Gary's Glimpses #1 Donnie Downchild

Gary's Glimpses
#1 Donnie Downchild

I was one of the early habitues of Grossmans I became great friends with Al
and he let me make and sell my Grossman's T Shirts (I made up to $300 a week off them)
One of the first articles Richard Flohil wrote was for the Toronto Star Weekend. It was about Grossmans but he interviewed me so it ended up mostly about me and my T shirt etc.

I don't really remember when Downchild showed up, It seems like they were always there.
They were a fun band to know and hang with and Donnie would play anything you wanted for a shot of Jameson's Scotch.
I organized a small baseball league Grossman's, Pilot, Paramount, Vagabonds and anybody else that would play us. I did this for fun and to sell T-shirts. This was the 60's and I umpired in a dashiki and wearing a Fez.I usually smoked quite a bit of reefer before the game to keep me calm and slow the ball down. I remember Donnie sitting in the outfield with a dixie cup full of Jameson's. "Pop Up! Donnie someone yells" he carefully plants his drink and lurches to feet slipping and sliding in his leather soled cowboy boots looking for his mitt. Somebody retrieved the ball and he sat down again. It was not unusual to have Kid Bastien's marching band take the field in between innings. I remember Donnie playing at Krash's studio for the season baseball party until his fingers were bleeding.

My friend Hodge had a corn roast every year at his place in Whitby every year.So for fun I decided to turn it into a pop festival to surprise him. He was building a large trimaran in a barn and was surrounded by a hundred acres of Libby's cornfields. I got 3 bands, Downchilds, Kid Bastien and 'The Lubor K Zinc band. I had posters and invitations printed and on the Friday afternoon of the corn roast I rented a truck and loaded up the bands and lots of beer and a piano and whatever sound equipment they needed. We had a rollicking ride to Whitby I had no shortage of drugs in those days too. It was a wonder we weren't stopped I am sure they heard us singing long before we got there. Hodge wasn't too surprised as people with campers and tents had started showing up  a few days before. I think about 500 people showed up and I was told everybody had a great time but after everything was set up I dropped acid and I really don't remember much after that. It lasted pretty much until Sunday and Hodge wasn't' too mad at me except for Krash taking his corvette. He was just thankful nobody burnt the barn down. And I think he got about a hundred dollars when he took the empties back.

I guess we kinda took Downchilds for granted as a good party band and then I walked in  to Grossmans one afternoon and they got some black dude playing and singing with them and in few minutes realized it was none other than Albert King (Wow) I bought him a drink in a rest break (he must of played with them for 4 or 5 hours) "Wow man" he says "These guys are good." We started to realize that maybe we should take these guys seriously.
It was around then the band started playing all over town and it seemed to be a slightly different band every time I saw them.
I got married and moved back to Uxbridge for 3 years. Split with wife came back to T.O. and then went sailing down south for 15 months.
When I came back I opened up a booze can across the street from the Horseshoe. In the early days in a moment of madness I set up drums and a sound system and let musicians play for free beer. I must of been nuts and almost went broke. I remember towards the end of this experiment Roy Buchanan coming in from a ten thousand dollar gig at the Horseshoe. He sees my set up and says "Hey me and the boy's will play for free beer." "I never met a musician that wouldn't,"I said walking away.
Anyway one hot summer night Donnie was jamming about 3 in the morning and it was great unless you were trying to sleep. the windows were open and I bet you could hear them  6 blocks away. I was putting a fan in the window when I look out on the street and see dozens of police cars a Paddy wagon and loads of policemen. Before I could react there came some big knocks at the door. I opened it a crack, a line of policemen filled the stairway led by a large Sergeant. Yes I say. "We have a complaint about the noise," He hollers above the band."Just a minute." I say and close the door. I quiet the band and everybody else and close the windows. Back to the door"There you are ." I say and close the door. 3 big knocks and I open it again. The sergeant is bewildered " I have half the police force here." he complains. "So I took care of the noise right?" Anything else"? and closed the door. Donnie and I peeked out the window as the police all talked together in little groups looking up but finally shrugged and drove away. We kept very quiet and I got rid of the setup.

