Elwy Yost is dead

First, all hail Patti Smith.

And Lenny Kaye, whose Nuggets subset Wednesday provided a highlight of a set that as per usual with Ms. Smith, featured no lowlights. Politics, poetry and pop, perfected. Moreover, she carried on a long-running folk festival tradition by encouraging audience participation. And let me say, I’ve heard many Folkfest audiences over the years sound like a pack of howling wild dogs. This time, thanks to Patti Smith, it was intentional.

Heck, I even came face to face with the artist for a second time, as she passed through the crowd. This time, I kept my mouth shut. Another special moment, not ruined.

But while one living legend continues to go from strength to strength, let us pause to reflect on the loss of another.

See, while you were out last Saturday, an Ontario institution went out with a whimper. A few months shy of its 40th birthday, TVO’s flagship program Saturday Night at the Movies aired its final episode.

We knew it was coming. The demise of the show was announced last November, and media at the time lamented the imminent loss of a weekend tradition. Not that they, or we, had actually sat in front of the TV and watched a Saturday Night at the Movies presentation in years. But an institution is an institution. And the end of an era is always worth noting — whether a KFC bucket, a DQ sign, or a television program that at one time introduced us to films we would otherwise not have seen.

(And speaking of great lost signs, where was the hipster-preservationist outcry over the demise of the City Centre sign that for decades was to Ottawa what the Five Roses sign is to Montreal?)

But, as Peter Murphy and his Bauhaus lamented over three decades ago, Elwy Yost is dead. And Ontario’s publicly supported network has to make room for more imported American and British programming. (Okay, there is one Canadian production in the mix. So there’s that.)

Budget restrictions. That was the reason offered for the cancellation of SNAM. As such, it is likely the first instance in television history of a network choosing to cut costs by not showing an old movie during primetime.

And it’s a shame. Not that I was watching. But it was comforting to know Saturday Night at the Movies, a program launched the same year Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye release their first single, was there if I needed it.

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