Saturday, August 27, 2011

Farewell Bon Jack & Montreal (Yes, Again)

As many of you are aware, Federal NDP leader Jack Layton died last Monday after a second bout with cancer. His state funeral was held today at Roy Thomson Hall in downtown Toronto. Overflow crowds spilled into the public square.

In a wonderfully written obituary in Xtra, writer Gerald Hannon reflects how, "w
ithout courage, or without love, politics is just a business." Layton understood this better than many politicians, but his great gift was how he managed to connect with the public one-on-one without striking a false note or being ham handed.

I met Layton several times while living in Yellowknife, NWT. During Federal election campaigns Layton and his wife, Olivia Chow, were frequently in the city campaigning with candidate (and now sitting MP) Dennis Bevington for the Western Arctic's lone seat. I remember a deliciously funny man who was quick on the draw intellectually. Layton was genuinely interested in what people had to say to him. Even when confronted with someone spouting nonsense he managed to disengage politely. The guy had so much class and humility woven into his character.

Jack was so down to Earth he would get drunk with you in a bar, no problem. I remember one night at the Elks Lodge where Layton and Chow were the co-hosts of a charity fundraiser for Bevington. One of the prizes was a private breakfast with Layton and Chow the following day. A small group of poor university student friends and myself entered the bidding, but were outbid by my former Scout leader. As the evening went on everyone became increasingly intoxicated, including Layton and Chow.

And they were loving every minute of it. Layton was genuinely enjoying himself; he loved spending his time with the people in that room and we loved him right back. Rest in peace Jack. You were a wonderful, intelligent, driven, giving and humble human being.

On another note, I was recently in Montreal again. I was there for the city's Divers/Cite Festival, which usually runs during the last week of July every year. This is truly the most beautiful city in all of Canada, although I may revise this opinion if I ever get around to spending some time in Quebec City. I marvel at how cheap the essentials of transit passes and rent are in Montreal compared to Toronto. $41 for a monthly transit pass , and rents so reasonable one could easily find a comfortable space for $400 to $500 per month with amenities included. You don't even want to get me started on all the hot students that are
everywhere. J' taime Montreal; I will see you again soon.

A final note, while in Montreal I had the pleasure of watching the last Harry Potter movie. I had already seen it at a late night screening in Toronto, but because I arrived late I was forced to crane my neck in a terribly uncomfortable way from the front row. But I digress.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is superb. The acting, special effects, dialogue, and voice work all come together to create not just a memorable finale to the series, but a damn fine movie standing on its own. Daniel Radcliffe really gets to work his dramatic chops here. He makes Harry a thinking man's hero - you can see the anguish the character is going through just by how he squints or otherwise contorts his face. If you haven't already seen this movie, grab yourself a seat and a large popcorn before it disappears from theaters.


For anyone wondering about my last post, I think it's worth stating the Telephasic Workshop is over for all intents and purposes. Alas, it has phased out of reality. As one of its creators, I briefly lamented its passing. But I have new, bigger projects ahead...

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