Day II of NXNE 2015, Celebrating Paper Bag Records

Because I couldn’t be in Toronto for this year’s NXNE, the city’s great music festival, Honourary Canadian is publishing guest posts by Regina Sienra, aka Reginula, a music journalist who hails from Mexico City. She’s a stalwart fan of Canadian indie music, recognized by the CBC Radio 3 community as our Fan of the Year. You can follow Regina on Twitter and Instagram where her handle is @Reginula. From one honourary Canadian to another, I’m delighted to be publishing her work here! Philip Turner, Publisher, The Great Gray Bridge and Honourary Canadian.

Day 2 of NXNE 2015 kicked off with a brief but fulfilling set by Calgary-bred, Toronto-based band Fast Romantics, who were playing a Black Box Session for Indie88, a radio station that in less than two years has become an institution on the local scene. The set list consisted of “Julia,” their latest single, “Funeral Song,” and a cover of Pulp’s “Common People.” The second song had to be played twice, but the crowd didn’t mind and stuck around for everything offered to their ears.

Paper Bag Records and the entire #Paper100 party ruled the day from fairly early on, kicking off activities with acoustic shows at the Tiny Record Shop (and the adjacent vintage clothing store), on Queen St in Toronto’s east end. Headliner Sam Roberts played new versions of classic songs for a few dozen people and even stuck around until every fan waiting for him had an autograph or a picture with him.

Hosted by CBC Radio 3’s Lana Gay, the main party kicked off at 8pm at Lee’s Palace, legendary music venue on Bloor Street. Over the next seven hours, some seventeen acts took to the stage, playing brief sets w/revolving mixes & matches of lineups. The extravaganza—celebrating the label’s 100th release over the past thirteen years—showcased venerable members of their catalog, such as Rural Alberta Advantage lead singer Nils Edenloff, who told the audience he was playing without his “blanket of confidence,” bandmates Amy Cole and Paul Banwatt, to acts newly signed by Paperbag like Alana Yorke from Halifax and Hey Mother Death from Cape Breton Island.

DIANA, Frog Eyes, YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN, aka YT/ST, The Acorn, Mozart’s Sister, PS I Love You: Paper Bag Records’ history and diversity played, comprising the soul of the party, that went from rootsy singer/songwriters, to electronic acts and heavy indie rock.

The night had promised a lot of surprises, and didn’t disappoint: One of the surprises was the appearance of Born Ruffians, who played a cover of Tokyo Police Club’s “Nature of the Experiment,” but the biggest jaw dropper was a hush-hush appearance by Broken Social Scene stalwarts Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew to celebrate Paper Bag Records involvement with the release and success of their groundbreaking album “You Forgot it in People.” Kevin Drew credits PBR’s Trevor Larocque with sending the album to Pitchfork, who posted the superb 9.2 review that launched the album and made the band’s reputation.

The heroes of the evening? Cuff the Duke, whose frotnman Wayne Petti played last night with Grey Lands. CtD members appeared as the house band throughout the long enjoyable day, jamming with every act that needed support, including this BSS roster presentation that included “Lovers Spit” (sang by a singer from The Luyas), “KC Accidental” and “Almost Crimes.”

Here’s to another 100, Paper Bag Records!

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First Night of NXNE 2015, Great Start to a Favorite Urban Festival

During this year’s NXNE, Toronto’s great music festival, Honourary Canadian will be publishing guest posts by my friend Regina Sienra, aka Reginula, a music journalist who hails from Mexico City. She’s a stalwart fan of Canadian indie music, and has been recognized by the CBC Radio 3 community as our Fan of the Year.  Below is a shot of Reginula (l.) with CBC Radio 3 host Lana Gay. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram where her handle is @Reginula. From one honourary Canadian to another, I’m delighted to be publishing her work here—Philip Turner. 

