Fully 33% of my interest in discovering Montréal was hockey (the other factors being the poetry workshop I attended and my inexplcable interest in French culture), and the lure of the legendary Canadiens. While their erstwhile home ice building - the renowned Montréal Forum - no longer stands, I was fortunate enough to attend a game at the Centre Bell.
This is your standard all-purpose arena, replete with ugly rafters and huge, sinister air conditioning ducts that wouldn't be out of place on the Nostromo.
While some attempt has been made to commemorate the storied past of Les Habitants
, only the Canadiens logo in the middle of the ice disntinguishes this venue from the countless others scattered across the continent. That REO Speedwagon wasn't headlining on the evening I visited is still somewhat surprising to me.
Speaking of music, Elvis is apparently alive and well and entertaining the masses in the city of Montréal, though it remains unclear if we're talking about Elvis Presley or Elvis Story (that other King). If it's the former, well that makes sense.
Montréal has perfectly good taste in music, though record stores there all feature sections devoted to Francophone artists that are utterly unknown to most Americans. I wish I had had more time to investigate some of these performers, though judging by the CD covers I scanned, many looked as though they were cut from roughly the same cloth as Yves Montand: slick, untrustworthy rogues with filterless cigarettes dangling from the same lips they threaten to kiss a truckload of their swooning fans with.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that I was able to capitalize spectacularly on my visit - and knowledge of obscure Canadian bands - by acquiring a couple of albums by The Stampeders
. I first came to know of this group via Don Kirshner's Rock Concert
in the early 1970s! Some 30 years later I am once again enjoying their high-octane brand of (gasp!) arena rock.
Stampeders, get ye to the Centre Bell, maintenant