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FA S H I O N * AU T O M O B I L E S * T E C H N O L O G Y * F I C T I O N * T R AV E L * G E A R * M E N ’S L I F E S T Y L E







DEC-09 $4.95



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BAVARIAN RHAPSODY 11/27/09 3:56:58 PM

Contents The Surprise issue


an inconvenient fiction


The Gentleman’s Gift Guide

46 20

In rural Maine did Stephen King a mighty terror-dome decree... The master of modern horror gives GARY BUTLER the inside scoop on Under the Dome, over 30 years in the writing. He also explains why he makes a point of walking to work.

Being thoughtful this holiday season doesn’t have to be murder. It needn’t even be all that challenging. DRIVEN’s fifth-annual Gentleman’s Gift Guide offers scores of tremendous gift ideas, including six possible instruments of mayhem. The only option missing: Santa Claus in the chimney with the baseball bat.

the Year of living unexpectedly 2009 was filled with surprises: JAMES GRAINGER considers 13 events from the past year just crazy enough to be truish.

invisible management Mystery shoppers go undercover for the purpose of quality assurance (also, it’s a living). CRAIG DAVIDSON goes undercover as a mystery shopper. Reader satisfaction is guaranteed.

Departments and features 40 FICTION

15 SEX


16 Sound

42 Automotive


“Santa in a red dress,” by John McFetridge


For top fashion execs, great gift ideas are an everyday art

WCIK radio

2010 BMW 550i Gran Turismo 2010 Acura ZDX

Lucy in the pie (diamonds optional) The biggest question in Canadian rock history Just in time for ski season: a shmatte storm of epic cool

12 Vision

Security Clearance


Engineer King, Steve *1096870*


On the cover Stephen King Photography Dick Dickinson Location Sarasota, Fla.

bmw 550i gran turismo Photography Tom Kirkpatrick Location Lisbon

 DRIVEN December 2009 *

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DRIVEN: Editor-in-chief Gary Butler Creative director Kelly Kirkpatrick

GIFT HORSING OK: The Butler, in the corner office, with the candlestick. There, I said it. (But I did not “do” it.) Welcome to DRIVEN’s “surprise” issue, a celebration of the possibilities inherent in the life less predictable. To highlight but one feature: our annual Gentleman’s Gift Guide, for which my editorial team always goes to great lengths to defy the obvious while embracing the practical. In both the gift suggestions and the unifying, themed layouts, our goal is to, well, surprise you, albeit pleasantly. Last year’s Gift Guide featured a series of ’70s-style—and, you’ll

allow some immodesty, award-winning— fake ads. This year, inspiration came from a certain classic Whodunnit board game and its seemingly countless permutations (324, to be exact). We have created a parlour mystery with a humorous bent, in the spirit of that small step from manslaughter to “man’s laughter.” Arranged within our murder mansion is 2009’s almost limitless gift list. (To avoid accusations of hyperbole: The final tally is 300 items, leaving room enough for the imaginative.) This issue also marks a notable anniversary for DRIVEN: We’ve been proudly abstracting the enlightened high-end lifestyle for five years now. I’ll take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your ever-kind, indeed rapt, attention. Yes, I’ve put down the candlestick. -GARY BUTLER

Managing editor Mark Hacking Assistant editor Eric Grant Fashion Luke Langsdale Fiction Nathan Whitlock Gift guide Emily Saso Editors at large Zach Feldberg, Mark Moyes Contributing photo editor David Lee Graphic Designer Vishana Lodhia Art interns Anna Bronfman, Harry Fan, Victoria Kouvchinova, Shokofeh Shahsavarani Fashion interns Jesse Brook, Jessica Maiorano Photo intern Petia Karrin Contributors Jason Anderson, Matt Barnes, Dennis Burke, Cameron Carpenter, Steve Carty, Craig Davidson, Dick Dickinson, James Grainger, Ian Harvey, Tom Kirkpatrick, Nick Krewen, John McFetridge, Jim Mezei, Sylvia Nickerson, John Reid, Richard Sibbald


Account managers Stéphanie Massé, 514.476.1171 Vincent Noël, 514.824.7191 Advertising coordinator Melissa Bissett, 514.684.6426


Admitted voyeur Matt Barnes views all his subjects as a skewed part of himself. Still no word on which of the characters he photographed for “The Gentleman’s Gift Guide” (p26) most closely resembles our esteemed snapper. A melange of influences has shaped Barnes’s style; inspiration comes from digging through crates of records, downing Mai Tais or wallowing in the seediness only a roadside motel room can provide. Equally at home in the company of truckers and the tuxedoed, Matt also has the ability to flow from commercial ad to rock ’n’ roll album cover without missing a beat. If life is a bona fide photoshoot, Barnes goes at it lock, stock and barrel.


Widely recognized as one of Canada’s top crime-fiction authors, John McFetridge is currently a writer and story editor on CBS/CTV’s police drama The Bridge, which premieres in January. Quill & Quire gave his 2007 novel Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere a starred review, and Irish crime superstar Ken Bruen called 2009’s Swap “a stunning leap forward from an already fine author,” with “dialogue that Quentin Tarantino would kill for.” Biker character JT (“Santa in a red dress,” p40) appears in both of those books. McFetridge previously contributed to DRIVEN an essay on Canada’s blackmarket economy, for 2008’s ‘Money’ issue.

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The above photo was taken on Hallowe’en 2008, just before Craig Davidson embarked on his (temporary) career as a special needs bus driver. Later, his bus would be colonized by a phantasmagoria of princesses, skeletons and ghouls blitzed on a mix of Pop Rocks, Swedish Berries and Sunny D. In terms of professional blitzing, Davidson has written for Esquire, London Observer, Salon, Nerve, Vice and The Washington Post and is always grateful when asked to do such things as investigate the world of mystery shoppers (p20), given an insatiable appetite for self-abasement.


A Toronto-based author, freelance writer and editor, James Grainger has written an award-winning book of short stories, The Long Slide, co-written a memoir, Why I Didn’t Say Anything: The Sheldon Kennedy Story, and rewritten (and is currently “re-rewriting”) two novels. As a regular DRIVEN contributor, Grainger has filed humour pieces that were mistaken for news stories and news stories that were mistaken for humour pieces. “Shock of the news” (p46) might be one of them, given previous bits like “The Davidson code” (October 2008) and “Harper’s Appendix” (May 2009). Among other things, Grainger is unavailable for comment.

Administration assistant Louise Bourgeois, 450.308.0741 Printer Solisco Marketing director Larry Futers, 416.407.8338 InField Marketing Group Publisher Michel Crépault DRIVEN magazine 412 Richmond Street East, suite 200 Toronto, Ont. M5A 1P8 416.682.3493 Issue #30 ISSN 1712-1906 Auto Journal Inc. CP 930 Coteau-du-Lac, Que. J0P 1B0 450.308.0741 DRIVEN is published five times per year. No part of this periodical may be reprinted or copied without the publisher's writtin consent. Subscription for one year: $20 (plus applicable taxes); $50 US surface; outside North America, $100 airmail. For subscription inquiries, contact:

Editor’s photo by Richard Sibbald; styling by Luke Langsdale Jacket by Ermenegildo Zegna, sweater by Loro Piana, shirt by Eton, candlestick by Tiffany & Co.

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Vision *



Set on an extraterrestrial moon where humans of the future must infiltrate a society of enormously tall, blue-skinned creatures, Avatar will no doubt be filled with many cinematic wonders. James Cameron’s first feature since Titanic (1997), the film will take advantage of the very latest movie technologies, including new innovations in 3-D, an increasingly popular format previously explored by the director in documentaries like Ghosts of the Abyss. Still, what might provoke the most awe will not be seen onscreen: Avatar’s price tag, rumoured at nearly $300 million. While Cameron did not film himself shovelling money into a space barrel and setting it on fire, dubious viewers will still be eager to find out exactly what kind of wow factor a few hundred mill gets a guy these days. To his credit, the Canadian-born director has always made sure to spend those dollars where they can be seen. To shoot the principal underwater scenes in The Abyss (1989), he built a 7.5 million– gallon tank in Mexico. With Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), he and his team made key advances in the evolution of digital effects. For Titanic, he constructed his own film studio, not to mention a 750-foot replica of the titular ship. At the time the most expensive movie ever made (approx. $200 million), Titanic was predicted to be a colossal flop. The film had no “stars” (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were relative unknowns)

and it was telling a story for which everyone already knew the ending. Of course, Titanic became, and remains, the highest-grossing film of all time. Avatar has inevitably drawn the attention of its own set of doomsayers and nervous execs. This is not so much because of the film’s own lack of stars—big names are no longer the guarantee of success that

they once were—but because of the shortage of theatres that can screen the movie in 3-D. In any case, the advent of Avatar proves that Hollywood is not afraid of big ambitions and enormous budgets, despite the sometimes punitive costs of doing business and the possibility of a box-office flop. The potential for huge financial gain remains high

in the movie world, though the ever-rising costs of making and marketing blockbusters lead to narrower profit margins. In the modern economy, a big movie needs a gross of hundreds of millions just to break even. DVD was providing a hearty revenue stream for the studios earlier in this decade, but sales have since slumped. Even stars are cagey, often asking for back-end points (as Jim Carrey did, for Yes Men) rather than hefty upfront salaries. Flops can have a catastrophic effect on all parties involved. 20th Century Fox was nearly ruined by Cleopatra (1963), a turgid epic that cost the studio $44 million, including a then-record $1 million salary for Elizabeth Taylor. Heaven’s Gate (1980), a bloated western by Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino, came with a price tag that would’ve exceeded $120 million in today’s dollars; its failure led to the end of United Artists and a loss in power for filmmakers. Widely regarded as the biggest flop of the ’90s, Waterworld (1995) actually did respectable business worldwide. Cameron should take heart in that bit of financial trivia, because if people will pay to see Kevin Costner play a guy with gills, surely they’ll be cool with a bunch of blue, 10 foot–tall aliens. What’s more, the recession has barely dented box-office figures. Avatar might make Cameron king of the world—again. If it doesn’t? He may still have just enough money left over from his Titanic take to build his own planet.

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Flash *

We three retail kings Gift tips from top fashion execs

By Mark Hacking; portraits by Steve Carty

Per a certain naïve adage that implies better overall yields from giving versus receiving, DRIVEN approached representatives from three of this country’s most prominent retailers of luxury goods for holiday gift ideas. Our guidelines were like Scrooge before that fateful carol: simple yet cruel. All selections needed to be available in Canada (or to us, via the Internet); they also had to be unavailable from the businesses where the executives went about their day-to-day. Bless them one and all for playing along.

Larry Rosen CEO, Harry Rosen

WING TIP “A glider-plane ride (a surprise gift for me that I loved). I was nervous but ecstatic; it’s exhilarating when the towing plane releases you. And the absolute lack of sound, nothing but the wind: so peaceful, so centring.” []

Jennifer Carter President, Hermès Canada


EASY READER “The Kindle—a very cool, modern item for the travelling businessman and a way to take your business books with you.” [] STAGE ADVICE “A really thoughtful gift: Get somebody concert tickets, then take them. My kids got me U2 tickets for my birthday; they knew I didn’t have time to get tickets on my own.” []

“A weekend stay at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, BC: the best place for surfing in Canada. The best time of year is storm season. Get an ocean-view room, sit in your Jacuzzi by the window, glass of champagne in hand—you’re set.” []

Lanita Layton

Vice-President of Menswear, Holt Renfrew

MEMORABILIA LANE “A part of every man’s childhood was spent looking up to heroes. DRIVEN’s idea immediately brought to mind vintage sports memorabilia, like a 1950s Dodgers jacket.” [] GRILL RIDE “Most guys need to learn how to grill and the barbecue is never out of season. A big hint, but a great gift. You don’t have to be a male Julia Child to be a good griller, but it is a talent.” []



“A man loves a great scotch. But he doesn’t buy himself the good stuff—he’s too self-conscious. Gifts are about spoiling people. Give him the good stuff: Chivas Regal 18 Year Old—the one with the blue label.” []

“All the men I know like either sports or film. I got my boyfriend the original poster from Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville—he was absolutely thrilled.” []

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Sex *

THE INEDIBLE WOMAN The girl jumping out of the cake seems like innocent fun, but its history is a sordid tale of animal abuse, nursery rhymes and murder. No, really Ah, the ol’ woman in the cake routine. It is, when you think about it, a bizarre custom—particularly because it doesn’t actually seem to be a custom at all. Save a few recent high-profile exceptions (former Spice Girl Mel B hopped out of a cake a few months ago, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ultimo lingerie, and porn star Jenna Jameson did it two years ago for her boyfriend, to celebrate…whatever), it’s difficult to find anyone who has ever experienced it. A Google image search yields plenty of Playboy-style cartoons and plastic cake decorations, but nary a real-live lady. Still, the idea remains strangely pervasive. Scantily-clad women serving food is one thing, but from whence came this fascination with having them escape from inside of baked goods? Linguistically, we’ve been blending women, sex and desserts for years. The terms “toots” and “cupcake” are at least as old as hard-nosed film noir protagonists; “tart” predates them by almost a century. More romantically, we call our lovers “sweetie,” “cutie pie” and “honey bun”; the lewder side offers “cherry pie” and “muffin.” In her essay “Rebaking the Pie: The Woman as Dessert Metaphor” (1999), academic Caitlin Hines asks a puzzlingly good question: Why are most of the terms mentioned above things you get from a baker, versus, say, from a chocolatier or confectioner? Baking, she says, bears similarities to the world’s oldest profession: “Both kinds of ‘tart’ can be sold in specialty shops, and both can be prepared by ‘professionals,’ in the sense that a pimp or madam grooms his or her girls.” While that answer is probably easier to swallow in academic circles, regardless, the baking association is valid. Living things first started jumping out of pastry in the Middle Ages. The era isn’t exactly known for enlightened thinking, and chefs would go to extremes to astonish and entertain guests. At large banquets, diners would be presented with

extravagant dishes called entremets in France and “sotelties” in England (or “subtleties,” from its older meaning of “clever/surprising”). It started with the relatively innocuous practice of baking enormous castles from dough and covering them with cooked animals posed like humans—birds with paper lances riding suckling piglets, for example.

