Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A metaphysical interview with Toronto city councillor Doug Ford

This afternoon I had the opportunity for a metaphysical interview with Doug Ford, Toronto city councillor and brother to the mayor, Rob Ford. You’ve probably heard of Rob Ford: his pro-taxpayer, anti-downtown-fatcat policies have been featured in news media all over the world, and Youtube is full of amateur videos of his impromptu political speeches.

You probably haven’t heard of a metaphysical interview. This is like a regular interview, but instead of talking to the person you speculate about what they might say. It made my office hours today a bit awkward:
Student: Can I talk to you about my essay?
Me: I’m not here. I’m in Toronto conducting an interview.
Student: If I drop your class now, can I still get my money back?
Anyway, I met with Councillor Ford on the driveway of his lovely Rexdale home. “I wanted to ask you,” I began, “about your comments on the Griffin Centre group home near here. You were quoted as saying that it ‘ruined the neighbourhood’.”
“It did,” the councillor replied. “We have autistic people – not children, but teenagers and adults – who are disturbing the peace, screaming at night and wandering around. We have police and ambulances showing up. It’s hurting property values.”
“But, Mr. Ford,” I said, “isn’t that insensitive? I mean, we don’t want to exclude people from the community just because they have developmental challenges.”
“I feel just as much for autistic kids as the next guy,” he said, and put his hand on his heart to prove it. “But this used to be a quiet, well-kept neighbourhood – neat and tidy, filled with respectable, hardworking people. Having people here with these problems ruins all that. Would you want to live next door to someone who's wandering around, screaming incoherently, and – ”
What he said next was drowned out by the sound of retching. At the end of a neighbouring house’s driveway, a enormously fat man vomited into a recycling bin. He stood up, wiped his mouth, and took a swig from a half-empty forty of Smirnoff. Then he staggered towards us. Doug Ford was still talking, but I couldn’t tear my eyes from the spectacle. The bulbous man wore an untucked dress shirt and tie, both spattered with bile. One of his shoes was missing. He glared at me with bloodshot eyes and growled, “What are you staring at?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied.
The fat man waved his bottle in the air and shouted, “I’m the mayor! Who the fuck are you?”
Before I could answer, he launched into a rambling speech in a fake accent. I certainly couldn’t understand enough to relate what he said, but I think I can summarize it thus:
Rob Ford’s Jamaican-style Jerk Sauce
1 anecdote
½ dozen swear words
3 cups of mock humility, badly faked
1 painfully embarrassing ethnic stereotype
Combine all ingredients and bring to a low boil. Slur until thoroughly mixed up. Serve while waving arms around as if fighting invisible ninjas.
The mayor then bellowed “WHAT’S UP?” and tried to slap his brother on the shoulder, but missed and nearly toppled over.
“Having a good time?” said Doug.
“Fuck yeah!” shouted the mayor, and took another drink, missing his lips and dribbling enough vodka down his shirt to make him a fire hazard.
“So, Rob,” said Doug very calmly, “I’m giving an interview here.”
The mayor jabbed me in the chest with his finger. “Bill Blair is a fucking asshole. And if you quote me on that I’ll ram my knee up your ass. No, fuck that. My knee is wider than your ass. How do you even sit down on that bony thing? You look like you’re fucking made of paper clips.” He wiggled the bottle. “Want a drink, bro?”
“No, thanks,” I replied. “I’m driving.”
“So was I until that tree cut me off.” He looked over his shoulder and yelled, “GET OFF THE ROAD, YOU LEAFY BITCH!”
I worried for a minute about offending someone that large and intoxicated, but even a metaphysical interviewer has to take some risks. “Mr. Ford, I thought you were in rehab.”
“Fuck rehab!” he shouted, and launched into an Amy Winehouse rendition. He aimed for the tune the way a fleet of B-52s would, destroying every note in a two-mile radius of the ones in the song. As he caterwauled he began to wander towards the house.
“My brother’s getting help for his substance abuse problems,” said Doug.
“I don’t have a drinking problem!” the mayor shouted. “I have a liberal media cocksuckers problem. I have a Bill Blair is a dickhead problem.”
“He’s making great progress,” said Doug. “He should be back to work in a couple weeks.”
“Taking care of business!” the mayor sang, so off-key that Randy Bachman could have sued him for slander. Lurching back and forth like a buoy in a hurricane, he managed to extricate a pipe from his pants pocket.
My eyes widened. “Is that a crack pipe?”
“No,” said Doug. “It’s a, um, kazoo.”
The mayor teetered back and forth, trying to get his lighter lit, the flame over the end of the pipe, and inhale, all at the same time. It was clearly a bit complicated for him.
“He’s smoking crack.” I turned to Doug. “He’s smoking crack on your driveway.”
“Technically, no,” Doug replied. “He’s got the pipe upside down.”
“He’s trying to smoke crack and failing. That’s even worse.”
“This stuff is shit!” the mayor yelled. “I want my five bucks back!” He threw the pipe in a hedge, then drained the bottle of vodka and tossed it too, laughing when it shattered against the neighbours' car. "I'm gonna get another drunk," said the mayor, and staggered up to his brother’s front door, where he stood swearing profusely and trying to figure out how to work the doorknob.
 “So,” I said to Councillor Ford, “where were we?”
“We were talking about respectable neighbourhoods,” he said. “About how people need to live in quiet, well-kept places, with good, hardworking people, and how group homes for autistic people ruin the property values.”

“Ah, yes,” I replied. “That's where we were.”

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