— Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Jonathan Richler is the sort of person you’re bound to meet before too long, if you’re active in the St. John’s community.
He’s one of those people who just seems to live an exhausting life.
Aside from a regular 9-5 job as a researcher in a law office, he’s president of the Jewish Community Havura, and a director on the Religious Social Action Coalition Against Poverty.
He’s also the treasurer of the St. John’s Farmer’s Market.And if you get in touch with him about his side business, the Jewish Deli, he’s liable to show up at your house with a pile of smoked brisket and maybe some rye bread.
And on top of all of that, for the last couple weeks he’s been guest hosting “Nightline” on VOCM.
“I don’t have a lot of free time,” he says, with a laugh, sitting down for an interview at Rocket Bakery in downtown St. John’s.
What is your full name?
David Jonathan Richler
Where and when were you born?
I was born at the Grace Hospital at 11 o’clock in the morning, November 1971.
Where is home today?
St. John’s, Newfoundland.
What is your favourite food?
Smoked meat sandwiches.
What was your favourite year?
1994. That was the year of the Quebec referendum. It was the year I turned 24. I went to Greece. Had a blast. I watched the results of the referendum in Santorini with a French-Canadian bartender in Greece. I was living in Montreal. I worked the referendum. I was polling for the referendum for the Liberal Party at that time, and I was going door-to-door. … We got the pulse of the province, as to whether or not Quebec would separate. And I was just starting out my career as a DJ, so it was a really great year.
What is one act of rebellion you committed as a youth?
I challenged my French teacher in Grade 10 over an issue of grammar and I got thrown out.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Move away. It’s a double prong. I mean, I’ve lived away from St. John’s to live in Quebec and Ontario, and I’ve also moved away from Quebec and Ontario, and each time, it was the hardest thing.
What is your favourite movie?
“The Fox and the Hound.”
What is your greatest indulgence?
What is the most vivid dream you’ve ever had?
I was in Grade 8, and I was an interstellar bank robber, with a twin of myself and another guy who shall remain nameless. He was not as handsome as I was, but he had a love interest with my lady. And we were all stuck in the middle of a bank, robbing it, and the teller had given us two bags of money and one of them popped open and the money was spilling out. And there was actually a portal to this home world where we were living, or that was our escape route I guess.
Anyway, the authorities showed up and there was a bit of a gun battle and both my twin and my lady were mortally wounded, and I was there with this other guy who, we didn’t like each other and I was trying to say goodbye to the love of my life and grab the money, and I was being pressured. We had to go. We just had to go. We were about to get busted, probably end up working the salt mines on another planet, and just have a really miserable life. So I had to, like, kiss my love goodbye, say goodbye to my twin which was less important — I remember that — and we had to jump through this portal. It was all sort of slow motion. And we ended up in another bank.
And then I woke up.
I was absolutely devastated.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I cook, and I listen to the radio.
What is your favourite vacation spot?
Montreal. Absolutely, Because I know the city, and I lived there for so long, it’s almost like I have the key to it. I know where to go, I know the great spots. And it’s always nice to discover new things.
What are you reading right now?
“Homage to Catalonia,” by George Orwell.
What is your greatest fear?
Heights. Actually, not heights but landing after falling from a height.
What quality do you admire in others?
16. What is your most treasured possession?
My turntables. There are three of them, one of them is made out of glass. ... That one is just an antique, but the other two are my Technics 1200s, and those are from DJing. Yeah, those are great.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I don’t know. I’ve certainly exploited most of my talents. I don’t know if I have any that are hidden, I’m pretty public about my talents, which are playing music, cooking, and being able to work my way into any conversation.
Do you have a personal motto?
‘Never keep company with those who you would not wish to die with.’ Frank Herbert, “Dune.”
Who would you least like to be stuck in an elevator with?
René Angélil, Celine Dion’s husband. I’d want to strangle him for killing Canadian music.
If you were premier of the province, what’s one thing you would try to do?
Raise the minimum wage to a living wage.