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2007 – fter a spoiled coup attempt in the Yukon, Salmi took roost in Montreal long enough to write a book about some of his Vancouver adventures, personal, political and journalistic — and it’s a hellzapoppin’ extravaganza.

The Province (Vancouver)
July 8, 2007
B2
Thirteen questions with Brian Godzilla Salmi; Journalist, activist, guy wearing clown tights
Dan Murphy

Brian Salmi, firebrand political columnist for Vancouver’s late lamented journal Terminal City, has never thought democracy came with a dress code.

He’s run as a candidate for federal office dressed like a low- rent version of Japanese movie icon Godzilla, campaigned to be an MLA in clown gear as Ronald F. McDonald (yes, the “F” stood for Samuel L. Jackson’s favourite modifier), and was arrested for showing up to cover B.C.’s Legislature in striped tights by Claude Richmond, a man who, as Speaker of the House, regularly donned flowing robes and a three-cornered — some suggest form-fitting — hat.

I’d always figured that if you ever pried your way into Salmi’s psyche, there’d be a two-drink minimum and probably a floor show.

Well, I wasn’t wrong about the floor show.

After a spoiled coup attempt in the Yukon, Salmi took roost in Montreal long enough to write a book about some of his Vancouver adventures, personal, political and journalistic — and it’s a hellzapoppin’ extravaganza.

Salmi’s writing — and Salmi himself, it seems to me — have always been about the collision of bright-eyed idealism, the sparkling possibilities of what could be, with the hardscrabble realpolitik of life in the Downtown Eastside. Huck Finn, meet Charles Bukowski.

The book, Booze Up And Riot — which I believe is a quote from the Tao te Ching — weaves some of Salmi’s classic columns (the one that foresaw — some say inspired — Vancouver’s ’94 Canucks riot, along with his deft and merciless reportage of city hall power merchants, the VPD and Premier Gordon Campbell) with tales of early activism (Salmi, in a fit of pique — and has anyone ever returned their pique because it didn’t fit? — once used our city’s sacrosanct Peace Flame to torch U.S. and Petro-Canada flags), romantic train wrecks, crack-huffing snake pits, a brief farming career in an East Van basement and the Internet-fuelled blossoming of a relationship which is as much about Salmi reconnecting with the idealism of his early years as anything else.

I recently asked Brian Salmi, who’s still in Montreal, a few questions.

What are you wearing?

“Pair of black gym shorts and a black T-shirt that reads, ‘You have the right to remain stupid. Everything you say can and will be ignored.’”

Most portentous difference between Vancouver and Montreal.

“Cost of living. I pay $700 for a three-bedroom (when I can pay rent, that is). And you can buy cold beer in any corner store (which is usually why I can’t pay the rent).”

What’s Montreal doing right that we aren’t?

“Montreal’s economic development plan has three pillars, one of which is continuing to grow its well deserved international reputation as a cultural mecca. Festivals, festivals, festivals.

But this is a dirty town. You want Montreal to throw a party and Vancouver to clean up the mess.”

Biggest difference between Vancouver and the Yukon.

“Harder to get run out of Vancouver. I lasted almost 20 years in Vancouver. I got run out of the Yukon after a year.”

Prediction — Vancouver in 10 years.

“Shanty towns in the Fraser Valley with a SkyTrain connector so the serfs can come in and do all the menial jobs and get out before enthusiastically enforced VPD curfew.”

In 50 years.

“Police state.”

In 100.

“International capital city of the New World Order. Lizards everywhere.”

Canada’s in a war now in Afghanistan that does not really have a name. Should the PMO be sponsoring a Name-The-War Contest?

“Yes.”

What would you name it?

“More Blood, No Oil.”

Condo fever here. The Granville Book Co-op is gone, along with a slew of its neighbours, victims of the higher rents that come with yuppification. The city stands to lose most of its character along with all its dens of ill repute. If you could bestow heritage status on three or four Vancouver landmarks and save them forever, what would they be?

