Like most Americans I only know Jian Ghomeshi as the guy who replaced Terry Gross and Fresh Air on my local NPR station. Or so I thought…
Let me take you back to Toronto in the early 90s. The city was not lacking for self-absorption and arrogance: The Barenaked Ladies were busking, The Jays were champs, and Due South was an export.
I was an actor fresh out of drama school. I landed with a pretty good agency whose roster included Sheila McCarthy, Dean Mcdermott, Maury Chakin, Paul Gross, Aidan Devine, Sandra Oh, and Amanda Tapping. There was no lack of swagger among this group.
We were young. We did many foolish things. I witnessed many acts of questionable behavior. One Christmas, I worked a holiday party with Dean Mcdermott (we parked the guests’ cars). I saw Martin Short so blind drunk on the front lawn I thought he’d never stand up. Years later I saw him in a Santa Monica Toys R Us on a Sunday morning. He didn’t appear much better. But somewhere along the way, Martin Short must have changed his behavior. He wouldn’t be alive otherwise.
I was once invited to a #CBC season launch party; a Friday afternoon debauch at their King street studios that started with booze flowing at noon and went right on through until eight that evening. Eight hours of sodden Canadian actors and “celebrities” blind-drunk out of their minds behaving like the biggest narcissistic douche-bags south of the 401 (myself included). Don Cherry was there, that’s where I met Mr. Dressup, Ernie Cooms (Somewhere I have a photo of the two of us, I’ll post it if I find it). Scott Thompson from Kids in the Hall strutted around in a vampire cape, you would have thought he was Norma Desmond.
These days I hear Scott is pretty chill, really mellowed out, and a nice guy.
And then there was Jian Ghomeshi. I never knew his name, I just knew him as a member of the band, Moxy Fruvous. They used to hang around my agent’s office. I don’t know who they were friends with, but they’d usually saunter in the door, grab a Diet-Coke from the mini-fridge in the foyer, and generally strut around the place like they owned it. Ghomeshi was the worst. He generally acted like it was everyone’s great privilege to be in his company. The stories going around now about him having a narcissistic personality disorder? I don’t know anything about that now, but that was certainly Ghomeshi back then. I thought the guy was a real arrogant piece of work.
And I say this because the Jian Ghomeshi I know today I bear no ill-will. I didn’t even realize the DJ I’ve been listening to on Q is the same arrogant asshole who crossed my path 20 years ago. I’ve enjoyed his interviews, especially with Canadian subjects, it makes me a little homesick. He is informative, appears sensitive, has a very appealing radio manner. Hell, maybe it’s Q I just like. Piya Chattopadhyay works just fine for me too.
I believe in the rights of the individual. Pierre Trudeau said it years ago, and I am a big believer in what he said, “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”. What Jian Ghomeshi does in his bedroom is none of my business.
I also believe in the rights of women. There are now allegations of sexual abuse against Mr. Ghomeshi. His attempt to shrug these off in his Facebook apology as harmless, consensual sex-games displays a lack of sensitivity and self-awareness that is disturbing. Wherever the truth may lead in this matter, what I can confirm is this: the guy who posted that Facebook message that seemed more like boasting of sexual proclivities than a heartfelt explanation? That’s the same egocentric braggart I observed 20 years ago.