Final Thoughts On Ford Fest

On the theory that there is still much to talk about re: Friday night’s Ford Fest, All Fired Up in the Big Smoke has assembled two of its crack team of observers to dissect the festivities. Stepping in place of the still absent Acaphlegmic is Mr. David Hains from over at The Clamshell.

Urban Sophisticat (heretoforth, US): I just want to jump in here before this immediately descends into a gleeful rip of Ford Nation and give a big shout out to the TTC. We were essentially door-to-door, from downtown eliteville into the line outside the Ford estate in 40, 45 minutes. The last leg of the trip was in pure air-conditioned comfort on the northbound Royal York 73C. Kudos, TTC. Much better than driving up there. Now let the slagging begin.

David Hains (heretoforth, DH): You’re right to point this out, and thank goodness for the TTC. After all, there was a pretty strong storm before Mayor Ford took the stage at Ford Fest and it would have been a pain to bike in. And while they have bike lanes leading up to Renata Ford’s digs, they don’t have the post and ring bicycle racks in Etobicoke. Who knew?

Cityslikr (heretoforth, CS): Although there were plenty of big vehicles, armored trucks we could’ve locked bikes up to. Or lion statues. Genital flaunting monkey statues. Kangaroo statues.

US: I think that might’ve been a wallaby. But there was no singular aestethic vision you could ascribe to the compound aside maybe big. Lots of space that needed filling. Yeah, yeah. Just drop that off over there with the other animals. Same could be said of the house itself, at least from the outside. A particular cross between a ski chalet and Red Roof Inn.

DH: Yeah, for me the setting was larger than any character there and that says something. I got the chalet vibe too, but this particular kind of Alfred Hitchcock one where at any moment you had the sense that the privileged platinum blonde wasn’t going to be who you expected them to be. Somehow the house was perfectly Fordian. Like Ford’s politics, it’s the kind of house you wouldn’t expect to be in Toronto but there it is, sensory overload firing away (the canons in the bushes help). The statues and fountains were the finishing touch, with one from every culture it seemed (I liked the Chinese dragons). No wonder Ford won the minority vote.

CS: Your 3 Torontos. Those with no backyards. Those with a postage stamp sized backyard. And those with backyards possessing their own postal code. But enough Chris and Dave and Daving it. What about the guest list? The guest list. Did you catch Josh Matlow on his radio show yesterday asking everyone if they got an invite? Like, in not showing up, he skipped some exclusive party. Newsflash, councillor. You were one of about two million, four hundred and ninety-nine thousand Torontonians who chose not to attend Ford Fest.

US: I heard Giorgio Mammoliti made an appearance and Frances Nunziata dropped by. Norm Kelly. I saw Vincent Crisanti. And someone tweeted seeing Councillor Minnan-Wong’s young daughter, so I assume he was somewhere nearby. Paul Ainslie was the only one I saw who hung out for the evening. And of course, there was Councillor Gary Crawford on drums.

DH: Matlow is the parent in the kindergarten class who is making sure everyone got invited and no one’s feelings are hurt. To be honest, I’m surprised he wasn’t there because the event was right up his alley with hob-nobbing and glad-handing. Plus, he, Gary Crawford, Josh Colle and a left wing councillor (for balance) could form a musical super group. All they would need to sort out would be the name.

CS: Something as cryptically innocuous as Gently Bent, Councillor Crawford’s current band name? I really wanted someone to explain that for me. Is it like, hey, we may look like 4 pasty white guys kicking out your average wedding band tunes but, occasionally, every so often, we can get our rock on. We’re not as straight as we look. We’re… gently bent. With absolutely no idea there’s another way the name could be interpreted.

US: Or maybe it’s just some slight word play on that TV show from the 60s. Gentle Ben. They can roar like a bear and other times they can play gently like a bear, named Ben. Gentle Ben. Gently Bent. But I did come up with the perfect left winger for your super group, David. John Filion. Quiet, happy to stay in the background bass player. Has hair just like John Entwistle.

DH: Apparently Paula Fletcher was just singing at the Labour Day Parade, so maybe auditions will be needed? It wasn’t just Gently Bent that was innocuous at the event, but almost everything. There’s nothing more innocuous than awkward conservative dancers wearing slacks or jeans who were there to re-connect with old friends. In that way, the event was nice and charming. The disconcerting parts were the Ford idolatry (one guy got his Lean Six Sigma for Dummies book signed by Doug) and the underlying politics that aren’t innocuous at all.

CS: Which brings us to the bigger picture here. What exactly is Ford Fest? A campaign rally? Certainly the noticeable presence of politicians would suggest as much. Or are we looking more at a, I don’t know, community event held by a local councillor. You know, the type of thing the mayor derided as he led the charge to cut councillor expenses. All well and good if you can pay for it out of your own pocket but don’t be wasting taxpayer’s money doing it.

US: That grey area of expenses the Fords seem oblivious too. It doesn’t count if it’s our money. I’m going to hazard a guess that whoever paid for Ford Fest, blew way past a councillor’s yearly expense allowance. Drink up, folks. Eat. Don’t stop to think about the ethical implications to it all.

DH: That’s what makes Ford Fest so great. Like the politics and vague rhetoric, it is all things to all people. Blurring the line between community service, populism and political opportunism is what propelled Ford to being mayor and ‘the city’s largest backyard BBQ’ is the perfect microcosm for that.

CS: Will you be attending the next Ford Fest?

US: I don’t see why not. We’re already morally compromised.

DH: Yes. I can always use more fridge magnets.

submitted by Cityslikr

Out In The Field At Ford Fest

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