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Will Straw, PhD

Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Will Straw is Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and lives in Montreal. He is Professor of Communications at McGill, where has taught since the mid-1990s. Dr. Straw comments regularly on cultural and other matters for Canadian media. He is the author of Cyanide and Sin: Visualizing Crime in 50s America and dozens of articles on popular culture, cities and media.
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Remembering The Creator Of Modern Gossip Journalism

No one will be celebrating this, but 2016 marks the hundredth birthday of one of the most vicious show business gossip magazines ever published, edited by a Canadian named Stephen G. Clow. On his death, the US newspaper columnist Westbook Pegler called him "the originator of Saloon journalism." His colourful life can be used as a direct origin for the modern state of tabloid and celebrity journalism. So why don't more people know his story?
02/08/2016 11:25 EST
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Canadian Embassies are Interested in Business, Not Culture

I attended a conference on Canadian culture to which several dozen undergraduate students came by bus from cities several hours away. They had learned about Canada from teachers who themselves had benefited from the tiny grants which once allowed them to visit Canada or order the books and other materials on which their teaching depended.
11/27/2013 12:24 EST
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Fighting For the Right to Party All night

The question of how cities regulate night-time behaviour is a very old one, but it has emerged as the focus of innovative thinking in the last two decades. The conflict between a growing market of young people demanding late-night entertainment and gentrified homeowners complaining about noise is being handled in various ways across the country.
09/19/2013 12:09 EDT
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Daft Punk Did More Than "Get Lucky" With This Hit

I'm just back from a one-week European swing. As I moved from airport, to train station, to restaurant, to hotel, I was followed everywhere by Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," the ubiquitous song of the moment. The inescapability of "Get Lucky" is part of the story.
06/11/2013 12:20 EDT

Canadian Cities Take Over Cultural Policy

Ten years ago, I was one of the organizers of "Accounting for Culture," a conference held in Gatineau, Quebec to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Federal Department of Canadian Heritag...
06/03/2013 10:49 EDT
Mirror

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall: Will Alternative Weeklies Fall?

When the Mirror was launched in the mid-1980s, it touted its independence and social purpose. I remember going to benefit concerts and parties organized to help it get off the ground and survive. But it's been shut down, and I fear even an online version wouldn't be able to pay even the most abysmal of salaries, or even reassert itself as a go-to source for young Montreal anglos.
06/25/2012 12:15 EDT

The Man Who Put the "Can" in CanCon

Pierre Juneau, the civil servant who pushed for Canadian Content regulations on the radio, died yesterday. When Canadian music does well now, we give the credit to Montreal's cheap rents or the star-making power of YouTube. It might be argued, though, that Juneau exercised more influence on Canadian culture from the 1960s through the 1980s than anyone else.
02/22/2012 05:19 EST
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Why "Happy Hour" is not French

Skirmishes over language erupted all through 2011 in Montreal, most notably around the appointment of unilingual Anglophone Randy Cunneyworth as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. The language issue has always been messier, however, when it has involved the bars and nightclubs of downtown Montreal.
01/04/2012 05:47 EST

Where Have All the TVs Gone?

Like the disappearance of the landline telephone, the withering of cable will be less about long-time subscribers making a bold shift than about successive generations below them simply failing to sign up for a service they see as an unnecessary encumbrance.
10/11/2011 04:51 EDT