Iggy’s pop art appeal

The way Michael Ignatieff’s electric-Kool-Aid-coloured image echoes across his new campaign paraphernalia has art experts and political analysts drawing a comparison to Andy Warhol’s iconic silkscreens – and the artist’s background as a marketing genius, reported the National Post Oct. 4. Featuring nine multi-hued panels of the Liberal leadership front-runner in profile, the imagery was unveiled in early September. But it made an eye-popping backdrop for Ignatieff when federal Liberals gathered over the weekend to select who will eventually choose the party’s new leader. Paul Sych, professor of typography and design at both York University and the Ontario College of Art and Design, noticed the central portrait of Ignatieff is done in the traditional Liberal red-and-white colour scheme. “I see it as the many faces of Michael Ignatieff,” said Sych, who also runs Faith, his own design firm. “The middle is the culmination of all the worlds he represents. All of those moods sort of merge into who he has become.” The materials reach out to a mass audience, he said, but maintain an intellectual appeal. “I’ve never seen anything like this for a campaign,” he said. “It’s very progressive.”

Ondaatje a judge of Nathan Phillips Square redesign

Toronto Mayor David Miller has announced plans to move ahead with a $40-million makeover of Nathan Phillips Square, reported the National Post Oct. 4. The city has invited architects, engineers and other design professionals to spend the next six weeks conceiving ways to improve the five hectares of space. A six-member jury, including writer and York English literature professor Michael Ondaatje, will review entries to the competition and select five finalists. Following public consultation, a winner will be announced on March 8.

York law grad welcomes health minister’s job

Moncton MLA and York law grad Mike Murphy’s appointment as health minister has come as a bit of a surprise, reported the city’s Times & Transcript Oct. 4. It was widely rumoured he would become the finance minister, given he served as the opposition critic to that portfolio. “It’s going to be a steep learning curve, there’s going to be some difficult decisions, it is the biggest portfolio in government so it will be a lot of work,” Murphy said, moments after being sworn in. Murphy earned a bachelor of business administration in 1980 and a bachelor of law in 1983 from the University of New Brunswick. In June 2002, he graduated with a master of law degree from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

Lawyer was ‘the pioneer’ in defending youthful offenders

“Cowboy” lawyer Stanley AvRuskin, a pioneering youth defender distinctive for his long grey locks and oversized hat, has died suddenly of an apparent heart attack, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 4. He was 70. “I’m back in the saddle riding the trail of tears for justice,” his voice continued to announce yesterday on his office answering machine. “This is S.J. AvRuskin, criminal defence lawyer, the old desperado in the big, black cowboy hat, the Willie Nelson of the defence bar.” So many people at the Jarvis Street provincial youth court planned to attend the funeral this morning that the building will be closed until 2pm, said Justice Brian Weagant. “Anybody who got involved with youth law had Stan as a mentor, there was no question,” said the judge, including himself in that list. Stanley James AvRuskin grew up a farmer’s son in Elora, Ont. He graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1961 and established his own defence practice in Toronto.

Musing on the Thanksgiving tradition

While the later origins of our Thanksgiving celebration are rooted in American culture, it appears that the holiday was originally a creation of Ontario Protestants as a means to promote Canadian nationalism, wrote Martha Muzychka in The Telegram of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Oct. 4. Over time, the holiday spread beyond Ontario and its Protestant connections to include celebration by Catholics and other groups as a non-religious occasion. By the time it was declared a national holiday in the mid-1950s, the focus was more on celebrating the success of the annual harvest than our unique and distinct political identity. Muzychka thanked Peter Stevens, contract faculty in York’s Humanities Division, Faculty of Arts, for providing such an illuminating examination of this holiday. Says Stevens, “Invented traditions seek sanction from the authority of history, and therein lies both their power and their pretence.”

York Lions maul U of T in Red, Blue Bowl

Quarterback Bart Zemanek‘s three touchdown passes in the second half were all the York University Lions needed to beat the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, 39-11, at York Stadium Saturday, reported the North York Mirror Oct. 3. The win was York’s 12th-straight in the Annual Red and Blue Bowl game and the team’s first of the season. The Blues fall to 0-5 on the year and have lost 38 straight.

U of T opened the scoring early in the first quarter with a rouge (one point) and a 33-yard field goal by kicker Joseph Valtellini. The Blues’ 4-0 lead after one quarter, however, did not last as York led 10-4 at the break after a 21-yard field goal by kicker Mike Kosteski and a six-yard touchdown run by Pearce Akpata. York exploded for 29 points in the second half as Zemanek connected with co-captain Ricardo Hudson (21 yards) and rookies Steven Hughes (11 yards) and Jonelle Tolbert (19 yards) to put the game out of reach. A 13-yard score by halfback Jocelyn Courcelles and a Kosteski rouge rounded out York’s scoring on the day.

Up next for the Lions is a showdown with the Lancers in Windsor on Saturday.

York grad’s film explores why we fight

Director’s Notes, a weekly UK-based podcast dedicated to giving a voice to independent filmmakers, posted an interview Sept. 27 with 2005 York fine arts grad Brendon Foster-Algoo about his 2004 film Anamnesis. The film explores two boxers’ traumatic childhood’s as they fight each other in the ring. A curious dissection into the psychology of boxing as well as a metaphor for cognitive behavioural theory, Anamnesis asks unflinching questions about who, why and how we are, and explores how traumatic experiences shape us and motivate our actions in the present. The interview documents the process of making the film, the contributions from York as well as upcoming events regarding Foster-Algoo’s film company. The site included a link to York’s film program.

The red-hot competitors

The Toronto Sun listed winners of a recent culinary competition in Montreal, including York history grad Patrick Kriss-Falkner, in its Oct. 4 lifestyle section. Kriss-Falkner began his cooking career at the Rosedale Golf Club in Toronto. At age 26 Kriss-Falkner says he’s a little older than most cooks starting out. “I actually started (chef) training after I finished my four-year degree in history at York University [in 2003]. I am very passionate in what I do and I love to learn and experience as much as possible. This competition allowed me to do this.”