Monday, 27 July 2015


It is astounding that no one is saying this. Trump is the racist candidate for president. And the scandal is that so many American voters are behind him.
Take the statements of Trump’s supporters. They want to ‘take the country back’ and ‘make this country great again’ and ‘inspire Americans to be Americans.’ The question that immediately comes to mind is: who do Trump supporters want to take the country back from? And what— especially these days — is so ‘unAmerican’ about America?
Let’s look at what Trump has to say.
Trump  was one of the prime supporters of the ‘birther’ movement five years ago, insisting —against all odds — that Obama was not an American citizen. In March 2011 on Good Morning America Trump said he was a ‘little’ doubtful about Obama’s citizenship. A month later on NBC Trump refused to relinquish this view despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In October 2012, after Obama had released so many copies of his birth certificate that there could in fact be no more reasonable questions about his citizenship,Trump - trying to ferment further skepticism — pledged he would give $5 million to a cause of Obama’s choosing if Obama would publicize his college and passport applications.
In other words, Trump has consistently refused to believe that Obama is an American, simply because Obama is black. 
Trump’s recent comments about Mexican immigrants are part and parcel of his racist rhetoric. No matter how many times he says that some of his best friends are Mexican and that there are ‘good Mexicans’ as well as bad, nothing can quite erase the efficacy of the notions that underly his language. Significantly, Trump refers to Mexican immigrants as ‘a tremendous infectious disease pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico, and in fact, for many other parts of the world.”
What is both fascinating and horrifying is that it is possible for an open racist to be taken seriously as a candidate for president in 2015 without anybody calling him on it. Trump cannot run on a platform that says “Lets get rid of the ‘(just insert plural version of n-word here)!’ But he dances around political incorrectness just enough so that some Americans are perfectly willing to accept his views and no one is willing to call him a racist. (Hilary Clinton is only ‘disappointed’ in her ex-‘friend’ Donald.)
I know I’m not supposed to say it, but doesn’t Trump resemble another political candidate — in fact an influential leader — from history? 
I know it would be way over the top for me to suggest Donald Trump is Adolph Hitler, so I certainly won’t do that. However, it’s interesting to observe the similarity Trump’s talking points and the Nazi Party’s platform in Germany in the 1930s. Trump believes that his country is being ruined by non-white people and immigrants, by the ‘other’ who have become an ‘infectious disease.’ He is a virulent anti-communist. He also  cultivates a dream of his very own version of the ‘Superman’: having little patience for ‘losers’ of any ilk, instead embracing highly personal and unrealistic standards for who a hero might be (witness his dismissal of John McCain’s war record). Like ‘Der Fuhrer,’ Trump is often ridiculed by his rivals; he not so much taken seriously as a threat — but instead dismissed as a clown.
Whether or not Trump becomes president, it should be a warning to us all that he got this far. We denounce fascists and insist that never again in human history will we allow The Holocaust to happen. So what kind of hypocrites are we?
Have we come such a very long way baby?
Could it happen here?
You’re damn right it could.

In fact, it is.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Why I Am No Longer An Artist