The 2015 edition of NXNE kicked off slowly, but in an extremely powerful way. After some major changes on the administrative side, Northby got rid of the Interactive section, changed the ticketing deal—now some special shows require an extra ticket—and added several new venues to their roster, including a new NXNE hub (bye, bye awkward process at the Hyatt) at the intersection of Queen and Spadina, near where much of the festival action happens at legendary venues like the Horseshoe Tavern, the Rivoli, and Cameron House.

As usual, it’s not common to see the big names on the first day of the schedule, but this doesn’t mean one can’t bump into old favorites and make great new discoveries.

The Royal Foundry is definitely among the latter category, an exciting discovery for me. Hailing from Edmonton, this duo is comprised of Jared and Bethany, a couple married for about 18 months and a musical ensemble for about twice that span. They recently won the Northern Alberta region of CBC Music’s Searchlight contest, and though it’s just the two of them on stage, they are a force of nature producing mesmerizing upbeat folk filled with romantic lyrics. Despite the early hour for the show (8pm) and the small venue, the crowd was very engaged by the duo’s performance (Thanks to @shonicar3 for use of her Instagram picture of Royal Foundry).

Back on Spadina and Queen at the Horseshoe Tavern for a 9pm set, I enjoyed hearing Girlfriends and Boyfriends who brought their heavily influenced ’80s rock east from Vancouver. They play a rather different musical genre than what’s currently coming out of the west coast scene. It was a fun warm up for the powerful bands that would hit the stage later.

A more roots option was available a few steps down Queen Street at the Rivoli, with NQ Arbuckle, front man of a perennially popular local alt-country outfit, and a favorite of CBC host Tom Power. NQ (stands for Neville Quentin) delivered a set full of hits and emotion, as he and his great band have done for many years. His banter was filled with stories about the songs, the set was perfect to take a seat and get ready for what was about to unfold over the next couple sets of live music. (Thanks to @shonicar3 for use of her Instagram picture of NQ and gang).

Moon King, local wonder praised by international media, was one of the biggest names of the night, fulfilling everyone’s expectations of what powerful and intense shoegaze rock sounds like. Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde were joined by a bassist and a drummer in a set only a bit longer than thirty minutes that left everybody hungry for more from them.

Greylands, a garage rock side project of Cuff the Duke’s Wayne Petti was the option I chose to say goodnight to the first night of NXNE, with no mellowing down required. Mind-numbing distortion is put on the spotlight during Greylands sets, which is completed by Petti’s actions on and off stage, throwing his guitar away and hitting it against a monitor to create even more distortion. For those curious about this band, they will play again during Paper100, a highlight of the NXNE schedule, celebrating the work of Paperbag records. I’m eager to for Day II!

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Making Toronto a World Class Music City

As I’d documented as recently as this past June, when I posted here about my visit to Toronto for the annual NXNE festival, the city has a fabulous music scene, with many great local bands and dozens of superb venues. I’m excited to see that now a coalition of artists, promoters, and civic officials have banded together to promote the cultivation of music as an economic driver in the city. View the video here or above: http://ow.ly/Ba3kh

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My NXNE Storify: “Great Music & Great Times in Toronto for NXNE 2014”

