sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (raccoons of the resistance)
Last December, 19-year-old Durham teenager Dafonte Miller was savagely beaten by an off-duty Toronto cop and his brother. A cover-up ensued, made worse by the knowledge that the poor kid is going to lose one of his eyes. It's not the only instance of police brutality against racialized people in this city, but both the young age of the victim and the blatant corruption of both the Toronto and Durham police forces have made the case a symbol for everything that needs to change here.

Earlier this summer, journalist Desmond Cole—already forced out by the Toronto Star for his involvement in Black Lives Matter—was arrested at a Toronto Police Services Board meeting and inexplicably charged with trespassing (this, despite the fact that the meetings are open to the public and press and he more or less followed procedure; the man is, after all, a respected reporter who regularly attends such meetings) and fined $65 for trying to shed light on the criminal assault on Dafonte. This raised tremendous ire amongst all decent people in the city, excepting, of course, the stalwart defenders of free speech, who were strangely silent on the issue.

For this month's meeting, Cole was prepared, and asked people on Facebook to accompany him to the meeting in case they tried something sketchy again. Determined as I am to squeeze in whatever I can do to help with sorry world before I'm once again buried in an even deeper avalanche of work, I showed up, along with a massive crowd of other concerned citizens and press.

I'm not sure I've ever set foot in TPS headquarters before; I don't think I even had to do it when I did my criminal record check, but if so, that was the only time. You need to go through a metal detector and a bag search, which is apparently new this month, and due to the fact that for some reason, members of the general public have recently decided to exercise their right to attend Toronto Police Services meetings, and the cops aren't best pleased about it. They have TV screens set up inside and outside, but the mics are very quiet, and despite the fact that the meetings are supposedly open, it's near impossible to follow the actual discussion. The agendas, while available, skip a number of items for no obvious reason.

Not that anyone was there, it must be said, to discuss The Way Forward plan, budget allocations, or what colour police cars should be. No, everyone was there for the same reason—the deputations—evidenced by a slow wave of folks writing "WE'RE HERE FOR DAFONTE" on the backs of their agendas. There were two issues, somewhat related. One: Unlike every other institution in the city, including my own, the TPS has refused to implement the Don't Ask, Don't Tell* policy issued in 2013 with regards to non-status immigrations. Two: The process into evaluating the success of School Resource Officers (SROs, a.k.a. armed and uniformed cops in schools) is deeply flawed and one-sided, right down to the paltry academic research on the subject being down through Ryerson, the only Toronto university that doesn't have a faculty of education.

At any rate, the meeting went from boring and incomprehensible to seriously exciting the second the deputations, which included Cole and a number of other interesting people, my second favourite being Gita Madan from Education Not Incarceration. The Board made every attempt to minimize Cole's ability to speak, but since he wasn't actually violating any laws, he and the others got the message out—end the SRO program, implement DADT now, and Mayor McBland should resign from the Board. There were a lot of cameras. Then he led a walkout and addressed the crowd on the steps of police HQ.

You can read all about it here.

The meeting room, the overflow room, and the halls were full of people, though again, the crowd seemed to consist of everyone but the folks that claim to believe in a principled and consistent defence of free speech. There were parents with their babies, school teachers, academics, and activists, black, white, indigenous, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Asian. I suppose you might call the meeting "raucous"; I would term it "enthusiastic" or perhaps "engaged." It was almost as if regular people decided, together, that we should get a voice in the way "our" police force is run.

Without public pressure like this, there will be no chance at justice for young Dafonte. I feel incredibly honoured that I got to be part of something like this today.

* Americans, I can feel you cringing all the way from here. It means something different in Canada! Here it means that if you provide a public service (such as being a social worker, teacher, doctor, nurse, or theoretically a police officer) you don't ask someone their immigration status, and if you do find out that they are not here legally, you are not allowed to report them to Canadian Border Services. This ensures that no one is prevented from medical care or education, abuse victims can seek protection from their abusers, etc.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

Remember that hilarious story about the Parkdale gentrifiers? Did you think that after Jesse Brown tweeted the Parkdale Tinies that the story couldn't possibly get any funnier?

parkdale tinies

How long can Toronto keep a thing going, you might wonder. Surely not this long...

How my family came to be the most hated family in Toronto (at least for 24 hours)

By Julian Humphreys

You owe it to yourself and your lulz to click that link and read the whole thing. It is GLORIOUS. It is 10,383 words long. It quotes ADORNO AND GOETHE and my buddy Todd and I can't breathe through my tears. It is full of not-very-subtle digs at his wife and even worse digs at his editor, who really can't be blamed for not turning down this pile of comedy gold because tbh no one was really reading Toronto Life before and now everyone is in the hopes that there will be more of this kind of thing.

Some choice quotes:

"Back when I was in academia and enamoured by writers like Jacques Derrida and Judith Butler, I was particularly in to the idea of origins, and where exactly we can trace origins back to."

"My mum emigrated to the UK in 1939 from Germany. Yes, that’s right, she was a Jew, or at least somewhat Jewish."

"[My counsellor] then proceeded to give me a lecture on cell biology, including how many bookshelves it would take to hold all the information contained in a single human cell. The lesson being, we are endlessly complex beings, and attempting to oversimplify both ourselves and the world is foolish."

"I did try to clean myself up at one point, attending a 10-day silent retreat in Southern Thailand. But the switch from partying on a Thai beach to sitting quietly for 12 hours a day in a Thai monastery was too dramatic, and I only lasted 5 days before I was back to Bangkok and their opiated grass."

