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In Quebec, the pandemic sharpens interest in the lives of others


“What can I do, I don’t know what to do”, crooned Anna Karina sulkily at the edge of the water in Pierrot le fou. Since the arrival of Hurricane Covid-19, millions of confined-deconfined-re-confined people have chanted the same refrain.

In Montreal as elsewhere, there are many who have tried to overcome their anxiety by taking refuge in their kitchen. A charming neighbor of ours, an exiled New Yorker doubly afflicted by the pandemic and the distressing Trumpist spectacle across the border, has become the neighborhood’s unofficial and clandestine baker. In a few months, the flours, the seeds to use, the rising time of the dough and the perfect baking of the bread no longer held any secrets for him.

But this stopped life has also pushed some to make their honey by looking at the lives of others. This is the case of Lubalin, a young Canadian musician of 30 who had known, at the end of last summer, a nice success of esteem for a first melancholy and very introspective track, Don’t Know. As the obligatory mask did not encourage word of mouth, the melody was kept confidential. But, at the end of December 2020, Lubalin’s TikTok account exploded: from 5,000 subscribers, it rose to one million, then two million and today comes close to 2.5 million. Why this sudden craze? He has just posted on this social network, very popular with teenagers, the video of a new song inspired by recent messages read on Facebook. An exchange around a small real estate ad, where a rejected tenant harasses an owner, inspires Lubalin, who sets it to music by accentuating its dramatic side. The mixture of derision and underlying threats is a hit.

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Shakespearean and burlesque

Lubalin does it again, this time relying on a totally wacky argument – still drawn from Facebook – between Doris and Helen, the latter complaining of having had her broccoli recipe stolen by a certain Caroline (we cannot say enough about the importance of cooking during this pandemic ordeal). Against a background of electronic music, Lubalin gives the dialogue between the two housewives, interpreted with curlers and charlotte on their heads, the depth of a Shakespearean drama with a touch of burlesque. The TikTok community is on fire, the song has over twenty million views to date. A moment stolen from the lives of others that passes to posterity, we sing “Ohhhh Caroline” (the recipe thief) in the streets of Montreal.

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