Blood, Sweat and Mayoralty
I have these, let’s call them episodes, where I think that there can be no nobler path in my life than that of politics. My most recent episode led me to the Toronto Mayoral Race and the George Smitherman campaign, or as I will affectionately refer to them; Smither’s Manz.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from attending a private girl’s school, watching the West Wing, the allegory of Plato’s cave and of course, reading Polonoscopy.com, it’s that all we know is image. All we care about is image. So when six mayoral candidates are sitting around a table in the CP24 news building eager to discuss issues, you want to make sure you’re standing outside. If you can still hear the debate going on then someone isn’t yelling, “How hot is George Smitherman right now?” loud enough.
You’ve got to be outside because the problem with most politicians is that their appearances hardly distinguish them. They range from fat and bald to gangly and grey-haired. There are women too…but to talk about their appearance would be downright sexist. The point is I thought moderator Stephen Ledrew was Rocco Rossi for about half an hour and when someone released a giant red balloon into the air I could have sworn Rob Ford was walking by.
If you know nothing about the campaign, you’ll learn all you need to know by standing among the campaigners:
Smither’s Manz are the biggest group. Made up of young, sassy women and old gay men, with some slimy Liberal party loyalists (like Sideburns) thrown in there and if that doesn’t tip you off that we’re the gay candidate, we’re all decked out in purple. We got there on time so we could crowd the window where the TV camera would be pointed and when one very passionate, very flustered, kid who was, I’m guessing ,16 started cramping our style with his “Where’s the money, George?” sign. Well… some stupid bitch we’ve totally never even seen before just came right out of nowhere, grabbed his sign and ran away with it. Ohmygodnoooooo (I know right? We’re bad)
Rossi’s campaign is a bunch of very serious middle-aged people, who really just aren’t having any fun at all. They hardly even laughed when that kid got his sign stolen (and potentially sand kicked in his face). They mostly stay to their side except one terrifying eastern-european woman who liked to push through our impenetrable purple wall at its weakest spot (under my armpit) to catch a glimpse of Ben Mulroney and ask what was going on.
The Ford people are…I don’t want to throw around the term fat-fuck, but they’re some substantially sized older men. They wear white t-shirts and yell at you, and are unapologetic when they reach over top of you to get their big signs on sticks in the window.
Joe Pantalone was represented by Joe’s-team-of-one. Literally, it was one guy, with his own homemade sign, just there to support the issues and not get in anyone’s face.
The Sarah Thomson campaign was, I dunno… present? There were some very friendly looking people wandering around in pretty blue shirts, but I kind of forgot they were there.
Needless to say, as the candidates inside got their heads polished and their faces mopped, the scene on the street was full-tilt warfare. These people are not fucking around. Within minutes of arriving I was recruited to the front lines. There weren’t enough volunteers to fully cover the window so that no one else could get any camera time. About a minute later a really tall Smither Manz came up. He was apologetic as he squeezed in beside me, “Sorry, they said they needed a tall person to cover the corner,” and there we stood for the duration of the evening, instilled with a looming paranoia that somehow the Rossi campaign was planning to commandeer our sweet window space if we left the slightest crack.
At one point, half the Ford team waddled across the street to gain new ground. Sideburns turned to me, “this isn’t good” he said solemnly, not unlike a five star general would say “Mr. President, there’s troop movement at the border”. There was a brief silence on the north side of Queen St. as Smither’s Manz gasped at the political strategy invoked by their rivals. In this momentary reprieve we caught a snippet of the debate coming from the speakers overhead. It was Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone proclaiming that we should all just dip to the cottage during the G20 summit, ‘cause you know there’s nothing to see here. A comment so inane it caused me to agree with both Rocco Rossi and this morning’s Toronto Sun. Joe’s-team-of-one was standing next to me, “that’s really stupid” he said. I peered in through the glass to make sure I wasn’t mistaken before I said, “I think that was your guy”. “Really?” he said, “I hope not, ‘cause that was stupid”. But the moment had passed. The two tonnes of bald testosterone in the form of Rob Ford support were beginning to arrange themselves with their signs into the clear message of Maory Frod (which I can only manage is some kind of inauthentic Kiwi native). A few rearrangements and the addition of the person holding up the 4 (who had, no doubt, stopped for a hotdog or to fight someone) clarified the message but the damage was done.
Every battle lost is an opportunity to recognize our weaknesses and strengthen our forces. So mark my words: I swear to God if the Smitherman campaign doesn’t have signs on sticks at the next debate I will eat my computer.
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