“The Penthouse. Wreck Beach. City hall (more whores have passed through there than the Penthouse).”

The 2010 Olympics mascot should be . . .

“A panhandler.”

The 2010 Olympics demonstration sport should be . . .

“Panhandling.”

You gonna be back for the games?

“I’ll be the mascot if my book doesn’t sell.”

– – –

You can buy Booze Up And Riot — the title sounds like a highbrow opera when translated into Italian — as an e-book at brianGODZILLAsalmi.com.

Are parts harrowing and heart-breaking?

Yeah.

And parts just soaring, as Salmi grabs this town by the scruff of its neck to hector us about its incredible potential — and all of those sparkling possibilities.

Toronto Star
August 8, 2007
A6
Darts and Laurels

Laurel – JAMIE HOFER For spreading a little love; the Winnipeg teen has spent the summer dispensing “free hugs” in public places. As Hofer notes, “Everybody can use a hug.”

Dart – BRIAN SALMI For devilish politics; he changed his name to contest a law that stripped his Rhinoceros party of official status. The suit is known as Satan v. Her Majesty the Queen.

Globe and Mail
August 8, 2007
A1
Quote of the day

‘We have a grave concern that Canada is seen as a definitely dull country in the rest of the world. We seek to correct that misconception by changing the name to Nantucket.’ Brian Salmi (aka Sa Tan), leader of the Rhinoceros Party

Montreal Gazette
August 8, 2007
A6
Clown prince of federal politics takes a run at electoral rules; Rhino Party activist says $1,000 deposit for candidates is unconstitutional
Sue Montgomery

Brian Salmi, a wannabe Rhinoceros Party candidate, dresses like a clown.

His lawyer is Bugs Bunny – albeit a stuffed version of the cartoon character.

But Salmi, a Thunder Bay, Ont., native, is serious – at least, as serious as a guy with a toilet-paper roll strapped to his forehead like a rhino’s horn can be – about the claim he filed yesterday in Federal Court, asking that the $1,000 deposit required from anyone wishing to run for federal political office be scrapped.

Salmi, who has legally changed his name to Sa Tan – as in the devil – contends the requirement violates Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says: “Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.” While the deposit can be reimbursed regardless of the number of votes won and if the proper forms are filled out, many Canadians can’t afford the $1,000 in the first place, he said yesterday outside Federal Court.

In his claim, Sa Tan is also asking that a $50-million fund be set up to help political parties that were deregistered after 1993 amendments to the Election Act that aimed to get rid of fringe parties, like the Rhinoceros Party.

The $50 million, he said, should be collected by clawing back the pensions of members of Parliament as a “punishment for voting for this malicious attack on the most sacred right a Canadian citizen has, and from the salaries of all members of Parliament, present and future (as a deterrent against ever again attempting to violate the most sacred right a Canadian citizen has).” Sa Tan says that he intends to run in the Outremont federal by-election on Sept. 17, even though he is a self-described “unitard who doesn’t speak French.” He has until Aug. 27 to register for that vote.

Globe and Mail
August 8, 2007
A1
After years of near-extinction, the whacky Rhino party is back
Ingrid Peritz

Canada’s Rhinoceros Party, the political beast devoted to bringing a smile to the Canadian body politic, says it’s on the road back from extinction.

The party that once promised to repeal the law of gravity and keep none of its promises plans to run a candidate in the federal by-election in Montreal’s Outremont riding next month.

Among the party’s early planks: renaming our country Nantucket and abolishing lawn-mowing in Outremont.

The announcements came from not one but two Rhino herds that emerged from the political wilderness this week.

Yesterday, Ontario native and Rhino stalwart Brian Salmi filed a lawsuit in Federal Court challenging Canada’s election reform law, hoping to strike down the $1,000 deposit for federal candidates so he can afford to run for office.

At a press scrum outside the Federal Court in Montreal, at which he was dressed as a clown, he immediately pledged to change the name of Canada if elected.

“We have a grave concern that Canada is seen as a definitely dull country in the rest of the world,” he said, straight-faced. “We seek to correct that misconception by changing the name to Nantucket.”