But having one’s cake and eating it too wasn’t quite clever enough for the medieval courts. Hence one particularly creative cook, who became known for depluming a live chicken, covering it in a glaze (to make it look roasted), knocking it out and serving it with the other real roast chickens. The idea was that—and here’s the punchline—when one of the guests tried to insert the carving fork, the bird would wake up and make a mad dash across the table, bawking in terrified pain. Hilarity ensueth! It’s in famed Italian chef Maestro Martino of Como that we find our strongest living-pastry lead.

Illustration of the “Pie Girl Dinner” from New York World newspaper (May 26, 1895)

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By Mark Moyes

His cookbook The Art of Cooking (1465) contains a recipe for a giant pie baked and then filled from below with live birds, which would fly out when the crust was cut. (Think “four and twenty blackbirds.”) With little apparent regard for plumage issues, not to mention bird droppings, Martino recommended including a smaller edible pie inside. For any guests who might wish to, say, eat. Still, the astute among you will point out that, Limey slang aside, women are not birds, and that as sensuous as a deplumed chicken might be, the whole thing is lacking in, well, sex. Touché. Fast-forward to May 20, 1895, when prominent New York architect Stanford White—renowned for his extravagant and debauched parties, not to mention the velvet swing in his apartment—paid 15-year-old model Susie Johnson $50 to perform at a $350-a-plate dinner in a friend’s studio. (For the financially curious: in adjusted dollars, $1,275 and $8,950.) According to sensational newspaper reports, the entertainment was a giant pie carted out by a file of naked ‘slave’ girls. As the orchestra broke into “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” Susie broke through the crust wrapped in nothing but sheer black gauze, releasing—you guessed it—a flurry of birds. She may have danced across the table, stripping the gauze, and at least one account has White immediately taking her to another room. One thing is certain: The papers had a field day with the story, dubbing it the “Pie Girl Dinner.” Here, the tale turns from exploitative to tragic: Johnson killed herself a decade later, when her new husband learned of her involvement in the affair. In 1906, what went around came around: Stanford White was shot point-blank in the face by the jealous husband of another one of White’s former young lovers. What can we take away from all this? A deep sense of guilt, if stripper-in-cake happens to be your fantasy of choice. Then again, maybe cakes are fine. Maybe it’s all fun and games until someone uses a pie.

DRIVEN December 2009 * 15

11/27/09 1:40:14 PM


g n i t e k r a m n o i t s e u Q The curious christening of The Guess Who By Cameron Carpenter

How the Zimm stole Christmas—and why, for Bob Dylan, it makes sense By Nick Krewen The latest unexpected detour in the long and winding highway of Bob Dylan’s career is Christmas in the Heart, a collection of well-worn holiday classics interpreted by the living lozenge. Save for the fact that proceeds go to international charities, this fairly earnest effort would seem desperate, crazed, or both. Not that the artist cares how he’s perceived: In 48 professional years of never thinking twice, Dylan has perfected the art of the left turn. Herein: another 10 sidetracks of Robert Zimmerman.

1962 Blind Boy Grunt Dylan records dozens of songs for folk magazine Broadside under a pseudonym, as he was already signed to Columbia Records. Not that anyone knew who Bob Dylan was (yet).

NAME CHANGES ARE AN INTEGRAL part of the a cover of British band Johnny Kidd & The Pirates’ fabric of rock ’n’ roll. Would Oshawa have fought for U.K. number one. Enter marketing maverick Struth, a Wicked Lester* concert? Would videogamers have who spun both tracks and promptly flipped the demanded a Johnny and the Moondogs* version of sides: “Shakin’ All Over” was released to radio. “Rock Band”? [*LOOK ’EM UP –Ed.] Surely you remember As Allan’s group lacked a national presence, where you were that day in 1996 when Billy Corgan Struth sent out white-label promotional singles with announced that Smashing Pumpkins would forever ‘Guess Who?’ written under the title credits, to fool onwards be referred to as The Smashing Pumpkins. program directors into thinking that the band was Thirty-some years earlier, The Guess Who also British, and famous. adopted the definitive article after a brief stint sans. Struth’s plan worked, too well. The song topped But that’s a mere footnote to a career that saw more the Canadian charts and hit #22 stateside. Chad Allan name changes than the Congo. & The Expressions quickly became known as Guess Allan Kowbell was born in Winnipeg in 1943. Who (and, quicker, The Guess Who)—the influential As a teenager, he fronted various aspiring local radio DJs had no other information to go by. bands under his stage name, Chad Allan. In the The trickle-down was immediate and positive, early ’60s, Allan & the Silvertones became The but not entirely happy. Despite national success Reflections, then The Expressions—because a being finally within his grasp, Allan quit the band. Detroit-based Reflec“It was the beginning of tions had a hit single, the end for Chad,” recalls “(Just Like) Romeo and Randy Bachman. “We’d Juliet”—and finally Chad gone from a Cliff Richards It was the beginning of Allan & The Expressions. and The Shadows kind the end for Chad Allan... By 1964, the lineup of identity—front man A total loss of identity. included guitarist Randy with back-up group—to Bachman. A few singles a Beatles identity—four — Randy Bachman had been released, to singer-players. And to go little acclaim, through from Allan & The SilverQuality Records. tones to Chad Allan & The Reflections, to Chad Allan At the time, that Canadian-owned label was a big & The Expressions—and then to The Guess Who? deal. Founded in 1949, Quality became “Canada’s That was a total loss of identity for him.” oldest and largest independent” (Billboard) before Of course, following Allan’s departure, Burton folding in 1997. In its ’70s heyday, it was pressing Cummings became the band’s new front man. The 20 per cent of the country’s vinyl, under the general hit records kept coming, as well as a record-setter: management of George Struth. In 1970, The Guess Who became the first Canadian Back in 1965, Struth made two decisions that band to score a number one on the Billboard charts. would change the course of rock ’n’ roll. Lacking the The song: “American Woman.” The British Invasion funds to complete a record in a Minnesota studio, had served its purpose, but clearly run its course. Allan and the band had returned to Winnipeg for As for the at-the-time difficult Allan/Cummings supplementary recording. The next single planned transition, Bachman today jokingly calls it “easy— was “Till We Kissed,” with B-side “Shakin’ All Over,” because there was no name change involved.”

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1970 Self Portrait

An album of cover songs and Basement Tapes throwaway snippets. Dylan gets the last laugh. In fact, the only laugh.



Horrendous album of covers—though to be fair, Columbia Records released it in response to Bob jumping (temporarily) to Asylum.

Dylan appears in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, leading to Reynaldo and Clara, Streets of Fire and Masked and Anonymous. Number of career Academy Award nominations for acting: zero.

1974 The Rolling Thunder Revue Musically, nothing unusual. Visually, our hero takes to the stage in full pancake makeup, frightening small children and adults alike. It’s just a phase, though—a phase that lasts five years.


1984– 2009: The Endless Roadshow Not that there’s anything wrong here, just that it would be nice if the man provided his band with a set list. Canadian guitarist Paul James, who occasionally sits in with Dylan on tour, admits he still has no clue as to what he performed.

1988 THE TRAVELING WILBURYS What’s cooler than being in a supergroup that includes George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison? Unexpected fun and levity—handled, go figure, with care.

2009 Bonus track: “California” Recorded during 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home sessions, this song clearly needed to be unveiled in December 2009, on NCIS. (And given lyrics like “Don’t ask me nothin’ about nothin’, I just might tell you the truth,” Mad Men’s producers must be pissed.)

“Shakin’ All Over” 45 photo courtesy of Randy Bachman

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Look *




Bern helmet customised for Hermès * Oakley A FRAME goggles * Arc’teryx Fission SL jacket * Arc’teryx Theta SV bib pants * Gloves stylist’s own K2 T1 boots * K2 Slayblade board, graphics by Penguin * Rossignol One Mag board *

Balaclava stylist’s own Oakley Splice snow goggles * Karbon Bacchus ski jacket * Karbon Zeus ski pants * Rossignol Zenith Sensor3 110 boots * K2 T:Nine skis *





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18 DRIVEN December 2009 *

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SNOW SUITED Embrace the wind chill by getting in season with the crème de la crème of this year’s ski and board equipment—for fashion moguls and happier trails alike By Luke Langsdale



The North Face Ski Tuke II * The North Face Haines Tuxedo Suit * Gloves stylist’s own Bollé goggles Rossignol Delta Classic NIS skis * Rossignol R4 Classic NIS bindings * Rossignol X-7 Classic boots * ONE WAY Diamond 960 poles *



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1. K2 Auto Ever snowboard bindings * 2. The North Face Nitrum Boa boot 3. Black Diamond Bandit AvaLung * 4. Black Diamond QuickDraw Carbon Fiber Probe 230* 5. The Fine Line avalanche-education feature film (DVD)


6. Rossignol Classic 70 Ti skis * 7. Marker bindings 8. The North Face snow sneaker 9. Rossignol Classic X-Tour Ultralite skis 10. Rossignol X-7 Classic boots 11. Black Diamond Patrol gloves *

12. Black Diamond Lengend gloves * 13. The North Face Cryptic Raging Viking limited edition jacket (77/500) * 14. Karbon Olympic Competitor’s jacket 15. The North Face Cryptic Surf & Turf pants * 16. Rossignol Avenger 82 Carbon skis

For more information and purchasing details regarding featured fashion and equipment, refer to manufacturers’ web sites:,,,,,,,,,,,

10 Photography by Steve Carty

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DRIVEN December 2009 * 19

11/27/09 3:50:51 PM

The Mystery Shopper awoke in Hell. Upon secondary appraisal, not quite Hell. Rather, a motel room in Atlanta, Georgia, he’d been dispatched to inspect. But given the regretful state of his surroundings, the man felt he ought to be forgiven his initial impression. Sunlight streaming through rips in the blackout drapes had roused him. He stepped gingerly across the carpet; one of its many stains resembled a snake with a swollen head. In the bathroom, he discovered a shimmery brown line leading from his shaving kit down the basin to a crack in the baseboards. Carpenter ants. This was his job: To suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune—in the form of substandard service, rudeness, the occasional bout of food poisoning—so that we, the oblivious consumers, can be spared similar ordeals. The Mystery Shopper jotted some notes on his evaluation form. Is the bathroom clean and well-appointed? Ahhh, no. Is the carpet clean? Negatory. What he had here was a rogue franchisee. The motel was part of a nationwide chain, and any chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Guests staying at this particular motel could have come away thinking that ant infestations and torn curtains were common to the chain as a whole—which imperilled every other franchisee, by mere association. The Mystery Shopper threw open the drapes. Well, the motel did have a pool, which would have marked a point in its favour save for the algae-green foam that accumulated in coral-like formations at

the edges. The Mystery Shopper was confident he could walk across that foam, like Jesus at Bethsaida. Is the pool clean and safe? No siree, Bob. Thank god the evaluation form didn’t say: Did you swim in the motel pool? If so, he would have been obligated to dip a toe, at very least. For you see, the Mystery Shopper suffers for you.