"So let me explain what really went down during our reno from hell. Not that my wife mis-represented the facts – for the most part, she didn’t. But a) she was at home looking after our newborn for most of the year of our reno, so doesn’t know first-hand what really went on; b) she was constrained by a word limit of 4000 words; and c) she was working closely with an editor at Toronto Life, who clearly had his own agenda that overwhelmed her own."

"I had concerns about how I would come across in the piece, but I was prepared to put my ego aside for the sake of a good story and in support of my wife’s career. "

"Looking back on that telephone conversation now, I realize that Malcolm never did assure me that he would look out for my wife’s best interests."

"Although I could see the literary merit of these additions, a mean-spiritedness was entering into the article that was not in the original draft."

"I also didn’t like the photo because in reality my wife is much more attractive than she appears in that photo."

"Criticisms of capitalism presented by the bourgeoisie are nearly always duplicitous, masquerading as in solidarity with the proletariat while cutting off real protest at the knees. And this was exactly what was going on here. By seeming to sympathize with the downtrodden, Malcolm was hoping to humanize us just enough to avoid a revolution, while dehumanizing us enough to garner clicks."

"We could have called an ambulance, I guess, but that, in my mind, would have been a gross invasion of his privacy."

"My wife does, however, say that we were ‘a young family without a lot of money’ and whether this is true or not depends on what you consider ‘money.’"

"[O]n the one hand yes, I made some bad decisions. And yet we came out ahead. Was this luck? Or strategy?"

"It’s better to move forward without all the answers in place than to not move forward at all, an assumption best expressed in this quote attributed to Goethe..."

"His gift substantially changed my life, and I show my gratitude by honoring his generosity as best I can. I could have snorted $100,000 of cocaine, but instead used it to prepare myself, however tangentially, for a career in which I feel I make a positive difference."

Oh, just read the whole thing, trust me.

Bonus: Here is his Twitter.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 There's so much I want to write about and link to lately, but of course it's June and I'm a schoolteacher, so I've just been reblogging things on Facebook. And that's no way to live. Here are some highlights of the week.

The story gripping the city is of the Toronto Life story about a pair of self-involved, clueless rich kids who bought a Parkdale rooming house, sight unseen, and were shocked that people still lived there and also that you can't hire a contractor based on the fact that he's cycling by. This is all in the context of violent purging of the poor in the Parkdale neighbourhood, most notably an asshole landlord attempting to murder a tenant for striking against deplorable conditions. Quite a lot of pixels have been spilled over this issue, but the best response was my friend Todd's GoFundMe page (you can still donate), and the Metro interview with him that followed. Great stuff, and perfect timing—the Parkdale Rent Strike has the potential to be the most successful political action since BLM-TO forced Pride to ban uniformed, armed cops from getting paid to march in a parade that celebrated the very folks they like to beat up.

The Tories have a new Head Asshole, Andrew Scheer. No one has heard of this guy, and he conveniently had a lot of his more disgusting positions wiped from the intertubes. However, the Streisand Effect is still in play, so you can totally go and read what he's about. Spoiler: It ain't good. Fortunately, he has all the charisma of a mysteriously damp toilet paper roll, so I don't think he has much of a chance against Prince Justin or whoever the NDP nominates.

Do I have a clear preference for an NDP leader? I am shocked to say that no, I do not. I actually like multiple candidates. This is weird. I would be happy if Charlie Angus, Jagmeet Singh (with some reservations), or Niki Ashton won. I tend not to put a lot of hope in electoral politics but I do like having someone I can vote for and campaign for happily rather than someone who's the lesser of three evils.

Speaking of Niki, she's preggers. Yay Niki! She announced it on Twitter, because we live in the darkest possible timeline, and minor douchecanoe Brian Lilley got upset because she did not specify that she was pregnant with a human fetus. What else might she be pregnant with? Speculation abounded. Was it an alien? A tank-human hybrid? A dinosaur? No one knew until she clarified, kinda.

The coolest thing to happen around these parts is that the Ontario Liberals—who I don't even tend to like—announced that the minimum wage would rise to $15 by 2019, along with several other good labour reforms. This is great news, though in Toronto, where the cost of living is stupidly high compared to the rest of the province, it doesn't go far enough for my liking. Almost everyone is in favour, except for this whiny fuckhead, who is such an incompetent businessman that he can't afford to pay people to work for him. He was shocked and appalled to find himself the target of a boycott, and put up an even whinier sign that was immediately mocked for obvious reasons.

I try not to ever think about Barbara Kay, but a hero at Canadaland read that pro-genocide book that she recommended so that you don't have to.

Speaking of genocide against the First Nations, guess how much Trudeau's government spent fighting against indigenous rights in court? #sunnyways #colonialismbutfromtheheartoutwards

In international news, though I hate to go there:

Ivanka Trump makes her shoes in a Chinese sweatshop (no surprise there) and three activists have been disappeared for looking into it.

Laurie Penny continues to be my internet girlfriend. Here's a scathing editorial about freezed peach.

Finally, it is extremely important that we know about whether Melania is getting, and I quote, "federally-funded side peen." Yeah, you're welcome.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
renouf the goof tweetApparently my little design got famous enough to be tweeted by local fascist nutjob Greg "the Goof" Renouf!

I would be flattered were it not for three critical errors in his sentence-long tweet:

1) I'm not actually an anarchist, nor am I part of any anarchist group, nor does this design have anything to do with or benefit any anarchist group. I'm not even sure which anarchist group he's talking about. I mean, I like (some) anarchists and I have broad ideological agreements and commonalities with them, but I lived in a cooperative house for too long to actually be an anarchist, as I'm quite fussy about dishes and such.

