Degrading the victims
Christian Christensen's criticism of the tsunami disaster (NOW, January 6-12) is too kind to those nations offering relief. Westerners who delight in watching their own citizens' pretend survival to win money are watching pure porn.
The constant images of bodies eventually degrades the people in the photos. Worse, movie stars like Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock battle it out to write the biggest cheque.
Meanwhile, journalists and the public are shocked by Quebec's small financial contribution, that Quebec prefers to provide skilled labour to rebuild in disaster areas, perhaps bringing hope and dignity more quickly to victims.
Quebec City, Quebec
Media's tsunami sell job
More than 140,000 people have died as a result of the tsunami, and thousands more are suffering from lack of shelter, disease and dehydration. It's hard to comprehend that amount of suffering. Everywhere I look, everyone is pitching in, raising money, organizing benefits.
All of these efforts make me feel incredibly inspired, but also concerned. The sudden death of more than 100,000 people is not a new or unique phenomenon. More than 30,000 children die from preventable diseases every single day. No headlines, no photos of bodies, no public pleas for money, no speeches by Paul Martin.
It seems that images of horrible death are only allowed onto our front pages if they are caused by natural disaster rather than economic starvation.
It has to look like a Hollywood disaster blockbuster, and it has to have a feel-good happy ending with lots of big announcements about relief.
Don't get me wrong, I think the fundraising efforts are great. But do we as a community only respond to mass death when the mass media decides it's a sellable story?
Oh, the inhumanity
RE Picking Through The Wreckage (NOW, January 6-12). There is a certain undefinable obscenity about the picture on the front of the Globe and Mail of two tourists sunbathing amid the destruction in Southeast Asia this past Saturday. One wonders at the inhumanity of those tourists who look at the horror and say, "I'm all right, Jack" and decide to stay.
Bush brownie points
Trying to bolster America's and his personal humanitarian image, U.S. president George Bush now seems more inclined to offer assistance to the areas affected by the tsunami in Southeast Asia. But it may be a little too late to score brownie points.
Had Bush taken leadership in the post-tsunami phase, it could have helped his much-maligned reputation in the rest of the world. The Organization of Islamic Countries, of which Indonesia is a member, has not come forward with any substantial aid package. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda have also been silent on the plight of Muslim Indonesians.
Rather than help in the tsunami relief effort or at least offer sympathies to those affected, they have continued to incite violence in Iraq.
There might still be avenues for America to take the lead. With his second-term inauguration in the offing, President Bush could do with a positive international makeover.
Parrotheads with a purpose
Don Wanagas's tongue-in-cheek prognostications for 2005 (NOW, December 30-January 5) use the name of our club to slag Councillor Michael Thompson.
The Toronto Maple Reefers Parrothead Club, a Jimmy Buffett fan club, is simply a play on the name of Jimmy's backup band, the Coral Reefer Band.
While we strongly support individual rights and freedoms, we do not support, advocate or promote any illegal activity, including non-prescribed marijuana use.
We do believe that there is nothing better in life than a Hawaiian shirt, island music, a margarita and a good party. In fact, our motto is "We party with a purpose." Since October 2003, we have assisted in raising more than $50,000 and a ton of food and clothing.
By the way, Don, had you checked us out on the Web, you'd have found that most of us are business professionals - bankers, teachers, nurses, paramedics, even two reporters. I'm a sergeant at 51 Division, whose district includes NOW's offices. Hmm, now how can I turn that to my advantage?
Give peas a chance
It's really cool that you guys are always trying to encourage people to stop being so wasteful and ecologically evil. And although we think that reverting to old-fashioned snot rags over paper tissues sounds like buckets of fun (NOW, January 6-12), there is an easier way to make a huge difference - going veg.
Do you not understand that the production of a veggie-based diet requires seven times less land than a meat-based diet? The ecological advantages alone are so numerous and obvious that people who eat meat shouldn't be allowed to call themselves environmentalists.
There really is no excuse whatsoever to consume the vast amounts of land, energy and water with every hunk of dead animal people keep putting in their mouths. No one needs all that cholesterol and bad karma anyway! Give peas a chance.
