We humans love our traditions. Some have persisted for valid reasons. Others? Well, I think on some level, we just enjoy the drug of empty repetition.

I’ve long been an eager proponent of the history, rituals, and heritage of the meal. But sometimes, we confuse the latter concepts. Some traditions are really just calcified habits – long grown irrelevant. To find their rightful place as a cultural and an economic force, restaurants need to transcend the “tradition” of front-line staff, working for tips.

Now, I realize that I’m treading on dangerous ground. Thou shalt not criticize the 20% gratuity, especially here in La Belle Province. But after years of experiencing both sides of the gratuity system, the situation has become as clear as day to me.

The compensation methods, and hence the respect for and the job security of the server has not kept up with its rapid professionalization.

768px-Restaurant_Bill_1_2013-07-08
A restaurant bill in the US showing gratuity charges. Commensurate salaries and gratuity charges are common in many parts of Europe and Asia and have been shown to correlate to better overall wages, more job security, increased professional development opportunities and better employee engagement.

Despite a sharp hike in gastronomy’s cultural currency here in North America, we still cling to the quaint tradition of “tipping the service what it’s worth.”

There are college degrees for restaurant service now, for God’s sake, not to mention mixology, tableside prep and food service theory. (More on the odd tension of these degrees in a future article).

Artful dining and drinking are finally entrenched as legitimate “cultural fields” here in North America. The wealth of highly skilled servers has long outweighed the pretenders. It’s time to shake off the cobwebs and allow the industry to occupy its rightful place.

Where else are consummate professionals still legally encouraged to work for well under minimum wage?

The consumer’s echo? How unfair. I’ll just leave a bigger tip.

Well, I do that, and I used to get tips both big and small. That’s the problem. Instead of thinking beyond the issue, everyone just screams out to increase tips. We are perpetuating a system that is ultimately harmful to servers, restauranteurs, and eaters.

Why, in this one industry alone, are all the tried and tested responsibilities of the owner — adequate compensation for skilled employees, evaluation of roles and performance — deflected so heavily to the customer?

Tradition? Job instability, high turnover, and an uncomfortable and unnecessary dynamic for the client. That’s a tradition! An ineffable part of restaurant culture. But who is really winning from this tradition? And do we realize it’s predominantly a North American addiction?

I’m continually amazed by how rarely we compare the resto to similar cultural experiences. For some reason, we blindly accept that over-regulation and unquestioned traditions can utterly stifle in this one case — for no real reason other than the resistance to change. I’ve ranted in the past about how utterly counterproductive it is for this province to outlaw restaurant tickets, or to let people pay for reservations.

When it comes to working for spare coins, this old, logic-defying current prevails: Servers are inherently different from workers in cognate industries.

The problem is, that is just not true.

Perhaps we just feel guilty about being served food? Does it seem too much of a luxury to be compensated like a normal part of the economy? Try this offhand analogy: riding by plane is luxurious, yet I don’t hear of passengers being asked to invent a rate for the pilot once they’d safely landed.

Diners order give

Servers are not a special class. They are simply skilled people with jobs. Their skills and experience are as valid as any other profession.

Yet there is some weird mystique to the profession that fogs our view. The latter is one of the nasty byproducts of an empty tradition. It goes something like this: My server is akin to a street performer, s/he should have to surprise and delight me if I am to allow him/her to make ends meet.

No.

Firstly, such expectations are not consistent with those we have for other services, and other skilled professionals. Customer satisfaction, typically, revolves around the expectation that the person we deal with is competent — hopefully decent — in their role. In most situations, this is easily enough for us to expect someone to be fairly compensated.

Second, a server is also not a freelancer in a public place. A server is an employee generating revenue for a government-sanctioned business. The restaurant industry is one of the most heavily legislated in the province, which is about the the furthest thing (on the surface) from an emergent street economy.

Why not just start paying servers like everyone else, which is to say paying servers based on normal principles of compensation? I’m no expert on the latter, but from my own life, it usually involves one’s prior levels of experience and performance year over year.

