Brutus the Barber Beefcake showed up at Toronto city hall on Nov. 7 to address the media on the troubles of the city’s admitted crack-smoking, binge-drinking mayor, Rob Ford. Hours before, several newspapers had released a cell phone video showing Ford ranting and screaming about murdering someone who had insulted him in the press. “He dies or I die, brother,” Ford barked, frantically pacing around a dining room, promising retribution, like a high school jock with a Scarface poster above his bed. “I’ll rip his f------ throat out. I’ll poke his eyes out … I’ll make sure that motherf-----’s dead!” Mr. Beefcake, the heavily tanned former professional wrestler, asked the reporters to gather around. He flexed his biceps, pulled out his signature barber shears, and started in on Ford. “I just watched the video, and he was completely out of his mind. He needs some help.” Ford needed an intervention, Beefcake said, “I am going to be his angel of mercy!” Mr. Beefcake’s plan included a steady diet of Belly Buster sandwiches, which he had come to promote. A groan emanated from the press corps. “This is getting pathetic,” grumbled a television cameraman, who accepted a free turkey sub.
Two days before, Toronto’s embattled mayor had finally admitted, after six months of media reports, police investigations, and Ford’s own denials, that yes, he had smoked crack cocaine. When asked by a stunned reporter when that happened, the mayor replied, “probably during one of my drunken stupors.” That’s stupors, plural. Already that week, the hallway outside the mayor’s office, which has turned into an encampment for every media organization in Toronto, had hosted a wheelchair-bound Iron Sheik, a singing man in a banana suit, and several evangelical Christians, who came thumping bibles in the hope of saving the mayor’s tattered soul.