You Don’t Have To Be Crazy To Live Here But…

Ever since our inception, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have found ourselves in a regular state of civic suspension of disbelief. crazysquirrelI know this isn’t actually happening but… but it seems so real. I know it’s just some crazy made-up shit but… but it’s so compelling, so engrossing to follow along with, you know?

Not coincidentally, our appearance came about during the rise of Rob Ford from that goofy, malevolent but largely impotent politician every local government has to contend with to becoming mayor of the largest city in the country. Of course things were going to get nutty. Toronto had elected Rob Ford as its mayor.

Nearly four years on, it has proven to be more than some prolonged nightmare of Dali/Buñuel, eye-slicing proportions. Not even a deranged Truman Show explanation suffices where we’re just the game pieces for a God-like producer with an eye only on the TV ratings. Our story’s taken on biblical dimensions, frankly. The political book of Job. Pushed beyond any sort of reasonable limits, we cry out in anguish. Why, Lord? jobWhy are you doing this? Who can deliver us from your hands? And from the whirlwind comes the response. I don’t have to explain myself to you.

If you’re reading this, I don’t have to recount the whole sad, sordid tale, the multitude of ways we’ve traveled down through the rabbit hole. Municipal governance gone wild! You’d think what with everything that’s gone on, we’d be one and done, talking about what comes next. But no. Our disgraced, discredited mayor cannot be discounted from possibly securing himself another term in office.

Which naturally, as this kind of thing must, can only lead to further fantasy sequences, more outbursts of the bizarre. If his first kick at the can embraced the improbable, the second go-round will be all about the unimaginable. You think that was weird, folks? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

unchienandalouBringing us to two days this week that best encapsulate the thick sticky freakiness we find ourselves in.

The mayor holds a press conference to announce that Ben Johnson and an actor from the TV series/movie franchise The Trailer Park Boys are joining the campaign team in some capacity. What capacity? Nobody’s quite sure. It will all become clear in due time. Or it won’t since forethought and strategic planning are not really what these guys are about. They’re more instinctual than that.

When you think Ben Johnson, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Right. Drugs. Steroids. Gold medal and record setting stripping steroids.

Seems an odd choice then, doesn’t it, for a mayor dogged by stories of personal drug use and outrageous drug-induced behaviour. We’re all mavericks and outlaws here, folks. The all-star Team Nobody’s Perfect. Are you?

But wait, it gets better. It always gets better with these guys. A bottomless pit of ¿¡WTF?!

The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale reported today that the Trailer Park Boy the mayor introduced yesterday, Sam Tarasco, hosts an internet pot smoking show called High Fuckers. That’s right. High Fuckers. druglifeYou pay $4.20 a month to watch guys get high and shoot the shit. High Fuckers.

So instead of trying to distance itself from the heavy cloud of drugs and the drug life, Team Ford seems to be embracing it. Yeah, we do drugs. Yeah, we know people who do drugs. We’re not perfect. Are you?

Counterintuitive? That doesn’t even begin to describe it. Like much of the way they operate, there just isn’t an English word to do it justice. It’s post-verbal.

While all this… whatever you want to call it… was happening, there was also much excitement over the new edition of Mayor Ford bobbleheads. $100 a pop and bearing almost no resemblance to the man himself, we’re told proceeds would be going into the mayor’s campaign war chest. Hmmm, we wondered. Would those purchasing a bobblehead be eligible for the 75% candidate donation rebate the city offers? If so, they’d be a steal at just $25. You could easily make a healthy return on that with an eBay sale.

Talk about your retail politician. Everybody makes a buck when Rob Ford is out on the campaign trail. bobbleheadWin-win-win-win-win!

In case you thought there was no bread with this circus, the mayor took time out of his celebrity tour to announce some serious policy yesterday. Or I should say, to re-announce some serious policy, telling the media that, if re-elected, he will start to phase out streetcar service in Toronto. Just like he promised back in 2010 and immediately didn’t pursue upon taking office. Promises made, promises forgotten.

But this time, he means it, man.

“I know one thing. I won’t get on a streetcar,” the mayor told the press. “If I have an option to drive or take a streetcar, I’m going to get in my car.”

Forget the sheer lunacy of the idea. Buses could never make up the capacity without causing even more congestion that the mayor is supposedly fighting with his no-streetcar idea. And the subways he keeps touting will never be built. Not in his lifetime. Not in his children’s lifetime.

Like the sad spectacle of fluffing a campaign team with D-list celebrities, the streetcar announcement was an empty gesture, intended only to inflame the urban-suburban divide on which the mayor exists. mayordrivingA petulant outburst from a confirmed non-transit user who views the world entirely through his car windows. It doesn’t make any sense because it doesn’t have to. It’s meant solely to excite those unable or unwilling to see through it. Governance based on Dada rules.

The only internal logic to it, probably not even grasped entirely by the mayor or his campaign manager-brother, came through in tweet sent out by the CBC’s Jamie Strashin in the wake of the mayor’s out-with-streetcars declaration. “When someone says, ‘oh I’m going to resolve the issue of gridlock’,” the mayor said. “You’re not going to resolve the problem with gridlock.”

Solve this problem? Are you kidding me? You can’t solve this problem. Just keep on gridlocking. Keep on keeping on.