Check Please

Some say serving is a sort of performance. Fine. Yet unless they are being defrauded or willingly gigging for free, even, say, actors and musicians know to a much higher degree than servers the terms of their contract before performing the actual work.

Because when it comes to a server’s core earnings (tips), the contract is wholly unkonwn. The real contract is not with their boss. It’s with their diner. And they do not have permission to interview diners before the first glass of water is brought to the table.

The problem, therefore, is not the tip itself. People should always tip in life if they feel compelled, and cash is only one (albeit efficient) vehicle to acknowledge one’s actions, or to express gratitude.

But regular wages — eventually salaries — are the only way to keep servers and restaurants stable and relevant in today’s economic and cultural sphere. In no one’s fantasy is the restaurant still an economic or cultural experiment. Rather, it’s an institution, for whom structural change is long overdue.

So how can restos afford to pay servers real wages? Maybe increase booze markup, add a service charge, hike menu prices; in other words, let us diners absorb the cost of a newly stable profession. Because in many ways, we already are.

Some celebrities reach a certain point in financial and career security that they can actually say what they think and not have to deal with the consequences. Jerry Seinfeld is now one of those people.

Last week, he received the CILO Award, an advertising award. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his agent, the companies he shilled for, and his wife, but then what he said was so honest and remarkable that if anyone else would have said it, their career would either be over or go down the Russell Brand route.

But this is Jerry Seinfeld, a man who can completely dissect the people in the room, call them what they are and still get applause and still be Jerry Seinfeld.

Watch and enjoy:

That’s it, it’s over. Bill Maher, we’re through.

If you’ve ever left a relationship because your partner’s bad traits start making it impossible to appreciate their good qualities, you know what I’m talking about. I don’t care if he’s funny, and spot on when it comes to things like pot and the militarization of police. He’s downright ignorant and bigoted when it comes to anything related to Islam.

I first saw signs of trouble in his film Religulous, when he poked fun at the Christian Right, criticized Muslims in a much harsher way. He pretty much gave Judaism a pass, except for some Orthodox Jews, and was critical of the State of Israel. I chalked it up to his fervent atheism, remembered that he really did a great job with the Christians and forgot about his unfortunate bias for a few years.

Fast forward to a few months ago. While Israel was indiscriminately bombing Gaza, Maher tweeted this:

As if glibly justifying a willful humanitarian catastrophe wasn’t enough bile for 140 characters, he managed to throw in a bit of misogyny too. I decided to watch his next HBO show Real Time, a show which, to be honest, I generally like.

This time, though, I was watching to see if he would apologize or defend the tweet. He didn’t even address it, but he had George Takei as a guest, and I adore George Takei.

I don’t ignore him enough to forget why I was watching, so I decided to be wary of Maher, applaud him when he deserves it, but be ready to call him out when he crosses the line again. I was giving him a third and final chance and he blew it.

Two weeks ago, he closed off his show, as he always does, with New Rules, a comedy bit that is usually quite insightful and funny. This time, though, it was neither.

He started off by making a point that it is easier to poke fun at Christianity than Islam in a Western context. Fine, it is. But Christianity is the dominant religion in the West, and the same point was much funnier when South Park made it.

If he had left it at that, then fine, boring but fine. But instead, he proceeded to make an argument that you can’t call yourself liberal if you don’t speak out against Islam. Here it is, if you want to watch for yourself:

Forget for a moment that no one made this guy the arbiter of what is liberal or progressive, just what does he mean by speaking out against Islam? If he’s referring to objecting to extremism, then fine, religious extremism is a bad thing regardless of the religion, but that’s not what he means.

The following week, the topic came up in the panel section of his show. It had to. The comments had caused such a stink that even Reza Aslan, noted religious scholar, progressive and practicing Muslim appeared on CNN and deflated the argument.

