Vapor over Mt. Royal

Montreal, October 2015. I did a week long walkabout, camera in tow. In hindsight, it was an idlers holiday… a flaneur gallivant in a different neighborhood, each day.

Montreal is a fine city for a brief sojourn. Metro public transportation, modeled on Paris’, is amenable to leisure, if not actively encouraging it. Nonetheless, most residents or workday occupants briskly walk to their next destination. Few ramble.

Among those who do take their time, vaping was common. A familiar sight it was, to see plumes floating overhead a horde of pedestrians. Unfortunately, I did not see many idlers. Sad is the thought that Montreal, like most cities, has gone in for laws against “loitering”, or mastery of your own time. Perhaps the local puff-giver is simply another commuter who longs for a daydream, and vaping slows down time, at least perceptibly, or offers soothing relief, if only temporary, from the anxieties of urban toil.

Anyway, it was common, and so “while in Rome”, I partook. There was a reassuring essence in it, but nerve prickly, too, as if the rebellious act of a single exhale was paradoxically street survival tool and risked unwanted attention. Benefits of the former must outweigh the cons of the latter, or I doubt it would’ve caught on. To me, it was a means to be idle, while in motion.

I miss smoking. Not tobacco, which would be an unwise choice for me now. And not vape, as I did not care for it. But cannabis, yes, I do miss it. Particularly during its underground days, when etiquette mattered. Social circles, interacting with social purpose, was its underlying culture. Civil disobedience and petty outlaws, was the romance.

Mostly, I miss the art of the smoke. Rolling my own, usually poorly, to choosing an artisan pipe and then toking my time. Being with friends old and new, having a good laugh, and watching smoke drift into unpredictable patterns. Music, food. Art. Conversation. No wonder industrial-capitalists and their agents disapprove, unless taxed, of course, and “productive”.

Touristes de Notre-Dame

street travel film photography Holga camera

Notre Dame, Montréal. Holga toy camera, 120 TriX film. Darkroom print.

In addition to alternative process, lately I’ve been interested in unique perspectives. I want to take the camera and photo development, and use both to see common things in a new way. Reshaping form and twisting context into new layers, I let go of conventional ideas for beauty and what’s generally acceptable. What I seek is food for the imagination.