I woke up with that not unfamiliar but definitely unpleasant taste of shame and regret with a little soupçon of peppery why-the-hell-not. It’s a heady, earthy mix. Imagine scooping up the last dregs of hummus with a Finn Crisp, not realizing someone had been using the dish to flick the ashes of their cigarettes into. Like that.
Well, I attended Ford Fest last night. I drank the mayor’s beer. I ate the mayor’s hamburgers. I listened to and gently mocked the mayor’s house band, Gently Bent, featuring the percussive stylings of Councillor Gary Crawford. (Hey. Re-election campaign slogan, councillor. “Keeping the beat for Ford Nation!” You’re welcome.)
The morning after, I’m wondering if I hadn’t done something improper, crossed an ethical line that, once transgressed, cannot be retraced. I’d accepted freebies from a couple politicians I regularly and vehemently disagreed with. Wasn’t the expectation now that I’d soften by views? That is the purpose of these things, right? Invite folks over to the family homestead, ply them with booze, burgers and AOR music in an effort to show everybody, hey, we’re just regular folks like all of youse.
Just like all of youse who own houses with backyards big enough to fit an NFL football stadium. (Hey, Councillor Doug. An idea here, and I’m just spitballing. An NFL team, literally, in your own backyard. Imagine getting a cut of those concessions. And there’s lots of parking down the street in the 1500 Royal York strip mall. Call me.)
Wandering around the grounds, and that’s what they were, grounds; a backyard doesn’t begin to do it justice, I couldn’t help thinking that these guys must’ve had killer high school parties. Even if they weren’t very popular — and I’m not saying they weren’t — but we all know those kids nobody really liked but whose parties we’d always go to because their houses were so very, very conducive to killer parties. Pools with a deck one storey above where somebody, every time, would attempt to jump from and invariably miss, breaking a bone or two.
Killer parties almost killed me.
It’s also easy to see that unless one is instilled with a sense of empathy, a notion that almost no one, anywhere else on the planet earth lives and plays in such grand personal surroundings, you might grow up wondering why people were always clamoring for more, better park and public spaces. Community centres? We’ve got our very own community centre right here.
Just a theory but difficult not to venture down that garden path of speculation about the mayor and his councillor brother seeing where they had spent at least some of their youth.
It also struck me, having got up close and personal to the mayor with a handshake (I called him Your Worship and curtsied to throw everyone off my downtown scent) that, despite his years in politics and reputation for looking out for the little guy, he is supremely uncomfortable with the necessary glad-handing. Hey. How ya doin’? Here’s my business card.
I remember crossing paths in a certain drinking establishment with our previous mayor. We had the briefest exchange of small talk but you immediately got the sense that, for that quick moment, you were the absolute centre of his attention. He made it look easy. Too easy, perhaps. He’s not one of us. He doesn’t understand our struggles. Downtown elitist.
That’s not meant as a slap at our current mayor, criticism via an unfair comparison. It’s just the opposite, in fact. I admire such force of will that enables Mayor Ford to push aside his natural disinclination and do what needs to be done in to be such a successful politician. Maybe that’s part of his appeal. People get the sense that he’s as uncomfortable with certain aspects of his job as they would be but he’s dealing with it, and doing the best he can. Despite the obvious trappings of great wealth, he is, at heart, just one of us, a youse guys guy. The People’s Mayor.
Go Mayor Ford! Stick it to the unions! Stick it to the cyclists! To the pinkos. Egg-headed planners.
Go Rob, Go!
. . .
Like that, I have been compromised.
Sold out for some draft beer, boxed burgers and substandard AC/DC and Eagles covers.
Just one Ford Fest under my belt and I’ve become a bona fide member of Ford Nation.
He’s good. Really good.
— shamefully submitted by Cityslikr