In the discussion on HBO, Maher made it clear that he was, in fact, talking about condemning the religion as a whole. Another panelist, Sam Harris, clarified even more by trying to argue that Islamic extremism wasn’t the exception but rather the rule.

I would have called bullshit and bigotry, but fortunately Ben Affleck did it for me. That’s right, an uber-mainstream, Hollywood A-lister who was on the show primarily to plug a movie called the host a racist. Give it a watch:

To paraphrase Michael Moore, one of Maher’s celebrity leftist friends: “When progressive scholars and Batman are against you, Mr. Maher, you just might be a bigot.” Moreover, you’re probably not a liberal at all.

What’s so liberal about telling people what they can and can’t believe? As an agnostic who also thinks, I find Maher’s comments offensive, and worse, ignorant.

When supposed progressive allies start sounding like the radical right they claim to despise, it’s time to move on.

No, I don’t want people to boycott HBO; I need my John Oliver and Game of Thrones as much as you. I also don’t think guests should refuse to appear on Real Time, as long as they make sure to call Maher out when needed, just like Affleck did.

I do think it’s time the progressive left realizes that a bigot is a bigot. Maher and his ilk aren’t allies, despite making good points from time to time.

Bill Maher, we’re done!

A few weeks ago, I sat down with David Boots to discuss his documentary Peace Park and the issue of legalizing skateboarding at the Park.

Melanie Renaud: How did you first end up at Peace Park?

David Boots: Back in the early 90s, I used to skate at the City Hall. There were about a hundred skaters there, all the time; so many, that the security guards would start kicking us out. As the City Hall was becoming more impossible to skate in, Peace Park was being built. Being perfect for skating  and more centrally located, we all started skateboarding there. It became the new meet up spot. Everyday I’d just go to Peace Park and skate with whomever was there. Then we’d go skate around the city.

Photo by Danny Stevenson
Photo by Danny Stevenson

Why did you decide to make the movie?

I originally got a video camera to put together a skate promo (video), which I did. But I also ended up filming what was going on around me at the park. The documentary basically evolved from my skate promo. I ended up filming for twelve years, compiling footage and doing years of research, before deciding it was time to put it all together.

After I received grants to finish the movie, I met Jessica McIntyre, who has [a bachelor’s degree] in History. Jessica dedicated a year of her life to help me write the movie. She would sleep on my couch four, five nights a week, and we’d work for 18 hours a day! Making the documentary was definitely a big learning experience. She taught me a lot about answering ‘why’s’ when telling a story. Thank you Jessica.

How many screenings have there been of Peace Park?

So far, the movie has been shown three times as work-in-progress, twice during the 40th anniversary of the Festival du nouveau cinéma, and once at the Canadian Centre of Architecture during their ABC : MTL exhibition, under the letter F for Film.

The finished version of Peace Park premiered in the Park last summer, as the closing show for the Société des arts technologiques’s (SAT) “Cinéma, DJ et Chefs invités“, which is a movie screening event that happens at the park, once a week. They helped me turn the movie premiere into an event. The premiere for The Peace Park – For the People included a skating contest, a Hip Hop reggae show, free food and more. We had over a thousand people show up, making it the most successful event ever to happen at the Park. It was awesome.

What is next for the movie?

Now that the movie is complete, the real work begins. It’s hard to get a movie out into the world, if you don’t want to just give it away. I submitted it to some festivals, but stopped, because the submission fees cost too much, and most festivals don’t even have the time to view your movie. I was speaking with some distributors, but I have since got distracted by the approval of a pilot project that [temporarily] legalized skateboarding in the park for the summer, so the promotion of the movie has been put on hold. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t get it out yet, because if we legalize skating the movie will require an epilogue.

Can you describe the details of the skateboarding pilot project at Peace Park? And was there talk about extending this to more locations in the city next summer, if all goes well?flame.thrower

Even though we’ve been skating in Peace Park since it’s construction, there has been a long history of skaters getting tickets in the park. Skateboarders were being jailed, and ticketed for over $600.

