St. Clair needs fix quick
I saw the catchy headline on your cover, Will Dedicated TTC Lanes Kill St. Clair? (NOW, April 15-21) and immediately thought, hey, it's too late! St. Clair has been dying a slow death for at least a quarter-century.
As someone who grew up in this area and moved back in 1991, I can attest that there were once eight movie theatres between Bathurst and Dufferin alone, and a truly useful range of shops. In spite of some small-scale revitalization attempts, one still sees far too many vacant storefronts and what is surely the highest ratio of dollar stores and cheque-cashing outlets per block in all of Toronto. The anti-public transit, pro-car group Save Our St. Clair implies that this dubious vitality is now "threatened" by the TTC wanting to make the transit experience dependable on one of our city's busiest routes. In my opinion, change can't come fast enough, and the TTC work is a much-needed catalyst. A streetcar right-of-way will make St. Clair safer for pedestrians and cyclists by calming traffic. Such a project also sends a clear environmental message. It will also vastly improve the appearance of St. Clair and, thus, the business climate. Currently, the street looks like hell because it's basically a six-lane asphalt highway pandering to speeding cars. This is the true "barrier" we now live with.
Buses would be magic
In regard to the streetcar issue on St. Clair West, frankly, I think we should just can the whole thing and replace it with beautiful, non-polluting buses. The buses would be much more efficient and practical. Let's face it, our current streetcars are expensive, require constant road maintenance and impede regular traffic flow. A big, wide street here could be very nice and practical. There'd be lots of parking and luxurious sidewalk cafés. If we make Toronto a friendlier city, then there would be less violence and civil unhappiness.
Subs too pricey for punks
In her review of the uk subs concert (NOW, April 15-21), Elizabeth Bromstein asks, "Where are all the old punks?" I'll tell you - we couldn't afford the $28 door charge! A lot of us would've loved to go to this show but were prevented by the current trend toward pricey events geared to the all-ages suburban kids market. I'm sad to have missed the Subs, but unless the venues and promoters start charging reasonable prices, I won't be seeing them any time soon.
Last fall i wrote a letter to now on the adverse environmental impact of immigration, but my letter wasn't printed. I perused a recent issue of your paper, noticing in particular the rather unfortunate piece by Adria Vasil, Sierra's Population Bomb (NOW, April 8-14). I get the feeling that this whole issue is creating some irritation at NOW. Incidentally, I decided a few weeks back to write a letter to professor Ben Zuckerman to offer him my wholehearted support and encouragement in his commendable and courageous campaign to try and halt the obvious enormous damage that immigration and refugee influxes can wreak on the natural environment.
It's just so unfortunate that we don't have more people here in Canada, in our environmental and news organizations, among others, who possess his courage and convictions and admirable and genuine sensitivity toward our environment and threats thereto.
Roma as cultural fodder
Shame on now for letting the pernicious myth of the spontaneous, free, wandering Roma slip under the radar. Glenn Sumi's Power Serge (NOW, April 15-21) makes the puzzling assumption that because Tziganes artistic director Serge Bennathan has led a peripatetic life, it was only natural that he turn to the "wandering" Roma for inspiration. Roma are not fuelled by an inherent, indomitable spirit to wander. Nomadism was forced upon them when fleeing racist violence and persecution.
Bennathan's choreography may be beautiful or sensitive, but that is missing the point: Roma are sick of being used as cultural fodder-at-large for other people's metaphors - no matter how well-meaning.
Romano Drom Festival Of Romani Arts And Culture, Toronto
An invitation to chill out
As a jew, I think letter-writer Joanne Cohen's accusations that NOW fosters anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic hatred and slander are off the wall (NOW, April 15-21). NOW doesn't like any authorities, be they B'nai Brith, Toronto police, political leaders, business leaders, etc. For NOW, every authority is fair game, so I don't think that NOW is singling out B'nai Brith for mockery. Knowing this might help Cohen take what NOW has to say about B'nai Brith and Jewish-related issues with a grain of salt: "Oh, well, there goes NOW again." Whatever! Cohen's high degree of anger suggests that she evaluates world events according to whether or not they are good for Jews. There are certainly valid historical reasons for this point of view, i.e., the Holocaust.
Nevertheless, this strong Jewish identification does not lend itself to detachment and a balanced view. It leaves Cohen feeling personally attacked when NOW reports in its snooty fashion that B'nai Brith didn't like the Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl T -shirt. Does this T-shirt really promote "anti-Semitic materialist stereotypes" as Cohen says? Is this T-shirt on the same level of hatred as putting swastikas on Holocaust survivors' doorways and desecrating tombstones in Jewish cemeteries? I invite Cohen to chill out.
