Saturday, June 16, 2018

Going out not with a whimper but with a Banksy

BY GEORGE WARNER's protest paintings
is exactly where I found myself
There is a big art show going on right now in a gallery that Google says is a 15-minute walk from my house. According to a beautifully composed story by the Toronto Star visual-arts critic Murray Whyte in this morning's paper, tickets to the show are $35 and the organizers have already sold 50,000 tickets.

The story also mentions the show runs until July 11.


On another page of the same newspaper, a full-page ad in the front section tells us the show, called the Art of Banksy, has been extended to August 19.

I'm pretty sure the discrepancy exists because the entertainment section of the paper was printed a few days before the front section, and the ad came in late.

And I'm telling you this only to remind you that we here at Pete's Blog & Grille know a thing or two about how journalism works. After all, we've been at it for more than 30 years.

But you sure wouldn't have believed that if you were with us, rather me, yesterday around 7:00 p.m.

You'd have thought, "He's lost it. Like the guy in A Beautiful Mind minus the math skills."
Purtygood writin' huh?

Here's why.

I was very close to home in my wife Helena's black VW Beetle; the radio was tuned to this country's best radio news show, As It Happens (AIH).

How good is AIH? It's been on-air since 1968. When I was in journalism school, I'm pretty sure most of us students thought landing a job on AIH would be like winning an Olympic gold.

An AIH trademark? On-air interviews with people within the very heart of breaking stories around the globe. The host would talk to, like, IRA rebels in a Belfast tavern or some Sandinista hostage-takers in a Managua, Nicaragua, bank. Or maybe a junkie poet a rich rock star ripped lyrics off from. Very compelling journalism.

I recall clearly the day one of our reporting teachers brought in a guest speaker named Lloyd Tataryn who--drumroll here--worked for AIH and, more importantly for me--more drumroll--came from my hometown of Sudbury.

For me, that single visit drew open the curtains on a world of possibilities.

Jump ahead now to yesterday, when AIH host Carole Off was interviewing Toronto artist George Warner.

Warner had sort of photo-bombed the big Banksy exihibit by staging his own art show, on a fence across the street.
DID I FORGET? The Banksy show was actually robbed.
True fact!!

He was protesting because he thought the Banksy show is emblematic of everything wrong with the Toronto art scene--it's rife with pretense, grant money goes to the wrong people; it's a snooty game--you know the arguments. I really don't have an opinion on the matter.

What I do feel strongly about is me having fun.

So I turned around and headed to the gallery. I was going to drive slowly by, roll down my window, yell "Hi and by George," beep the little Volkswagen horn and because that was George's voice coming from the dashboard speaker, and this is where it gets freaky--I'd hear me on the radio.

I got to the gallery. I saw the art on the fence.  Warner was easy to spot. He stood beside the paintings, wearing--I love this--a black leather kilt.

There was, of course, no interviewer in sight.

Because. That's. How. Radio. Works. And I've known it since...

Remember Tataryn from back up there in paragraph nine? I'd be lying if I didn't tell you he sort of burst my bubble when he told us that most AIH interviews seldom happened as we heard them. They took place earlier in the day.

Which is something I completely forgot driving to see George Warner.

I pulled over anyway.  Beeped the horn. I rolled down the window and out flew a lifetime's worth of professional credibility.

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