He is not the only aspirant seeking to restore humour to the federal scene and capitalize on the dearth of political news during the dog days of August. In a separate initiative, another Rhino group in Quebec announced its revival yesterday. Dubbed the Neorhino Party, the group held a fundraiser last fall and has submitted 500 signatures to Elections Canada to register its party.

A spokesman for Elections Canada confirmed the party is in the process of registering.

The group, led by Montreal artist and former Rhino candidate François Gourd, went to a game park near Montreal and posed in front of a penned, real-life rhinoceros to announce its return to the federal scene. Mr. Gourd wants to run under the Neorhino banner in Outremont.

The two groups say they were unaware of one another’s initiatives, as befitting a “disorganized and anarchic” movement, but they plan to meet in a Montreal bar tomorrow to discuss a merger.

Their reappearance aims to revive a party that helped enliven politics from 1963 to 1988 with an absurdist take on Canadian affairs. The party says it picked a rhino as its mascot since, like politicians, the animal is thick-skinned, slow-moving and dim-witted. Among its planks was flattening the Rockies, banning guns and butter since both killed, and improving higher education by building taller schools.

Behind their latest antics, however, they say they’re drawing attention to some serious issues. Mr. Salmi says the $1,000 deposit required by the federal Elections Act is a deterrent for lower-income Canadians, and violates the Charter.

“It’s a de facto economic means test that discriminates against the poor,” said Mr. Salmi, a Montreal resident who has sought office on nine previous occasions, several of them in British Columbia. (Mr. Salmi has legally changed his name to Sa Tan, so his challenge in Federal Court reads Sa Tan against Her Majesty The Queen.)

The Rhinoceros Party last ran in a general federal election in 1988, fielding 74 candidates. None was elected, and the nascent groups say they’re intent on matching that abysmal performance.

Mr. Salmi, for example, has no organization behind him. Mr. Gourd, who hopes to run candidates across Canada, says his ambition is to come in dead last in the Sept. 17 by-election. “We’re aiming to be the party with the fewest votes,” he said. “That way, we’ll be No. 1 starting from the bottom.”

POLITICS THE RHINOS EXPLAINED

The wild party

Who they are

The party was founded by Montreal physician, author and noted wit Jacques Ferron in 1963. Asked once what his candidates would do if elected, Dr. Ferron replied: “The same as yours – nothing.”

The name springs from a prank pulled in Brazil in the late 1950s, when several reporters entered a rhinoceros in a Sao Paulo municipal election with the intention of cleaning up civic corruption. The rhino won.

The Rhinoceros Party’s original leader was Cornelius I, a rhinoceros foaled in Quebec’s Granby Zoo. It was later traded to the San Diego Zoo for a giraffe.

The party’s best showing was the 1980 federal election, when they garnered 110,597 votes, 1.01 per cent of the popular vote.

What they’ve promised

* A dam on the St. Lawrence to make Montreal the Venice of North America;

* A tax on milk to finance the appointment of Rhino followers to a new Ontario senate;

* A 400-kilometre fishing limit to be drawn offshore in watercolour, to make sure the fish could see it and stay inside the Canadian boundary;

* A Guaranteed Annual Orgasm through a network of regulated brothels;

* To repeal the law of gravity (promised by Rhinos in 1984);

* A proposal for free trade with the United States: “Trade Frank Zappa for Pierre Berton, Kermit the Frog for Lorne Greene, and we were prepared to put Anne Murray on the bargaining table.”

Yukon News
October 3, 2007
Page unknown
The democratically disenfranchised find a champion in Satan
Barbara McLeod

Some thought Brian Salmi was the son of former Vancouver mayor and Da Vinci’s Inquest inspiration Larry Campbell, a rumour started after Campbell himself made the crack at a candidates’ debate.

But his beginnings, 44 years ago, are far more humble.

