Canadian Coffee Break: Portrait of Canada

’cofadian’The Canadian Coffee Break brings together some of the finest Canadian minds in Southern California every week for a topical, lively round-tablesque discussion over very dark coffee. Won’t you join us.


The Hollywood and Highland complex has asked you to “Canuck up the joint” in honor of Canada Day. Much like the Portrait of Hollywood mural at the Selma High School (see below), you have been tasked to choose between 8 and 15 Canadian ’heavies’ which will adorn the Hollywood and Highland complex for a period of 38 hours. Which luminaries do you choose, and why? Whom do you choose to paint it?

More on Portrait of Hollywood: One, Two

Jamie (website)
I think the most important part of creating art is to adequately and properly plan it out. For example, Picasso employed poor planning when he let Steve Wynn buy one of his paintings and instantly removed $139 million from the American economy (and people wonder why the US Dollar is struggling). That having been said, I have (obviously) put a lot of planning into the Canada-celebrating mural that will adorn Hollywood and Highland.

As you might be aware, most of us Canadians care about hockey, and consequently we all wish our lifestyles would accommodate marrying Wayne Gretzky. Because people should already know who Wayner is, and also because I’m selfish and want to put who I want to put on my mural (frig), I would put Grant Fuhr!! Fuhr backstopped those fancy-dancy Oilers to their Stanley Cups and he’s my favorite hockey player!!

Beside Grant Fuhr I would put Celine Dion. First and foremost, I like some of Celine’s songs. Secondly, my mural would be accompanied by a multi-media booth that would include some of her songs and the video for “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” Thirdly, it’s important that people learn to respect her instead of complain about her – and a bigger-than-life-sized mural will only help that become a reality.

Beside Celine I’d put Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone. If you’ve done your homework, then you know he’s from Scotland but did all his important work in Canada. I’d put him beside Celine because he kind of looks like the old, ugly guy she married.

Beside him I’d put Big Joe Mufferaw!! I’m not entirely sure if Big Joe Mufferaw is the equivalent to a Paul Bunyan or Jim Reeves or whatever his name is/was, but Big Joe is definitely larger than life and deserves to be painted as such. How large is he?? He had a pet frog that was bigger than a horse and barked like a dog (and Big Joe rode the frog).

Then I’d put my Grandfathers. I think it’s important to remember people who mean a lot to you and people that teach you without giving lessons. I learned a lot from both grandfathers and because I don’t actually have a mural, I’m honoring them by wearing the shoes I got for Grandpa Stan’s funeral and the suit I got for Grandpa Milton’s funeral in the play I’m doing right now!!

What’s most important about a Canadian mural is teaching Americans that we’ve actually done things in the world. So I’d make a combination-human with body parts of Jim Carrey, Norm McDonald, Lorne Michaels, Matthew Perry, John Candy, The Kids In The Hall, Phil Hartman, Dan Akroyd, Taye Diggs (ha!! That’s a joke!!), Michael J. Fox, and Tom Green to make everyone remember all the joy we bring to the world.

Then I’d paint a soldier, and in the multi-media center show videos of all the things Canada has done in wars – particularly in World War II. Did you know out of all the countries with assignments and beach assaults on D-Day, Canada had the highest rate of success and made it deeper than any other country?? I did because Dad got me a DVD about it for Christmas. Let me know if you’d like to borrow it.

Lastly I’d paint James Naismith, and I would paint him wearing a basketball jersey with a big question mark on it. Why?? Because it doesn’t make sense that a Canadian invented basketball and that Canadians suck at basketball (Steve Nash aside, of course). That question mark would really get people thinking, and that’s what art is all about, isn’t it??

Seth (website)
For simplicity’s sake, I thought I’d just attach a photo of Canada High, located on the outskirts of Hull, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Hollywood High School, save for the maples that dot its grounds and the gigantic beaver named Luc that guards its doors. On the mural that adorns its facade you’ll spy portraits of the following Canadian superstars:

(From left to right)

  • Don Cherry: Hockey Night in Canada’s fashion-forward figurehead.
  • The Friendly Giant: Look up! Waaaay up! It’s the nice-guy giant who
    shits bigger than Mr. Rogers.
  • Colleen Dewhurst: Just try not to cry as the definitive Marilla Cuthbert softens her prickly exterior for that lovable scamp, Anne of Green Gables.
  • Mitsou: Oh oh ecoute moi! Quebec’s Madonna may not have had the career of her US counterpart, but boy could she kiss off a cowboy with style.
  • Mr. Dressup: Our first Tickle Trunk of many, but definitely our best.
  • Roch Voisine: You say Juno-award-winning Canadian music superstar. We say, “Salut, mon hunk!”
  • Laura Secord: Easter eggs and butter mallow bars. ’Nuff said.
  • Valerie Pringle: Ah, what we’d give for a nice edition of Midday with a plate of Viau Whippets.
  • Louis Del Grande: Yes, yes, his bald head exploded in Scanners. But real Del Grandiacs love him for his work as King of Kensington’s head writer and his postcognitive crimefighting adventures on Seeing Things.

