One of the greatest bands on Earth at the present time

Fidlar. They’re opening for the Pixies (sigh) at Massey Hall (barf) tonight.

The Pixies make me sigh because they’re been phoning it in since reuniting after saying they’d never, ever reunite.  And Massey Hall makes me barf because it’s where boring old fart bands play.

That said, I’ll be there tonight under protest, but only for Fidlar.  I’ll be the one tearing the seats out and trying to start a riot.

I am male, hear me roar. Or, not.


Interesting survey over on J-Source about gender, age and whatnot of Canadian newspaper columnists. I was one of the ones who responded to their survey, here. Their data sheet is here.

If their point is that media voices should be as diverse as the country they serve, I’d agree with that. And our failure to do that may help to explain some of this.

What thinkest thou, smart wk dot come readers?



In Tuesday’s Sun: keep talkin’ in the free world

OTTAWA — So a rock star popped up in Toronto on the weekend and pronounced on politics. People noticed. Some got upset, some were happy.

Happens all the time. This time, it was Neil Young, who was raised in Winnipeg but hasn’t lived in Canada for half a century. Other times, it’s been movie stars or TV stars or other kinds of celebrities — Pamela Anderson on the seal hunt, Robert Redford on the oilsands, Ted Nugent on guns, and so on.

Doesn’t just happen in Canada, either. Last week, one of the biggest stories in the world was about the North Korea visit of former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman, who is stupid, saying stupid stuff. He later apologized for his stupidity.

As a musician — I’ve been playing in punk bands, badly, for decades — I have never really understood why anyone could be persuaded to listen to anything we say. We’re musicians, we play music. (Again, in my case, badly. But I remain proud I could take a beer bottle full in the chest and not miss a beat.)

Why does anyone care what movie stars and rock stars have to say about politics? Well, for starters, because stars get more attention than mere politicians do. They’re better looking than politicians are and they’re way more interesting.

There’s also the monkey on a bicycle factor. We know, and the monkey probably knows, that it shouldn’t be riding a bicycle. But we cannot tear our eyes away, and we await the (perhaps inevitable) disaster.

Alice Cooper, who according to urban legend bit the head off of a chicken — and who later went on to regularly play golf with assorted Republican notables — is contemptuous of rock stars who have political views. He has sneered at past efforts of REM, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp to unseat George W. Bush.

Go ask Alice, you might say, and Canadian Press did. Said Alice: “To me, that’s treason. I call it treason against rock ’n’ roll because rock is the antithesis of politics.

“Rock should never be in bed with politics.”

Warming to his subject, Alice said: “If you’re listening to a rock star in order to get information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are.”

But here we are, listening to Alice — a registered Republican and a self-described moron — tell us who we shouldn’t be listening to. I don’t think anyone should listen to anything Alice does. Musically or otherwise.

He is right, however, when he seems to suggest that celebrities aren’t oracles for complex political theory. They are, after all, celebrities. But Toronto Mayor Rob Ford isn’t the sharpest knife in the political drawer, either, and he got himself elected mayor of one of the biggest cities in the world, didn’t he? High IQs and politics are often mutually inconsistent concepts.

Sure, Neil Young was a jerk for likening the oilsands to Hiroshima. That kind of exaggerated rhetoric is silly, and likely offensive to the families of the tens of thousands of people who were slaughtered there on a single day in August 1945.

But Young is entitled — as is Springsteen, Bono and many others — to offer an opinion, even an exaggerated one, on politics. Sometimes, some good comes of such things.

So, Neil Young, say what you want. It is welcome, even if it isn’t always going to be right.

And, if you can be persuaded to return home, you’d have a pretty good shot at becoming Toronto’s next mayor, if you’re so inclined.

My pal Butts

Here. Nice read.

Having worked elbow-to-elbow with Gerald on Dalton’s big victories in 2003, 2007 and 2011, I nodded my head at the assessments of his smarts. Gerald’s smart guy, Cons.

I also laughed when I read the story revealed he didn’t call back. Gerald knows – as smart advisors always do – when they write glowing profiles about you, it never usually ends well.

Justin is lucky to have him.

We get letters: “I am an economist”

Oh, and Warren should join the Taliban.

