The Cat’s Pajamas

Lord knows, I am the last person who should be opining on what makes members of Ford Nation tick. It baffled me way back when upon his announcement of a seemingly quixotic run for mayor. It continues to flummox me some 18 months later as he blunders from one Ralph Kramden episode to the next. (And before all you snap to at your keyboards and start firing off offended darts at me playing the weight card, that was not my intent. The Ralph Kramden reference has to do with that character’s uncanny ability, week after week, to pursue a questionable course of action that everyone else could see would prove to be disastrous long before he did. That is, if you knew who Ralph Kramden was in the first place. If not, carry on.)

To be fair, I imagine we who remain immune to the charms of the mayor are as equally mysterious to his admirers. Non-working stiffs, champagne sipping socialists, teat sucking snobs, all lumped together in a scarf and cap wearing, bike riding amorphous mass intent only on sticking it to the little guy. Or so I hear.

We ain’t engaged in a war of ideas, is what I’m saying. It’s all about image and impulse rather than debate and deliberation. You shut up. No, you shut up. The delicate art of ham-fisted propaganda and the naked appeal to our rawest emotions.

So what to do with the picture that bubbled up from the Facebook depths this week of Mayor Ford shopping at Walmart in what looks to be a hoodie and pajamas. Let’s call them his relax slacks. Mockery and disbelief immediately spring to mind. I own an outfit like that but I hesitate to even wander out into my backyard wearing it. Hell, I wouldn’t be caught dead rolling the recycling and green bins to the curb adorned in such a downtime, post bath outfit.

But hey, that’s just me. Taking my social cues from Seinfeld rather than the sale rack at Winners. (Remember that episode when George adopted sweatpants as a look and Jerry chastised him for simply giving up?) There’s far too much relaxed fits wandering about on the streets for my taste, and I’m no Russell Smith although more and more I have pondered trying out a cravat on occasion. My sartorial bar is low but public displays of leisure wear do not clear it.

Certainly not if you’re the mayor of a major metropolitan city. That might’ve been fine when he was a fringe councillor from Etobicoke when nobody expected anything else from him. However, it’s something you have to sacrifice when you make the decision to pursue a higher office. Put on a pair of pants before venturing out in public. It just goes with the territory.

Then it hits me. The guy’s a fucking genius. And I’m being as serious as a heart attack here.

What better way to mobilize his base then to elicit howls of outraged indignation from the snotty, snobby fashion police amongst the downtown elite? His approval ratings are down, down, down. We’re gearing up for what could be an ugly budget fight full of cuts to services and labour disruption. Time to slip into something a little more comfortable and head out to the bright lights of a Walmart shopping aisle to get your picture taken.

Let the derision begin and the pushback will inevitably follow.

Because I’m going to bet that our mayor was not the only one shopping at Walmart dressed down to the non-nines. Again, I don’t say that out of any particular arrogance. Sub-casual clothing abounds up and down my street. Why wouldn’t it at Walmart?

So when we go into indulgent paroxysms of glee upon seeing the mayor attired as such, many folks wonder what the fuss is about. They wear their elastic waisted pants all the time especially when they’re off the clock. Give the mayor a break. Like everybody, he’s entitled to just kick back, chillax and shop. He’s just one of us.

Just one of us. He understands where we’re at, how we think. He’s always looking out for the little guy.

While he’s generating a simmering level of empathetic understanding (those meanies…always mocking him for his appearance) he also gets an additional bonus of diminishing the office he holds. What’s the big deal? I’m just the mayor not the Prime Minister or President or Pope. Nothing I’m doing is so important that I can’t go shopping in my pjs. Stop taking me so seriously, folks.

Then the Toronto Star runs this picture. Look at the guy. He’s stuffing his face with a patty. What’s with him and the eating in public? What a tool. What an embarrassment.

Once more, it plays right into his narrative. What’s the big deal? Everybody’s got to eat. So what if he’s lacking the media savvy to do it discretely, out of the media spot light. He’s just an everyday joe, going about his busy schedule, getting a quick bite in along the way. What’s wrong with that? He’s just like us. He gets us. He’s looking out for the little guy.

We have to stop falling into this trap. It’s too easy and ultimately benefits no one but the mayor and all his supporters who continue to see him coming under our scurrilous, personal attacks. It disables the valid criticisms we have of him and his administration. They’re simply brushed off as irrelevant, coming from haters.

