Tag: Toronto (page 1 of 5)

Senior Badasses: Cane to the genitals helps foil robbery

Dear Wendy,

For years now, I’ve been telling my (slightly alarmed) children that when I’m old enough to need a cane, I plan to get one with a big honking spike on the end. Because you just never know.

And last night, I heard a story that confirmed my plan.

It happened this way:

This past Sunday afternoon, an 82-year-old woman was heading into her Toronto apartment building carrying an armload of groceries. Some dude followed her into the building, offering to help her with her bags. He tried to push her into her apartment so he could grab her jewellery and some cash, but she started screaming. As one does.

One of her neighbours, a gentleman named Chin-Hua Chen, sprinted to the rescue. The robber hit and tried to push him out of the way, but a homeless fellow who’d set up housekeeping in the stairwell ran upstairs to help, punching the robber to subdue him.

alt="IMAGE-old-woman-feeding-pigeons"

Back off, sonny-boy. I’m armed for bear.

Then in stormed 71-year-old Jane Harris, armed with her cane, which has a jagged edge so she can navigate Toronto’s icy sidewalks in winter.

Harris wasted no time: using her cane, she jabbed the would-be robber in a sensitive part of his anatomy, immobilizing him so she could call the cops.

I heard Harris interviewed on CBC Radio’s As It Happens last night. She described how the three neighbours held the hapless robber pinned up against a stairwell wall, while she called the cops, telling them to boot it over to the building and arrest the no-goodnik.

And step on it, my good man. We have a miscreant here.

alt="IMAGE-cane-with-ice-gripper"

Things you don’t want in your crotch. Want one? Try this link: http://www.elderstore.com/5-prong-ice-grip-cane-attachment.aspx

My favourite bit:

Interviewer: “Where did you hold your cane exactly?”

Harris: “In the man’s genitals.” And then she laughed. It was a long, knowing laugh.

At one point the interviewer asked if Harris had been frightened. She replied, “If anyone comes after me, unless they shoot me, they’re gonna get hurt.”

Jane, you are totally badass. I like your style. And if I ever manage to start my Hell’s Grannies gang, you’re invited.

If you’d like to check out the video, you’ll find it here.

And now, I must head out. I’m off to buy a cane. With a spike.

Love,

Karen

Sunday Video Extravaganza: Another crack at Toronto’s mayor

Dear Readers,

Bored of Rob Ford, Toronto’s hard-drinkin’, crack-smokin’, gang-bangin’ mayor?  We’re not!

Ever since the crack scandal broke, people have lamented that Chris Farley is no longer around to play the Most Obvious Role Ever. But some clever soul has found a way to correct that:

Ron Burgundy goes public with his support for RoFo, introducing the world to Rob’s election theme song (and yes, he does plan to run again next year. Because Ford Nation!):

We leave the last word, for today at least, to the wonderful Rick Mercer:

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Karen & Wendy

Rob Ford plays out an old, familiar story of addiction, self-destruction

Dear Wendy,

Like most Canadians, I’ve been mesmerized by the ongoing spectacle of Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford and his adventures in the underworld of gangs, drugs, thugs, and booze.

alt="IMAGE-anthony-smith-rob-ford-photo"

Hey, I get my picture taken with a lot of people #inadrunkenstupor.

Last spring, when Gawker and the Toronto Star reported that Ford had been caught on video smoking crack in a trap house (my drug lingo is expanding daily, thanks to this debacle) with a bunch of gang-bangers, Ford was emphatic in his denials.

Nope, no such tape existed. And nope, he wasn’t addicted to crack, and didn’t smoke it. Absolutely not, no way, no how.

Let’s skim past the intervening months—the revelations about a possible murder linked to the video, the extortion attempts, the various shady characters unearthed by the ongoing media and police investigation, the June police raids that took down a generous chunk of the Etobicoke gang that Ford had been hanging with—and skip to last week, when Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair revealed that the cops had in fact retrieved the damning video (plus another one, contents as yet unknown).

Whoopsies.

alt="IMAGE-rob-ford-mayor-toronto-grimacing"

(Photo: Chris Young for the Globe & Mail)

And now, the Ford who was all bluster and denial last spring suddenly cannot shut up about it.

He’s used the radio talk show he and his brother host to “apologize” to the good people of Toronto (though he didn’t specify for what). On Tuesday, he admitted that he might have used crack. Oh wait, no, he did. He thinks. Once. In a drunken stupor.

Because of course he did.

It’s an old, familiar pattern, isn’t it? Deny the obvious, pretend you’re the one who’s right and everyone else is “out to get you” or just plain out to lunch. Bully, bluster, and always deny, deny, deny. And then, if you’re forced to apologize, make it sound like it wasn’t your fault.

