Middleton on a ‘good thing’

In the wake of homemaking guru Martha Stewart’s conviction on obstruction of justice charges related to a stock scandal, Marian Ollila, a shopper interviewed in the Martha Stewart section of a downtown Toronto Sears store, said she was not a Martha Stewart fan, but “the ruling won’t have an impact on my decision to buy or not buy her products. It’s just not something that I would consider,” reported the Globe and Mail March 6. The paper said this supports the view of Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, who played down the verdict’s impact on Stewart’s day-to-day business. “What she has been found guilty of is esoteric to her public” and, therefore, it should have a neutral impact, said Middleton.

Middleton on disposable fashion

The Globe and Mail’s Karen von Hahn also turned to Middleton for comment in her March 6 column on a new appetite among young women for fast, disposable fashion. Top retailer in this category is the brilliant Swedish-based H&M, which will open its first Canadian store at Toronto’s Fairview Mall next weekend, wrote von Hahn. According to Middleton, H&M’s shotgun approach is right on target. “Twenty years ago, people were content to be defined in very narrow categories,” he said. “But lately, there has been this very powerful shift, especially among young people, where they are saying, ‘Hey, I don’t want to be in just one role. I’m much more diverse than that.’ ” In Middleton’s view, this means that the carefully edited investment wardrobe is dead in the water. What we really want is variety, along with an opportunity to be adventurous. “We’re not planning ensembles any more,” Middleton said. “We are much more creative in the way that we put things together.”

Looking for the real Jesus

For those looking for an alternative to Mel Gibson’s view of Jesus, there is help, wrote York alumnus Nino Ricci  (BA ’81) in The Globe and Mail’s book section March 6. Next to Gibson’s literalist interpretation of the gospels is a tradition going back nearly 200 years of the search for the so-called historical Jesus who might realistically have stood behind the myth, wrote Ricci. The search is anathema to literalists because it supposes that the gospels could be other than the received word of God – could, in fact, be full of biases, inaccuracies, even outright fabrications. The bald truth, of course, is that there is no way back to the “real” Jesus, wrote Ricci, whose most recent novel, Testament, is a fictionalized retelling of the life of Jesus.

Papandreou defeated in Greece

Greece’s socialist leader George Papandreou, the former foreign minister who spent his teenaged years in Toronto, conceded defeat after exit polls showed a clear victory for the conservative New Democracy, reported the Globe and Mail March 8. Papandreou was born in the United States and graduated from high school in Toronto in the 1960s when Greece was under a military regime and his exiled father Andreas Papandreou was teaching economics at York University (1969-1974).

Prior to the election on March 6, the Globe asked Thomas Gallant, who teaches modern Greek history in York University’s Faculty of Arts, to comment about the contest to become the next prime minister of Greece. “You’re really dealing with really intelligent, cosmopolitan, scholarly types, both of them are fighting over the sort of middle ground,” said Gallant. Papandreou, whose father founded the Socialist Party and whose grandfather was a president and a two-time prime minister, was born in the United States to an American mother and attended schools in Canada, the United States, Britain and Sweden. He was foreign minister and became his party’s candidate for prime minister when the incumbent, Costas Simitis, moved aside last month to improve the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement’s (PASOK’s) chances of retaining power. “It was pretty clear that if Simitis led PASOK into this election, they were going to lose,” Gallant said. “So, bringing in Papandreou, who not only has his own personal popularity, but that associated with his family, has really given the party a boost.” The election had tightened and gotten dirtier, Gallant said. For example, he said Papandreou, whose first language is English and who speaks a slightly accented Greek, was being accused by nationalist organizations of being anti-Greek-Orthodox, a puppet of globalization, a threat to Hellenic heritage and being in favour of soft drugs, abortion and pornographic art. “This is playing the religion card, which is quite controversial in Greece. The campaign has [become] quite personal and nasty,” Gallant said.

Sudz acts his age

Apparently some who know the tricks of the publicity game hinted that Sudz Sutherland, director of Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, shouldn’t reveal his age and pretend that he’s younger, wrote Guy Dixon in a Globe and Mail profile March 6. “But, I’m, like, I couldn’t make a film of this quality if I didn’t have all the experiences I had had up to that point,” said the 34-year-old Sutherland, who studied film at York University from 1989 to 1991.

On air

  • John Ralston Saul, accompanied by his aide de camp, recently gave a speech at a conference at York’s Glendon College, reported “C`est Bien Meilleur” on CBC Radio Française March 5.