Monthly Archive: March 2014

The passing of Peter Porcal

He called me professore, which I wasn’t. I called him dottore, which he was. Peter Porcal died last Friday, March 28, 2014. I’m guessing he was somewhere in his late 60s. Even when Sandy and I first met him in Florence in 2004, he wasn’t in the best of health. Too many years of walking Tuscany with his “children,” as he liked to call his students, had taken a terrible toll on his knees. I wasn’t the only one with a nickname. There was a young man who could have been a putto, he was so pretty. To his discredit,...

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The eye of the artist

The opening last night of the latest works by Michael Awad was spectacular. A dozen pieces at the Nicholas Metivier Gallery feature a range of urban sites and events from house boats in Britain to the lineup for turkeys at Honest Ed’s, all done in Awad’s inimitable cinematic style of horizontal free-frame motion. The colours in Caribbean Parade could be brush work in oils. Some of the works in the solo exhibit called The Entire City Project 2014 are the product of a weekend of photography, plus untold hours to arrange the results on 20 square feet of framed display....

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Gender politics

Alison Redford’s departure as premier of Alberta was predictable. Of course, she brought it upon herself by charging personal items to official expenses. But even without such behaviour, the good old boys would have done her in at some point. It’s not easy being a woman in charge of men, least of all Alberta Conservatives. Little has changed in the macho Alberta legislature since the 1970s when Peter Lougheed and Don Getty and others who’d all played football together were in charge. As recently as last summer a new world order had supposedly arrived; there were six female premiers. Then...

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Going home

A man I know, who was born in the Caribbean but has lived in Canada since he was eleven, was telling me about his recent Caribbean holiday. He said that the wind on his cheek and the smell of the sea felt like home to him.  A few days later I was shovelling my driveway. The snow had stopped, the stars were sparking in the night-time sky and tires squeaked as cars passed by. I thought: Winter is home to me. Toronto has had the sort of winter we used to have in Guelph when I was a boy. I...

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Speakeasy

Everybody’s got their shirt in a knot about a speech Peter Mansbridge gave to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. I know everybody’s got their shirt in a knot because a lot of journalists are telling me so. Of course, it’s only other journalists who have their shirts in a knot, but it’s news because Mansbridge was paid, do you hear me, paid, to speak to this group. Because he took their money, he’s supposedly now in bed with those dirty hucksters who run the oil sands and can’t possible read the news anymore because he’s tainted goods.  Maybe the...

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It’s the mayors, stupid

I won’t be watching Rob Ford on Jimmy Kimmel tonight but I can imagine how it will go. As usual, Ford will mistake notoriety for renown and a high-profile appearance with appreciation. Even so, I don’t know why we’re all so fussed about our current mayor, he joins a long line of officeholders who accomplished little and didn’t go on to do much after they left. My memory of modern mayors begins with Nathan Phillips (1955-1962). The best story about him is what he missed. In the dying hours of his time as Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker told his staff...

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