High Park on pesticides
RE Jenny Yuen's article about pesticide use in High Park (NOW, December 2-8). As someone who spends a lot of time hiking there, I have to say that the restoration of the park's oak savannahs has been very successful. Thanks go to the tireless efforts of the city's High Park restoration crew and the numerous volunteers who dedicate countless hours and tremendous energy removing invasive species and planting species indigenous to the area. This work would not be possible without the use of herbicides.
Hand-pulling of invasive species is not feasible because such plants have deep roots. Since the soil at High Park is mostly sand, hand-pulling would damage other plants. Herbicide use at High Park is very limited and done with the utmost concern for park users and the environment.
Ban tasers - now
Many thanks to Mike Smith's critique of the 50,000-volt tasers and Chief Julian Fantino's dangerous and irresponsible proposal to further arm hundreds of Toronto police with these deadly weapons (NOW, December 2-8). I suspect the medical officer of health will probably recommend restricting instead of banning tasers, even though these allegedly "less-lethal" weapons have helped kill more than 76 Americans and nine Canadians, including a number of psychiatric survivors. I strongly support an immediate ban - the sooner the better.
For years now, I'd just groan, swear and turn my eyes from any review with John Harkness's name near it. For the last while I've been skedaddling over to Cameron Bailey's reviews and found his writing less offensive and considerably more nuanced.
Alas, I have now lost my remaining respect after reading Bailey's Finding Neverland review (NOW, November 18-24). Mediocre? Never gets off the ground? Bleak humourlessness?
C'mon, Cameron. How about the art direction, the richness and accuracy of the period conveyed? And how could you overlook the performances?
Sometimes it is really important to just let yourself be transported. It doesn't mean you're not able to think critically or intelligently. It means you're human, with the same capacity for raw emotion as the rest of us.
Sock it to me
What's with Steven Davey referring to Casey and Finnegan as "retired sock puppets" (NOW, November 25-December 1)? Everyone knows they're not sock puppets. By the way, Rusty the Rooster (who admittedly does appear in a pouch that kind of looks like a small laundry bag) and Jerome the Giraffe are also sock-free.
Much praise for Wayne Roberts's No Blood For Phony Food (NOW, November 25-December 1). Wars that provide sensational TV footage stir us to participate in peace marches, but much more human suffering is occuring, and more will occur, in "wars of aggression" in agriculture. The number of people who die of hunger every year may now rise because of greedy corporations' attempts to control seeds. I would encourage more people to join forces with Global South and other groups trying to stem the tide.
Port lands go to potty
RE A Real Crapshoot (NOW, November 25-December 1). All too often, the East End port lands get dumped on (pardon the pun).
There's the proposed and pretty much approved gargantuan gas generating plant beside the old Hearn facility on the lakefront (and bird wetlands), the consolidation of most of the city's concrete silos at Leslie and Lakeshore and the CanRoof asphalt shingling plant spewing tar smells across most of Riverdale. The CanRoof scrubber broke three years ago, but the Ministry of the Environment can't get its shit together to do something about it. References to the eastern port lands as the "budding jewel of the waterfront" and an "oasis for wildlife" are so sad they're almost funny.
Crossing over the line
I'd expect a magazine like NOW to be an advocate for local music talent Toronto's lucky enough to call its own. It's doesn't bothers me that Brent Raynor finds Staggered Crossing's music mediocre and lyrics simple (NOW, November 18-24), but rather that his malicious and immature critique of Burgundy And Blue seems to be a personal vendetta.
Unless Raynor can claim a reasonably successful 10-year career in music, he has no business criticizing.
Cokeheads off the rails
I was appalled to read two separate reviews (food/restaurant review and the live entertainment review) by two writers (NOW, December 2-8) who made references to snorting cocaine as if they were talking about sipping tea. Need I remind you how many people die daily trying to export the white stuff across various borders? Has NOW decided to take the easy road, thinking it's more politically savvy to look uber-cool than to stand up to the man in the white collar who's selling the shit to kids and ultimately profiting off the lives of countless vulnerable individuals?
Blues, my butt
Give me a break. Bony-Girl Blues (NOW, November 25-December 1)! Hopefully this article won't reach and encourage skinny teenage girls to maintain their stick-perfect figures. Quit whining about how skinny girls don't get any respect and start paying more attention to your eating habits.
No, Dale Duncan, it's not "easy to sympathize with cyclists who want to ride on sidewalks" (NOW, November 18-24). I regularly walk through an underpass on Bloor where cars speed by near the narrow sidewalk. Suddenly, without fail, a loud and urgent bell rings maniacally behind me.
I step to the left out of habit, and no sooner am I safely out of the way than a cyclist comes whizzing past, practically taking me along in his/her undertow.
All I can do is yell out "sidewalk" passive-aggressively and pray that I make it home alive to feed my pit bull, a sweetheart.
Perfectly fine for Israel
Rabbi Michael Lerner's Arafat No Mandela (NOW, November 18-24) falls into the Zionist trap of "swapping" refugees as if they are Pokemon cards. Such toxic thought is quite offensive and downright wrong, as if it were perfectly fine for Israel to use terror and force Palestinians out of their homes.
Anne Selden Annab
Lip service to Arab suffering
Christopher Leadbeater writes that the Palestinians have an "inalienable right" to return to Israel (NOW, November 25-December 1) because the UN and international law have so decreed on "countless" occasions. I wonder if Leadbeater would extend a similar right of return to the Jews turfed out of Europe. But, then, this is clearly not an issue.
While the Jewish refugees were quickly incorporated into the state of Israel, the Arab refugees have been mouldering in UN-sponsored refugee camps for more than 50 years, a testament both to Arab refusal to countenance a Jewish state in their midst and to the lip service they pay to ending Palestinian suffering.
Mindy G. Alter
Walker on the wrong side
Your article Shuffle Demons (NOW, December 2-8) incorrectly states that Councillor Michael Walker voted in favour of the mayor's "tinkering" with the city's senior bureaucracy. In fact, Walker's vote was recorded incorrectly.
He intended to vote the way he spoke, against the mayor's plan. On Wednesday evening (after your article went to print) he had the clerk change the record to have his vote reported correctly, in opposition.
Executive Assistant to Councillor Michael Walker