—The number of “likes” on Jian Ghomeshi’s Facebook fan page as of about 12:20 this afternoon. At 3:50 p.m., though, the number was down to 98,875, and falling. The page’s like count has been decreasing steadily lately—a development that seems linked to Jesse Brown and Kevin Donovan’s investigation into Ghomeshi’s history of alleged sexual violence.
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In other countries, media analysis is the norm; in Canada, for some reason, it’s not. Jesse Brown—a veteran journalist who has reported for Maclean’s, the CBC and Toronto Life—tried to fill this gap the old-fashioned way, pitching media criticism to various news organizations. When that didn’t work, he started doing it himself. Last year, he launched Canadaland, a podcast and blog, and began uncovering troubling stories from within Canada’s news organizations. He has called out Peter Mansbridge for taking money from an oil sands lobby group, and he probed the Globe and Mail’s questionable endorsement of Tim Hudak. On Sunday, a story he had been working on for months made headlines worldwide when the Toronto Star, in collaboration with Brown, published part of what he says is an ongoing investigation into Jian Ghomeshi’s alleged history of sexual violence. On Wednesday, a second article related stories from eight different women who all claim to have had violent encounters with the radio host. Shortly after the first Star story was published, we met up with Brown to talk about the tricky process of reporting on the CBC’s golden boy, the timidity of the Canadian press and what it’s like being a crowdfunded journalist.
If you’re going to mount a substantial gallery show dedicated to a filmmaker’s work, it helps if that director is a little bit obsessive. Stanley Kubrick was an infamous control freak, flaunting totalizing, tyrannical power. It’s the kind of experience that can be hell for actors—his taxing work ethic caused Shelley Duvall’s hair to fall out on the set of The Shining—but tends to benefit fans. The Lightbox’s new exhibit is filled with the fruits of Kubrick’s neurosis: annotated scripts, production photos and detailed notes, including those pertaining to his legendary unfinished projects (a biopic about Napoleon, a Holocaust drama called The Aryan Papers). The show also collects plenty of artifacts and knick-knacks from the canon, like the Star Child model from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a miniature war room from Dr. Strangelove and the “Born to Kill” helmet from Full Metal Jacket. Taken together, the props and exhaustive documentation are more than just film ephemera—they’re a glimpse into the oddball imagination of one of cinema’s most remarkable, and commanding, talents.
Fri. Oct. 30–Jan. 25. $12.50. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net.
The buyers: Chris Barran, a 44-year-old recent MBA graduate, and Danielle Barran, a 40-year-old VP of marketing at the J. M. Smucker Co.
The story: In 2012, Danielle, an executive at Smucker’s Markham office, was promoted to a job at the corporate headquarters in Ohio. She and her husband, Chris, packed up their belongings and their French bulldog, Remington, and moved into a ranch-style house on a golf course in Akron. The Barrans also kept their one-bedroom, 650-square-foot pied-à-terre in Deer Park for holidays and occasional weekends. The back-and-f0rth lifestyle worked fine until they got a second bulldog named Maui last Thanksgiving (their building had a one-dog policy). They enlisted agent Elli Davis to find a few options in the same neighbourhood, send them photos and videos, and handle the transaction in their stead.
On November 10, one Canadian author will become $100,000 richer when the winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize is named at a black-tie gala at the Ritz-Carlton. Don’t know your Bezmozgis from your Toews? Toronto Life, Quill & Quire and the Giller are teaming up to bring you excerpts from each of the six finalists.
In her Giller-nominated novel, Frances Itani (author of the beloved book-club staple Deafening) returns to familiar CanLit themes: small-town isolation, unhappy marriage and post-war depression. Read Quill & Quire’s review.
Toronto: November 1, 1920
Zel glances around the room: oak floor, oak desk, wooden cabinet, two windows that look down over city streets three storeys below. Shelves behind the desk are stuffed with black binders. These, she suspects, are guarding secrets stored for generations.
She is in this room with three other women, a man and a baby. The baby, six weeks old, sleeps while nestled against her mother’s arm. Papers are arranged neatly before a woman who wears a tailored jacket over a grey dress. Zel sees compassion on her face; she senses it from her manner and her voice. A brooch in the shape of a miniature sleigh, with silver slats and curved gold runners, is pinned to the woman’s jacket. A tiny gold chain droops from the crossbar to represent a rope attached to the front of the sleigh. It’s as if the woman, who has introduced herself as Mrs. Davis, has a playful side, though not here, not as the official who will ensure that the documents on her desk are duly signed. In other circumstances, Zel would ask Mrs. Davis about the brooch, its origins, its maker.
If you’re looking to place a $100,000 Giller bet, many literary insiders swear that Miriam Toews’s funny and devastatingly sad novel, about a writer’s relationship with her suicidal sister, is the one to beat. Read Quill & Quire’s review.
Our house was taken away on the back of a truck one afternoon late in the summer of 1979. My parents and my older sister and I stood in the middle of the street and watched it disappear, a low-slung bungalow made of wood and brick and plaster slowly making its way down First Street, past the A&W and the Deluxe Bowling Lanes and out onto the number twelve highway, where we eventually lost sight of it. I can still see it, said my sister Elfrieda repeatedly, until finally she couldn’t. I can still see it. I can still see it. I can still … Okay, nope, it’s gone, she said.
My father had built it himself back when he had a new bride, both of them barely twenty years old, and a dream. My mother told Elfrieda and me that she and my father were so young and so exploding with energy that on hot evenings, just as soon as my father had finished teaching school for the day and my mother had finished the baking and everything else, they’d go running through the sprinkler in their new front yard, whooping and leaping, completely oblivious to the stares and consternation of their older neighbours, who thought it unbecoming of a newly married Mennonite couple to be cavorting, half dressed, in full view of the entire town. Years later, Elfrieda would describe the scene as my parents’ La Dolce Vita moment, and the sprinkler as their Trevi Fountain.
