Mount Royal pre-COVID. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

COVID-19: May you live in interesting times

“The way we use our energy and our money right now is vital in protecting the things we love about this city.”

This editor’s letter appeared in our April 2020 issue.

“May you live in interesting times” is a curse that dates back to the 1930s, a time when Nazi Germany was ramping up for what would become a world war. 

Making this curse even more prescient than the fact that we’re essentially experiencing a world war right now, this saying was wrongly identified as a “Chinese curse” by a quasi-political-dynasty of dunces, the Chamberlains. A month ago, Trump and climate change were “interesting” enough, but for so many of us (too many of us), the present and future fallout from those disasters seemed remote. With this pandemic, every single human on Earth is experiencing something interesting firsthand.

This chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic story — by which I mean this week, maybe even today; things are changing so fast — is as grim as it is hopeful. There are signs of recovery in China, while devastation is still unfolding in Europe, as it is more and more in the U.S. But as important as it is to keep an eye on the global picture, more than ever we have to be concerned with what’s happening locally: in our city, our neighbourhood, with our friends and family, in our own homes. One of the mantras throughout this surreal period has been the impact of the individual on the collective — that taking minor safety measures in your immediate surroundings, everyday actions and transactions can prevent the spread of the virus; that an individual’s slip-ups can make the difference between life and death for dozens, even hundreds of people.

The importance of being mindful extends beyond pandemic precautions. If we want our city to survive this, and get back to some semblance of normalcy, we have to consider the emotional and financial stress that so many artists, restaurants, bars, music venues and other cherished local people, organizations and businesses are under. The way we use our energy and our money right now is vital in protecting the things we love about this city: the art, the music, the nightlife, the food scene, the film scene, the retailers and beyond. Shopping local, buying Montreal-made art, ordering from your favourite small restaurants and donating to the plethora of support funds for laid-off workers will provide a boost that can make the difference between resurgence and shutdowns for dozens, even hundreds of small businesses.

In recent weeks, we have dedicated our website to local COVID-19 news, cures for quarantine boredom and articles about supporting Montreal musicians, bar and restaurant staff and so on. In this issue of our publication — which we cannot print and distribute across Montreal as we normally do because most of our drop spots are closed — we have aimed to salute the industries that are in trouble, the danger of losing hold of critical thinking in times of crisis and provide guidance for eating well at home. We’ve also included some content that would normally appear in our magazine. It’s a big issue — we had a lot to say, and we offered advertising to our clients for free, in solidarity and sympathy with those who have supported us.

We want to salute the clients and all Montreal endeavours that you won’t see in our pages in the coming months: promoters who aren’t operating, festivals that have had to cancel their 2020 editions, museums that remain closed for who knows how long, restaurants and shops that are shuttered. We’re visualizing your survival, the survival of all of us. Montreal will be back soon, and we’re here to help you see it through. ■

Read the April issue here.

Read the latest issue of Cult MTL here.