Fringe 2016 Review – An Off Target Jesse James

By Jay Menard

Despite the legendary shooting acumen of its title character, Mr. Richardson was Jesse James, currently playing at The Palace Theatre as part of the London Fringe Festival, either misses the mark or, more appropriately, may not be sure what target it’s trying to hit.

The play bills itself as an Ontario South Western. But it reminded me more of my youth growing up in Montreal. Frontier Town, located in upstate New York, was a destination of choice for families looking for a vacation spot during the late 70s and early 80s. It was a place where the bad guys wore black hats, the kids would dress up as cowboys, and with cap guns in hand, we’d “shoot” the train robber, get our faces printed on the local newspaper, and walk away heroes. Continue reading

Fringe 2016 Review – 2 for Tea a Masterpiece of Refined Chaos

By Jay Menard,

It is hard to classify James & Jamesy’s 2 for Tea. It is at once a physical comedy and a touching story of friendship and love. It’s at the same time a paean to precision and an exercise in controlled chaos. It is both an homage to the great comedy duos of the past whilst remaining a contemporary delight that keeps getting better.

The easiest way to classify 2 for Tea is to say that it’s a must-see production on this year’s Fringe circuit. Continue reading

A One-Track Focus on LRT Bypasses Needs of the Many to Satisfy Vision of Few

The one thing about trains — when they’re coming your way, you’ve got to be the one that gets out of the path, because they’ll run right through you. And that appears to be the tactic that LRT proponents are using in their emotion-filled arguments responding to City staff’s recommendation for adopting the less-expensive BRT system.

After all, if you’re against LRT, you hate London, right? At least that’s what the tenor of the conversation has been. You hate London, you’re anti-progress unless you’re all-in.

I happen to disagree. And this one-track focus on LRT as the be all and end all of transit solutions is only serving to bypass the needs of the many in its headlong rush to satisfy the vision of a select few. But I guess I foolishly define “progress” by solutions that benefit all demographics. Continue reading

Dundas Flex Street Needs Some Muscle

By Jay Menard

You can flex all you want. If there’s no muscle behind it, no one’s taking a second look.

London’s council recently endorsed a $15.9-million plan to create Dundas Place — transitioning a stretch of Dundas St. from Wellington St. to the Thames River into a flex street.

The idea, is sound in principle. But while there’s been a lot of talk about transformation — an empty word that can be filled by any concept that fits your desires — there’s little talk about sustainability.

And that’s where the concern is.

I love the idea of a flex street. I’ve seen it work. But I don’t love the idea of a flex street as the first step in a process. Dundas Place has a strong “If you build it, they will come feel.”

And that’s true. They’ll come.


After that? You’ve got to give them a reason to keep coming back. Continue reading

We Play a ‘Trump’ Card with Increasing Regularity – And It’s No Game

By Jay Menard

For all those saying this “Trump” thing isn’t funny anymore, turns out the joke’s on us. After all, Donald Trump is nothing more than a reflection of how we play politics — and if you don’t like what you’re seeing, take a look in the mirror because Trump is just a reflection of how we play the game.

And it’s not too long until we have our own Trump her in the Great White North (and, no, Mr. O’Leary, I’m not ONLY looking at you.) Thanks to hyperpartisanship, a predilection for self-congratulatory confirmation bias, and a Zealous approach to framing arguments based not on merit, but rather on side (right/left/Conservative/Liberal), we’re well on the way to dealing ourselves a similar hand in Canada. Continue reading

Strategic Voting? It’s a Losing Strategy. But Here’s How We Can Win

By Jay Menard

This ABH political mentality has allowed the ugly head of strategic voting to rear its ugly head again. But, to me, strategic voting is merely playing someone else’s game for a prize that’s far too valuable to roll the dice on – the future of our country.

For the uninitiated, ABH refers to “Anyone But Harper.” And I will happily admit that I have never voted Conservative/Reform/PC in the past and will not be doing so on Monday. I’ve also noticed that, for the most part, the biggest advocates of strategic voting tend to be affiliated with party who would most benefit in their riding from the practice. Continue reading

Political Disengagement? It Comes Not with a Bang, but with a Wonk

By Jay Menard,

What’s the sound of political disengagement? Wonk wonk.

And, for most political wonks, that suits them just fine because for all the false indignation and professing for greater involvement, for the most part the goal isn’t better government – it’s winning. And no one cares if the country, as a whole, loses.

Wonk wonk is not a sad trombone sound, but it’s truly a sad noise. It’s the simple reality that the overabundance of self-professed and self-involved political wonks aren’t just fostering a negative political atmosphere on-line — they’re actively discouraging the casual political observer from becoming involved and learning more. Continue reading