While I was amused at marie Lass's discovery of your publisher filling his face at McDonald's (NOW, January 30-February 5), I was certainly not surprised.
Hypocrisy has been a staple of the NOW formula from the very beginning. Take one part poorly thought out leftish rhetoric and mix liberally with caustic ridicule of anything that appears mainstream.
This little potion attracts students, dull-headed hipsters and the coveted "conscientious" yuppies like flies.
Keep it simple and be sure to make them feel cleverer than everyone else. Remind them constantly that our society is going to hell in a handbasket at the hands of ignorant hicks and big bad men in suits.
Cultivate and develop their desire for expensive luxuries: dining, drinking, drugging, art (and artists), clothing, cocktail culture and maybe a prostitute or two or 20. It's pretty fucking Machiavellian, if you ask me.
Brian Foley, Toronto
It must be difficult gaining market share in a competitive world and at the same time trying to represent the variety of progressive left-wing issues and concerns that demand our attention in a city like Toronto. Generally, NOW does a better job than most, but I must ask why you'd provide free advertising for Shark Fin City in your recent restaurant reviews (NOW, January 30-February 5).
Anyone who pays attention to endangered species lists knows that shark populations are, on average, down by 80 per cent from a decade ago. The practice of shark finning has increased dramatically in recent years. More than 98 per cent of sharks killed in Hawaiian long-line fisheries were killed for their fins to meet the huge increase in demand for shark fin soup. And since shark fins make up only 1 to 5 per cent of the animal's bodyweight, 95 to 99 per cent of the shark is often wasted. Your restaurant reviews should take into account the ethics of the food you send our readers out to eat. I would also hope that anybody who does go to Shark Fin City won't propagate the popularity of shark fin by carrying out the "cool heavy-duty pink plastic bags" advertising their other locations.
Michael Irvine, Toronto
Triumph of the will
I'm so glad that John Harkness hasn't let your jaded-urban-hipster facade (note sarcasm here) overshadow the weight and import of a film that has already had serious social and political consequences in his review of City Of God (NOW, January 30-February 5).
City Of God serves as a timely reminder of the other parts of the world now facing similar tragedies as a direct result of AIDS. The fact that it does so with incredible energy is a triumph.
Incidentally, "Cidade de Deus" is the actual name of the housing project designed in 1966 to improve the lives of hundreds of impoverished Brazilians. Love that irony.
Sara Minogue, Toronto
Reading your music review of Bob Mover (NOW, January 16-22), I recalled my own times on the bandstand when a self-absorbed soloist (usually a saxophonist) comes on for his/her feeding of the ego.
It was humorous, as Mr. Perlich witnessed. But who knows what was really going on? I certainly wasn't at the gig. But after reading Mover's letter to the editor (NOW, January 23-29), I could see that Perlich's review was on target. Sax-man Bob goes on to complain and belittle the people with whom he performed. If he knew his performance was being reviewed he'd have played better, he says. I guess I should know that if I ever have the opportunity to see Mover play his saxophone.
Max Rent, Toronto
Drop the pretense
sarah liss's update on the status of Toronto scenesters and the fuckability of local bands (NOW, January 30-February 5) was marred only by her attempts at discussing music. Consider dropping the pretense and openly reviewing crowds and clothes in a separate column, one that those of us who look to a live review for a discussion of live music can confidently ignore.
Mike Henderson, Toronto
Critics taking oath?
I find it interesting that none of NOW's music writers -- Tim Perlich, Matt Galloway, Sarah Liss, Elizabeth Bromstein, Benjamin Boles -- ever casts a vote in your competitor's yearly "cross-Canada" music critics poll. There are always voters in there from the Star and the Sun, so I can't imagine your staff aren't invited. Really, NOW, what's up with that? Are your staff writers forced to take an oath swearing that those other guys don't exist?
