Mel Lastman made racist remarks, fathered love children, and threatened reporters—and Toronto loved him.
The Inspiring Story of How One Food Bank Got Healthy
September 16, 2013
May 1998. The Stop, a small food bank in Toronto, doesn’t open for another hour but already a lineup has formed at the double-steel doors opening into a back street. I nod at one of the guys, someone I recognize, and he looks back at me hopefully.
Even Before the Crack-Smoking Videotape, Rob Ford was the Most American Politician in Canada
May 17, 2013
Even before the scandal involving a video of his allegedly smoking crack, Toronto's mayor was the most American-style politician in Canada
Worthwhile Canadian Coolness
November 09, 2012
Canada, long considered the U.S.'s boring, denim-wearing neighbor, has become America's leading purveyor of cool.
This is a review of Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet, and the calendar pretext is that the movie will play at the San Francisco Film Festival on April 24 and 27. Not all of you will be able to get to the Bay Area, but, since last August, The Loneliest Planet has already played at the festivals of Locarno, Toronto, New York, London and the AFI. Still, it has not “opened” yet. That is promised for this August, albeit on a limited basis. What does limited mean? Well, Loktev and the rest of us might bear in mind what happened with her previous film, her first, Day Night Day Night.
Blame Canada! The Right-Wing Menace To Our North.
December 19, 2011
A few weeks ago, a wolf in sheep’s clothing prowled the White House lawn. The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Washington, D.C. to sign a boring trade agreement with President Barack Obama. The details of the deal aren’t important—they’re so staid and sensible that I’ll leave it to the reader with a masochistic bent, or severe insomnia, to Google them. A quick glance at their mildly laudable contents will probably reinforce the American predilection to view Canada as a sleepy enclave of bureaucratic good government and tepidly left-wing policies.
A Tale of Two Cities
September 28, 2011
Last fall, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed decided to use vacation days he had saved up in his eight years as a regional compliance specialist in the Buffalo office of the New York Department of Transportation. He told his co-workers he would be traveling to Mogadishu—the city he was born in, but had not seen since 1985—and that he would return in three weeks. What he didn’t reveal was the purpose of the trip: to interview to become prime minister of Somalia. Mohamed, who is known among Somalis by the nickname Farmaajo, got the job.
The Freedom to Bumble
July 13, 2011
The Free World By David Bezmozgis (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 356 pp., $26) To call a short-story writer Chekhovian is among the worst of the book reviewer’s clichés, a lazy shorthand that no longer means anything other than that the person writes very good short stories. But what is often forgotten amid the contemporary adulation of Chekhov as the master of the form—in fact he was the master only of a certain kind of short tale—is that, after a couple of early attempts, he declined to write novels.
I initially read Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 while squirreled away in a Toronto hotel room during the 1997 Modern Language Association (MLA) convention. It was December, and I had just finished my first semester teaching English at West Point. Heller’s novel was a revelation—an outrageous fiction opening a window onto the various paradoxes and pathologies that characterize institutional cultures everywhere. More important, it helped me to make sense of my recent introduction to military culture. Heller’s glorious caricatures—ex-P.F.C.