Give this bell the hook
Sarah Liss considers Bell Hooks a guru capable of "astute cultural critique" and a "heady stream of ideas" (NOW, May 13-19). Nonetheless, the tensions inherent inBbell Hooks's becoming "the intellectual equivalent of a Madonna-sized rock star" who commodifies black culture must be clear even to Liss, who, like Georgie Bush, laps up "accessible" cultural studies.
Radicals may wish to reconsider their fetish for "African-American feminist icons," especially when figures such as hooks not only owe a debt to Oprah, but feed off Bush's evangelical vision of America, reality TV and super-sized egos.
Talking in the third person, Hooks asks, "Gosh, what would I have been like if I'd been able to meet Bell Hooks as a kid?" I'm sure plenty of children will swoon at her feet, but many must wonder what all the fuss is about.
Instead of providing free advertising for shameless self-promoters peddling platitudes about "domination" and justifying their large speaking fees, "alternative" papers could help their readers deconstruct white American soldiers' "abuse" of "racial others" by documenting the links between the pictures from Abu Ghraib and American postcards that celebrated lynching.
RE Tortured Excuses (now, may 13- 19). Rightly, Tom Engelhardt laments the interrogation methods in Abu Ghraib prison. However, he had 30 years to lament the interrogation methods of the Saddam regime, and I wonder how many articles he wrote then.
With Saddam we're talking acid baths, being thrown in paper shredders, meat hooks, electric shocks, etc, not just having someone point at your genitals and laugh or tie a dog leash around your neck.
At the moment, the Arab government of Sudan in the north is persecuting the black African Sudanese in the south of the country. I wonder at the moral sensibility of those who feel outraged only when Americans are involved.
re change your enemy views (now, May 13-19). Oh, please. Although I think you printed this letter to pay lip service to the letters you must get from right-wing blowhards, I feel it's a complete waste of space. Name withheld by request should realize that there are no enemy views here because we live in a free country. If the country wanted to go in the "dangerous hard left" direction, we would have voted for the Communist party.
But we haven't, so keep spouting your dangerous enemy views, NOW. I look forward to hearing them.
Learning to love dandelions
I am an organic gardener living north of Toronto near the Forks of the Credit. I was so pleased to read two great environmental articles in your last edition (NOW, May 13-19). The first, in the Up Front section, was about the "Toronto Environmental Coalition." I am outraged every time I hear their ads on the radio. I can't believe anyone promoting pesticide use could have the nerve to pass them selves off as "environmental."
The second was the Insight story on dandelions. Where I live, just this past weekend a Dandelion Festival celebrated the plant with dandelion wine tasting, snacks and crafts.
I once heard that maybe if we thought of them as spontaneous miniature marigolds we'd learn to love them as much as we do our other wildflowers. It certainly would make for a healthier world.
Dan's the man
RE Expelling Dissent (now, may 13- 19). I strongly support Dan Freeman-Maloy in his fight against his unjust and anti-democratic expulsion from York University by president Lorna Marsden. What are Dan's crimes? Speaking out with a bullhorn to his fellow students, peacefully protesting against militarism and the Israel government's many human rights violations against Palestinians. These are serious human rights issues.
We now know that Charter rights to freedom of speech and freedom to dissent are a sham at York.
Together with Dan, many of us social justice activists will actively resist York's anti-democratic and illegal action, and we'll win.
Reformers fall in
Hardcore conservative leader Stephen Harper has been Sunday joyriding over the past month, content to bide his time while the Liberals try to wriggle out of their sponsorship scandal. The Conservatives' only major chore is keeping Alberta rednecks at bay. The party masterfully restrained MP Darrel Stinson after his frowning threats to administer "a bare-knuckled bruising." Conservatives cagily muzzled MP Myron Thompson, their 10-gallon-hatted Hoss Cartwright, and brother yahoos. The CEO's toe-the-line, neo-con job: "Play ball, boys. We're only weeks from an election. Once the people have spoken, we can trot out our Reform colours - private health choice, pro-business welfare, a combat-destined Canadian Armed Forces, our old-time (Christian!) religion - all neatly dovetailing with Reform 3's ultra-right doxy. So fall in, boys!"
Only in NOW. Pity!
I strongly object to the unnecessarily harsh treatment of the Red Rose Restaurant (NOW, May 6-12). The Red Rose is a staple neighbourhood spot for locals of the area thanks to its tasty, inexpensive food and the hospitality of Bob, the owner. His saag paneer is great - way, way better than most of the oily sludge found in buffets all over Toronto. I was totally shocked to read such a terrible review of it.
It doesn't sound like your reviewer spent more than half an hour in there. Try harder.
After reading Tim Perlich's review of Morrissey's new album, You Are The Quarry (NOW, May 6-12), I was left with the impression that he wrote it in less time (and with far less thought) than that required to take a piss. And piss on it he did. Not entirely scathing, he maintained a cool ambivalence toward what is a landmark release and one of the greatest albums from one of pop music's few true geniuses.