2) It says right in the product description that the graphic refers to peacefully dealing with fascism through fun sports like baseball.

3) And this is the weirdest one—I am not nor have I ever been a Christian. I mean, this commemorates a battle primarily fought by Jews, albeit with some Christian allies. But while I've been accused of belonging to all sorts of beliefs and causes that I have nothing to do with, I don't think I have ever in my life been mistaken for a Christian.

So that's neat.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
So a funny thing happened in Toronto.

Our sensible, centrist mayor, committed to balancing the budget and reducing traffic congestion and being oh-so-different from his crack-smoking predecessor, declared that all city agencies and departments shall cutteth exactly 2.6% from their budget, regardless of how cash-strapped and desperate they are or how much people rely on their service. This is all part and parcel of the magical thinking of the Austerity Acolytes, wherein politicians and their media lapdogs expect public services to wave some kind of wand and miraculously find "efficiencies," just lying around to be cut. As if the cuts aren't into the human flesh and bone of the city's most vulnerable.

(Don't blame me, I voted for Chow.)

Among these agencies is, of course, the TTC, which already sucks. Most of the time when I took the subway this summer, it was shut down between where I was and where I needed to go. Almost every subway car on the east-west line is without air conditioning, and I quickly learned the lifehack of getting on the first or last car, which tend to be air-conditioning. Inside the cars, it could hit 40°C. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of rides I took without some sort of ridiculous delay. And it's not like our archaic subway system, already suffering the Death of a Thousand Cuts under the Honourable Wife-Beater, was all that great to begin with.

Still. 2.6%. Find efficiencies.

Amidst all of this, a local heroine named Bianca Spence challenged Mr. Tory to a subway ride across the Bloor-Danforth line in an air conditioning-free car. On Wednesday, he did it. He arrived late for work, sweaty, and dishevelled, and described "considerable discomfort."

Poor baby. That must be so hard. As one of my friends pointed out elsewhere, the lack of professional consequences he received for showing up late and rumpled are radically different from those faced by you or I. Weirdly, he has still managed to stay employed, and is still demanding that the TTC cut its budget, although he's not sure if he's going to actually make them. As the article linked suggests, this may be showmanship to prove that nothing more can be cut, but even if it is, it's acting like the various bureaucrats and bean-counters at the TTC have nothing better to do than to indulge his whims to make a political point. The budget needs to be increased.

By complete coincidence, the Toronto Police budget is $1 billion despite dropping crime rates, so maybe their $260 million in efficiencies can be used to fix up the TTC a bit.

Also, WTF is happening with the Scarborough Stubway? That still on? Remember when we had a fully funded LRT plan that Ford scrapped on his first day in office and Tory refused to revive? Don't worry, me neither. Toronto's memory is just an election cycle.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)

You can watch it here.

Now, you'll be disappointed, like most of the city, because it:

a) Doesn't show us anything we didn't already know or guess
b) Comes far too late to destroy the Ex-Honourable Wife-Beater's political career
c) Will not tarnish the reputation of Brother Doug or any of their various political enablers; even Sandro Lisi got off on a peace bond
d) Isn't even all that funny

But Americans, take note: This can happen to you. Yes, being the mayor of a large city is different than being President of 'Murica, but not as different as you think. The Laughable Bumblefuck represents a sharp break from conventional politics, where politicians at least had to have the pretense of being—if not competent themselves—the puppet of competent advisors. And a scandal like smoking crack was generally enough to sink most. Not anymore.

Meanwhile, the real story is John Tory, walking Dad Joke, continuing Fordism by a different name: Bullshitting on a subway that's never gonna happen and was never meant to happen, breaking his half-assed pledge to reduce poverty in an increasingly divided city, refusing to engage honestly with Black Lives Matter, but since his very presence is a cure for insomnia, no one's paying that close attention. At least with Ford, people paid attention to some of the dumb shit he did.

But this—I would argue, were I of a more conspiratorial mindset—is by design, not accident. That's what you do, if you're playing the long political game that the far right is currently playing. You get someone ridiculous and over-the-top and populist to bust open the door, someone who courts Nazis or uses the n-word or smokes crack, someone so clownish that it's impossible to envision them ever being elected until they do, and then you let them self-immolate. And by then, they've shifted the Overton Window so far towards overt fascism that all you need is another, more soft-spoken and well-dressed far-right ideologue to slither in there, look like a reasonable moderate, and repackage Asshole Boy's ideas as his own, and everyone swallows it.

Unrelated to any of the above, enjoy this story about a dog that found a giant dildo and wouldn't put it down.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
I've been meaning to write a post for awhile on the bizarre sentencing arguments following the equally bizarre conviction of James Forcillo, the pig that murdered a mentally ill teenager on a Toronto streetcar, and the horrible miscarriage of justice in the Freddie Gray murder just reminded me to do so.

Forcillo, you may recall, was charged with attempted murder even though Sammy Yatim died after Forcillo shot him eight times. The weird argument here is that he was legitimately firing in self defence the first time (note that Yatim was alone, wielding a small knife, and Forcillo could have, I dunno, gotten off the otherwise empty streetcar and just waited him out, but why do that when you can gun down a kid, right?), which was when the fatal shots were fired, but the second round was gratuitious. That's dumb as shit, but thanks to the reactionary minimum sentencing laws brought in by various governments starting with Chretien's in 1995, Forcillo is looking at at least five years in prison.

