by Michael Schultz on December 9, 2013
We went to see John Pizzarelli perform at Koerner Hall in Toronto Saturday night. What a great show and a great music hall.
Pizzarelli was there with his bother Martin on bass and two other fine musicians – Kevin Kanner on drums and Konrad Paszkudzki,from Australia, on piano. This quartet really knows how to deliver. Mr. Pizzarelli is a great story teller and the evening was dedicated to the great American Songbook as delivered by the late great Frank Sinatra.
The four musicians had entered, all gussied up in their tuxedos and were about to play when someone off in the balcony shouted “Hello John!”. A little too informal for the evening? Maybe not. Pizzarelli was not phased but a little non-plused by the heckle greeting. He immediately introduced himself and sailed into the first song.
I was pleased to find out later that he brought out an autobiography about a year ago called WORLD ON A STRING. I now have it and am enjoying it on my Kindle. You might also check out an interview on his website that was on NPR about a year ago where he and his brother delivered a few tunes and stories. Wonderful.
Be sure to listen to CJRT-FM every Sunday morning at 9:00 to hear his radio show called Radio Deluxe.
Here he is in Prague earlier this year with his lovely 7-string guitar.
by Michael Schultz on December 7, 2013
George W. Bush’s team used to scrutinize the guest list lest hecklers invaded his space at presentations. Heckling politicians is an ancient sport. Hecklers attempt to keep politicians on their toes. Not a bad thing.
Obama is being recognized as one of the heckled presidents in history. He is responsive to interruptions and appears to welcome heckling advances.
According to an article in the Las Vegas Tribune, people feel free to heckle President Obama:
One of the strategies employed by hecklers is to get the politician off the script – off the teleprompter. Why? So that the politician will have to speak from the heart – more honestly. The heckler often gets the press - not the president. Perhaps he is seen as more tolerant or liberal because he has handled it with ‘kid gloves.’ In the classroom, constant disruptions are still dealt with by a trip to the office by the student who creates the outburst. Where do we send hecklers though? During our education we learn that there will be a time to get the Q & A going.
In a country like the United States it is a case of honouring the freedom of speech ideal. But you have to wonder if by permitting unbridled heckling you are only asking for more. Afterall, it was Mrs. Obama who threatened to leave an event where she was harassed by a heckler. I remember leaving a rather large class once. A small and disruptive gang was rocking the boat. I headed to my office after saying …”come and get me when you’re ready to learn…” About 5 minutes later a student appeared at my door with an apology.
I think politicians,leaders, employers, teachers etc. are constantly challenged with allowing the tail to wag the dog. It’s a fine balancing act indeed.
by Michael Schultz on December 4, 2013
There comes a time in the crowd when somebody just had to say something about what’s happening on the stage, the field or at the podium. The ‘bubble’ bursts and a heckle gladly and poignantly ensues. However, there does appear to be an excess of ‘over-sharing’ in our culture generally. A recent article suggests stoicism and impulse control can eradicate the excess:
To simmer everyone down we know have a ‘Live Like a Stoic Week’….a global self-improvement experiment aimed at improving psychological self-improvement. Stoicism’s main tenet, which originated in Roman times about 300BC, is that freedom ( and happiness) comes by getting rid of desires not fulfilling them. Today it might be about not letting technology rule your life or simply not stammering on about something or someone.
As the article suggests, “in a world that can’t hold back, detachment suddenly looks very welcoming.”
Professor Christopher Gill of Exeter University suggests that our ‘role is to be a good passenger not second-guess the pilot.’ But it seems people today are constantly taking shots at the pilot with continual ‘finger-pointing’.
Here is a brief summary with Professor Gill and a PhD student Patrick Usher describing their philosophical innovation:
Stoic Week, which started in 2012, happens the last week of November. While North America at the same time seems bent on a retail rampage called ‘Black Friday’, the folks at Exeter are interestingly showing a little more reserve.
by Michael Schultz on November 28, 2013
In San Francisco this past week , U.S. President Obama stopped to engage a heckler who was voicing concern over a deportation issue. When a presenter does not stop it will most likely provoke further outbursts. It is similar in psychology to halting a bully. Many recent political heckling incidents have resulted in hecklers being physically removed.
Obama’s point is clear….the easy way is to rant and yell and even violate the law to achieve your objective. The harder way is to follow democratic procedure, lobbying and listening and getting it done.
There’s a good lesson here in civility and patience. If the heckler continues to be a ‘thorn in the side’ at least they have been warned, instructed and schooled in the fine art of crafting change. Good on Obama for remaining open and reachable. After all the hoopla over the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination, he continues to show courage in facing the nation….not an easy thing to do.
by Michael Schultz on November 27, 2013
I was saddened to see the passing recently of Allan Stanley, the former defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 50s and 60s.
