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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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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.

He is also a columnist for Montreal's outstanding weekly The Suburban.

His LCC columns are archived here

Posted 06.12.06

RICKY BLUE

One man's garage door is another's bylaw infringement

MONTREAL | A garage is such a unique suburban invention. It is us. It is where we keep the car in the winter and the bicycles and sports gear in the summer.

"Sure it fills up, but at the end of each summer we have a garage sale."

And some of the more creative among us might even be inspired to express ourselves on the large surface of our garage door.

This week, a Montreal municipal court will decide whether we have that right.

A couple of years ago the Greek national soccer team won the World Cup by defeating Portugal, and Pierrefonds resident Theodore Antonopoulis was so moved that he painted his garage door blue and white, in the pattern of the flag of Greece.

"It's a free country, right?"

Wrong. An anonymous neighbour (a Portuguese fan?) complained. And so an inspector from the city turned up (chief assistant undersecretary in charge of the department of garage doors?). He told Theodore to remove it.

Theodore refused. He was fined $138. What most of us would do at this point, even though we knew that it was so obviously unfair and stupid, is pay up and shrug: "You can't fight city hall."

But maybe because Greek tradition gave us the idea of the hero, Theodore fought back.

A borough spokesperson explained that Theodore had contravened a section of Pierrefonds's Posters and Signs bylaw, which prohibits residents from installing "a sign that is painted or reproduced on a building or a fence."

Theodore's lawyer, individual rights superhero Julius Grey, argued that the bylaw infringed on Theodore's Charter right to free expression.

"I didn't want to jump to the conclusion that this must be just another petty case of a simple-minded bureaucrat trampling on a citizen's rights, so I went to see the garage door myself. But now I can tell you without hesitation that it is indeed just another petty case of a simple-minded bureaucrat trampling on a citizen's rights.

It's not as if Theodore lives in a heritage area. There is no architectural integrity at stake here. Housing styles are diverse. His garage door adds a rather nice fun element to the eclectic mix of the relatively new housing development.

It's not as if it is a loud noise that stops neighbours from sitting on their decks or sleeping at night. You cannot get away from a noise. But this is something that can very easily be ignored. And at night, in the dark, you cannot see it at all.

And it's not as if it was an ugly and amateurish graffiti scrawled by a vandal on someone else's property. It is a well proportioned blue and white design on the artist's own property. I have seen much worse on art museum walls.

Theodore's creation makes a simple statement: "I am here and this is what I am."

Isn't this the basic message of all art? And it is his garage door after all. Is not a man's home his canvas? If a man is not allowed to paint his own garage door, what is next?

"I'm sorry, sir, is that a Maple Leaf tie? You'll have to come with me."

We have to rally to the defense of this man. All that is necessary for the triumph of petty bureaucracy is that good people stand around and shrug. Why the hard line from Pierrefonds?

I'm sorry, but "the law is the law" doesn't cut it. This law says nothing about garage doors, so one has to interpret it to mean garage doors. And this takes a leap of logic motivated by what? Prejudice? Overzealousness? Bad toilet training?

What pathology makes you or anyone else for that matter think that they have the right to deny another human being such a simple, harmless, joyful gesture?

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