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#elexn42 #ToPoli 60 MInutes 1993 2015 elections 2015 Federal Election 2016 presidential election @CBCRadio3 Abraham Lincoln Acadia Adolf Hitler Agent Orange Alice Munro Amanda Lang Amelia Curran Amity Beach Amtrak Anderson Varajao Antonine Maillet architecture Arctic Ocean Arkells AUX TV Ben Caplan Beverley Slopen book-to-film adaptations Born Ruffians Boyhood Brain Cloud branding exercises Brandon Downing bullying Cabot Trail Calvin Reid Canada Canadiana Canadian authors Canadian bands in NYC Canadian Blast Canadian elections Canadian indie music canadian indie rock Canadian indie rock n' roll canadian politics Canadian rock n' roll Canadians abroad Canadian vacations cancer CANlit CANRock Cape Breton CBC CBC Books CBC Music CBC Radio CBC Radio 3 CBC Sunday Edition CBS Chicago Cleveland CMJ CMJ Music Marathon CN Tower coffee Cold War Colm Toibin comedy Communion Music Corb Lund corruption covert agents cowboy culture Crime Writers of Canada cross-cultural writing Daniel Canty Dave Bidini Dave Van Ronk David Margolick Del Barber depression dialect Doug Ford drunk driving editorial services Edward Keenan Edward Robb Ellis Elizabeth May Elliott Brood Ethan Hawke Ewan Turner fair housing Farley Mowat Fence Books flickr folk music Franconia College Frazey Ford French FridayReads Gaspé Peninsula George Elliott Clarke George Washington Bridge Gill Deacon global climate change Grant Lawrence Greenwich Village Harlan Pepper Henry Tandey Hidden Pony HIGHS hockey Hollerado Honourary Canadian Howard Engel humor Ian Tyson indie music In Flight Safety Ireland Irish music Israel Jan Wong Jian Ghomeshi Jill Barber Joe's Pub journalism Justin Trudeau Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Kevin Donovan Keystone XL Lee's Palace Lee Harvey Osmond Lee Lorch Leonard Cohen life after corporate publishing Linda Ronstadt Lisa LeBlanc Little Red Lighthouse Little Rock Nine live music Lo-Fantasy lower east side Lt. General Roméo Dallaire Marc Maron marijuana laws Matt Andersen Matt Mays Mayor Bill de Blasio Mayor Rob Ford McGarrigle Sisters Megan Bonnell Mellow Pages Memoirs mental health treatment Mercury Lounge methane M for Montreal Michael Barclay Michael Enright Michael Ruby Miles O'Brien Mo Kenney Monomyth music festivals music marketing National Film Board of Canada Neil Young Neil Young. Third Man Records Nevado Records Newfoundland New York City New York music venues Noah Nobel Prize NXNE Olympics Ontario Ottawa Jazz Festival Paperbag Records Parks Canada Percé Rock Peter Warner photojournalism podcasting poetry political mindsets President Obama prosthetics PS I Love You PTSD PublishersMarketplace.com Publishers Weekly Pumpkin Pie Q Quebec racial bias Rah Rah Random House Canada road trips Robert Henry Adams Robertson Davies Rob Ford Rockwood Music Hall Rolling Stone Rural Alberta Advantage Ruth Gruber Sadies Said the Whale Sam Roberts Band SaskMusic SaskMusic.org satire Scott Young sex education Shawn William Clark Shore Fire Media short stories Siberia sister cities spy novels Stephen Harper Stephen Marche St Louis Stompin' Tom Connors Strombo Show Strumbellas suicide prevention summer vacation 2014 Swiss Water Syrian refugees Talonbooks Thanksgiving The Ballad of Crowfoot The Deep Dark Woods The Great Gray Bridge. TheGreatGrayBridge.com The Orchard The Revenant The Strumbellas This is That Toronto Toronto Book Awards Toronto mayoral election Toronto Star Torquil Campbell traditional music Turnip King Ugly Duckling Presse Undercover Books upper Manhattan Vancouver Vietnam W.B. Belcher war memorials Wigrum Wilderness of Manitoba WWI

Balfour Bldg on Spadina Ave

One of my fave TO buildings

 

