Whiskey and Cream: Episode XVIII

Whiskey & Cream for April 19th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:34-24:53: “Pragmatic Truths over Ideological Lies”

There are 124 seats in the Ontario legislature comprised of an incredibly unpopular and short-sighted Conservative majority government and a smattering of largely ineffective opposition. This, of course, is left over from the remnants of a slightly less unpopular Liberal regime that led to this tidal wave of populism we’re experiencing today. The Green Party has one of those seats. That’s right, in a province comprised of left-to-right forces scattered around moving, ideologically-wired fenceposts, the one party which is all about saving our children’s future and defending our planet from human exploitation is only just getting started, and it knows it has a long way to go

Mike Schreiner (@MikeSchreiner) is the leader of the Ontario Green Party and the MPP for Guelph. In a province overwhelmed with unscrupulous politicians bent on flexing their dogma in the face of science and nature, he’s a rare breed of leader – one that’s willing to negotiate and compromise at all costs if it means preserving the future of the next generation. Because for him, it’s always and only been about the air we breath, the land we inhabit, and the water we use to cleanse ourselves.

25:01-43:51: “Wake up and smell the Pravda”

The hypocrisy inherent to living in a dreadful era where we use social media to validate ourselves, our ambitions and our dogs and cats is quickly revealing why living in a technocratic age is killing us slowly and not so softly. With every turn in cyberspace, it seems as though the Facebooks and the Twitters and the Instagrams and the TikToks have aligned themselves to bring out the very worst in people by preying on their growing insecurities and lingering fears. In doing so, it’s given birth to a degree of self-determination that’s matched only by the level of self-immolation caused by horribly impressionable human beings who stopped being critical-minded a long time ago and take everything at face value.

Zeynep Yinesy (@zeynepmyenisey) is a luxury travel and lifestyle writer whose work has been featured in Maxim and countless other international publications. Her anti-woke nature reveals a fiery character that’s fed up with all the pandering and posturing caused by social media overreactions. When she was recently banned from Twitter for impersonating herself, it opened the door to understand just how profoundly unfair and all-encompassing big tech had become. In struggling to understand the awesomely unmitigated power of forces that couldn’t possibly know authenticity from fraud much like it struggles with facts versus fiction – it represents a stunning rebuke of supposed free speech guarantees that simply no longer exist or maybe never even existed in the first place.

44:02-1:04:21: “It’s the best game you can name”

Hockey continues to rumble forward like a pre-ordained cultural fact of life that refuses to give in to the reality of the pandemic, and it’s a marvel to watch. As the celebrated trade deadline passed and the fallout from the variant-riddled Vancouver Canucks remains fresh on the minds of NHL fans, players and executives alike, there can be no doubting that pure, wondrous escapism continues to be in great supply for a league that’s weathered the storm of rule revisionism and syntax upgrades in an effort keep the faithful satisfied in their need for genuine competition and personal excitement.

Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) is a hockey author, blogger and podcaster who writes for the Montreal Gazette and Sportsnet. Becoming a father made him appreciate not only what the sport continues to mean in his own personal life, but in why he remains committed to his craft as a way of providing a true distraction for his readers and followers who value direct and no-nonsense expertise. For him, the prospect of witnessing his beloved Montreal Canadiens taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs might just be the glorious tonic needed to get all fans of the sport rallying together through the difficult dog days of a ruthless pandemic summer to come.

1:04:33-1:17:09: “Stormin’ Norman versus the volcano”

For an audiophile enjoying the glory years of Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Felix Potvin, there was nothing quite like tuning in to the post-game talk radio experience around these parts featuring hosts who left an indelible impression with their mighty, unfiltered passion for telling it like it is and not pulling any punches. Sadly, as our broadcast journalism landscape gradually devolved into a virtue-signaling battlefield controlled by penny-pinching corporate executives concerned more with the bottom line rather than industry integrity, a terrible thing happened that left many feeling to marginalized after having devoted most of their lifetime in the field.

Norm Rumack (@NormanRumack) is a professional sports journalist known better by Toronto sports enthusiasts of my era as “Stormin Norman Rumack” and is part of the old guard of golden-era radio and television hosts who’ve been rendered largely extinct thanks to big media buying up and owning big sports franchises and treating their employees as nothing more than a content-filling means to a financial corporate end. If you grew up around these parts, you probably know him by the sound of his unique and distinguished voice – one that still resonates and evokes imagery of epic on-ice calls and Saturday night conversations that, for many of us on this side of the pond, will never be forgotten or replaced.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XIV

Whiskey & Cream for March 27th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:39-9:35: “When a strong minority silences a weak majority”

Oh, the glorious absurdity that remains Israeli politics. And now with their fourth election in two years, the world’s most genuine version of participatory democracy once again finds itself rudderless and at cross purposes. Benjamin Netanyahu remains the quintessential “Teflon” braggadocio incumbent who’s cobbled together a vast network of unholy alliances that not only betray his ideological views, but cements his place as an irredeemable opportunistic force during vulnerable and perilous times.

Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) is a Middle East correspondent with The Economist and the author of How Long Will Israel Survive? The Threat From Within. For him, Israel remains a fascinating study into how the more things change, the more they stay the same. In his recent book, he postulates and laments on the very historical and spiritually existential reality that’s gripped the nation for the better part of multiple generations.

9:35-18:54: “Synonymous with baseball, he reveals only truths”

True admirers of the Toronto Blue Jays have long coveted the history and lore associated with the only baseball franchise in Canada. So when a local favourite sportscaster whose voice had become a staple with the radio broadcast and whose literary prowess established him a trusted authority was unceremoniously let go by the media company that owns the team..the outrage was palpable and fierce.

Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness) is a baseball columnist and podcaster who writes for the Toronto Star. His passion and love for the game is not only entrenched in the hearts and minds of countless fans who have come to appreciate his talents, but is also on display with a measure of humility when he’s recognized as the voice that was synonymous with the team for the better part of two decades.

18:55-27:34: “An explosion of false and misleading narratives”

North Americans recoiled with horror at the site of yet another massing shooting in the United States. This time, it was the turn of Boulder, Colorado – and once again, the familiar narrative of racially motivated violence permeated the media cyber-waves as we steel ourselves to the white noise of conspiratorial conjecture and the relentless spread of social media disinformation.

Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) is a European journalist investigating online disinformation, conspiracy theories, and extremism for the BBC. He’s mortified that not only does social media allow others to chronicle and display chillingly brutal acts of criminality, but that it sets yet another standard of exhibitionist viewing that does nothing more than sensationalize our appetite for violence rather than provide ointment for our grief.

27:35-33:15: “I haven’t seen a winning baseball or hockey team in my lifetime”

It took a mid-season pandemic swoon for the Toronto Maple Leafs to realize their own limitations; that they remain an offensive juggernaut constrained only by the limitations of their goaltending. While Frederik Andersen has yet to win a single playoff round and the feel-good story of Jack Campbell refuses to go away, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where the team rides the hottest hand available – especially if that hand has a catchy nickname and is beloved by teammates.

Braydon Holmyard (@BraydonHolmyard) is a sports writer and editor for The Toronto Star. For him, the triumvirate of pro sports teams in the city has opened up endless possibilities for glory and escapism; that’s why he remains vigilant that the local Original Six franchise in particular might make him forget this pandemic altogether.

33:15-40:52: “It’s about unspoken hockey integrity”

When veteran NHL referee Tim Peel was caught articulating his thoughts on camera recently, the mountain of outrage that was generated by the subsequent viral video was as predictable as it was disturbing. Sure, he was scheduled to retire by season’s end and was perfectly positioned to be the sacrificial lamb in this particular controversy, but the heavy-handed, sanctimonious manner in which disciplinarian Colin Campbell and the rest of the league responded to the issue at hand seems to mirror the level of self-righteous overreaction that’s become synonymous with our modern social media culture.

Matt Best is (@bestofmatt) a video producer and podcaster who does work with the Mayo Media Network, Penalty Box Radio and Locked on Predators. His decision to expose evidence over YouTube of a professional league’s unwritten rule that’s frequently manipulated and generally accepted by fans as “a part of the game” ended up creating precisely the kind of quagmire that the NHL was looking to avoid.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode VIII

Whiskey & Cream for January 23rd, 2021

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:46-8:30: “There is increased fire here”

It’s still very early in the abbreviated and pandemic-influenced NHL season, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are already feeling the weight of fickle fans who scrutinize their every win and loss in much the way you’d cheer for heavyweight fighters exchanging blows. But this year, there’s a bona fide sense of urgency and a real commitment to team defense. Although the Northeast division will undoubtedly make it easier for them to avoid some of the juggernauts of the past such as Boston and Tampa bay, the team is poised to succeed if goaltender Frederik Andersen can do his best to resemble Grant Fuhr rather than Andrew Raycroft. But with all their young and highly coveted talented players, this would seem to be the year that they could find a way to win a single playoff round.

Luke Fox (@lukefoxjukebox) is an NHL writer with Sportsnet in Canada and has published a variety of books on rap music. In covering the team on a national level, he believes that there’s increased fire in the way the team has been constructed under general manager Kyle Dubas, and that by adding players like Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton and Jimmy Vesey, he believes that the team added a measure of toughness, leadership and skill that offers priceless intangibility and fire in a payroll that’s dominated by a nucleus of game-breaking talent short on professional success.

8:50-15:42: “A baseball team is a big company designed to make money”

Most fans of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021 have come to accept the limitations and scope of what their baseball team is all about. After decades of playoff futility and cultural rot, the organization seems to be a shadow of its former championship self. You know, that glorious platinum standard set by the exploits of Carter, Alomar, Molitor and company. But then suddenly and as quickly as it came, the steady development of 80’s talent and the cultivation of a family-oriented brand began to erase itself from the hearts and minds of an entire generation. For awhile there, it look like the sport itself was drifting into irrelevancy through doping, the cheating and the commitment to heartless austerity by billion-dollar corporate owners. Although 2015 brought a mighty reprieve to cynical fandom everywhere, the current front office has been besieged by lingering expectations of competitive play that hasn’t existed for half a decade.

Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) is a writer and multiplatform contributor with Sportsnet. He’s also the co-host of At The Letters podcast where he breaks down this team for a living. For him, the Blue Jays front office of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have been transparent with their intentions from the moment they arrived in Toronto, and although most people are turned off by their corporate doubletalk and public relations tone-deafness, it all comes down to a baseball team being a big company finding ways to make a profit. When asked about the recent George Springer signing and his outlook on the team in 2020, his responses were as refreshing as they are candid.

15:55-22:49: “Oh Canada! We stand on guard for thee”

Once upon a time, Canadians were known for the sport of hockey, maple syrup and peacekeeping. But as populism raged across the western world and took most of empathy and compassion with it, a nation respected for centrism and balance finds itself grappling with its identity amidst a global pandemic. It’s not a stretch to think that if things get worse and more people become unemployed and homeless, that this country could find itself facing an existential crisis that strikes to the very core of what it means to be a liberal and conservative.

Asif Hossain (@asifintoronto) is a social influencer and has worked with MLSE, Tennis Canada and the Canadian Olympic committee. His eloquent contempt for political misanthropes and posturing leaders comes from a belief that most Canadians have a generally favourable view of their government and are willing to work together and compromise. Perhaps that’s why it’s so disheartening for him to witness countless examples of elected leaders who continually let us down with their hypocrisy and lies.

23:07-28:51: “The power of a microstory”

Microstories might be better than teletherapy. I know that’s a bold claim coming from someone who isn’t a psychiatrist and hasn’t published a book in his lifetime, but nothing seems to bring me genuine catharsis more than a compelling short story wrapped in the mental shape of a bite-sized piece of chocolate. In a world where doomscrolling has become a tradition and reading a book seems blase, it’s nice to find true escapism through the musings of someone who combines delicious yiddishkeit humour with the cold, steel pragmatic irony of our modern times.

Eric Rosenhek (@TheHek) is the author of Dim Sum Stories, a series of heartfelt microstories available exclusively at arishapiro.ca. For him, the capacity to visualize intriguing narratives cobbled forth in small spaces offers him the chance to channel his stress and anxiety in all the best ways – through the promise of literary escapism where the white noise stops and all you can hear is the sound of your heart beating. Hearing his observations on the pandemic and what keeps him sane reveals a touching look into the mind of someone whose creativity defines the very essence of his soul.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Ari Shapiro on TSN 1260 (Edmonton) – The Corey Graham Show (12-02-20)

My latest appearance (12-02-20) on TSN 1260 Radio (Edmonton) with host Corey Graham (@CoreyGraham) talking Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, the fate of the SkyDome, and those fabulous but extinct Montreal Expos.

We discussed the Blue Jays off-season strategy, what will become of the taxpayer-funded SkyDome in the face of looming real estate ambitions from their ownership group, why an Expos renaissance is in the works across most of Canada, why fans should remain excited about the Maple Leafs, and how Gary Bettman and the NHL shouldn’t ruin the momentum of a pandemic-influenced season by not allowing millionaires to continue bickering with billionaires.

Be sure to check out Corey’s fine show on TSN radio (@TSN1260) and don’t forget to catch the latest episode of the Whiskey & Cream podcast at arishapiro.ca.

Whiskey and Cream Episode 002

Whiskey & Cream for November 30th, 2020.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:35-8:31
America’s leading psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances (@AllenFrancesMD) provides an unflinchingly scathing assessment of the Donald Trump presidency and explores how the country is dealing with the mental health fallout of a sustained period of anxiety and depression. He also delineates the fundamental differences between Canada and the rest of North America when it comes to struggling with the global pandemic. Note: “Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes The Age Of Trump” published in 2017 is your tome of reference and is worth a deeper dive.

8:35-13:28
Conservative MP for Dufferin-Caledon and rural internet crusader Kyle Seeback (@kyleseeback) drops by to remind us all why internet in Canada remains a travesty, and how his grass roots efforts and social media efforts have rallied the cause for rural Ontarians struggling with affordability and accessibility. This segment is sponsored by: Cloudwifi (@cloudwifiinc).

13:35-18:53
Author of the Baseball Thesaurus and 2019 Minor League Broadcaster of the Year Jesse Goldberg-Strassler (@jgoldstrass) is in studio to talk about the pending extinction of the SkyDome and how the Blue Jays organization could approach the end of an era with reasons for optimism from the fans and hope for fellow Torontonians who cherish the memories brought forth from consecutive world championships in the 90’s.

19:01-24:47
Sportsnet journalist and site expert of Tip of The Tower, David Morassutti (@d_morassutti) joins the show to elucidate on why the Toronto Maple Leafs remain the most inspiring draw in professional sports across a city that’s three generations removed from the last time they won anything worthwhile. Some would say it’s a tragic comedy, but this segment may change your mind.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

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