Mystery shopping is a billion-dollar industry. While most people are aware that such secretive watchdogs exist, few understand their value to the corporations who retain them. Sensors Quality Management (SQM) is a Toronto-based mystery-shopping firm; its mandate is: “To provide clients with an unbiased third-party evaluation of the operations’ quality, service, cleanliness, and value, to improve productivity, efficiency and profitability,” and the company has the glossy brochure to prove it. SQM was founded 16 years ago by David Lipton and Craig Henry, then-unemployed Hospitality and Tourism Management graduates. At the time, very few Canadian firms offered mysteryshopping services, and none of those specialized in the hospitality industry. Today, SQM is one of dozens in a competitive and rapidly diversifying field. Lipton is SQM’s president; Henry—whose dismal but by no means uncommon motel experience is detailed above—is VP. If mystery shopping is not exactly a glamorous profession, at least it’s solid work: Clients in SQM’s healthy stable include everything from multinational corporations to major-league sports teams to mom-and-pop outfits.

Mystery shoppers, Lipton explains, evaluate businesses based on the individual company’s standards or criteria. They hide in plain sight by pretending to be customers—“guests,” rather, per Lipton’s corporate-speak. (Could there have been someone listening in on and evaluating our interview?) “If a hotel’s guidelines state a phone should be answered in three rings or less, they see if that protocol is followed. If a restaurant says nametags should be worn on the left side of the uniform, they check that.” Any consumer-centric conglomerate relies on a complex web of advertisements, brand positioning, target demographics and in-store flow developed by a consortium of think tanks, psychologists, trend spotters and ad firms. Step into a McDonald’s, and you are subjected to calculated conceptual methodologies that ping on a near-subliminal level, inspiring comfort and familiarity with a simple goal: to convince you to spend more. “A Big Mac is a precision marvel,” Lipton says when this topic comes up. “The three pickles should be spaced evenly on the bun—did you know that?” This, he states, is what sets mystery shopping apart from direct customer feedback. “Mystery shoppers know the standards beforehand, so they can tell whether brand integrity is being upheld.” SQM’s mystery shoppers—“members” as Lipton calls them—all have one common trait: They are “observant, curious and see little things that should be tweaked.” They travel to their assignments armed to the teeth: with forms. These forms help them evaluate every aspect of any service interaction, and some of the page counts run into the triple digits. Sure, it’s more expensive than comment cards, but the feedback is much more valuable.

20 DRIVEN December 2009 *

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Ranging in age from 16 to 60, there are over 20,000 mostly part-time members in SQM’s “field force.” Lipton not surprisingly says that every client’s need is unique, but allows that there are some common trial types. “We are often asked to send in a guy to what would be considered a woman’s operation,” he says, offering The Body Shop as an example. “Assumedly he is looking for a gift, so the sales associate is expected to spot huge dollar signs floating above his head.” Distaff orders are placed less frequently. Lipton cites car dealerships as commonly requesting female shoppers, “to test whether sales associates assume she is a knowledgeable consumer or if they’re like, This car comes in pink!” Mystery shoppers are typically paid less than $100 per inspection, and the average time commitment is a few hours. Internet shills suggest that it’s a more lucrative business, but Lipton dismisses claims about shoppers receiving TVs and stereos by way of thanks as “too good to be true...” Craig Henry’s macabre motel sojourn was anything but ‘too good.’ The building should have been condemned; all that the corporation could do was revoke franchisee status. “The walls were covered in graffiti,” he recalls, and advises travellers to avoid tagged motels, “to be safe.” He’s talking less about danger than quality. In terms of time and pay, Henry’s assignment in Georgia lasted but a single night and would have earned an average SQM employee $75. He did have to pay for the room (but was allowed to expense it). And Toronto to Atlanta economy airfare, for the specific purpose of staying in a motel that would qualify for “fleabag” in an encyclopedia? Priceless. It ain’t a glamorous life, friends. You’ll sleep on pop-sprung mattresses, eat bellyfuls of revolting ‘special menu items’ tacked onto chain-restaurant menus by renegade franchisees—ever try a Subway Triple Decker Trout Melt?—and, naturally, have your luggage misrouted by negligent airlines. It’s a dirty job, sure, but someone has to do it. The Mystery Shopper suffers for you.

The Ferrari-Maserati dealership is located on Avenue Road, in Toronto’s Annex district. I approach with SQM’s standard evaluation form for automotive dealerships tucked discretely into my pocket. A thorough inspection of the dealership’s exterior meets all of SQM’s top-line policy points, including Signage is well-maintained/neatly displayed. The cars are parked in an austere showroom. I ring the doorbell. A squat fireplug of a man materializes. Arms of Popeye-ian girth project from the sleeves of his

polo—a Ferrari polo. I briefly wonder if luxury car dealerships have bouncers. “I want a Ferrari,” I tell the man, mysteriously. I could have as easily said, I want to fly like the swallows of San Capistrano, in that both sentiments are divorced from any foreseeable reality. He cannot know this, though; the deck is stacked in my favour. Marco—he of the polo—does not seem to notice my slovenly appearance; perhaps he’s mistaken me for slummy Eurotrash. He shows me a Ferrari 599 GTB. Retail price: $260,000. “It’s a little rich for my blood.” Marco laughs. “Mine, too. I sell ’em, I don’t drive ’em.” Is the salesperson courteous and friendly? Check. He shows me a used 360 Spider. An absolute steal, at $160,000. “How fast do these bastards go?” “These bastards?” Marco says gamely. “260, easy.” He cuts me a glance. I feel as if I’m being scrutinized with an uncanny fiscal x-ray. If so, the professional veneer doesn’t slip. “Want to check out a Maserati?” Hell, yes. I settle into a Gran Tourismo S, $210,000 as displayed. What a beautiful slab of

machinery. Marco extols the hand-stitched leather upholstery, the teak-inlaid steering wheel. My testosterone levels skyrocket. “These babies take premium gas, huh?” “It’s recommended,” he says. I wince as if to imply this may be a dealbreaker. I’m too comfortable in my clothes: I’ve failed to realize that a person who’d blow 200 grand on a car wouldn’t balk at 90 bucks for a tank of gas. I’m not being a Mystery Shopper—I’m being myself.

Marco takes it in stride. He gives me the impression he’s heard this before. Whether that’s true or not, he’s doing his job: He’s letting me steal half an hour of his time and making me feel that my interest in Ferrari is appreciated. I arrived at this showroom yearning to crack the stony professionalism of the luxury car salesman, to reveal the inky heart of a corporate stooge—which surely falls well outside the mystery shopper’s mandate. Marco met me with grace and aplomb. He is the loveliest salesman I’ve ever met. I slink out of the dealership, a little soul-sick. I stop at McDonald’s for a milkshake. My hormonally challenged server scratches—picks?—the rim of his nostril before snapping the plastic lid on my cup. “Here,” he says. No eye contact, no smile, no Have a nice day. Mere minutes ago, I’d been treated with the utmost civility during a charade where I posed as a customer. I recall Lipton’s term, which seemed at the time to be offered robotically: guest. I look beside me, at the standard evaluation form. There really is something to be said for consistency. Quality management, if you will.

Back in Atlanta: The Mystery Shopper made his way to the motel checkout, which was barricaded behind a sheer expanse of bulletproof glass. He was pleased to be done with this miserable assignment. Until he realized that he wasn’t, when he saw IT: Continental breakfast, served al fresco, on a folding card table. Jugs of watery, concentrated juice. A box of donuts, bugs buzzing about—on closer inspection, some crawling under the donuts, some even stuck to the melting chocolate glaze. The Mystery Shopper did not wish to sample the so-called continental breakfast. No sane person would. But his evaluation form asked, quite specifically: How would you rate the continental breakfast? In order to accurately rate a thing, one had to try it. Marvel at this man’s dedication: Damn if he didn’t elbow his way in amongst the colonizing midges, flies and hornets. Damn if he didn’t pour himself a plastic cup of OJ and take a tortured, confirmational sip. Damn if he didn’t locate a relatively gnat-free donut and take a dainty nibble. His face was set in an expression of stony determination. Or was it the face of a masochist? Damn if he didn’t DO, HIS, JOB. How would you rate the continental breakfast? He would rate it... substandard. Never, ever forget: The Mystery Shopper suffers for you. D

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of vio lents Through a magnifying glass, darkly: Stephen King’s latest novel, Under the Dome, offers perhaps the most revealing example of the nice-guy author’s outlook on life By Gary Butler

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Photo of Stephen King by Dick Dickinson; photo illustrations by Harry Fan

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tephen King is going for a walk, alone, politely but unapologetically alone, in bucolic, countryside Maine. Small-town Maine, where the legendary horror and fantasy icon was born, has ever resided, and sets the majority of his immensely popular stories. King has just concluded a promotional chore: a long-lead interview for his epic-length

new book, Under the Dome. The weather today is gorgeous, and he intends to make the most of it. Hunting party of one, thank you very much. Taking a solitary stroll is an almost daily regimen for King, arguably as necessary as breathing or, for that matter, writing. “I don’t measure my life out in coffee spoons yet, though,” laughs the 62-year-old author, hinting at a T. S. Eliot reference buried in the middle of his book. So, he’s aging gracefully. Thoughtfully, too: The walks, he allows, are “mostly ‘working’ walks”—a time to observe and think, to understand and imagine. They are, in no uncertain sense, a time for Stephen King to murder and create.

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nder the Dome concerns the inexplicable, hermetic sealing shut of a small, white-bread town (yes, in Maine). The story begins with a walk that serves a very different purpose from those enjoyed by its author. Protagonist—and, as it’s a Stephen King novel, hero—Dale Barbara approaches the tree-lined boundary of Chester’s Mill, a town that has treated him badly, and to which he vows he will never return. Except, ‘Barbie’ never reaches the county limit. He is stopped in his tracks, and soon enough retreats, when two astonishing events occur, almost simultaneously. The second is a plane crash; the first, the spontaneous truncation of a woodchuck—the animal’s blood still pumping, its guts spilling into the ditch before Barbie’s disbelieving eyes, the poor thing having been split in twain by…nothing? Almost, but not quite. If the teller of a tale assumes a responsibility for his creations, King has been ripping that rodent in two for a lifetime and a half (in woodchuck years). Though a far cry from Schrödinger’s Cat, what we might call “Stephen’s Woodchuck” has been suffering a suspended state of mid-death for over three decades—and there was some question as to whether its fate would ever be resolved. To no small degree, King shared the pain. He first attempted to write Under the Dome in 1978: same title, same science-horror plot, same critter, cruelly crimped. In fact, the woodchuck chapter of the completed version of Under the Dome, which King started in 2008, is “almost exactly the same as in that first attempt.” It’s not known as to what other project the prolific author turned his attention when, some 70 pages in, his first stab at Under the Dome lost steam; The Stand shares some themes, though, and certainly has the right publishing window. (Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining all predate it.) Under the Dome also underwent a second aborted attempt, renamed The Cannibals and set in an apartment building, written during a brief stint living in Pittsburgh while King worked on the film Creepshow. Today, the author says that the story “always had the same core idea…about diminishing resources.” Diminishing indeed, given that the titular barrier shuttering Chester’s Mill barely lets air pass through its transparent pores. “The science aspect was just too daunting,” King recalls of his ’70s self, ambitious

and hard-working but essentially stretched too thin. The implications of pollution and power generation, the provision of food and water, the mere availability of breathable air: All of these are critical factors in the story, for the final version of which King consulted numerous smarty-pants science friends. Still, to describe Under the Dome as an ecological-societal crisis story is to make it sound more like a disaster epic than a horror show. Bear in mind that Chester’s Mill experiences an extended siege from forces, indeed weaponry, unknown; man-againstman horror implications are obvious, but throw in both man against nature and man against himself. If King’s story is part An Inconvenient Truth—and,

to which the author himself alludes, or the readerpleasing literal horror, but also King’s basic eagerness to, in essence, share. “I’m a gregarious man, I was a gregarious child,” he says, prefacing the comment about his grandfather. “I would talk a lot.” If the boy talked a storm, then the man writes a flood—since his late 20s, more than a book a year. Under the Dome is the 39th fiction novel to bear King’s given name (which is to say: not including works of non-fiction, screenplays, and stories written under pseudonyms). It’s also his longest novel since 1986’s It. Why the late-career largesse? “I wanted to say something big,” he explains. Bigger, possibly, than even King imagined.