I know some might say — ‘Well I never considered you to be an artist!” or “Who cares?”
My concern here is with what it means to be an artist today, and how that has changed for the worse.
Unfortunately, art has become just another way to sell things in our mega-world. I rarely meet an artist anymore — just smiley, cheery, happy, upbeat people who earnestly yearn to become part of the entertainment industry — while singing a positive song or sending cute youtube vids.
This is especially tragic for young people, who are no longer taught what art is.
How did this happen?
I blame Richard Florida, a nincompoop who has somehow become a widely respected academic — despite the foolishness of his theories. (Richard Florida is — for some unknown reason — The Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and Professor of Business and Creativity at The Rotman School of Management at The University of Toronto!)
The Rise of the Creative Class was published in 2002 and changed the way we think about art.
It was the perfect moment. Florida’s silly, badly argued theories changed the western world. The time was ripe, for the 19th century had seen the fall of communism, and the worldwide web had gradually morphed from a mechanism for creative dissent to a effective means of delivering advertising — through Google, Amazon, and iTunes. 
Also, the ultra-capitalist Reagan and Thatcher regimes effectively wiped out lefty radicalism. In the 60s (when I grew up) we learned that there was a secular human spirit. We learned that that individual human growth was cultivated through nurturing fellow humans -- advantaged or not, privileged or not -- through play, art and radical thought. When the 80s, came, with AIDS, the 60s not only ended with a dull thud, but ideas about self-realization and the importance of art were rejected as having led to promiscuity and, ultimately death.  AIDS was the perfect argument against 60s self-realization.
In the ultra-capitalist post 80s climate it was no longer possible for government or foundation funders to justify the arts on the basis of man's secular spiritual needs, since life was now all about making money and buying things  — not something as old-fashioned, silly, and laughable as the growth of the human soul.
So, arts funders, city planners (and finally sadly, today artists themselves) have come to embrace mantras such as ‘arts create jobs’ ‘arts create world-class cities; and ‘arts boost the economy.’
The result is a tragic one, for those of us who once loved art and artists. Young playwrights used to ask me “How do I write a great play?” Now they ask me “How do I write a commercial hit?” Actors don’t care about a ‘the method’ anymore, they care about becoming triple threats. Young theatre companies have learned that bigger is better and want to reach a mass audience as soon as possible.
Of course most contemporary artists are pleased to get humungous grants and create giant spectacles as part of city festivals to promote Toronto. Everywhere you see pretty pictures, ‘audience involvement’ dance experiences, light shows — contentless, unchallenging self-confirming, narcissistic displays. And hey — bring the kids! After all, there’s nothing upsetting going on here!
Whatever happened to vision, challenge, inspiration, confrontation, experimentation, soul-searching, despair, anarchism, socialism, nihilism, skepticism, nakedness, risk, blasphemy, obscenity and the breathtakingly precarious expression of scarifying beauty?

So — just in case you are interested — that’s why I don’t use the term ‘artist’ to describe myself anymore.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Closer Look at Kathleen Wynne

It’s time for some tough talk about Kathleen Wynne.
The recent scandal at Ontario’s legislature concerning the pornography displayed in an Ontario government gallery is more than dismaying; it calls for immediate action on the part of Ontario taxpayers.
Most Ontario parliamentarians passed by the work in the gallery — operated by Kathleen Wynne’s government — without giving it a closer look. But not Conservative MP and Conservative Women’s Critic Laurie Scott. She leaned in to examine it, and she was seriously dismayed.
You may have heard Scott’s name before. Indeed, she has been active in campaigning against human trafficking — that’s the exploitation of Ontario’s teenage girls, many of whom are kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
When Laurie Scott glanced a little more carefully at what was hanging on the wall — a monstrosity that has been promoted as ‘artwork’ — it was immediately clear to her discerning eye (like Elizabeth our queen, Laurie Scott is a horsewoman) that this was not art; it was the exploitation of women. You see, upon close inspection, this painterly mosaic proved to contain tiny pornographic photos of women participating in sexual acts. This is an obscene artist’s trick. The artist’s motives are irrelevant. The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding hangs on the wall of an Ontario gallery — and it’s supported by Kathleen Wynne!
Do I need to explain? Pornography exploits women, and women who participate in pornography are victims, exploited by the greedy men who wish to make money off their innocent bodies. Women, as we all know, do not like sex, and do not even like to be reminded that they have sex —which they only do in order to produce babies, which is their proper focus in life — unless of course they are riding horses, or being Women’s Critics, like Laurie Scott.
But can I ask the question — what is really going on here?
For instance, have you taken a close look at the new so-called sex education program in Ontario, a noxious course of study that wants to teach 1st graders that it’s okay to have a same sex partner? It’s okay — yes, for girls to be with girls?
Of course Kathleen Wynne — an admitted lesbian — fully supports this curriculum.
I have it on good authority that Kathleen Wynne actually has spoken to the pornographic so-called artist in question Rosalie Malheux. They may even be friends. (It’s certainly possible. Feminist-lesbian-pornographers tend to hang out together.) The two women may even be related. It is certainly possible that Kathleen Wynne’s great great great grandmother and Rosalie Malheux’s even greater grandfather were related (perhaps by marriage) or certainly might have spoken to each other many years ago.
As critics of the sex education program rightly asked: “What’s next, safe sex with animals?”
It’s a legitimate question, and I think one that needs to be answered.
Sure, some might not find it ‘politically correct’ to criticize a lesbian, but when the lives of our children are at stake, it’s time to take action.
I recommend you write Kathleen Wynne and express your anger over this unabashed exploitation of women masked as so-called ‘feminist’ art.
If nothing else, do it for the sake of the children. 