Except! The defence would really like the judge to make a special exception for the rules just for him, because cops are special and get paid over $100,000 a year without having to pay for post-secondary education and get to carry guns and shoot whoever they want. So they've made a series of increasingly Dadaist arguments, including that mandatory minimum sentences were never supposed to apply to cops, and that the sentence could deter domestic violence victims from fighting back against their abusers. In fact, the defence wants house arrest, which is quaint, given that pot dealers who've never hurt anyone in their lives end up in jail all the time. It's almost like jails are unpleasant places where we should be reluctant to send people, or something.

But the most absurd, and most horrible argument for leniency in Forcillo's case is that because Yatim was paralyzed from the first volley of bullets, the second round of shooting, for which Forcillo was convicted, didn't actually hurt him any. As the judge points out, this kind of opens the door to the possibility that it's cool to go around shooting parapalegics in the legs because they can't feel it. But still, this was an actual argument heard in court and the lawyer wasn't immediately disbarred or forced to wear a dunce cap or anything like that.

As far as I can tell, no one has publicly called this argument what it is, which is a prime example of the racial empathy gap. That's one of those things that Canadians (if they've heard of it) think only applies to black people in the US, but examine the rhetoric around how "threatened" Forcillo, a large thug with a gun, felt by Yatim, a skinny teenager, and you can pretty much play racial empathy bingo. Yatim was twice marginalized, as a person of colour and a person with mental illness. Racism in Canada isn't the gaping, bleeding wound it is in the US; here, it's a slow-burning infection, but no less fatal.

We know that the racial empathy gap is real. We know it was a justification for slavery, the association of racialized bodies with mindless animals, less sensitive to pain because they were already hardened to it. We know that it's still a horror in the modern era, with medical professionals unwilling to prescribe as much pain medication to black patients. And it's a factor here, where Yatim's life, his physical and mental suffering in his last moments of life, is given less weight than that of someone with a white body, a white mind.

Forcillo, too, is facing special treatment; that there is even an argument for the courts not tossing him in jail for at least five years (the Crown is asking for 8-10) is a factor of his white skin and his blue uniform. In fact, he is still getting paid $103,967 a year, and will be until he's actually sentenced. There is a fair bit of chatter about that, and rightly so.

I typically don't believe in mandatory minimum sentencing (in fact, I'm broadly against prisons as a whole) but this is the one case where I think it absolutely makes sense, to avoid the sort of bias against victims with skin colours like Sammy Yatim and towards criminals with skin colours like James Forcillo's. I'm not convinced a primarily white legal system, which props up a system of white supremacy, is ready to be trusted with nuance in a case where ancient racist tropes can be invoked to cheapen the life of a dead teenager.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
Went to the May Day rally today even though the weather was basically tiny little daggers of cold penetrating one's skin and soul. It started out a dreary affair—not enough people, speeches no one could hear—but picked up an hour or so later when there was actual marching to be done.

These guys had the best sign:

(The back said, "Capitalism ≠ super lit 100—Karl Marx." Also check out David Cameron's dream girl on the drum.)

Anyway, a lot of my friends were there, along with the predictable members of the fringe left. The Communist Party of Iran was out in full force, distributing the exact same leaflet they have at every other May Day, ever, except with some of the countries changed and now they're hailing Bob Avakian as the greatest socialist mind who ever lived. But the march was pretty spirited.

It ended up in Regent Park, which is currently experiencing the violence of gentrification. We passed the Paint Box Bistro, which is one of those well-intentioned but overpriced places that tend to be the vanguard of people getting displaced from their homes. Inside, the NDP were having a party for Linda McQuaig and just came out to cheer as we passed by. Awk. Ward. So as out of touch as the fringe left can be at times, at least we're not that out of touch.

Anyway! Happy May Day, all.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
You guys, you should just see what's going on in Toronto. It's amazing. The entire mainstream press and political establishment appears to have forgotten that Ford was a wife-beating, drunk-driving, racist, misogynist, homophobic turdblossom and is just lionizing him like he never ordered a hit on a 21-year-old drug dealer or had a guy severely beaten in prison.

Of course there is a discussion of which park should be named after him and where the statue should go. I think this Torontoist post makes some good points as to why there shouldn't be a statue, but come on. You secretly want a statue, don't you? I do. It would be the greatest tourist attraction since we built that giant middle finger to America.

Think of the potential with statues:

  • They can be peed upon.

  • They can be slathered in gravy.

  • You can put traffic cones on their heads.

  • Birds shit on them.

  • They can be painted in various amusing ways.

  • You can put signs in their hands advocating, say, sodomy or socialism.

  • You can decorate them with Christmas lights.

  • By "Christmas lights," I mean "crack pipes." You knew that, right?

So many possibilities!

I think the best place to put a statue of the Honourable Wife-Beater is in the big pit where the Scarborough subway will never get built.

But it doesn't end there. No, not when the city is in throes of wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments. There is politics to be done, people.

Which is why the pinnacle of decorum himself, Mr. Doug Ford, is using his brother's visitation to campaign, inviting supporters to take selfies with him, presumably in front of the creepy-ass dead body. That's some Game of Thrones-level squick and I am truly impressed.

Still, if his corpse is not embalmed in wax and put on permanent display in Nathan Phillips Square, this whole carnival has simply just not gone far enough.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (manic pixie nightmare girl)
I went wandering with [ profile] metalana and took a bunch of pictures, and then she sent me filters and I made artsy photos. You might like them.

