The Art of War


“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War


This morning I wake up early with worries. In bed, cuddling my main squeeze, loud rock music and static invades our bedroom. Some asshole outside is testing a sound system. It’s 9:30 am, Sunday.

We live in a weird spot, squeezed by inner city traffic on one side and green space on the other. We occasionally get pelted with noise from events, but dammit, it’s 9:30 am on God’s fuckin’ day of rest!

Immediately, the political brain springs into action. Some would call it, “How to right a wrong.”

  • Call the police and make a noise complaint? But it’s the police, and an organized event probably has a noise permit.
  • Get my neighbours to rally naked against the beast? I don’t think I’m that persuasive.
  • Unpack my trusty rocket-launcher? Where’s the target?

So I grab Liza, my 9-kg Lhasa Apso terrier mix, and dash out to take on The Man! I’m in such rage that I must remind myself not to drag poor Liza while she tries to pee.

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The sound tech is weaponizing Classic Rock against me – “Start Me Up” by the Stones, “Light My Fire,” by The Doors. But where’s the source? Acoustics in this zone are disorienting, deflecting off buildings, roads and hills. Nothing by the volleyball courts. Nothing by the tam-tams statue. It must be from the pre-game tailgate party by the stadium.

Liza and I cross Avenue du Parc. I conduct my first security assessment. Some rent-a-guards doing traffic patrol on the feeder road. Don’t appear armed. The field seems unsecured.

History teaches valuable lessons. Many decades ago at The Forum, the opening band, Sha Na Na, suddenly went silent while performing its second rousing encore. I noticed that Leslie West, the corpulent leader of the heavy rock marquee band Mountain, had ripped out the sound cables from the amps with his meaty hands. A brilliantly simple solution to Mountain’s fury at this dorky ’50s imitation band stealing their time.

“The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Liza’s recent haircut distracts people who notice her. « C’est tellement cute ! » We arouse no suspicion. I scan and assess as we advance. The tailgate party is more organized than I expected – food trucks, benches, inflatable water slides, and a dozen or so dark-clad men gathered around a food tent and the noise source. My first doubts about my plan… With sound cables in one hand and Liza Minelli’s retractable leash in the other, I would be defenseless as they beat the shit out of me.

I must think of optional attack scenarios and quickly, as we approach the target. Stunned, I realize they have no loud sound system!

It has to be… Molson Stadium, just beyond. Standing in its shadow, looming high above me, I can only glance at a segment of its outside barrier walls. Massive. A coliseum.

Through the gates, I spot empty interior top-row seating. Early in the day? Possibly. But the Alouettes are 3 and 10 in a depressingly lousy season. I also spy loudspeakers and distinctly hear the directional sound.

We are 30 meters away from the entrance. Liza hunches over and shits. Fuck you! Despite poop bags hidden in my pocket, I’m not picking it up!

“The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points;”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

We stride towards the entrance. Inside lies the hidden target – the Sound Engineer and the Control Panel. Around me, linked gate barriers control access and evasion. Two choices: Entrée avec billets and Billeterie. The narrow Entrée is heavily patrolled. I eye them. They eye me and Liza. They’re not smiling.

I choose the unguarded Billeterie. Once I commit, I face the sobering realization that I will not be able to directly penetrate the stadium.

It gets very quiet. The sound stops.

The Billeterie is closed but a door is ajar. Inside, underpaid workers working for a depressing corporate team that traded away top draft picks for Johnny Manziel, a wasted NFL quarterback notorious for his self-destructive partying and on-field antics. (A touching fact – Manziel revealed later he is bipolar and struggling to be healthy.)

“The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Inside, a man of authority. I attack. « Hey, j’habite ici et le bruit du système de son avant 10 h un dimanche, un jour de repos, c’est dégueulasse ! »

He strikes back. « Oui, je suis désolé. Je vais adresser votre plainte. »

I counter « Oui mais calice, c’est dimanche ! Ce n’est pas une excuse ! »

My foe digs in. « Oui monsieur. Il y a un match aujourd’hui. »

I’m not fooled. « À 13 h ! Il est 10 h maintenant ! »

«Vous avez raison. Je vais transmettre votre demande. »

His fuckin’ active listening is killing me. The illusion of addressing the consumer’s complaint. The deflating reminder that bureaucracy has no beating heart. At 1 pm, Air Force jets scream over our homes for the national anthem.

Next time I‘m packing the rocket launcher.

I’ve seen the speakers.

P.S. The Alouettes lost.


Writer and anti-racism activist Scott Weinstein describes himself as “another rat in a cage in the Plateau (neighbourhood of Montréal), spinning faster in his spinning wheel to advance.”