Don't blame Air Canada
Re Citizen Intruder (NOW, September 2-8). Your writer Shahid Mahmood is not alone. My (obviously Muslim) name is Kamal Hassan. Like Mahmood, I was born in Canada, but I have white (not brown) skin and have lived in Europe (not Pakistan). Air Canada mysteriously delayed issuing my boarding pass for 40 minutes on a direct flight from Toronto to France in 2002. All was made clear when two police officers arrived.
In the 10 minutes that followed, the courteous officers told me that the FBI had called Air Canada and flagged me as a security threat. I was not permitted to board without a full background check and approval from Washington.
If this is what happened to Mahmood, who did not have the time for a police background check, he would get no answers from Air Canada, which isn't allowed to tell him.
He was likely the victim of American, not Canadian, racial profiling. My aunt had a "random" full physical search before boarding a flight this week, the latest of many stories.
Don't blame Air Canada. The airline and the Canadian authorities simply share data and cooperate fully with American security services - even on internal Canadian flights.
Incredible exploding morals
Re The Incredible Exploding City Hall (NOW, September 2-8). Although I have no objection to Hollywood films using Toronto as American cities, I can't share the same enthusiasm that Albert Nerenberg felt after seeing the Resident Evil: Apocalypse trailer. To have David Miller green-light using City Hall as a sub for the headquarters of a malevolent corporation in a movie released on the eve of the third anniversary of 9/11 shows how far the Toronto film administration hacks are willing to go to sell out their own city for a couple of bucks.
Toasting the Mill
With all due respect to Sarah Dearing's review of The Coffee Mill (NOW, September 2-8), we beg to differ! Where else can you get lunch for under $10? We love their familiar Hungarian food, the ambience, the service - slow, just like us, so we can chat, enjoy the arrival of dogs and their masters on the patio and remember that we've been patrons for over 50 years.
In all that time, this wonderful little restaurant has never disappointed or bored or overcharged (even in the old Lothian Mews days when we were students on a budget). It's still one of our favourite Yorkville hangouts.
This past summer we've celebrated birthdays there, raised a glass or two and thought about how lucky we are be Torontonians.
Gunning for the girls
Thank you for having the courage to publish the graphic photo and article about the OCAP protest at the Liberal BBQ (NOW, September 2-8). During that protest, the police specifically targeted female demonstrators through shoving, pepper spraying and arrests. Similarly, during the early days of the Pentagon protests in the late 60s, targeting women was a strategy to incite male protestors to intervene, thereby creating opportunities for arrests. It's a testimony to the resolve of OCAP protestors that they were able to restrain themselves.
Surely, a publication like NOW takes itself seriously and aspires to journalistic credibility. Clearly, that was not the case in Roots' Rooty-Toot-Toot (NOW, August 26-September 1). You wrote that it took media coverage and pressure from NGOs for Roots to admit that some of its Olympic apparel is being made in China, and that Roots was previously not telling the truth about where it makes its products. Roots has never hidden information on where it makes its products. For the record, we have always stated that Roots Canadian Olympic apparel is all made in Canada, except for a few non-clothing accessories like pins, bags, sweatbands and flip-flops, which are difficult, if not impossible, to manufacture domestically.
Roots does not disclose the location of specific factories apart from our own production facilities in Toronto. Because of the highly competitive apparel industry, the names and addresses of the factories we work with are confidential, proprietary information.
Roots has always been committed to highly ethical standards. We take pride in who we are and what we do. We take pride in our success and take very seriously the social responsibility that goes with it.
Director of Communication and Public Affairs, Roots
Gillan's vocals grate
In your review of the Deep Purple concert at Molson Amphitheatre (NOW, August 26-September 1), you say Ian Gillan's voice "never gave out." I beg to differ! I grew up loving the band, but Ian's pitch was terrible, his range limited and his screams (once so strong) were embarrassing. The band was great. I even liked the keyboard solo! But old Ian brought the whole thing down a few notches.
Female beauty myth
Francey Russell's column on why she can't get down with short men (NOW, August 19-25) shows us one thing: women are irrational hypocrites. For decades now, feminists and women in general have taken glee in bashing men, especially by stereotyping us as superficial and overly concerned with a woman's looks. And yet women discriminate viciously against men who are short. So it's sexist for a man to state that he refuses to date a woman whose bra size is smaller than 36C, and yet women are allowed to say they won't date anyone under 5-foot-7.
By the way, I'm 5-foot-10, in case you're getting ready to accuse me of being insecure, with an axe to grind.
Hug and we won't need God
Re When the Saint Comes Hugging In (NOW, August 12-18). If everyone were already inclined to lovingly hug all others, maybe there would be no need for the "divine" interventions of Amma. Extending this premise a little further, if all humanity were predisposed to love unconditionally, there would be no need for Buddha, Jesus, Krishna.
Kudos to Alice Klein for providing such an excellent and insightful article on the remarkable entity that is Amma.
Cruel pot punishment
Re Prince of Pot Pinched (NOW, August 26-September 1). Threatening citizens with imprisonment for sharing marijuana is cruel and unusual punishment, because the government cannot demonstrably justify why marijuana is illegal. The Supreme Court of Canada cannot deny that Marc Emery has been deprived of his liberty.
Michael J. Dee
One car-free step at a time
Re Case for car-free (NOW, August 19-25). Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington were designed to demonstrate a healthy, sustainable urban environment as well as to promote the unique culture of Kensington. Some merchants and market-goers were not happy with the results. Making the leap to a 24/7 car-free zone could prove disastrous. As a cycling advocate, there is nothing I would like to see more than a decreasing dependence on the automobile. But as a merchant in the market, I would not like to see the city wave a heavy-handed magic wand, using this historic neighbourhood as an urban planning experiment or urban theme park. Nobody wants to see long-established grocery vendors driven out.
La Palette Restaurant
Buying CDs on the cheap
I just got through reading Andrew Charters's letter (NOW, August 19-25) about his distress at how much record stores charge for their CDs and DVDs. I have two tips for him. First off, learn to look around. Don't automatically shop at HMV just because it's the first place that pops into your head. When I was looking for the second season of Babylon 5, HMV had it (and still does) for $120, Sunrise for $110 and Music World for $99. I got it at Future Shop for $84.
Second, start shopping in places that deal in second-hand CDs and DVDs, as I do. They may not have in stock what you're looking for, since they rely on people bringing them in for resale, but, hell, do some leg work.
Invisible visual artists
This city possesses an amazing array of independent galleries operated by knowledgeable people showing incredible work, but you'd never know it from the dismal coverage of the visual arts. It's about time our local galleries and artists, who enrich our cultural life so much, got the support they deserve.
Disabled wanna party, too
A few weeks back, NOW's listings for an event at the Drake Hotel included an indication of access for disabled people. Kudos for finally recognizing that the handicapped are a growing part of the mainstream. I don't believe major historical sites should be forced to build ramps, but listing a stair count and whether there are washroom facilities for the disabled would go a long way toward assuaging our fears and encouraging us to integrate into T.O.'s effervescent nightlife.
If you struggling clubs owners could manage a railing on all your climbs, it'd make our struggle much easier.