With the help of the SAT, I managed to get a pilot project approved by our mayor Denis Coderre. [The project] legalized skateboarding in Peace Park for seven days a week, from 10am to 9pm, from August 8th until September 26th.

This approval has given us the ability to organize four skate events in the park. So far we held three “Skate Jam and Tea Tuesdays“, which are skate contests, where we give out free tea, jam, and toast, with [the chance of winning] $500 in cash for tricks. The events were a huge success and they helped prove to the city that skate events are a fun and positive way to help animate the park. They also showed that skateboarding fits well into the Quartier des spectacles.

Now we are currently working on the last event: Peace Park’s 20th anniversary, which is next week on September 20th! For the event, I am putting together a video entitled “Peaceful Moments.” The video highlights the park’s most memorable moments, over the last two decades. Preceding the video will be a skate contest with over $2000 in cash to win, a free spaghetti dinner, a birthday cake, a Hip Hop reggae show, and more.

smokingOur goal with this event is to show, that the skater community doesn’t just want to legalize skateboarding, simply in it’s own interest, but that it wants to be a part of the greater community and help it. To do this, we will use Peace Park’s 20th anniversary, in order to help create awareness for the social problems at the park. We have invited social service organizations, who have been helping educate people on the services that are already available, to participate, to thank these organizations for their years of hard work, and most importantly to let the public know that an effort is being made to help improve the situation in the park. All of our actions this year aim to demonstrate the impact of skateboarding in the park, with the ultimate goal of legalizing skateboarding once and for all at the end of the pilot project.

Has there been more skateboarders at the park since it has become legal?

Yes, skaters have been returning to the park, but they haven’t overrun the park. Peace Park is actually pretty difficult to skate in, so it generally only attracts more advanced skaters, which limits the number that will skate there. And, skaters usually only get there around two, three in the afternoon and are gone before dusk.

You are very active on Instagram, why have you chosen this platform?

DB – I really like Instagram. A photo is worth a thousand words, or so they say.

It’s a really good social media tool for me, as opposed to twitter, because there is nothing I’m going to say in 140 characters that is worth anything, compared to me posting a photo, or even a video now. I also like that, when posting on Instagram, I can share it with all other social media platforms all at once. It is very simple to use. Social media has become such an important part of marketing and promoting whatever it is you’re doing. It’s also become an outlet for me in some ways. I think it’s cool because it helps me raise awareness for some of the social issues present in the streets of Montreal. Sometimes I feel a bit addicted to it: like if I don’t put pictures up on Instagram for a few days, I start feeling as if  I’m not being productive. I only have a few thousand followers, but I have been voted the number one Instagrammer in the city by Mook Life and MTL Blog, so I must be doing something right.

The 2014 edition of Otakuthon, Montreal’s annual anime convention, took place last weekend. FTB’s Gerry Lauzon was there with his camera and brings us a look at some of the best costumes and most interesting scenes both inside the Palais des congres and outside in the streets of Montreal’s Chinatown.

Click on the first image to start the slideshow:

Otakuthon Montreal 2014Otakuthon Montreal 2014

For more of Gerry’s photos, please check out his photostream on Flickr

We’re nearing beer o’clock. More specifically, we’re nearing the most highly-anticipated 60 hour stretch of conspicuous beer consumption of the year. It’s called the Mondial de la Bière.

Unlike your average worknight, where access to Porto Alegre or Farnham microbrews can be tricky to say the least, a quick métro ride will suffice to sample over 500 types of malted bev between June 11th and 15th.

mondialbiere_DSC_0824-500
Photo: © Olivier Bourget for the Mondial de la bière

570 is a big flashy number, kids, but here’s what I’m most excited about.

Over half those beers are making their Mondial premiere. Given the fact that each brewer generally wants to showcase as much product as possible every year, this is a big deal.

What does this mean? 269 beers that you’ve likely never tried before.