One one level, as I watch this grotesque story unfold, it’s like I’m watching the story of our own alcoholic family.

“We don’t drink too much.” “We’re totally in control at all times.” “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

We saw the evidence. We watched as our parents embarrassed themselves—and humiliated us—in public, over and over again. It never got better—it was a slow, tortuous path to self-destruction.

And when the evidence got too overwhelming to deny, then came the excuses and the self-pity: we were bad kids. We made them do it. They were working too hard, they needed a break. Who did it hurt if they had a little fun from time to time? It wasn’t their fault. Why were we hounding them?

(Ford’s version: the journalists are persecuting me. The left-wing intellectual elites are persecuting me. The cops are persecuting me. It’s all part of an evil smear campaign. I only want what’s best for this city, so everyone should just shut up and let me do my job. Even if I’m cranked up or hammered a great deal of the time. Whatever—I’m the mayor, so suck it.)

Besides, our parents were fond of reminding us, we had a roof over our heads and food on the table.

Just like the people of Toronto have (allegedly) a mayor who’s saving the city money. (A claim that’s demonstrably untrue, but it’s part of his shtick.)

As kids, we were told we had no right to complain, so we should just shut up and let them get on with running the place the way they saw fit.

And if that happened to involve getting piss-drunk and passing out, well, tough beans. We had no idea how lucky we were.

Just as our parents forfeited all moral authority over us by their actions, Rob Ford has kissed goodbye his authority to credibly lead his city, by revealing himself to be a drunkard, a liar, a guy who routinely consorts with criminals, a man who cannot take responsibility for his own actions to save his soul. What is there to do but laugh?

When we were kids, eventually we realized that our only defense against our parents’ lunacy was to turn them into jokes. You and I started making fun of the horror, because we were powerless to do anything about it. They were our parents, and we were stuck with them.

Similarly, Rob Ford will be mayor until he steps down, or goes to prison.

On Tuesday, after the “drunken stupor” admission, Twitter exploded with the hashtag #inadrunkenstupor.

https://twitter.com/alexanderjbroad/status/398146346684653568

Because as long as Rob Ford refuses to recuse himself as mayor, there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it, except mock and deride. And for the time being, it seems he’s determined to stick around. He’s issued some crocodile-tear-laden apologies (“I’m sincerely, sincerely, sincerely sorry”), followed by a declaration that he plans to run for mayor in the next election, and it’ll be “a bloodbath.”

Greeeeeaaaat.

alt="IMAGE-rob-ford-taste-of-danforth"

Sure, this is coffee. I need it to shober up, man.

How will all this play out? It’s anyone’s guess, though I can make a few predictions. Ford hasn’t admitted he’s an addict, so he’s unlikely to get help of any kind. His lifestyle choices have already done a number on his brain; pretty soon they’ll start to impair him physically, if they haven’t already.

By choosing the path of denial, rage, blame, and self-pity, our parents doomed themselves to early graves. Booze took them both, and it wasn’t a quick or easy exit.

How many times did Dad call to tell me, “They had to resuscitate your mother again”? Bringing her back from the verge of death over and over, and all it did was convince her that she was immortal. Until that final, months-long binge that turned a 68-year-old woman into an unrecognizable wreck, and then killed her.

And Dad—how many months did he spend in hospital from alcohol-induced accidents, only to kick right back into high gear as soon as he got home?

I don’t wish the same on Ford, but I won’t be at all surprised, in a few years, to hear that he’s finally succumbed to his addictions. He’s survived so far, and maybe that’s deluded him into believing he can do anything, survive anything.

And yeah, he’ll probably survive a while longer. And then, unless he gets help, he’ll succumb.

But not before he’s inflicted a boatload of damage on his family, his friends, and the city he claims to love. Because when you’re an addict, that’s just how you roll.

Love,

Karen

Awesome Advice Central: The Toronto mayoral edition

Dear Awesome Advice Whatcha-macallits:

Sooooo…I don’t want to brag, but I’m kind of famous, and I wouldn’t say I have a problem, but a lot of other no-good lying b@stards are saying I do. Specifically, all the media maggots that follow me everywhere and harass me constantly.

Oh, and my chief of staff.

And a bunch of other idiots who USED to work for me, if you get my drift.

The local commie pinko newspaper started it all right after I got elected. They just couldn’t stand seeing a regular guy like me succeed—well, okay, so I’m a millionaire, but I drink Tim Horton’s coffee, so that counts, right?

