Check out Slamtastique 2.0’s new venue tonight and tell a tale!

Nick Cave (left) with organizer J.D. "Hobbes" Hickey (right)
Nick Cave (left) with organizer J.D. “Hobbes” Hickey (right)

I’ve enjoyed many Slamtastisque storytelling slams since my friend John David “Hobbes” Hickey started them in 2011.

Hobbes is an award-winning storyteller whose enthusiasm for storytelling is infectious.

His slams challenge people to hone their craft. You have only five minutes to tell a  family-friendly story without any notes or props. Five judges from the audience rate the tellers on their performances. Winners compete for a prize at the end of the season.

The tellers are usually a mix of both new and seasoned storytellers and the stories include traditional tales, science fiction stories, spoken word pieces and personal accounts.

Until last month the slams were held at Café Shaika on Sherbrooke St. in NDG. On Wednesday, February 18, Hobbes debuted “Slamtastique 2.0” at the new venue, Café Mariposa on Côte St. Luc Rd.

Café Mariposa is a great fit in so many ways. At Shaika it was often hard to enjoy the stories because other people at the café would be hanging out and chatting or you’d see students and freelancers wearing headphones as they typed away on their laptops, ignoring the tellers. The audience was often spread out around the cafe and it was hard to tell if the owners even supported the slam.

With Mariposa reserved for the slam, only people interested in storytelling fill the small venue. The owners are on board and the artsy, 60s coffeehouse vibe at Café Mariposa suits Slamtastique.

Last month’s slam included a wide mix of stories. Ian Gurudata related how he handled a group of people picking on travellers in a Montreal metro car, Greg Stroll’s spoke about an unusual hide-and-seek experience and Kym Dominique-Ferguson related a traditional tale about Anansi (Anancy), a West African god who often takes the form of a spider, this time faking his death and devouring beans. First-time teller Katharine Childs told a lover story about body image, sexuality and self-love while regular Magali Desjardins Potvin, whose stories are usually science fiction/fantasy tales, provided a first-person “anecdote for the romantically challenged.”

Magali Desjardins Potvin at the microphone
Magali Desjardins Potvin at the microphone

Laurent Castellucci’s well-crafted tale tricked the audience. At first you thought you were hearing a science fiction story but then you wondered was it a dream or a video game?

The evening’s musical guest, Sam Cave hails from Brisbane, Australia and has lived in Montreal for about a year. He’s at ease with a microphone and his soulful songs brightened spirits.

It looked like the event was wrapping up when Hobbes announced a surprise teller had come forward but she didn’t want her story included in the competition. Patricia Flewwelling, the woman who prepared the delicious food served at Mariposa, recounted a story about her army experiences. To keep up with the guys, she downed a soft drink in record time but had quite a time trying to swallow a burp.

If you’re around NDG tonight, do drop by. You’ll have fun. And you have a story to tell, you can sign up on the event’s Facebook page here. Tonight’s theme is Mad as a March Hare but you can tell any kind of story, as long as it’s by heart and five minutes  or less.

Where: Café Mariposa, 5434 Côte St. Luc Rd.(near where Terrebonne meets Côte St. Luc Rd and close to Côte St. Luc Rd. & Girouard)

When: from 6:30 p.m. on

Cost: $5 Please do buy something from Mariposa too.

Check out Slamtastique 2.0’s new venue tonight and tell a tale!

On losing NDG small businesses

George the orangutan wears a Cartes etc. t-shirt as he sits in a chair outside in front of the store
George the orangutan returned to Cartes Etc. last fall (photo from Cartes Etc.’s Facebook page)

Yesterday I opened an email that left me saddened and shocked. Cartes Etc., a lovely card and gift shop on Sherbrooke St. West in NDG is having a closing sale this weekend. Only last month I received emails about the store’s new offerings – artisanal workshops and recently, a jewellery flea market.

The store features works by local artists – including whimsical purses, unique  jewellery and all sorts of cards (some featuring photos of landmarks in NDG and environs), paintings with whimsical images of Montreal sights, gorgeous tea cosies, handmade mugs and other pottery pieces, the list goes on. Cartes Etc.’s owner, Arlyle Waring, provides a great service to local artisans and artists by promoting and celebrating their talent. Regular vernissages, celebrations, sales and fundraisers have added to the store’s appeal as a community

I applaud Arlyle Waring for keeping Cartes Etc. going after the death of its founder, Necdet Kendir. He contributed much to NDG, fighting to revive the Empress Cultural Centre, setting up a merchants’ association for business owners on Sherbrooke St. W. and advocating for the needs of local citizens and merchants.Sure he had his detractors but what impressed me was his kind heart and passion for NDG. He was always thinking of some way to improve things in the community.

To me Arlyle has the same values and she’s given a lot to the community, even making people laugh by adding a mascot to the store, a huge (fake) orange orangutan named George. He went missing in November 2013 but last October he came back after someone told Arlyle where to find him.

I laughed when Arlyle wrote on Cartes Etc’s Facebook page just before New Year’s that she’s received complaints about George and a large stuffed animal moose named Mortimer being in “full celebration mode” and making less than tasteful remarks and Mortimer being a “negative influence on George.” As you can see in this photo from Cartes Etc’s Facebook page, they each have a martini glass as they sit in chairs in front of the store.

George the orangutan and Mortimer the moose sit with martini glasses in chairs outside Cartes Etc.'s store
Photo: Cartes Etc’s Facebook page

It made me wonder if people were taking things a little too seriously!

That’s why this news that the store is closing caught me and many other Cartes Etc. fans off guard.

Here’s what the email said:

CARTES ETC – CLOSING SALE EVENT

 

Saturday, March 7th & Sunday, March 8th 2015


In today’s world of high rents and internet commerce, which can take their toll on brick and mortar shops, CARTES ETC has been in the process of adding workshops and an online store to create the customer base needed for survival. But financial constraints have been onerous and before being able to establish this additional artisanal showcase and revenue source, are forcing the store to close its doors.

CARTES has served as an important window for many NDG artists.  According to a study by Hill Strategies Research Inc., artists make up 4% of the population of NDG, a concentration five times higher than the national average, a creative resource of value to the community and one worthy of being more widely shared.   For the artists represented at CARTES and for many of its customers it is more than a store; it is a place for local talent to shine.

Business hours on Saturday, March 7th and Sunday March 8th will be dedicated to raising as much money as possible through sales and a silent auction of articles donated by artists represented in the store.  Proceeds will go to the closing costs for the store.  The event will celebrate the contribution CARTES has made to the community and will honour the artists who are represented there.

Refreshments will be served.    

Any and all help is welcome.

 

Arlyle (and George…)

Last fall NDG lost another beloved business, Dad’s Bagels, when the bagel shop’s heartbroken owner, Kashmir Singh Randhawa, when he apparently learned his landlords were not renewing his lease to make way for a Dollarama expansion. The rent increase was beyond his budget, in any case. Many businesses are seeing increases in their commercial rents as landlords up rents in the areas around the new superhospital.

Both Dad’s Bagels and Cartes Etc. are community-minded businesses that made a big difference in NDG. Both made the neighbourhood a brighter place and both gave back to the community.

I moved away from NDG a year ago and I don’t stop along Sherbrooke nearly enough. Yes, online commerce is great but we have to find ways to support our brick and mortar businesses.

So if you live in or around Montreal, please come by Cartes Etc., 5901 Sherbrooke St. W. (Sherbrooke & Belgrave) this weekend and support Arlyle (and George) and the artists.

On losing NDG small businesses