College Street I know
Re: Rick O'Brien's Brokedown College (NOW, May 20-26). Those of us who were around in the 60s and 70s often lament the passing of the neighbourhood we remember. Back then it was bustling during the day with grocery stores and clothing shops. It was the place to go for imported Italian shoes. Starbucks was a barber shop, and the Royal was the Pylon, an Italian-language movie house.
I remember the days of Vesuvio's Pizzeria (no brick ovens back then) and the last of the Jewish-owned stores like Wise's grocery at Grace and the old fish store that stood where Tempo is today.
The city is ever-changing. My mom, who grew up on Henderson, recalls the Orthodox Jews who dominated the area when she was a kid. But in fact, there are still a lot of us Italians around. The kids of those local seniors you mention have assimilated. We are more contemporary (no more St. Francis of Assisi screen doors on our houses) and now we own a lot of those College Street buildings and bars.
Change is good. The strip has evolved out of the quiet 80s into a new, bustling, ethnically diverse, important part of Toronto's dining scene.
(Oliva Bros Shoes, 1958-95) Toronto
Teaching our children well
Re: Hate between the lines (now, May 20-26). I recently left the U.S. and came to Canada, in part because I am against the war and in part because of the power wielded by fundamentalist Christians - not only in the government but in general society as well. I was horrified by the Focus on the Family ad you wrote about in a recent issue of NOW.
There are good families and there are bad families, and whether the members are gay or straight is irrelevant. I don't care if you're a married straight woman with 2.5 kids who wears nothing but skirts and loves to clean house or a wild hippie boy raising your brother's daughter on a commune. Do you try to do your damnedest to be a kind, loving parent and teach your child to be a kind, loving person? That's what matters.
Anti-gay glory daze
This mother's day I happened to be sitting in a Vancouver coffee shop (yes, one of those coffee shops) with an acquaintance when he noticed a full-page Focus on the Family (FOTF) ad in one of the local Canwest rags. Our common reaction was "Hey, doesn't that guy in the ad look like a very young Brian Mulroney?" Are the FOTF people perhaps trying to reach back to the glory days of conservatism to make their point?
Use Skydome for compost
Re: Compost's dirty secret (now, May 20-26). We have in downtown Toronto the answer to the composting facilities shortage. The Argonauts have abandoned the Skydome, and it's only a matter of time before the collapse of the Blue Jays. Let's turn the Skydome into the world's largest anaerobic composting facility.
With anaerobic composting, we could collect the methane that all composting produces and burn it in the downtown central heat plant run by Enwave. Enwave would then become the most environmentally progressive heating and cooling company on the continent, using deep lake water cooling to air condition downtown buildings and compost-produced methane to heat them and produce electricity.
The carbon dioxide released when methane is burned has 1/20th the negative greenhouse impact on the atmosphere as the same methane released into the atmosphere.
Pro-smoking ad irks
I found myself more than a little annoyed at the FAAC.CA (Fair Air Association of Canada) ad in your most recent issue (NOW, May 20-26). The ad exhorts readers to fight for their right to smoke in bars, and asks, "What next if we can't smoke in bars?" as if it's the end of the world.
Boo hoo. I say the anti-smoking law is positive for everyone (except those who might have to step outside for a minute during their favourite band's set to satisfy their habit.)
We used to be able to smoke on airplanes. Nowadays, no one would even think of smoking on a plane. It's called adapting, people!
Tech for dummies
I'm really enjoying the growth of your technology column this year. Thank you for finally letting this part of your newspaper move beyond video games and Web sites and catch up with the rest of the paper. That said, I would like to object to Jeffrey Haas's recent column about Voice over IP (NOW, May 20-26), which I feel oversimplifies things like the "black box" voice gateway and treats us all like morons when he writes, "Because of how VoIP works, 911 service doesn't." Why do you treat your readers with kid gloves in the technology area when you have such a heavy hand in other areas?
I think most of your readers are intelligent and sophisticated enough to deal with the technical aspect of technology. Please challenge us instead of pandering to us.
Re: Getting it while we can (now, May 20-26). Like governments, parents make promises. I congratulate Finance Minister Greg Sorbara and the McGuinty budget for making tough but fair choices that were made necessary by the unpaid bills arising from the Harris-Eves government. I voted for the McGuinty government because I believe in open, transparent and honest government. The Harris-Eves government was not honest and played on voters' greed. They did keep their cynical promise to cut taxes by 30 per cent. But they hid the true costs of their foolish and divisive policies. And my taxes today are still higher than they were in 1994.
