JACK LAYTON: A Better Man in Full
I worked at MuchMusic for almost a decade, and unquestionably my biggest contribution to music that whole time was being producer/cameraman/bodyguard to Nardwuar the Human Serviette. I love Nardwuar like an annoying brother – which is to say I appreciate his merits while admitting that few people on earth can frustrate me as much. Anyone who has watched (or been a subject of) his interviews probably knows what I’m getting at.
In Nardwuar’s defense, the man has no guile. He’s not Sasha Baren-Cohen, playing a polarizing character for laughs. He’s not malicious, or calculating, or daring. Nardwuar is just…Nardwuar. He can’t help the way he is.
When asked what Nardwuar was like, I would tell people he was a litmus test for the entire human race. You could really discover a lot about a person based on their reaction to Nardwuar. The ones who were insecure or took themselves too seriously tended to react negatively. The ones who were most comfortable with themselves were the ones who dug him the most. Essentially, they were like Nardwuar in that they too had no pretense – they were just simply themselves.
In this way I can tell you that Beck is a big fucking baby, Dave Rowntree of Blur is a self-absorbed dick who could use either a hug or anger management therapy, and Peter Murphy of the band Bauhaus knows his contribution to pop culture is marginal at best, and is rather dismayed about it. On the other hand, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single fake bone in the bodies of Snoop Dogg, Josh Homme, or the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne. Oh yeah – and Jack Layton too.
Jack was on the campaign trail in 2004 when Nardwuar and I bumped into him. Nardwuar was in the habit of making politicians….well, maybe just watch the clip:
Personally, a lot of what you need to know about Jack is right there: he was gracious enough to talk with the autistic-savant of celebrity interviewers, he possessed life experience broad enough to impress even Nardwuar, and he had the good sense not to answer the doobie question. I particularly like that he respected Nardwuar enough to actually prep for the interview – the harmonica and chanting “Doot doola doot doo” in unison are giveaways. Most importantly, though, the man was genuine – he did the Hip Flip, then made a mildly blue joke about one day playing it home with his wife. I certainly hope that moment wasn’t the start of his hip trouble.
Everybody knows there are lots of phonies, blowhards and sycophants in politics. Jack Layton was none of those things – the Nardwuar Hip Flip Poll proves it. You may not have agreed with him, but theres no reason you couldn’t aspire to be like him.