Sean Chrétien
I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me this question since NAFTA was signed. If I were allotted the space to lionize 8 to 15 Canadians, I would probably select 16. Choosing anything below 15 is an insult to the very nation that brought you curling, insulin, java script and The Barenaked Ladies, while choosing one over my limit seems gloriously insubordinate and in accordance with the gnarly inferiority complex most Canadians have and all Canadians deny.

The 16 in order of penmanship prowess:

1) Norm MacDonald – The most underrated Canadian comic/social critic that ever lived. This man should run for office.

’trudeau’2) Pierre Elliott Trudeau (see image) – Easily the most charismatics Canadian to ever walk the ice and easily the most credible Canadian to ever hold our highest office. Brought Canada legitimacy in an epoch where politicians couldn’t buy it with gold bullion. Also, Trudeau busted a pirouette whilst standing directly behind the Queen of England. Mad respect.

3) Rick Moranis – see last week’s Coffee Break.

4) Neil Young – ’nuff said.

5) Michael J. Fox – Fuck Limbaugh, Marty is my hero ’till death.

’terry7) Terry Fox – Another Fox. Another affliction. Another paragon of courage. Terry Fox has a messianic aura about him in Canada but is lesser known elsewhere it seems. Basically, he had one good leg and a prosthetic one and he tried to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research and died in the process.

8) Wayne Gretzky – “The Great One,” in case you had not heard.

9) Sue Johanson – Yes, the Sue Johanson of the “Sunday Night Sex Show.” The show ran from 1996 to 2005 and taught us young Canoodlings more than any number of years of formal education. Sue was and most probably remains fearless – no subject was ever salacious, no caller was ever a perv. She taught us that sex is as normal as cereal, and we all owe her for it. Also, Sue is a registered nurse and would patch up any would in no time. SNSS is now in syndication. Watch out!

10) Cadence Weapon a.k.a. Rollie Pemberton – Easily one of the greatest Canadian emcees and undeniably possesses the most ingenuity. Inexplicably, Cadence hails from Alberta.

11 – 13) Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and Neil Peart a.k.a. Rush – I’m not so into Rush, but I’m into the Rush mythology. Those guys were epic, no?

14) John Candy – I would have loved to have met John Candy. I remember a real sense of lament in Toronto when he passed. I don’t think he was a great actor, I think he was a great person. He was just being that person on the celluloid too – it was probably effortless. When I found out that his character’s wife in “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” was dead, I think I cried. Goddamn Candy, I miss you.

15) Marshall McLuhan – Seminal theorist in the field of communication studies, helped me Understand Media.

16) Wolverine – totally travels on a Canadian passport.

Limits are life, so I’m dealing. Regardless, honorable mention goes to:

-The 237 rotating members of Broken Social Scene.
Team Canada ’72 . A huge goal that was the catalyst to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Or so we’re told.
-Dan Akroyd (the only Canadian Ghostbuster).
-Most of those cats from Cirque du Soleil (for moving in ways I never thought possible).
-Avril Lavigne (the only Canadian that every Canadian wishes wasn’t Canadian).
-Anyone who was in the cast or crew of the original Degrassi series, excluding anyone who has any part in that “Degrassi: The Next Generation” shit. WTF!?!

Lastly, I’d probably hire a vagrant in the vicinity of Hollywood & Highland to paint it, because all vagrants love Canada, they just hate Winter.

Sarah (website)
Team Canada baby… from left to right:

1. Laura Secord – She helped Canada kick America’s ass in the war of 1812. Plus her name is known across the nation for delicious chocolate, and “Superkid” ice cream, which is yellow, blue and red and tastes like childhood.

2. The Kids in the Hall – Explanation unnecessary.

3. Tommy Douglas – A very important NDP (socialist) politician who revolutionized Canada; also Keifer Sutherland’s grandfather. Who knew?

4. The Queen – Because she’s on everything Canadian. She’s like Paris Hilton, always showing up at random, and you’re like “She’s there?” and your friend’s like “Dude, she’s EVERYWHERE. Just turn over a penny.”

5. Ross Rebagliati – Won the world’s first Olympic gold medal for snowboarding; hours later it was taken away when he tested positive for weed. Guys, if he was stoned he deserves two gold medals. Made of chocolate.

6. The Canadarm (bottom) – Canada’s contribution to space. It picks up stuff. Moves it around. It helps with scientific exploration. It’s a giant arm. Because how much more Canadian can you get than a giant space arm?

And the mural will be painted by Maude Lewis, who I will bring back from the dead, because nothing says Canadian like a cheery old physically challenged yet very talented yet incredibly quaint old broad who loves everyone and dies a pauper?