May 2013

rob ford - kimmel

Whether you’re part of Ford Nation or want to partake in Ford Defenestration, we can all agree that he’s a late night comedy gold mine!

“Rob Ford” appeared on Jimmy Kimmel to dismiss the allegations that there is a video showing him smoking crack with drug dealers. The guy playing Ford is a close-enough-for-sketch-comedy likeness of our mayor, but doesn’t sound much like him. Contrary to the stereotype, we don’t end every sentence with “eh?”.

kimmel ford crack

I rather liked the “vertical video syndrome” they used in the first video clip they showed. This, unfortunately, is how a lot of people shoot videos on their phones.

crack party 1

The “other clips that have surfaced” that Kimmel showed were amusing:

crack party 2

And hey, it isn’t a Canadian party until a mosse waving the flag shows up!

crack party 3

Here’s the segment. Enjoy!

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canada high

The Rob Ford “Crack Video” story made its way to The Daily Show, and wow, did they have fun with it:

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My Six-Word Transformation Story [Updated]

by Joey deVilla on May 21, 2013

Here’s a challenge from the “find a writer / be found as a writer” site Writer.ly:

six words or fewer

That’s easy:

Taking up the accordion changed everything.

Also:

Nearly dying changed everything again.

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R.I.P. Ray Manzarek, Keyboardist for The Doors

by Joey deVilla on May 21, 2013

Mention the ’60s rock band The Doors, and the only member most people will be able to name is this guy:

jim morrison

The Lizard King can keep his fans. The member of The Doors whom I admired wasn’t the front man, but the versatile keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, who passed away yesterday:

ray manzarek

As The Doors’ keyboardist, Ray took up double duty, playing a Vox Continental organ (many people mistakenly thought it was a Farfisa) with his right hand, and the band’s basslines on a Fender Rhodes piano or Fender Rhodes bass keyboard. With both hands full and each one playing very different lines, Ray defined both the Doors’ instrumentation and the sound we now know as “psychedelic organ rock”.

I must confess that I steal a lot of my keyboard playing tricks from Ray’s right hand: the one-two rocking between single note and full chords, the I-IV-VII ostinato sequence that you’ll hear in Riders on the Storm, the glissandos and the willingness to throw the wrong chord in the right place by using the ol’ fist. I have tried — and failed — several times to emulate his amazing left hand, with which he played those Doors-y basslines. I’m still working on it.

Here are The Doors playing Light My Fire during their 1968 European tour. In this version, Ray throws in a little Latin jazz comping during his solo:

If Light My Fire is the definitive psychedelic organ tune, Riders on the Storm sets the bar for Rhodes piano. I’ve listened to this a zillion times driving down the 401 between Toronto and Montreal:

This one, as people from the 1960s say, blew my mind: it’s a video of the recording session for “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Craigslist, a Doors-themed song for which he invited Ray to play keyboards. Al posted it in Ray’s memory, and it’s always great to see the master at work:

Ray went on to become a music producer for a number of acts including Echo and the Bunnymen and legendary L.A. punk rock band X. Here’s X’s album Los Angeles:

On the Live From Daryl’s House video series, Ray and Doors guitarist performed some of their numbers, including People are Strange:

I’ll close with this video, in which Ray’s just being his affable self — he’s always great in interviews — talking about how The Doors got together, how he creates his sounds, how they wrote music, and how Light My Fire came together, all the while radiating with his love for playing music:

Requiescat in pace, Ray, and from one keyboard player to another, thanks for all the inspiration.

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rob ford and crack dealers

By now you’re probably aware of the reports of the existence of a video that Toronto’s Peter Griffin-esque mayor, Rob Ford, smoking crack with two dealers. Gawker made the initial report and described the video, which was quickly followed up by a more in-depth description by the Toronto Star.

