Marty the horse had to take a break from all the hoopla about getting into the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. He had a beer at McVeigh's to kill the time, Thursday November 22, 2012. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI AGENCY)
TORONTO - I couldn't help but laugh at the TV crews and news hounds chasing Marty the horse down Front St., on Thursday morning.
Yeah, that's what you go to journalism school for, to file minute-by-minute reports on a horse walking down a street.
But there it was. The biggest news of the day. Bigger than the ceasefire in Gaza and the rebel uprising in the Congo. Marty the horse being turned away at the Royal York Hotel and then taking a sad hike through streets of downtown Toronto.
It was surreal. Toronto TV stations were actually leading their newscasts with Marty, boasting that they had their "breaking news" cams on the scene. Newspapers filed internet updates.
"Dateline Toronto. Marty the horse has just passed wind. Details to follow."
Marty the frickin horse. He came. He saw. He made a mess.
Can we get on with our lives now?
I mean, I get it. It's the spirit of the Grey Cup, and part of the spirit of the Grey Cup is for some hick in a cowboy hat to ride a horse through a hotel lobby and yell "Yee-Haw!" every three minutes.
According to my CFL-crazed boss, Bill Pierce, that's where it usually ends. The hick rides the horse into the lobby, pictures are taken and thousands of Calgarians weep for joy. But because some tight-ass at the Royal York Hotel refused to allow Marty entry, Marty became the most celebrated animal in Toronto since that disease-ridden gull who was splattered all over Exhibition Stadium by Dave Winfield.
Watching Marty make his way up Front St., trailed by all the media clowns, reminded me of Al Cowlings driving O.J. Simpson down Interstate 405. The only thing missing was Marty's rider, Farmyard Phil, or whatever his name was, screaming at the cops to get back.
Cooler heads finally prevailed when the Royal York decided to let Marty in. Some Royal York media flack said on the radio that the reason why Marty wasn't allowed entrance in the morning was because it wasn't check-in time yet. And then she giggled.
Still, despite the fact that they did let the nag in, many Albertans, and Calgarians in particular, continued to dump on Toronto for not catching Grey Cup fever, and for being uptight and all that other crap we're supposedly known for.
Give us a break! Us arrogant, snobby Toronto types understand that running a horse through the lobby of hotel is a Calgary Grey Cup tradition. But what about our Grey Cup traditions? We have them, you know. A tradition of indifference and disdain. Don't they count for anything?
You know what? The next time the Grey Cup is held in Calgary, I'm going to start a Toronto Grey Cup tradition by bringing Mimico Mike, my friendly rat pal, over to the Suncor Energy Centre to see if they'll let him run through their lobby. And if they don't, I'm going to make a big stink about how Albertans are uptight and haven't caught the Grey Cup spirit.
This week seems to be all about making our friends from the west happy, which is a pretty difficult job.
"Torontonians are too uptight. The city is too crowded. There are not enough steak houses. Somebody took away my plastic horn. The cab drivers don't speak English. Wah, wah, wah"
Hey, we're trying to catch the spirit.
As I was walking towards the Royal York on Thursday with my friend Mike Koreen, we came upon three Saskatchewan fans wandering down Front St.
"Why can't you be more like them?" Mike asked. "They have Grey Cup spirit."
Grey Cup spirit? It looked like a death march. They kept looking around like some mug was going to jump out of an alley and demand their farm subsidy cards, or whatever folk from Saskatchewan carry.