The self-confessed member of the “poor white trash” set, who describes his appearance as “trollish,” hails from the row housing projects of Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he was raised by a dour Finnish father and a mentally unstable mother, neither of whom loved each other, nor young Brian enough to even hug him.

Salmi surfaced in the Yukon shortly before the 2004 federal election, and took up such unpopular causes as the rights of smokers and the ability of fringe party candidates, like longtime cohort and dyed-in-the-wool Rhino “Big” Ben Mahoney, to run a low-budget campaign.

What was the activist, libertarian and funarchist thinking?

“If the premier is a fucking heroin dealer, I can be the king of this place in two years,” he reflects. “That was the lure of the Yukon.”

But the coronation was not to be.

Yukoners seemed to spurn Salmi at every turn.

Bartenders told him to mind his own beeswax when he offered them tips on how to pack the house (he used to run a bar in Vancouver and, by offering free beer, managed to get 50 of his best customers to agree to run for mayor of the city, to the anger of the most serious contenders).

Other proposals for business ventures were met with guffaws or disdain.

And he received little support when he tried to challenge the constitutionality of the federal election, applying to the Yukon Supreme Court for injunctions against what he and his Rhinos deemed oppressive electoral rules.

Instated in June, 1993, by a commission comprised of five Tories, two Grits and a New Democrat, the new rules called for each candidate to make a deposit of $1,000 (up from $200), and demanded each appoint a qualified auditor to handle the finances.

Given that parties that could not muster a minimum 50 candidates to run were dissolved, those that could hold on would need a minimum of $50,000 in deposits.

“What went on is treason,” says Salmi.

“They were out to fuck the fringe parties.”

Simon Fraser University’s student newspaper called the measures, passed after a house debate limited to 23 minutes by the majority Tories, “draconian,” and claimed Canadians had been deceived.

The students and activists across the country swore the commission’s mission had been sold to Canadians as a housekeeping measure, and instead caught them unawares with sweeping changes.

Parties, such as the Christian Heritage and the Communists, lost their status.

Protests mounted in the streets and courts.

Advocates for the poor calculated the new rules effectively denied up to five million impoverished Canadians their constitutionally enshrined right to seek office.

“I’m going to win this,” says Salmi, who is asking the deposit and auditor requirements be struck down, and a $50-million fund established for the resurrection of parties that were nullified by the changes.

The first two are a cinch, he says.

The $50-million fund, like his contention the reforms were passed with malicious intent, will not be easy to win.

Electoral reform makes strange bedfellows.

As the former head of the National Citizens Coalition, a conservative think-tank and the bankroll behind the then-emerging Reform Party, Stephen Harper also, before winning the federal nomination, took on what he believed were unfair restrictions on campaigning and limits to the political contributions.

“The outsiders are now on the inside,” says Salmi.

But it is unlikely anyone, inside or out, will be taking Salmi’s part.

Many admire Salmi for sticking it to the man.

He is tough yet compassionate, but irreverent to the point of alienating most of his would-be supporters (who else would freely say he quit the Green Peace movement because the lesbians took it over, much less put it in writing?)

I like him, but I must admit the longest and most comfortable conversation I have ever had with him is this most recent one, over the phone, and safely a time zone and an area code away in Calgary, where he is undoubtedly holed up in a cheap apartment, researching his court case and hustling writing contracts on the side just to sustain his vegetarian diet and his meagre wardrobe.

I was always a little relieved that, during his time in the Yukon, I was not responsible for the political beat, and interviewing Salmi fell largely to a fellow reporter.

Even a male colleague, who professed love for none other than Hunter S. Thompson, avoided Vancouver’s own gonzo journalist the way the department of Economic Development avoided him after its grievous human resources error: a contract it had signed earlier that year to employ him as its communications officer and spokesperson.

The dispute was later settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, after Salmi represented himself in a suit for breach of contract.

One of the off-putting discoveries the department made about Salmi is that his real name is Sa Tan.

He made the name change official to win the love of a sweet young thing who declared she would marry only the devil himself.

She turned down his proposal.

