Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Montreal 2008: Words and Pictures 5 (photo dedicated to my brother Chris)

The reference to Toe Blake by the cretinous Hansons in the film Slap Shot never fails to send me into hysterics, almost as much as when one of the brothers complains about that "stinkin' root beer."

When I decided to finally get my ass to Mount Royal (the mountain for which the island city is named), I knew I would have to visit Blake's grave site and spend a few quiet moments to acknowledge the man's greatness.

Little did I realize that reaching Mount Royal Cemetery (Cimetière Mont-Royal) would nearly put me in an early grave. The mountain is quite steep, and I undertook the jaunt on foot. The sprawling cemetery is pretty much right in the middle of the mountain, which is otherwise covered with acres of splendid park lands.

Once I got to the cemetery gates I figured the rest would be cake. After walking for what was probably at least a couple of miles, I happened upon the cemetery office. The receptionist was very nice and helpful, and even though she only had a vague notion of who Toe Blake was, she was able to map out the location of his final resting place for me.

So I headed out, after taking quite some moments to consider which road the out of scale map actually referred to. The trek seemed like countless hours and miles. Consider: I was constantly passed by cars along the cemetery's winding roads - cars presumably en route to visit with departed family and friends. As I made my way along those roads as a pedestrian, I would see the same cars pass by in the opposite direction on their return trip, visits presumably finished.

Eventually I found Blake's grave, after doubling back more than a couple of times, by climbing a set of wooden bleacher-like stairs that brought me to the cemetery's highest point. In this remote and slightly desolate area, among a few rows of graves, I found the Blake family's plot.

I also found, sitting in a police cruiser nearby, a female officer of the law—Quebec style. My thoughts immediately turned to the uncomfortable shake downs I am witness to when my Amtrak train crosses the Canadian border. I'll never forget the time I was stupid enough to wear short sleeves and had to endure the question: "Sir, what is the significance of the tattoos?"

Like the touristy dope that I am, I actually ambled over and asked if it was okay to snap a few pictures (following the dictum of one Sidney Fields: "Politeness costs you nothing"—more on that some other time). The response was exactly what a touristy dope should receive under the circumstances, a completely indifferent shrug.

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Anonymous Chris Caratzas said...

Thanks for the dedication. Your trip sounds eerily similar to Dad and Anthony's ill-fated trek to the Acropolis.

12:47 PM  

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