Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The wife and I went to Montreal last week. It was my first visit to that city and I really liked it. It's an vibrant, active city, but also really chill and relaxed. We ate a lot of great food, though now that I've had it, I think poutine is overrated. Everyone was nice. Hardly anyone honks their horn, no one jaywalks, and bicyclists obey traffic rules. (It's for that reason that I think the bike rental plan they're about to implement here in NYC works great in Montreal but won't work here. In New York, everyone drives, bikes, and walks like an asshole.) There are kiosks with maps all over the place, so you can always find your way around. Everything sounds better in French. And the architecture is beautiful. I could have spent days walking around, drawing buildings.

These first four drawings are done in pencil in my 9X12 sketchbook, and the rest in pen in my small pocket sketchbook.

We went because my wife was competing in the Montreal International Dragon Boat Race Festival. Dragon boat is a form of Chinese boat racing, sort of like crew, except with paddling instead of rowing. It was held at the Olympic Basin at the Parc Jean-Drapeau. Lisa's team won two gold medals and a silver!

Dragon boat racing has a really interesting history. Popular legend holds that it commemorates a poet and statesman in Ancient China named Qu Yuan, who committed suicide to protest war and the corruption of the government. He waded into the Miluo River, weighted down by stones, and drowned himself. Upon learning of his protest, the local villagers raced out in their boats to try to save him and/or recover his body. They threw rice in the water to feed the fish, so they wouldn't eat his body, and banged on drums to ward off evil spirits.I don't think there's much anti-war or good-government sentiments in the current races, but it's a cool story.

Taiko drumming is Japanese, not Chinese, but whatever. They were cool.

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