Where to start? From Noir et Blanc’s Abyss’ale to DDC’s rhubarb & grapefruit stout to a new 8% sparkling cider from McKeown, the newbie carte is vast. Some on the list have already premiered around town, such as Brutopia’s Dreadnought or McAuslan’s Double IPA. But that should not stop you from tasting a drab or two and learning more about how they make their beers–if only to make more informed decisions in the future.

Eat while you drink

While you may think that the only food you’re interested in is barley or wheat, you must recall that beer tasting goes smoother (and longer) if puncutated with just the right amount (and type) of nourishment

For the first time, I’m very happy to see the Mondial assuming some serious gastronomical duties. Whereas previous iterations have featured a smattering of stands with small nibbles, this year features 15 full-out food kiosques and an entire slate of tutorials on cooking with beer.

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Photo: © Olivier Bourget for the Mondial de la bière

So to that end—and possibly because, well, beer drinkers are such sturdy types—you’ll find stalls with deer smoked-meat (on panini) seal’s loins and even wild boar hamburgers. If yours is a fragile stomach, don’t worry, there’s plenty of traditional stuff like pretzels, sausages and meatballs.

How bout them apples?

500 varieties of malted bev can be rather overwhelming. But gluten doesn’t rule the day here. At the Mondial, “bière” is a loose term, and you’ll also find over 50 different ciders, meads, and other fruit-based options.

So save up your loonies this weekend ($1 gets you a drink ticket; most drinks cost 2-4 tickets). Next weeken will be a hoppin’. (Sorry)

Keep an eye out for our recap of the Mondial’s gastronomical offerings, as well as a Top 10 new alcoholic “découvertes”, right here in Food & Drunk!

Info

The Mondial de la bière runs from June 11-14 (10 a.m. to 11 p.m.) and June 15 (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) at the Palais des congrès.

Got suggestions of beers we should test? Tweet us at @forgetthebox and we’ll “do our best” to drink even more!

 

Cover photo by Martin Dougliamas via Flickr (cropped)

Has it really been five years? Yes, it has. A better question would be ‘has it only been five years?’

While my experience with Forget the Box since the site started back in 2009 may have felt like a whirlwind at times, it was also work. The kind of work where you get up in the morning, or in the middle of the afternoon after a particularly late night, happy to do it.

It’s the kind of work that you anticipate getting to while you’re at your paying gig. We’re all still volunteers, we’re doing it ’cause we love it and, at least in my case, because it’s important work.

Nothing compares to the joy of knowing you brought a story to light that no one else had, that you helped someone discover an artist that they didn’t know but now love or that you expressed an opinion people may have been thinking but no one had been writing and publishing for a broad audience. There’s also nothing like writing an April Fool’s post collaboratively, ridiculous to you and the team, but believable to some, who then question why they believed it.

ftb 5th anniversary fundraiser posterFTB is a labour of love that I share with between twenty and thirty people at any given time: fellow editors and writers, photographers, members of our board (we’re an incorporated non-profit) and behind the scenes people helping to promote and now monetize the site (we can’t be volunteers forever). Some have been here since the beginning, some for only a few months, some come and go and come back – they’re all a part of it.

For five years, we’ve also shared this experience with the people we’ve covered and our readers. You’re a part of FTB, too.

The one thing we haven’t been able to do yet is gather everyone who’s part of our extended group, or at least those that are in town and not otherwise occupied, in the same place. Well, that all changes Friday, May 16.

We’re turning five so we’re throwing a party at O Patro Vys along with our friends at Indie Montreal and you’re invited! We’ve also invited Po Lazarus, Seb Black, Eddie Paul, Ruff Talons and other surprise guests like Two-Year Carnival. I realize it’s not really a surprise when you tell people about it, but we do like to think outside of the box. In fact, we like to forget it entirely.

If you want to check out some great local bands and celebrate five years of FTB with us, then get your tickets in advance (and save yourself a bit of cash) and plan to expect the unexpected, as this seems like the type of party that may keep surprising you just like the fact that it’s only been five years of FTB surprises me.