During his tenure at Terminal City, a “seditious little rag” of an underground paper backed by organized labour in Vancouver, Salmi penned such satirical nuggets as “The Environmental Necessity of Cannibalism,” and, in a treatise on street life, debated the merits of keeping a dog.

For the homeless, a dog serves as a source of heat, an evoker of sympathy in the form of spare change, in times less generous a source of food, and, during those long, lonely nights, a reluctant sex partner who will never tell, he explained matter-of-factly.

He fought with the Speaker of the house in Victoria for his right to wear a T-shirt with his legal name emblazoned on the front, or whatever else he chose to wear, while covering the proceedings from the press gallery.

He fought alone.

Fellow journalists were reluctant to defend Salmi against the Speaker’s insistence he report the matters of the BC government with “reverence and respect,” and adhere to a dress code.

“The journalist is the ultimate watchdog,” says Salmi. “That’s the sacred trust and all these fucking estheticians and baristas are betraying that.”

Yukon News
October 18, 2007
Page Unkown
Booze Up and Riot incites and insights
Barbara McLeod

Brian Salmi bills his e-book Booze Up and Riot as “a free-wheeling, fire-breathing manifesto of funarchy and filth.”

The title is the headline from a column Salmi wrote in 1994 for Terminal City, an underground paper from Vancouver that paid Salmi $4 per hour to churn out “potty-mouthed gibberish that chased scores of advertisers away.”

It was the year Vancouver made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and Salmi’s column urged Canuck fans to get loaded, take to the downtown streets and unleash their aggression on its stores and banks.

Although he was arrested for smashing in a bank window, Vancouver police tried, and failed to pin the riot on Salmi

“Riot, Schmiot, I Deny It,” read the headline on a column he wrote in reaction a week later.

These two pieces, plus plenty more previously published, can be found in the book.

The average reader will require only a few pages to understand why Salmi chose to self-publish and self-promote his manifesto. It is unlikely any publisher would have touched Booze Up and Riot.

But it is a sure bet Salmi, a lone voice since his earliest days of raging against the machine, would have published his own damned book, anyway.

The reader will not find the elements of a novel in its 260 pages.

Instead, the title barks its command from every page.

Through a series of loosely strung but deeply related events, Salmi provokes sadness, laughter and outrage.

Much of the book is a volume of his greatest hits, satirical and otherwise, written while working for Terminal City.

They take a cold, hard look at Vancouver’s downtown east side, a wasteland of drugs, prostitution, crime, violence and death.

They expose the city’s municipal government for its elitism, and the apathy that laid the groundwork for the death of the east side, and allowed for the butchery of dozens of prostitutes.

Salmi’s observations, perversely amusing, sometimes nausea-inducing, are easier to swallow than those of the cops and politicians; he knows the neighbourhood intimately, having returned to the living following a brief but intense relationship with crack, and a whore or two who ended up in the slop pail on the pig farm of accused serial killer Robert Willie Picton.

Although he does not necessarily let the facts stand in the way of a good story (Salmi, Vancouver’s own gonzo journalist, is generously gifted in the art of satire), he exudes a political astuteness that reveals naked truth, if only philosophically.

In a world of factoids and data, Salmi’s information stands apart.

Ideas fertilize thought, emotion and discourse.

And few can write about municipal politics and elections with his double-edged mastery of call-to-action and high entertainment.

No reader will accuse Salmi of disingenuousness, and the juicy narrative tidbits of his raw and deeply personal confessions are astonishing.

He fled the country when Vancouver police kicked in the door of his marijuana grow operation.

He was addicted to crack.

His office was dubbed the “snort and squirt room,” for reasons the reader need not imagine.

His one true love, a stunning beauty of a she-devil known only as Yummy Girl, turns out to be far more than Salmi, too old and too fat, can sexually sate.

She dumps him, sending him into a deep depression.

He mourns his upbringing in a loveless home, and recollects shamelessly but tenderly how his mother was subjected to shock therapy sessions on a psychiatric ward.

