The call from Barry McKay of Seattle's pop station KLSY came late on a Thursday afternoon. He had Canadian songbird Chantal Kreviazuk in the studio—"We just added her record," he explained—and she apparently was quite peeved about the piece Your Humble Columnists wrote a few weeks back re: Canada's Juno Awards ("Canadian Rock Massacre," SW, 4/6).
Who are Jason Cohen and Michael Krugman, she wanted to know, and why are they saying these terrible things about Canadian music? A major star in Canada (for what that's worth) who we'd described as "the worst sorta Nyro-wannabe inoffensive chick piano rock" and "hot in a Canadian Courteney Cox kinda way," Chantal wanted to express her feelings.
Now, granted, discussing the relative merits of Canadian rock music on a radio station that has not one but two Savage Garden songs on its playlist isn't exactly Nightline. Also, it's rarely productive to debate satire. "Just kidding" is a defense you never want to resort to, and people who don't have a sense of humor rarely respond to it anyway. Which isn't to say that our basic take—i.e., Canadian music sucks and the Junos are ample proof of said suckiness—was by any means a joke. But we still have to live in Canada for another month, so never let it be said that we are prejudiced against this fine nation of beer drinkers, fur traders, toque-wearers, and chesterfield-sitters. Take off, eh.
Chantal, however, believes that we are prejudiced. Chantal Kreviazuk thinks we have a Jewish problem.
It turned out Chantal had no desire for public debate. She didn't care that much about our Grand Unifying Theories of Crappy Canadian Music. She simply wanted to yell at us about the following sentence: "The triumphant climax of Canadian Music Week, the Junos—as opposed to the 'No Jews,' which are Germany's music awards—were front page news all over Canada."
Chantal—who is from Manitoba, of Eastern European descent, and Not A Jew—had gotten her kreviazuks in a bunch over this completely tangential pun, which she deemed anti-Semitic, and worse, an accusation that the Canadian music industry is somehow exclusionary of the Chosen People. This led to her tossing around such old favorites as "My best friends growing up were Jewish" and "Jewish people have been very successful in the entertainment industry. What about Sam Feldman?"
Sam Feldman! Chantal seemed blissfully unaware that these statements are the usual utterances of Jew-haters everywhere, though she stopped short of discussing our control of the banking establishment. She understood that at least one of us is Jewish (we're thinking she meant Jason), but felt that made it worse, sounding very much like an Antioch coed telling DMX he shouldn't use . . .well, you know, the word that we're not allowed to use but he is.
Despite the fact that "we made her sick," the conversation forged ahead into a lengthy shouting match on the far grander topic of Canadian music. Kreviazuk tried to defend her native land by citing Gordon Lightfoot(!), to which we noted that Leonard Cohen might be a better choice. "Look," Michael said, "if you want to discuss Canada's contributions to culture, how about Robertson Davies? Or Chris Jericho? But Gordon Lightfoot? C'mon!" Resisting the urge to bring up Chantal's execrable cover of "In My Life," he noted that Canada's beloved alt-rock combo, Our Lady Peace, were so generic that "Candlebox laugh at them." As Kreviazuk is married to Our Lady Peace's lead singer, she greeted this statement with three full seconds of stunned silence. "Nice," she finally said, "Really nice." And then she hung up.
Considering how much we ripped on OLP in our Junos column, Chantal's shock that we would pick on her hubby—combined with her refusal to accept that the "No Jews" comment was anti-German rather than anti-Canadian and a total non sequitur to boot—had us wondering if she'd actually read the article, or if one of her "Jewish friends" had told her, "Hey Chantal, these two American morons said they don't let Jews into the Junos." Chantal however, maintained that she had read the article, that a friend had e-mailed it to her.
Ten minutes later we received a call asking us to ring Chantal back. She wanted to apologize for being so strident (as the original Juno piece noted, Canadians are very polite), so we agreed to adopt a more civil tone for this second conversation. "I've been very pissed off for several weeks," said the Canadian thrush, "and that's why I responded the way I did. With the brilliance and sense of humor that you must have in order to be given the podium, you must have something a little more positive to give to the world, and to unify people."
So while some peace was made, it was plain by the call's end that Kreviazuk still hadn't picked up what we were putting down. "You can dis whoever you want, and you can make fun of any Canadian artist," she said, "But when you bring up my nation, or my industry, and draw a parallel to the No Jew awards, which there may or may not be in Germany, I think that's going over the line."
Hey Chantal, if you're reading this, or even if your "Jewish friend in Seattle" is reading it to you, we still want to make one thing perfectly clear: There are no No Jew Awards! It's a joke! Get it?