More photos. Not quite so weird. )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
The Laughable Bumblefuck is no more. Were I a Proper Journalist, like the ones currently tripping over their own feet in a pathetic attempt to say something nice about the man, and not a half-assed commie blogger spewing occasional sweary political commentary, I'd already have a eulogy written up. We knew this was coming. I'd play up his virtues, paltry though they were, and lament his terrible death at the hands of a foe even more ravenous and unrestrained than the man himself. I'd remind my readers that it is impolite to speak ill of the dead, etc.

Let's be honest, though. That's not who I am.

For four years, I devoted considerable pixels to documenting Mayor Ford's disastrous reign over the city I love. He was the Richard Nixon to my Hunter S. Thompson, if I were a better writer and he had his finger on the Big Red Button. I have a lot of feelings. I don't believe that death confers sainthood. I believe this makes me more respectful and empathetic towards my enemies than those who suddenly retract all of their negativity and criticism. When I someday die, if the right declares me to have been balanced and open to compromise and possessed of some latent conservative virtues, they had better watch out for my wrathful zombie revenge. Fuck that. I was everything Ford hated, and he was everything I despise.

I'm not exactly going to dance on his grave, but that's mainly because he died of cancer—and no one should have to die of cancer*—rather than of acute lead poisoning, as is the correct mode of death for reactionaries. And literally, that's the only reason. If you are, like most today, inclined towards grief or sympathy, remember, whilst voting against $1.5 million in AIDS prevention spending, that this is the man who argued—despite being a drug user himself—that "if you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn't get AIDS probably." Or said, regarding the deaths of cyclists, increased by his pro-car politicies, "My heart bleeds for them when someone gets killed. But it’s their own fault at the end of the day." He would not feel sympathy for you if you died. I doubt any of the Important People eulogizing him today will spare a thought for Anthony Smith, a troubled young man whose death Ford may have directly or indirectly hastened.

Ford the man doesn't matter. His family, once they get over their grief, is likely well rid of him, though I understand that the death of an abusive spouse or parent is emotionally fraught and complex. Not for nothing did I dub him the Honourable Wife Beater. I'm sure that Toronto's Finest are relieved to not have to answer any more domestic disturbance calls. But even if he'd been the loving family man the press is longing to claim he was, private sadness is not what I'm interested in.

Ford the politician, conversely, represented all that is reprehensible and destructive in modern politics. He exemplified the new paradigm where (assuming you are rich, and white, and male), scandal does not affect you, and the way to address allegations of illegal or immoral activity is just to push past them and insult those who would hold you accountable. He was the prototypical blustering showman, shouting over the opposition instead of engaging them in a fact-based debate, a bully who dragged the level of discourse to the lowest common denominator. He was a white millionaire who claimed to be an everyman you could have a beer with, showing up at TCHC buildings that he fought to defund and demolish and pretending to fix the broken lightbulbs. He hurled racial epithets at the people who supported him the most passionately, stoking the economic masochism of the underclass he despised. Despite a rampantly ideological agenda of austerity, he contributed, more than any other political figure I can name, to the depoliticization of the discourse, taking the neoconservative line as basic fact and reducing the political spectrum to mere identity politics.

He was a politician who hated politicians, and whatever you can say about politicians as a whole, the only thing that's worse than a politician is a fucking CEO. Ford would replace the Citizen with the Consumer, replace the living, breathing, thriving, shitting, dancing organism of the city to a prosaic transaction. Cut here, trim there, until all that remains is a hollowed out shell where the taxpayer gets in his SUV, drives in traffic to a job that doesn't pay enough, goes home, and experiences nothing of community, of urbanity, of interdependence.

He was the scion of a political dynasty, and if there's one thing I loathe, it's a political dynasty. You shouldn't get to be ushered into office because your father was, because your name has brand recognition. It's indecent.

He was a misogynist, a racist, and a homophobe. This got lost, because he was also a drug addict, but it's far more important than the fact that he was a drug addict. Dress it up how you like, excuse it away by claiming that he was damaged, but the truth is that he had every privilege handed to him on a silver platter and used it to shit on those lower down the ladder. He may have come off as an entertaining clown to the rest of the world, but to Toronto, he ruined real lives and there's nothing funny about it.

So good fucking riddance. We're spared the further damage a living, physically healthy Rob Ford might have inflicted on our collective lives. I didn't get my wish to see him go down in flames, at last convicted of the many crimes that would have brought him down had he not been a rich white guy, and I'm a little disappointed that I never got to hear a resignation speech that was simply, "THE ARISTOCRATS!" But if there's any justice, they'll name an LRT out to Scarborough after him, or the new Bloor bike lanes, and the city can breathe a sigh of relief, and once again become a place worth living in.

P.S. Cops attacked the Black Lives Matter camp last night, set up to protest the lack of charges in the police murder of Andrew Loku, a mentally ill black man. If you actually care about what goes on in Toronto, you can donate to Black Lives Matter - Toronto through Interac at (question: what chapter answer: toronto). They also need donations of blankets, cardboard boxes, hot drinks, gloves, hand warmers, and "anything to keep protestors warm."

* Except that Doug Ford used to hold press conferences at Princess Margaret, disrupting the lives and treatments of other people suffering from cancer, so it's not like having cancer made him less repulsive or anything.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (clean all the things)
Imagine you've fled unthinkable horror in your homeland to journey over 9000 km to a country where you don't speak the language. You have nothing but what you've managed to carry with you. Maybe you're living in a hotel, maybe some stranger's basement. You are desperately trying to get your life back together.

After all that, would you want to be reading Twilight?

(Fun fact: Twilight is the most frequently donated book.)

If you don't want used binders and notebooks that your kid has scribbled on with half the pages missing, why would a Syrian refugee?