Donnie was a regular at the bar and there was a fad for really hot spicy food at the time and Arturo had given me a jar of really hot peppers, which were really too hot for humans. Donnie of course had to try one and we thought he may never play the harp again.
Then I went sailing in the Bahamas with Mclauchlan for a couple of months over Xmas and January. Now I had a lot of musician friends and I tried desperately to play the guitar. there were no auto tuners back then and I could even tune it. I was hopeless so for Xmas Mclauchlan bought me a huge chromatic harmonica with a slide and everything, it mus have cost $500.00. "Anybody can play the harmonica," Murray told  me. Except for me, I tried and tried early in the morning after everybody left. But again hopeless. So this is sitting on the bar one night when Donnie came in. "Whats this ?" I told him. He picks it up and makes a bit of music on it. "Wow he says I always wanted to try one of these lend it to me, I'll bring it back next week." I say sure what the hell and next week he come back and says" Shit i am sorry man but I broke your harp, that slide thing just snapped off and it's no good any more.' I was busy and I just shook my head and told him to  forget it. I wasn't going to play it anyway. So a few months later I see him in a concert somewhere and he has had a special holster made for my harmonica like a pistol with his smaller harmonicas in little holsters like bullets. I was really pissed off, I couldn't get backstage. So I didn't see him for a few years I got out of the bar biz and had some ups and downs and didn't see him until one night on Algonquin  Island - I had been living on the island for a while on a friend's sailboat. I just remember it was a great party and talking to Richard Flohil who was managing them. It was not a good time to bring up the harmonica and let it go. I tried may times to catch them in Florida but never did.
Many years later caught him at a cd signing at Grossman's and told him to give me a cd. "Why should I" he scowled. "For the harmonica," I cajoled. " oh yeah" He laughed and shook hands. I just got my latest signed dvd and cd from the band after I told Gary Kendall this story. I am so pleased and kinda proud to see the band win a Juno. I have always admired Donnie for his talents and his blues integrity and persistence through triumph and tragedy. I hope I can hit him for a bunch more cds.

HOW I SPENT MY BIRTHDAY IN 1976 IN NEW YORK FOR THE 200TH BIRTHDAY OF AMERICA


HOW I SPENT MY BIRTHDAY IN 1976 IN NEW YORK FOR THE 200TH BIRTHDAY OF AMERICA
In 1976 I invited Murray MacLauchlan to come to New York with me for the July 4th weekend and the tall ships. I had to fly down to pick up the van for the SORC sailboat Bonaventure V. The boat was racing in the Onion Patch in Bermuda and coming in to New York to go up the Hudson river and Erie Canal etc. back to Toronto and they wanted me to drive the van back. Besides July the 4th is my birthday and where else to celebrate? An added goody was an invitation from the Canadian Norwegian ambassador to have a sail on the Christian Radich.
(This was compliments of my sister who worked at harbour-front in Toronto) we were using Murrays agent to book tickets. The trip got complicated, my bartender Laura wanted to go home to New York so I got a ticket for her and then Krash's girlfriend Wendy wanted to go to meet Krash who was sailing to New York, so I got a ticket for her. We no sooner were in the air than somebody phoned Murray's wife and told her Murray and Gary were going to New York with 2 women. (this caused serious problems) After much ado we got a hotel room and I went to pick up the boat's van for transportation. As it happened I got a free parking spot around the corner from the Hotel. In New York on July4th weekend etc etc. so we never moved the van until we left and took cabs. Laura took us to her old studio and the bar she used to work at. It was right at the Manhattan side of the Brooklin
Bridge which is a great a place to hang out. This was beside the Fulton fish Market which was having a fair so we ended up spending the evening at the fair. Spendoing was the operative word for Murray he went a little crazy. One of the Hanky Panks had a life sized stuffed bear as a grand prize. Murray decided he had to have it. After about 5 hours and 5 hundred dollars he finally won it. So there we were 2 o clock in the morning going back to the Hotel trying to stuff this giant bear toy into the cab. It wouldn't fit so after 15 minutes of trying Murray took a long look at the bear and said What the hell do I want with this and threw it on the street. As we
drove off the streets were empty.
So on the fourth we went to see the fireworks
We get a cab he goes to The Battery but all the cars just stop in the road and he can go no further. he stoops gets out No charge lets go and see the fireworks. Street entrepeneurs have emptied the garbarge bins and filled them with ice and selling beer. we buy a dozen and walk towards the grandstands set upon the banks of the Hudson.Some guy says "dont pay follow me!" We go through a hole in the fence and walk through a swamp path of tall bulrushes etc. (thinking this is new york what are we doing?) But we come out on the best spot to watch the fireworks. We are right opposite the Statue of Liberty and the barges. The fireworks were spectacular and then for the finale a huge helicopter towed a monster flag up the Hudson and spontaneously 6 million people start singing The Star spangled Banner' It was something Murray and I actually cracked our heads together grabbing a beer and quickly chugalugging it to try and stop the chills up the spine.

