Whiskey and Cream: Episode XX

Whiskey & Cream for June 19th, 2021

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:38-8:15: “”Canada and Islamophobia: Hypocrisy lives here”

How quickly so many have forgotten that a deranged, hate-filled gunman stormed a Quebec City mosque back in January 2017 and brutally murdered six men while injuring 19 others, splintering a close-knit Muslim-Canadian community already grappling with xenophobic prejudice in their neighbourhoods. By March of that year, a Liberal MP (Iqra Khalid) tabled a crucial parliamentary motion following the attack that directly condemned the “fear of Islam” as a form of religious discrimination and source of racism across Canada. Although Motion 103 was subsequently adopted and heralded as a progressive triumph of social and cultural solidarity over political grandstanding, it also resulted in 91 Conservative and Bloc Quebecois members voting against it, including the current leader of the opposition Erin O’Toole.

Karim Kanji is a celebrated political and cultural podcaster whose “Welcome To The Music” show has earned him legions of fans who appreciate his disarming candor and real honesty with guests. For him, the London, Ontario attack on a Muslim family that left a nine-year old boy orphaned remains a powerfully tragic reminder that Islamophobia is alive and well in a country that’s always been high on good intentions and low on political results – especially when it comes to growing communities and embracing the multicultural nature of this country.

8:21-15:45: “A disease does not fully exist in America until it has a business model”

Biogen’s Aduhelm has arrived like a bolt out of the blue and changed the way the world is looking at Alzheimer’s disease. Suddenly, a horrific condition which has had little or no medical progress in treatment for decades and is the sixth leading killer in the United States has met its match and been challenged by the marvels of a pandemic world where science lifts us away from sheer futility and into the realm of endless possibility. However, three members of the FDA’s advisory board resigned in protest when it was discovered that the drug had been approved for far broader use and without any substantial consultation. In fact, 10 out of their 11 members voted to reject the application and yet here we are. At $56,000 a year for treatment that doesn’t even begin to address how badly a burden it will place on medicare or socialized medicine if you factor in physician, imaging and infusion center expenses that will more than double the overall cost. Many industry experts believe it’s only worth around $8,000 in raw manufactured costs, leading many to seriously wonder: is this the latest snake oil from big pharma?

Dr. Jason Karlawish is an American physician and researcher in the field of bioethics, aging and the neurosciences. He’s also written a series of critically-acclaimed books on the subject, including: Open Wound, Treating Dementia, and The Problem With Alzheimer’s – How Science, Culture and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It. For him, it all comes down to trusting and believing in medical regulatory agencies that have traditionally held the best interests of their patients in mind well before aggrandizing their voracious need for profits, and to have government protect their citizens from the exploitation of big pharma and the scourge of false hope.

15:23-21:02: “Say it ain’t so, Robby: the gradual extinction of the modern day baseball hero”

To be banned from Major League Baseball is a terrible thing – especially considering how morally, ethically and existentially the game has gone to rot. Fairly or not, the list of “undesirables” includes Shoeless Joe Jackson for dubiously cheating, Pete Rose for unrepentant gambling, Marge Schott for virulent racism, and Brandon Taubman for being a lying, cheating misanthrope whose conduct shamed the entire sport and a whole generation of disbelieving fans. And now we can add Roberto Alomar’s name to the list as a reminder that fame, fortune and influence is fleeting when humility and decency are lacking, leading us all to a place where the emperor has no clothes.

Shi Davidi is an MLB columnist and insider with Rogers Sportsnet. As someone who’s covered the Blue Jays legend for years, it comes as no surprise to him that fan nostalgia would cloud the reality of what unfolded to a man who’s become synonymous with those glorious World Series championship years. Alomar’s troubles are less about the “woke” culture we live in and more about a rapid disintegration of respect for the national pastime and their fans. For him, the struggle to reconcile a hero’s fall from grace is never easy when the game is running out of role models for the next generation.

21:11-28:30: “An inspirational league for inspired players”

Basketball in Canada might single-handedly solve our collective problems with bigotry and prejudice. That might sound like hyperbole, but when measured up against other professional sports leagues (and most contemporary western governments for that matter), there’s a community-first reality to the NBA that you don’t find with football, baseball or even hockey. It’s a business mentality that started with the belief that their players remain the most important facet of their success and that everything else is secondary when it comes to the welfare and integrity of the sport.