Did he only listen to the first few tracks he mentioned? The latter half of the album is even better than the first. In fact, one of the few criticisms I have of You Are The Quarry is that it placed America Is Not The World as the opener, when it is, in my opinion, one of the weaker tracks on the album (though still a very good song).
Simply writing off all the remaining songs as "frightfully uneventful," Perlich fails to acknowledge the romantic, swooning beauty of Come Back To Camden, the blistering, unrelenting power of How Could Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel? or the undeniably catchy, rollicking burst of joy that is First Of The Gang To Die.
Tim Perlich has shown himself to be a complete ass.
Wishful Fantino thinking
Unless Don Wanagas has recently developed the ability to read minds, I'm not sure how he can write with any certainty that "police Chief Julian Fantino has all but given up hope he'll still be Toronto's top cop come this time next year" (NOW, May 6-12). Wanagas's column struck me as shallow analysis based on wishful thinking. Chief Fantino still enjoys the confidence of city council, myself included. I believe the chief to be a well-respected man of virtue and vigour who is doing everything in his power to get to the bottom of the current corruption mess. The people of Toronto certainly see him in this light. A recent Toronto Sun/Leger Marketing opinion poll showed him to be more popular than Prime Minister Paul Martin, Premier Dalton McGuinty and even Mayor David Miller.
At a recent small meeting in Scarborough on an unrelated planning matter, I went around a table of 12 residents asking for their reaction to the chief and the force's problems.
To a person, they wholeheartedly supported Fantino. Maybe if NOW and NOW's columnists looked beyond the downtown core, they might present information with less bias and more insight.
Chief Fantino is doing his job. Having full confidence in his abilities, I will support the renewal of his contract when it comes up for negotiation.
Councillor Norm Kelly
Scarborough-Agincourt, Ward 40
One has to wonder at the state of Toronto's music scene if Ninja High School (NHS) is worthy of a feature in the pages of NOW, and at the state of NOW for assuming they're of such importance (NOW, May 6-12). NHS, as just about anyone who's been unlucky enough to experience them can attest, are terrible. They themselves admit that their message is one of "radical acceptance," surely an oxymoron that NOW's interviewer did not feel needed to be clarified.
But revelling as they do in this performative contradiction, NHS come away saying that such "radical acceptance" is "militant."
I know NOW feels a commitment to encouraging people doing things within the scene, and surely NHS and its members are doing something.
Your own scenester, Benjamin Boles, had just a week earlier commented on NHS's performance at Club 56, where he accurately gauged both the quality of the performance and the (mostly negative) response of the crowd. Perhaps all NOW needs, then, is a little consistency.
Gay guy pulls race card
In Being Gay and Black (now, may 6- 12), Orville Douglas describes being sexually frustrated because he doesn't like to fuck men up the ass but attracts men who want this from him. Fair enough, but then he pulls the race card: "I start wondering if white gay men see gay men of colour as people or just objects of desire."
Yet when he runs into a gay black man, he describes him as "a hot young black stud" who is "tall, about 6-foot-2, and in good shape, just the way I like it." Hmmm.... Douglas, a gay man of colour, is looking at another gay man of colour as an object of desire!
I invite Douglas to stop blaming white men for his sexual frustrations.
Black hole in America's soul
RE Bush's Image Problems (now, May 6-12). Bush does not have an image problem, but a moral problem. He doesn't understand that these crimes were committed not only against Iraqis or Arabs but against all of us.
Once you have demonized and demeaned your enemy, it becomes easy to treat him as something less than human. There is a moral black hole in the American soul.
O. G. Pamp
A week's wages for shoes
I read NOW's style section every week and love it. It consistently highlights Toronto designers. Brendan Cahill's complaint that fashion is expensive and by implication wasteful is, on the face of it, legitimate (NOW, April 29-May 5). But I think Cahill is actually upset with companies like Nike and the Gap, both of which have well-known lousy track records for bilking both their customers and employees. Designers like Annie Thompson do great work both in and out of the fashion community.
As a custom shoe designer, I do have to charge the equivalent of some people's weekly wage for my shoes.
But the hours of labour involved mean that I earn less than $10 an hour. Fashion is not necessarily frivolous. It's how some of us earn a living. There's room for all kinds of work in this world.
Let's not be so puritanical.
Tooker's final act mystifying
Someone has finally asked the difficult questions around Tooker Gomberg's death (Why wear helmet to suicide?, Letters, NOW, March 25-31). I've been through two major depressions and have known several people who committed or attempted suicide, yet Tooker's final act does not make sense to me.
As depressed as he may have been, he was a deeply caring and committed man. Suddenly writing a suicide note, then jumping off a bridge, leaving behind his bike and helmet as an ennobling gesture, simply does not add up. Medication could explain this tragic leap, yet contradictions remain.
These past two years have seen a number of sudden suicides by depressed activists, with only notes as evidence.
Sensitivity training for Fido
I should probably be writing to Fido about the ad in a recent NOW. My thought was that Fido marketing folks need some sensitivity training. With all the hype about cellphones with cameras being banned in public washrooms, change rooms, etc, why is there a picture of Michelangelo's David's privates used in this ad? Just a thought.
Roger H. Algie