Right from the get-go, the maggots were spreading vicious rumours—that I drink too much, that my family is full of drug addicts and dealers, that I got some kind of “substance abuse problem.” 

Just because I like to chill with a beer or six after work now and then, and sometimes I get a little happy. I mean, come ON…a mayor—I mean, we Totally Anonymous Famous People gotta right to relax now and then, right? Like we’re not human or something?

And then, a couple of months ago that same maggot-filled rag somehow found out about totally invented a video of me, supposedly smoking crack with a bunch of lowlife immigrants in a sketchy part of town. Which just happens to be around the corner from my house, but whatever.

alt="IMAGE-anthony-smith-rob-ford-photo"

Hey, I get my picture taken with a lot of people. I’m supposed to keep track of them all?

I told them straight up, it wasn’t me, no one saw me, they can’t prove it. But they’re relentless, like I say. Always with the questions—what do I have to say about it, do I have any comment, when am I going to get help…it just never ends.

The only person who really stands up for me is my big brother. He’s a real stand-up guy, get it? Eh? Stand-up? Stands up? Heh heh heh. I crack me up sometimes.

Oh wait. Dougie told me never to use that word. Sorry, bro!

So yeah. Big bro took care of the whole video thing, because he has what you might call “connections.” You know, he just happens to know the right people. Like I say, he’s a great guy.

Plus, he tells me I don’t have any kind of a problem, and who am I gonna trust? A bunch of commie maggot journalists, or my own brother?

But now I have ANOTHER video problem.

No, not the crack-smoking one…this time, there’s, like a TON of these videos out there. See, I have to make public appearances, mingle with the little people now and then, make ‘em feel like I’m one of them. And I was kinda stressed out after a hard day at the office, so like I say, I took the edge off with a beer or two or maybe five before I hit the street.

That’s when the trouble started. Because I guess I was a little…happier than I thought. And I kind of forgot that those damn smartphone thingies have video cameras in them. Which you’d think I would remember after the whole crack-smoking video thing, but I’m a busy man.

So sue me, it slipped my mind.

As you can see, I’m not at my best here:

Or here:

Or, um, here:

But you gotta know, I make one tiny little error in judgment, get a little too relaxed maybe, and the press is all over it like a dirty shirt. In fact, even the guys I thought were my friends have turned on me.

Anyways, so the maggots are back at it, calling me for “comments”—like what am I gonna say? Don’t they ever get hammered and go out on the town now and then? Don’t they ever invite perfect strangers to party with them? Don’t they ever offer to share their blow…I mean, don’t they ever say “I need to blow my nose” in public? What kind of tight-assed limp-wristed pansies are they, anyways?

So actually, yeah. It’s not me with the problem, it’s them. They need to loosen up, am I right? I’m just a simple guy, a man of the people who just happens to be a millionaire, and my real problem isn’t any damn “substance abuse” thing, it’s those journalists and pinkos who won’t get out of my face and let me get on with my work.

Whaddaya say?

Signed,
Totally anonymous dude you probably never heard of
, so don’t even ask.

Dear Mr. Ford:

After careful consideration, we can find only two words to address your problem. Here they are:

Get help. Seriously.

Oh, wait. That’s three. Ah well, so much for keeping promises.

But hey, we’re not running Canada’s largest city, are we?

Yours truly,
Awesome Advice Central

The Crack Burgermeister and his Brother: Get ready for the movie

Dear Wendy,

I bet you’re just dying to know how that whole crack-smoking mayor of Toronto thing played out, am I right?

Last time we visited Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother/henchman Doug, things were looking dire indeed.

I won’t go over the whole painful chronology again, but when we left our heroes anti-heroes apes in suits, the last of RoFo’s senior staff (aka “the only ones left who knew what they were doing”) had cleared out their desks and left the building.

This was amid reports that Ford had told his aides not to worry about the (supposedly non-existent) video because he knew where it was. In fact, he knew the exact address. This is amazing on two levels:

  1. The video is apparently non-existent and existent…at the same time. (Whoa. This could have some serious space-time-continuum overtones.)
  2. For a dude who smokes crack, RoFo has a pretty decent long-term memory. Except for the fact that he doesn’t remember the video existing.

So there I was, at the end of the first two weeks of the BEST REALITY TV SHOW EVER, when it went on summer hiatus or something. Days, then an entire week, passed without any incriminating evidence turning up on either RoFo or DoFo.

Granted, I did learn that in Germany, the mayor of Canada’s largest city is now known as the “Crack-Burgermeister,” so that was something.

And there was comfort in the knowledge that RoFo’s automaton-like response to any media types who asked him uncomfortable questions was a terse, “Anything else?” The phrase turned into a hashtag, then a meme…that’s social media’s version of immortality, right there.

