Rob Ford

March 24, 2016

I am sorry for your loss. 46 years of age is far too young to die. Cancer sucks. My condolences to the Ford family. Like all of them, I am sure, this is not how I wanted to see it end.

But I am thankful that, at least for the moment, it is over. The Rob Ford political/personal/family melodrama that has held the city of Toronto, a city of over 2.5 million residents, not some provincial backwoods, hillside, Hatfield-McCoy hamlet, in its dense, thick thrall for more than half a decade now has concluded. With the passing, perhaps, we can get on with having an honest debate about local governance and decision-making in the 21st-century.

As someone who only observed Rob Ford from the outside, never meeting him in person except to shake his hand once in the greeting line at one of his Ford Fest gatherings, my relationship with him is not at all complicated or complex. He was a terrible mayor, an awful local politician. His approach to representation functioned in the bleak zone of willful ignorance and stubborn self-certainty. If something conformed to his stunted, myopic world view, it must be right. Anything else was brushed aside as gravy.

That streetcar blocking the lane in front of him on his way to work must be the source of all congestion, everywhere in the city.

He leaves behind a legacy of belligerence, divisiveness, and a disdain for politicians, the bureaucracy and the political process itself. His 15+ years of public service was of the easiest kind. Push peoples’ buttons, get them angry, howl for simple solutions and lie about everything that could not be squared with reality. Millions became billions. Facts observed and acknowledged only when convenient.

The customer is always right, retail politics that Rob Ford mastered boiled down to nothing more than What can I do for you? The idea of What can I do for us? was an anathema to his political calculations. He was looking out for the little guy, gave voice to those left out of the civic discourse, as long as they saw things the way he did, said the same things he said.

Rob Ford is credited with alerting the otherwise unaware, largely downtown elite crowd to the alienated, angry, outsider voices of the inner suburbs. This is true although it hardly tells the whole truth. People were, and continue, to be angry. People weren’t being listened to or, more exactly, people weren’t being consulted, engaged with. There was indeed a certain smugness, let’s call it, at City Hall, a belief that people knew their best interests were being looked after. Bigger picture thinking was at work. The small details don’t matter.

Which turned out to be a near-fatal political mindset.

Speaking for myself, back in 2010, it wasn’t surprising many people were angry. I miscalculated the degree of anger. But mostly, I was caught off-guard that that anger so identified itself with Rob Ford and attached itself so strongly to him.

He appropriated the anger, giving it voice but no solutions. He had no interest in channeling it constructively, only in amplifying it incoherently and destructively. His Ford Nation wasn’t so much a cohesive ideology as it was pure demagoguery of blind resentment.

I don’t doubt anyone’s account of the human side of Rob Ford, his warmth, playfulness and generosity. While not at all getting the political charm of Rob Ford, others clearly did. You could watch him amiably chatting with kids in the council chambers. His enthusiasm bubbled over when he talked about things he loved, like football. That’s where the Everyman label got affixed to him.

That only proves anything if you adhere to a totality of behaviour of personality. Somebody is one thing or the other, and being one negates the other. But no one’s all saint, just as sure as nobody’s a complete shit bird.

Read through Karen Geier’s Remember these Rob Ford Gems?, compiled shortly after Ford re-emerged from what would not uncharitably be called a politically motivated rehab stint. None of it refuted. Christopher Bird’s Torontoist obituary similarly dismantles any notion of a well-intentioned but flawed character. Rob Ford seemed especially adept at one thing. Wreaking havoc. He left others to try and pick up the pieces of everything he broke.

Any notion of Rob Ford as a one-of-a-kind politician, there’ll never be another one like him again is a form of civic self-flattery. A singular political phenomenon we could never fall for again.

There will always be political opportunists. There’ll always be the possibility of another Ford. Pretending he was something he wasn’t only makes the possibility even more likely.

As we’ve seen, that would be disastrous for Toronto.

All of this in no way means I am happy he died. I am sorry for his death. I am sorry for those most affected by it. A death like he suffered will invariably leave a huge hole, a void in the lives of those closest to him.

What I am not sorry about, when all is said and done, is that I will never have to write about Rob Ford again.

submitted by Cityslikr


&%#%%& &@#@ %&%##@

December 11, 2015

Warning:foullanguage

This post may contain more salty language than usual. If you’re easily offended, click out now. I will try my best to contain myself but can’t make any guarantees.

Let’s talk about fucking Uber versus the taxi industry again, shall we? As if there’s nothing else more important to deal with other than what should be, arguably, the 4th best choice in getting around the city. Fuck.