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#elexn42 #ToPoli 60 MInutes 1993 2015 elections 2015 Federal Election 2016 presidential election @CBCRadio3 Abraham Lincoln Acadia Adolf Hitler Agent Orange Alice Munro Amanda Lang Amelia Curran Amity Beach Amtrak Anderson Varajao Antonine Maillet architecture Arctic Ocean Arkells AUX TV Ben Caplan Beverley Slopen book-to-film adaptations Born Ruffians Boyhood Brain Cloud branding exercises Brandon Downing bullying Cabot Trail Calvin Reid Canada Canadiana Canadian authors Canadian bands in NYC Canadian Blast Canadian elections Canadian indie music canadian indie rock Canadian indie rock n' roll canadian politics Canadian rock n' roll Canadians abroad Canadian vacations cancer CANlit CANRock Cape Breton CBC CBC Books CBC Music CBC Radio CBC Radio 3 CBC Sunday Edition CBS Chicago Cleveland CMJ CMJ Music Marathon CN Tower coffee Cold War Colm Toibin comedy Communion Music Corb Lund corruption covert agents cowboy culture Crime Writers of Canada cross-cultural writing Daniel Canty Dave Bidini Dave Van Ronk David Margolick Del Barber depression dialect Doug Ford drunk driving editorial services Edward Keenan Edward Robb Ellis Elizabeth May Elliott Brood Ethan Hawke Ewan Turner fair housing Farley Mowat Fence Books flickr folk music Franconia College Frazey Ford French FridayReads Gaspé Peninsula George Elliott Clarke George Washington Bridge Gill Deacon global climate change Grant Lawrence Greenwich Village Harlan Pepper Henry Tandey Hidden Pony HIGHS hockey Hollerado Honourary Canadian Howard Engel humor Ian Tyson indie music In Flight Safety Ireland Irish music Israel Jan Wong Jian Ghomeshi Jill Barber Joe's Pub journalism Justin Trudeau Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Kevin Donovan Keystone XL Lee's Palace Lee Harvey Osmond Lee Lorch Leonard Cohen life after corporate publishing Linda Ronstadt Lisa LeBlanc Little Red Lighthouse Little Rock Nine live music Lo-Fantasy lower east side Lt. General Roméo Dallaire Marc Maron marijuana laws Matt Andersen Matt Mays Mayor Bill de Blasio Mayor Rob Ford McGarrigle Sisters Megan Bonnell Mellow Pages Memoirs mental health treatment Mercury Lounge methane M for Montreal Michael Barclay Michael Enright Michael Ruby Miles O'Brien Mo Kenney Monomyth music festivals music marketing National Film Board of Canada Neil Young Neil Young. Third Man Records Nevado Records Newfoundland New York City New York music venues Noah Nobel Prize NXNE Olympics Ontario Ottawa Jazz Festival Paperbag Records Parks Canada Percé Rock Peter Warner photojournalism podcasting poetry political mindsets President Obama prosthetics PS I Love You PTSD PublishersMarketplace.com Publishers Weekly Pumpkin Pie Q Quebec racial bias Rah Rah Random House Canada road trips Robert Henry Adams Robertson Davies Rob Ford Rockwood Music Hall Rolling Stone Rural Alberta Advantage Ruth Gruber Sadies Said the Whale Sam Roberts Band SaskMusic SaskMusic.org satire Scott Young sex education Shawn William Clark Shore Fire Media short stories Siberia sister cities spy novels Stephen Harper Stephen Marche St Louis Stompin' Tom Connors Strombo Show Strumbellas suicide prevention summer vacation 2014 Swiss Water Syrian refugees Talonbooks Thanksgiving The Ballad of Crowfoot The Deep Dark Woods The Great Gray Bridge. TheGreatGrayBridge.com The Orchard The Revenant The Strumbellas This is That Toronto Toronto Book Awards Toronto mayoral election Toronto Star Torquil Campbell traditional music Turnip King Ugly Duckling Presse Undercover Books upper Manhattan Vancouver Vietnam W.B. Belcher war memorials Wigrum Wilderness of Manitoba WWI

Rob Ford’s Ugly Attempt at Political Positioning over the Pride Flag

Rob Ford is scheming to position himself as the champion of homophobe’s hopes, writes Edward Keenan in the Grid. He argues that the demoted mayor, with an eye cocked on next fall’s election, is trying to lock up the 20% of Toronto voters who are outright haters. With this in mind, it’s clear why he started the flap over the Pride flag yesterday, demanding it be lowered at City Hall, only minutes after it was hoisted in solidarity with those targeted in Sochi. As of now, it’s still flying, and despite Ford’s stunt, I don’t think it will be brought down. Toronto is one of many world cities linking hands with LGBT Russians and LGBT athletes. But Ford, knowing he’s lost with cosmopolitan-minded voters, is putting his heft behind discrimination.