…a kid run over by a train? OK, all I can say is, I don’t remember that happening. Then again, I got hit by a van in 1999 and I don’t remember that happening, either. he assures, it is—then it’s light on Al, and heavy on, pardon the pun, Gore. A more accurate point of comparison is Lord of the Flies, and one could do worse than to mention the Twilight Zone episodes “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” and “It’s a Good Life.” (To the Internet’s great disappointment, King has the manuscripts to prove that his story predates The Simpsons Movie.) Ultimately, most importantly, Under the Dome is classic Stephen King: It brims with subtle but pointed contemporary cultural observations, boasts a sprawling but ably juggled cast, and weaves a web of paranoid horror that makes fairly short shrift of one very sizeable read. How sizeable? The hardcover approaches 1,100 pages in length, pared down from a 1,500-page manuscript. “I’m a seat-of-the-pants kind of guy. Anything that occurs to me, goes down. I don’t censor much on the first draft, and a lot of my ideas still strike me as OK later on,” he explains. “My grandfather used to say, Stephen opens his mouth and all his guts fall out. The perfect case in point is Under the Dome.” King’s right, surprise surprise. Because implicit in gramps’ observation is not just the kitchen sinkiness


s trendy as the issue of global devastation has become, it’s vaguely comforting to think of King worrying about its implications long before An Inconvenient Truth, The Day After, even Koyaanisqatsi. The characters in Under the Dome are trapped in their town; the author adds that the town is not really that small: “We’re stuck on this planet, we can’t get off. We understand how big the universe is and even with all our technology, we still haven’t found a world that can support life,” he sighs. “This is what we’ve got. “We all live ‘under the dome’,” he continues. “In a tiny terrarium. On an ant farm. Pick the term you think sounds elegant—or inelegant, depending on how you feel about the human race.” It’s tempting to assume King leans inelegant, feels negatively towards mankind (which he proceeds to call “a plague on the environment.”) Add to this a key sequence in the book, which involves insects being tortured with a magnifying glass—the not-alwaysinnocent cruelty of children, you understand—and it’s also tempting to think he’s a misanthrope. Both assumptions are incorrect. Most of King’s works end on what amounts to ‘happy notes’: While the personal cost is often enormous, his heroic leads tend to not just survive the day, but win it. Neither is he the only horrorist to find silver linings in pitchblack personal clouds: In the year-2000 documentary The American Nightmare, David Cronenberg (The Fly) describes his own science-horror films as representative of “evolution, every day,” John Carpenter (Halloween) says that he tries to “point to better days” and Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) believes he offers “a lot of hope.” King’s no thumbs-upper, mind; eco-awareness aside, neither is Under the Dome. Both the writer and his book are big on equal-opportunity burden-sharing,

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with edutainment the order of the day. No one is warier than King of the risk of the messaging becoming maudlin. To offset the slightest hint of mawkish sentimentality, he frontloads Under the Dome with serial killings, stirs it with violent mob behaviour and throws in the lit fuse of...the largest crystal meth factory in America? (Perhaps a case of overkill, though there’s admitted payoff in the resolution.) “I try like hell never to make something so heavy,” King explains. “Robert Bloch [author of Psycho, the basis of the famous Hitchcock film—Ed.] used to say, playing off a biblical moral, Thou shalt not sell thy story for a plot of message. I try to follow that. “At the same time, if you spend six months writing a book, well, it ought to be about something. ‘Big points’ always sound stupid to me [at the time], so I just crank ’em out and put ’em down.” Right over there, see? Beside the guts.


f there was any doubt: It bears mentioning that “Stephen’s Woodchuck” is officially dead. The little guy was a goner within the first 10 pages of the published version of Under the Dome. King allows that finishing off the book was a relief, and probably extends comparable empathy to ’Chucky. At the same time, Under the Dome was no albatross, no demon to be exorcised. King says that, for him, writing is an act of observing, processing, releasing information when the time is right. By contrast, it is not therapy. “I do not go to a therapist. I would lose a lot of the good stuff, out on the ground.” Talk about roadkill. “If therapy through writing happens for me, it’s not conscious,” he adds. “I use writing to understand, if I can, questions that I have. Sometimes, I guess, they might be about myself.” So while it’s tempting to picture King stumbling across some bisected beastie during a late-’70s “working walk” and imagining an invisible wall inches in front of his nose, it’s pure romanticizing. Sure, King’s seen dead animals in his day—heck, he lives in the long grass. But in terms of Under the Dome: He basically saw nothing. By the same token, it’s also quite possible that when Stephen King was four years old, he did not see the dead body of a child—or in fact see that child die. He mentions his acclaimed 1982 short story “The Body” (which became the film Stand by Me), wherein

a group of four boys walks a lonely stretch of railway, on a dare, to see a promised corpse. “A lot of that was drawn from real life, things I remember from when I was a kid,” King says, though he’s alluding to the story’s admittedly less-than-lurid sections. The scene where the boys go swimming and end up covered with leeches, check. The bit about being chased by a junkyard dog, check. Character back stories as composites of King and kids he grew up with, check. “Beyond that, I can’t think of much else.” Perhaps not directly: A question is posed as to an urban legend whereby King might have seen “…a kid run over by a train? OK, all I can say is, I don’t remember that happening. Then again, I got hit by a van in 1999 and I don’t remember that happening, either.” King wrote a version of the van incident into the seventh and final novel in his “Dark Tower” series. Of course, there were numerous reports from the time of the accident, so who’s to say the description sprang from concrete memory? “The Body,” by comparison, bridged a 30-year gap from the author’s less-documented early-’50s childhood. Still, who’s to say? Not even King himself. “All I know, is, I was supposed to be playing in the backyard—my mother had checked on me. And I came in and I just went up to my room. I was very pale, very quiet,” says the selfdescribed talkative kid. “That night, there was news that a child had been struck, and killed, by a train.” Here’s where King’s creative side shines through—and where the reader appreciates that “The Body” is just as fine a story if there is no real-life body, and that Under the Dome’s woodchuck could just as easily have been a broken twig or a dropped meatball sandwich briefly blocking King’s path one fateful day. Because the man is a writer, but he’s also a word-geek whose sense for the mot juste is often underrated. (And that aforementioned T. S. Eliot riff casually invokes an omniscient narrator for no other reason than that King adores one particular line in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Readers notin-the-know will miss out on nothing—the man is anything but exclusionary.) Back to those Eisenhower years, though: King mentions his mother’s “ghoulish” sense of humour and her choice description of the railway death. “She said they picked up the pieces of that kid in a basket. That stuck with me, my whole life, more than him being killed—the idea that he’d

been dismembered, picked up, and put in a basket.” Subconsciously or not, King carried that basket for about as long as he carried that woodchuck. One suspects each burden required two hands to manage.


is interview concluded, Stephen King offers polite thanks and heads for the door—and the hills. The man is burdenfree; he’s happy. Of course he is: he finally wrote the one that (almost) got away. Let us go with him, then, you and I: King crests a hill, pauses, looks around. He seems to know where he’s going, though he’s in no hurry. “Horror attracts you, gets in your head. When you get near some magnetic source, you swing toward it,” he explains during the discussion about creative process. King as a compass—there’s an interesting thought. Given his aforementioned fondness for relatively happy endings, call it a moral compass. As to what constitutes said happiness, mileage, or walking time, will vary. The town of Chester’s Mill has 2,000 residents at the beginning of Under the Dome, fewer than 50 when 100 pages remain. Neighbour will have turned on neighbour, friend on friend, even parent on child—savagely. (And, yes, worse fates yet await.) Fight or flight, as the saying goes; except flight is not an option in King’s glassed menagerie. So the survivors fight, even if all they’re holding out for is something as ineffable as that final breath of air. Or, even less tangible, the truth. King does like his hero types. Then again, maybe he knows that what actually makes people tick is, simply, being. “I’m not a serial killer, but I’ll write a story with a serial killer in it,” he says. “Trying to imagine my way into a person like that—well, that’s what I do.” Recalling another line from Eliot’s “Prufrock,” and subtly changing it, he summarizes Under the Dome in a half-dozen tidy words: “We all disturb the universe.” Still, King’s a small-town boy at heart, and such places are where he finds, and questions, the bigger picture. Where can we live but days? asked British poet Philip Larkin. Ah, solving that question brings the priest and doctor in their long coats, running over the fields. Look: There’s Stephen King behind them, observing from a polite distance. He’s scribbling furiously. He’s grinning. D DRIVEN December 2009 * 25

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The Gentleman’s

GIFT GUIDE The usual suspects welcome you to DRIVEN’s fifth-annual holiday gift extravaganza. No time like the present to get a clue

Photography Matt Barnes • Fashion Direction Luke Langsdale • Art Direction Kelly Kirkpatrick Editor and Coordinator Emily Saso • Hair & Makeup Adriano ( 26

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“AT THE TABLE” (FROM LEFT) Miss Crimson Dress Lundström Mr. Pheasant Raccoon coat Philip Sparks Shirt Robert Graham Scarf Etro

Mr. Deade Jacket Louis Vuitton Shirt Eton Mrs. Aüfweit Dress Nada Necklace and earrings Model’s own

Colonel Dijon Suit Philip Sparks Shirt Polo Ralph Lauren Tie Etro

Professor Prune Jacket and shirt Etro Pullover Loro Piana Hat Doria Scarf Altea

Mr. Moss Sweater Polo Ralph Lauren Shirt Etro Pants Canali

On Table (from left) Swarovski candlesticks, Château Cheval Blanc 2005 St. Émilion Grand Cru, Tiffany & Co. candlestick

“Character card” fashion Dijon, p38 • Crimson, p28 • Moss, p30 Aüfweit, p34 • Pheasant, p27 Prune, p36 • Deade, p45

Models Jamie and Lina (Sutherland Models), Kent (Ford Models), Tommy (B&M Models), Chris, Jano and Jennifer Location Harbour Sixty Steakhouse • Where to Buy ( fashion)? See “Buyer’s Market” on page 45 27

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LEE VALLEY DIGGING SPADE A shovel perfectly suited to digging yourself out of (or into) trouble. $36 PAX 22" RIP SAW With its two-tone, brassriveted beech handles, this ripper looks every bit as sharp as it cuts. $95 MILWAUKEE M18 SAWZALL® RECIPROCATING SAW “Edge” the competition with a built-in LED light and charge meter. $250 GRÄNSFORS SMALL FOREST AXE This handmade tool comes with an instructon manual describing the perfect hatchet job. $120 STILETTO TI BONE ALLTITANIUM HAMMER The only 100% titanium hammer on the market. Call it, ‘The Royal Nail.’ $280 JAPANESE HEDGE SHEARS Weighing just over one pound, these shears can be used for creating detailed designs or cutting through thick brush. $110 JAPANESE TRADITIONAL RYOBA SAW A true double-threat: a 24"-long rip and crosscut saw, all in one. $55


Miss Crimson Suit Valentino Hat Borsalino Gloves Hermès Shoes Hermès Bag Louis Vuitton

The Lounge

mically E rg o n o d and e n ig s e d e g a mer in h ig we , s d n u o 5 .3 p werful this po ideal drill is r, plumbe e th r fo $280 or n ia ic tr gift list. elec on your s s e r e murd


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FLIP ULTRAHD Sure to be one of the year’s most requested stocking-stuffers, this pocket-sized, hi-def camcorder can capture two hours of video, and recharges through a built-in USB arm. Its pre-loaded editing software is compatible with PCs and Macs. $250— E.S.


OLYMPUS PEN E-P1 A 1959 cult classic, the Olympus Pen returns in digital form. Combining an SLR’s large sensor with a point-andshoot’s small body, it’s truly the best of both shutterbugging worlds. $900—D.L.

Printing photos doesn’t get much easier than this. The ESP 9 delivers up to 30 pages of colour photos per minute. Plus, its Wi-fi connection lets you print from any networked home or office computer. $300—E.S.

CANON POWERSHOT D10 Worried about schlepping that SLR to your next sunshine destination? Get Canon’s compact, waterproof 12.1-megapixel camera. Your vacation will look great, no matter how many daiquiris you spill. $400—E.S.


E WRITTE N BY Emily Saso

With: Denn is Ian Harvey, Burke, Gary Butler, David Lee an d John Reid

SANYO VPCHD2000A One of the smallest 1080p camcorders money can buy. This Sanyo also supports the new iFrame movie format, which lets you edit video directly from the camera on your computer. $750—D.L.

DELL ALIENWARE M15X What’s in an admittedly cool name? A 15-inch gaming laptop equipped with a wickedly fast Intel Core i7 Mobile processor and full hi-def capabilities. $1,700—E.S.


LINKSYS DUAL-N BAND ROUTER This wireless router’s 5 and 2.4 GHz bands deliver double the bandwidth for less wait time and significantly fewer interruptions. $190—E.S.

HP’s powerful consumer notebook features the new Intel® Core™ i7, a processor fast enough to get the most out of video-editing projects and games. A laser-etched pattern on its magnesium case gives the Envy a unique look. $2,200—E.S.

