MICHAEL COREN - FRANK ANARCHY
- This was done in 1993 for CHAOS magazine, now defunct, published by Raj Dash. I like Mike. He's a nice guy personally. I don't know how much his 'RB gig is a persona - I suggested to him during the interview during the interview he could be a "Rush Limbaugh" style character. (this was way before he started working at CFRB). He joked he would have struck me if he was there in person....
copyright 1999 Mark Bellis Michael Coren is speaking on the phone from the toilet seat of his Toronto home.
"I'm in a bit of a rush - Korean Airlines want to do a documentary about Toronto based around a writer with a family". His two children's voices come from the other room."They're serenading the Lego" he says.
Like a Mig-23 getting stuck into a jumbo jet full of tourists, Coren rips into the politically pretentious in his bi- weekly column in FRANK magazine.
Favorite targets are Bob Rae's NDP "the former high school teachers who run our province"; Michelle Landsberg, the proudly politically correct Toronto STAR columnist with a somewhat Junoesque figure (she's shaped like one of the moons of Jupiter) "the woman who put the lumpen back into lumpenproletariat". "I didn't think she was real - I thought she was some kind of made up monster". (When told that Landsberg would be contacted for her reaction , he said "I don't think she'll answer you - she's probably too busy eating." ); The police, "these bloated peasants who swagger around our city...ignorant, deltoid-obsessed asexual baboons."; and the Reform Party, whom he depicts as singing the Horst Wessel Leid, the Nazi rally song which goes "When Jewish blood spurts from daggers, everything is great." during their meetings. (Coren is half-Jewish)
Coren is famous (or infamous, depending on the political viewpoint) for writing things like a 'modest proposal' to save lesbians from breast cancer by forming "Anti-Cancer Commandos" whose "sole purpose would be to seduce assorted lesbians, no matter how ugly and hairy they were, and impregnate them. The work would probably be hazardous, probably dirty, and certainly be unpleasant, ... [but] - I am sure a generous grant would be forthcoming" from the provincial government.
"Do you harbour hostile notions towards homosexuals or homosexuality?" I ask.
"Have I ever even written that in Frank? My politics, if I have any, are anarchist - I believe the manner in which one makes love, whether one has an abortion, or not, whether one puts on a seatbelt, are all the same issue. I think what an individual does, in any form, is entirely up to them, and the people that I attack in the column tend to be people that go against that."
Coren says that when he attacks radicals, lesbian, feminist or whatever, he is attacking their hypocrisy in insisting that no-one has the right to interfere in their life, but wanting to regulate what other people think or say. "I don't believe that the Church or state or anybody else has the right to tell anyone whether they should make love. Equally, no radical homosexual is going to tell me what I should be reading or doing. In terms of being against the gay community, it's quite ludicrous - As an Englishman I grew up being formed and educated by gay men - great influence in my life." But "When people dress up as fairies and run down Yonge Street on Gay Pride Day, this has nothing to do with their sexuality. It has to do with the fact that they're profoundly neurotic. Dressing up as Tinkerbell, as one chap I mentioned did, is his neurosis speaking, not his sexuality."
He is not just anti-left. "I'm a contrarion - if I lived in a right-wing society, I'd be left wing - Look at what I say about the police - I hope I'm never in any trouble with them - the left are often much funnier, but it does come up fifty-fifty, the police, the Tory party, the Reform party, the far right, racism, I attack these things over and over again."
Coren is busy. He writes for The Globe, The Star, Book in Canada, and many others, edits The Canadian Catholic Review, published a book on H.G. Wells this year, and will publish two more biographies on C.S. Lewis and Arthur Conan Doyle. He appears frequently on TVO's Imprint. The FRANK columns are being publish in book form under the title "Aesthete: The Frank Diaries of Michael Coren" with one volume that made the best-seller list this year and another due out next year. Coren was made a papal knight last year, although as a pro-choice, pro ordination of women andpro marriage of priests, he is certainly outside the Church's official point-of-view. "I don't think they read my columns." He also got into hot water over a Toronto Life profile he did of Archbishop Ambrozic of Toronto, where he depicted the Archbishop behaving like a bonehead, calling a woman'a bitch', criticising non-white immigration and asking someone to lie for him. "To write a profile of a prominent figure - politician, businessman, religious leader, hockey player - if they use foul language it is reported because it is part of their character. If they shout at their press secretary and tell them to lie for them, 'that's their job', that's what he said, that's to be reported."
"I don't make things up - although sometimes the juxtaposition is erroneous." Like serving muscadet with pork? "Yes. that's an in-joke, like when I said recently I wanted to fly to Geneva to claim the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course it's in Stockholm."
"Oslo. The Nobel Prizes are in Stockholm." I reply.
I then objected to his qualification of Gwen Jacob as "a dowdy exhibitionist." "She's not dowdy - she's really good-looking" I say.
"She's not that good-looking - I saw her on TV - Oh, but I think the term 'Dowdy Exhibitionist' is rather lovely - her breasts weren't that appealing - they were rather floppy"
"I didn't pay any attention. That's just her T-shirt actually" I say.
Michelle Landsberg "No longer reads Michael Coren" according to her assistant.
Copyright 1993, 1996, 2009 Mark Bellis