Had Enough Of Crazy Town

I will not be reading Crazy Town.

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No disrespect intended to the book’s author, Robyn Doolittle, a Toronto Star City Hall reporter. Everything I’ve heard so far about it has been very positive. Her appearance last night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart was dynamite. She ably and entertainingly encapsulated the last four years and the Rob Ford phenomenon in about seven minutes.

So kudos to her, and the newspaper that stood by her (and all its reporters) when things got ugly with their coverage of the mayor’s time in office.

But I’ve grown weary of this story and the man and his family and his hangers-on filling it out. For me, the novelty has hit its best before date. It’s stale. jumpingthesharkWe’re caught in this blooper loop where the only thing that ever changes is the antic or pratfall that the mayor gets caught up in.

A sitcom that hasn’t been funny since the first few electric episodes. What If, this week, Mayor Ford goes out ice fishing and winds up falling in the water after his attempts at free-basing go awry!

No longer interested in actually trying to govern the city he was elected to lead, the mayor is out on the campaign trail, looking to re-capture the elusive lightning in a bottle that was so successful in 2010. So instead of attempting to broaden his base of support beyond his winning margin last time out, he’s embracing tighter the themes that made him mayor. Frugality. Customer service. Seething anger and outrage at those in power.

Except, it’s difficult if almost impossible to recreate the conditions which made those ideas resonate. Especially since, you know, as much as he’s trying to portray himself as an outsider again, he sat, until this past November, in the seat of power. This presents a dilemma for him. repeatIf he goes around complaining that he didn’t accomplish all the things he promised he would because of a recalcitrant and out-to-get him council, he’s opening himself up to the charge of not being a very effective mayor.

Does not play well with others.

If you like your mayors rogue, re-elect rogue mayor Rob Ford in 2014.

At this point, the mayor seems singularly uninterested in engaging with anybody who doesn’t share his exact world view. At Wednesday’s first official mayoral debate out at U of T’s Scarborough campus, he dropped any pretense of his aversion to the annual gay Pride celebrations being nothing more than bad timing with family commitments. I ams what I ams, he told the audience, channelling his inner Popeye, and I’m not going to change.

Racial profiling by the police in their carding system? Not council’s problem, shrugged Mayor Ford. Bring it up with the police. goingthroughthemotionsWho he supports, by the way, 100% except for those still conducting an investigation into his ties with certain criminal elements.

Did you hear that? No? Well then, the mayor wasn’t talking to you. It was the high pitched signal to his base that the battle was back at hand. Us versus them, folks. Us versus them.

Of course, Mayor Ford hasn’t kicked fully into relentless campaign mode yet. So far since he registered to run on January 2nd, there’s really been a whole lot of nothing from his camp. Visits to private apartment buildings and fast food joints. Part time appearances at work, if at all. A personal jaunt to Vancouver that blew up into another sad spectacle.

Pretty much, the same ol’, same ol’.

Time to turn the page.

However, not in Ms. Doolittle’s book for me. I just can’t wallow any further in this sad, sordid tale of civic dereliction.

Rob Ford is a terrible mayor and a man of dubious personal character.

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And he himself said he’s not changing his ways.

What more do we need to know?

fed uply submitted by Cityslikr

Demons

I was shocked. Equal parts to the news, and with my reaction to it.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died of an apparent drug overdose.

Ah, shit. Fuck, even.

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As my interest in movies, once pretty much an obsession, wanes, Hoffman was one of the few names that would peak my interest in any project he was involved in. Upon hearing of his death, the top 10 list of his best work immediately filled up to overflowing. He was at his best in [fill in the blank]. No, but wait. What about [fill in the blank]?

But this isn’t a celebrity obituary. I’ll leave that in the hands of the professionals, like Norman Wilner over at NOW. “The landscape of American cinema is hollowed out.

Some of the disbelief at the news was due to a matter of his age. We are of similar vintage. So your natural reaction (at least, I hope other people reacted similarly and I’m not just some self-absorbed asshole) went something along the lines of, Holy shit, that’s young! Followed by the macabre relief that drugs, a certain kind of celebrity levelling drug in fact, may well have been the cause. Phee-ew! At least that’s not one of my vices that’s going to kill me.

I know, I know.

Even more unfortunate, I think, is the next response.

He had so much to live for. Three young children. A limitless professional future. What a shame.

While all true for sure, it seems to suggest that for only those with something or someone to live for should we mourn their untimely exit. Such risk taking behaviour in those possessing a bright future strikes us as inconceivable. There must’ve been some terrible demons. What sort of demons was he battling to take such risks?

Demons.

Something we’re either running away from or trying desperately to catch hold of.

And something we know plenty about currently in Toronto, watching our very own tragic morality play unfold in real time with our chief magistrate in the lead role. Today’s release of Robyn Doolittle’s book about the mayor, Crazy Town, will only beef up the narrative of a man chased by unhealthy family dynamics into a life of unhealthy behaviour. He has it all, wealth, power, fame. What drives him to such extreme, outrageous behaviour?

Demons.

(In the odd irony of this particular situation, Hoffman was often touted in the Toronto parlour game of Who Would Portray The Mayor in the imaginary film of the Rob Ford story. The second choice after Chris Farley who was unavailable due to having died from a drug overdose more than 15 years ago. Like an onion, peeling back layer after layer.)

The thing is, very few people go through life without a demon monkey on their backs. Some are lighter to carry than others. Some people develop the tools to better deal with them. Many of us are just genetically luckier, hardwired in such a way that makes coping with the demons easier. Or our environment just so happens to be such that we aren’t battling those demons on our own.

Not many of us, at least at some point of time in our lives, don’t have something to live for. For lots of folks that time may drift further and further away as they struggle more and more with the demons haunting them. But any death resulting from addiction needs to be mourned as a terrible waste because it is a terrible waste, no matter if it happens in a nice Manhattan apartment or in a dark alley beside a dumpster somewhere.

Compassion and empathy arise out of the acceptance that each of us is bedevilled in some fashion or another. That doesn’t mean we continually excuse bad or outrageous behaviour, shrug it off as just some coping mechanism. We all have to live with one another after all. But we also need to make space for our slip-ups and missteps in the hopes that all of us can find some peace or equilibrium before that one mistake ends any possibility of that ever happening.

sadly submitted by Cityslikr