Style over substance
re Hets Wanna Be Us (now, june 27-July 3). One problem with discussing fashion in connection with the status of a subculture in our society is fashion's inherent superficiality. Style can be a form of expression, sexual and otherwise, but it can just as easily camouflage reality.
Not long ago, gay men in our culture were compelled to dress straight in order to "fit in." More recently, we saw an era in which straight men would adopt gay fashions roughly a half decade after the gay culture had discarded them.
These days that time lag has presumably narrowed to the point where some might find it hard to differentiate gay men from straight. Has this evolution in style contributed significantly to an improvement in the quality of life for gays? Can clothes and hair serve as a meaningful barometer of mainstream attitudes? Maybe some of the same frat-boy jocks who once leapt out of cars to deliver beatings to faggy-looking men are now leaping out of closets and dancing shirtless with one another in nightclubs. That's an improvement, but how significant is it? Remember, there's a big difference between wanting to be "like" gays and wanting to be gay.
The truth, probably, is that until gays enjoy the same rights, freedom and dignity as straights, fashion statements will remain mostly a trivial distraction from the issues that should really matter to people of every sexual orientation in our society.
In the meantime, I hope Nigel Lezama enjoys his new "alterna-hip" Wally Cleaver haircut.
Tony Halmos, Toronto
Down on Pride
I am a 32-year-old gay white male who would like to express my displeasure with Pride Day.
I came out in 1992 and was then proud to attend the parade. I made all the statements I wanted to make, said everything I wanted to say and did all the things I wanted to do as a participant in the parade.
It's just not what it used to be. These days Pride is all about the almighty buck. Corporations may have a need to send a message but have no business co-opting Gay Pride Day as theirs and charging for the pleasure.
The Pride parade is about exploitation rather than celebration. In my opinion, it's the gay population who have sold out to attract mainstream attention.
Scott MacPherson, Toronto
Dumping on strikers
while i do not disagree with the public workers' right to strike, I do disagree with their holding the general public for ransom.
So I had an idea: let's all respect the strikers' picket line by dropping off our garbage right beside the lines. That way, the trash is handy to the transfer station and we haven't crossed the picket lines. Also, the health hazard to the general public is greatly reduced and it might be the incentive that both sides need to get back to productive bargaining.
Griff Howe, Toronto
Cursing for no good reason
I was shocked and appalled to read the letter from Rudolf Manook (NOW, June 27-July 3) about the parade on Bloor Street, which I also witnessed, by jubilant young Turks celebrating the victory of their team in the World Cup.
They were doing no more than any other national group in Toronto has been doing for the past several weeks, yet events that occurred almost 100 years ago had to be flung at them, though none of them (nor their parents and, in most cases, grandparents) were alive to perpetrate the crime against the Armenians.
How many of us, upon meeting someone of German origin, curse them for the part they played in the Holocaust?
Janet Berketa, Toronto
The weed police
Beaches Gardening Society chair Michael Erdman reacts to the city health department's call for a total ban on pesticides by noting that "1,000 years of human aesthetic development" should not be ignored (NOW, June 20-26).
This Orwellian 1984 aesthetic of the uniform variety (green lawns) is apparently shared by Dufferin County.
There, authorities publish community notices in which they demand that property owners destroy "noxious weeds" or they'll march in and do it for them and charge them for it.
War is declared on a few flowers that some call weeds. What kind of obsession is that?
Geoff Rytell, Toronto
re Biotech Not Out to Harm Us (NOW, June 27-July 3). I am remembering a sci-fi story I read many years ago. A scientist is playing with his mentally challenged son. A visitor from the future arrives asking the scientist not to release a discovery recently made. The scientist refuses. The visitor gives a gift to the scientist's son. The last line of the story: "What sort of man gives a loaded gun to an idiot?"
Most of humanity shouldn't be allowed to play with anything sharper than a rubber ball, and we want to play God?
Ron Graham, Toronto
After financially supporting Oxfam for 13 years, I've realized that something is very wrong inside Oxfam Canada. Its support for the misguided "Trade Report" (NOW, June 20-26) comes so soon after the organization said it was "pleased" toÊselect Lloyd Axworthy as its poster boy for Afghanistan relief. Shocked supporters of Oxfam have two choices: either quickly change Oxfam from within or completely transfer their donations from Oxfam.
Boyd Reimer, Toronto
Rule to remember
Thanks to sibylle preuschat for her alternative health column. It's good to get another point of view.
But I'd like to point out to her and the general public that the origin of the expression "rule of thumb" used in a recent column (NOW, June 6-12) comes from 19th-century England, when a man was allowed to use a stick the width of his thumb to beat his wife.
We all need to be educated about such outdated expressions and take care not to use them.
Darlene A. Hebert, Toronto
Call of the wild
Your publication is one of the last newspapers to still give critical reviews of art shows.
NOW has from time to time reviewed our shows. Now I don't know who to contact. We opened Call Of The Wild, our blockbuster show at the McMichael, a couple of weeks ago.
I dropped off press kits and invitations. I phoned and left messages and e-mailed your arts desk. I didn't get any response.
I am not sure if NOW would be interested in a wildlife art show, but it would be nice if calls could be returned. There are some upcoming shows that I think would be worthy of critical review.
Stephen Weir , Toronto
All that jazz
In reference to blowin' festival by Matt Galloway (NOW, June 20-26).
I've been living in Toronto for about eight years now and have seen the jazz scene here grow considerably over that time. This has happened, I believe, because new venues have opened while old ones continue to bring in solid talent.
Reading Galloway's comments, one would think we live in the jazz hole of the universe. Perhaps he isn't a big fan of hard bop or post-bop jazz, but as mainstream and "unimaginative" as I'm sure he thinks some bookings are, they represent some of the finest jazz talent on the planet.
A couple of these performers, indeed, have left indelible marks in the realms of free and avant-garde jazz, though likely that was too long ago for Galloway's approval.
Your critic's comments do these festivals, and the city's jazz fans, a considerable disservice.
If these mainstream festivals are as "outclassed and out-booked by the dozens of local and regional independent festivals" as Galloway writes, then perhaps he can recognize that the mandate of "mainstream" festivals suits the taste of a very large number of jazz fans in this city.
David Medd, Toronto
What next, Guevara?
I noticed an ad in now for Castro's Lounge. What's next, Chez Guevara?
Martin Baker, Toronto