Anyways, see you Friday!

The Forget the Box 5th Anniversary Spectacular takes place Friday, May 16 at O Patro Vys (356 Mont-Royal Est, metro Mont-Royal). Doors open at 8 p.m., $11.50 in advance via Indie Montreal or $14 at the door.

“There’s no place like a music festival to break out the raccoon hat,” was what some sarcastic fashion blogger said about me back in 2009, when I hit up Osheaga Music Festival wearing my Davy Crockett and not giving a shit.

Fast-forward five years and music festivals have become a vacuum of raccoon hats and fox tails, fanny packs and underwear-sized jean shorts; temporary small towns full of kids in huge sunglasses and flip flops, doing key bumps and screaming into cell-phones, drunk on self-importance as they clamour with their media passes, trash-talking the line up but still proud of the power their VIP pass wields…

Alright, alright, that’s just a surface glance: there are as many varying festivals as there are people in the world; the festival I’m specifically talking about right now is the North American Mega Music Festival: big, hip, slick, flashy, and heavily sponsored by huge corporations, offering the kids pretty much everything in the way of a fashionable expensive party full of over the top pop bands.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I ain’t hatin.’ I’ll be back at Osheaga this year (sans raccoon hat: I’m a leader, not a follower) and I’ve already scanned the list of bands; you know all about the thrill you get when you see the name of your favourite band crammed into the grocery list of musicians; there’s nothing like it.

rockfest 2013 crowd
The crowd at Rockfest 2013 (photo Robyn Smith)

Music festivals are just a bit of a curiosity, a phenomenon in anthropology, if you want. The Daily Trojan says “Music festivals…offer attendees both an escape from the struggles of everyday life and a sense of community that can feel almost magical. It is clear that the appeal of festivals is about more than just the music: successful festivals offer carefully crafted experiences that appeal directly to the basic human need for connection and community.”

And Montreal, specifically, is one of those rare, soulful cities that earns its summers; suddenly the streets are exploding with kids coming out of the woodwork and deciding they’ll never sleep again as long as they can still see the sun…

At music festivals, you’re given the illusion of being infinite (unless, of course, you’ve taken the bad acid) and everyone seems young and privileged and free.

If that’s what the music festivals are trying to sell me then, yeah, I’ll take some of that, because that’s the power of music; it sets you free.

Too cynical to believe that? Then go check out Santana’s performance of Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock when he’s like twenty years old: it’s his first time on LSD and he thinks his guitar has turned into a snake; he’s playing solos that are the stuff of melting faces. Tell me that’s not musical transcendence.

Everyone has an opinion or a critique of music festivals (usually just the kids who have never tried to organize, work at, or play a festival themselves) but a collective music experience does something for us: it gives us the chance to have a good fucking time.

Personally, I am looking forward to seeing Half Moon Run after a certain someone put on Dark Eyes for me at 4AM. It was just one of those times where the music and the experience matched perfectly…music is funny that way.

* Top image: Flaming Lips playing Osheaga in 2011, photo by Chris Zacchia

It’s time to bust out that emerald green t-shirt, the flask full of Jameson and the fake Irish brogue for the annual St Patrick’s Day parade this Sunday. While I’m not exactly sure how drinking so much green beer that you vomit green for days is an apt celebration of the national apostle of Ireland who is crediting with bringing Christianity to that country, it certainly does make for a hilarious day. Plus it’s pretty much the only day of the year when blatant public drinking won’t get you arrested, so it’s fun to take advantage of that while you can.

Montreal is home to the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade in Canada. While the holiday itself has been celebrated in our fair city since the 1750s, the parade was established in 1824 by lawyer Michael O’Sullivan. Since then, no amount of rain, sleet, hail or snow has stopped the bands from marching and floats from idling their way through downtown while happy people wave at the drunken crowds.  Oh yeah, and people bring their kids too. Kids and drunks, both easily excitable and dressed in tacky green Dollarama crap.