Dashawn Stephens is a Canadian journalist and social media influencer. In 2019, he founded PRSVRE, an athlete-empowered brand and sports-media platform based in Toronto that sheds light on the inspiration derived from collegiate sports and grass roots storytelling. In doing so, it’s shaped an appreciation for the trials and tribulations that underprivileged youth and marginalized athletes face in their quest for excellence and made him into a true crusader for the importance of community-oriented and culturally vibrant philosophies in life.

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

Cultural Genocide and Leadership Failure in Canada

Jawn Jang and Ari Shapiro bring you another episode of “Eastern Connection: Views from Ontario” — on this show latest show we discussed the tragic legacy of the Canadian residential school system with the recent discovery in Kamloops, British Columbia of the remains of 215 indigenous children in an unmarked grave. We also covered the trials and tribulations of the Doug Ford government as they continue to baffle observers while pivoting and waffling their way with parents, educators and children across the province.

(Recorded on June 4th, 2021)

Be sure to check out The Weekend Shift on Global News Radio 980 CKNW in Vancouver to enjoy a podcast experience that’s as real and authentic as you’ll find out there. Politics, sports, philosophy; no stone left unturned when it comes to exploring the established facts and genuine emotions of the world around us.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XIX

Whiskey & Cream for April 30th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:38-27:49: “Dignity with pride divided by equity”

Imagine having all the talent, vision and ambition in the world – only to have it scuttled by forces you have no control over. In some respects, I’ve just described a typical employee working for a digital media company today. You know, that realm which has been pillaged and exploited by a sad cocktail of corporate ownership, streamlined departments, and profit-oriented motivations. At a time when aspiring wordsmiths and creative minds are trying to find narratives worth writing home about, it seems that the industry has turned almost completely against them when it comes to finding a place where originality and passion are rewarded, rather than marginalized and bought out.

David J. Roth (@david_j_roth) is the co-owner of Defector Media and the co-founder of The Classical. Together with other writers who left Deadspin in 2019, he’s created a media company that’s less about sensationalistic fanfare and more about the search for cold, hard truths, offering him some measure of control in the spiraling wild west that’s full of woke culture, virtue-signalling, moral relativism and historical revisionism. It makes me truly wonder – what keeps him moving in this world today with his dignity and professionalism intact?

27:50-38:15: “It all begins and ends with goaltending”

Let’s not mince words. The New York Rangers went 54 years between winning Stanley Cups that spanned a period of time which began with World War Two and ended with the rise of Nirvana. For a fan of the team, waiting from 1940 to 1994 in order to taste a championship must have seemed purely inconceivable. Which brings us to the city of Toronto, where bleeding blue and white means entering the post-season with visions of grandeur and also a sick sense of deja vu. What was supposed to be a season for Frederik Andersen to redeem himself has become a voyage of reclamation for Jack Campbell. Either way, the fate of the team will depend on if their netminder ends up resembling Ken Dryden instead of Andrew Raycroft. Patrick Roy instead of Vesa Toskala. Dominik Hasek instead of Jonas Gustavsson. I literally could go on forever.

Allan Bester is a former goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although his time in hockey was short and sweet, he remains a true supporter for the integrity and impact of knowing the game between the pipes. For him, if a half-century drought is to end in the midst of a terrible pandemic, it’ll mean having a player between the pipes that’s prepared to put an entire hockey club on his shoulders and never look back.

38:16-54:33: “Secretariat would be proud”

Horse racing and gambling is synonymous for a reason; from the era of classical antiquity to our modernized pandemic reality, the sport has endured through the ages while generating considerable tax revenue – over $100 billion dollars is wagered annually in 53 countries. However, like baseball, it suffers enormously from a having a stewardship that’s less concerned about the state and health of the industry, and more interested in profit-mongering shenanigans. As a result, what was once a spectacle for royalty has been commodified and dismissed by many as being simply backwards or out-of-touch with itself.

Robin Dawson (@RobinOnRacing) started his racing career in 1971 in France and is the author of Last Hurrah: A compelling tale of greed, control, self-preservation…and vindication. For him, a lifetime spent around majestic horses and understanding the kinship between man and beast ultimately inspired him to write his first piece of literary fiction. Although the perception of his industry may have changed over the years, his nostalgia remains a potent force in driving his craft and educating others with his love and affection for a fading equestrian legacy.

