Tag Archives: Rob Ford

Carl’s (Late) Tuesday Musics: #entertainment feat. Peaches, “Bored of Rob Ford”

For non-Toronto readers: Context.

I’m not always a huge Peaches fan, but in a week like this, we all pull together.

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Tea With Chris: Here Be Voguers

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: Vintage rules list from the Sound Factory, a.k.a. the New York club where Frankie Knuckles once DJed a string of fantastic parties:

Great moments in Lisa Hanawalt’s cartooning-filled review of Transformers 3: “gabardine,” the Tree of Life joke, a drawing of its female lead grotesque enough to please the shade of Basil Wolverton.

During this week’s inspired 24-hour “citizen filibuster” at City Hall, right-wing councilor and glowering henchman Giorgio Mammoliti claimed to be “a fan of the arts.” So he would love David Balzer’s Canadian Art piece about Caravaggio! “One is beguiled by [his] formal bravado and then inevitably brought to a moment of thematic severity and crisis.” Kind of like what Rob Ford is doing to Toronto, though “beguiled” is not the verb I would use.

Carl: Until about this time yesterday, I was going to post poet poet Dionne Brand’s contribution to Toronto’s budget-cuts debate as the most eloquent and moving public discourse of the week. But the marathon “citizen filibuster” at City Hall that ended at something like 8 this morning equalled (and sometimes quoted) Brand over and over again. While the mayor snorted, dozed off, occasionally called names, and talked about football.

Meanwhile, south of the border, politicians acted even more childishly – or in the President’s case, I’m afraid, timidly. What should he have been saying? Something more like what Robert Reich says here: The whole thing is a sham, holding the country’s economy to ransom until the Republicans get their way, which is the wrong way.

But why why why why why why why why on earth are these things in Toronto and Washington happening? Well, it couldn’t be the inherent contradictions of capitalism, could it? I’m not positive but I do know that this video is the most entertaining and lucid consideration of that thesis that I’ve seen in a long time.

(special thanks to Marianne LeNabat and her Facebook friends)

Now, quick! Stop thinking about that and think about how North Carolina motor lodges have changed since 1950s postcards of them to now. One of my favourite things about that site is that sometimes they’ve hardly changed at all, and other times they’ve totally collapsed into ruin. Sometimes the trees have just gotten bigger.

My other favourite thing about it is that I found it through Wendy Spitzer’s tumblr, The Liminal Hymnal. Which is a tumblr but really a blog. Because Wendy is, as she extensively documents, a systematic person, she is doing a project in which she is blogging, also from North Carolina, every day in July. And every day it is worth reading, a nice awkward-confident tour of a complicated person’s singular mind.

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Friday Pictures – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s 24 hour “Who the heck needs a city’s infrastructure?” Executive Committee Meeting Marathon, featuring Mary Trapani Hynes, Kevin Clark, and Adam Vaughan / Toronto City Hall


Mary Trapani Hynes / Toronto City Hall / July 28 2011

Kevin Clark / Toronto City Hall / July 28 2011

Adam Vaughan (click on image for video) / Toronto City Hall / July 28 2011

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Tea With Chris: Holy Halo, Batman

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: In a week that felt at once slow and frantic, I found this montage of Robin’s “Holy ____ ” exclamations from the campy 1960s Batman series a kind of giggly meditation vehicle – with a poetic rhythm that reminded me of Allen Ginsberg’s “America” (“America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?”) or more directly of this passage in Howl: “The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy! Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!” Or at least, in this case, Batman is.

The sinister silliness of America and of Toronto this week were best encapsulated, among many commentaries, in a Toronto Standard piece by Ivor Tossell that suggested a perfect name for the style of political sabotage both the Republicans in Congress and the Rob Ford administration here at home are indulging right now: Uncompetence.

Most of Erroll Morris’s films are distinguished, among the documentary field, by not striving for of-the-moment relevance, for what journalists call a “peg,” but taking up subjects that are slightly out of time and have an inherent gravity, an intrinsic fascination. Still, he has to have been tickled, as the Murdoch scandal-sheet empire was going up in flames, for this to be the week that he was releasing a movie called Tabloid.

But is silliness always sinister? Ann Powers on the NPR music blog kicked off a debate this week, not so much about whether the widespread resentment of the Black-Eyed Peas is warranted, but why it is so virulent and out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence. There were a lot of responses but the most thoughtful to me was this one by Chris Burlingame: “When you dismiss a type of music because it doesn’t appeal to people exactly like you, you can resent it more when you find out just how many people out there that aren’t like you (hint: it’s a lot).”