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#elexn42 #ToPoli 60 MInutes 1993 2015 elections 2015 Federal Election 2016 presidential election @CBCRadio3 Abraham Lincoln Acadia Adolf Hitler Agent Orange Alice Munro Amanda Lang Amelia Curran Amity Beach Amtrak Anderson Varajao Antonine Maillet architecture Arctic Ocean Arkells AUX TV Ben Caplan Beverley Slopen book-to-film adaptations Born Ruffians Boyhood Brain Cloud branding exercises Brandon Downing bullying Cabot Trail Calvin Reid Canada Canadiana Canadian authors Canadian bands in NYC Canadian Blast Canadian elections Canadian indie music canadian indie rock Canadian indie rock n' roll canadian politics Canadian rock n' roll Canadians abroad Canadian vacations cancer CANlit CANRock Cape Breton CBC CBC Books CBC Music CBC Radio CBC Radio 3 CBC Sunday Edition CBS Chicago Cleveland CMJ CMJ Music Marathon CN Tower coffee Cold War Colm Toibin comedy Communion Music Corb Lund corruption covert agents cowboy culture Crime Writers of Canada cross-cultural writing Daniel Canty Dave Bidini Dave Van Ronk David Margolick Del Barber depression dialect Doug Ford drunk driving editorial services Edward Keenan Edward Robb Ellis Elizabeth May Elliott Brood Ethan Hawke Ewan Turner fair housing Farley Mowat Fence Books flickr folk music Franconia College Frazey Ford French FridayReads Gaspé Peninsula George Elliott Clarke George Washington Bridge Gill Deacon global climate change Grant Lawrence Greenwich Village Harlan Pepper Henry Tandey Hidden Pony HIGHS hockey Hollerado Honourary Canadian Howard Engel humor Ian Tyson indie music In Flight Safety Ireland Irish music Israel Jan Wong Jian Ghomeshi Jill Barber Joe's Pub journalism Justin Trudeau Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Kevin Donovan Keystone XL Lee's Palace Lee Harvey Osmond Lee Lorch Leonard Cohen life after corporate publishing Linda Ronstadt Lisa LeBlanc Little Red Lighthouse Little Rock Nine live music Lo-Fantasy lower east side Lt. General Roméo Dallaire Marc Maron marijuana laws Matt Andersen Matt Mays Mayor Bill de Blasio Mayor Rob Ford McGarrigle Sisters Megan Bonnell Mellow Pages Memoirs mental health treatment Mercury Lounge methane M for Montreal Michael Barclay Michael Enright Michael Ruby Miles O'Brien Mo Kenney Monomyth music festivals music marketing National Film Board of Canada Neil Young Neil Young. Third Man Records Nevado Records Newfoundland New York City New York music venues Noah Nobel Prize NXNE Olympics Ontario Ottawa Jazz Festival Paperbag Records Parks Canada Percé Rock Peter Warner photojournalism podcasting poetry political mindsets President Obama prosthetics PS I Love You PTSD PublishersMarketplace.com Publishers Weekly Pumpkin Pie Q Quebec racial bias Rah Rah Random House Canada road trips Robert Henry Adams Robertson Davies Rob Ford Rockwood Music Hall Rolling Stone Rural Alberta Advantage Ruth Gruber Sadies Said the Whale Sam Roberts Band SaskMusic SaskMusic.org satire Scott Young sex education Shawn William Clark Shore Fire Media short stories Siberia sister cities spy novels Stephen Harper Stephen Marche St Louis Stompin' Tom Connors Strombo Show Strumbellas suicide prevention summer vacation 2014 Swiss Water Syrian refugees Talonbooks Thanksgiving The Ballad of Crowfoot The Deep Dark Woods The Great Gray Bridge. TheGreatGrayBridge.com The Orchard The Revenant The Strumbellas This is That Toronto Toronto Book Awards Toronto mayoral election Toronto Star Torquil Campbell traditional music Turnip King Ugly Duckling Presse Undercover Books upper Manhattan Vancouver Vietnam W.B. Belcher war memorials Wigrum Wilderness of Manitoba WWI