An internet relationship with an underage girl, whom Salmi chooses not to pursue sex with only because the relationship lacks chemistry, is cleverly woven throughout Salmi’s loose narrative and collected works, serving nicely as a sub-plot of his quest for redemption and eventual salvation.

Booze Up is a little self-aggrandizing, but it likely comes only from a desire to have his wit and wisdom read by a wider audience than Terminal City could provide, and to be appreciated for his accomplishments.

They are many.

And underneath all of them is Salmi’s desire to light a fire under an apathetic electorate; a call for all to booze and up and riot for truth and democracy and happiness.

If readers find nothing humourous, moving or entertaining about the book, they will likely gain a fresh insight into what democracy means.

And if they find the book revoltingly offensive, they may be reminded that Booze Up has exercised its democratic right to free speech on almost every page.

Calgary Herald
November 4, 2007
F1
Is Gonzo Journalism Dead?; Thompson’s long gone and the ‘throne to the kingdom is empty’
Heath McCoy

Was that gonzo I tasted while interviewing Sa Tan last weekend at Ducky’s Pub?

A hardcore fan of gonzo-god Hunter S. Thompson would scoff at the notion. After all, neither I, nor my beer-swilling, profanity- spewing interview subject, gonzo journalist Brian (Godzilla) Salmi – – who legally changed his name to Sa Tan a few years back — woke up behind bars the next morning.

But the moment had enough of a weird edge that it seemed to touch the spirit of gonzo, albeit briefly and painlessly (save for the following day’s hangover).

When Ducky’s refused to serve us after a good three or four hours of an increasingly loud, chest-beating debate on the nature of gonzo journalism and its continued viability, it felt like we might at least be in the zone. Especially as we stumbled on to the next bar.

OK, it wasn’t exactly a decadent ride worthy of Raoul Duke (Duke is Thompson’s crazed literary alter-ego), but a straight media-man like myself can dream, can’t he?

Drug-gobbling, rebel journalist Thompson, and a new biography about him, Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson, was the very reason for the meeting with 44-year-old Salmi. The shaggy, red- headed social activist, who looks like a cross between a tree- planting hippy and a Viking, considers himself a seasoned practitioner in the art of gonzo, which the late Thompson started back in 1970, when he began incorporating heavy doses of wild-eyed fiction into his journalism.

Thompson’s adventures, fantasies and his scathing socio- political commentary, captured in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine and in such books as Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, made him a modern-day legend.

Jann Wenner and Corey Seymour of Rolling Stone went to an array of sources to compile interviews for Gonzo.

The writer’s family, friends and enemies (including members of the Hell’s Angels, Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Marilyn Manson, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter) piece together Thompson’s life and legacy with their stories of the man.

So synonymous was Thompson with the gonzo form, that upon his suicide in 2005 many were left wondering, did gonzo die along with him?

Even Salmi, who has marketed his latest work, the

e-book Booze Up and Riot, as a sort of second coming of gonzo, questions the genre’s future. “The throne to the kingdom of gonzo is empty,” he barks over a pint. “Thompson’s the only legend of gonzo. He’s the only guy who’s been able to do it. . . . He was the Rasputin of journalism. He was so weird and righteous that he couldn’t be denied.

“There’s all these other people that want to do gonzo, but they’ve got more cliches crammed into a 2,500 world piece than a Bryan Adams or Bon Jovi box set.”

Salmi, on the other hand — whose e-book dissects Vancouver’s City Hall and police force, both condemned as corrupt and inept institutions — sees himself as the real deal. Everybody can see the world is f—– up . . . but they just accept it,” he roars.

“We accept war, man! . . . People are starving and dying on the streets in front of our eyes . . . and we think that’s a reasonable thing!

“People think I’m crazy, but I never stopped asking why, and asking why is a big part of gonzo.

“There’s a savagery in gonzo. It’s brutally honest, caustically satirical, it’s got a fist full of f— you!”

Salmi prides himself on possessing all of those qualities. So why is he a struggling fringe figure rather than a star, as was Thompson? And if Salmi’s not the new gonzo hero, who is?