Same with rusty kitchen stuff.

No one wants your dictionaries. Paper dictionaries are obsolete. That goes for people who donate to my Little Free Library too, by the way.

If you donate dirty kitchenware and appliances and don't wash them, I am silently judging you out loud to the other volunteers. Have some self-respect.

How about that trend for making French onion soup in French onion soup bowls? It was kind of weird, wasn't it? I see we all regret that phase of our lives. I'm craving French onion soup, though.

Unlike the refugees, you allegedly speak English. Why not read what we do and do not accept, and thus save a volunteer (i.e., me) a trip to Value Village in -30°C weather to drop off clothes we can't accept?

If at any point in this blanket's history your baby has puked on it, I guarantee that I will be able to smell it. I don't care how much you washed it. I don't care if no one else can smell it because they all have kids and are used to it. I still smell it and it will haunt my nightmares.

How can one man amass so many kitchen tongs? And yet it all came from the same guy. Are kitchen tong horders a thing?

People who donate pillows still in their packaging: You are my fucking heroes and I hope you get all the Valentine's Day orgasms you want.

People who donate anything still in its packaging, especially if there is a picture of the thing on the packaging: We love you and I hope you are showered with unicorns and puppies and love.

Whoever brought the red velvet and white chocolate cookies: I could fucking kiss you.

People who raid hotel rooms and donate the little bottles of shampoo: What is wrong with you? Reconsider your life choices.

Companies who give out water bottles with their logos on it: You know where those things end up, right?

The moral of the story: Don't donate trash. You know what happens when you donate your trash to charity? Some volunteer has to throw it out or donate it to another, less discerning charity. And they'll probably throw it out. They might even need to pay for junk removal. So you are hurting the cause, not helping. You know the difference between useful things and garbage, so why not donate useful things and throw the garbage out yourself?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Behemoth (Master&Margarita))
Wanna hear a joke?

A mentally ill kid on an empty streetcar waves his dick and a knife around. The cops come to the scene. From a reasonable distance (i.e., not stabbing range) one of them shoots him three times, then stops to make sure that he's mostly dead, then shoots him five more times. The kid dies. The cop is convicted of attempted murder.

That's it. That's the joke.

I suppose we should be happy that he was convicted of anything at all, given that he was a cop and the prosecution reportedly bungled some things. The takeaway to cops, I suppose, is that if you're going to murder a kid, make sure you don't pause when you're blowing the shit out of him.

Can some more legalistic minds than mine find out if there has ever been a case of attempted murder where the victim died at the scene?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
I miss posting about municipal politics, so here's what's been happening.

Broadly speaking, we are in the post-ideological era. We had four years of an openly racist, homophobic, misogynist wife-beater, but then came in Tory as a breath of fresh air, concerned only with Sensible, Reasonable Management of City Resources, etc. Of course, there is nothing more ideological than those claiming to be apolitical, and Tory is Ford in a beige sweater-vest, without the crackpipe. Which is worse for the city, as he manages to be so boring that no one pays attention to the nefarious shit that he pulls.

I warned you this would happen.

Still, some interesting things have happened! Transit is still fucked. The entire subway system went down for an hour and a half yesterday. The whole fucking thing. Massive outcry did not happen because who cares about people who can't afford cars, right? There is no funding and no plan to modernize transit, so everything is just falling apart. Tory had this whole SmartTrack thing in the election that seems to be totally abandoned now, which is fine, because when you hear "smart" in a compound word, you know it ain't.

Then, Tory was forced to reverse his policy on carding. For those of you who haven't heard of this (I'm not sure it's a thing that happens elsewhere), carding is where the cops stop people and ask them questions and write down their information, regardless of whether or not they're a suspect in any crime. Did I say "people"? Sorry, I mean specifically "black people." That's why whenever a black person is killed, be it by cops or civilians, they are "known to police." Because the cops literally have a policy of building databases on people of colour who have done nothing wrong. This is an actual thing that happens here. Activists have been agitating against it for years, and recently a group of upstanding, prominent citizens called for an end to it. Tory was all for it until it became clear that supporting carding would lose him the next election, which goes to show that activism can actually get shit done. Don't think he reversed his position out of the goodness of his heart.

So, yay!

And then there's the Gardiner Expressway thing. This is an ugly, elevated expressway that is falling apart. Experts have advised tearing it down and replacing it with a boulevard to allow the land around it to be developed. This would increase commute times, though no one knows how much. The boulevard option is cheaper and will create more jobs, but Tory's platform was all TRAFFIC TRAFFIC TRAFFIC, so he is in favour of a hybrid option that will cost double but not affect commute times.

This is a very interesting bit of politics wrapped up in a very boring sounding debate about a highway. I didn't quite realize it until I was listening to Matt Galloway interviewing Tory this morning. Galloway brought up the number of jobs that could be created with the tear-it-down plan (through construction, new businesses, schools, etc.); Tory kept talking about the financial cost of longer commutes and lost productivity.

Lost in this discussion was the clarification that additional productivity and job creation are not the same thing. In fact, they're opposite—productivity is value stolen from workers. The average voter thinks more money in the economy=more jobs, but of course it matters whether that money is there because there are more workers earning a living or that the existing workers are creating more profit by working harder for capitalists. It was an interesting thing to wake up to for sure.

That interview led to me stumbling to this op-ed in the Star (I'd heretofore been ignoring the whole debate because I walk or take transit and it doesn't directly affect me). It's written by developers. And I agree with them. Do you know what a weird position it is for me to find myself nodding along and thinking, "yes, you greedy little shitbags, that does make economic sense." It's especially weird because developers have historically overridden political democracy in Toronto, and now that they're in the right, it will be fascinating to see whether they will again.