Like I have written, I don’t know,  8 or 10 times previously, I could give a fuck about this issue in terms of policy or technology or whatever. I am in the fortunate position of having a multitude of choices at my disposal in terms of mobility. Paying somebody money to drive me around in their automobile falls pretty much way down to the bottom of the list. It is either out of sheer necessity or absolute laziness that I occasionally wind up in a cab. An after-thought or very pre-planned forethought before an early morning trip to the airport, say.

I could only wish taxis played as incidental a factor in everyone else’s life as it does mine.pottymouth1

But alas. It doesn’t. Evidently, as somehow I keep winding up talking about something I don’t really fucking care about.

So it was with Wednesday’s taxi protest which shut traffic in parts of the city down to a dead crawl. Drivers buzzed in and out of City Hall during the first day of city council’s December meeting. They threw what might be called a spanner in the works if I were writing 70 years ago for a British publication.

They came and fucked things up.

I’m not going to get into the reasons why other than the easy summary that cab drivers came to protest the lack of any serious crackdown on the illegal Uber operations going on in the city. Their sense is the city’s dragging its heels while coming up with new regulations to adjust to the 21st-century reality of what lots of people are mistakenly calling the “ridesharing” entity Uber which has rolled into town flouting a by-law or two. foullanguage1While indulging in what the taxi industry views as rather lax enforcement, the city’s helping to threaten a lot of peoples’ livelihoods which, for many, isn’t much of a livelihood to start with.

That’s a whole other fucking bottle of wax.

So cabbies took to the streets, fucked things up here and there, and didn’t some peoples’ noses get out of joint? Pretty much, How dare they! How Dare They!! Postmedia’s Matt Gurney vowed never again to use a Toronto taxicab. Oh, how will the industry survive such a blow?

By inconveniencing and annoying and generally pissing of so many people with their protest, it was deemed that taxi drivers lost the PR battle. Lose the PR battle, I guess such conventional wisdom goes, you’ve lost the PR war. Lose the PR war and…Oh, who fucking knows?!

Fuck you people and your fucking PR battles. Fuck winning your hearts and minds! Fuck Matt Gurney. pottymouth2Fuck everybody who’s ever had a bad cab ride and now hails Uber as some sort of little guy conquering hero. And fuck every one of you who can’t withstand the inconvenience of some mild civil disobedience thrown your way.

Nobody burned down your fucking house, did they? I’d like to burn down your fucking house right now. Nobody burned down your fucking house. So stop your fucking whining.

(I warned you I was going to swear a lot, didn’t I? I wasn’t lying. If you want more nuanced views about this ongoing civic disruption, let’s call it, give a read if you haven’t already of Desmond Cole’s Toronto Star article yesterday or @pangmeli’s Storify take.)

Look, nobody but nobody except for the exceptionally vested interested thinks the livery system here in Toronto isn’t seriously fucked. It has been for a while now despite regular attempts (some well-intended, others less so) to fix the problems. pottymouthMany of the solutions and the problems both have proven sticky, gumming up the works and gooily pulling in more attempted fixes until finally what we have is something of a clusterfuck pile on.

But here’s the thing, if you were so concerned about the state of the taxi industry, if it so negatively impacted your life with its terrifying rides, smelly drivers and refusal to accept anything but cash as payment, why not do something about it? Why not demand reform? Why not hold your councillor politically responsible if they did not contribute meaningfully to changing the industry? Why not organize a boycott?

Instead, you mope around, bitching about how badly you’re treated when you’re getting driven around the city, how much it costs you as if there wasn’t any other possible alternative for getting from point A to point B, until Uber suddenly appears to do your fighting for you. Illegally, it turns out. Defiantly so. But hey, what disruptive technology doesn’t skirt the rules, you rationalize. You can’t regulate the future, baby. Adapt or die. washyourmouthoutThe customer’s always right, amirite?

It’s lazy democracy, is what it is. An endorsement of lawlessness for the sake of a few bucks and a smooth ride. But when somebody steps outside the bounds of the law and gets in the way of that ride, delays your forward progress? Anarchy. Outrageous. An epic PR fail.

We deserve a few more protests like we saw on Wednesday. Toughen us up. Shake our priorities around a little. Move us on beyond thinking just about how we can get around the city in the optimum of comfort at the lowest price possible.

Fuck.

cursingly submitted by Cityslikr


Today We Storify

May 11, 2012

Trying out a little something different today, piecing together a story using our Twitter feed.

What?! Twitter? A story? How does that work?

Well, I’m pretty new at this myself  but it goes something like… [click on link below]

Anatomy of a Smear

storifiedly submitted by Cityslikr