But by the end of a week of not-much-happening on the Crack-Burgermeister front, last Thursday a small amount of hell broke loose once more. And you have to know, my ears perked right up again.

Turns out that even though the media wasn’t saying much during the RoFo/DoFo’s summer hiatus, they’d been doing quite a lot more than sitting back in their chairs, sharpening pencils and aiming them at the newsroom ceiling tiles.

Turns out, in fact, that they identified the suburban Etobicoke house where that photo was snapped of RoFo, murder victim Anthony Smith, and almost-murder victim Muhammad Khattak.

alt="IMAGE-anthony-smith-rob-ford-photo"

Hey, I get my picture taken with a lot of people. I’m supposed to keep track of them all?

And hey, guess what? The day after the video was reported by Gawker and the Toronto Star, two “large men” came to that house looking for the video’s current owner. They tried to get the residents of the house to induce the video owner to drop by for a wee visit, but he responded that he was in Windsor, and not inclined to meet them. (Wise choice.)

Then, on May 21, one of the two large guys came by, this time wielding a length of metal pipe, which he used to assault a male resident of the house and his girlfriend, landing them both in the hospital.

On Friday, the Star reported that a female resident of the house, Elena Johnson, has, er, a bit of a record. In 2011, she was convicted of…(dum-de-DUM-dum) trafficking in cocaine.

A fellow #TOpoli addict on Twitter, who goes by the handle @YYZMarc, commented thus:

alt="IMAGE-TOpoli-YYZMarc-comment-Rob-Ford-crack-scandal"Once I stopped giggling, I realized that @YYZMarc (whom you really should follow, get on that) is onto something: we need to start casting this movie, stat. Before anyone else gets the idea.

So Rachel and I started brainstorming. Here’s what we’ve got so far (in addition to Winona, of course):

  • Doug Ford: That’s a no-brainer. John Goodman, in his Evil Nasty Dude persona. You remember him in The West Wing, right?

    alt="IMAGE-john-goodman"

    “My little bro’s the mayor. Wanna make something of it?”

  • David Price, RoFo’s “Director of Logistics and Operations,” who seems to follow Ford everywhere, and has been described as a “grim-faced man of few words.” We initially thought of John Hurt, but he’s a) too old, and b) too English. So we settled on Paul Gross. Yes, he’s been a mild-mannered Mountie and an obsessed curler….but he’s also been a teeth-grinding psychopath in Murder Most Likely, about (another) Mountie who killed his wife. Not that Price has ever killed his wife. Just to be clear.
  • John Cook, editor of Gawker, the online gossip site that broke the story back in May: our unanimous choice was Bradley Cooper.

    alt="IMAGE-bradley-cooper"

    We would, of course, require him to play the role shirtless.

  • Kevin Donovan, investigative journalist at the Toronto Star. Victor Garber. Yes?

    alt="IMAGE-victor-garber"

    “Come with me if you want to live.” Oh, wait. Wrong movie.

  • Robyn Doolittle, urban affairs reporter, also at the Star. A bit of a tough call, but we settled on Sarah Polley. Okay, so she started out in roles like Ramona Quimby and Anne of Green Gables, but more recently she’s branched out. She played the lead role in the 2004 remake of the zombie flick Dawn of the Dead, which ought to prep her pretty well for our Crack-Burgermeister blockbuster.
    alt="IMAGE-sarah-polley"

    We like to think she’d have less blood on her in our film.

    You’ll notice we still haven’t revealed our central character, Rob Ford. That’s because it turns out that our first choice, Richard Griffiths (you might remember him as Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter movies) died in March. This made us sad. He really was a good actor.

    alt="IMAGE-richard-griffiths-vernon-dursley"

    You can see how perfect he would have been.

    Then we thought of another British actor, Simon Fisher-Becker, known to Dr. Who fans as The Big Blue Man, and to Game of Throne afficionados as a high priest of Westeros. Physically, he’s perfect. And he’s described as a versatile, accomplished actor, so we’re pretty sure he can do a guy who mistakes crudeness for authenticity, who apparently has the self-control of a flea, who seems determined to cling to the mayoralty until it’s pried from his cold, dead fingers…and oh, yes, who gets together with his buds to smoke crack in suburban basements from time to time.

  • alt="IMAGE-simon-fisher-becker"

    Welcome aboard, Mr. Fisher-Becker. And get cracking on that hoser accent. You’re gonna need it.

Of course, this is just a preliminary list. If you have other suggestions, get your dibs in soon—we have a feeling this baby is number one…with a bullet.

Love,

Karen

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