I'll point out again that we could have had a decent transit system and we could have had a progressive mayor who wasn't boring, but for the Toronto left's impotence and insularity and a political direction that is largely decided by those who do not actually choose to live here. Instead, we have far-right austerity in the guise of technocratic rationality, and it's both backward and dull.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
In a city that's one of the most diverse in the world, there is only one black councillor on city council.

By a complete coincidence, I'm sure guess who John Tory just dropped from the Police Services Board?

There's a bit more analysis of why in this article, but it basically amounts to changing the role of the board from nominally a civilian oversight committee to the happy co-accomplice in whatever the cops want to do. Now, it's not open season on black people here like it is in Missouri, but it's still pretty bad, and rumour is that Tory wants to continue the practice of carding (a.k.a., blatant racial profiling).

I was just listening to Tory on CBC and it was monumentally disgusting. Matt Galloway was actually giving him a slightly hard time about being too soft on our bloated and corrupt police department and asking who was going to speak for black youth on the Police Services Board, and Tory was like, "Well, I am! They trust me." Ugh.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Mistgeburt)
Is Rob Ford Still Mayor?

(Spoiler: No.)

Unfortunately, the guy we got is a whole lot worse. As I said in the Other Place: Things are going to be so much better under Tory! He's so different than Ford, such a moderate, and will really unite the city and listen to all voices...oh wait.

The Fords have successfully moved the municipal discourse so far to the right that Tory can now step in and act like there is not only no alternative, but there has never been an alternative. Congratulations, Toronto.

In other news, I need a new tag for writing about Toronto municipal politics, since I can no longer use "honourable wife-beating mayor" and "Gravydämmerung." I'm thinking "I Hate It Here," in honour of Transmetropolitan's Beast-to-Smiler trajectory, but I'm open to other suggestions.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)
I've slept it off, sobered up, and I think I'm willing to write a bit about the election.

Here are some things that John Tory, our mayor-elect, believes or has claimed to believe in the past*:Toronto, meet your sensible, nonpartisan, stable new mayor. Breathe a sigh of relief that the white millionaire who is slightly more open about his racist beliefs—albeit only slightly—lost to this white millionaire. Enjoy being governed by an inbred born-to-rule shitbird who views the mayoralty as a consolation prize that he deserves for having lost so many other elections.

Fuck this guy. Doug Ford would have been better. Doug Ford would have managed to get nothing done because everyone hates him, which is better than the slow strangulation that Tory will inflict on this city.

I mean, obviously Olivia Chow should have run. Her campaign manager is #gulagbait. There were so many opportunities and her team squandered nearly all of them. Her defeat is a massive failure of political strategy, it is true, but it is also a failure of the city's collective imagination to dream of a functional municipal government that doesn't resemble the detritus left after you drain a municipal swimming pool.

Okay, why did Chow lose? Why, in a city that resembles her much more than it resembles either of the shouty white bullies, was racist propaganda like this not challenged at all? Why did no one point out that Tory is as much a reactionary fanatic as Ford? Why was Ari Goldkind** the only one to point out Ford's antisemitism? What the everloving fuck?

Part of it is that the campaign did not take into account Tory as a serious candidate—which I kind of understand, as I didn't either, but this is why I'm a teacher and not a political strategist—probably because he always loses elections. That's what he's for. He fails at things. So it went after Ford's populism (Rob, not Doug), and softened the edges of Olivia's actual politics, losing her much of the left. She failed to attack hard enough on economic issues and the elitism and privilege of her two opponents. They were trying to repeat the success of Miller, except that Miller was a six-foot-something loud British guy who could shout over his opponent, which is not something that Olivia can do. She failed, like every downtown leftist since amalgamation, to appeal to or understand the suburbs.†

But it's not just her. A shitty campaign does not negate the decades of hard work she has put into the city; she ought to have won on name-recognition alone. The city—my city—fucked up too.

Think back to four years ago, when the Honourable Wife-Beater was first elected. People asked me to explain why, and I said it was kind of like when you have a fight with your boyfriend and you go out and get drunk and pick up some guy and have sex you can't remember and wake up in a strange bed and he won't get off your arm. Now, if you'll permit me another metaphor, it's like when Angel and Buffy broke up, and Buffy went for Riley, who seemed really normal and stable by comparison, even though he didn't actually have anything in common with her, or understand her or her needs and made everything all about himself and then cheated on her with vampire prostitutes. It might have looked superficially understandable but it made for a very boring season of TV. Alas, we face much worse than either a hungover morning of regret and shame or having our collective hearts broken via vampire prostitutes—we face the erosion of what little common good we have left in this city.

One thing that I don't think the Fords, and the far-right in general, are given enough credit for is their ability to not only haul the Overton Window off the deep end, but convince everyone that This Is The Way It Has Always Been. Toronto, after four years of Ford, does not remember having a mayor who had an actual vision and who was not a crack-smoking, wife-beating international laughingstock. They think they have always been taxpayers and customers rather than citizens, atomized individuals with no stake in the common good. Racism has always been part of the discourse; we openly get to disparage people of colour, so the guy who only deals in dogwhistle racism is now a moderate. Islamophobic graffiti? Neo-Nazis and rapists allowed to openly spew hate in their campaigns? Blatant violation of election rules? We're used to it now. This is Toronto politics. This is why Tory comes off as the lesser evil when he's the far more insidious danger.