Set 20 years after the 1985 Air India bombing, Padma Viswanathan’s Giller-nominated novel borrows from real life in following Indian psychologist Ashwin Rao, who returns to Canada to interview others who lost family members during the terrorist attack. Read Quill & Quire’s review.
9 June, 2004
AT THREE IN THE MORNING,
New Delhi’s air is mostly remnants. This is its quietest hour, though the city is not still. The sounds of night business concluding, morning business being prepared, all sorts of shrouded transactions: these carry. But the air itself is nostalgic with acrid exhaust, cookstove smoke, the dying breaths of jasmine and bougainvillea breaking down into each other, night exhaling the prior day.
Please excuse: poetic lapse. I orient by smell. The night-scent excited me as I locked my door and ascended, then stopped, descended and re-entered the flat to check again: taps off, windows locked, no food anywhere. I don’t normally second-guess this way—I have many neuroses, just not this one—but I would be away in Canada for a year. I would leave my key with a fellow resident but didn’t want to leave her a reason to use it.
Heather O’Neill is the closest thing CanLit has to a rock star, so it’s fitting that her nominated novel follows the 19-year old twin children of a Québécois separatist folk singer as they navigate life in Montreal’s gritty Boulevard Saint-Laurent neighbourhood during the 1995 Quebec referendum. Read Quill & Quire’s review.
Girls! Girls! Girls!
I was heading along Rue Sainte-Catherine to sign up for night school. There was a cat outside a strip joint going in a circle. I guessed it had learned that behaviour from a stripper. I picked it up in my arms. “What’s new, pussycat,” I said.
All the buildings on that block were strip clubs. What on earth was their heating bill like in the winter? They were beautiful, skinny stone buildings with gargoyles above the windows. They were the same colour as the rain. There were lights blinking around the doors. You followed the light bulbs up the stairs. They were long-life light bulbs, not the name-brand kind. The music got louder and louder as you approached the entrance of the club, like the music in horror films.
Political and personal revenge are at the centre of two-time Giller nominee David Bezmozgis’s latest novel, The Betrayers. An Israeli politician flees with his young lover after scandalous photos are leaked in retaliation for his dismissal of a plan to have Israel withdraw from its West Bank settlements. Read Quill & Quire’s review.
A thousand kilometers away, while the next great drama of his life was unfolding and God was banging His gavel to shake the Judaean hills, Baruch Kotler sat in the lobby of a Yalta hotel and watched his young mistress berate the hotel clerk — a pretty blond girl, who endured the assault with a stiff, mulish expression. A particularly Russian sort of expression, Kotler thought. The morose, disdainful expression with which the Russians had greeted their various invaders. An expression that denoted an irrational, mortal refusal to capitulate—the pride and bane of the Russian people. That Leora persisted in arguing with the girl proved that she was the product of another culture. In Israel, notoriously obstinate country, argument could be sport, sometimes engaged in for its own sake, sometimes to accomplish something. But this Levantine penchant for argument was of no use in a Crimean hotel at high season. Much had changed, Kotler observed—the very existence of this modern hotel and a few others like it; the vacationers in their Western fashions and their brash, contemptuous, cheerful, money-induced postures; all the visible appurtenances of progress and prosperity — but at the root, where it mattered, there was no change. One had only to look at the Russian girl’s face. A people’s mentality, this hard nut, mysterious and primitive, resisted change. Yet to espouse such a view was now considered provocative, and it was precisely this sort of provocative thinking that had landed him in his predicament, Kotler thought gravely — but not without a twist of ironic satisfaction.
A surprise contender from Montreal music journalist Sean Michaels, whose debut novel fictionalizes the life of Lev Termen, KGB spy and inventor of the theremin. For Quill & Quire, Michaels wrote about what sparked his interest in writing the book.
I WAS LEON TERMEN before I was Dr Theremin, and before I was Leon, I was Lev Sergeyvich. The instrument that is now known as a theremin could as easily have been called a leon, a lyova, a sergeyvich. It could have been called a clara, after its greatest player. Pash liked “termenvox.” He liked its connotations of science and authority. But this name always made me laugh. Termenvox—the voice of Termen. As if this device replicated my own voice. As if the theremin’s trembling soprano were the song of this scientist from Leningrad.
I laughed at this notion, and yet in a way I think I also believed it. Not that the theremin emulated my voice, but that with it I gave voice to something. To the invisible. To the ether. I, Lev Sergeyvich Termen, mouthpiece of the universe.
In the lead-up to the mayoral election, Doug Ford suggested that he’d leave politics if he couldn’t convince voters to to hand him his brother’s crown. Now, though, with the election over and the Ford dynasty in shambles, he seems to have changed his mind. The Globe reports that Ford is openly musing about running for leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives—a job vacated by Tim Hudak after he led the party to a humiliating defeat in this year’s provincial election. It’s true that Ford has some reason to be confident in his electability (he finished second in a hotly contested citywide race, after all), but to win the leadership he’d have to gain the support of PC insiders, who may be reluctant to make the famously abrasive councillor their party’s public face.
—Toronto musician Owen Pallett in a Facebook post about Jian Ghomeshi, who was recently ousted from his job as host of Q on CBC Radio amid allegations of sexual abuse by several unnamed women. Ghomeshi disputes the accusations, which were detailed publicly for the first time in a Star investigation on Sunday, and has filed a $55-million lawsuit against his former employer.