It has been reported that the dealers in possession of the video want at least $100,000 for the video and that they want to use the money to move to Calgary. Perhaps they’ve heard of Calgary’s infamous late-night spot for drug- and other criminal-related activity, Crack Mac’s, or perhaps they just like the fact that Calgary has a much better mayor, who most likely doesn’t smoke crack.

peter griffin on meth

Suddenly the strange accusation by former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson — who alleges that Ford made a pass at her and groped her derriere at a fund-raiser back in March, and made a seat-of-the-pants diagnosis that he might have been on cocaine — doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. So does a comment I remember from Toronto Mike’s blog, in which a reader going by the nom de plume of Rinse claims to know someone whose mother smokes rock with His Worship (and yes, that is the proper honorific for the Mayor of Toronto, even if it is Rob Ford). Mike explains what he knows about this comment in a recent post.

rob ford crackstarter

Gawker has started a fund-raising campaign — a “Crackstarter” — to raise $200,000 to purchase the video, after which they’ll post it online and we’ll all finally see what’s in the video. Perhaps it’s the Victoria Day weekend, but at the current rate, it may not make its goal by the end of the ten-day period that was set. Most successful campaigns of this style follow the “80 – 20” rule, making around 80% of the goal within the first 20% of the time allotted. After that, interest fades away.

As of the time of this writing, the Crackstarter campaign has made less than half of the target amount of money. That bodes ill for the campaign, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s manifestly the opposite.

gun pipeline

The problem with the Crackstarter campaign is that it’s rewarding some of the worst people in Toronto. Crack dealers are the end-of-line customers of the Gun Pipeline, the way by which most guns used in crimes end up here. Guns purchased legally in the U.S. are brought illegally to Canada by “mules”, where they become part of a pool of guns that are rented out or shared, Zipcar-style, to thugs who seem to be living the Grand Theft Auto lifestyle, right down to the terrible life choices that characters in those videogames always make. If the Crackstarter raises the money to get the video, the odds are pretty good that some of that money will eventually feed the Gun Pipeline or that shared armory, which in turn will create our next gun crime victims — either ones who are lucky to be alive, such as Connor Stevenson, or less fortunate ones like Jane Creba or the Danzig Street shooting victims.

Rosalind Robertson, in her Tumblr The DIY Coutourier, makes an excellent point in a post titled Fuck You, Gawker:

Let me talk to you a second about drugs, criminality, poverty, gangs and guns. I was a reporter for years – and they’re all related. One big criminal family. The gangs, the guns – it all comes from drugs.

Gawker wants to write these criminals a cheque for more money than most of us can imagine having access to in our lifetime. And not a cheque of their money – of *yours*.

All you who bitch about taxes, who need public health care, who are on a waitlist to see a doctor, who work day in and day out, who work hard in crap jobs that don’t pay well – you, joe citizen, who have never broken a law in your life – they’re asking YOU to give this huge amount of money to a group of people who are a violent plague on my city, who risk the lives of both addicts and innocent bystanders on a regular basis.

Rob Ford may or may not have smoked crack. There is a video in the hands of the people who are involved in ripping my city apart. And instead of turning it over, like good law abiding citizens, they want TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS.

She’s right. Her reasons are the same reasons why I haven’t chipped in a dime to the Crackstarter. I don’t like who the money will benefit and don’t want to end up funding the next shootout or the death of an innocent bystander.

Hey, I’m all for getting to the truth of the story, and I believe that Rob Ford is a blight that needs to be removed from City Hall ASAP. But there’s a right way to do so, and funding merchants for whom collateral deaths is just a part of business isn’t it.

If you’ve contributed to the Crackstarter, please consider giving at least the same amount of money — or even more — to a good, local, community-building cause.

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Happy “May 2-4” (a.k.a. Victoria Day)!

by Joey deVilla on May 20, 2013

I mentioned Queen Victoria last week, in my rebuttal to NOW Magazine’s pointless cheap shot at Commander Chris Hadfield (which, by the bye, got written up by Peter Nowak on the Macleans and Canadian Business sites).

Today, it’s Victoria Day, a statutory holiday here in Canada that celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria, gives us an excuse to light up some fireworks, and marks the beginning of white pants season. I may have to break out this suit:

white pants

For this day, I give you the Kinks’ classic, Victoria. Have a safe and fun “May 2-4”!

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the aristrocrats

“…The Aristocrats.”

Need context? Here’s the Wikipedia entry for the boundary-pushing comedy exercise known as The Aristocrats, a.k.a. “the world’s dirtiest joke”. If you want to see some of the best comedians’ take on it, here’s the definitive (and oh-so-very-not-safe-for-work) film on the joke: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9.

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