Danny Fitzgerald, Toronto
Where would slow-witted jokers like letter-writer Peter Hegel be without the DeVry punching bag (NOW, January 30-February 5)? Knocking off stale vaudeville put-downs of the Don Rickles order, I suppose. Anyway, this morning on the TTC my friend and I were reading NOW and commenting on the fact that when people read something they enjoy, they never write in. So I'm writing to say that both my friend and I laughed our asses off when we read the Billy Van story (NOW, January 16-22).
Ruben Valetta, Toronto
As acting president of the toronto substitute teachers, I was pleased to see your coverage in Union Boss Bounced (NOW, January 30-February 5). I think a better headline for the article would have been Union Democracy Bounced By Greedy Bureaucrats. The bogus and frivolous charges against our president, Barry Weisleder, were laid in late March 2002. But Barry was re-elected in June. His team of candidates, including me, swept all 14 positions on our executive, defeating all the people who laid the vexatious disciplinary charges. It was our best-attended election meeting ever. Everyone was aware of the accusations because the minority group of complainants had mailed out a smear letter, after spending 10 months attacking our president and disrupting our general membership and executive meetings.
Barry and his team were re-elected because members appreciate effective, honest, democratic leadership and because members rejected the folks who were mainly responsible for a bad contract settlement in June 2001. The NOW article recounts many of the charges against our re-elected president, but it fails to mention answers to those charges.
Acting President, OTBU
Calling Barry's bluff
re union boss bounced. Having known Barry Weisleder since 1969, I was saddened to hear of his suspension from the OBTU.
Marxists have long argued that union leaders should have limited terms in office to prevent the building of personal fiefdoms.
After two decades in power, Weisleder is now trying to pose as a victim of union bureaucracy. I, for one, won't be fooled.
Jim Stewart, Toronto
It's hospitals that are sick
re bad medicine, by wayne roberts (NOW, January 23-29). What a great article. All I can say is "Yahoo!!" I was beginning to think I was the only person to have such subversive thoughts, let alone the temerity to write about them. Have a healthy day and stay out of hospitals.
Rick Tufts, CNP Toronto
Don't blame all Yanks
I check out your web site on a regular basis, and my fiance and I visit Toronto every summer. I enjoy reading NOW, but I always get upset when I read the letters section.
Yes, everyone has their own opinion, and yes, the U.S. has done many things that I don't agree with. I'm not for anyone going to war. But why does it seem that your audience is so full of hate and believes that every U.S. citizen is so keen on war?
Believe me, I'm not trying to start some e-mail Canada Sucks/U.S. Sucks debate. That's not my thing. I'm just trying to make note of the gross over-generalizations some (not all) of your readers make. Like Lyn Adamson (NOW, January 16-22). While she starts out sounding oh so full of love, she does a complete 180 and takes a swipe at the U.S. "in its addiction-driven mad rush to war."
"Mad rush?" I'm not rushing to see the draft re-enacted and have my loved ones get sent overseas.
Oh, I give up. I'm not good at this type of stuff, I'm just venting. Maybe I'll just get some T-shirts printed up that say: "It's not my fault, so don't blame me."
Meridith Hayden Chicago
No honour in war
Able seaman Brendan Webber has persuaded himself that the Canadian population needs him and his "brave" army pals to safeguard our freedom (NOW, January 23-29). We don't. Webber has too much of a vested interest in the matter to see that it would be incomparably braver to refuse to fight, and that to attack Iraq would be shameful, not "honourable." He cites the tired old example of Hitler. The truth is, war makes Webber and all militant-minded people feel important. We have more to fear from the likes of Webber than we do from Saddam Hussein.
George Murray, Toronto
Connection to brutality
Robert Priest's will tears be Enough (NOW, January 16-22) sees war "bombers" with the same "moral cravenness" as concentration camp guards. Although there is detachment in dropping bombs from the sky, those who ran concentration camps were clearly connected on an emotional level to their brutality.
Douglas Helliker, Toronto