The definition of surrealism was on display last night as the Toronto Raptors annihilated the Golden State Warriors during an unearthly third quarter burst resulting in a 105-92 win that sent most of the country into a frenzy. The Dinos forced their way into the Oracle Arena in more ways than one; thousands of fans made the holy trek to exalt the inconceivable – a 3-1 lead in the NBA finals and a chance for ultimate glory on Monday. And when most social media news is usually bad news and has a 92% chance of involving Donald Trump, there’s something to be said for the sublime nature of what Kawhi, Kyle, Marc, Pascal and Danny have accomplished as a front court buttressed with bench depth for the ages. Whether it was a bloodied and toothless VanVleet, or a battered and bruised Ibaka, the Raptors are playing like true champions deserving of eternal basketball praise. To be on the brink of capturing a major sports championship is something that happens once in a generation around these parts – if we’re lucky. To stand on the precipice of making history in Toronto, not unlike what the Blue Jays achieved during my halcyon days at York University, is nothing short of legendary. Don’t take it from me – ask anyone who’s already gathered at Jurassic Park in front of the Scotiabank Arena on a Saturday night when the game is still two nights away. That’s not just pure dedication and modern fandom, friends – that’s the essence of mutual respect and limitless adoration not felt since 1993, and something we’ll surely remember for the next two decades.
I’m a sucker for nostalgic affirmation. Maybe it’s the middle-aged curmudgeon in me who keeps poking at my temples like an angry jester bent on exposing the grand hypocrisies of a seismic world. But for a brief moment last week as I found the time to watch Deadwood: The Movie, the strangest calm ensued and left me in a seemingly cosmic haze. As far as cinematic achievements go, what creator David Milch and director Daniel Minahan accomplished won’t be forgotten anytime soon. I was stunned by the manner in which beloved characters I had long abandoned were brought back to life, as if in a western genre time capsule launched by the ghosts of John Wayne and Lee Van Cleef. For admirers of this golden era HBO series that was (to this day) shockingly cut short by the usual trappings of industry greed, this was as fitting an elegy as one could hope for; to be re-inserted and deployed into the Deadwood universe with lore and canon completely intact, featuring virtually every original thespian who assisted in helping to flesh out Milch’s imagination. Tying gloriously severed narratives together in ways that unabashedly tugged at all heart strings; the lesbian romance between Calamity Jane and Joanie Stubbs, the grisly revelation of Trixie’s survival to a now emboldened and even more villainous George Hearst, the time-honored love between Seth and Martha Bullock, and the poetic requiem for Al Swearengen – this movie fucking had it all. Sadly, the monumental absence of (my personal favourite) Powers Boothe who portrayed Cy Tolliver and passed away in 2017 was not lost on me, neither was the fact that the creator of the show is battling Alzheimer’s at age 74. But for the first time in a long while, I forgot my bittersweet mortal actualization and embraced the beautifully nuanced performances of an almost ethereal ensemble of talented actors. Robin Weigert and Kim Dickens in particular eschewed a gravitas that viewers will watch over and over long after the tumbleweed has settled on what amounted to the perfect end to a television masterpiece.
It’s been over a year and I want to like Doug Ford. I really do. It’s not that I didn’t anticipate the extent of how many times he’d make me utter the words “troglodyte” and “reprobate” and “misanthrope” – all fine additions to anyone looking to upgrade their political lexicon for this abominable populist era we’re toiling in. But when the newly elected successor to an unpopular government ushers in an era of imposed austerity and savage cuts the likes we’ve never seen before, you’ll forgive me for thinking this all amounts to nothing more than malignant narcissism. That’s not hyperbole when you consider how many different areas of society have been gutted: the environment, health care, education, legislative positions, arts and culture, tourism, social services, scientific and medical research – listing all the granular evidence would provoke the staunchest traditionalist in ways unimaginable. You’d think that with all these absurdly anti-humanistic overtures that the so-called “progressive” conservative party of Ontario would come up with more than just finding ways to make beer cheaper and on-line gambling more popular, but that’s really all they have in their bag of sycophantic tricks and improvised horseshit. That, and a profoundly nihilistic belief that their righteous actions and anti-progressive policies will do us a world of good in the future – even though every free-thinking Ontarian is suffering from the worst case of buyer’s remorse since our neighbours down south thought it would be a good idea to give the reigns of power to a snake oil salesman.
Not a day goes by when I’m not subtly reminded of how much I miss Greg Giraldo. For the uninitiated, I am of course referring to one of the great post-modern artists who ever lived and whose presence is sorely missed as we navigate each day through endless political and moral absurdities. Greg wasn’t just a comedian; he was also a lawyer and a television personality with a presence that was felt the moment your eyes fixated on him. A veritable force to be reckoned with – Greg’s greatest claim to fame came on the heels of the “roasts were cool” era where harsh and almost universally scorned invective was heaped upon popular culture figures such as Pamela Anderson, Drew Carey, Larry The Cable Guy, and Hugh Hefner. But throughout all the seedy hoopla and sensationalistic bile came a figure who stood apart from mercurial contemporaries like Jeff Ross and Lisa Lampanelli largely because of his cerebral wit and devotion to cruel irony. Giraldo was as educated and erudite a human being that ever walked this earth; his death from a prescription overdose at age 44 back in 2010 is as much a testament to this perilous era we’re living in as it is a gloriously ironic twist to what I’m certain he’d find incredibly hilarious and sadly fitting. His body of work can be found all over YouTube and beyond – and yes, you could start with his epic roasts (especially Chevy Chase, Jeff Foxworthy, Flavor Flav, and Joan Rivers), but perhaps the best indication of his legacy won’t be found in these forays but inside the hearts of the lives he touched. The New York Times referred to him as an “Insult-Humor Comic” when they listed his obituary, but as a true admirer who has the dubious claim of outliving his hero, I’ll always remember him as one of the finest and most beloved soothsayers to ever grace this planet.