Nobody, Salmi says, because, according to him, there’s no longer any place in the mainstream media (shackled as we are, he believes, by the confines of objectivity) for the sort of brutal truths that only gonzo can deliver.

There may be something to that argument, according to Bart Beaty, a pop culture professor at the University of Calgary. “(The media is) taking less risks in their direction now than they were in the ’70s when (Thompson) was making a name for himself,” Beaty says. “They’re being more conservative.”

But Beaty is quick to add: “I don’t think gonzo is dead. . . . It’s not gone, it’s just morphed into blogs and things like YouTube.”

Beaty sees a similarity between these new forms that have sprung up on the Internet and classic gonzo in the uncensored forum that both provide. He notes that in most gonzo journalism, the writer places himself within the story, often as a participant in the action, rather than a passive observer.

“When people say (gonzo) is more truthful, there’s that sense of ‘I’m not hiding my own participation and my own biases,’ ” Beaty says. “The most common words in any blog tend to be ‘I’ or ‘me’. People write about themselves and that certainly harkens back to the gonzo tradition. . . . And with YouTube, people are able to put stuff out there in way that’s often very targeted on ‘This is me. This is who I am. This is my intersection with a particular event.’ More objective, classical journalism tries to stand back . . . and capture the event as a whole . . . whereas on YouTube it can be ‘This is me at this concert or this demonstration, or whatever.’ “

Vancouver-based media personality Nardwuar — who made his name conducting bizarre, and some might say gonzo-style interviews with entertainment and political figures — agrees the spirit of gonzo lives in these new forms of communication.

“It’s the people doing whatever they want, going crazy, uncensored. . . . I love that because it takes everything to another level. . . . It’s so unpredictable. When things become predictable, they’re boring and boring is the opposite of gonzo.”

Beaty also sees gonzo traditions thriving in the work of journalists like Matt Taibbi, who once wrote an article for New York Press entitled The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope. The piece was attacked by such political heavyweights as Hilary Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Others, like pop-culture critic Chuck Klosterman and feature writer Susan Orlean, have found an outlet for their work in the book world.

Documentary filmmakers such as Michael Moore are also taking gonzo into the 21st century, Beaty says. “That Michael Moore tradition of inserting yourself into the doc has become such an important part of contemporary documentary practice,” he notes.

“Michael Moore is gonzo-light,” Salmi concedes. So, for that matter, is Borat, he says. He even sees a slight glimmer of that fighting gonzo spirit in such CBC alumni as the outspoken conservative hockey commentator Don Cherry and the left-leaning news- talk show host, George Stroumboulopoulos.

“I don’t care what Cherry has to say about social or political issues . . . but at least he’s got the balls to say it. I back that up! (And Stroumboulopoulos), he wants to be (gonzo) so bad, but he can’t ’cause he’s at the CBC! . . . . There’s no true gonzo in the CBC and there should be. . . . There should be room for weirdo thought-perverts.”

An avowed libertarian and an eternal contrarian, Salmi has recently filed a $50-million lawsuit against the federal government for election reform laws he says stripped the Rhinoceros Party of Canada — a satirical party that he once campaigned for wearing a Godzilla suit — of its registered status. “Ten million Canadians have refused to vote because they all know it’s a crock, and when they wiped out the Rhino party they disenfranchised those 10 million people,” shouts Salmi, who filed his lawsuit under the name Sa Tan versus Her Majesty The Queen.

It’s yet another war for Salmi to fight, gonzo-style. And if he can’t find a publication from which to launch his attack, no matter. That’s what the Internet is for. Like Beaty and Nardwuar, Salmi believes that cyber-space is the great haven for gonzo journalism.

“No longer do the powers that be have the exclusive right to disseminate information and opinion” he states with the zeal of a preacher. “The idea that people have the ability to exchange ideas and opinions is, hopefully, the salvage of our stinking species!”

Spoken like a living, breathing and raging gonzo journalist.

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