A Montreal man is gaining fame as "The Cigarette Butt Hero" for tossing a pile of butts and ash back in the lap of a litterbug driver in an act of vigilante justice captured on video.
Claude Landry says he just lost it when he scooped up the filthy mess and tossed it back in the lap of a man who had just emptied his car ashtray on the sidewalk.
Through YouTube, Landryís confrontation and sprint escape from the angry driver has caught the imagination of Montrealers fed up with their dirty city and the careless citizens who befoul it.
Landry spent much of Wednesday in radio interviews, becoming known as "le hero des megots" ó a catchy French rhyme for Cigarette Butt Hero ó for his vigilante act of cleanliness.
"I just reacted," Landry, a mild-mannered, middle-aged television writer, said in an interview Wednesday.
"It was a just a bit much."
The video shows Landry walking down an east-end Montreal street with his friend Martin Thibaudeau, who was experimenting with his new camera.
As Thibaudeau apparently discovers his camera shoots video, Landry suddenly becomes distracted by a driver leaning out of his car and dumping an ashtray on the sidewalk.
"What are you doing?" Landry says, pointing to the pile. "What is that? Are you just going to leave it like that?"
When the driver asks Landry "What is your problem?," Landry bends over, scoops up the ashes with two hands, and throws them in the driverís lap through the open window.
"Thatís my problem!" Landry says.
With a hail of the usual curses involving chalices and tabernacles, the driver bolts out of his car. The diminutive Landry is off like a shot, fleeing down the street with Thibaudeau trailing behind with the camera rolling.
The driver does not give chase.
"He reacted so angrily that as soon as he opened the door, Bing! I was gone," Landry said later.
"I think I would have beaten Bruny Surin or Donovan Bailey in a 100-metre race."
In this age of Internet hoaxes, Landry and Thibaudeau ó who is an actor in addition to writing for TV and the stage ó insist the entire affair was spontaneous.
"I know it looks funny because Iím an actor, but I wasnít even the one on the video," Thibaudeau said.
Litter is a hot topic in Montreal these days, with the spring melt exposing a winterís worth of garbage, cigarette butts and dog poo.
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay launched his annual campaign to crack down on litter this week, hiring inspectors and promising fines for property owners who donít clean up.
In the video, Thibaudeau jokes that "Mayor Tremblay would be proud."
Landry was the toast of a dozen YouTube viewers who applauded his audacity.
"If the guy thinks he has the right to litter our city, we have the right to litter his car," said one writer. "Bravo Claude!!!"
"The twit deserved it," said another.