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MONTREAL #ROOTS

THE SOBER EMCEE

MONTREAL #ROOTS

Kofi Carmichael

I was born and raised in Montreal Quebec. It is a mix of French and English speaking people with a strong emphasis on preserving our individuality amongst other Canadians. There is a combination of blacks from Haiti and the other Caribbean islands. A high populations of Armenians as well as Moroccans and a multitude of Arab speaking immigrants. It's no secret that the city is run by the Mob which has been exemplified numerous times from high profile homicide coverage of Mob members. We can't forget having some of the richest chapters of biker gangs that help to run this beautiful city. The most corrupted criminals in this historically rich city is the provincial Government who kind of...just play by their own rules let's say.

We are such individuals that we still get ridiculed to this day by other Canadian for foolish separation dreams that old Quebecois try to push back in the day...and some even now. As individuals our bars close at 3am as opposed to Ontario and several other Canadian provinces that have a 2am last call. Nope we need that extra hour to party and before that we can go grab our beer and/or wine at any convenience store, Gas Station and even grocery store until 11pm. This type of freedom with alcohol can be liberating for some. Especially when you're used to the typically more conservative Canadian rules. Our drinking age is 18 instead of 19 and our relaxed attitude does not frown upon having a few drinks daily. However this can also go in a bad direction if one has the alcoholic disease. Montreal is like Disneyland for alcoholics, mixed with being Canada's sex capital which is the perfect mix for the worst decisions.

I lived in Montreal for 22 years before moving to Toronto in November of 1997. Since 1991 I developed an iron liver and lung. I learned to smoke and drink like a champ from the tender age of fifteen. I developed my impeccable rolling skills, that I still posses by the way. At the same time I started discovering the multiple of easily accessible alcoholic beverages that Montreal has to offer. Like most people I drank Labatt and Molson beers. Even back then there was Labatt Blue Dry beers that were more than 5%. We had the 6.1% and then went on to having 7.1, 8.1 and even a 10% which is almost the percent of alcohol that wine contains. Before Reb Bull became a popular energy drink I was drinking tall cans of Red Bull beer that was a 7.1% that kept me nice and fuzzy for part of the early 90s. Montreal also has their own Micro-breweries that produced some of the most mentally lethal beers with odd names. For example Eau Bénite which translates to Holy Water in English. There is also Fin Du Monde which was a whopping 10% beer. Fin Du Monde translates to End of the World, which is absolutely correct for someone who drinks a few of those daily. Being the Hip Hop head that I am, when we discovered 40 ounce size bottles of Malt Liquor, which is just cheaply made beer.

We used to make several trips to New York City where you can also buy beer at corner stores. Over there we saw all the American beers that are usually pretty weak in the alcohol amounts, on average being like 4% to 4.5%. However 40s went straight to the head. In NYC you could get a 40 ounce for $1 maybe $2. When certain underground Montreal convenience stores started illegally importing them they would charge upward of $5 per bottle. We wanted to mimic our favorite rappers like Wu Tang and Snoop Dogg who even had St.Ides malt liquor commercials. They knew from early that Hip Hop loved 40s and it was one of the first alcohol endorsements that rappers received. Now we have Ciroc, Rosay and a plethora of rapper endorsed liquor brands. At some point when I started making more money my palette changed and we started getting into imported beers like McQuiewin's an 8.5% beer from Scotland and Japanese Saki. This is all available at our conveniently located SAQs (Society Alcohol du Quebec). This is the stores that I started to cultivate my taste for hard liquor. The SAQ is filled with some of the best imports of hard liquor that isn't available in other Canadian liquor stores. Liquors from the West Indies, France, Italy and Greece to name a few. Greek liquors like Metaxa and Ouzo which I used to drink at my ex girlfriends parent's house. Her dad always had a bottle around and he knew that she would drink a little. I used to have to hide when he woke up for work the night shift so he wasn't supposed to the know that I was there. However I feel that he suspected that it wasn't his daughter that was beating up his liquor bottles. Or the fact that they were becoming watered down.

Yes, Montreal the historical city of sin. Which is ironic since it was once owned by the Catholic nuns. Education and the cost of living is low with 1 bedroom apartments still under $1000 in the downtown area. All the better for the young McGill and Concordia students to spends some of that extra money on the fine spirits that Montreal Quebec has to offer. This place can be dangerous for someone who doesn’t have control over their addictions or even realize that they may be alcoholics. Montreal helped to develop my tolerance level as well as beginning the destruction of my liver. Now 5 years sober , when I go back there I'm not affected by massive beer selection at all local stores. It is now a friendly reminder of what control is and how it can easily be lost. I still love my hometown and I can personally tell you all that there is no city like it in the world. Merci