Bald Man Out

May 26, 2010

According to the Toronto Star this past Saturday, the city’s mayoral race has become a 3-way, conveniently split along clear, easy-to-follow ideological lines. Rob Ford on the right, Joe Pantalone on the left and George Smitherman smack dab in the middle. So perfect is the alignment that one might think it was hand made to fit an orderly narrative. Unlike the real world, no nuances here, folks, at the Toronto Star.

How did such clean lines come about? Well, according to the Star, the wheels have come off the Rocco Rossi campaign bus. His whole schtick to date had been the crusading outsider riding into town to clean up the mess created by profligate taxing and spending. Rossi was the right of centre, anti-incumbent populist and he carried some momentum early on.

That is until councillor Rob Ford entered the fray. He wasn’t just simply right of centre. He was a true blue right wing conservative with no Liberal stain on his resumé. Ford was well-known for lavishing attention on his (and other councillors) constituents, promptly returning their phone calls. So, he had the populist angle covered. For disgruntled right wing voters, Rob Ford was the real deal.

This left Rossi with only the anti-incumbent banner to fly. While a potent element in a race where the electorate is restive and believe that things are going to hell in a hand basket, it may not be enough to sustain a nearly 10 month campaign especially if the frontrunner with more name recognition is attempting to sail an identical tack. See: George Smitherman as crusading outsider riding into town to clean up the mess created by profligate taxing and spending.

It hasn’t helped Rossi that his platform so far has been underwhelming. Selling off publicly owned assets isn’t an easy pitch to anyone who remembers or drives the 407 not to mention that it makes absolutely no economic sense to anyone other than ideologues and those on the investment side of the equation. His subway plan doesn’t add up even to those who would like more subways built. The latest 6 point economic initiative to create a quarter million jobs in Toronto that he floated last week seems, as the Star stated, vague.

If elected, Rossi vows to “Work at creating growth across the entire 416-905 region.” Then he’d “Tout Toronto-based bank performance during the recession, building on the city’s reputation as an emerging world financial centre.” Etc., etc., broad generalizations and the use of other very active verbs to give the impression of doing something.

All stance and very little substance. Once you cede the stance to a more qualified or well known poseur, there wasn’t much left for any voter to get behind. Even before the dog days of summer, or at least the official dog days of summer roll around, Rossi finds himself in irons, floundering with no direction and little wind behind him.

At least, that’s how the Toronto Star sees it at the moment. The Rossi campaign is dead in the water, torpedoing not only his own chances but apparently those of the other 22 candidates as well, winnowing it down to a 3 man race. That way, I guess, the Star won’t have to do too much multitasking when it comes to their election coverage. Now if only there was a way for them to figure out how to eliminate Joe Pantalone and get it down to just two contenders. It would make everything that much simpler.

not unhappily but warily submitted by Cityslikr

A Commute Slog To Hell

May 26, 2010

On an unexpected trip to the airport this a.m. to pick up a wayward Acaphlegmic who has returned from a furtive trip that he remains mum about, I take in my unusual surroundings. Sitting in the Autoshare car, stuck on Lakeshore Boulevard just past Ontario Place with the entrance to the Gardiner Expressway seemingly miles in the distance, I wonder how we’ve arrived at this place. Aren’t we smarter than this?

We’re supposed to be going in the opposite direction from the morning rush hour yet here we are, traffic stopped in all directions, wasting our lives away. To my right, the bike lanes and footpaths of the lakefront remain sadly deserted. We’re all here in our cars, idle, as a brownish-green hue settles in on the horizon over the lake and this is only our second heat alert day of the season and it is the 26th of May, still 3 weeks short of the official start of summer!

We’ve chosen ours cars over fully functioning public transit. We ship our cargo by truck instead of rail. We tune into the radio to hear the likes of the Dean Blundell Show, a fucking 4th-rate Howard Stern impersonator who talks about men’s balls, wiener supporters and armpit sniffing without even being funny about any of it!! I mean, how inept is that?

No wonder we are so full of rage and contempt and bile. This, apparently, is how many of us begin our days. Stuck in a metal, plastic and glass container, bumper to bumper, stopping and starting, our heads filled with amateurish frat boy puerility. How have we let this happen to ourselves? Shouldn’t we be demanding a little more from our lives? We should be surprised that our society isn’t subject to more random murderous rampages.

This is not how civilized people exist. Somehow sometime back, we settled for something desperately short of perfection. This sucks.

submitted dyingly slowly by Urban Sophisticat