Photo Cred: Peter Power, Globe and Mail
So The National Post and Globe and Mail did year-end interviews with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in his office. They took photos too. I found the Globe’s photo very, very interesting/telling/creepy/enlightening/scary.
Full disclosure: I dislike Rob Ford. I dislike him – and Doug, his ejaculative carbuncle – as a man. A man who has repeatedly demonstrated that he’s completely out of touch with Canada’s most multicultural and talented city. I dislike how readily he disses the core, and feel bad for urbane, aware Torontonians, who were muzzled in the last election by SUV-driving suburbanites. I even dislike him on sight. I don’t even live there, and I dislike him. And as a writer, well, I am even less impressed by how little he seems to care about the arts. My arts.
And now, having glimpsed him in his office, ostensibly staged just so for his annual love-in for the press, I dislike him even more. Everything in the photo makes me shudder and weep for the people of Toronto, for the artists and writers, for the small businesses and eateries, and for the urban community centres and libraries he so clearly dismisses as mere items on a spreadsheet. Let me count the ways.
The Paper Desk Calendar: He still has a paper desk calendar. That’s a little out of date, but excusable – unless it’s stained and rumpled and “still stuck on June” according to The Globe's reporters. Oh wait, it’s all those things. How can we trust a man to lead a city when he can't even tale care of the desk he sees every day, much less clean up for a photo shoot? Who’s his PR person? Fired.
“Stuck on June”: If he can’t even be bothered to keep that ugly thing current, how can we expect him to keep up with his reading? Writing his memoirs? Learning about the great cultural treasures he’s supposed to preserve and promote? Doodling, even?
The Phone: His desk phone sits between Ford and his keyboard. This is a mayor who doesn’t use his own computer. I bet the keyboard’s dusty. I bet the computer wasn’t even on. I bet the computer still runs Windows 95.
Ford’s Kleenex: The Kleenex box is beside the phone, also between him and his computer. He must sweat a lot. Or pick his nose. Oh, sorry, I meant blow. Really, I did.
The Water Cooler: Seriously? Who let that in the shot? It looks like someone left R2D2 sitting there for massage purposes. Ford must sweat a lot if he needs so much water he can’t even be motivated to get out from behind his desk. Why would a man sweat so much?
The Desk: It looks like it was picked out at IKEA in the 60’s. Then re-melamine’d in the 70’s. Seriously? The mayor of Canada’s most powerful city (sorry, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Montreal, but it’s true) should have antique power furniture, made of hard woods and dark lacquers. People should tremble when they approach it, not think, “Oh, look, I think that’ll peel right off!”
The Walls: Please, please, please tell me that the rest of the available wall space isn’t as full of poorly hung, gaudy, mismatched crap as the space behind his desk is. He should be sitting in front of a sublime painting done by a local artist. Or the wall should have dark, power-bleeding bookshelves with oodles of tomes we don’t even have to ask if he’s read, because we know he has. Even the flags look like those strange, baloony preggo dresses that were popular last summer.
No Books: there is not one book or piece of literature in this photo. There is, however, what appears to be a stack of paper towels next to R2D2 and a TV remote closer to Rob’s hand than his own heaving jowls (yes, I measured). This is a man who by all appearances doesn’t read, folks – no wonder libraries don’t mean squat to him.
The Football (look between phone and keyboard): Ah, yes. Ford likes football. Symbolism received. (It’s creepily small, though, don’t you think?)
Stack of Christmas Cards: Dude, it’s December 20, and it’s obvious by the way they’re sitting that you haven’t written on a single one. How the heck are those gonna get delivered on time?
Razr: I think that’s a 2003 Motorola Razr on top of the unused pad of paper next to the Christmas cards. I had one of those. In 2004. (To be fair, there is an iPhone 4 on the desk in The Post's shot, although I suspect it might be out of reach. I'll not speculate on the reason I suspect that.)
The Lighting: It’s obviously fluorescent. What about gentle mood lighting? Gentle shadows and warm tones and perfectly placed highlighting? Pensive poses, well-read and knowing looks? I feel like we’ve stepped into the textile factory manager's office here, and it isn’t flattering – see the difference between the colour of his face and his hands? That must have been a seriously hearty laugh. I want a mayor who thinks about his and the city's image, even if it means making sure the lighting's right for a photo op.
The Chin: Okay, Brent, tread delicately here. Rob is what might gently be called “volumetrically challenged.” I'm sorry, but again, the mayor should look like he's at least making an effort to stay healthy while in office. (Even Bill Clinton and David Miller lost weight while in office.) But Ford looks like what Health Canada is campaigning against when it targets vending machines in schools. His shirt collar can’t contain him and, again, the colour of his face – it’s scary how obviously unhealthy this man is. Lastly, his own words to The Globe reporters, “Tim Hortons and McDonald’s have become like best friends,” scream really friggin' loud that this is a man who can’t even imagine looking for a locally-owned business near Nathan Philips Square who would be pleased and honoured to serve him a reasonably-priced, healthy meal. No, Ford has made it known that he’s mayor of suburbia and drive-thrus, and of the corporations rather than the businesses in his own neighbourhood. Jesus wept!
Disclaimer: I have no empirical, scientific proof for any of my theories, and they all might stem purelyfrom a biased suspicion (mine) that the man is a less-than-healthy fat cat in an ill-fitting shirt. As I said, I don't like him much.