Jim Hurley, Liz Potgieter, Duke Redbird and 4 others like this.

Niesha Patil
Thursday at 11:04am · Like

Jewdie Sorensen great story Gary and Happy Birthday!
Thursday at 11:27am · Unlike · 1

Duke Redbird Happpy B-day Gary enjoy, peace,love,&happiness my friend.
Thursday at 12:34pm · Unlike · 1

Jim Hurley Happy Birthday (belated), from Key Largo
Friday at 10:16am · Like

Gary LeDrew Thanks I understand things go slower there
Friday at 10:17am · Like

Jim Hurley Yeah, you don't want to leave your chocolate locked up in a hot car.
Friday at 11:37am · Unlike · 1

Maclean & MacLean and the Big snowstorm of 78


One Winter night in 78 we got hit by a monster winter storm and I opened my after hours club to a dismal night. Somehow by 2 in the morning there were four people Gary MacLean and Blair MacLean and a beautiful waitress from the El Mocombo and me. So after a few drinks and puffs we somehow started playing strip poker. The girl was lucky somehow she had bared Blair and I one time and Gary twice. I could stand no more and cheated until we got her naked. She ran off to the washroom to dress and Gary said to me"You Cheated!" I said Gary if I saw your hairy dick one more time I was going to scream.

Patrick McGoohan

I met Patrick in The 22 and asked him what he was doing? This was his answer. We chatted for a couple of hours. I think he had just finished Scanners.

Keenan Wynn


This is me with Keenan Wynn during the shooting of 'The Ballonist' a "Littlest Hobo" episode shot in my parents home in Uxbridge Ontario in the Summer of 1980. It was directed by Allen Eastman (Alien) and Keenan enjoyed tormenting him a bit. Keenan and I spent the breaks talking about movies like 'Dr. Strangelove' etc. it was a fun afternoon. Keenan had the shakes a bit and didn't want to sign autographs, he always had the continuity girl around to take poloroids and gave out pictures instead .Posted by Picasa

Scanners Mike Ironside

Went to the premiere of Scanners with Michael Ironside and Alberta Watson, I brownbagged a bottle of Mum's champagne to celebrate Mike's first big movie. We drank it in the men's washroom and it was hilarious how many guys couldn't pee with Alberta in the room.

The Elephant Walk


The Elephant Walk was the top floor
The Elephant Walk was an infamous Black After Hours bar at Queen and Spadina. it was a den of thieves, pimps and dealers and you pretty well had to be black to get in and known about. it was the entire Top floor of a building and the only way up was a very narrow stairway with a clear view to the landing. they had a monstrous steel door and extreme security.