Shifting face of workplace
I was inspired to respond to letter-writer Flood, Del Col, who appears to have a common misperception of the fundamental intent of equity strategies in regulated workplaces around the globe (NOW, April 1-7). Regardless of the group identified for the initiatives (gender, race, age, sexual orientation, foreign-trained, differing abilities, sole-support parent), equity strategies were developed to give equally qualified persons access to jobs that traditionally have gone to those with unearned privileges based on skin colour, country of origin, gender and economic class - to name a few. It is not equity practice to place someone less qualified in a position. Rather, equity goals recognize and attempt to shift the many barriers to access entrenched in most workplaces. By publically and legally acknowledging the historical power differences, equity work aims to shift the complex web of political, social and economic biases that gave tidal-force power to producing the homogeneous face of most workplaces. Time for the tide to shift, don't you think?
Blue Jays' 9/11 excuses
So, the blue jays, their senior management and Paul Godfrey do not want affordable housing for seniors built near the Skydome (NOW, April 8-14). Seniors in condos they don't mind, but they don't want seniors in affordable housing. Can you imagine? They're using the old, tired excuse of 9/11. Are they afraid some senior is going to try to bomb the Skydome if affordable housing is allowed? Oh please! I'm so sick of 9/11 being used as an excuse for everything from flat tires to hangnails.
South Parkdale Residents' Alliance Toronto
Caregiver slag a surprise
A recent article in your magazine refers to caregiver services provided by our organization (NOW, April 8-14). It came as an unfortunate surprise that this information was produced and printed without the involvement and knowledge of Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA) Ontario. We have established positive relationships with our clients, staff, funders and community partners through honest and supportive communications. Every effort and attention has also been given to ensure that our services are client-focused, quality-based and efficient.
It is unfortunate that Eli Shupak considers our service to be substandard. I want to assure you and your readers that CPA Ontario is firmly committed to immediately addressing client complaints when they are presented. We are very proud of the results of our annual client satisfaction survey, which serves as an important tool to continually improve both service quality and customer satisfaction.
William K. Adair
Canadian Paraplegic Association
Hollow culinary criticisms
Steven Davey's review of my establishment (NOW, April 15-21) leads me to question his journalistic integrity. It would be mathematically impossible for one person to spend $20 per person on a meal at our restaurant. This gross inaccuracy and carelessness on your part has the potential of alienating our budget-minded customers and will result in negative financial implications for us.
Our music is a careful selection of world music with a contemporary Indian twist. The fantastic response from our customers has us working on potentially selling a Rasoee-branded CD compilation. While I am sorry that you didn't like our music, please develop a vocabulary that goes beyond your unqualified statement of "same drum 'n' bass track plays over and over."
Your comments on our service don't make any sense. We're probably the only Indian restaurant in the world that can churn out 300 freshly prepared meals in under an hour. A lineup at the cash register is inevitable. Davey's hollow comments seem to be made for some jaded internal reason, with no real substance -probably as a favour to some close friend restaurateur who has suffered some serious loss of business because of Rasoee.
Our "brown bread" is actually a whole-wheat cereal bread bought at a local bakery, but considering the inaccurate description of virtually everything else, I wouldn't expect you to know the difference. Rasoee's sandwiches are made every day with a fresh batch of chicken tikkas.
I was really hoping for constructive criticism to give us a challenge to evolve and improve.
The difficulty with Dogville
Re film critic John Harkness's re view of Dogville (NOW, April 1-7). Calling Dogville "another of von Trier's hate letters to humanity" makes as much sense as saying that a nightmare is a useless dream. I believe the film's message is global rather than aimed solely at the U.S. Dogville tells me that the victim/tyrant sides of the U.S. don't exist in a void, but on a planet where many societies to some degree are playing the same game. Dogville's ending strongly mirrors for me the black and-white "If you're not for us, you're against us" statement that has been guiding President Bush's relationship with the rest of the planet, and how that policy has resulted in furthering the downward spin of the globe's tyrant/victim dynamic.
Dogville is a difficult rather than entertaining film to watch, but it tells a true and cautionary tale about the twin conditions of tyranny and victimhood that await the U.S., Canada or any other society that increasingly adopts a will to dominate and control others.Unlike Harkness, I see this film as both bitter pill and timely gift to the world, rather than an act of hate.
Thank you for bringing to the public's attention the flagrant use and careless disposal of plastic grocery/shopping bags that are polluting our cities (NOW, April 8-14). The issue became a concern of mine when I noticed plastic bags bursting out of my own cabinet and adorning the leafless trees like Christmas lights.
As eco-conscious shoppers, I think we should do our part by carrying recycled plastic or cloth bags. Perhaps we can also urge large grocery store chains to follow our lead by charging a small monetary fee per grocery bag so that we actually have to think before we get bagged - or even double-bagged! Gasp!
Time for fast-food to fess up
I have a suggestion for mayor David Miller about how to make his upcoming community cleanup day a success. Maybe the fast-food franchises that have been polluting our city could close down for the day so that their employees (and owners) could clean up the mess they help create! Hey, they could even supply the community helpers with some free grub - hint, hint, McDonald's, Pizza Pizza and Tim Hortons!
Robert C. Stronach