And sometimes of course silliness is sublime. Check out this early, failed pilot by Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Robbie Coltrane and friends (you can skip the prefatory verbiage if you prefer), which manages to send up sci-fi movies, popular science-history TV magazine shows and dystopian fears – with a serious undercurrent about the dangers of genetic engineering. If only I could go back in time through the Crystal Cube – and get more episodes.

Chris: I love this anecdote unreservedly: “The swords were taken down and the desk was in mid-move when Patton flung open the door and walked in. His rage was instant and fearful. He screamed at the top of his voice, ‘What do you think you’re doing, you unspeakable Hollywood bastards!’ This was only the beginning of a flow of invective of which Blackbeard the Pirate would have been proud. George [Cukor] sighed deeply with resignation. He was not at all frightened. Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo—he had dealt with tantrums all his life. He walked over to the general, who was now nearing the fortissimo apex of his wrath, and put his arm around the shoulder with the four stars on it. ‘Now, General,’ he said, soft-voiced and persuasive, ‘are we going to be silly about this?’”

Inspired literary remix no. 1: a scientist named Dan Warren carefully edited the audio version of Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father to create narration for a made-up creation myth.

Inspired literary remix no. 2: Brian Joseph Davis’ Consumed Guide, a long prose poem distilled from 13090 record reviews by Robert Christgau. Like their source and their surgeon, the seven thousand negative words are often scathingly funny, but there’s another pleasure here too: the vivid tactility of Xgau’s descriptions, an overdose of style and verse.

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Tea With Chris: The Seeds, the Stones

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: Peter Falk expressed more humanity in a shrug or a cough than most actors can bring to a whole Shakespearean soliloquy. He was a virtuoso of hesitation, doubt and resignation, but he could also ring arias of joy upon his shaggy brow. The spectrum of his work made him the soul of John Cassavetes’ greatest films, an inspired clown in his comedies, but also the redefinition of the TV cop show. His Columbo, a character it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone else playing, was a kind of rumpled angel who meted out justice in a way that even his quarries had to delight in – a softie’s utopian ideal of law and order, in which authority punishes with reluctance and the truth is outed with a sigh of inevitability, that could only have originated in the 1970s. Falk embodied the best of that decade, a gentle dirty realism that lay upon his skin like a wrinkled overcoat. His death this week was the period to a quiet denouement. But we need his like again, to animate new dramas of understatement in an age of bluster and noise.

What Toronto’s listening to: I want there to be a new episode of this every day. Our friend Sheila told me that it made her terribly nostalgic for Toronto – even though she was already in Toronto.

Speaking of our town, here is a history of my favourite artistic tradition in Toronto, which is coming to an end this summer.

The writer Robert Kroetsch also died this week, in a car crash. A terrific Prairie poet, Kroetsch was true to the weirdness and funniness of the flatness, the seeds, the stones. Here’s how he described the urban development and decline of a Prairie town: “The gopher was the model./ Stand up straight/ telephone poles/ grain elevators/ church steeples./ Vanish, suddenly: the/ gopher was the model.” He was also an important novelist, essayist, critic and anthologist. His sad end doesn’t diminish the fullness of his life, the sort that people may remember better than they honoured it in his own time.

Chris: Something you don’t want a Serbian warlord to say about you during interviews: “I look forward to the day I can drink his blood.”

A Chinese company is replicating the entire Austrian village of Hallstatt (which was listed by UNESCO) in Guangdong province.

Since Toronto’s homophobic asshole of a mayor decided to skip next weekend’s Pride parade (along with every other event during the 10-day festival leading up to it), here’s a Flickr collection of old photos from historical gay-liberation events.

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Tea With Chris: Florizona –> Torontopia

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: Back in grade school, the George Grosz drawing that I came across in a textbook rattled me more than anything this side of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The sheer ferocity was disquieting. I mention it because a Grosz design is featured in this arresting collection of Weimar-era book covers, images of industrialism, intrigue and distorted forms from a world on the cusp of annihiliation.

Bill Blackbeard, who passed away last month, saved innumerable pieces of comics history from mouldering decay. Here’s how, and why.