From the middle of the sixties I had a lot of friends in the older black community in Toronto. Most of these families were Nova Scotia Blacks and i often went to parties and picnics and was friends of entire families. I met most of these people through the waiters at Grossman's or the Paramount Taverns. the Paramount was primarily a black bar. I swear I could go in the paramount at 12 noon sit down at a table with a dozen or so black guys and be both drunk and stoned by the time the waiter reached the table. Most of theses guys were into a lot of things from drugs to pimping etc. and it was very much a live and let live time I was not judgmental. 10 years later I had my own 'After Hours Club' across from the Horseshoe Tavern. The infamous Elephant Walk club was around the corner. it was a famous black after-hours bar and a regular hangout for dealers thieves and pimps most of whom I knew from my previous time at Grossmans.
So one night I am hanging out at my usual place the Club 22 at the Windsor Arms and this very elegant girl hits on me. Like she says Your Gary LeDrew a friend told me about you yada yada yada. She looks much like a model. Beautiful with long black hair and a full length Sable coat. I had no idea who she was but what the hell we had a few drinks she was pleasant to talk to as well. Then as closing time comes around she’s snuggles up close and says. I hear you can get me into the Elephant Walk? Now I knew she wasn't an undercover. I tried to figure out her angle. I told she was crazy it was not a place for a nice girl. She went on about just wanting to see the place it fascinated her. As it happened my bar wasn't open that night so what the hell I took her. It was on third floor we walk up to the steel door like 6 inches thick and the eyes glare out from the peep hole. Door opens Hey Gar who is the babe? We breeze in, even in the dark the heads turn like sunflowers. I get us drinks find a table with a couple of Scotian friends and sit in., other than a couple of obvious hookers she is the only white woman. I can tell it is bit more intimating then she thought. But it was when a pimp friend dressed to the nines with glitter and fur and gold rings on every finger sits down. He looks straight at me and says wow gar where did you find her. I 'll give you 3 grand for her and I'll throw in a couple thousand for coat. That was enough for her she latched on to me like glue. Screaming under her breath “please get me out of here!” I got her out and got her  a cab and and I never ever saw her again. Well except for maybe a glimpse one time in a Lamborghini.

I had a bad night there one time too
My bar was closed I was leaving the next day with Murray Maclaughlan. We had chartered Hodge’s boat for a month in the Bahamas. I was sitting at the bar alone having a drink and playing with a really stupid cheap switchblade knife Matt had brought me back from Spain. My bags were packed, I had several thousand dollars in my pocket and was all ready to go. I just wasn’t used to sleeping at night time. I wanted some body to talk to. After a couple of more drinks and without thinking I slipped the knife in my Pocket and went for a walk. There was not much going on Queen and Spadina at 2 in the morning. But I turn the corner and there is Hubert and Winston. I am the only one who dared call them that. They were known to everybody else as ‘Rocky’ and ‘Lad’ but we were good friends and I enjoyed tormenting them a little. They were going to the Elephant Walk so I joined them. It was a slow night maybe a half a dozen guys. I bought us drinks and we sat down and this shady dude slides in. The music is loud so I don’t really hear what is going on and next thing money changes hands and we got a giant splif of ganja. So we are talking and drinking and smoking. Shady dude is hanging too. The ganja hits like a sledge hammer. I have never had pot so powerful. My brain was flashing like a neon sign that said You are one stoned motherfukka. Then I said something stupid like. “Wow do you niggers ever get incredible dope.” Now I could talk like this to Rocky and Lad but shady dude went wild. He got right hostile and even threatening. Everything was spinning. Rocky and Lad were more or less ignoring shady dude but I couldn’t tell. Paranoia hit me. Black bar! Thieves and pimps! Friends Stoned! I’m Stoned, shit a got thousands of dollars in my pocket. Next thing switchblade is in my hand. I lined everybody up against the wall except Lad and Rocky who were rolling on the floor laughing. I made them open the door and I ran for home. I didn’t see those guys for a long while but they never let me forget that night. Later that knife almost caused me grief the police found it when they busted my bar one time. They were going to charge me with an illegal weapon. (I was not normally a weapon person) But it was a very cheap knife and when I told him to click the button the knife fell apart in his hands so they let it go.
I must say I had a few pleasant nights there too. The only thing I regret is my friendship with the pimps. the very nature of that business is very nasty and I witnessed a few things I just had to shut up about.