54:34-1:03:25: “Two for slashing, Five for dreaming”

How can you not admire what the National Hockey League has done when it comes to handling their second season during this pandemic? What should have been calamitous barriers to travel, gameplay and personnel has resulted in an astonishingly successful season that’s proving to be a huge respite for fans. Seriously, this is front-line escapism when Toronto, Boston, Tampa Bay and other juggernauts of major cosmopolitan cities manage to show the faithful that there’s a reason to believe in more than simply misery and woe. And that’s not just a credit to the leadership of the league, but to every person that’s made this season a success given the adversity which existed before them.

Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) is a digital hockey content writer for the Vancouver Canucks, Daily Faceoff and SportsBettingDime. As a social influencer, he loves finding videos and images that make fans forget the raging dystopia outside their windows and instead focus more on the glorious game before them. That’s why he’s committed to using his extensive platform and admiration of the game to make sure that others can revel in a league that clearly stands alone and ready for the playoffs.

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

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 XVII

Whiskey & Cream for April 11th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:34-32:35: “When we don’t heed the distant early warnings”

It’s a terrible thing to be confronted with a reality where your freedoms are restricted, your children are at home and growing up without a proper education, and your small business and general livelihood is going down the tubes. But what’s especially unnerving for so many of us is the stunning realization of just how divided this world is when it comes to tackling an existential problem that requires a sensible and disciplined solution. That’s where Canada, the United States and most of Europe discovered the hard way that even with all the financial resources and human capital at their disposal, our inability to set aside political and social grievances has ended up conspiring against us in more than ways than one.

Dr. Eric Fiegl-Ding (@DrEricDing) is North America’s leading epidemiologist and health economist who is also a Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and was a researcher at Harvard Medical School and John Hopkins University. His now infamous tweet which signaled the virulent and infectious nature of the virus went largely ignored at first, which is why he remains vigilant and committed to educating the world about the true nature of the virus while debunking some of the propaganda and toxic myths associated with the pandemic.

32:36-45:15: “When Bubbe and Zayde are no more”

Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time for soulful commemoration and personal reflection on an event in history that is quickly slipping away like kernels of sand in a celestial hourglass. In their battle against the pandemic, Israel has emerged as leader in their vaccination efforts amidst a brutal paradigm of divided political forces in their society – and it’s come at a terrible price. After spending an entire lifetime rising from the ashes of genocide, it seems so profoundly unfair to know that over 900 survivors met their end; alone and abandoned in a hospital bed and apart from their loving families.

Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) is a correspondent at the Israeli public broadcasting corporation. For him, the pandemic has brought out the worst in his nation’s ideological divisions, especially when it comes to confronting the sad and gruesome reality that over the next 10-20 years, most accounts of the Holocaust will not come from the survivors themselves, but from those left to grapple with a growing wave of revisionist history and dubious authenticity thrown at them by the enemies of the state and Judasim.

45:16-52:50: “Lifestyles of the rich and famous and infected”

When it gets to the point that you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a golf membership during a pandemic, you’re probably one of the exclusive and select few who are looking to migrate your wealth to the best possible spots on the planet. And considering that the coronavirus has infiltrated different regions of the world differently, it’s fascinating to see where the wealthy are preoccupying themselves amidst a world that’s buckling under the strain of endless financial stress.

David Scanlan (@ScanlanDavid) is the senior finance editor for Bloomberg news in Singapore. As someone who has covered the financial health of dozens of countries for many years, there’s very little left that surprises him. In fact, his recent work has focused on highlighting the success of new gig economy industries – from Zoom to online retailers to Malaysian glove makers, everything it seems is being driven by high demand based on geographic and socio-economic incentives which are quick to reveal a fundamental division between rich and poor never experienced in the history of mankind.

45:16-102:15: “Cut from an entirely different pandemic cloth”

Adversity comes in all forms during these times of trouble, especially with certain industries that no longer value the human element in their business equations. If the pandemic has shown as anything, it’s that modern sports journalism will never be the same once this is all said and done. With corrosive a trickle down effect from big, duopolistic media companies cutting their losses and streamlining their profits, to the surreptitious exploitation of genuinely talented men and women who were household names for decades; the media is definitely the message..and the message is closed for business.

