May 8, 2008

Fuck Buttons


People go crazy for summer here in Montreal.

Windows are thrown open, pale, sickly faces are lifted to the sun, and clothes are removed in a most reckless and arbitrary manner.

We creep out from our slovenly, smelly little nests and slowly unfurl in the warmth.

People are happy. They smile at strangers in the street. Everyone is all hail-fellow-well-met. The world is full of endless opportunity.

At the beginning of every summer, I join the rest of Montreal in this collective, dizzy exhalation of joy.

Sadly, it lasts barely a moment.

My summer bubble of amnesia bursts abruptly, and I remember -- with clenched fists and an ever present snarl -- why summer in Montreal is an awful time for grumpy old misanthropes (like me).

Summer means construction.

It means every man and his dog decides they have to fix their rotting balconies and sinking driveways and collapsing roofs.

And god forbid that construction crews start at 9 a.m. like every other civilized profession.

No. Construction crews start their day at 4-fucking-a.m.

Alright, I concede: that may not be strictly true. But when you're fast asleep at 7 a.m. and woken by what sounds like a truck backing up in your living room, pipes dropping from several stories into your bedroom, a band saw in your kitchen, and men yelling at each other in your bathroom, it feels like 4-fucking-a.m.

Disorientated and disgruntled after this less than auspicious wakeup call, you weave off to work on the bicycle you pulled out of storage at the beginning of spring.

You've decided it'd be a great idea to risk life and limb by entering the insane and unpredictable world of Montreal's roads, where, daily, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers try to kill one another through various staggering displays of inattention.

(The season has barely begun, and I, for one, have already kissed the asphalt. A jay-walking pedestrian stepped blindly off the pavement, I slammed on the breaks -- and flew right up and over the handlebars. Quite spectacular, really. The bruises are only just starting to fade.)

Having braved the roads once again at the end of your work day, you stagger into your apartment and collapse on the couch. You sip your lemonade and enjoy the breeze and think how nice it is to have escaped the madness outside.

You're startled from your reverie by a blood-curdling scream.

It's a child screeching, full-throated, at the top of her lungs. My god, is she being garroted? Is someone trying to remove her eyeballs with a fork?

You leap from the sofa and bolt onto your balcony, looking around wildly for the source of the noise, so you can run and help.

Down on the street below you see some neighbourhood children. They are playing on the grass. They are being watched over by a guardian. The screaming-banshee-child is one of their number. She lets one loose every minute of so.

You can only stare in abject horror and wonder: if you'd made that kind of noise when you were a child, your mother would've garroted you.

While you're gazing at this perplexing scene, a neighbour from the opposite apartment block comes out onto his balcony. (You could probably spit on his shoes, your balconies are that close together.)

As you glance over, you see him whip out some kind of mouth organ piano thing.

He begins to play. Tunelessly, as far as you can make out.

Now you're staring in open-mouthed consternation at your neighbour.

Number one, he's a grown man, why is he playing this fucking toy? Number two, what makes him so certain that everyone within a two mile radius wants to hear him play his fucking toy?

Right about now your nerves are at snapping point.

You stomp inside.

Once you threw open your windows to feel the warm, refreshing breeze.

Now all you want to do is slam them shut on this mayhem.

Which is not an option, of course, since in no time at all you would be sweltering in a hellish oven, consumed by indignation and ire.

Ah summer.

What power you have to make us suffer and like it.*

If I could set the experience of a Montreal summer to music, it would have to be Fuck Buttons' "Sweet Love for Planet Earth".



Oh, sweet, sweet irony.


[Fuck Buttons - MySpace] [eMusic]

*Russell Baker


3 comments:

Kate said...

Hilarious =

"screaming-banshee-child".

My friend had a neighbour who alternately played the flute and blasted 80s Madonna - and juggled in front of her building in very short nylon shorts that threatened to reveal his balls with every catch.

Summer in Montreal can be truly terrifying.

kirsten said...

...juggled in front of her building in very short nylon shorts that threatened to reveal his balls with every catch.

What an image. Now that's hilarious!

Kate said...

Oooh. This could go on-and-on :)

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