It is always good to satirize religion, and Hinduism is as ripe for it as any other (too many gods, my dear Vishnu). So the outraged reaction of several South Asian community groups to the AIDS Committee of Toronto's Bollywood Cowboy theme for Fashion Cares (NOW, June 2-8) seems decidedly reactionary. And the notion that this might be "cultural appropriation" (it's unclear from the story whether anyone has seriously offered that up as an indictment of ACT) is too comical.
Bollywood itself is a magnificent act of cultural appropriation, and only a culture in decline refuses to steal from others. It's always safer in the current climate to be ecumenical, however, and ACT might have been wise to have a few other deities or prophets making a cameo appearance in its promotional material. Having Mohammed work the bar would be a nice touch. Jesus doing coat check? Moses at the tapas table? We would all have been happy.
Sleepwalking with Israel
Your article Walk on the weird side (NOW, June 2-8) about the May 29 UJA Federation Walk With Israel is in itself a walk on the weird side.
First of all, police estimated the number of participants at 10,000-12,000, perhaps more, not 3,000. Secondly, your writer's categorization of checkpoints at the walk, which were rest stations, as "an apparent reference to checkpoints regulating people's movements in Israel/Palestine" is a product of the writer's fertile imagination. Nothing could be more absurd.
Thirdly, the writer fails to mention that the Jewish Women's Committee to End the Occupation, whose members were present at the walk, represented fewer than a dozen people - a tiny fraction of walk participants.
The UJA Federation Walk With Israel, one of Toronto's largest events, attended by participants with a multitude of viewpoints, is a non-political celebration of Israel's accomplishments. Nothing more and nothing less.
VP, Marketing & Communications
UJA Federation, Toronto
Chief needs Mideast lesson
Whether one regards Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as "beautiful" depends on one's aesthetic values, I suppose, but Israel was definitely not "carved... out of a desert," as Chief Bill Blair is quoted as saying in your article.
In 1948, the year that the Mandate of Palestine was partitioned by UN fiat and Israeli force of arms, it was four times as densely populated as present-day Nova Scotia, two-thirds of that population being Arab.
Maybe it's because I'm a Coaster, but I've never regarded Nova Scotia as "a land without a people for a people without a land," as early advocates of a Zionist state contended of Palestine.
Before making further public pronouncements on Israel, the good chief may wish to educate himself by reading a balanced history of the Zionist-Arab conflict. Several such histories are available at bookstores within easy walking distance of Toronto police HQ
Tree huggers, my left foot
Contrary to Don Wanagas's assertions (NOW, June 2-8), Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) does not support the removal of trees for any reason.
The issue of the trees was simply conjured up by councillors at the last minute as a smokescreen when they began to feel the heat over their approval of an irregular bike lane width on Royal York.
If we are to believe that city council is full of "tree huggers," then they would naturally have had a study comparing the effects of maintaining Royal York Road versus carpeting it over with grass and more trees.
Ride A Bike, Kill A Tree was either the result of sloppy reporting or Wanagas simply trying to cover some councillor's ass.
Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists
Put squeeze on car lanes
When natural allies go against each other, as the cyclists and the tree-huggers did on the issue of bike lanes on Royal York, watch out for the divisive force. In this case, it's our chameleon politicians who offered a lot of hype in support of cycling on the first day of Bike Week only to turn around and endanger cyclists' safety by narrowing bike lanes.
The Transportation Association of Canada recommends that bike lanes be 2 metres wide, and a minimum of 1.5 metres. Council's approval for reducing the lanes on Royal York to less than the safety requirements suggests a ploy to diminish the importance of cycling in this city.
As trees serve primarily to absorb abundant carbon monoxide from equally abundant automobile traffic, it's high time we put a squeeze on cars and save both the trees and cylists' lives.
The width of the car lane designed in the 1950s can accommodate one and a half cars today. That space should be the one to narrow.