Ashley Docking (@SmrAsh) is an award-winning, multi-sport athlete and collegiate basketball coach turned national broadcaster and social influencer. For awhile there, it seemed like her natural resiliency would bring her success in the monolith’s media realm where creativity is almost always dictated and the fallout is easily cleaned up with a quick termination. But unlike others who disappeared without a whimper, she’s going all-out to make her voice heard loud and clear when it matters most.

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

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XVI

Whiskey & Cream for April 7th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:34-11:21: “Peanuts, crackerjacks and COVID-19”

Major League Baseball has returned…and with a mighty vengeance. First, it was all about bringing back a 162-game extravaganza season in the midst of the worst that a pandemic has to offer. Then, it involved confronting the state of Georgia and rescinding an All-Star game promise that’s drawn the ire of Trump loyalists everywhere. And finally, they went along with having the Texas Rangers host their home opener in a brand new billion dollar facility with over 40,000 humans all eating, drinking, and potentially superspreading themselves into baseball oblivion.

Laura Armstrong (@lauraarmy) is a beat writer with the Toronto Star covering the Blue Jays and their seasonal travails. In her eyes, the city of Toronto has much to look forward to when it comes to competitive and worthwhile baseball around these parts. But in welcoming the return of peanuts, crackerjacks and the chance to one day root for the home team in person, she’s also willing to confront certain gruesome realities that simply can’t be ignored – including the profound risks taken by big business in pursuit of pandemic profits.

12:48-17:45: “On fire and passing the generational torch”

Here’s the thing about the subject of voter suppression that seems be getting lost between the battle lines of left versus right: at the end of the day, it’s all about democracy. It’s really as simple and elegant as that. Now, you can go ahead and choose to debate the merits of how and why the United States chooses to tackle the grim reality of gerrymandering and the brutally unfair district demarcation that’s transpired across the union for decades, but in the final analysis it really comes down to empowering people and having them succeed through elected officials who care more about their actual dignity than the almighty dollar.

Aaron Parnas (@AaronParnas) is lawyer, writer, podcaster and social influencer based out of Florida. His work with the MeidasTouch political action committee has galvanized his passion for reaching the largest possible audience when it comes to pursuing his agenda for fairness and justice in modern day America. Stuck between the conservative nature of the Gen-Y demographic and the predisposed liberal tendencies of the average Millennial, his thoughts on the passing of the proverbial torch from one besieged generation to another are as frank as they are indelible.

19:23-25:43: “One shift, one period, one breath at a time”

The NHL is doing many things right in the quest to keep their audiences happy during times of trouble. But a deeper look reveals that all that glitters isn’t necessary gold. Minor league hockey franchises all over North America are folding left, right (and pardon the pun), centre, while recent virus outbreaks like the one that subdued the entire Vancouver Canucks team is a stark reminder that, in some ways, the worst is yet to come. And that means hockey will need to demonstrate the kind of leadership and resolve that’s kept it ahead literally ahead of the game when it comes to running a business for themselves, their players, and most of all: their fans.

Eric Engels (@EricEngels) is a writer, radio host and senior hockey columnist with Rogers Sportsnet. As someone who professionally and personally covers the Montreal Canadiens and has dedicated most of his adult life as an authority on the sport of hockey, his opinion on the manner and method to which Gary Bettman and the league have battled the coronavirus is one balanced equally between a healthy sense of optimism and an idealistic desire to see things improve without sacrificing the integrity of the game he so dearly admires.

26:05-39:28: “And now for something completely different…”

Between Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford, it’s become almost a picture of banality to hear the average Canadian sounding off on the nature of the job that our elected leaders are doing as the coronavirus pandemic rages on. The predictable criticism and fatalistic scorn of traditional red and blue pylons debating their ideological views at a time when some human beings are sleeping in makeshift tent in downtown Vancouver and Toronto is beyond surrealistic; as is the simultaneous realization of having to reconcile a mind-boggling reliance on outsourced and incompetent vaccine rollouts along with dubious lockdown strategies in the struggle to keep our fragile population healthy and safe.

