“Fete” is a French and German word for party. In Montreal, during the coldest winter times, people develop thick furs on their bodies which enables them to continue the party mania that they started in the summer. When I first arrived in Montreal, I had no idea what the city was like, and how people were. Now I am sure that the number one reason of choosing Montreal as a city to live in is the culturally embedded party culture.

While in Vienna, the city sometimes organizes festivals and shows in a quite lively climate zone, people in Montreal go out and party at temperatures where your breath crystallizes in mid-air. Stefan, man of the hour and Gedenkdiener at the MHMC, is my companion in exploring the wicked French party culture that settled this time on the Île Sainte-Hélène. That’s the island where the entertainment park La Ronde is located as well.

Shortly after arriving, my theories come true: The Montrealais actually DO grow a fur to survive the winter time:


This hairy man was playing ice hockey, the Canadian national sport. Everybody does it. If you don’t, shame on you.

After walking around a bit we encounter genius snow sculptures which mark the exit area of a mini-sledding hill. It seems to be common that there is no random sledding down a hill (like in Austria), but organized sledding lanes with a lift that brings you up the hill (for a ridiculous price of 8$ and a similarly ridiculous long line at minus 20 degrees). Great coincidence that I forgot my gloves at home on the warm radiator, so that I improvise and wrap the end of my sweater sleeves around my fists while taking photographs. Of course, we don’t pay so much money to go sledding.

Snow sculpures on the baby sledding hill. This one, surprisingly, has no lift and doesn’t cost 8$ to enter.


These scultures are all made of snow. Not the normal kind of snow, the hard-as-concrete one.


In the large crowds of French Canadians that seemingly never are too old or too young to party, we encounter little trash bags that a couple of people drag behind them. On the closer look, you see that it’s actually a stroller-sled mixture that contains a little child. “You see that everywhere on the sidewalks”, says Stefan. “They never clear the side walks, so people drag their kids in those little bags behind them”


If you think about joining law enforcement because you want to maintain a staus symbol, then join the Montreal police: They have quad bikes that are fast as shit and guarantee a penis enlargement up to 700%.

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On the way to the waterfront, we find a barricade, guarded by some security. No way to get to the waterfront. “You have to rent ice skates to get to the river”, says the lady that appears to have indulged too much maple syrup. “Is there any other way, like to go around?”
“No. Pardon.”, she smiles and the maple syrup wobbles around her cheeks.
OF course there must be a way around. We find people in brown, red and yellow colored costumes made of rags, who all look like miniature Hagrids. They supervise a competition that appears to be taken from Mother-Daughter Father-Son camps: Adults pushing their chilrden in a wooden sled along parallel tracks, competing against each other. There is one couple that doesn’t really fit there: Stefan and me. Stefans fat ass is taking the sled to a stability test, and my shoes keep slipping in the snow. I lose against a woman.

Which brings us to the ultimate Canadian way of happiness: Maple syrup.
Maple syrup with pancakes.
Maple Syrup with moose meat.
Maple Syrup with toast.
With rice cakes, with chicken, ham, cheese, wine, baguette … or just plain maple syrup.

Or, if you are part of the so-called creme de la creme, then all you eat is frozen maple syrup.


Frozen maple syrup counter. The peeing stains are actually realy tasty – snow soaked with syrup d’ rable.


Stefan and Tobias Maplefreezus. 2.50$ each.


After 30 seconds of drooling a line of maple syrup in the snow, the syrup gets so cold that it becomes a sticky solid. Licking or sucking it creates great, long strings of syrup which dangle in the wind. I believe when mixing it with snow or water before pouring it into the snow would make it a clittle crispier and better – I will conduct some experiments on that.

All the people who work at Fete des Neiges are volunteers. There are fake native Canadians with Tipi tents, clowns, mascots in fury costumes, and oh, there is the ice skating course, with no guards and no barriers. Finally, we come to the riverside.
While I run closer to the shore, I recognize a Rotzglocke, “Snot bell” dangling down my nose. In German, we are quite inventive with naming our body fluids and the way of getting rid of them. There is a term called Bauernschneuzer, “Farmer’s nose blow”, where you press one side of your nose, bend forward, and blow the snot on the other side out. Sounds quite convenient, doesn’t it?

Well … it is, if performed professionally. I bend forward, blow, and while the snot is following my nasal acceleration, I see that there is something blocking the way between my nose and the ground: My camera. FLATCH. The snot lands on my camera and starts freezing on it. I nearly gag but manage to wipe the biggest portion of snot onto my pants instead of exposing the camera electronics to my nasal feces. Stefan laughs at me, and it must be a funny picture:
A young man with two hoodies on his head, wearing with sneakers in the knee deep snow, a fat piece of snot attached to his thigh, too chaotic to think about bringing gloves, and a camera with a misguidedly spray colored lens.


That is how snot on jeans looks like.


That’s the place where this one gay guy twisted my ears. Now there are pieces of ice swimming down the half-frozen river.


Montreal, in front the frozen St. Laurenz river

After twenty minutes, the snot has become solid ice, and i simply tear it off my pants, leaving nothing but a wet stain. We decide to go to the Montreal environment museum, the Biosphere. It is a gigantic geodesic dome, constructed by a futurist architect named Buckminister Fuller.


If you seriously think you’re better at cooking KRAFT dinner than me, I’ll challenge you to a swimming competition in there


Montreal Biospehere as seen from the distance


The Biosphere looks much bigger from the inside


A pretty futuristic water fountain which fountains only warm water.

The exhibit is more expensive than ten dollars (about 4kg of bread), so we decide to do something cheaper, There is a line of little children who want to get photographed for free in a canoeing surrounding. We get in line too.


Canoeing at minus twenty degrees.

There is a last thing to see on the next island, one more product of the Expo 67 (like the Biosphere): The Montreal Casino. The Mekka of all gambling addicts and architecture fetishists. The place where buses unload people with the distinct “DING, CLING” sound of hard metal dollars when they shatter down to release the jackpot. I see those people walking from the bus through the outside waiting area, warmed nicely by heating lamps, into the open mouth of the casino. Once swiped over the red carpet tongue of the monstrum, they are rushed down the golden shimmering throat, only to let their money being digested deep down in the intestines of this casino monstrum, between rumbling slot machines and swirling roulette wheels. It is so sad to see them enter this self-chosen hell with a smile of excitement, and to leave it with a frown of disgust.

Most of the people we see walking in are people who you usually never meet: They are in their fourties and fities, sometimes wearing expensive furs with cheap make up, people with not much of a past and not much of future expectations – people who want to either double or half their mid-life crisis. People, who gamble with their hard earned money.


The underground arrival area. One of the buses says “Only for employees”

Stefan and me are not even allowed inside. There is no dress code, but it is not allowed to take a camera or a coat inside. We wear both, so the fat security guard in his sixties ignores us. We actually just want to see the outside. After a couple of minutes of standing next to him and getting answers like “Nobody can see the outside, haha” “Not during the winter, it’s not possible”, we decide to let him fuck himself and find a staircase that leads us to the outside fassade.


Casino people are the happiest I’ve seen in a while. Photographing the inside is strictly prohibited, so I go to the window on the outside, adjust the aperature and exposure time by feeling, turn around, clash the lens against the glass, click, and run away before this young hipster of a security guard can go after me.


Whoever built that casino had some money left to place this beautiful sculpture next to it.


A revolting sight of an abused Mustang in front of the casino. Poor car.


A pimpy version of the common fan: a heating lamp! As soon as i pulled out the camera, the girl tried to run away, but realized that she was trapped behind the counter.

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