LOGITECH PERFORMANCE MOUSE MX A four-thumb button mouse that charges even when in use and provides precise control on tough surfaces like glass, the MX is, in theory, the perfect right-hand man. $120—E.S.


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Mr. Moss Suit Canali Shirt Eton Scarf Etro Gloves Louis Vuitton

L HEAD CRYSTA VODKA , ter bottle This sinis a h it w filled creamy uniquely t vodka, and swee ed by ib cr es d is per, o el ev its d yd, as ro k y Dan A en with d being “la sgy.” Profe symbolo n, o d g n a tL sor Rober “Joliet ” Jake E. t at d n a t, le commen m Ham iable for a fro av y n el u v ll si Blues a ble exclu e. Availa Spirits. d n a es press tim in Estate W l bottles)—E.S. Diamond m (six 750 se a /c 0 $45

Bowmore 64 Bourbon Cask Single Malt

Rémy Martin Louis XIII Black Pearl Magnum

Krug Collection Brut 1985

From one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, a rich and mellow scotch whisky, matured for 38 years in traditional American bourbon casks. $2,700, 750 ml

So rare is this cognac that, from a single barrel kept hidden for decades in the Rémy Martin family reserve, only 786 bottles are available in the world. The hand-blown crystal decanter plays with light just like a black pearl. $35,000, 1.5 l

The touches of chocolate and truffle found in this legendary champagne will help make every holiday celebration that little bit sweeter. $1,000, 750 ml

The cellar 30

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Bombay Sapphire Described by its maker as less, ahem, “ginny” than other brands, Bombay Sapphire’s subtle, complex flavour stems from a secret recipe dating back to 1761. $55, 1.75 l

Glenfiddich Reserve 21-Year-Old Single Malt Finished for four months in repurposed rum barrels, this whisky is sweet, with hints of banana, figs and toffee. $155, 750 ml

Grey Goose A remarkably smooth vodka created using 100% fine French wheat. Bonus: It’s completely goose-free. $105, 1.75 l

A Butler’s Dozen (13 Toasts) Depending on your cultural radar, Michael Jackson died two years ago. A famous British critic renowned for his beer expertise (scotch, as well), Jackson is widely accepted as having catalyzed the North American regionalistic brewing trend, primarily via his accessible book, published in 1977, The World Guide to Beer. Simplified, the idea is that where you live (or, brew) dictates what you like—your taste. I’ll be eternally grateful to Jackson for teaching me the true meaning of “desert-island beer.” He instructed to choose what one would want for a long time, possibly forever; the key was to not overwhelm the tastebuds. Earlier this decade, Jackson’s desert-island beer was a little-known (alas, now defunct) Canadian microbrew pale ale: Hart Amber, from Kingston, Ontario, very bitter and aromatic, but not too-too much of either.

My own desert-island choices seem to change every few years. For the last long while, it’s been Steam Whistle pilsner (featured on p42). That said, every beer in the group above is all right by me—different tastes for different times, quality being the consistent point. Please note that though the beverages were personally chosen, their left-right order indicates no ranking beyond that of the photographer’s eye for arranged detail.*—G.B. Moosehead (5%): Straightforward lager from Canada’s oldest indie brewery; Pilsner Urquell (4.1%): A basic pilsner, Czech for “from the source”; Hoegaarden (4.9%): Belgian wheat beer, cloudy with a chance of spice and citrus; Grolsch (4%): Premium Dutch lager—the one with the nifty swingtop ‘pop’; Leffe (6.6%): Belgian ale that packs two hefty punches. in flavour and percentage; Saltspring (5%):

A small batch–brewed golden ale, two-time winner, Gold Medal, Canadian Brewing Awards (2009, 2004); Stella Artois (5.2%): Belgian light lager, hint of a hop finish; St. Ambroise (9.8%): 20th anniversary “Vintage” all for 2009 exclusively, limited-edition and extra-strong; Peroni (5.2%): Italian lager, light and crisp; Muskoka (5%): Yeasty and malty, small batch–brewed cream ale; Big Rock (5%): “Grasshöpper” is a terrific Albertan wheat beer; Nelson (6%): One of western Canada’s finest strong ales, “Faceplant” is available only in winter; Sleeman (6%): One of eastern Canada’s finest strong ales, “JSP Bock” is also available only in winter *No all-purpose Canadian ordering source exists, availabilities vary by province. Every beer featured carries a median price point of $12-$15 for six 341-500 ml bottles/cans. Exceptions: Grolsch, $3.25 for 450 ml; Saltspring, $4.60 for 650 ml; St. Ambroise, $7 for 341 ml

The bar Product photography (beer) by Steve Carty

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ÈS TIE HERM the around stened silk When fa hand-folded is neck, th ber produces m twill nu ose of style. d a lethal E.S. $170—

Mr. Pheasant Jacket Philip Sparks Shirt Robert Graham Tie Hermès Scarf Etro

Ties: Draped, left to right: Eton, Eton, Polo Ralph Lauren, Hermès, Hermès

The Foyer



With quartz movements powered by natural and artificial light, none of the watches in Citizen’s “Eco-Drive” series use batteries—which has kept an estimated 20 million watch power cells out of landfill sites. Features on the Calibre 8700 shown here include perpetual calendar, dual time and water resistance to 100 metres. $475 to $575—J.R.

Often thought of as a baby brother to Rolex, Tudor deserves recognition in its own right. There’s a rich history, here, and the new “Glamour” collection delivers a classic look with a retro-chic appeal. Consider: gorgeous black dial with delicate feuille-style hands, 10 diamonds, date aperture at 3 o’clock, and curving typography—a throwback to 1960s TUDOR models, enhancing the contemporary version’s vintage look. $1870—J.R.


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Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 5 For those at the very top of the “nice” list: The sleekest, sexiest digital-music system on the market, BeoSound 5 supports “lossless” WMA files, and can generate continuously flowing playlists from its vast music library. The large, sharp screen and aluminum scrolling wheel are easy to use—and fingerprint-proof. $8,200—E.S. The Art of Tony Millionaire (Dark Horse) A colourful, 200-page look inside the twisted, humorous mind of Tony Millionaire, creator of the Cartoon Network’s Drinky Crow Show. $40—E.S. Futura: L’Art de R. Black (Dark Horse) The first published collection of the poster art of R. Black, renowned for psycho-sexy pulp treatments for musicians as diverse as Costello and The Cramps. $20—E.S. Louis Vuitton: Art, Fashion and Architecture (Rizzoli) Pearl Jam Super Deluxe Limited Edition “TEN” Box Set

Neil Young Archives Volume 1 (DVD Edition)

The Cult: Love (Omnibus Edition)

A multi-format re-issue of Ten, this set features two re-mastered versions of the album, a previously unreleased MTV Unplugged performance DVD, four LPs and a replica cassette. $140—E.S.

Produced by Young himself, ten discs of recordings and rarities from 1963-1972 (yes, it includes Harvest). DVD audio is pictured; also available at different price points in Blu-ray or CD. $240—E.S.

AC/DC Backtracks: The Deluxe Edition

The Beatles: Stereo Box Set

This rarities survey of AC/DC’s entire career features three CDs, two DVDs, a vinyl album, a coffee table book and a carrying case that doubles as a fully functional amplifier (!). $240—E.S.

All the re-mastered stereo recordings by The Fab Four—over 250 songs—in one lavish set that includes full album art reproduction (CD scale). Also includes a behind-the-scenes booklet and several mini-documentaries. $220—E.S.

If all you need is Love, then you also need this fourCD set of The Cult’s best album. Discs are slipped in Japanese paper sleeves; includes book and live 1985 concert. Highlight: The super-rough demo track for “She Sells Sanctuary.” $50—E.S.

Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection Four career-spanning audio CDs and a live DVD of Jackson’s “Dangerous” tour (in Bucharest): this box set is unquestionably a thriller. $55—E.S.

Four-hundred pages of insight and imagery, tracing the world’s most famous modern luxury brand and its fascinating associations with the art world. $65—E.S. Portraits of Adventure (Redwood) A coffee-table collection of adventurers whose experiences represent the Land Rover brand in its extreme, exotic glory. $45—E.S.

The conservatory Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre a Chronographe When you add a complication such as a chronograph or a tourbillon, a mechanical-movement watch’s precision rate tends to suffer. This is because the mainspring is being asked to do double duty—to tell the time and to run the complication. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s solution is to build in separate power sources: two mainsprings (or barrels) in what it calls the “Dual Wing” concept. The result: The online watch aficionado community voted the Duometre 2007 Watch of the Year. $37,600—J.R. Product photography (music and books) by Steve Carty

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Breguet Classique “Grande Complication” tourbillon/perpetual calendar This watch combines two of the most difficult complications in watchmaking: the tourbillon and the perpetual calendar. Abraham Louis Breguet invented the tourbillon to offset gravity’s effects on pocket watches—moot today, but still a complex and beautiful timekeeping adjunct. Here’s precision for you: The perpetual calendar tracks leap years and won’t need resetting until 2100. $300,000—J.R.

Longines GrandeVitesse 24h chronograph with second time zone The jetsetter’s timekeeper: Grandevitesse, whose name is the portrait of refined understatement in that it connotes “life moving quickly.” Quickly enough to treat timezone shifting as de rigueur: This watch has a chronograph, its main dial can be changed to reflect current time zones, and its “GMT” hand keeps track of home time. $3,500 to $4,250—J.R. 33

11/27/09 2:00:44 PM

Mrs. Aüfweit Dress Nada Necklace, earrings, tights and shoes Model’s own

NESE CLASSIC JAPA E KITCHEN KNIF a th wi de bla A light re and carbon-steel co is knife ebony handle: Th for the t gif al ide makes an sassin as ed ind culinary-m 5—E.S. on your list. $6

The Kitchen 34

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PEUGEOT ELECTRIC SALT AND PEPPER MILLS These battery-operated corrosion-resistant mills are designed for one-handed grinding. Since they come with a built-in light, your food will be perfectly seasoned, even in a blackout. $175 each—E.S.

MIYABI PRO 7000D KITCHEN KNIFE SERIES Developed with Iron Chef Rokusaburo Michiba, the Miyabi collection by Zwilling J.A. Henckels is made with the classic samurai-sword technique of heating, folding and hammering the steel into itself 32 times, then polishing it until the striations gleam like silvered wood grain. $250-$375 per knife—I.H.

KRUPS HIGH PERFORMANCE DEEP FRYER Designed with a patented carbon fan and filter system that keeps oily cooking smells at bay, this family meal–sized fryer provides all the crispiness and flavour without any of the funk. $400—E.S.

INSINKERATOR EVOLUTION EXCEL Just released in Canada, this stainless-steel feat of engineering mates a 1-hp motor with a three-stage grinder and a sensor that detects impending jams. The wet-waste disposer can devour a whole half of a pineapple and is 60 per cent quieter than its predecessor. $500—I.H.



For even mo suggestio re gift ns, turn to the addit ional evid entiary exhibits on page 45—the a red herr re isn’t ing amo ng this holi day seaso them. May n’s prove ro guishly su sleuthing ccessful. ..

Renowned architect John Pawson’s line of minimalist, Japanese-inspired induction-compatible cookware. Sauté pans heat quickly and hold high temperatures; the walls of boiling pots keep heat focused; large handles stay cool; built-in lips make for easy pouring; and the double-layer lids have enough weight to create a pressure cooker-like effect for faster preparation. $375-575—I.H.

BBQ season can last all year long with this elegant grill and sandwich press. The non-stick flat and ribbed plates mean less oil needed for cooking and less clean up. $400—E.S.


MIELE INDUCTION COOKTOPS VICTORINOX SANTOKU KNIFE To mark its 125th anniversary, the famed Swiss company issued this 7" granton edge Santoku knife. Designed with a jubilee logo, it has a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects. $72—E.S.

Once available in commercial kitchens only, magnetically induced cooking is now relatively accessible. These cooktops heat the pan, not the element; when the pot is removed, the element remains cold to the touch. Unlike gas, they’re clean: no messes from particulate dust or soot. Starting at $2,000; 36" model pictured—I.H.

This stainless-steel countertop appliance whips up 1½ quarts of your favourite flavour in less than one hour. Just add the ingredients, set it and forget it—until your cravings kick in. $300—E.S.