This is not Vince Foster. This is not Swiftboating. This is the dude who passed health care reform as ‘the biggest Affirmative Action in history.’ This is the whitey tape. This is ‘you are an Indonesian welfare thug.’ This is the host of ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ questioning the intellect of the past editor of the Harvard Law Review. This is the scion of inherited money as populist, and the scion of a teen single-mother as elitist. This is, if you were white, you and the black dude who came before wouldn’t be here. This is we don’t believe you. In other words, this is a racism of the bone.”

Carl: It’s a bit ridiculous how often I bring Ann Powers to tea, but she’s now officially writing and broadcasting for National Public Radio now, and she’s had an especially prolific week. But her fine piece about “lifer bands” – the ones you stick with for decades – stands out especially because it’s about the ever-underappreciated Silos, who’ve got a new album out called Florizona, with this lead single, “White Vinyl,” which is simultaneously hilarious and genuinely sexy in a way that’s very tricky to pull off:

That video confused me a little, because the level of artwork done for it seemed to be disproportionate to what one does for a video, especially for an indie band. But then I discover it was actually a wholesale import of the art by photographer John Eder (who actually cowrote the song), from his book, Florida House (that link on the title should get you to an online flipbook of the whole thing – if it doesn’t work you can get there through the “Portfolio” link on his site), which tells plainspoken tales of growing up in south Florida in the 1970s, with tons of Eder’s work in a vein that I might classify as Googie-Photoshop Expressionism or something. Checkitout.

Type Books, which is just short of being the only remaining independent bookstore in downtown Toronto, is having a birthday party featuring “pop-up” readings from 18 writers tomorrow. You should pop in.

Simple idea but the execution is perfect: Way funnier than I expected.

But the main thing I did this week was write this piece, primarily of local interest. You may want to avoid if you acquired an allergy to the term “Torontopia” in the past decade, but I am hopeful that it recharges and redirects the conversation on some level. Maybe more to follow in the future.

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Tea With Chris: A Greater Don Cherry

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: Amid Toronto’s gnashing of teeth over the remarks of the similarly named hockey-comment goon as part of our new mayor’s invocation, I mean inauguration, this week, it seems useful to remember that there is a greater Don Cherry whose name will outlast that of the self-proclaimed “pitbull.” Here he is with James Blood Ulmer (guitar) and Rashied Ali (drums) – I’m not sure of the year.

Whatever you think of what WikiLeaks has done, the idea of rendering individual “cables” as comic strips is hard to resist:

And finally, The Pee-wee Herman Show‘s recent Broadway debut is a reminder that one of the most blessed trajectories for the avant-garde may be to end up as children’s entertainment. In that spirit, here is the Paper Rad art collective’s cartoon show, The Problem Solverz, which apparently is coming to the Comedy Network next year:

Margaux: This coming Saturday, Toronto’s Art Metropole (that specializes in artist multiples and reproductions) kicks off their GIFTS BY ARTISTS sale. I think Cecilia Berkovic may be a gift-wrapping performer on the Saturday but I’m not sure.

On the following Thursday (Dec 16th), Double Double Land hosts the MARK CONNERY FUNDRAZER SILENT AUCTION FUN. It’s a benefit auction for Mark Connery, who recently lost many of his things in an unfortunate house fire. There will be lots of good art up for good prices including work from Shary Boyle, Jay Isaac, Damien Hurst, The White House, me, Marc Bell, Olia Mishchenko, FASTWÜRMS and many others (including some Mark Connery smoke-damaged originals).

Chris: Tens of thousands of students converged on London to protest the British coalition government’s tripling of tutition fees this week. Dan Hancox recorded what they were listening to, from Vybz Kartel to Nicki Minaj. He also links to an account of the day by fellow music writer Alex Macpherson, which describes the psychological punishment meted out by that “kettling” tactic police forces love: “This was not containment of violent protesters…It seemed more to be motivated by traditional aims of kettling that are rarely stated: to demoralise protesters so much that they are dissuaded from taking part again, and to exhaust them physically so that they go home quietly (not that there was any need for the latter by this stage of the night). While queueing to leave Parliament Square, a woman next to me jokingly told a police officer that if they let us go, she would promise that this would be her last demonstration. The officer replied, ‘That’s the point.'”

It seems all too familiar in Toronto, where we now know that an endless kettle during last summer’s G20 summit was accompanied by random beatings. (For added surrealism, one harmless victim has the legal name Mr. Nobody.) And what does our new mayor think about the largest mass arrest in Canadian history? “Personally, if you didn’t want to be down there, then you shouldn’t have been down there.” “The police were too nice.”

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