Thinking of Toronto Today, and Friends There

CN Tower

 

 

Though I live in NYC, I have a kind of sibling-city relationship with Toronto, to which I travel each June for the NXNE festival, and which I’m connected to via the CBC and Internet radio; musical acts I follow; authors I’ve published with; and book biz colleagues over a long time, many of whom are good friends. The escalating situation involving their prevaricating mayor, Rob Ford, has compelled fascination among locals and many outside of Canada for weeks and months, since Gawker and the Toronto Star both reported that Ford was seen by reporters on videotape, smoking from a crack pipe. Late last week, TO Police Chief Blair revealed that his service had recovered a digital file of the tape, which had been missing for months (Ford had denied it ever existed.) At last, things may be peaking today, with Ford’s belated admission earlier that he had indeed smoked crack, supposedly “in a drunken stupor.” Right now, at 4:15 Tuesday, Election Day in NYC, I’m still listening to CBC Radio One from the Toronto newsdesk, as Ford has said he’ll be making one more statement on this day. The on-air people are vamping, just trying to fill up the time while City Hall, or more particularly, Rob Ford, has everyone waiting.

An interval just passed during the writing of this post, as 30 minutes ago Ford came out and gave a statement that was entirely a recapitulation of all his recent evasions and self-pitying refusals to step down. He says he is not stepping down, or even temporarily stepping aside from his office. Please note, the photo above shows the view toward downtown Toronto that I had from my hotel room the last time I stayed there, at the Alexandra Hotel on Ryerson Avenue, a quiet street located between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street on the east and west, and Queen Street and Dundas Street on the north and south. Nice view, huh? That’s CN Tower in the distance on the left.

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#elexn42 #ToPoli 60 MInutes 1993 2015 elections 2015 Federal Election 2016 presidential election @CBCRadio3 Abraham Lincoln Acadia Adolf Hitler Agent Orange Alice Munro Amanda Lang Amelia Curran Amity Beach Amtrak Anderson Varajao Antonine Maillet architecture Arctic Ocean Arkells AUX TV Ben Caplan Beverley Slopen book-to-film adaptations Born Ruffians Boyhood Brain Cloud branding exercises Brandon Downing bullying Cabot Trail Calvin Reid Canada Canadiana Canadian authors Canadian bands in NYC Canadian Blast Canadian elections Canadian indie music canadian indie rock Canadian indie rock n' roll canadian politics Canadian rock n' roll Canadians abroad Canadian vacations cancer CANlit CANRock Cape Breton CBC CBC Books CBC Music CBC Radio CBC Radio 3 CBC Sunday Edition CBS Chicago Cleveland CMJ CMJ Music Marathon CN Tower coffee Cold War Colm Toibin comedy Communion Music Corb Lund corruption covert agents cowboy culture Crime Writers of Canada cross-cultural writing Daniel Canty Dave Bidini Dave Van Ronk David Margolick Del Barber depression dialect Doug Ford drunk driving editorial services Edward Keenan Edward Robb Ellis Elizabeth May Elliott Brood Ethan Hawke Ewan Turner fair housing Farley Mowat Fence Books flickr folk music Franconia College Frazey Ford French FridayReads Gaspé Peninsula George Elliott Clarke George Washington Bridge Gill Deacon global climate change Grant Lawrence Greenwich Village Harlan Pepper Henry Tandey Hidden Pony HIGHS hockey Hollerado Honourary Canadian Howard Engel humor Ian Tyson indie music In Flight Safety Ireland Irish music Israel Jan Wong Jian Ghomeshi Jill Barber Joe's Pub journalism Justin Trudeau Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Kevin Donovan Keystone XL Lee's Palace Lee Harvey Osmond Lee Lorch Leonard Cohen life after corporate publishing Linda Ronstadt Lisa LeBlanc Little Red Lighthouse Little Rock Nine live music Lo-Fantasy lower east side Lt. General Roméo Dallaire Marc Maron marijuana laws Matt Andersen Matt Mays Mayor Bill de Blasio Mayor Rob Ford McGarrigle Sisters Megan Bonnell Mellow Pages Memoirs mental health treatment Mercury Lounge methane M for Montreal Michael Barclay Michael Enright Michael Ruby Miles O'Brien Mo Kenney Monomyth music festivals music marketing National Film Board of Canada Neil Young Neil Young. Third Man Records Nevado Records Newfoundland New York City New York music venues Noah Nobel Prize NXNE Olympics Ontario Ottawa Jazz Festival Paperbag Records Parks Canada Percé Rock Peter Warner photojournalism podcasting poetry political mindsets President Obama prosthetics PS I Love You PTSD PublishersMarketplace.com Publishers Weekly Pumpkin Pie Q Quebec racial bias Rah Rah Random House Canada road trips Robert Henry Adams Robertson Davies Rob Ford Rockwood Music Hall Rolling Stone Rural Alberta Advantage Ruth Gruber Sadies Said the Whale Sam Roberts Band SaskMusic SaskMusic.org satire Scott Young sex education Shawn William Clark Shore Fire Media short stories Siberia sister cities spy novels Stephen Harper Stephen Marche St Louis Stompin' Tom Connors Strombo Show Strumbellas suicide prevention summer vacation 2014 Swiss Water Syrian refugees Talonbooks Thanksgiving The Ballad of Crowfoot The Deep Dark Woods The Great Gray Bridge. TheGreatGrayBridge.com The Orchard The Revenant The Strumbellas This is That Toronto Toronto Book Awards Toronto mayoral election Toronto Star Torquil Campbell traditional music Turnip King Ugly Duckling Presse Undercover Books upper Manhattan Vancouver Vietnam W.B. Belcher war memorials Wigrum Wilderness of Manitoba WWI