So deeply held are his anti-government views, so engrained in his sensibilities, Mayor Ford can’t even begin to imagine actually any way anyone could solve a problem like gridlock. Government’s the problem, remember? Never the solution. So, of course he doesn’t take his role as mayor at all seriously. Why would he? It wouldn’t make things better. mayorfordbenderIn fact, it would make things worse.

Government’s a joke, and an expensive joke at that. Acting responsible in his role as mayor, coming up with ideas to help run the city and surrounding himself with people who have even a trace of good will toward public service, would mean Rob Ford might have to take the job seriously. We know he doesn’t. He proves it almost every day when he seems to take delight only in pissing on the carpets.

The joke is on us if we think for even a second that he’s ever going to change.

insanely submitted by Cityslikr

The Fishin’ Politician? Seriously?!

Look. I don’t begrudge Mayor Ford the perks of the job. Despite my demand for perfection from those holding the office, it is, ultimately, a thankless position. You can never make everybody happy. uneasyliestheheadThere is unceasing scrutiny and criticism from assholes like me. (I’m thinking that should be an ‘I’. Assholes like I am?) The pay level is far below what someone with this kind responsibility and oversight would get in the much vaunted private sector. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, and all that.

Nor do I take exception to journalists covering the local political scene the fun outing that occasionally crops up in their line of duty. Have at it, folks. Embrace the breaks from the usual grind of the job.

But along with the fringe benefits come the odd bouts of doing the more mundane aspects of the job. Like, I don’t know, forging a consensus across political lines. Leading the discussion on the city’s more pressing problems like transit. Attending events you don’t necessarily share an affinity with.

Because our mayor seems to have an allergy to that particular aspect of his job description, I then resent the times he enthusiastically goes about doing the things he so clearly enjoys. And the journalists and their news outlets who so willingly play along and give Mayor Ford an unfettered platform to deliver the Everyman schtick he loves to play. Hey, everybody! ribboncuttingIt is all fun and games.

I watched Jamie Strashin’s coverage of the mayor’s Sportsmen’s Show outing yesterday with dumb amazement. Lookit. Mayor Ford fishes! Mayor Ford’s apprehensive around skunks! Owls love Mayor Ford! Mayor Ford shoots a target with an air rifle! Mayor Ford loves the Sportsmen’s Show. It’s Mayor Ford’s favourite show after the Super Bowl halftime show!

Again, I get that part of the mayor’s role is as an ambassador for the city, a promoter of all things Toronto. I’m sure in that capacity David Miller did likewise. Touting Toronto FC. Hanging out at the Wine and Cheese Show. Proclaiming a David Suzuki Day.

But why does the normally prickly with the press Mayor Ford get a free pass when he finally deigns to make a public relations appearance? Oh come on. Leave the guy alone. He’s having a little fun. Hey, Mayor Ford? What do you think of the city worker caught surfing porn while on the job? Keep it in your pants, boys, until you get home.

“And with that, the mayor was gone. Out of the wilderness and back to City Hall.”

Am I being a killjoy here? Clearly I don’t understand the relationship etiquette between the mayor and the media. Coverage on the mayor’s terms. He’s available when he’s available, take it or leave it. And if you don’t mind lobbing up a couple softball questions for him, it’d be much appreciated.

I probably could’ve let it all pass unremarked on had I not read fedora sporting Joe Warmington’s Sun scribblings. Why did I do such a thing on this beautiful wintery day? I cannot tell you. Maybe I was up too early this morning. Hadn’t had my cuppa before turning on the interwebs. My bad. Serves me right.


Talk about taking direct aim at a political foe.

Even it was just an air-powered pellet gun, it was a very clear message sent:

Hunters and sportsmen and women are very welcome in the city of Toronto.

And take that, former mayor David Miller. Councillor Adam Vaughan, too.

What a contrast from three years ago when the legal gun owners and law-abiding hunters were discriminated against.

So yesterday’s outing wasn’t simply an exercise in mayoral city building and promotion. chucknorrisIt served as a dog whistle to his supporters that he was out erasing all traces of the previous administration while sticking it to his political rival, Councillor Adam Vaughan. Bet Vaughanie’s never petted a possum.

It seems rather than combat ‘murderous gangster gun crime’ in the city like Mayor Ford was by shooting an air rifle at targets, the Millerites banned the gun loving Sportmen’s Show from city property at the CNE. They exiled it all the way north of the lake and a few blocks east to the Convention Centre. Fucking downtown elite despots. Enough was enough.

“I told [Sportsmen Show chair] Walter Oster if I am mayor it will be back here,” said Ford with a Cheshire Cat grin. “I am a man of my word and it’s back here at the CNE where it never should have left in the first place.”

“Bang, bang.”

Yep. Political correctness by damned. Sportsmen shouldn’t have to be subject to no stinkin’ trip to a convention centre when they want to battle a fish on a television set. courtierThey should be allowed to roam free in the cavernous halls of the Direct Energy Centre. As God intended.

If the mayor’s going to load even the most innocuous of outings with politics, the press can’t just stand idly by, playing along and dutifully noting his exploits. That’s what I would call, if you’ll excuse my Joe Warmington attempts at punning, court reporting. (Think about it for a sec.) Just because Mayor Ford refuses to buckle down and do his job, doesn’t mean the media should too.

poor sportingly submitted by Cityslikr