Leslie Walters and Diana Leppanen
Cat tap dance
I just read I Will Wean My Cat From The Tap If Only He Would Drink From A Bowl, by Adria Vasil, on your Web site (NOW, January 6-12).
I wanted to tell Adria that we also have a cat who likes running water and have found a fairly reasonable solution: we keep his food and water bowls on the bathroom counter (right beside the sink) and whenever he follows us into the bathroom, we rinse and refill the bowl. That way the water stays pretty fresh, but much less is wasted. We also use the bowl to rinse out the sink after we brush our teeth or shave (and naturally, I wash the sink out frequently with soap and hot water while washing my hands). It all works out well for everyone.
Still, it would be nice if someone invented a tap with an auto on/off motion sensor for cats.
RE The Alt.Health article on indulgence and guilt (NOW, December 30-January 5).
I thought the article was shallow, one-sided and a disservice to readers of a column whose purpose is to help everyday people learn to be healthier.
In North America we all know how to indulge. What is lacking is awareness of the joy that can be found in restraint, in learning that to relax, celebrate or toast doesn't need to mean "consume something."
At Christmas dinner, we chose to serve tea instead of hors d'oeuvres. For gifts the rule was "something that money cannot buy."
The result was quite beautiful and extra fun compared to other years, but we had to "unlearn" the regular pattern of indulgence/consumption to find a better way.
Promoting indulgence by quoting health experts saying that "compared to guilt, indulgence is a good thing" - and leaving it at that - hardly serves the public well, don't you think?
Kongch'aeek Gary Justice
Not trying to impress, but...
I'm writing in response to an off-hand review of my art hanging in Tomi-Kro restaurant by food critic Steven Davey (NOW, December 23-30, 2004). After putting my name in full and bold, he called my paintings "pointless" and "banal."
I've been making art for more than 10 years and have shown in a number of Toronto galleries with reasonable success.
In April, the Drake purchased two of my paintings, which hang permanently in the hotel's lounge. More than 800 people, including many writers, gallery owners and even Bravo TV, came to see over 50 paintings and artworks in my show at DeLeon White Gallery on Queen West last July.
In September 2004 I was invited to participate in TAAFI (NOW's cover story the last week of September), to great reviews. (I have been invited back.)
My intent here is not to impress or to bore you but to make it obvious that, unlike Davey, others find my work far from banal and pointless.
My point is that Davey is a food critic, and therefore he (and NOW) should stick to what he's hired and skilled to review.
Sure, he can mention the art in a descriptive manner if he chooses, but to write negatively with no legitimacy or credentials I find just plain wrong. I wasn't going to comment, so this comes a few weeks after the article was published, but I just felt it was lousy, irresponsible journalism.
On the other hand, I do see plenty of bad art in restaurants that NOW never mentions, so I have to ask, "Why am I the lucky focker?"
Webster breaks through
I find Kevin Temple's review of the Gerald Webster show at the Museum of New New Painting (NOW, January 6-12) full of pre-conditioned negativity. It follows the Canadian cultural party line of resenting anyone who gets out of line and tries to shout above the official styles of the moment.
The New New Painting abstract art movement has its own inner energy that has evolved over 25 years, ignoring the more populist figurative-based art of the times.
If Temple had taken the trouble to follow Webster's career, he would have seen that this show represents a bold new breakthrough from his previous flattened painting surfaces to three-dimensional shaped paintings of exceptional energy, elegance and vitality.
As the late Jack Bush would have said, in this show "he knocks the ball out of the field!"
Publisher/Editor, CityArt Magazine
In what way is BoingBoing.net's "co-writ[er]" Cory Doctorow a "local boy" (NOW, December 23-30)? He now lives in London and before that San Francisco. Is Jim Carrey also a "local boy"?
By the way, readers interested in a less sanctimonious and glad-handing BoingBoing can try Tim Barkow's lite version at www.dialedin.us/boing/, where you can automatically filter out the more maddening elements.
Listening to the radio
RE Magic in The Static (NOW, January 6-12). I love to listen to the radio in bed. I am definitely a fan of the old programs and remember Lux and Rinso vividly. You forgot Oxydol.
I've been listening to a program that you might find interesting, called Coast To Coast AM, broadcast all over North America from L.A. This call-in show gets some strange callers, to say the least, but it makes you think.