The world mourns, escape from whackers, and Hogtown gets a new face

October 26, 2010 | By

Paul the Octopus is dead. He who named the right winning team in the world soccer championships is no more. Those who wanted to cook him should be pleased he is no more than gelatinous goo, frozen until he can be laid to rest in a shrine (and not transformed into garden fertilizer).

The tributes to Paul’s wisdom, dedication, eagle eye, and oracular skills are everywhere, including here and here. You can hear “Paul the Octopus Song” if your heart needs more consolation, or search the World Wide Weebe for video footage and spot his crafty little smile.

In other news, Randi and Evi Quaid are seeking asylum in Canada for being persecuted by the American legal system for unpaid bills. Wait, that came out wrong. The Quaids said they feared a group of black ops of “star whackers” who have already killed 8 of their friends, including Heath Ledger, and David Carradine.

Here’s the story and some BBC video that shows what a great country we have, and why celebrities worried about getting whacked like a mole (get it?) should move here, because we care.

Randy Quaid is best known for his early roles in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), playing a musicologist in the director’s What’s Up, Doc? (1972), and his breakthrough role as a Colonel Sanders-like carny owner bent on tainting the world with Zygrot-27 so he could have a planet of circus freaks in Alex Winters’ genius film Freaked (1993).


Lastly, Canada’s largest city has a new mayor, and this is him, although I swear the original promo edit showed more footage of Rob Ford reading like an 8 year old from a sheet of paper.

Maybe his campaign group realized he looked un-mayoral, so they pasted on top of the embarrassing footage more stills shots, including Rob standing in the entrance of the streetcars he plans to tear out of our roads, footage of buses he plans to pack onto busy streets already jammed with cars, and subways for the routes he plans to build with MagikMoney, that special wad of cash that only boastful candidates swear they can find once they’re in office.

Any revisionism at this stage is moot, though, because of the three leading candidates (each of whom I disliked), the most flawed won. In a recent CBC news piece regarding the battle between incumbent/conservative-minded Larry O’Brien and challenger/former mayor Jim Watson, someone branded O’Brien as Ottawa’s own version of Ford, and apparently his brand of anti-gravy train politics proved so divisive that he was dumped in favor of Watson.

Will Ford behave like the buffoon he is and make a mess of the city while trying to stop trough of Bisto-flavoured money from gliding into the wrong hands? Will he really tear up streetcar tracks and opts for buses in a city core in which he doesn’t live? Will he prove to be the anti-arts monster some feared after watching his moping debate on TV?

The choice the city had during the election was Joe Pantalone, glued in the public’s mind to David Miller’s lefty management style that proved inert during last year’s horrendous garbage strike and the rogue TTC strikes; “Furious” George Smitherman, the ex-Liberal cabinet minister who stayed vague on every policy and political position (Left? Right? Centrist?) until last week; and Rob Ford, who apparently was the only figure the bulk of the voting body (not me) felt could shakeup the status quo and turf some of Miller’s annoying policies and bullshit taxes.

Miller was eloquent and passionate about this city, and genuinely believed in its greatness in spite of T.O. being kinda dumb now and then. But he did nothing to support the voters during the G20 debacle nor defended their rights when the police city’s chief lied about certain rules; he installed what he termed “revenue tools,” such as the much-hated car registration tax for anyone living in the GTA because the city needed cash to cover its mismanagement of funds; and he focused on light rail transit because it was the only workable solution when the federal & provincial governments felt little need to aid in building TTC infrastructure for the next 50 years.

To Miller: you had noble goals, but good riddance.

New Mayor Ford has to kill that car tax because it’s theft: you can’t make up a tax, and penalize drivers for using vehicles on the roads they own. How about a tax on brussel sprouts to stop people from cooking the malodorous green hairballs? I’d support that.

Streetcars are fast when they’re plentiful on dedicated lanes – as on Spadina – and more convenient than cars, so tearing up tracks in favour of buses is asinine.

The car isn’t evil; people need it to get around areas where the city and province were lazy and myopic in believing there was no need to upgrade rail and subway lines during the seventies and eighties. Europe’s been way ahead of us for almost a hundred years; you build new and upgrade old infrastructure to accommodate the influx of citizens and traffic you know will be there within 20-50 years.

The media has fixated on a division between car and green cultures, and aided in widening the gap instead of pushing for a compromise, because people make use of both. You can’t have a city made just for cars, nor one filled with only bicycles and lots of foot traffic.

Ford will have to acknowledge both cultures have to blend instead of undoing what he perceives as wasteful spending on green infrastructure. The current streetcars are sardine cans, and desperately need to be replaced with wider vehicles, not buses. Hybrid buses don’t work that well; they cost more than $700,000+, and several drivers I chatted with on the rides home in North York (circa 2009) said they consistently broke down, and the city was re-using the more reliable diesel buses. (If you travel along Bay Street during rush hour, you can see the vintage GM buses that still work in spite of being 30 years old.)

Toronto is in Canada, by a lake, and gets cold and windy in winter. Light rail not good enough. Subways move fast and carry more people. Stop settling for above-ground vehicles that won’t handle the weather, the population density, and stop denying the needs of those near the 905/416 border who would prefer a fast subway line in place of highway gridlock.

Finish the damn Sheppard Subway (or Stubway, depending on one’s leaning). It was supposed to go far east and west, not 5 stops, with people forced to disembark for bus or the proposed light rail lines.

And as nice as the new subways to run the Yonge-University line are, they have one mighty flaw: no anti-crazy people barrier.

If you enter a car and find some fine soul talking to an imaginary phone, or if  some brain dead twit is singing aloud to music blasting in mono from her phone, you can go to the next car.

If there are screaming kids, a urine-scented dude, teens using handrails as monkey bars, people with their own private atmosphere of aftershave/cologne/hairspray/faux Chanel, farting wankers, or those oversized teens who like to lie down on a bench because ‘it’s theirs’, why, the next car might offer some solace.

If in the summertime a busted air conditioning unit is making people rather funky, you can check out the next car, where people seem to be smiling a lot more than you.

If it’s 12am and the guy across from you starts puking beer, and the train’s rattling noise is interrupted by the sound of undigested beer nuts making tapping sounds as they spew from the drunk’s mouth to the car floor, you can leave and hop into the next car, and be free from the foul stench that accompanies fresh steaming vomitus.

Right now, the subways consist of interlocked train cars, but the new trains offer the novel design of one continuous train – cars without walls, and a long ‘gangway’ permitting passengers to ‘move down’ a train’s 450 feet length (assuming people will actually break their normal behaviour and actually ‘move down.’ Right…).

Things the TTC, David Miller, TTC Chair Adam Giambrone, and whoever else missed when they approved the purchase of the new cars: walls good. A flowing miasma of curing undigested food matter: bad.

Next time you buy a train, don’t just kick the tires. Ride the existing system and experience the passengerial lows.

Paul would’ve spotted the weaknesses in the new trains immediately.

Auf wiedersehen, you slimy, sage glopnick of sea goo.

Tschüss, meine liebe Freunden…









Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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