Love and Sex:
I'm always willing to give NOW the benefit of the doubt, but I was stunned to see your Arafat tribute (NOW, November 18-24) written by Rabbi Michael Lerner.
What would possess you to bestow this opportunity on someone other than a representative of the Palestinian community, who one would think has more of an investment in Arafat's death than - oh, I don't know - some soft-left American Jew who doesn't even support the Palestinian right of return? Despite the mistakes he may have made, Arafat had something no other Palestinian or Arab leader possessed: genuine grassroots support among his people. Yet instead of giving this perspective a platform, NOW has chosen to indulge Lerner's spurious statements.
Arabs have right to return
Michael Lerner's condemnation of certain Israeli crimes is a refreshing change from repeated Zionist efforts to deny them. But his failure to acknowledge real responsibility for the refugees who were deliberately expelled from their homes and homeland with massacres and violence is less than honest. Lerner refers to "Arafat's unwillingness to confront the Palestinian fantasy of a right of return." He does not state (because to do so would expose the weakness of what he is saying) that the refugees right of return is an inalienable right enshrined in international law and countless UN resolutions.
Ashford Kent, England
Arafat the anti-hero
Great story on Arafat. it's nice to hear the other side of the story. So much of the media has been portraying him as a hero.
So the city's Bike Master plan is running behind (NOW, November 18-24)? Way back, city council was most pleased with the plan and passed the motion to accept the plan "in principle." The next morning, members of Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) announced the group intended to provide legal support for a lawsuit against the city "for allowing the streets to become too dangerous to cycle on." Councillors opted to set aside the vote on cash for the bike plan, instead deciding to hand the money "as projects require." Cyclists and NOW need to stop wagging their fingers at City Hall. Instead, take a closer look at the actions of "advocacy groups" that claim to speak on cyclists' behalf.
Cycling instructor, Toronto
Critical mass the answer
On your cover you ask, "Why can't our bike lanes look like Europe's?" I'll tell you why. It's because North Americans are road hogs. Believe me, I know how dangerous it can be going south on Bathurst in rush hour with some psychotic, car-horny bastard bearing down behind me. But imagine if two or three times the number of bikers rode to work every morning. There'd be fewer injuries (it's easier to bully one biker than 10), and the CEOs made late for their meetings would be on the phone with their friends at City Hall begging for bicycle lanes.
Clear-cut messes trail plans
RE Clear-cut Blunder (NOW, November 18-24). The "group of environmentalists" on a "weekend hike" was in fact 44 people on a tour funded in part by and supported with staff from the city of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Participants included local organizations and companies interested in the creation of the Taylor Massey Trail, a path to connect green space near the 401 to existing trails that run to the waterfront. All attendees on the tour, including agency staff, were shocked at the cutting. We were told by the work crew that the cutting was to extend an additional several hundred metres, but our understanding is that city staff on the tour ensured the cutting was stopped first thing next morning.
We look forward to the prospect of transforming this reach of the creek into a vibrant habitat through world-renowned Canadian-based River Restorer technology, as well as through additional plantings.
Your readers can find more information at www.thetmp.org.
N for numbing nostalgia
This is in response to the awful review of the DFA's Compilation #2 in your Disc Guide (NOW, November 18-24). C'mon, man, two measly NNs? "Hugely disappointing"? Shit, man, that comp plays like a dance party from start to finish! To top things off, you gave a Pavement record from 10 years ago five fucking Ns! The nostalgia for that fucking lazy mid-90s era has gone on for a little too long. Get off your ass and dance.
Jessica Russell's criticism of Memory Bank in your Disc Guide stepped over the line. What would possess you to even conceive of awarding a negative N to anything, let alone to a band whose music is good enough for two season premieres of 24? Put away the butcher knife and stop thinking what you do is a chore. No wonder Peaches had to leave Toronto to get anywhere.
RE Potion For Politics by Mike Smith (NOW, November 18-24). It's not so much the similarity between Christian fundamentalists and "activist fundamentalists" that's the problem, as Starhawk suggests, but secular fundamentalists and religious fundamentalists. We need less Bible, Koran and hardcore rationalism and more Starhawk and Gimbutas.
Canada's bad Iraq act
Naomi Klein says we didn't join the war in Iraq (NOW, November 11-17). Perhaps if she looked more closely she'd notice Canada gave $300 million to help with non-combat costs. Canadian officers serving as military planners worked with the U.S. and UK governments to plan for the invasion and occupation. Canadian destroyers convoyed U.S. forces to the Iraq war. Canadian military were embedded in U.S. and UK forces who took part in the invasion. Since Iraq's invasion, the top Canadian military suppliers have done very well.
Bring back cannabis
Unfortunately, Matt Mernagh is incorrect about at least one fact (NOW, November 11-17). Sativex is not synthetic but grown in GW Pharmaceuticals' green houses under stringently controlled conditions. Sativex is herbal. Cannabis was illegitimately removed from the U.S. pharmacopeia in 1940. Neither cannabis nor human physiology has changed since then. If Canadian authorities had any common sense, they would simply restore cannabis to the formulary.
Tod H. Mikuriya
Walrus a winner
I just want to make a comment about your article on the Walrus (NOW, October 28-November 3). I've never been much of a reader of this style of magazine but must say that I'm hard-pressed not to read it cover to cover each time I receive a new issue. It is a high-quality, informative magazine. If we're lucky, the Walrus will be around for years to come.
Gasping for adults only
I was enjoying the Love & Sex article by Ana Mardell (NOW, October 28-November 3) until I got about halfway through. I'm sure other parents will sympathize with my concern over her comment, "I just loved the fact that I could make him come in three minutes and have him gasping like a small child." Um. Is this a simile?
If so, a very poor choice of words indeed. If not, then Mardell needs to be investigated by the police! Maybe I'm being ultra-sensitive, but I don't believe gasping children need to be mentioned in a paragraph about blow jobs.
I'm not sure why John Harkness bothers to "review" the films of Abbas Kiarostami, or why NOW bothers to print his writing (NOW, October 28-November 3). It's become abundantly clear that he hates Kiarostami's films and Iranian cinema in general. When a film like Ten is released on DVD, could it be reviewed by a critic who's sympathetic to the aesthetic of this contemporary master of world cinema?
Paul N. Murphy
Gutter news network
I'm surprised your thoughtful readers would choose Citytv as the best local TV station (NOW, October 28-November 3). The junk news outlets of Citytv, Toronto Sun and 680 News attract viewers and readers by sensationalizing local accidents and crime stories. Citytv reaches in one direction - the gutter.