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Steam Whistle “Retro Style” Bottle Opener Mount this opener on a wall or stick it to your fridge for an arty and deco way to say cheers. Two bottles of award-winning, premium pilsner included. $30

Clue: Secrets and Spies Hasbro’s newest edition of Clue brings the world of international espionage to game night. $30

Monopoly City Featuring 80 buildings in 3-D, this vertical version of the Hasbro classic lets you live out your wildest real estate dreams. $35

X-Box 360 Wireless Racing Wheel Bring all the bumps and turns from the racetrack to your living room for the ultimate armchair racing experience. $100

X-Box 360 Elite A 120GB hard drive, a wireless controller and a headset: X-Box’s executive console package is nothing short of complete. $300

Prof. Prune Jacket Dolce&Gabbana Sweater Loro Piana Shirt Eton Pants Brunello Cucinelli Tie and pocket square Dion

X-BOX GAMES Forza Motorsport 3 For those with a need for speed. $65

Halo 3: ODST Become an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper at your own risk. $70

Lips: Number One Hits This singing game features over 40 charttoppers. $70


from Crafted tained -s y cherr with dorned a , maple eathed sh d n a s n 53 inlay ed Italia ss o b m -e in lizard p, this is one wra . leather om stick ating bo intimid $3,600

The Games Room 36

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Star Trek TNG: Motion Picture Collection All four Next Generation films, plus three hours of special features, on five discs. DVD: $60, Blu-ray: $105—E.S.

Star Trek Original Series: Motion Picture Collection Six films, from Star Trek: The Motion Picture through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, plus over 140 minutes of special features, on seven discs. DVD: $90, Blu-ray: $140—E.S.

25 Films by Akira Kurosawa Featuring The Idiot, Scandal and Seven Samurai—and four previously unreleased films—this career-spanning Criterion box is Tarantino at his best. (Zing!) Includes notes on each film and a booklength essay. DVD: $520—E.S.

Futurama: Complete DVD Collection 1999-2009 Matt Groening’s other animated series in a subtle, collectable Bender head box. $200—E.S.

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Not just 25 discs & 70 hours of features, but a Cylon action figure and a Cylon head box set. (In answer to your question: Bender’s frakkin’ head is bigger.) DVD or Blu-ray: $290—E.S.

Paul Newman: The Tribute Collection Thirteen of the blue-eyed legend’s most famous films on 17 discs, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Long Hot Summer. DVD: $120—E.S.

Toshiba Regza SV670 A 46" LCD HDTV with serious style, this Regza’s ambient room sensor guarantees optimal image quality at any time of day. Its fifth-generation digital video processor makes colours pop. $2,500—E.S.

Epson MovieMate 72

Panasonic DMP-B15K

Sometimes bigger is better: Epson’s 720p all-in-one unit projects movies or video games on a surface up to eight times larger than a 40-inch screen. Compatible with iPod, Nintendo Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. $1,350—E.S.

This portable Blu-ray player offers the full 1080p experience; it supports SD cards and connects to most HDTVs. $1,000—D. L.

Product photography (DVDs) by Steve Carty

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Sony “Mu-Te-Ki” Home Theatre System Featuring three HDMI inputs and iPod, Walkman, computer or Bluetooth hook-ups, Sony’s “Mu-Te-Ki” simplifies music-media management. Fitting the seven speakers and two subwoofers under the tree is a different story. $1,100—E.S. 37

11/27/09 2:13:01 PM

Colonel Dijon Jacket Polo Ralph Lauren Shirt Polo Ralph Lauren Tie Hermès Pants Philip Sparks


PO IL CEP OR SET HT RAZ IG A R eppo’s ST ave: Il C close sh posite) a ’s re e H op et (page luxury s ovo Steelware’s el D s e d ste d inclu ot-forge amous h r brush with world-f e dg er ilver ba and silv blade, s d handle are always o o rw a Bri ves wer sha E.S. bowl. Slo ffort. $400— e e th worth

Crafted in sterling silver by the worldrenowned designer after which it’s named, this elegant soap box sets the bar for grooming ornaments. $785—E.S.

DOLCE&GABBANA THE ONE Described as an oriental perfume developed on the harmony of tobacco with refined boisé notes, D&G has succeeded again with this spicy, sensual and subtle lingerer. $65—E.S.



Dating back to 1777 (during the reign of George III), English grooming company Kent makes combs with rounded teeth that never damage hair. $15—E.S.

Sporting natural bristles and fashioned from the finest woods, this brush’s tufts massage and stimulate the scalp. $95—E.S.

BIRKS & MAYORS STERLING SILVER CANDLESTICKS Talk about dualpurpose: These classic accessories can set the scene for a romantic evening and serve as defensive weapons against unruly guests. $315 each—E.S.

BIRKS & MAYORS MURANO VASE A touch of elegant black from the renowned glassmaking district on the Venetian island of Murano. $325—E.S.

The gents

CK FREE Between its fruity opening, woodsy middle, and soft, musky drydown, CK Free covers a lot of ground. This sporty new scent has met with early success, and clearly has versatility to thank. $57—D. B.

BOIS 1920 — CLASSIC 1920 A cool, balanced Italian fragrance as unusual as it is tasteful: This fresh, green composition stays strong all day without overpowering. It’s a winning complexity, displaying throughout quiet hints of sandalwood, citrus and vetiver. $185—D. B.


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ZIRH WARRIOR COLLECTION SHOWER GELS A man need not be a warrior in order to smell like one. This series of shower gels was inspired by some of history’s most powerful figures. Caesar smelled like citrus—Who knew? $22—E.S.


JACK BLACK ON-THE-ROAD TRAVEL PACK Filled to the brim with SPF 20 moisturizer, all-over wash, energizing scrub, hand healer, lip balm and, of course, beard lube, this travel kit comes with everything a well-groomed man could need—and then some. $58—E.S.

The oscillating head on this shaver will catch even the smallest hard-to-get hairs. Plus, with automatic cleaning, drying and lubrication features, it’s as low maintenance as it gets. $340—E.S.

KIEHL’S LITE FLITE SHAVE CREAM For a traditional shave, with brush: a luxe cream infused with camphor, lavender and menthol, to softens the beard and protect the skin from nicks. $17—E.S.

BIOTHERM HOMME HIGH RECHARGE EYE ROLL-ON Bags aren’t just for shopping this time of year. This refreshing under-eye treatment is a cool and simple way to banish dark circles and wrinkles, and also makes a unique stocking stuffer. $40—E.S.

GUCCI BY GUCCI POUR HOMME Wall Street meets woodpile (in a good way): The complex Gucci by Gucci brings notes of bergamot, cypress and violet, with tobacco, jasmine, patchouli, amber and Elemi incense rounding it all off. $90—E.S.

TO R ! CAVEAT EMP e Genth in All prices uide are G t if tleman’s G ailability approximate; av Canada. will vary across estions (Also, some sugg adly.) might prove de s you DRIVEN wishe , and even happy shopping s. happier holiday

YVES SAINT LAURENT “LA NUIT DE L’HOMME” Yves Saint Laurent follows up its popular L’Homme with a brighter cousin in La Nuit de L’Homme. Don’t read too much into the name, though: Those with an appreciation for light amber and sweeter notes will love this warm new scent. $65—D.B.

GILLETTE GIFT SET Perfect for the “basics” shaver on any gift list, this six-piece set comes with a razor and two cartridges, shave gel, shampoo, 2-in-1 body wash and antiperspirant. $23—E.S.

LACOSTE CHALLENGE This sporty new fragrance is energetic and light, and balances its citric tangerine base with spicy ginger and a dark woodsy drydown. Challenge is as athletic a fragrance as you’ll find this season, perfect for those who lead an active lifestyle. $60—D.B.


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11/27/09 2:07:32 PM

Santa in a RED dress

By John McFetridge Illustration by Sylvia Nickerson


T had been with the Saints of Hell going on two years, since almost the day he got back from Afghanistan, moving up from hangaround to prospect, still doing the shit work till he could get his patch. Like this: driving two days to Moncton to meet a guy who’d picked up 80 kilos of coke offshore. Just before dawn, the freighter Sharon David, carrying low-sulphur coal from Maracaibo, Venezuela, to Sydney, Nova Scotia, passed by a mile off the coast, and one of the Filipino crew members tossed an oil drum overboard. At sun-up, a lobster fisherman named Jerry McNeil and his brother-in-law followed the GPS signal to the drum and pulled it onboard. They had the drum open and the coke in three hockey bags before they even got back to shore. Later that day, Jerry drove almost four hours from Port Dufferin to the Magnetic Hill Motel in Moncton, parked his pickup in front of room number six and went to the coffee shop. Ten minutes later, JT came out of room number nine, took the hockey bags, 60 pounds apiece, and left a backpack with 40 grand in cash—enough to get Jerry through one more season, maybe even another, the price of lobsters didn’t go down as much as the price of fuel goes up. JT drove back to Toronto, 15 hours in a brand-new Camaro, 300 horsepower and a Boston Acoustics stereo. On the Trans-Can through New Brunswick he saw a few signs for the US border: twelve miles, nine miles, always so close, and he thought how the coke he was carrying would bring almost twice as much wholesale in Canada, over 40 grand a kilo, because the market was so tightly controlled. Of course, the retail price in Canada was less than in the US, maybe 50 bucks a gram instead of 70 or 75, because the Saints sold to anybody and let them fight it out on the street. But that wasn’t his problem. Getting the patch, that was his problem. Once JT had that, he’d never have to touch the product again.


ave Ogilvy sat in the holding room on the Buffalo side of the border, looking at his ripped-open goalie pads and the kilo of

coke on the table. He wanted to tell these cops—the young guy and the woman who looked pretty good for late 40s—that they didn’t need to rip open both pads, but he kept his mouth shut because he knew there was more going on. These were Canadian cops, Toronto cops, on the American side of the border. They were the only ones in the room with him, and so far no one had said anything about arresting him. The woman cop—Dave figured she must be a jogger, no tits but flat stomach and a very tight butt—was saying no one could blame him for going to the States for his coke. “The Saints selling that watered-down shit at twice the price.” Dave was looking at her, thinking he wasn’t going to get caught up in whatever the fuck it was she was doing. “This cost you what, 20 grand?” She could do something with her hair, maybe grow it out or something, get a decent style, but cops probably didn’t get paid that much. She was doing the best she could with that tight blouse under her jacket. Then she said, “The thing is, Dave, how are the Saints going to feel about you selling this in Toronto? They think they’re your only supplier, don’t they? You get what, a key a month from them?” He started to get it and he said, “No fucking way.” “No one needs to know, Dave, we’re not going to tell anyone.” He said, “No. Fuck you.” She looked at the other cop, the young guy—they were sympathetic, nodding like they understood, like they were both the good cop and then she said, “You used to be a singer, didn’t you?” “I still am.” “Well, it makes a good front, play a few gigs with your old band—what’re you called, Smiley’s People? I saw you once, years ago, at Canada’s Wonderland, with Kim Mitchell.” “We played the Sound Academy last month, big Q107 anniversary thing, Kim was there, too.” “Love those ‘Patio Lanterns’. You’re singing some radio jingles, aren’t you, is that you on the FedEx

ones, the office shipping guy?” She looked at him, Dave thinking, You really did your homework, think you know everything, fine, but I’m not going to fucking help you. “And dealing the coke makes for a good living.” Shit, maybe they were both the bad cop, he couldn’t fucking tell. Then she said, “Okay, Dave, we’re all friends here on the wrong side of the border, we’re just talking, we don’t have any jurisdiction here. Look, I’m Detective Roxon, this is Constable Loewen.” Dave said, “Yeah, well, I’m not giving you shit about the Saints of Hell.” And Loewen spoke for the first time, saying, “You don’t think so?” “We know the guy you deal with isn’t a full patch yet.” “Or he wouldn’t be dealing with you.” Dave looked at the guy thinking, Oh right, so you’re the bad cop? “But he’s on his way up. So you stay close to him and we stay close to you.” “You have to be fucking insane you think I’ll go along with this, Detective Roxon.” Loewen poked the torn open goalie pad and said, “Dave, I don’t see you have a choice.” “This goes on long enough,” Roxon said, “you can call me Barb.”


ave took 10 eight balls to Rebecca Almieda’s, a hooker who lived in the condo building on Queen’s Quay across from the Toronto Star building, and asked if maybe he could get a tip for the delivery. Rebecca, 21 years old and sexy as hell in her yoga pants and sports bra, held out the 15 hundred and said, “You can have this, or we can fuck, which one you want?” “How about a blow job?” She peeled off five hundred bucks and said, “You still want it,” holding out the grand. Dave laughed, said he was just screwing with her. “That’s my business, you’re ever really interested.”

