The internet has been marveling over a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford awkwardly bopping and clapping while a jazz trio sings Bob Marley's "One Love" and "Christmas Carol Blues," in the middle of a city council meeting. For some reason the Canadian (and American) media is covering the story as though it's just the latest in a long line of wacky "crack mayor" antics. We have news for you: Rob Ford is not even the craziest thing about this video.
Most media outlets implied that the incident was ludicrous because of how Ford was acting. The Globe and Mail said the mayor "put on a one man show," even though he's obviously not the only one gesticulating wildly. The Toronto Sun, under the headline "Mayor Rob Ford Dances During Council Meeting," wrote that "Tuesday's mayoral dance break... is sure to provide video for even more late-night comedy fodder around the world." Which is true. because Jimmy Kimmel did, in fact, pick up the video, but was sharp enough to not focus his confusion on the mayor alone, asking, "What the hell is going on? Are they all on crack?"
According to the Sun, the musicians showed up after a shouting match between Ford and Pam McConnell, who Ford physically knocked over last month. The dance break also followed Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale's refusal to accept Ford's apology for insinuating Dale is a pedophile. Fun times. So again, not even the weirdest Ford-related story of that particular day.
And oh, yeah ... there's a Bob Marley cover band playing a concert in the middle of a major North American city's council meeting. Does that not strike anyone as a bit odd? The Sun explains why Jay Douglas and the All-Stars (made up of Jay Douglas, Bobby Hsu and Joe Palawan) performed during the meeting, which was apparently called to discuss water rates:
The council musical interlude was modelled after a similar initiative at the Austin, Texas, city council where artists perform music to promote the local industry. Mayor Ford led a music business mission to Austin earlier this year before he admitted to smoking crack cocaine and buying illegal drugs since being elected.
So given the circumstances, Rob Ford appears to be the only one reacting appropriately. Rather than standing and clapping like the other councillors or doing an energetic arm-waving dance, like Speaker Frances Nunziata (who incidentally had demanded an apology from Ford during the session), Ford is doing a slow wobbly swaying thing that is basically on beat. He's dancing the way one is supposed to dance to a reggae classic.
The non-Ford councillors, meanwhile (Nunziata excluded), are clearly not giving this dance break their all. Either Ford is the most superior dancer in the group or the others are simply uncomfortable is these situations — which is a totally reasonable thing for them to be, because it is a weird situation. What else can you do, but dance?
Some councillors were, in fact, uncomfortable with the performance. McConnell said "Right now, under the kind of microscope that we’re under, it just seems to me that we’re not taking it very seriously, the whole world is looking at us." But even before we can finish eking out a sigh of relief, having finally found a voice of reason, she clarifies "I think it might have been better if we had a folk singer today or Raffi.” Does she honestly believe that would have made this less awkward?
Let's review. Mayor Ford admitted to smoking crack while in office; made lewd comments about his wife after she accused him of domestic assault; irreparably harmed a journalist's reputation; and has done a lot of other shady things he hasn't totally copped to in the past few months. Despite all this he is still the Mayor of Canada's largest city, and as such decided a musical interlude would be a good way to break up a meeting he had already dismantled. (Since that appears to be the only authority he has left.) And, in response, nearly every other person in the room stood and clapped even more awkwardly than he did. The only thing he's guilty of is that he just "loves Bob Marley." Perfectly reasonable.
We get it, Toronto, your mayor is a wild card and you kind of love it. Ford's approval ratings went up soon after he admitted to smoking crack while in office and a bobblehead in his image became a collector's item almost immediately. And the media loves it too. But he's raised the bar for odd mayoral behavior so high that a little dancing doesn't come close to registering on the "Rob Ford did something crazy" scale. It also stopped being funny a long time ago, and it's frankly shocking he's still actually in office. If anyone should be embarrassed at this point, it isn't Rob Ford.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.