Today we know the cost of the Common Sense (or should I say Non-Sense) Revolution. The cuts to environmental inspections resulted in E. coli deaths in Walkerton. Harris's gutting of the public health infrastructure produced a system that was totally unprepared to deal with SARS. The negative impact of these and other Harris-Eves policies on the provincial economy has been enormous. My insurance rates are higher than ever, and I am paying for a wide range of municipal services because of downloading.
I think we are making too much of a political fetish of promise-keeping by demanding that all political promises must be kept immediately. As parents, we know this is sometimes hard to do due to unforeseen circumstances. Be patient, don't be greedy. Let's not be hasty and do to Dalton McGuinty what we did to Bob Rae. The alternative is much worse.
Who's Dalton working for?
So now we have eliminated OHIP coverage for chiropractic and physiotherapy, which have been proven to reduce long-term health care costs. Simultaneously, we have provided free vaccines for which there is no scientific evidence of efficacy and which have been linked to an array of medical conditions such as autism and asthma. Just who are you working for, Dalton?
Horrors, it's a spoof
John Harkness's review of Van Helsing (NOW, May 13-19) is way off base. I'm not talking about whether he liked the film or not. He just rather obviously missed the fact that it's a spoof. Whether that was intentional or not, critiquing it in the wrong genre is unprofessional, if not sad. Some people read reviews before going to movies (not I), and you should at least be able to tell people it's not a horror movie.
Chow down on this
I keep reading about how Olivia Chow is supposed to be a great children's advocate, etc (NOW, May 13-19). Is this the same Olivia Chow who decided to endanger the safety of our children by voting in favour of her friend Joe Pantalone's resolution to have the fence around Pierre Elliott Trudeau School removed? Is this the sort of thoughtless voting and cronyism we can expect if she is elected to represent us in Ottawa? I may have voted for Chow in the past, but never shall again!
Shock all talk
Tom Engelhardt does a great service in countering the "shock" everyone claims to feel regarding the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal (NOW, May 13-19). Although Engelhardt is right to note that the decision to use "psychologically stressful" methods came from the highest Pentagon officials, the fact is that the U.S. administration itself came out and ambiguously advertised that torture was to be considered admissible in the post-9/11 world.
When it comes to government, this statement is essentially an order to torture. It is also the way totalitarianism functions - between the lines, wherein subordinates are made to guess their leaders' desire. When they go "too far," leaders feign surprise and even shock - just as Bush and company do now.
Richard I. Pope
This megaphone's no gun
Re: Expelling dissent (now, may 13-19). Last September, when York granted permission for an invitation-only on-campus speech by Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky, Hillel was authorized to provide its own security, and they were presumably armed for the occasion. As a part-time student at York, I am far more apprehensive about gun-toting agents running around campus than I am about Daniel Freeman-Maloy and his little megaphone.
Sharansky, incidentally, was introduced by York president Lorna Marsden as "a symbol for the struggle for human rights wherever people are oppressed." Really? In the West Bank? In Gaza?
I read with interest Just Dandy (NOW, May 13-19). Your positive portrayal of the humble dents de lion, with its long history in Asian medicine and its importation into North America as a wild vegetable, was refreshing after weeks of radio advertising by the Toronto Environmental Coalition urging residents to fight for their right to spray dandelions. In late April, the Ontario College of Family Physicians released its review of a wide range of studies linking pesticide exposure to cancer, reproductive problems and neurological diseases. One Ontario doctor and reviewer of the research noted that "a few studies show that even pesticide exposure caused by home and garden use is associated with problems including brain cancer, childhood leukemia and a neuro-degenerative disease called amyotropic lateral sclerosis."
A little mellow yellow is looking good from where I'm standing.
As I was walking home contem plating Sheila Banerjee's thoughtful article on her polyamorous experience (NOW, April 29-May 5), I noticed a woman ahead of me wearing a jean jacket with the words "Explore monogamy" silkscreened in black letters on the back. I thought of how all the polyamory-promoting articles over the last few years seem to imply that having many lovers is the better, more enlightened way. What if monogamy, or simply loving one person at a time (monamory?), in a deep, committed way, with the same "cultivation of skills," "letting go of old wounds" and "awareness of choices" with "a commitment to being present" and communicating well were encouraged to develop?
From my own experience in polyamory circles, both types of relationship take effort. Do we need to have more lovers at one time to make that effort?