News/Music Stores/Food


Awhile back I got interviewed for a piece in the McGill Tribune on email (sort of a copycat story after that NYTimes one), and for kicks I’m posting a link here. I actually hadn’t read it until just now when someone reminded me of it in an email. For the record, at no time did I mention to the reporter that I was grad director.

In other news, it’s been a busy week. I uploaded grades Tuesday night and then two straight days of meetings punctuated by end-of-term socializing. It is possible that I am employed in the most social department in North America. Between official gatherings for end-of-term sendoffs, book launches, faculty parties, grad student parties, and parties for everyone, it’s been an amazing two weeks. Weeknights, weekends, doesn’t matter. Socializing with one’s colleagues is usually cast as an obligation, a duty, the kind of thing someone might ask Ms. Mentor about — as in “Dear Ms. Mentor, do I really need to go to all those departmental events before I get tenure?” But ours? Ours are fun. It’s social. We get along. It’s kind of amazing.

Anyway, last night was sort of like the night after being “done” for the semester. It was also a surprisingly rare night of just Carrie and I. Which meant a little bit of shopping and dinner out. Among the toys I picked up was this little item:

A very small and saw-your-head off fuzz pedal. I’d played a bunch of expensive ones while in New York in February and this one actually sounded more like what I was aiming for. And Carrie actually liked the sound. Unfortunately, we also liked the sound of a very expensive acoustic Martin bass guitar that was hanging on the wall right near where I plugged in to try out the fuzz in the store. I’m serious, it wasn’t just me. Really.

Temptation was resisted, for now.

Music Stores

I guess this is as good a place as any to say a few things about guitar stores. Mostly, I hate them. Or at least I view them as a necessary evil. In Pittsburgh, I had a lovely family-owned place where I went called Pianos ‘N Stuff. Over five years I came to know them and vice-versa. Service was great, they would match any price I’d find on anything, and the people were intelligent and respectful. Here, I have to say that I’m not super impressed. Steve’s has a great selection of some things, and some of the salespeople are decent, but I once had to stand in the front area for almost a half hour while someone went upstairs to get the strings I’d ordered. Meanwhile, I was treated to the spectacle of one guy basically sexually harassing/gaybaiting another. For the whole time. It was awful. Italmelodie is more professional in my experience, so I’ve been giving them my business, but let’s just say the relationship is still in the tentative early stages. And it’s hit or miss calling any music store in Montreal to see if they have something in stock before trecking out there. This is hard for me because I’ve tended to be the “support your local store instead of buying it on the internet” person since I’d rather know the person to whom I’m giving my money and since trust can be a useful thing in the fickle and finicky world of music gear acquisition. But I have, a couple times, gone looking for a Canadian equivalent of Full Compass or some other mail order house just because I don’t want a huge hassle when I need an iLok or cable for the home studio. So far, no luck. But you never know.

Now, mostly I go shopping for music gear by myself. However, sometimes I’m out with Carrie and want to duck into a place. She usually obliges (I occasionally return the favor when we pass a shoe store or something). Let me tell you, there are few more male spaces than a guitar store store. Guy guy guy. I’m totally embarrassed to even be in there with her. Even in the recording or keyboard departments, the testosterone is palpable. Being a smart and perceptive person, however, Carrie has her own hierarchy of guitar stores. At the top is my old Pittsburgh place. They would, without fail, ask Carrie if she needed anything when she came in with me. They did not assume she was my “girlfriend.” Bottom of her list? Guitar Center. Though I think Steve’s is a close second for its unique combination of macho and clausterphobia.


In other news, it has come to my attention that I should start mentioning restaurants in this space, since we go out a lot. Last night, we dined for the second time at Via Roma in Little Italy. Surprisingly, they remembered us. It’s a bit on the pricey side with main courses in the $20 range, but the food is good in that “I want a fancy italian meal and to spend more than I really should” sort of way. About half their handful of vegetarian options seem to have porcinis in them, which suits me just fine. They also seem willing to substitute non-meat pasta for the veal-filled options. Their best dish, though, is probably the neopolitan pizzas in the wood-fired oven. Cheaper, and the best we’ve had in town.

Oh, and the night before, between the launch for Christine Ross’ new book and the grad student party, we went to Maria Bonita for real, which is highly recommended. Outstanding Cazuelitas (as opposed to Tex Mex — though we are not opposed to Tex Mex!), prices recently went up but are surprisingly decent. Lots of veggie options but Carrie speaks of the pork in banana leaf with a special fondness in her voice.