The Girl with the Exotic eyes


The Club 22 at the Windsor arms used to be a fabulous place and every night was an adventure. So I am sitting with a few of the gang at the producer's table when in walks this girl with really strange make up and very exotic dress. We look as she slinks to the bar. Wow she IS interesting "I wonder what her story is " somebody says. "Let's find out" I say and head for the bar. I drift on to the stool beside her and throw out a line. "Care for a champagne cocktail with me."
A few drinks later I know she is an exotic dancer and her gig got cancelled. A few drinks later she tells me that she has entered photos of her pussy in Penthouse's beaver contest and if I go home with her she will show me the photos. This does sound interesting. (If her eyes are any indication) So I agree until she tells me that she lives like in Mississauga and boondocks. Hmm I say a little too casually "That is kinda far couldn't you give me a little peek here."
She starts to cry
"What is the matter?" I ask.
"You have got me thrown out of here.'
"Hows that ?" I ask puzzled.
"When I am upset I cry and when I cry I mess up my make up and when I mess up my make up I scream and throw things.
I ducked out when she started screaming.

Club 22

 https://plus.google.com/photos/113223127054640823843/albums/5096855581014314609?banner=pwa

Goodbye Mr. Grossman Hello Mr. Fong.


Goodbye Mr. Grossman Hello Mr. Fong.

I can tell you about a lot of years
That I watched going down At good old Grossmans Tavern
The best Honky Tonk in town
So we better have another beer, it might not be for long
Goodbye Mr. Grossman Hello Mr. Fong.


There were many friends and many girls 
We made along the way.
We drank our beers and whiskies 
And passed the time of day
And we listened to the Downchilds or Kid Bastien
Sing a song
Goodbye Mr. Grossman Hello Mr. Fong.


We we may have a few years yet
Before they tear it down
And new feet tramp away the memories
Of our old stomping ground.
As Chinatown keeps growin' on dollars from Hong Kong.
Goodbye Mr. Grossman Hello Mr. Fong.


Well cities grow and change their ways
And we feel the growing pains
but we'll always find a place to meet
Tho it might not be the same.
We better have another beer before we move along
Goodbye Mr. Grossman Goodbye Mr. Fong.


Thanks to Gynts Skudra for keeping a copy.
I wrote this when Grossman's was sold
It was performed by Boxcar Bruce

Jail on St Patrick's Day


In 1962 St Patricks day came on Saturday. I was 20 and just got out of the navy and four of us decided to go to Buffalo for the weekend. We had lots of beer and I taught them a couple of songs I learned in the Navy.(SONGS BELOW)


So Mike, Hans Orville and I get Buffalo and get a couple of hotel rooms and head for Santisaro's for a famous pizza and a bottle of chianti in a basket bottle. Pizza was a rare commodity in those days.



We had a few drinks and a case of beer and went back to the hotel had a few drinks and went to bed.
We went for breakfast and then 10 pin bowling.
As the day wore on and since it was St Patricks Eve we decided to get serious and started to hit the bars 1 drink in each bar.
At one Irish bar a pretty lass talked into some regalia and we soon had our shamrock buttons and were having a good time.
We hit the street and Mike decides to swing on a sign pole.
I guess a car had hit it because it snapped off at the bottom and came down on Mike's head and he collapsed on the pavement.
I looked back at him just as it happened and went rushing back to help him. Before I could pick him up a buffalo policeman hauled him to his feet.
'where are you from ?" He demanded.
"Canada" mumbles slightly stunned Mike.
"Do you do that in Canada"
"yYah " but the poles are stronger."
"Oh a smart guy."Says the cop.
I say "Come on officer it must have been a weak pole.'
"Oh another smart guy."Says the cop and whistles.
A police paddy wagon k9 division pulls up and takes us off to jail.
"What are we charged with?"
"Him with drunk and you Drunk and disordlerly
"How was I disorderly? i asked, "I did everything you asked of me."
"You were still standing." laughed the cop.
Mike was drunk but I really wasn't.
they took away our Irish ribbons and buttons AND We are put in the drunk tank, the usual large dank cell with 3 irish drunks and about 20 black guys and one toilet etc.

Mike starts singing
Oh the Eri-e was a risin' and the
Gin was a gettin' low
And I did not think we'd get a drink
Till we got to Buffaolo ho ho
Till we got to  Buffa lo
the irishmen join in.
Mike fumbles the words and switches to

Sambo was a lazy coon,  Who used to sleep in the afternoon,
I managed to choke him quiet before the black guys heard it.    

