by Roxane Hudon
Dedicated to Alastair Sutherland, Patrick Lejtenyi, Sacha Jackson, Mark Slutsky, Malcolm Fraser, Lorraine Carpenter, Chris Tucker, Brenden Fletcher, Scott Saxon, Shawn Thompson and all the other freelancers I’ve had the privilege to meet and share a beverage or two with along the way. Here’s to fuckin’ YOU guys.
Big sigh, big fucking deep sigh.
It was with deep sadness and anger that I found out about the Montreal Mirror being shutdown by PKP and his gang of murderous Quebecor cunts last Friday. The (ex) Assistant Art Editor Brenden Fletcher happened to be wrapping up a UK vacation in Glasgow, but this was the last thing I was expecting to hear when I gleefully tapped him on the shoulder in the Starbucks on Buchanan Street, happy to see another face from home. “We drinking tonight?” was pretty much the first thing that he said to me. “Um, well I figured we would be” “No, we’re drinking tonight,” he assured me as he turned his laptop towards me to show that awful message written by drones, and not “the editors” as it pretends to be, the “editors” would have written something way more fucking colourful, that I’m pretty sure of.
It’s no secret that I was a pretty disillusioned journalism student. After a year of being taught by CanWest (PostMedia now, whatever) teachers to write in the most bland and strictly informative manner, I realized this wasn’t me, kinda lost my mind a bit and started spewing out these loony, ridiculous essays full of swear words and ideas that made little to no sense, handing them in fully expecting the mediocre grades that teachers would scribble on them. I figured out early on that I had no place in mainstream journalism, and that I pretty much hated anyone who did, which is what lead me to take a class called Alternative Media, taught by an old grumpy dude named Alastair Sutherland. I went to pick up the last essay I had written for that class months after the semester was over, and scrawled in red were the words that would give me some hope in a kind of journalism I could practice: “The CBC will never hire you, but the Mirror would!”
I think it took about a week after that for me to pitch my first story to them, something First Nations-related, as were all the first few articles I wrote. It was only 250-words, took me way too long to write, and was quickly sent back by the news editor Patrick Lejtenyi, because my lead was supposedly “too snarky.” Eventually “don’t be too snarky” would become the main directive he’d give me for all future news stories he assigned to me. After two years of sporadically writing news stories here and there, I was asked “do you like film?” and became a full-time film critic for Mark Slutsky, who happily assigned me all crap films, romantic comedies and children movies, letting me shit all over them.
It’s no secret that I’m an overly emotional person, but I can’t help it, and I don’t know where or how to start expressing what I owe these people. They let me get away with a lot, I mean, a fucking lot. Although Alastair loved reminding me when we were both drunk that he was the only one who wanted to hire me, they all eventually gave me a chance. Patrick let me call Peter Sergakis an asshole and share a photo of me grinding a photo of a male prostitute in Havana and then somehow entrusted me with interviewing Chris Hedges. Sacha Jackson let me review books about vaginas, dating and Jay-Z and thought that this somehow made me worthy of doing her job one too many times. Mark Slutsky let me put Step Up 3D in my top ten, and Malcolm Fraser had to apologize to one too many PR people on my behalf and deal with my “problem child” tendencies (thanks for once drunkenly telling me in Toronto that you thought I “was smarter than I let on”). And no matter how many times I fucked up, Alastair somehow always believed in me.
I’m sorry if this has become more of a personal tribute, than a general homage to a paper that meant a lot to a lot of Montrealers, but that was the Mirror to me. I’ve read most of the articles that have come out since Quebecor wiped us off the face of the planet, and none of them speak to me. I don’t know who the founders were, or what the Mirror was 20 years ago, or why Richard Burnett is fucking plastering the Internet with that Gazette column of his where he goes on about the Hour. To me, the Mirror was that wonderful team of people I dedicated this article to. They’re the ones I witnessed keeping the voice alive, and putting a lot of heart and hard work into this paper as the dark lords of Quebecor pounded them deeper and deeper into the ground. And they were obviously not doing it for the BIG MONEY. While there may be gibberish talk with this “save the Montreal Mirror” shtick on Facebook, to me, there will be no Montreal Mirror without those people and if any of them would want to continue on in some form or another, it wouldn’t take much for me to fly back home and join them.
Somewhere, in the small heap of things I decided to keep when I moved out of Montreal, is that essay reminding me that the Mirror would hire me, because, at this point, I don’t know who else would. Thanks guys, I’m sorry this wasn’t funnier or witter, but it’s from the heart. Montreal, you fucked up. C’est tout.