Sun never shines
I disagree strongly with David Hazell's letter (NOW, June 2-8), in which he says, "The Sun has turned into a bullshit rag that kisses the Conservatives' butt and has ranting, vindictive gossip instead of news." The Sun has always been that way.
RE Letter writer Barry Pletch's experience with pot (NOW, June 2-8). It is indeed unfortunate that these two gentlemen suffered such an experience subsequent to their overconsumption of herb.
But for every herb user who suffers a negative experience, 100,000 do not. This is less than the number of persons who will go into anaphylactic shock and die if they eat a peanut, yet we do not imprison peanut barons like Jimmy Carter or the millions of Canadians who use peanuts responsibly daily.
New media gone awry
I was a bit perplexed to read Jeffrey Haas's venomous diatribe against the 2005 Canadian New Media Awards and the Canadian interactive production community in general (NOW, May 26-June 1).
He compares the gala to a ritual of Ourobouros, the mythical snake that eats its own tail, to suggest that new media creators are an undeserving lot locked in an eternal cycle of gratuitous self-adulation.
On the one hand, he admonishes independent producers for their ravenous pursuit of funding. On the other, he pats them on the back for the "remarkable... top international-level digital projects" they are creating.
And while he more than intimates that there is "a lot of money out there," he forgets to mention that that sum pales in comparison to other cultural industries like film and television.
The truth about the new media production industry in Canada is that there is a reason the same names appear again and again on nomination lists for awards. So little funding is available that only the tried and true performers are able to succeed.
The good news is that some of these companies are beginning to find success in markets beyond our own, which is a crucial strategy toward building an industry that in the future will not have to rely solely on public investment.
The New Media Awards are an all-too-rare opportunity to celebrate some of the rich and innovative work being created in this country. Perhaps Haas should have put his tail between his legs and joined the party.
Chair, CNMA Advisory Board
Ramble on, not this song
I recently attended the Sam Prekop show at the Horseshoe Tavern (NOW, May 26-June 1).
I'm old enough to remember a time when people actually attended concerts to watch the performance. This is the third concert in a row where I've been astounded by people's behaviour.
I don't understand why someone can't go an hour of his or her life without text messaging or talking on a cellphone. During the show, some people with their backs to the stage engaged in loud chitchat, often louder than Prekop's vocals.
I moved to another section of the room only to stand beside a table of people yapping endlessly with no regard for anyone around them, least of all the band.
Remember, other people are actually there to see the show and are not paying to hear you loudly ramble on about your social life.
RE Spilling the bins (NOW, May 26-June 1). Excellent article. Extremely well written and complete, with news, great humour and local content. Very entertaining. Yesterday was the first time I picked up NOW. I'll look for your articles in the future.
One reason to love square
RE Getting a fix on the square (NOW, May 19-25). Your News Insight cites 14 reason to hate Nathan Phillips Square. One reason to love it? Jefferson Airplane. Free concert. Summer 1967. Never trust anyone under 50!
Howard A. Doughty
Patio guide slide
I just felt the need to write to express my displeasure with the way you have chosen to place the patio guide in your newspaper (NOW, May 19-25).
In the past, I enjoyed pulling the various guides out of the centre of the newspaper to keep throughout the season, checking the various bars and restaurants off as I visited them.
But you chose to print the patio guide past the centre point of the newspaper, and now it needs to be ripped or cut, then stapled.
It may seem like a paltry complaint, but I think it is important to many readers.
Dan McDermott's anger at NOW for publishing a letter from Adam Disotell that criticizes the late Bob Hunter for running for the Liberals is misplaced (NOW, May 19-25).
Opinions expressed by writers to the NOW letter column are their own. They are not editorial statements by NOW.
Letters columns exist so that ordinary citizens who are not prominent public figures can still be heard. And even great environmentalists can still sometimes be wrong.
If McDermott believes that Bob Hunter was correct in his decision to run for the Liberal party he can explain why. Otherwise, he accomplishes nothing by arguing that Disotell has no right to an opinion about it, or that NOW has no right to publish such an opinion.