This year, there will be 18 floats, 15 marching bands from Quebec and Ontario, 130 groups and 2,500 participants in the parade, which draws thousands of spectators (only half of whom can actually remember seeing any of the parade).

st-pattys MTL2In an attempt to curb the level of public intoxication, Educa-alcool paired with parade organizers the United Irish Societies to create a “Survival Guide” booklet that was distributed to bars in the vicinity. The day of the parade is notorious for being one of the busiest for hospitals, particularly the nearby Montreal General Hospital, with up to half of their trauma cases being, rather unsurprisingly, from risky behavior while intoxicated.

If you want any hope of scoring a prime spot at one of the Irish pubs near the parade route like Irish Embassy, Grumpy’s or Hurley’s, your best bet is to get there as early as noon to beat the insane lineups. You’ll end up missing most of the official parade, which starts at noon at Fort and runs east along Ste-Catherine to Aylmer… but you’ll have a perfect view of the parade of drunken lunatics stumbling over each other into the bar.

Perhaps this ends up being one of those nights (or who am I kidding here, afternoons) where locking eyes with a strange across the bar leads to locking lips. Yep the ol’ Kiss Me I’m Irish button trick. Let’s say you wanted to turn it into a sexy adventure, a hilarious story to tell your grandkids. Normally I would recommend one of fine alleys off Crescent or Bishop, but I certainly wouldn’t be turned on by standing in calf deep snow. So, instead I’d try dancing a few more Irish jigs (or singing along to a few more U2 cover songs, depending on where you’re at), downing a few glasses of water as you probably really need them by now and high tailing it out of there.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Forget the Box and may the luck of the Irish be with you!!

* photo by Catalin Croitoru

 

 

When I read in the Globe and Mail that Rob Ford, Toronto’s 64th and current mayor, would be appearing on Jimmy Kimmel alongside Gonzo the Jim Henson Muppet, my first thought was, “It probably would have been more appropriate for him to appear with Animal.”

When a CNN camera crew had first spotted Ford in Los Angeles and asked him what he was up to, Ford said something about how Toronto is “Hollywood North” and “we want people to come and visit our city, and make movies, and see the great theatres and restaurants we have and sporting venues and, you know, we have a responsible government there, too.”

Ah. Yes, come one, come all, to Toronto to see the responsible government. With Kimmel quipping that Ford is his “new favorite reality show,” in what hopefully was a stunt, Ford wandered onto the Jimmy Kimmel stage a night early and had to be reminded by the host that he wouldn’t be on until Monday. Whoops!Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 12.26.21 PM

The Kimmel show’s executive producer, Jason Shrift, said getting Ford to appear was inspired because they like to “stay on top of any story that seems to have legs,” even if those legs are wobbling drunk.

As of November 2013, the Toronto council had Ford demoted to the status of court jester instead of the stable authority figure we pretended he almost was; perhaps that is why he was spotted touring the Hollywood Walk of Fame like a bloated American tourist instead of laying low in Toronto with his crack pipe. Shifting his responsibilities to Deputy Norm Kelly, the whole procedure became an Alice in Wonderland court case, with Ford making tragic threats such as, “If you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait…This is going to be outright war in the next election,” before knocking Councillor Pam McConnell to the ground, and according to the Toronto Star, Ford seemed to “relish much of the drama, shaking hands and hugging spectators and confronting others while a security guard next to him filmed the crowd with a smart phone.”

So what was Rob Ford doing in Los Angeles? The same crap that Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Lindsday Lohan and yesterday’s news victim Paris Hilton have been doing in Los Angeles: mooching about the streets in varying states of scandal, looking for an extension to their fifteen minutes.

Now that Rob Ford has been reduced to the same status as a football game mascot, naturally the next thing to do is appear on talk shows, make Youtube videos and wander aimlessly through Los Angeles like all the other washed-up pop stars, reaching out their hands and whimpering in a raspy ribbon of voice, “Love me.”