Dignity not to go begging
carlyn zwarenstein says it's "shocking" that Claire from Ladybug Florist called on attendees at the Cawthra Square public meeting not to give money to panhandlers (NOW, September 11-17). Oh, really? Personally, what shocks me is that people who give money to panhandlers actually believe they're helping rather than encouraging them to continue in a horrible and extremely dangerous way of life.
If you really want to help a panhandler, don't give them your spare change. Instead, donate it to a recognized social service and tell the panhandlers to get the help they need to get the hell off the street.
Zwarenstein apparently believes that panhandlers and the homeless are one and the same. That's a ludicrous mistake and a terrible insult to the vast majority of homeless people who retain enough dignity not to go begging on the street.
John McLeod, Toronto
Homeless drive out gay sex
I agree with carlyn zwarenstein that some residents of Church and Wellesley appear less than sympathetic to the plight of the homeless in Cawthra Square Park. The ironic thing is that intolerance was a major cause of the park becoming an attractive place for the homeless in the first place. Kyle Rae's campaign to clean up the gay cruising that used to be common in the park at night has driven out the residents and allowed people who don't live in or care about the neighbourhood to move in.
Years ago, Cawthra Park was bustling with local residents (gay and straight), visitors and some homeless.
Rae's successful efforts to stop the cruising resulted in many changes: bushes and flowerbeds were removed, lower tree branches were cut off, benches were removed, the park was divided up with fences, and high-intensity lighting was installed.
The discreet gay sex that used to occur there was a threat only to the conservative sensibilities of a few residents, but now the park feels dangerous day or night to all residents.
Kyle Tingley Toronto
Cheers to cheap beer
you guys rock. as a starting-up entrepreneur I don't even have enough saved up for a Rush ticket this year. My look is so 1999 (which is just not retro enough), and meeting a friend for a beer seems impossible.
Amidst all the fancy-shmancy talk of who's at Bistro 990 eating the Steak Tar Tar (or whatever they eat there) and which glamour queen has been spotted at Holt's, life's been feeling a little lowly lately.
Thanks, NOW, for fulfilling the needs of the culturally hungry broke people with your Cheap Toronto guide (NOW, September 11-17). Not only do you guys make waking up a little easier every Thursday morning with the anticipation of a fresh 130 interesting pages to peruse for free, but with your latest issue you've provided weeks' worth of entertainment possibilities and hope for my flopping wardrobe. I'll be raising my $1.25 beer to NOW this weekend.
Daphne Anastassiadis, Toronto
I am so glad my local alternative paper gave two-plus pages to photos of movie stars (NOW, September 11-17). These people don't get enough exposure. Rick Palidwor, Toronto
re rattling rosario (now, septem ber 11-17). In Don Wanagas's item on the problems that NDP MPP Rosario Marchese is facing in Trinity-Spadina against Liberal Nellie Pedro, I found one chilling sentence voiced by an unnamed Liberal organizer: "We think there will be a lot of New Democrats who will hold their ideological noses and vote Liberal in order to get rid of the Tories." If we needed another reason to press for proportional representation, this anonymous comment is it.
We need a system that allows each of us to vote not absurdly - for candidate B so that A doesn't get in - but, rather, one that lets us vote for C because C is who we want.
Geoff Rytell, Toronto
Can Libs really be trusted?
now that uncle ernie has called an election, the question has to be asked: who do you trust to look after your children or your aging granny? Would Dalton McGuinty be any less a privatizer or tax cutter?
When you're sick, no amount of tax cuts will care for you on a cot in some crowded, noisy hospital corridor. Tax cuts guarantee poorer health care and fewer social services. Tax cuts also guarantee poorer education and higher juvenile crime. Tax cuts gave us Walkerton. Who do you trust? Who really cares about people and the environment?
Mendelson Joe, Emsdale
Green with envy
It was a bit strange to open up NOW this week and see no mention of the Green party whatsoever. Something is very wrong if I can see more coverage of the alternatives to politics as usual in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Global Television, Citytv, CTV and CBC than I can in the local "progressive" paper.
The Greens have candidates in 103 ridings, they've placed third in a couple of recent by-elections and they've got a comprehensive platform. What does it take to get coverage in your paper?
Greg Bonser, Toronto
Safety standards missing
re pure, natural synthetic (now, September 4-10). I was very happy to see this important issue addressed in NOW. There are millions of chemicals on the market, and new ones are being developed faster than they can be studied or properly tested.
We are saddled with such poor standards and woeful enforcement that most companies merely take out the odd ingredient that's being lambasted and replace it with others that are equally - and sometimes more - toxic.
Manufacturers' protection under "trade secrets" and special cosmetic exemptions do not protect the health and safety of consumers or our natural environment.
Jennifer Wright, Green Shift, Toronto
Flash in the pan
re flash failure (now, september 4-10). Explaining flash mobs as "a sad reflection of what we have become" is a poor (if inadvertent) defence of a cultural "phenomenon" that plays right into the mass market culture it purports to reject. Solo, Telus, Nokia and countless other cellphone manufacturers and retailers are making money off this fad. So you want to "interact with people in a way that isn't commodified, branded or sponsored?" Sit down for a few hours (over a cup of fairly traded coffee, if you like). Don't tell me where you bought it; tell me what you're thinking, feeling and doing in your life. Don't intellectualize a fad. Wear shirts with no logos. It's a start. Mark Lindenberg, Toronto
Selling Nuns short
re cd windfall (now, september 11-17). The Punching Nuns are deeply hurt by the lack of support for local bands shown by the majority of CD resellers in this town. As artists, we feel crippling pain. As professionals, we will not let that affect our work. We know we're good enough, loud enough and, darn it, people like us.
Within the next five to seven years we will be releasing another CD. It's going to be big really big. Bigger than Youth Youth Youth ever was! We will have huge parties in our mansion, and people from the stores that dissed us will never get past security.
The Punching Nuns, Toronto
I just returned from a screening of the so-called documentary Aftermath: Unanswered Questions From 9/11, and feel more deceived by producers over at the Guerrilla News Network than I do by George W. Bush. That's some accomplishment! After sitting restlessly for 45 minutes after the scheduled start time, I was then treated to what was essentially a poorly made Power Point presentation. The "film" was nothing more than a collection of home-video style talking-head testimonials accompanied by an incessant and deplorable soundtrack and scrolling verbatim closed-captioning in the style of CNN or Headline News.
On top of all that, it turned out the "film" lasted a mere 30 minutes and didn't provide me with any new or interesting information. I am always open to conspiracy theories, but it seems the biggest conspiracy here is that 600 people were purposely misled and duped into dishing out $7 to see something my 11-year-old brother could have made.
Matthew Michaels, Toronto
My heart bleeds borsht
now's mideast coverage has hit a new low with tendentious student exposés such as Avi Zer-Aviv's (NOW, August 28-September 3). Let's recap. Earnest young Jewish peacenik visits Israel, returns with a burning desire to share his one-sided rant with the world, sends a five-page handwritten screed to the Israeli consulate (very professional), in which he notes his Jewish heritage, including a big-macher Israeli daddy, and later seems surprised when a consulate rep concerned with urgent security issues lets Daddy know what Junior has been up to.
My heart bleeds borscht.
Glad Avi's back in Canada, where he's likely to be safer, because, thankfully, we do not face the same agonizing defence decisions here. Rather than "ending the occupation," the most important thing to serve peace in the Mideast is to stop the terrorism. I do hope NOW readers are supplementing their foreign affairs reading with more balanced coverage.
Joanne Cohen, Toronto