After a terible night we are taken Sunday court. We now have a half a dozen more irish drunks and they all got to keep their buttons and ribbons. It is an Irish judge and he has about a half a dozen grand children in the first row dressed in green and white. they are all going to church after court.
The judge is in a hurry. Every drunk with a St.Patrick button is released. They come to us  Mike pleaded guilty $25.00 or seven days. me Not guilty, remand $100.00. what I dont have time for that I have to go back to Canada and my job. "Canadians? says the judge, "I'm tired of you undesirables coming down here and..
"Who the fuck are you calling an undesirable." I say,
"We come down here as good visitors, just out for a bit of we spend our money  caused no trouble started no fights, We weren't drunk, My buddy grabbed a pole and it snapped off and hit him. I don't believe you fucking people.
The judge Went apoplectic, he could believe his ears he sent his grand kids out.
"Get them out of here" he fumed
"Not in my court." he could hardly speak"You cant talk like that here." Take them to Canada! Take them to border. Get them out of here!"
That was it, no money, no fines, We were put in a crusier and taken to immigration.
it was sunday and this guy was filling in. He could't figure out how to fingerprint us so he took us to the border where Hans and Orville were waiting.
'This doesn't mean anything" he says "you come right back if you want to."

We were forty miles from Albany and
Forget it I  never  shall
What a hell of a storm we  had one night
On the Er-i-e Canal
On The Er-i-e Canal
Our Captain he came up on deck
With a spyglass in his hand
And the fog it was so fuckin thick
That he could not spy the land
That he could not spy the land

chorus
Oh the Eri-e was a risin' and the
Gin was a gettin' low
And I did not think we'd get a drink
Till we got to Buffaolo ho ho
Till we got to  Buffa lo


Two days out of Syracuse
Our vessel struck a shoal
We foundered when we hit a chunk
Of Lackawanna Coal ho ho
Of Lackawanna coal lo

Chorus


Our cook she was a grand old gal
She wore a ragged dress
We hoisted her upon a pole
As a signal of distress
As a signal of distress

chorus

When we got to Syracuse
The off mule he was dead
The night mule had blind staggers
So we cracked him on the head
And we cracked him on the head

the captain he got married
and the crew was tossed in jail
And I'm the only Son of a bitch
That is left to tell the tale
That's left to tell the tale

And unfortunately this one too.


Sambo was a lazy coon,         
Who used to sleep in the afternoon,        
 So tired was he, so tired was he.         
Off to the forest he would go,         
Swinging his bollocks too and fro,         
When along came a bee, a fucking great  bee,        
 Buzz, buzz, ubzz,
fuck Off you bumble bee,
I ain't no fucking rose,         
get off my fucking nose.                           
Arseholes rule the Navy,
 arseholes rule the Sea        
If you want a bit of bum, 
 better get it from chum,         
Cause you'll get no bum from me.

Larry Zolf

Larry Zolf (July 19, 1934 – March 14, 2011) was a Canadian journalist and commentator. Zolf was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Larry introduced me to Moses Znaimer." Do you know Ledrew I got him out of jail" Larry wrote a letter to the parole board when I was busted and never let me forget it. 
I met Larry at the Old Pilot back in the 60's. We used to have a few drinks occasionaly and had many late dinners at Kwong Chows. The barbs were obligatory. You had to have thick skin to dine with Larry but what a treat. He knew politics inside and out and he had all the real stories.
I last talked to him just after Peter Czowski died.I called to find out if knew anything about the funeral.
"LeDrew where the fuck you been? "Czowski! whatta calling me for I never hung out with those guys." 
"So you Ok?good, Keeping out of jail, good. I gotta go I'm writing.

Larry Zolf (July 19, 1934 – March 14, 2011)[1] was a Canadian journalist and commentator.

