Shinan Govani is a columnist with Hello! Canada magazine.
What fazed me wasn't the forty-seventh potshot by Jimmy Kimel, or even the de rigueur lampooning on a Lady Gaga-hosted Saturday Night Live. What really threw me was when I happened upon two characters on a daytime drama going on 51 years – General Hospital – matter-of-facting about Toronto's mayor in some drive-by dialogue.
Clearly, a very particular apotheosis had occurred – a meta-moment, alright, in the Rob Ford soap opera. Expected: political wise-crackery on the witching-hour talk shows, and current affairs-peeling on SNL. It takes a peculiar skill, however, in getting a call-out, right there in the most mainstream marrow of Americana.
Today, we put a formal cap on those kind of bilateral hijinks. With the election of John Tory – and the official curtain-close on Ford-ism in Toronto – it's the end of not just a political epoch, but a pop moment one, plus a pivot in the social life of the city.
Allow me to put it in Jolie terms: Going from Rob Ford (who recused from running for mayor, passing on the baton instead to his brother, Doug) to a primo square like John Tory is a bit like galloping from the era of the blood-vial-wearing, brother-kissing wild-child Angelina to that of the extreme philanthropist, Gaia-holy-mother, Honorary-Dame-dubbing-by-the-Queen Angelina. It looks like Toronto, and sounds like Toronto...but, hey, are we sure we're still in Toronto?
Certainly, there's going to some bereavement in the ranks of some journalists. No doubt, they kind of got used to the fame-frottage that was dabbed on them courtesy of Ford, who became an immediate global media sensation from the moment that Gawker and the Toronto Star went public, in 2013, with the story of the infamous camera-phone video that allegedly showed the mayor inhaling from a glass pipe. Tory, for the record, has gone on the record of late to confirm that he likes eggs whites for breakfast and, moreover, has "two weaknesses": licorice allsorts and red Twizzlers.
Despite all the chest-thumping and pearls-clutching there was a kind of acid pride – both among journalists and civilians, alike – that Toronto had entered into House of Cards territory, and that Ford was even notorious enough to be mentioned in Joel McHale's spiel at the star-speckled White House Correspondents' Dinner. "What's up with Ford?" celebrities would ask moi, when I was interviewing them, or trying to corner them at parties, my heart swelling just a wee on these occasions. Pharrell – yes, The Pharrell – asked me just that when I crossed paths with him at a party, in London, over the summer. And just last week, when on a phone interview with the grande dame of vampiric fiction herself, Anne Rice gingerly side-barred to ask me, "What happened to Ford?"
Charlie Sheen weighed in at one point. So, did Bill Murray.
The Ford Era also bequeathed that rarest of things to any social scene: conversational glue. Something to talk about! In Canada's largest city! From the all-out Film Fest to charity affairs like Bloor Street Entertains to annual dos like The Giller Prize Gala, it was the thing we had soldiered on with together. These – hey! – would be the stories we'd one day tell our grandchildren.
Onwards. Upwards. With the ballots counted, and the election finito, it's time, indeed, for a storyline re-set: like when they killed off Brody on Homeland or, say, when Shannen Doherty bolted from Beverly Hills 90201. Enter, stage right, Tory, whose biggest quirk, as he's mentioned, is that he has a prediliction for Frye boots. "I wear them with suits," he says.