Abhijeet Manay (@AbhijeetMonet) is the deputy leader of the Green Party of Ontario. For him, the battle of moving forward from dystopian times has little to do with human ideology and everything to do with our connection to nature. Slowly but surely, the growing trend of citizens more concerned with their children’s future rather than the need for instant gratification is essentially the reason why his party is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds thus begging the question: can the Greens find a way to cut through the hot air of political hypocrisy and evolve into a mobilizing force that can one day offer the country something more than the usual string of false promises and smug excuses?

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

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XV

Whiskey & Cream for April 2nd, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:35-12:21: “Raconteur Troubadour”

It never fails that during times of real trouble, we tend to lose perspective about a great many things that are important to us in life. But what always seems to remain is that aching need to feel inspired that, deep down inside, the human condition comes with a seemingly indomitable spirit and a will to survive, especially when we least expect it. The Paralympian athlete remains one of the better examples what happens when empathy and opportunity mixed with courage and dignity produces just the right kind of story that makes us all proud to be in this together.

Teddy Katz (@ktazt) is a journalist who worked at the CBC for over 20 years and is the owner of Think, Redefined. Crafting inspirational narratives has always been second nature to him, but with the arrival of the pandemic, it has become paramount in his quest to find a balance between right and wrong and good versus evil. His eternal love of storytelling has elevated his consciousness in ways that makes him a truly respected and admired raconteur during the darkest of hours.

12:22-24:19: “In basketball we trust”

Norman Powell of the Toronto Raptors was pretty much everything you could ever ask for in a beloved fan favourite. An anchoring force years in the making, his growth in the spotlight produced a player with the pedigree of a champion, the developed skills of an elite shooting guard, and the demeanor of a pure and absolute winner. So, you can imagine why the decision to trade him to the Portland Trailblazers resulted in an unprecedented outpouring of grief from the faithful. After all, trading an in-his-prime coalescing force that existed in a young nucleus featuring Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet was the kind of decision that left many scratching their heads in anguish and wondering what’s next on the horizon.

Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) is a multi-sports, multi-platform author and basketball insider with Sportsnet for over a decade. Although the Toronto Raptors chose to part ways with such an entrenched fan favourite during the prime of his career, he remains convinced that the cultural reality of the sport in the hands of authentic, brave leaders will be the lasting legacy of an organization that an entire city has come to admire and cherish.

24:20-35:59: “Passing the literary torch”

Modern journalism has been under siege long before the pandemic, and it’s only gotten worse. As profit-oriented, duopolistic media companies circle the wagons of discontent by downsizing talented employees and removing iconic outlets for sports with an almost slavishly nihilistic attitude, it makes one pine for the days when old-school writers stoked the collective imagination of a city through typed words, memorable interviews, and honest narratives that invited a critical and unbiased look at the remains of the day. But with the relentless rise of digital monetization inside heavily polarized camps of ideologically-bound content publishers, the freedom to enjoy the press has become a struggle for anyone who values critical-thinking and empirical conclusions.

Sean Fitz-Gerald (@SeanFitz_Gerald) is the senior national writer for The Athletic, has appeared in the National Post and the Toronto Star, and was named Canadian sports writer of the year in 2015. Sports journalism has always been embedded in his DNA; his entire family and ancestors resonate with creative and literary ambition that’s fuelled his resolve for the longest time. But on the eve of yet another lockdown in one of the world’s most populated and cosmopolitan cities, he’s convinced that a love of the written word might also be the cure to what ails us most.

36:00-48:41: “King Clancy. Art Ross, and Franke Selke walked into a bar…”

In the struggle to remain relevant and pure during difficult times, the National Hockey League has quietly and surreptitiously achieved a balance where rival leagues have failed. Unlike football and baseball, notorious for their aggressively profit-oriented schemes to keep fans interested and involved at all costs, hockey has endeared itself enormously to those of us who value parity, possibility and potential in a sport. And as the playoffs loom on the horizon, it’s no surprise that between a rising (and powerful) memorabilia market and the arrival of the most talented generation of players ever witnessed – now is the time for every generation to embrace the good ole’ hockey game.

Dr. Mike Commito (@mikecommito) is an author, blogger, and a teacher of Canadian history and all things hockey. The spirit of the game was infused in his soul at a young age, which explains not only his lingering desire to chronicle its history, but also to identify the elements that sets the NHL apart from not only their competitors, but in the hearts and minds of their ravenously loyal fans.

“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.

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