The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Mar. 12, 2014
ROBYN DOOLITTLE CRAZY TOWN: THE ROB FORD STORY – PENGUIN
“What follows is the story of Rob Ford’s improbable rise to one of the most powerful jobs in Canada. It’s the story of how the mayor of Toronto found himself ensnared in a scandal so surreal, half of the city couldn’t believe it a scandal with drugs, lies, an attempted cover-up, and extortion, which captivated the globe for weeks.”Crazy Town, Robyn Doolittle
Robyn Doolittle’s Crazy Town is an informative lens into the life and career of Canada’s most well-known and infamous politician and celebrity.
Canadians are aware of the crack smoking, homophobic slurs, the endless lies and an inane ability to associate with alleged extortionists, drug dealers and gang members. Doolittle’s chronicle of Ford’s life-tracking his rise through city council to becoming mayor allows non-Canucks insight into a political office that has confused countless Canadians. Many expected Crazy Town would be an evisceration of Ford page-after-page, taking no time nor courtesy to shed light on any of the positive character traits of the mayor, however, Doolittle portrays a politician intimately aware of his actions.
At one point, Ford is described as intimately aware of the public mood regarding political issues. A true populist, Ford recognized that winning city council battles wasn’t necessary, that the real battle would be fought in the court of public opinion.
Ford made continual follies during his term and they were presented in the media, however, he defied standard political conventions. Doolittle notes that the media couldn’t cover Ford in the way that they did other politicians who made a mistake because, “How many times could the press write, ‘Rob Ford said something crazy yesterday, before it looked like they were picking on him?”
Doolittle takes effort to portray Ford as a politician like none other: “Regular rules don’t apply to Ford- which is a good thing, because Ford never cared much for following the rules.”
Windsor is mentioned multiple times in the book, once referencing the flow of guns across the border with Michigan. Windsorite Nick Kouvalis, Ford’s shrewd campaign manager who helped him rise to the mayoralty, is also noted.
While not mentioned by name, local political activist Paul Synnott comes up in the book in a chapter devoted to Kouvalis. Kouvalis and Synnott started a business together, and Synnott recommended to Kouvalis that he “start associating with some local politicians to see if they could help speed things along.”
Kouvalis began associating with the federal Conservative party, launched his own campaign consulting company and eventually managed Ford’s rise. While it’s certainly a stretch, it can be argued that if Synott never recommended that Kouvalis get involved in politics that Rob Ford might never have been elected mayor. Overall, Doolittle’s Crazy Town is an enjoyable read that will undoubtedly remain in reading circles and literary conversations for years to come. The biggest takeaway from Crazy Town is just how intelligent Rob Ford comes across at times much different from his media portrayal.
Jon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.