40 DRIVEN December 2009 *

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Fiction * “Too rich for my blood.” He took the fifteen and Rebecca took the coke, walking into the bedroom, saying over her shoulder, “You ever get a hit single, we can talk.” Dave watched her go, thinking, This Christmas song I’m working on gets played enough, you never know. It was a novelty song, but close enough. How else do you get on the radio these days? Rebecca came back into the living room saying, “I’m going to Ottawa for a few days, can I get some more by Monday?” “Sure, as much as you want.” She raised her eyebrow and tilted her head looking at him and he said, “You’re a good customer.” She said, “Sure I am,” and walked towards the door, Dave following. She looked at the money still in his hand and said, “You sure you don’t want to spend a little of that, you’re already here,” and he said, no, that’s okay, “I have to meet a guy.” She said, “He won’t fuck you like I can,” and winked at him.


T was waiting at Cherry Beach, middle of the afternoon and no one was around, not even a dog walker. Dave pulled into the parking lot in his Monte Carlo and JT said to follow him. “So, you still had some left, from last month?” JT asked. Dave said, what do you mean, and JT said, “You sold some this morning, you still had some from the last delivery,” and Dave said, oh yeah, right, “A little, just a little.” They walked into the woods there, toward Unwin Street, Dave following. JT said, good, “That’s good stock management, you’re doing good.” “Yeah, well...” JT stopped and said, “What,” and Dave said, “Look, I have to tell you something, some cops talked to me.” JT told him to hang on, and they walked further into the woods till he was sure they were completely alone. Dave said, “It’s like we’re fags, coming out here to get laid.” JT said, “What about the cops?” Dave shifted on his feet. “Yeah, they stopped me... on my way back from New York from that charity hockey game I played in. You know: celebrities against old timers. We had Jason Priestley, couple of guys from The Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies. Michael J. Fox was coaching—ha, what the fuck else is he going to do, right? Barely hold a stick.” JT said, “Yeah.” “Yeah, so they stopped me at the border. I... shit, this is hard.” “Take your time.” “They stopped me and, really, they wanted to know about you.” “Me?” “Well, the thing is, I was bringing something back, I had some...”

“Some what?” “Some... fuck, you know, it’s just... anyway, I don’t want to... okay, look, I was bringing back some coke, a guy sold me some while I was there, it was so cheap.” “Yeah, that American shit, it’s half Inositol you know, what did you get, eight ball?” Dave closed his eyes and JT nodded, said, “Tell me, Dave.” “Guy sold me a kilo. But they knew, the cops knew. Some Toronto cops stopped me at the border—didn’t want to arrest me. They wanted me to give them info on you.” JT said oh yeah? “What’d you tell them?” “Shit, JT, you know, I didn’t tell them fuck all. They didn’t even know who I dealt with really, they didn’t have a name, they just knew I bought wholesale in Toronto so it must be from a Saint.” “You’re not wearing a wire now, are you?” “Fuck no, no way.” JT said okay, that’s good, and Dave was getting antsy, pacing a little, looking around but there was nobody. He said, “I figured, you know, I’d tell you right away, tell you and then I could be like a double agent, I could give the cops wrong shit, like misinformation.” JT said, “That’s good thinking.” “Yeah?” “Yeah, that’s a very good idea. And you’re sure they didn’t have an ID on me?” “Positive. They showed me pictures, you and Boner and Mitch, a couple of the other guys, but they don’t really know squat.” “Okay, that’s good.” JT took out his .38, his Colt, and shot Dave in the face. Two more in the back of the head when Dave was on the ground, thinking, Shit, pictures of all us prospects. Fuck. He’d have to call one of them now, get some help dumping the body, get rid of the shitty Monte Carlo. Then he thought, No, just leave it here. If it got out one of his sellers was picked up by the cops he’d be even further from that full patch.


etective Roxon said, “Three shots at close range,” and Loewen, who was talking to the coroner, said, “Yeah, his head’s pretty much blown off, have to wait for the lab reports.” She said, “Why? Because we can’t figure out one of The Saints did it?” “You sure he wasn’t out here looking for a hummer?” The whole place was taped off, uniformed cops all over looking for evidence, Roxon knowing they wouldn’t find anything. Loewen said, “Shit, he’s got a Christmas song on his iPod.” He had one headphone on, nodding to the beat. “It’s ‘Devil in a Blue Dress’ but changed—now it’s ‘Santa in a Red Dress’.” “Is it him singing?” Loewen said, “Shit yeah, it might be.” “Too bad for him, that one might’ve been a hit.”*

DRIVEN December 2009 * 41

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Automotive *

>> 2010 BMW 550i Gran Turismo both sides, now By Gary Butler Lisbon—To call the Ponte Vasco da Gama a marvel of modern engineering is to understate, dramatically. The longest bridge in Europe spans more than 17 km—almost 50 per cent longer than P.E.I.’s Confederation Bridge, and so long that its engineers had to compensate for planetary curvature in order to correctly site the piers. The billion-dollar bridge’s right-bank “main” section is deservedly its most famous image, cable-strewn and rigidly elegant. But it’s the stretch of viaducts in the middle that truly impresses when crossing the superstructure. There’s an additional aesthetic advantage to be had in traversing the Vasco da Gama in a long-lead production-model BMW—specifically, the 2010 550i Gran Turismo. Average viaduct height above Lisbon’s sprawling Tagus River is between 15 and 30 metres, but the parapets are so low, the span so far and so vast, there is a sense, strangely calming, of driving almost

directly on the water. It’s immersive, it’s beautiful. So, too, is my BMW test model. If the 550i’s Orion Silver metallic finish is admittedly not to all tastes, the sunlight certainly likes it. The roofline is tall and coupe-like, surprisingly sporty (for a hatchback). The interior is luxurious, as expected, and exceptionally roomy, a pleasant surprise. Blame it on the 550i’s grand touring genes that I’m back on land in less than 10 minutes, the suggested crossing time being fifteen. I’m really in no rush, despite approaching the end of a full day of zipping around Lisbon and its environs—emphasis on the zipping. There have been back-country two-lanes, cliff-side highways, even another colossal bridge. The route has been exquisite and the Vasco da Gama provides the exclamation point. The GT’s long-distance, high-speed, and comfort-plus-style capabilities make the trip’s finale grande indeed. This BMW seems eager to perform.

With good reason: This year has seen Bimmer bloggers table some fairly cranky opinions, citing the profile (wha?), the height (too tall!), the hatch (a hatch?), even the pre-production paint scheme. What most of the blogosphere does agree on is that the 550i is a controversial choice—a point usually not offered as a compliment. The kneejerk melodrama is rooted in the notion that, as the manufacturer itself admitted, this GT is a high-end, customer-oriented vehicle intentionally suited for—gasp—everyday purposes. To put it more bluntly, the 550i GT represents a compromise between sporty executive sedan and SUV; as such, it’s almost sacrilegious. Or is it? This has been the year of the risk, not to mention the departure, in the automotive world. Last issue, DRIVEN highlighted a Porsche 4-door sedan (!), and the story immediately following this one centres on the Acura ZDX, another vehicle that seeks to defy convention—and classification.

42 DRIVEN December 2009 *

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Automotive *

The real question when it comes to the 550i’s purported dual-purpose nature is: Can luxury drivers really have their sporty cheesecake and, ahem, 4-seat it, too? The 550i GT is BMW’s resounding yes, and if the media-hydra assembled in Lisbon wasn’t immediately on-side—as expected, due to the silhouette, which makes a much better impression in person than on film—the majority of skeptics were assuaged at test-drive day’s end. Overheard during the beachside dinner of bacalhau baked in mounds upon mounds of sea salt, from a table of American journalists seated nearby: “I figured it was gonna be good for weekend golf, make a nice entrance—but in fact, I’d take it out for, well, y’know, a day trip.” Also heard, though less relevant: “I can’t believe this cod doesn’t taste salty!” I was inclined to agree, on both counts. The fish was delicious and the 550i GT handled very well—in retrospect, perhaps not surprising given the twinturbo V8 engine (a 6-cylinder will also be available) and adjustable suspension (comfort, sport and sport plus). Still, the general consensus was that the drive could have been just a dash more fun. BMW’s engineers score major points in making the 550i as SUV-like as possible: For sheer space management alone, both the rear seating and the cargo space are astonishing. To the former: Both backseat occupants are treated to the same plush lounge chairs found in the front row, and with unprecedented leg room, hence the vehicle’s oft-noted height. (To be technical, there is an extra rear-seat option, but I can’t imagine anyone who’s not Plastic Man fitting the slot; compound this with the other option—a fixed console—and the 550i really is a four-seater.) The second-row seats are also fully adjustable, making it a true pleasure to sit in the back, although this does result in issues with driver visibility rearward.

As for the cargo area: BMW calls it “flexible.” Accurate, but it’s even more appropriately compared to the dual-purpose identity of the vehicle itself. Sport meets sport-ute: So, sometimes, a small cargo space will be required, sometimes, a massive one. The rather ingenious solution: A hatch that can be partially or fully opened. The full-access cargo space is significant, even with four passengers (and note that there’s a divider, to baffle sound). With the rear seats folded down: 1,700 litres of storage space. But I’m an executive tourist, zipping around in Lisbon simply because I can—cargo volume doesn’t matter here so much as ambient lifestyle. (It’s a Euro thing.) Sure, I get the part about the big business–type

who wants to show off his well-appointed—and sporty!—car, who is confident enough to allow the odd client in that car, who might or might not have kids, and who might or might not need to cart around items less glamorous than golf bags on the weekend. BMW got that part right: The 2010 BMW 550i Gran Turismo is that guy’s car. Hell, it could be mine. Squinting in the rear-view as the Vasco da Gama recedes, I briefly consider turning around and driving the bridge again. Despite all of the surrounding beauty, I took that first pass too fast. The BMW made me do it, though; my compliments to the chefs. If that’s a design flaw, it’s eminently forgivable. Water under the proverbial, far as I’m concerned.*

DRIVEN December 2009 * 43

00 driven30_Dec_AUTO-52-53BMW.in43 43

11/27/09 2:26:31 PM

Automotive *

>> 2010 Acura Z D X Advancing the automotive mash-up By Mark Hacking

Los Angeles, Calif.—Around the mid-2000s, when a marketing-based study determined that North American consumers weren’t interested in buying anything called a “minivan,” everything that was, technically, a minivan suddenly became a CUV: a crossover utility vehicle, crossover for short. A more recent study identified another automotive category that just wasn’t resonating with the New World motorist anymore—the station wagon. As a result, you can’t find station wagons in dealerships anywhere, but you can find CUVs that bear a striking resemblance to station wagons. Lately, though, even this catch-all term, used to describe any car-based vehicle that isn’t a car, has been found wanting. Case in point: the 2010 Acura ZDX, which the manufacturer is positioning as a crossover sport coupe. Fair enough—it’s a CUV that has four doors, yet looks like it only has two. But what is it about the ZDX, deep below the surface, that justifies this new kind of classification? In order to find out, I jockeyed

the Acura through the cut-and-thrust of urban LA before heading for the hills and the corresponding canyon roads of Malibu. Truth is, I know these roads well. On weekends, people with all types of super-fast sports cars and even quicker sport bikes race back and forth, testing the limits of adhesion and common sense. The canyons represent an escape for Angelinos more accustomed to bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 10, the 101, the 110 and the 405. (Sigalert, anyone?) Armed with this local knowledge, I set about determining whether the ZDX deserved the “sport coupe” aspect of its designation. I moved the shift lever to sport mode, placed my hands on the paddle shifters, selected first gear and coaxed the 300-horsepower, 3.7-litre V6 to do its utmost to impress me. Together, we powered up the steep canyon inclines, me rowing through the 6-speed transmission—the first for Acura—and the ZDX responding with a fair amount of gusto. (It’s not fast, but the

thing has the measure of some sport coupes out there.) The engine is true to the Acura heritage: It comes alive at 5,500 rpm, when its note becomes sinister and the performance begins in earnest. If the engine and transmission were suitably impressive, the all-wheel drive system and fully independent suspension were more so. The AWD is the same pavement-chewer found on many Acura models; its torque-vectoring feature helps the ZDX corner by shifting power to the outside rear wheel. Even though it was saddled with all-season tires, the ZDX displayed real tenacity around the Malibu bends. The suspension also strikes a decent compromise—this time between sheer aggression and ultimate comfort. When confronted with dips in the road, the ZDX dipped too, but quickly settled and readied itself for the next obstacle. Did it handle like a sport coupe? Maybe a soft one. But considering the ZDX is still, in fact, a crossover, it showed good composure and proved to be fun to drive. And that’s the main thing. Not only does the ZDX look the part and offer the performance to match (mostly), it’s also being positioned as a serious high-end ride. The evidence: The leather on the dashboard and centre console is hand-stitched. The carpeting is thick and luxurious and extends all the way back to the cargo compartment. In said compartment, the skid plates and grab handles are made of metal, not the usual plastic. But the defining characteristic of the ZDX interior (and the exterior, it must be said) is a glass roof that stretches from the very top of the windshield to the very bottom of the tailgate. Within this dramatic design element, there is a power moonroof for frontseat passengers and a fixed glass panel that hovers above those occupying the rear seat. The net effect is a bright and airy cabin, full of style and grace. There are, of course, drawbacks to the ZDX—as with all vehicles. Acura continues to place a strong emphasis on technology; normally fine, but the sheer number of buttons and switches in the cabin remain excessive. With the ZDX, they have mitigated this somewhat with lighting that illuminates only the controls that are in use. But still: They refer to the centre console as the “monolith,” and that speaks volumes all by itself. The exterior design will also elicit differing opinions. Acura has struggled in making its most recent offerings resonate with the general public, but the ZDX may be the vehicle that cracks the code. From certain angles, the coupe-like shape is striking and well wrought; there’s also room in the back for sixfoot-tall adults, and enough interior space overall for a foursome of adults and their golf bags. As the Acura ZDX was introduced to the media, another new term was offered: “the passionate getaway.” The idea here: If an upwardly mobile couple decides to take off for the weekend—for romance, golf or a bit of both—this new crossover represents the perfect conveyance. Seems possible.*

