When I first heard the AAAs were going to be held in Montreal in November I was like: “finally, an AAA I can skip with a clear conscience.” I mean, I live in Honolulu. I almost got pneumonia at the AAAs in New Orleans, where the average temperature was a frigid 75. So although I hope to talk more about what went down at AAAs this year, but I thought I’d kick the coverage off by acknowledging how mislead I was: Montreal turned out to be an absolutely fantastic town and venue-wise the meeting was a great success.
You had to walk a couple of blocks from the convention center to get anywhere interesting, but once you did Montreal turned out to be delovely. When I told a European friend of mine how much I liked it he nodded his head and gave me a smile that indicated that I was beginning to realize what he’d known all along: “This is the best city in North America” he told me. Frankly, I’m ready to believe it. It seems unfair to characterize Montreal as a mix of other things rather than the carrier of its own unique should, but that is the language I find to describe it: The architecture looks like Paris and Chicago got smushed together, the lively pedestrian neighborhoods look like someone took Manhattan and stretched it out just enough that it could breathe. Catholic monumentalities look like someone tried to build Ancien Regime France in the middle of Iroquois country. Which, I guess, is exactly what happened.
Seriously, though, the term ‘meatgasm’ is not hyperbole. It seemed to be everywhere in Montreal. The local cuisine’s mix of French elegance (read: fry everything) and North American hunting meant pretty much everything seemed on offer. The exception was greens. I suppose that when you live that far north in a colony settled by people who think ‘flavor’ means ‘butter’ you’re not going to get the salad as an elaborated cultural form. Ditto with spices.
And then there was China town, which was like some sort of Stanislaw Lem short story: complete with Chinese gates, but filled with Vietnamese restaurants, which were in fact all run by Chinese people speaking southern dialects with small figures of Guan Yu and Guanyin perched over the cash register.
I may seem overly focused on food — I’ve been accused of this in the past, folks — but it was unfortunately the only reason I had to leave the convention center. As we continue on with the post-game coverage, feel free to let me know what of Montreal you saw when you were there. I’m hoping especially more coverage of Occupy stuff as we move forward.
So consider this an open thread: beyond the AAAs themselves, what did you think of Montreal?