Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Forget Duck Dynasty or Miley Cyrus. No one bewildered the world quite like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford did in 2013.
Those of us who had been following the photogenic, smooth talking, graceful Toronto mayor in years prior were given more than we could have ever imagined over the past 12 months, as his apparent substance abuse issues and associations with criminals came to light.
But considering Ford's pronounced lack of shame and love of celebrity, it wouldn't surprise us if he actually looks back on 2013 fondly. It was, after all, the year that turned him into a world-famous political personality.
In fact, the international infamy of Toronto's mayor might never have materialized had an appeals court judge not overruled an earlier decision to force Ford from office for violating the city's conflict-of-interest laws.
Just weeks before the January ruling, former baseball star, non-Canadian, and overall strange person Jose Canseco contemplated a run against Ford in a potential by-election. Only days into 2013, the craziness was well underway:
Need exact guidelines of what I need to run for Toronto mayor and how long it takes to claim residency. #yeswecanseco— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 4, 2013
Dear Torontonians tweet me what needs fixing so I can start working on things. I know the Jarvis bike path and NHL strike are key, more?— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 4, 2013
Alas, Canseco's inspiring hashtag was not enough to overcome the fact he isn't Canadian. By the end of the month, he brought his brief campaign to an end when he realized he would never be able to "work out the citizen thing."
FEBRUARY & MARCH
Soon after dreams of a Canseco administration faded, Ford's drinking, something that got him in trouble as a councillor, became an issue again. A woman who ran against him in 2010 claimed that Ford, at a public event, told her she should have accompanied him on a recent trip to Florida because his "wife wasn't there" before allegedly grabbing her butt as they posed for a photo. Two weeks later, reports surfaced that the mayor was asked to leave a military gala in late February after organizers felt he was drunk and found his behavior offensive.
Before things got really dark, Ford's public appearances could even seem innocent: awkwardly announcing on his radio show that he'd like to help local women better understand politics over coffee, or shaking hands with the Hamburglar while wearing a Maple Leafs jersey:
So can we start calling him Mayor McCheese now? pic.twitter.com/e8rahL2I6p— NOW Magazine (@nowtoronto) May 8, 2013
But April showers brought ... drug use allegations. Gawker and the Toronto Star both reported having viewed a video showing Ford smoking crack cocaine. The video was also linked to a murdered local gang member, Anthony Smith. Ford denied everything, but trusted staff members started quitting pretty quickly after that. Most devastating for the mayor, he was fired from his part-time job as a youth football coach. After Gawker raised enough money to purchase the video, the man selling it disappeared, allowing Ford to continue to deny its existence.
JUNE & JULY
After a couple of stressful months, it was time for FordFest(!), the annual picnic that gives the mayor's adoring fans (and there are many of them) a chance to pose for pictures, line up for free food and booze and enjoy some pro-Ford tunes, like this rockin' melody:
Like any self-respecting Torontonian, Ford attended the Taste of Danforth festival in August, immediately becoming the star of the night:
A couple weeks later, he arm wrestled Hulk Hogan. And "won":
It was quite the summer for the mayor, so before we look at the rest of 2013, allow the Rob Ford communications team to summarize the "Summer of Ford" strictly with highlights from the arm wrestling match and FordFest:
SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER
The mayor held a second(!!!!) FordFest in September, taking time to soak in more love from his admirers and enjoy the newest fan-made track from local Calypso artist DeCarra, which included lyrics such as:
The number-one mayor
In North America
He was sent by the messiah
A man fighting for the taxpayer
A few weeks later he got to celebrate the announcement of Toronto getting the NBA's 2016 All-Star game with Drake:
And then he turned his office lobby into a sweet haunted house:
The fun came to a brief stop when Toronto police announced they had recovered the video that shows Ford smoking crack. The indestructible mayor eventually admitted he had smoked crack after all. Once. In a "drunken stupor."
Shortly after, another video came to light, showing an inebriated Ford saying he needs only "10, 15 minutes" to make sure someone (we don't know who) is dead. Around the same time a Rob Ford bobblehead sold out in a matter of hours, with fans waiting in line outside City Hall all morning in some cases:
(There are more on the way, in case you're interested.)
As Toronto morphed from mild-mannered urban oasis to global laughingstock, the city council reached its final straw with Ford, voting to strip him of the majority of his powers. The session gave Ford the opportunity to clumsily knock over a councilwoman:
Amid the frenzy of attention, Ford tried to control the message better by landing his own TV show:
It was cancelled after one episode, dampening hopes for a cavalcade of instant-classic quotables, such as this gem, in reference to sexual harassment allegations:
Ford didn't just wear football jerseys to work. The embattled mayor was a fixture at the Rogers Centre in 2013, where it became clear that plenty of people (journalists and Hells Angels included) still think getting a photo with Rob Ford is an opportunity not to be missed:
The way his year has gone, we risk missing out on multiple new stories, photos, videos, and GIFs of Rob Ford by publishing a 'year in review' of him at any moment before 11:59 p.m. on December 31. Yet we feel confident ending the mayor's 2013 summary with a GIF from Tuesday, where during a day of apologizing (sort of) to a journalist for calling him a pedophile and to city councillors for calling them "corrupt," he blissfully danced away to live reggae music in council chambers:
No matter what he did or said in 2013, Rob Ford never had to stop living the life he wanted. With an ongoing police investigation and, incredibly enough, a re-election campaign to look forward to, here's to all the amazing Rob Ford moments yet to come in 2014.