We don’t have to engage Mayor Ford that way. Personal ridicule and mocking of questionable private moments is for those not in possession of valid and reasonable criticisms. And god knows, those abound here in Ford Nation. There’s plenty to pound away at.

Let the man eat. Let him wander around in public as a private citizen dressed however he wants. That is not how he’s inflicting damage to this city. Layoffs, cuts to services, the general all-round denigration of the public sphere will not happen because we find him embarrassing. We only help to increase the possibility of all that by making a social martyr of him, a put upon figure rather than the destructive force he truly is.

That’s why we oppose him, right? Not because he’s overweight and déclassé. Right? Right?

almost beratingly submitted by Cityslikr

8 Responses to The Cat’s Pajamas

  1. I still hate the other guy more than this guy says:

    Your best spin yet. He’s a dufus … but yet somehow brilliant.

    You don’t like his middle finger, you don’t like his lack of sense of humour, you don’t like the way he dresses and you don’t like that he eats. Just admit it and move on already.

    Are you sure that’s him in his PJ’s? Don’t all overwight white guys look the same from behind?

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Ihtogmrtg,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke wonder if the article was too long and you weren’t able to make it right to the end.

      Our point was, that it didn’t matter what you thought of the mayor personally, there was plenty to make hay about in terms of his policy. (The latest example from John Lorinc and the burying of the Eglinton LRT http://spacingtoronto.ca/2011/11/14/lorinc-fords-mistake-of-historic-proportions/).

      So there’s absolutely no need to attack him for any reason other than how he’s running the city. Doing so only helps his cause.

  2. Dave says:

    I disagree 100%. You’re making things too complicated. When our mayor looks like a jackass in public, it’s embarrassing. Even if the true-believers of Ford Nation try to tell themselves otherwise, they’re just kidding themselves. It wears on them…especially when people from other places notice and start talking about what a disgrace our mayor is. The mayor they voted for.

    And on that note, Calgary-based singer-songwriter Jann Arden (whom I’ve never known to be at all political) was doing some promotion in Toronto recently. In a radio interview, she was asked about Mayor Ford. Here’s what she had to say:

    “Okay, your mayor is an arse. If you’re out there — he’s probably not listening ’cause he’s on his cell phone and Marg Delahunty is after him. You know, it is so disappointing when you have someone representing a fantastic city, full of fantastic people, that is really the feather in Canada’s cap, for a lot of reasons. I love it here, I love coming here, I love performing here. And, what we hear out west is just about him. Everything is overshadowed by this buffoon. And he really is, I think, he’s not only socially inept. I think his moral compass is spinning on, I don’t even know what. His Uranus is in retrograde, I will say that — I don’t even know what that means, but what a shame that people elected someone who misrepresented himself. I think what he’s done fiscally in this town, with the budgets and everything — and his behaviour — I’m telling you: I’ve been a public person almost all of my life, and I don’t have one incident in 30 years that I can report to you about me flipping the bird to somebody, speaking improperly at a Winners, being mean to a gas jockey filling up my tank. It’s unacceptable. It’s a disappointment, and well, he’s not going to get into office again. I hope the damage is repairable.”

    So that’s the view (or, at least, a view) from Calgary. Squirm, Ford Nation, squirm.

  3. I still hate the other guy more than this guy says:

    He’s not the kind person you want him to be. Understood.

  4. Peter MacQuarie says:

    “We don’t have to engage Mayor Ford that way. Personal ridicule and mocking of questionable private moments is for those not in possession of valid and reasonable criticisms.”

    Watch out. You get censored for saying such things on this site. (No matter how grown up you might now think you are.)

  5. “That is not how he’s inflicting damage to this city. Layoffs, cuts to services, the general all-round denigration of the public sphere will not happen because we find him embarrassing. ”

    THIS.

    Would it be nice to have a mayor who was possessed of elegance and dignity? Of course. But it is not and should not be the focus of judgement.

    Thank you for very eloquently putting a point on this.

  6. I still hate the other guy more than this guy says:

    I read it to the end.

    I think this is your 3rd post about his appearance (maybe 2nd but more than 1 anyhow). My point is if it’s not about they way he looks, why bring it up only to say “it shouldn’t be about they way he looks”.

    I don’t like the guy either. But I think you are trying too hard to find a method to his madness. He’s just a regular guy who got voted in as mayor. Nothing more than that. He isn’t smart enough or have people working for him that are smart enough to spin this in his favour.

    Don’t give him ideas.

    And who gives a shit what Jan Arden thinks. Really? … Jan Arden?

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