Toronto’s Crack Mayor

While Americans were going to the polls yesterday, Canadians were learning that the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, has finally admitted that he smoked crack cocaine.  You read that right — the mayor of Canada’s largest city concedes that he has smoked crack cocaine while in office.

The Mayor is a heavyset man who looks like Chris Farley, with a big belly, too-tight suit coat, and bad taste in ties, and his press conference yesterday was like a Chris Farley comedy routine.  Ford, who was elected in 2010, had repeatedly denied the crack smoking allegations, even after the police said they were in possession of a video that showed Ford doing so.  Yesterday, Ford explained he smoked crack “probably in one of my drunken stupors” about a year ago.  He’s also admitted to making other “mistakes” in the past, including being “hammered” at a street festival this past summer and drunk at City Hall on St. Patrick’s Day.  Ford claims he doesn’t even remember smoking the crack because of his drunken condition.

At the press conference, Ford apologized and said his condition is “a problem.”  No kidding!  But Ford nevertheless says he’ll serve out his term and run for reelection next year.  One of his supporters on Toronto’s City Council said “It is very disappointing to have the mayor of the City of Toronto admit to smoking crack cocaine.”  Even by Canadian standards of restraint, that’s a pretty remarkable understatement when a mayor admits to partaking of a highly addictive, criminalized drug on video.

These days, when situations like this arise, it’s customary for people to express sympathy for the guy with the substance abuse problem and urge him to get treatment.  It’s politically incorrect to say that Ford is a selfish clown who has embarrassed his city and shown he is completely unfit for office — but that’s the truth.  Even under Toronto’s “weak mayor” system, where the mayor doesn’t have much power, citizens have a right to a mayor who doesn’t smoke crack, get “hammered” at city events, and is capable of exercising rational judgment in discharging the duties of his office.  Any decent person, “hammered” or not, would resign immediately.  Even Tommy Boy, Matt Foley the motivational speaker, and other Chris Farley characters would recognize that.

Squeezing Into “Skinny Clothes”

Conventional wisdom dictates that, if you haven’t worn an article of clothing for a year, you should just get rid of it.  If twelve months have passed without it being taken off the hanger, the reasoning goes, issues of style or fit make it highly unlikely that you will ever put it on again.

I disagree with the conventional wisdom for two reasons.  First, I’m cheap.  Second, I think that, if you haven’t worn that jacket or pair of pants for a year due to weight gain, you should keep them around as a tangible reminder of how far you’ve let yourself slide.  Stepping on a scale, unpleasant as it might be, is an abstract exercise.  What difference does six pounds make, really?  But if you try to put on trousers that you haven’t worn since last fall and you realize the waistline now cuts off your circulation, you’ve got a powerful, concrete, and embarrassing indication of where you stand.

I have a sport coat that is about 30 years old.  I know this because I have a picture of me, UJ, and Dad taken in 1986, and I’m wearing it.  It’s been hanging in my closet since, donned with decreasing frequency until all wear stopped during the 1990-2010 interregnum.  At that point, my packed on poundage made any effort to struggle into the jacket look like the scene from Tommy Boy where Chris Farley rips David Spade’s jacket to shreds.  It was humiliating — but I resolved to keep the sport coat, anyway, as a reminder and a goal.

At the start of 2012, I decided the time had come to get back into “jacket shape.”  Nothing extraordinary — just trying to eat a little less, drink a little less, and exercise a little more.  I’ve made progress, and recently I took the plunge and tried on the jacket.  Happily, I was able to put it on without spraining a shoulder or sending a button rocketing into the bathroom mirror.  It’s still a tad snug, but I felt a real sense of accomplishment.  I’m glad I’ve kept it around.