Anything to declare?

It’s alright for Donald Trump to call Justin Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest.” It’s even OK for the president to threaten that there will be no NAFTA. But to claim that Canadians smuggle shoes into Canada that they’ve bought in the U.S., now that’s really hitting close to home. Because it’s true. It is our metier. You can always tell the Canadians in the shopping mall parking lot. They take everything out of the J.C. Penney bags and dump the empty bags in the garbage can. Next, they clip off the price tags, scuff the shoes, and stuff the other purchases into the...

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Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

The first sign what a Doug Ford administration would look like came when the premier-elect decided he would forgo protocol and speak first after polls closed on election night. Rather than be gracious and allow Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath to thank supporters and concede defeat, he played Bigfoot, and launched into his televised remarks less than a minute after Wynne had begun hers. He knew exactly what he was doing; it was a graceless gesture. The second scary thought is that a key advisor to the Ford administration will be former premier Mike Harris. When Harris was in power, he treated Toronto...

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Lessons from ancient lore

Few could pull it off. Stephen Fry’s one-man performance in Mythos at the Shaw Festival is beyond entertaining, it is spell-binding. In this world premiere of a trilogy based on his book Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, published last year, we saw Heroes. The other two offerings are Gods and Men. Alone on the stage, sitting in an arm chair, speaking without notes for two hours, Fry manages – for the most part – to keep the audience’s rapt attention. In the opening half-hour when Fry demonstrated his encyclopedic knowledge of Greek myths, I have to admit I got a bit of a...

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Statues and a bust

At this time of year, the portion of the University of Toronto campus near me is a beautiful place to walk. Beds of daffodils and tulips bloomed in abundance followed by pungent lilacs, flowering crab and the tall candles of horse chestnut trees. Amid the floral splendour around St. Michael’s and Victoria College are representations and remembrances of people from the university’s past who were global figures in their fields. Here one finds the coachhouse that beginning in 1968 served as the centre for Marshall McLuhan’s program in culture and technology. McLuhan’s foresight on so many topics was daunting. Nearby is one of...

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Healing the frazzled mind

You remember Yoko Ono? The one who broke up The Beatles? Or rode the death of John Lennon to fame? But what people forget is that Yoko Ono was an accomplished artist long before meeting Lennon in 1966. To paraphrase The Ballad of John and Yoko, “You know you didn’t even give her a chance.” Yoko Ono’s exhibition at Toronto’s Gardiner Museum, The Riverbed, is fun, interactive, and makes you think. The room is divided into three parts. The first is a scree of rocks collected from the Colorado River, hundreds of them, weighing three tons in all. But they’re...

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The ears have it

I was riding in a car recently with a young driver who might have been in his early 20s. Rap was playing. He asked, “Do you like this music?” “No,” I said, “they finally invented a music I don’t like.” He quickly switched to Sirius channels from the 70s and 80s featuring songs from artists like Bob Seger and Gary Wright. I was a happy man, transported into the past via streaming music. If such technology doesn’t appeal, you’ll be interested to know that there is likely a group of ancient rockers playing a concert in a venue near you. Among the multiple touring bands...

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Happy warriors

When I recently learned that Centre Block on Parliament Hill was closing for ten years of renovation, I knew I had to take a nostalgia tour. Ten years could mean fifteen, or even twenty. If it took that long, I’d be in my nineties and might not be around for the outcome. I wanted to discover what was the same and what had changed since I worked on the Hill in the 1970s. Because I’d been press secretary for the Leader of the Opposition, I first wanted to look at Room 409-S. So I wrote to the current occupant, the Honourable Andrew Scheer, and received a...

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Choiceless choices

A couple of years ago, when I got sick of the trouble Bell was having updating its Internet server, I fled to Rogers. The young man who signed me up assured me that Rogers had its own server and was constantly updating it. Of course, he was lying. Once aboard I could see that Rogers did not have its own server, they used Yahoo. I should have known one telecom was no better than another. My service has been OK, just the usual blips and hiccups, until a few days ago. Those of you with Rogers will have seen the pop-up declaring that Yahoo and AOL...

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