44 DRIVEN December 2009 *

00 driven30_Dec_AUTO-54Acura-55L44 44

11/27/09 2:15:14 PM

Buyer’s Market Editor’s Letter (Page 10) Jacket by Ermenegildo Zegna, available at Harry Rosen (; Sweater by Loro Piana, available at Harry Rosen (, Shirt by Eton, for stockists see The Gentleman’s Gift Guide (Pages 26-39) Page 26-27, Group shot (left to right): Crimson: Dress by Lundström, for stockists see Pheasant: Scarf by Etro, available at Harry Rosen ( Shirt by Robert Graham, available at Harry Rosen ( Raccoon skin coat by Philip Sparks, available from Dijon: Shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren, available at Holt Renfrew (; Suit by Philip Sparks, available from; Tie by Etro available at Harry Rosen ( Moss: Shirt by Etro, available at Harry Rosen (; Sweater by Polo Ralph Lauren, available at Holt Renfrew (; Pants by Canali, available at Holt Renfrew ( Deade: Shirt by Eton, for stockists see; Jacket by Louis Vuitton, for stockists see Aüfweit: Dress by Nada, for stockists see; Earrings and necklace are model’s own. Prune: Jacket by Etro, available at Harry Rosen (; Pullover by Loro Piana, available at Harry Rosen (; Scarf by Altea, available at Harry Rosen (; Hat by Doria, available at Harry Rosen ( Individual character cards: Dijon: Jacket and shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren, available at Holt Renfrew (; Tie by Hermès, for store locations see Moss: Suit by Canali, available at Holt Renfrew (; Shirt by Eton, for stockists see; Scarf by Etro, available at Harry Rosen (; Gloves by Louis Vuitton, for stockists see Crimson: Suit by Valentino, available at Holt Renfrew (; Hat by Borsalino, available at Harry Rosen ( Gloves by Hermès, for store locations see Aüfweit: Dress by Nada, for stockists see; Necklace and earrings are model’s own. Prune: Jacket by Dolce&Gabbana available at Holt Renfrew (; Sweater by Loro Piana, available at Harry Rosen (; Shirt by Eton, available at Harry Rosen (; Tie and pocket square by Dion, available at Harry Rosen ( Pheasant: Scarf by Etro, available at Harry Rosen ( Shirt by Robert Graham, available at Harry Rosen ( Deade: Suit by Ralph Lauren Black Label, available at Holt Renfrew (; Sweater by Louis Vuitton, for stockists see; Shirt by Eton, available at Harry Rosen (; Pocket square by Dion, available at Harry Rosen ( Page 28: Suit by Valentino, available at Holt Renfrew (; Hat by Borsalino, available at Harry Rosen (; Gloves and shoes by Hermès, for store locations see; Bag by Louis Vuitton, for stockists see Page 30: Suit by Canali, available at Holt Renfrew (; Shirt by Eton, for stockists see; Scarf by Etro,

available at Harry Rosen (; Gloves by Louis Vuitton, for stockists see Page 32: Jacket by Philip Sparks, available at; Shirt by Robert Graham, available at Harry Rosen (; Scarf by Etro, available at Harry Rosen

Louis Vuitton, for stockists see; Shirt by Eton, available at Harry Rosen (; Toque by Louis Vuitton, for stockists see; Pocket square by Dion, available at Harry Rosen (; Gloves by Hermès, for store locations see; Bag by Louis Vuitton, for stockists see

by Logitech, $180. iPod video goggles, $130. Escort Passport 9500IX Radar/Laser Detector, $670. Swiss Army SwissFlash USB knife, $54. Black & Decker Alligator Lopper, $190. DVDs: Essential Directors: Clint Eastwood, $27. Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection, $70. G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Complete Collector’s Set, $180. Iron Maiden: Flight 666, $17. The Wim Wenders Collection, $50. Experiences: AMG Driving Academy training course, $1,500. Gotham Dream Cars dream car tour, $600. Empire One Exotic Car Club “test drive”, $4,000. Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture fantasy camp, $900. Lucas Oil Off-Road Race Series arrive & drive, $1,500. National Geographic photography workshop, $2,500. Speed Secrets race driver coaching, $1,500. Music sets: The Cure: Join the Dots: B-Sides and Rarities 1978-2001 (The Fiction Years), $55. John Coltrane: Giant Steps (180 Gram Vinyl Deluxe Numbered Limited Edition), $60. Rockin’ Bones: ’50s Punk & Rockabilly, $70. The Stone Roses (20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition), $250. Sinatra: Vegas, $80. What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977), $65. Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 19651968, $65. Complete Beatles catalogue in digital format on a “Green Apple” USB stick, $280. Toys: G.I. Joe 3¾" Pit Commando, $10. Iron Man: Mark 3 Helmet Prop Replica, $425. Nerf N-Strike Raider CS-35 automatic dart blaster, $55. Airboard Inflatable snow sled, $268. Forza Motorsport 3, $70. Thrustmaster F1 Wireless Gamepad Ferrari F60, $70. LEGO classic

(; Tie (being held) by Hermès, for store locations see Ties hanging, from left to right: First and second by Eton, for stockists see; Third by Polo Ralph Lauren, available at Holt Renfrew (; Fourth and fifth by Hermès, for store locations see


Page 34: Dress by Nada, for stockists see; Earrings, necklace and shoes are model’s own.

Novels & graphica by DRIVEN contributors:

Page 36: Jacket by Dolce&Gabbana, available at Holt Renfrew (; Sweater by Loro Piana, available at Harry Rosen (; Shirt by Eton, available at Harry Rosen (; Pants by Brunello Cucinelli, available at Harry Rosen (; Tie and pocket square by Dion, available at Harry Rosen (

Angel Riots by Ibi Kaslik, $22. Pontypool

in Seven Days by Nathan Whitlock, $27. The

Grooming: F By Ferragamo for Men shower

Page 38: Tie by Hermès, for store locations see; Jacket and shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren, available at Holt Renfrew (; Pants by Philip Sparks, available at

Long Slide by James Grainger, $20. Filthy Rich

gel, 150 ml, $26. Cromwell & Cruthers Men’s

by Victor Santos & Brian Azzarello, $25. The

Shaving Oil, 15 ml, $6. Shoyeido Nan-kun pre-

Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire, $53.

mium incense, $24.

Other recommended books: The Russian

Sports: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL mountain bike,

Debutante’s Handbook by Gary Shteyngart,

$7,350. Cervelo S2 Ultegra road bike, $3,834.

$17. Quicksilver Ltd: Volume One of the

Titleist Pro V1x golf balls, $55. Catalina 350

Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, $310.

mark II racing yacht, prices vary (starting

THIS PAGE “MR DEADE, IN THE FREEZER ...WITH THE ICICLE?” Suit by Ralph Lauren Black Label, available at Holt Renfrew (; Sweater by

Prices are approximate; availability is variable

The Fighter by Craig Davidson, $20. Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden, $20. The Changes Everything by Tony Burgess, $12. Blackstrap Hawco by Kenneth J. Harvey, $24. Fall by Colin McAdam, $32. The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper, $30. Swap: A Mystery by John McFetridge, $25. A Week of This: A Novel

Volkswagen Beetle model, $160. The Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch Set, $230. Drink: Rossi D’Asiago Limoncello, 750 ml, $21. ’98 Cuvee William Champagne Gift Box, 750 ml, $135. Pisco Aba Santiago, 750 ml, $22. Alexander Grappa & Alexander Cru Grappa Gift Pack, 2 x 700 ml, $85. Riedel Vinum Single Malt Scotch Glasses, set of 6, $149. Single bottle wine chiller, $120. Vintage Keeper 110 bottle wine cabinet, $795. Automotive accesories: Puma Speed Cat Driving Shoes, $120. 1935 Scuderia Ferrari Race Trophy, $4,000. iPhone Lap Timer Data Acquisition Application, $12. Haynes Manual Large Mural, $670. Meguiar’s Show Car Shine Kit, $20.

The White Castle by Orhan Parmuk, $27.

around $200,000).

Larousse Gastronomique, $110.

And: A partridge in a pear tree, priceless. D

Mr. Deade photo by Matt Barnes; styling by Luke Langsdale Suit by Ralph Lauren Black Label, shirt by Eton, pocket square by Dion, gloves by Hermès, sweater, toque and bag by Louis Vuitton

00 driven30 Dec BOB.indd 45

Gadgets: Harmony 9000 universal remote

DRIVEN December 2009 * 45

11/27/09 3:55:04 PM

2009 *

shock of the news The year in astonishment By James Grainger



RY 26

Nadya Suleman gives birth to octuplets in Bellflower, California. In the ensuing media blitz, the 33-year-old psychiatric technician is nicknamed “Octomom.” Subsequent spike in mid-term math marks in North American junior schools attributed to increased success rate on the question, “How many sides does an octagon have?” JANU A

Nothing much happens, really. When you think about it, kind of, well, shocking. Or astonishing. JUNE


Web site “” launches. At press time, “” still unregistered.


00 driven30 Dec BOB.indd 46


General Motors emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, announcing the American and Canadian governments as majority owners of the reorganized company. At the press conference, a GM spokesperson thanks the taxpayers of North America for the bailout but regrets to say that, “No, I can’t get your buddy a job.”

46 DRIVEN December 2009 *


T 31

Seventy-one-year-old Bernie Madoff, architect of the biggest Ponzi scam in history, lands a 150-year jail sentence. New fraud charges are brought against Madoff one week later, when a gullible publisher buys the rights to the disgraced investor’s autobiography, manuscript to be delivered upon completion of Madoff ’s sentence.

RY 27 JUNE 24




The Walt Disney Company buys Marvel Comics for $4 billion. Stock price plummets when Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman goes berserk at a costume fitting for the new conglomerate’s first cross-over film project, The Santa Clause 4: Hidden Claws. SEPT


R 25

Sleep Country Canada’s pillow division releases a viral radio campaign featuring an unforgettable line of blather that goes something like, “Christine, what is the most surprising thing about Sleep Country?” (It definitely contains the word “surprising.”) Her answer (paraphrasing again, but not much): “The number of pillows we carry!!” Second-most surprising thing? All Sleep Country Canada mattresses stuffed with live marmots.

R 26

After completing a 31-year program of passive-aggressive torture (“False sense of security,” pat. pend.), authorities arrest Roman Polanski at the Zurich Film Festival. Next year, the festival’s guest of honour will be Yemeni director O. B. Laden. OCTO


CanLit superstar Margaret Atwood’s 13th novel, The Year of the Flood, is left off the shortlists for both of the country’s major literary awards. At a press conference, a LongPen™ in a fright wig holds up a copy of the novel, writing, “It’s not just a flood. I’ve got mutant animals and a pandemic in there, too!”





Less than one year in office, American President Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize because his name doesn’t even rhyme with George W. Bush. Margaret Atwood, whose novel The Year of the Flood contains at least one committed vegetarian pacifist, is not available for comment. OCTO



Helium balloon floating over Colorado found not to contain a 6-year-old boy. Meanwhile, entire cast of TV high-school hit Glee found to contain one (1) teenager. NOVE



2012 comes early. Really early. World ends, Christmas is cancelled, etc., etc., over and out. -30-

After years of intense duffer lobbying, the International Olympics Committee agrees to add golf to the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, a.k.a. the 2016 Summer Olympics. Fans of Jai Alai and Rock Band redouble efforts for respective 2020 and 2024 bids.

Photo of Roman Polanski by Karlovy Vary, Film Servis Festival

11/27/09 2:14:22 PM

Driven Mag  

Issue of December 2009

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