And "progressives," or at least self-defined liberals and moderates, bought it hook, line, and sinker. This guy can decide to reinvent himself and it's only us fringe, loony leftists bringing up his past. Most of the city voted for Tory; most of the city does not vote Conservative in provincial or federal elections. It's as though if you're rich enough, white enough, and shout loud enough, people will believe anything.

Oh, and Tory is bland. Squeaky clean. He'll sell the city off, piece by piece, to his corporate cronies, and it's not even going to be fun to blog about.

As I'm reading this, he's now claiming that he'll include Chow and Soknacki (whom I also like) on his transition team. I'm dubious that this is a good move for either of them and I do not trust anyone who claims to be above left and right, or who talks about unity without any grounding in reality as to why the divisions that exist are there. As he tries to play the Great Unifier, just remember that deep in your heart, like all Tories, he looks down on you and thinks you're scum.

* I do not know what John Tory actually believes. I am of the opinion that he is a robot assembled by the Conservative Party and programmed to say stupid bullshit.

** I like Ari Goldkind. He should run again. I didn't vote for him because he didn't have a chance, but I was impressed with his campaign.

† This should not be read as me endorsing de-amalgamation. I think it was a bad thing but can't be undone.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
I've been remiss in my coverage of Toronto municipal politics lately. So here's my nuanced and insightful commentary:

google logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logogoogle logo

Seriously, I'm going to be so embarrassed for my city if it's Brother Doug or John Snorey, and Chow doesn't have a chance because she's sensible and a woman of colour. I mean, I voted for her anyway, but this should have been a cakewalk for her.

And there is a sign for Dmitri the Lover around the block from me. So either Dmitri the Lover lives around the block from me, or more than one person is voting for him. I bet he'll be mayor in four years; we seem to be keen on electing oozing canisters of liquid shit in this city.
sabotabby: (books!)
41lAXYWE5yL._SL500_AA300_The story here is that I'm friends with Michael Laxer (long-time Toronto politico, currently running for city councillor in Ward 6 in the heart of Ford Nation), who owns Community Roots, the only independent bookstore in Etobicoke. He occasionally gets strange books coming into the shop, one of which was Firebrand by Rosemary Aubert, a—cue giggling from all the long-time Toronto politicos—Harlequin romance about Toronto municipal politics. A bidding war for the bookstore's sole copy quickly ensued, and thus I had to settle for buying it off Amazon. Sorry!

I bought this book with the intention of writing a blog post about how ridiculous it was, loaded, of course, with references to our own famous mayor, only to...

...I'm sorry, dear readers, I absolutely loved it.

THE SHAME, I KNOW. I mean, it is not well-written. It is absolutely terrible. It has lines like, "Before her, all six-foot-four of him glowing in the soft window light, stood Mike, fully and gloriously a man. Hungry for her with a hunger that was obvious in every part of his huge body. She dropped her eyes, suddenly shy." It is not a good book at all.

Plus, like all Harlequins, it's completely unrealistic. I mean, who would believe that Toronto would elect a competent left-winger with a history of community activism and sensible policies?

(Some historical context: This book was published in 1986, before the amalgamation, so "City of Toronto" refers to the old, traditionally leftish city, excluding the right-leaning burbs. It was also only a few years since John Sewell, almost certainly the inspiration for the book's hero, was mayor.)

This said, I couldn't put it down and I need to write this review quickly, as I promised a co-worker I'd loan it to her.
Spoilers! )

Reading it now, as millionaire Doug Ford and millionaire John Tory go head-to-head in a contest of who can take the larger shit all over the city that I love, fills me with an almost painful nostalgia. Can you imagine someone elected to run the city who actually liked the city? I can't. Chow's in third place and Soknacki, the only person willing to raise the issue of the bloated police budget, was upstaged by Mike Tyson's drooling endorsement of Rob Ford. Toronto municipal politics is a hopeless cesspool, and the real romantic narrative of this book is about a time when, at least briefly, it was something better.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (hellraiser kitty)
It's official. As usual, the rhetoric is "optimistic" but we're all grownups who can see through the soundbites. The Honourable Wife-Beater is probably doomed. (Liposarcoma has a pretty decent 5-year survival rate, but other factors suggest that he is not long for the world.)

It's almost poetic. The guy, against all probability, wins an election to the mayoralty of Canada's largest city despite an impressive lack of qualifications or functioning frontal lobe, proceeds to take the most spectacular dump over municipal politics the world has ever seen, keeps on keepin' on through a fucking crack scandal, and may very well die before he ceases to be mayor. I couldn't make this shit up, people. Only in Toronto.

My earlier comments stand, but here are some helpful pointers to get through the next few days:

• Just because someone is going to die horribly doesn't mean they suddenly become a good person. Remember what Ford said about AIDS victims. Remember that he beat his wife. Remember that he doesn't care if he kills pedestrians. Remember Anthony Smith.

• No fat jokes. Fat jokes are never okay.

• Tasteless jokes are okay though. Even if it's someone nice, which he isn't.

• For the most part, cancer doesn't care whether you lead a healthy lifestyle or not.

• Cancer is neither a journey, a battle, or God's test of how strong you are. It's a bunch of cells mutating. That's it.

• Cancer does not care how hard you fight or how much you pray. Whether you wish the HWB well or not, he will live or die according to biology, medical science, and chance.

• There is, nor will there ever be, a restriction on speaking ill of the dead on this LJ. That goes for the dying too.

That's it. What a day it's been.


sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

October 2017

1234 567
151617 181920 21

Style Credit


RSS Atom
Page generated Oct. 22nd, 2017 04:34 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

Most Popular Tags