Crusty Blatchford (emphasis added):

I would miss [Don Cherry’s] trademark liberties with the English language; his easy-to-mock delivery (my nephew does a spectacular imitation that consists of much unintelligible staccato barking, the only understandable bit being a “Good Kingston boys!” exclamation)…; the frequent glimpses of his big sappy heart (invariably involving shout-outs to sick or dying children); his fierce loyalties and equally ferocious biases….

I bemoan the loss of characters and character both, and I think they are linked. The fewer rascals and curmudgeons about, the less tolerance for the few there are, and the higher and prissier the bar becomes, the more effete and precious the national temperament.

This from the mannish, high-strung prima donna – ever prone to ashtray-heaving shitfits if somebody so much as touches her commas, let alone eats, shoots, or leaves – who imagines that dorky Svend Robinson is “a bit of a flamer.” The fuck does she know? Her entire career, like those of Mary Ormsby and Rosie DiManno, is about apologizing for the guys with whom she grew up poor in a hardscrabble town. I did, too; the difference is I knew I was better and left.

At any rate, it is now well established that – to use the lesbian phrase – I self-identify as a curmudgeon. (It’s readily Googlable.) And yesterday, I moved heaven and earth through the rain and Beirut-like rubble of rue du Collège to attend the second and final screening of Alan Zweig’s documentary I, Curmudgeon.

It’ll be on TVO this fall, probably, with no doubt simply appalling captioning, but I am here to tell you right now that almost every part of my life was up there on the screen and I was thrilled out of my mind for the first half-hour. I can back up everything they say; look in particular for Toby Young’s recounting what happens when he walks across a crowded room. Then the repeated truths, the self-recognition, and the sheer length caused me to get a bit blasé, itself a curmudgeonly reaction.

My reflex on hearing of the movie (just the title!) was “Why am I not in it?” I sat there imagining everything I could unload. I imagined where I’d sit in my penthouse loft here while the camera rolled. (With the benefit of having seen the finished product, I hoped I’d do a better job hiding the lavalier mike.) I imagined warning Zweig about simply appalling captioning. I imagined unburdening. Too many of the subjects seem to have suffered little, if at all, for their curmudgeonly natures. I had near-complete strangers and colleagues of long standing say nothing at all nice about me in a major U.S. magazine; try living through that.

Blatchford got it right with Grapes, though. Curmudgeons are not “negative” or “bitter”; we are frustrated idealists, romantic, sentimental. And Zweig has inaugurated what I hope will grow into a full canon of documentation of our lives. I am tired of Normals telling lies about my personality.

After the picture, Zweig summed it up: “I think that ‘Love people, hate the crowd’ is good. But every now and then you meet somebody from the crowd.” Earlier, with the movie still running, I left that crowd, walked up to Zweig, and said to him: “Your movie is about my entire life. My only regret is that I’m not in it.” He seemed actually shocked – and touched.

I gave him the red card.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2004.05.03 21:24. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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