LARRY ZOLF Veteran journalist, author and political pundit extraordinaire Larry Zolf passed away peacefully on Monday, March 14, 2011 at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Known variously as a 'national treasure,' 'Canadian icon,' 'political guru' and 'CBC legend,' Larry irreverently provoked and engaged Canada's political and social culture for over 40 years, and his presence in the Canadian public sphere will be sorely missed. Larry was born in North End, Winnipeg in 1934, received his bachelor's degree from the University of Winnipeg and did graduate work in history at the University of Toronto. He joined the CBC in 1962 and worked as a reporter, producer, critic and radio and TV host on several shows, including the legendary current-affairs TV show This Hour Has Seven Days as well as Sunday, Weekend, and Take 30. His documentary on the 1964 Toronto printers' strike won the Anik Award in 1965 and was rebroadcast as one of the 100 best documentaries at the National Film Board's 50th birthday celebration. He is the author of several books, including Dance of the Dialectic, Just Watch Me: Remembering Pierre Trudeau, Survival of the Fattest: An Irreverent View of the Senate and Scorpions for Sale, which was shortlisted for a Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Until the very end of his life, Larry's engagement with thinking and writing and Canadian public culture never waned. In the fall of 2010, his memoir, The Dialectical Dancer, was released. Larry leaves behind his wife, Barbara Diakopoulou, his children David and Rachel Zolf, his former wife Patricia Zolf and nieces and nephews Stephen, Janice, Sharon, Allan, Barbara, Audrey and Susan, as well as many friends, colleagues and admirers. Funeral service will be held at MOUNT PLEASANT CEMETERY VISITATION CENTRE, 375 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto (east gate entrance, north of St. Clair Ave., 416-485-5572) on Thursday, March 17 at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in Larry's name can be made to the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Information and condolences available at www.etouch.ca 
- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?pid=149360388#sthash.vTcOlBV0.dpuf

Rex Murphy: Remembering Larry Zolf


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More from Rex Murphy
The news of Larry Zolf’s passing comes with an extra sting for me. I can’t claim anything like a full friendship with him over his many years at CBC, some of which coincided with my own wanderings through the corporation. But I did, even so far back, work on a show over which he was both one of the producers and a writer. It was called Up-Canada (only TV archeologists will recall it) and was intended to be a news plus satire show – a division of intent the show never really conquered. It’s difficult to be grim and foreboding (which was what most period documentaries were) and then light, zany and blisteringly funny in the few spots that remained. But it was just such a juxtaposition Zolf was master of – he could leap from idle absurdity to high reflection in a flash. It’s piercing now to recollect that such a rare spirit has gone.
The Zolf of that period was a revelation: he had a high-powered, high-speed mind that raced through ideas and topics and stories with ferocious energy, with Zolf himself (vainly) trying in his free-association style monologues to, if I can put it this way, keep up with himself. He was funny, deliciously well informed on all political and media gossip, and took from his own talk an almost secondary energy. You – we – went to find Larry to have an experience, not a conversation. But, and let me be clear on this – he wasn’t showing off, or demanding the spotlight. Larry was a one-of-a-kind talker; to some measure this was what most – not defined – but marked him. I can’t remember conversations such as those I had with Larry from anyone else, or anything close to them.
They were a mixture of sophisticated commentary, free riffs on some personality, dips into literature or philosophy, tranches of the most ribald sexual gossip and political scandal – all delivered at 200 words a minute and sparkling with one-liners and the most congenial outbursts of laughter. Behind, or in addition to that persona, was a very fine mind and an extremely gifted pen. Zolf never really – in my judgement – gave full evidence of his talents as a writer, though his book on Trudeau (for whom he had an fascination – they had met, Zolf if I recall correctly even having written a speech or two for the “philosopher”) – called Dance of the Dialectic – was a singular, even unique, take by a Canadian journalist on Canadian politics. It buzzed with that high-frequency Zolf intelligence, never at rest with a single idea or impression, but creating through the energy of its prose and the drive of its semi-philosophic framing (I’m writing from memory) a wonderful portrait of both Trudeau and Zolf.
Larry Zolf was warm, intelligent far beyond the usual measure, highly cultured and gifted with an overflowing love of story and humour – truly one of a kind. He was larger than any job he fell into, and from his earliest broadcast debut – the famous This Hour has Seven Days – through his entire career he was a (here’s that word again) singular presence and personality. A man of wit, style and passion – I’ll miss him.
National Post
Rex Murphy offers commentary weekly on CBC TV’s The National, and is host of CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup.