By Emily Senger - Friday, April 12, 2013 - 0 Comments
Why the president did not have a conversation with Jay-Z
Rapper Jay-Z’s song ‘Open Letter,’ which is a response to backlash against his recent trip to Cuba, warranted a reply from President Barack Obama’s press secretary, even if his reply was a lighthearted one.
Last week, Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé made headlines when they appeared in Cuba to celebrate their fifth anniversary. There was much speculation that the couple may have been in the country illegally, since Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba without a special permit. There were also questions of whether the couple got special treatment.
Upon his return to the United States, Jay-Z released his single “Open Letter,” which seemed to suggest that he spoke to President Barack Obama directly to get a travel license into the country. Continue…
By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
Sammy Davis Jr.’s sex romps, Michael Jackson’s ruthlessness: Paul Anka’s memoir is an explosive glimpse of the stars he knew and loved
In his autobiography, entitled—what else?—My Way, after the tune he wrote for Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka comes off as a Dante figure, returned from the depths of strange netherworld landscapes—Las Vegas, Los Angeles—dragging up to the earth’s surface a trove of forbidden gossip. “Frank, of all the women you’ve known,” Anka, the aging Ottawa-born teen idol, asked Sinatra shortly before his death, “who was the best in bed?”
You might think Sinatra’s reply—which by the way was Angie Dickinson, praise that fellow Rat Packer Dean Martin, apparently in a position to know, seconded—would remain locked in the subterranean vault of the American entertainment business back in Anka’s heyday, with its high-wattage machismo, the drinking, hookers and collusion with the Mob. A thing of confidence—secret, in other words. Instead Anka, whose name in Arabic means “noose,” as in a hangman’s, dishes on all his famous pals, crafting that rare thing: a celebrity memoir that’s fun to read.
In the lead-up to its publication, and the release of his first CD in six years, Anka is already causing a stir, with expansive excerpts in Britain’s Daily Mail and a TMZ-broadcast rant in which he scolds rapper Jay-Z for not returning his call. There’s something peculiarly Canadian about his comeback—the way Anka’s memoir, told from the point of view of a smart but wide-eyed Ottawa boy visiting the land of excess and crookedness down south, serves to puncture its myths. Here is an aging Dean Martin, sitting in a restaurant with his false teeth in a glass, or Sinatra showing him his colostomy bag. Who knew Anka was the keeper of such secrets?
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 6:50 PM - 0 Comments
Sports stadiums want to enter the smartphone era. The challenge: connecting 100,000 fans.
When the Barclays Center ofﬁcially opened its doors Sept. 28 with a sold-out Jay-Z concert, New Yorkers got their first up-close look at the brash, otherworldly home of the Brooklyn Nets. In renderings, the US$1-billion arena’s swooping lines initially resembled those of the Starship Enterprise. But, in real life, the deliberately rusted steel exterior (which drips bright orange splotches on the sidewalk below) conveys a grittier, urban aesthetic—more Blade Runner than Star Trek.
Nor is the futuristic theme limited to the Barclays Center’s appearance. The arena is trumpeted as among the most technologically advanced in the world, full of HD video screens and, most importantly, extensive WiFi connectivity.
It’s part of the mounting effort to drag the utilitarian sports stadium, with its popcorn and plastic beer cups, into the age of smartphones and tablets. With the exception of subway tunnels and airplane cabins, big sports stadiums represent one of the few remaining places in North America where decent wireless coverage can be frustratingly hard to come by—thanks mostly to the technological challenges posed by having the equivalent of a small city sitting in a single city block. At the same time, team owners are hoping to keep fans flowing through the turnstiles by allowing them to integrate their iPhones and iPads into the action. Though specific approaches vary, fans at places like the Barclays Center can expect to watch instant replays, monitor real-time video of their favourite players and order food and drinks from their touchscreens.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 23, 2012 at 1:48 PM - 0 Comments
Brian Topp looks to Francois Hollande.
First, Hollande campaigned on a relatively gutsy platform. It offers a fairly clear choice, within the mainstream of a western industrial democracy, with some impressively clear commitments. For example, much media coverage has focused on Hollande’s proposal to restore fair taxes on high incomes. The details are less important than the victory Hollande scored in how this proposal was debated. It was widely discussed in terms of whether or not to dispense with cadeaux fiscales – fiscal gifts, to the wealthiest of the French – rather than the populist right-wing “smaller government, lower taxes, more freedom” slogans that have delivered none of these things, while building grotesque income inequality here in North America. In short, Hollande found a way to win both the frame and the debate over economic equality.
Not mentioned by Mr. Topp, but not to be discounted: this music video. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen - Monday, April 23, 2012 at 4:10 AM - 0 Comments
The Sutter boys’ diverging fortunes, the Obamas’ new best friends, and Britney Spears’ $15-million question
Good eye, regular guy!
Somewhere in east Vancouver, the host of a recent garage sale weeps bitter tears. Two paintings he sold for a combined $100 were a tad undervalued. One is a watercolour by Group of Seven member Frederick Varley. The other appears to be an oil-on-plywood landscape by Tom Thomson. Kate Bellringer of Maynard’s Auctions told the Vancouver Sun the paintings were purchased on “impulse” by a “regular guy” who wants anonymity. Perhaps it was the barely discernible Thomson signature that caused him to haul both works to the auction house for appraisal. Smart move: Bellringer said expert consensus is the Thomson is authentic. The Varley has an estimated value of up to $6,000, while the Thomson may fetch as much as $250,000 at a May 16 auction.
The Flames’ blame game
Darryl Sutter has turned around the Los Angeles Kings since taking over coaching duties mid-season. His Kings have the Vancouver Canucks on the ropes in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Puck luck hasn’t been as kind to his brother Brent Sutter. The Calgary Flames announced last week that Brent has left as head coach by “mutual agreement” after the team missed the playoffs yet again. Darryl had kind words for his bro: “I think he’s a top coach in the National Hockey League and it may very well be that he’ll be coaching somewhere else soon, too.” Darryl speaks from experience. He, too, was punted from the flickering Flames in late 2010. He was GM there when Brent was hired in 2009.
By Colby Cosh, Richard Warnica, and Alex Ballingall - Monday, September 5, 2011 at 3:45 PM - 0 Comments
Gail Asper steps up, Steve Jobs steps down, and Beyoncé is with child
Just call her ‘G’
Winnipeg philanthropist Gail Asper, 51, is inspiring admiration and horror in her hometown with a surprise contribution to the genre of “older white folks rapping.” Asper is among prominent locals asked to contribute short videos to the University of Manitoba’s VoteAnyWay youth-voter drive; Asper’s supposedly self-penned number, delivered on the steps of the legislature building, reminds viewers: “Even if you’ve got smallpox / you can still go tick that box,” as the media heiress improvises gang signs and grabs her derrière. Local rapper Patrick “Pip Skid” Skene told the Winnipeg Sun her intentions were “honourable” but admitted “the rap is pretty wack.”
Brother of the year?
Gaelan Edwards said he learned his craft from “medical books” and TV. But as an amateur doctor, his record is pretty solid nonetheless. The 12-year-old delivered his own baby brother after his mom went into labour at their home in Campbell River, B.C. Gaelan, the eldest of five, pulled his brother out by his shoulders, helped his mother push out the placenta, then clamped and cut the umbilical cord. Baby Caynan was born a healthy 7 lb., 9 oz. Lucky for mom, Gaelan was up late watching a movie about showgirls when her sudden labour kicked in. He is now said to be considering a more formal medical career.
By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at 11:50 PM - 4 Comments
A roundup of stuff I’ve written recently, here and there:
For Canadian Business, I…
A roundup of stuff I’ve written recently, here and there:
For Canadian Business, I interviewed Major Marc Dauphin, a military physician who was the last Canadian to head up the Role 3 hospital at Kandahar Airfield. It was a seriously fascinating chat, I wish we could have printed the entire conversation. Instead, you’ll have to be satisVirfied with this piece.
That interview took place the day after I served as MC at the launch of Fawzia Koofi’s book in Toronto, which I wrote about on the blog. I also got irritated with John Ibbitson’s suggestion that Stephen Harper has a coherent foreign policy, let alone something that could be elevated to the status of a doctrine.
For the print edition of Maclean’s, I wrote about Toronto’s war on fun, which was in many ways just an excuse to grind a well-worn axe about the need to provide immigrants with the opportunity to properly integrate. That said, all the evidence suggests that Canadian multiculturalism is doing just fine, despite what Muslim-baiters like Geert Wilders and his estate agents over at Sun Media want you to think.
Over at my other blog, I explained why I have no intention of voting for Dalton McGuinty. It has to do with Virginia Postrel and light bulbs. By the way, did you know there’s been a measles outbreak in Massachusetts?
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 1:00 AM - 0 Comments
Barack Obama is a remarkable performer on various counts, but tonight he managed something I’d only ever seen professional wrestlers pull off previously.
Pausing at one point to gaze out hopefully upon the St. Paul crowd, he appeared to notice a certain contingent chanting the now-familiar “Yes We Can” refrain. Rather than continue with his speech, he lingered there, letting the chant build and eventually fill the arena.
His talents are well-established and exhaustively documented. But it’s not just that he has a particular gift for reading from a tele-prompter. It’s also that he understands how to incorporate his audience into the performance (note too how he talks fast and almost dances in place when he’s working a crescendo—on this night he appeared even to exhaust the faithful with a succession of these). And that’s not something I recall seeing in anyone beyond the likes of Ric Flair and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
I’m not sure if that makes him more or less qualified to lead the free world.
Update. Which me reminds of this bit of a theatre from a couple months ago. Granted, it’s bit more Jay-Z than Randy Savage, but then maybe the difference between those two points isn’t entirely insurmountable. Continue…