The St. Hubert Logo: A Psycho-Engineered Image?

by Maksymilian Kapelanski

Many of us see the St. Hubert family restaurant logo regularly--and often unconsciously--while driving to work, cleaning out the mailbox of junk mail, or numbly watching those pesky advertisements on TV or the Internet. The logo, featuring a humanoid cartoon rooster dressed as a waiter, can be seen as having been designed to make you beg to eat chicken at St. Hubert. Let us see how.

Appetizing colours fill the logo: the red reminds us of rare meat, the yellow no doubt signifies golden fries and the flame used to make it all happen. The rooster-waiter on the logo has a large red plume, stylized somewhat like a punk’s hairdo, perhaps subliminally appealing to the youngsters looking for a sizzling bite to eat. Simultaneously, the tuxedo on the rooster-waiter softens the hearts of the older clientele.

The red cockscomb in the shape of a plume may well be a device neutralizing any stray mental images of animal bloodshed. While it may in fact refer to the inevitable bodily liquid spilled when the chicken is killed, the fine and elaborate outline of this red, alarming hairdo imposes clear-cut boundaries that contain the “blood”, creating a clean break between the tragic death of a real chicken and the tasty meal that sits with great comfort on your plate. The white gloves the rooster-waiter is wearing further inspire in us a sense of cleanliness, and so the messy annihilation is shut out of the consciousness. We can eat in peace.

Rendering the rooster-waiter into a cartoon character is instrumental to neutralizing mental images of violence. In cartoons the frequent incidents of violence are extreme yet not quite real, and it's usually “undoable”. In many cartoons, no matter what happens to a character—whether it is blown up, dismembered, or hammered into the earth—it comes back in full health for further adventure. The use of a cartoon picture also appeals to kids wanting to eat at the restaurant, and invites them into an air of wacky fun.

One more technique used in the logo makes us easily accept eating chickens. The feast has been sanctioned by a special authority and power: the king of the chickens, that is the rooster. He himself is serving you as seen in the logo, so it is evident he has also decreed the fate of his “subjects”. Everything seems to have gone through the uppermost channels. The fact that a king is serving us is also quite flattering.

The restaurant’s first location was found on St. Hubert street in Montreal in the 1950s. However, the name also makes us think of another figure of authority: St. Hubert, the protector saint of the hunters. There’s nothing like an air of saintliness to counter the evil spectre of factory chicken farming that may cling to our ideas of chain restaurants and threaten to spoil our culinary experience.

Visiting St. Hubert on impulse is triggered by a special element in the logo: the single raised finger of the rooster-waiter. He is clearly signaling that you have to wait just one minute for the meal to arrive. For a hunger-stricken, salivating human, this is the perfect waiting time. You never have to plan a visit to St. Hubert: you can walk in at any moment in a hunger emergency.

Psycho-marketing devices can also be found in the St. Hubert chain outside of the logo. For example, to foster a feeling of academic accomplishment connected to serving chicken and ribs, in 1979 the restaurant opened St. Hubert University to train its employees. Another fun fact to fathom is that the sexual element is not lacking from the experience at this family restaurant. Some of us might remember a television commercial in which a young man sits down in the restaurant as a young waitress approaches. There is clearly attraction. After much smiling the man sheepishly orders... a breast!

Montreal Tourist and Citizen Rescue Art Cards

by Maksymilian Kapelanski

There is a type of human that seems to often be tragically enclosed in a circuit of false miracles: the tourist. To a large extent, his or her experience relies on the steady supply of costly illusions that bamboozle the critical mind. The tourist is to see the best of Montreal in a high-energy stream of visuals fitted into a few days of subjective spectacle. One can guess, however, that as the days pass at least a few tourists start to wonder what it means to be a real Montrealer. Alas, living in this city is the greatest show they will likely never take part in as real actors. And when the visitor is at the final stage of the tour, looking for a souvenir in shops replete with kitschy figurines of moose, beaver, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police representatives that will, back home, scare the kids at night, he or she will desperately wonder if there’s anything real that they can hang on to. Maybe a small rock from the Mountain will do? Anything!

However, even being a Montrealer carries the risk of losing sight of what is real and special in this city. We become so used to the neighborhoods that we don’t even see them anymore. I remember reading somewhere a story of a Zen monk who practiced meditation in a secluded monastery. His practice was based on the idea of “ordinary sitting”, and he was so successful in it that he saw nothing special about the place or about what he was doing. But one day he had to leave the monastery for a number of weeks. When he came back, he was overtaken by emotion and tears were streaming down his cheeks because everything--the monastery, the other monks, the meditation hall--seemed so very, very special to him.

In my attempt to help reclaim a genuine experience of this city fortourists, citizens of Montreal, and myself, I am making what I call Montreal Tourist and Citizen Rescue Art Cards. First, I transform found tourist guides of Montreal into handmade paper. The symbolic, digitally-designed, and factory-made representations of this city originally found in printed tourist guides are thus being turned into post-symbolic, traditionally-designed, and handmade art objects. This paper is imperfect, rather thick, complete with impressions of the tools it was made with, and sometimes carries remnants of symbols, drawings, and letters from the original pages. The paper is then cut into art cards onto which I affix a small portion of a map of Montreal.

Each card, approximately 2 1/2’’ x 3 1/2’’ in size, is different and unique. You can contact me for a full photo list of cards, choose one as to your liking, or order a custom card that includes your favourite street, neighborhood, or name (such as Terry Fox Street, Mozart Street, Chopin Street, or Rotterdam Street). Montreal Tourist and Citizen Rescue Art Cards are meant to be a token toward reclaiming a genuine tourist and local experience, and you can play a part in its happy realization.