the schools are not available….

    According to the logic of so-called individual rights of english minority of Quebec, if there are no individuals needs strong enough to justify a school, there is no school.

    Replenishing a school system for its own sake is absurd;
    replenishing a school system for the survival of english community of Quebec would be agreeing in collecctive rights;
    agreeing in collective rights would mean accepting the same right for french community of Quebec, which is the point of Bill 101.

    Katmandoo

    November 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm

  28. “According to your vision, a french education in Ontario is a relative right, depending on the density of french population in a area, but the English education everywhere in Canada is A HUMAN RIGHT, not depending on that criteria…hard to follow”

    I hope this is not addressed to me, because nowhere did I say this

    AM

    November 23, 2008 at 4:33 pm

  29. Katmandoo, nowhere did I say that Anglos should have schools in every community in Quebec. I was just describing what is happening now, not what I think should happen…

    “Replenishing a school system for its own sake is absurd;
    replenishing a school system for the survival of english community of Quebec would be agreeing in collecctive rights;
    agreeing in collective rights would mean accepting the same right for french community of Quebec, which is the point of Bill 101”

    If I am understand this argument correctly, then you are saying that Francophones’ collective rights are recognized through loi 101, but then that Anglos’ collective rights are not?

    AM

    November 23, 2008 at 4:40 pm

  30. AM:

    “Katmandoo, nowhere did I say that Anglos should have schools in every community in Quebec.”

    I think this is not addressed to me, because nowhere did I say this.

    “If I am understand this argument correctly, then you are saying that Francophones’ collective rights are recognized through loi 101, but then that Anglos’ collective rights are not?”

    Yes because anglos’collective rights are by no mean in danger in North America, or simply just in Canada ( which is unfortunatly the politival system Quebec is part of )

    Anglos of Quebec ARE NOT a minority.

    Katmandoo

    November 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm


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