“I Can Assure People, Hopefully, It Won’t Happen Again”–Rob Ford’s Mentality Compared w/that of US Pols


Despite Canada’s deserved reputation for having a generally more sane public life than that I observe in the political culture of the U.S., the calibre of crazy on display by Toronto mayor Rob Ford rivals anything I’ve observed among American pols. This was especially evident during the weekly radio show yesterday with the mayor and his brother Doug, a City Councillor. Of course, the particular ideological flavor of their mania in distinct from that on display in the States (for instance, there’s no religious rhetoric in their routine), but like many here Ford exudes a faux populism that’s heavy on claims of martyrdom and chastisement by detractors and an unfair media. Again, like many here, Ford and his brother operate in a bubble of their own making, pandering to callers who agree with them, attacking straw figures they set up–ones they can easily knock down–and spewing outrage about supposed flaws in the city, like when a caller claimed he’d observed laggard city workers not working hard at their jobs.

One thing that the Ford situation has in common with dynamics here in the US is that Ford’s followers, or as they’re dubbed in Canadian media, “Ford Nation,”  exert a powerful rationalization reflex that’s coupled with an unreasoning belief in their man that’s utterly resistant to plain facts and logic. They do backflips to explain away just about anything that critics point to as evidence of the mayor’s unfitness for office. One example is that last May Rob Ford asserted that no video of him smoking from a crack pipe existed, yet after Police Chief Blair revealed last week that law enforcement had recovered the tape, his fans said, in effect, “How can we even be sure what was in the pipe?” They neatly overlook the fact the mayor had said no tape existed.

Now, those same followers are willing to accept Ford’s vague apologies, even when accompanied by one of the weakest defenses ever uttered by a pol trying to squirm out of an embarrassing incident, spoken near the end of yesterday’s radio program: “I can assure people, hopefully, it won’t happen again.”

In future posts on this blog, I will examine other pols, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who’s borrowed many of the same policies and communications techniques that were used by George W. Bush and his administration, including the muzzling of scientists.

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