Do it for your little girl.

Saturday, 4 July 2015


I usually don’t do theatre reviews. And this isn’t really a theatre review. That is — I didn’t actually see the show, but I’ve heard so much about it — and I so much share Toronto’s enthusiasm for this fabulous  musical — that I just had to tell you about it.
Kinky Boots is amazing from start to finish. The first thing you notice is that the story is all about Lola, a black drag queen. It’s not like Lola is some boring straight character’s sidekick (someone with a lot of invented conflicts and boring ballads). She is the central character in the story and all her songs rock! Kinky Boots is primarily about Lola — her life, her friends, her loves!  And you really get to know her drag queen ‘Angels’! At last, a play with a central character that’s gay and a drag queen — something you could only expect from famed gay writer Harvey Fierstein!
But what’s really amazing, and what everybody’s talking about, is the way this deeply radical play gets to the heart of ‘kink.’ It’s not like they called the show Kinky Boots just to lure in a middle class audience and titillate them with something they never deliver. This show delivers the kink. 
And how.
The opening number is a show stopper. When Lola sings “Don’t Just Take the Piss, Piss on Me!” — you can hear a pin drop. The song begins as a moving ballad — a brave testimonial to the joys of being urinated upon — only to transform itself into a toe-tapping dance number you’ll never forget! And when all of the male ‘members’ of the factory pull out their willies to pee on Lola (and each and every one of her Angels!) the audience spontaneously rises to their feet and gives the show spontaneous and well-deserved applause!
You have to see it to believe it!
The other big number comes at the end of act one, when Lola sings the heart stopping (and quite simply titled) “I Want to Eat your Shit!” I for one, never expected to see a scat song in a Broadway musical — but leave it to Cindy Lauper and Harvey Fierstein to transform subject matter that might shock some into a tune you just can’t get out of your head. And when the big fat factory worker Don squats down and does his ‘business’ (congrats to the props person on this — I think there’s a Dora in the future of this skilled craftsperson!) directly into the mouth of drag queen Lola, it is a moment that will forever change the face of kink! No more hiding in the shadows — scat now finds its home at the heart of a hit musical comedy — and it’s a hit with heart.
Finally, no description of Kinky Boots would be complete without mentioning the final blockbuster number “Sensory Deprive Me — Until I Die Me!” In the final moments of the show a relatively minor character, Charlie (who owns the factory) reveals that he has always wanted to be bound head to foot, wrapped in duct tape, and left to die in a closet. You think such material might be too ‘dark’ for a Broadway musical? Well you’re wrong. Somehow this genius duo — Lauper and Fierstein — make us laugh and cry yet again. And the whole audience rises to its feet once more!
I’m telling you, I’ve never seen a show that is so honest about the human condition — and that has such such power to change lives. Parents bring their kids to the show (which is great, why not)? I overheard one kid say to his parents “I’m never going to get married. When I grow up, I’m just going to find lots and lots of different people to pee on me!” Wow! What a change from Mamma Mia, eh?
As I say, I haven’t actually seen the show. I’m just riding on all the fantastic reviews and joining the general enthusiasm— because, hey, I believe in kink!

You heard it here. Run, don’t walk — to Kinky Boots!