I didn’t know that he was once a New York Ranger. The Rangers paid $70,000 for Stanley in the early 1950s. Management in New York promoted him as a bit of a ‘saviour’ who would lead the team to greatness. When that didn’t happen, Stanley was mercilessly booed and heckled whenever he touched the puck. It was a tough go for six years in the Big Apple. Then he went to Chicago and then Boston for about 2 seasons each. In 1958 he headed to Toronto. His GLOBE AND MAIL obituary by Martin Levin says he ‘was a major, if quiet, contributor to four Stanley Cups’ in the 1960s. Alan Stanley was an assistant captain of the Leafs. Boos had turned to cheers in Toronto as he became a favourite both on and off the ice for his style and performance.
In 1967, the ‘over the hill’ Leafs played the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup. In the 6th game with less than a minute left at the Gardens, Leafs ahead 2-1 and on the verge of winning the championship, Stanley was told by coach Imlach to take the faceoff in the Leaf end against the proficient Jean Beliveau. Stanley took the man, the puck sprung loose and before you can say “Lord Stanley”, George Armstrong, the Leaf captain, tossed one in the Hab’s empty net. This goal sealed the deal and Leafs won the Cup. They haven’t won another since. I was there that night and remember it well from our perch in the end blues.
Allan Stanley may have been nicknamed “Snowshoes” for his slow-footed nature, but he took command and brought hockey greatness to Toronto where I grew up. Thanks for the memories!
by Michael Schultz on November 22, 2013
Today’s blog stems from news that is a few weeks old but has both a comical and serious twist. President Obama speaks to faithful about healthcare when a heckler in the room challenges him to stop consideration of the Keystone XL ( does this mean extra large?) pipeline from Canada. Obama addresses the heckler by saying that the agenda is healthcare not the environment. He tells the heckler that the climate change conference was last summer.
It perhaps reinforces the importance of making sure your heckling agenda meshes with the message of the meeting. In this case, Obama was addressing the Affordable Care Act. By the sounds of it, there will continue ot be serious protest over the terms of America’s planned healthcare provisions.
At the same time, it is important to get your digs in with the President when you can and keep the protest ‘top of mind’.
by Michael Schultz on November 19, 2013
Ford fracas. No, it’s not the name of a new car. Rather, it is the Roman circus taking place in Toronto at City Hall. Yesterday’s antics are an ongoing demonstration of politics out of control. There’s one scene here where Rob Ford mounts a charge as if to snuff out a ‘bad student’… if he were a teacher – he’d have lost his license and been in the ‘blues pages’ eons ago. The gallery here is electric and heckles are flying all over the place in protest ( and probably support).
Then, within the last 24 hours he and his ‘guardian’ brother faced off with Mansbridge.
Here Ford and his brother discuss his “come to Jesus” moment.
But the final word goes to Rick Mercer for a rant on Ford:
Temporarily a sensation….car crash to a disaster movie. Rob Ford..”.circus act”….but his politics are real according to Mercer.
by Michael Schultz on November 17, 2013
From Vegas to the Borscht Belt, “the history of the 20th century humour is Jewish, period, ” says Yuk Yuk’s founder Mark Breslin.
Documentary film maker Alan Zweig has just released a provocative movie called “When Jews Were Funny”. Apparently it’s fun viewing. I like documentaries done well – I’ll have to check it out. Here’s Mr. Breslin’s take on the show:
One focus that the film takes is that Jewish people aren’t as funny as they were. Howie Mandel says they are just as funny and that “they are just missing the accent…we’re the same people.”
According to reviewer Dave McGinn, “Jewish humour is borne out of a mix of persecution outsiderness and a questioning spirit of hyper-analysis.” These are all qualities you need to be a good comedian or a good heckler for that matter. If Jews lose that mix they lose that compulsion to be funny – to be a smart-ass.
In my book HECKLE, I point to Jewish humour and mention Michael Vex’s book BORN TO KVETCH. “Kvetch” means to complain incessantly…again, a powerful heckling characteristic.
To the Jewish everything is funny. I like it. I’m somewhat jealous. I’m not Jewish but I get it.
A comedian is someone on the outside who questions everything. We need more of this – not less. It’s not “where have all the flowers gone….” ,it’s where have all the demonstrations gone?
by Michael Schultz on November 14, 2013
French President Francois Hollande is not too popular these days. His popularity has sunk as the French are displeased with his performance. France has had weak economic growth, high taxes and rising joblessness.
Protest and heckling seem to go hand in hand. So it was on Remembrance Day that demonstrators shouted at Hollande to resign while he laid flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Paris. The protest was accompanied with loud boos and shouts of “Hollande resign”.
France is famous for its demonstrative electorate.
by Michael Schultz on November 13, 2013
I glanced at the TORONTO STAR yesterday and an article on civility caught my eye. Former Ontario Premier William Davis is still in the news even though he’s in his mid 80s. His message was quite simple: “We need more decorum, decency and civility in public life……mutual respect and even personal friendship can persevere among partisan rivals.”
His “Big Blue Machine” conservative party dominated in the 1970s and 80s.
So while heckling is a necessary part of public life, it may take a senior member of the ‘tribe’ to let those in power how they’re doing when it comes to civility.
Here’s a look at Davis discussing the way he sees things: