Foot in the door for artists
I was quoted in Leah Rumack's article (NOW, July 11-17) about the Nike Presto promo space in Kensington and want to add a few points she missed.
Presto is offering more than just a space for artists to show work. It's paying artists a reasonable fee. There's only a small commission of 15 per cent on sales that goes to St. Stephen's Community House.
Also, the shows are extremely well promoted nationwide. This is a far better deal than most galleries can offer. There, you usually have to pay for your own promotion, rent the space and/or give up a hefty commission on sales.
As folks at NOW are aware, media coverage for the arts in this city is marginal. By showing at Presto, I've received front-and-centre promotion of myself and my work.
Nike's original intention was to open a "designer boutique" in the site to promote its shoes. It was several creative and persuasive artists who managed to convince Nike to use its money to open up an art space.
When an opportunity exists for artists to get paid to exhibit their work, it hardly seems much more of a "sell-out" than what I do every day at work.
Matt Crookshank, Toronto
Who'll fill Nike's shoes?
While I'm very happy to hear that a good number of Torontonians are fighting Nike's latest intrusion into our community, I fear that an important aspect of the debate is not being properly considered. The last line in your story last week rings all too true. It is a horrible shame that "other people aren't stepping up to take over" Nike's club/gallery/promotional venue once it closes next month.
I don't know who (or what) would be an acceptable source of funding for the venue, but I do know that it's damn hard for us independent musicians to get gigs (especially all-ages ones) in this city.
So, since Nike is planning to pull out of Presto anyway, why don't we take some of our culture jamming resources and devote them to a campaign to keep the space available to Toronto's (creatively and, sometimes, literally) starving artistic community?
Todd Harrison, Toronto
Calling the cops on Nike
I'm glad NOW decided to write a piece on the subversive Nike advertising that's been inundating our streets. Aside from physically defacing (albeit temporarily) public space without permission (various chalk drawings on sidewalks), Nike has also been polluting our environment with noise. Recently on Bloor Street, I was enjoying a drink on a patio when a beat-up van painted with the Presto logo pulled up out front. A couple of kids pulled out speakers and turntables and proceeded to spin music and hand out flyers for the Presto space on the side of the street.
What really galled me was that any other major corporation is required to have permits and pay for advertising space in public. I mean, even buskers have to have permits these days! When I saw a couple of police in the coffee shop I headed over to ask if they could check for Nike's permit for advertising and/or busking. Within minutes, they sent the corporate kids packing.
Ryan Howard, Toronto
User fees will reduce waste
Just read Robert Priest's amusing piece about creative ways to store garbage (NOW, July 11-17).
I live in Cobourg. For several years now, our entire county has had a user-pay system for garbage. It costs us $1.50 a bag for wet garbage, and we are all limited to putting out three bags weekly. All garbage must be in the bags to get collected, so no furniture, odds and ends or just plain junk will be picked up. For those items, you have to pay by the ton at the public works yard, and you have to get it there yourself.
This system, which many of us fought hard against, has really reduced the amount of garbage people put out. An amazing amount of our garbage is now recycled, and that stuff is picked up free weekly.
I am surprised and annoyed to see that folks in Toronto seem to be able to put out any amount of any kind of garbage, and it all gets picked up. I hope the strike will make people stop and think about that.
Deb O'Connor, Cobourg
Put privatization to a vote
Recent labour disruptions have delayed yet again construction of the Garrison Creek Park at the Shaw Gardens.
Local residents are already into their fourth summer of delays over the park, and now we have a council more concerned with pursuing a privatization agenda than with delivering the goods on past promises.
The best interests of the city should be put ahead of privatization schemes. When was council given the mandate to negotiate privatization into the collective agreement?
When did the unions get elected to negotiate this issue on behalf of Toronto taxpayers? It's time to go over the heads of the politicians and union bosses and let the people of Toronto decide this issue once and for all in the 2003 municipal election.
Davenport-Shaw Residents Association
Darlene A. Hebert may be able to plead ignorance in repeating one of the many thoroughly debunked myths that encrust the academic left like so many carbuncles (NOW, July 4-11), but I expect better from NOW itself. The general public should be aware of the "rule of thumb" expression -it wasn't from 19th-century England, when a man was allowed to use a stick the thickness of his thumb to beat his wife. That's a myth cynically used to promote the malign motives of a radical brand of man-hating feminism that reached its nadir in the early 90s.
Christina Hoff-Summers in her book Who Stole Feminism skewers this rather odious little bit of propaganda, as have numerous others.
A genuine rule of thumb might be "Don't believe everything (I'm tempted to say anything) you hear in Women's Studies 101."
Steve Macdonald, Halifax
World Youth Day for gays
Imagine a huge week-long festival here in Toronto to celebrate and spread homosexuality among youth. We invite gay and gay-curious youth from around the world. We get major concessions for the event from the city and create havoc for local citizens. We call the event World Youth Day and spin it as a chance for youth to share "cultural experiences."
We blitz the city with radio and print advertising to attract as many youth as possible, but we conveniently don't include the word "homosexual" anywhere.
Peter Yu, Toronto
Dicks -get used to them
in 1992, i discovered a gathering of gay male nudists, hosted by Gay Naturists International (GNI), and couldn't get myself and my partner there fast enough. Up to 800 men converge for a week of summer fun in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. I found my tribe, and haven't looked back.
Since then, my partner and I have continued to help facilitate a presence for TNT!MEN at the Pride Day celebrations and in the parade.
There has been controversy surrounding our nakedness. This year I received a ticket for public nudity at Pride, one of the Censored Seven in TNT!MEN's marching contingent.
But we have made incredible inroads.
I want to let people know that there is a strong gay nudist movement. As gays and lesbians have made their presence known and gained acceptance in the larger population, nudists too will claim their place.
I see nothing shocking or disturbing about expressing my love for my own sex or my desire to shed my clothes.
In my heart, I know this is right for me. Men have dicks -get used to it! And then get naked.
Peter Gray, Toronto
Stupid does as stupid says
It's amazing how many people a thoughtless person can insult with a poor choice of words.
Take Glenn SumI's review of my new play, Otis, at the Fringe (NOW, July 11-17).
In his online comments, Sumi calls the closing scene the "most stupid" moment of his Fringe experience. In his printed comments he says, "Shakespeare has hit a new low."
So he insulted me. No problem -I'm used to negative comments from people for whom my writing is over their head or outside their experience. However, in this case Sumi has cast a much wider net.
In addition to insulting me, the all-wise Sumi has insulted the brilliant young director Jeremy Freiburger, who took my simple script and turned it into a powerful anti-war message. Sumi thinks him stupid.
In addition, Sumi insulted the nine actors and six crew members who dedicated two months of their careers to bringing this brave piece of theatre to the stage. Just more stupid people, I guess.
Lastly, he insulted NOW readers, who apparently needed to know his opinion more than they needed to be told that Otis is a play written for those who have the intellect to handle controversial material. Perhaps he felt they were too stupid to appreciate the play, but smart enough to appreciate his inane comments.
Lee William Shakespeare
Northern Lights Theatre Company