My favorite things Quebecois

No, I am not there, but I am catching up on requests from loyal MR readers.  Today I will set this one right:

Pianist: Oscar Peterson.  His best albums are The Trio and the set with Joe Pass at Salle Pleyel.  For all his talent, many of his CDs are quite boring.  On another front, I usually don’t like Marc-Andre Hamelin.  Despite the critical raves, I find him icy cold, enjoying only his rendition of the Scriabin sonatas.

William Shatner performance: I will opt for "City on the Edge of Forever."  (NB: I haven’t yet seen "Incubus".)

Actress:  Genevieve Bujold, most of all in Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers.

Popular music: I don’t much like Leonard Cohen or Celine Dion.  Rufus Wainwright is OK.  Arcade Fire is OK.  Help me out here people…

Author: Saul Bellow wins hands down, though he is not a personal favorite.

Philosopher: Charles Taylor.  There is also G.A Cohen, though I have to put him on my "totally wrong about everything" list.

Linguist: Steven Pinker.

Movie Director: Mack Sennett, and yes I used Google/Wikipedia to find that one.

Painter: This guy would be the mainstream pick.  I’m holding out for one of the strange naives, but the name escapes me.

The bottom line: I must be linguistically limited, because most of these names come from English-speaking families.  It is also striking how many thorough web sites exist, dedicated to nothing but listing the many famous and meritorious Quebecois.


I don't much like Leonard Cohen


For other pop acts, in their time I liked The Box, Men Without Hats, and Voivod. Mitsou was a guilty pleasure. Melissa auf der Maur has done a few interesting things.

I would suggest watching some of the performances Shatner has done on Boston Legal. He has won at least one Emmy, and, in my opinion, it was well deserved.

Steve Pinker isn't even a linguist.

How about the greatest sports franchise of all-time?
I tink dat you forget da Habs.

Rufus Wainwright is better than OK. I sometimes wince at his lyrical clunkers, but the voice and over-the-top orchestration... you should really check out "Between My Legs" on his new album if you haven't.

"California" from Poses and "Beautiful Child" from Want One are also very good.

Alanis Morissette is from nearby Ottawa and has a Quebecois father.

Isn't Circue du Soleil from Quebec?

Beer. Unibrue makes wonderful beer. Le Fin du Monde, Maudite -- wonderful. . Check them out while there. Will second Famous J. on Barbarian Invasions. Scathing indictment of Canadian health care. Cirque is nice, but after you've seen one, marginal value of others much lower. The Just for Laughs festival is great. And the springtime street corner vendors selling maple syrup poured over snow....

i'm going to have to agree with those who want to push arcade fire toward the great column. after seeing them live recently, it made me fall in love with the band all over again. wolf parade is much fun too, but all the action is from krug and i am not sure he counts for quebec.

something is to be said for eric gagne as well.

I'd enjoy Arcade Fire a little bit more if they would just tune their instruments. Ugh, perfect pitch can be a curse.

Film directors: Claude ("Mon Oncle Antoine") Jutra and Denys Arcand.

Modern-dance diva: Margie Gillis.

Forget the Arcade Fire - they're OK, but as far as I'm concerned the best Montreal-based arty-rock collective is still Godspeed You Black Emperor (they may no longer exist, but even so...).

Oscar Peterson is from Mississauga, Ontario... not Quebec.

Frankly I think most Quebecois would find this list insulting. William Shatner? Saul Bellow? Montreal anglophones are Canadians, not Quebecois. At least in New Hampshire, "Quebecois" really refers to an ethnic group, not a political identity. Calling Steven Pinker or Oscar Peterson "Quebecois" is rather like calling J.R.R. Tolkien an "African writer" (he was born and grew up in Blomfontein) or calling Engelbert Humperdink and Rudyard Kipling "Indians". Well, at least Kipling had some understanding of the native culture of the land where he was born unlike most of the "Quebecois" you've cited.

Patrick Watson is good.

Tyler-Then's there's Maynard Ferguson, arguably the greatest trumpet player of the 20th Cenury, who went to high school in Montreal with Oscar.

A little late...

Music: Grim Skunk and Groovy Aardvark. Jean-Pierre Ferland once in a while. Richard Desjardins (you might know him for his movies -- his songs are better, and constantly covered)

Movie directors: Robert Morin ("Quiconque meurt, meurt à douleur", "Le Nèg'") or Gilles Carle ("Red", "Le viol d'une jeune fille douce"). If you understand French, you have to see Arcand's political movies "Le confort et l'indifférence" and "Duplessis... et après", if only for Jean Chrétien's great rant on the price of gas.

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