Just proof that fucking idiots are not exclusively on the Right:

From: daniel stevelman
Date: January 12, 2014 at 2:26:07 PM EST
To: “”
Subject: prostitution
Reply-To: daniel stevelman

didn’t think you could outdo yourself in your ignorance, but you are denying females and others free choice?, look up the definition of rape, it’s forced, not consensual, you should join the Taliban, you definitely think like them..dan ps. read studies on the economics of prostitution, economics of drugs etc. since I am an economist

In Sunday’s Sun: it isn’t sex – it’s bought rape

It isn’t the world’s oldest profession. The world’s oldest profession is apathy.

Those who, when confronted with wrongdoing or injustice or abuse – and prostitution can be any one of those things, or all of them – just, you know, shrug. “It’s been around for a long time,” they say. “There’s got to be a good reason for that.” And then they go back to sleep.

That recent Supreme Court of Canada decision is just that: apathetic (and pathetic). It’s dressed up in all sorts of legal finery, and high-sounding words, to be sure. But, when distilled down to its base elements, it just sort of gives up. Young girls being coerced into trafficking their bodies? Women being traded like commodities, and beaten and battered and worse? Innocence being lost to dirty old men, who care nothing for anything, except their own grimy desires?

Who cares.

The highest court in the land doesn’t certainly doesn’t seem to care. If you pore through their 132-page collective shrug, their reasoning effectively comes down to this: prostitution has been around a long time, so deal with it. In the very first sentence on the very first page, no less than the Chief Justice intones: “It is not a crime to sell sex for money.”

And it goes on from there. But, as in a lot of legal reasoning, the problem lies with definitions. Is what is being sold really, truly “sex”?

Not according to a lot of people who would know. The U.S. National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children – who do, dare I say it, God’s work – think that what is being bought and sold isn’t actually “sex.” It’s something else. Says the Centre’s experts: “Prostitution creates a setting whereby crimes against women and children becomes a commercial enterprise.”

When a pimp, or circumstances, compels a girl to sell her body, that isn’t sex, says the Centre. When forced to submit “to sexual demands as a condition of employment, it is exploitation, sexual harassment, or rape – acts that are based on the prostitute’s compliance rather than her consent.” Noticeably absent from the Centre’s assessment: that it is, in the benign language of the high court, “sex for money.” It’s a lot, lot less than that.

Unconvinced? Melissa Farley is a Ph.D, and the founding direction of Prostitution Research and Education. She doesn’t really define it as “sex,” either. Nor is she as indifferent to prostitution as Canada’s highest court seems to be. “Prostitution is extremely dangerous for women,” she says. “Homicide is a frequent cause of death.”

Farley goes on: “It is a cruel lie to suggest that decriminalization or legalization will protect anyone in prostitution. It is not possible to protect someone whose source of income exposes them to the likelihood of being raped on average once a week.”

Finally, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – because, really, that is what we are talking about, trafficking in human beings – doesn’t define this age-old commercial enterprise as “sex” either. They are much more blunt, and therefore (to me) closer to the truth.

“Prostitution cannot eliminate rape when it is itself bought rape. The connection between rape and prostitution is that women are turned into objects for men’s sexual use; they can be either bought or stolen. A culture in which women can be bought for use is one in which rape flourishes.”

So say the experts – so say former prostitutes themselves. It isn’t “sex.” It is a business. It is coerced submission. It is bought rape.

There are many, many people who – when confronted with a problem that has been around for a long time – say that it cannot be solved. Drug addiction, or prostitution, or myriad other social problems have been around for centuries, they say. So, ipso facto, they can’t be eliminated.

That may be. And it may be that those like me – a left-leaning type, who aspires to a better and more equal world for his daughter – will ultimately lose this debate.

But don’t you think it is better to try and make things better, than to be apathetic, and to simply shrug?

Neo-Nazi banker’s lies follow him to the grave

The squabble over the deceased Nazi’s possessions comes as no surprise to lawyer and commentator Warren Kinsella, a QMI Agency columnist who’s written books about Canada’s far right.

He said Nazis “are telling a lie about history about the Holocaust and about race and about Jews and gays and people that they hate. “They tell lies about all of it, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that they get convoluted and dishonest about the disposition of their personal affairs,” he said.

Kinsella, who’s written about Weiche, said the London Nazi was seen as “the bankroller of the far right in Ontario.”

The paranoia and distrust in the Nazi movement often extends to their inner circle. “Basically, they try to continue their hateful life in death,” Kinsella said.