Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 06.09.03


A cherished glory of surburbia

Today I cleaned my gas barbecue. In fact, I took it apart and replaced the burner. Went to Joey's up on Gouin Boulevard. Why is this noteworthy? Well, I can remember a time in my life when: "He must be out cleaning his gas barbecue" was a way of mocking a suburbanite. It would serve as a symbol for a meaningless life.

That was when I lived downtown.

I no longer feel enveloped by an existential void at the thought of cleaning a gas barbecue. It was a very satisfying act. But I was aware that it was a very suburban act. And for centuries being a suburban carried with it a very pejorative connotation. Look at the word itself: sub means "below" and urban means "of the city." A suburbanite is below a city dweller.

Urban means "smooth" and "sophisticated." And urbane means "having the manners characteristic of townspeople: courteous, refined and elegant," as first recorded in 1623. But the word "suburban" has always had a negative ring to it. In the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a definition from 1817 is: "Having the inferior manners, the narrowness of view etc. attributed to residents in suburbs."

A suburbanite is the type of person who would clean a gas barbecue instead of discussing the merits of deconstructionist thought with a Gitane-puffing professor in a dark café or fighting off the advances of a perfumed fop at an alternative art-gallery vernissage.

Suburbanites are practical. We would rather fix a barbecue. It has to be done, doesn't it? We are doers. That is why those Pointe Claire residents who saw how the city workers had neglected their park up and mowed it themselves! Do you think smooth and sophisticated city-dwellers would do that?

Isn't it interesting that the first thing that happens when we merge with the city of Montreal is that they stop cutting our grass and our precious parks become choked with dandelions and weeds? Don't they realize that to let a West Island piece of land go to seed is a grievous insult? To the kind of people who will be out on their knees at 7 a.m. on a Saturday pulling up dandelions one by one?

Yes, the city may still treat us with scorn. But the revenge of the suburbs is coming. We will learn to feel our own power.

The entire character of suburbia has changed because suburbs are no longer totally dependent on their neighbouring cities. Suburbia is now the home of "edge cities," to use the phrase coined by journalist Joel Garreau. Functions that once were the domain of traditional downtowns, such as commercial retail and corporate centres, have now been dispersed to suburban areas.

And the ultimate proof of that is this year's Stanley Cup final. Is it New York versus Los Angeles? No. It's a suburb of New York versus a suburb of Los Angeles. It is the triumph of the suburbs!

The Sporting News Web site describes it as "a match-up featuring the suburbs of New York City in the Jersey swamplands against the bungalow and mall sprawl of Anaheim, south of Los Angeles." Do you hear the barely disguised contempt for the suburbs echoing down through the centuries in that description?

But I don't care. I'll watch the game and root for the suburbs. After grilling a steak on my nice clean barbecue.