Film fest missing filmgoers
As September arrives, most of us mourn the passing of summer. It has always been the opposite for me, because of the Toronto International Film Festival (NOW, September 1-7). Not any more. I used to book a week off work, buy a festival pass and spend six days in dark theatres taking in as many films as I could. It was my idea of the perfect vacation. In a given day I could visit Argentina, Iceland, Iran and Kazakhstan. I'd emerge after six days and 50 films as if waking from a dream. The world would seem new and different.
What made our festival so recognized internationally, and why directors and studios clamour to get their films screened here, is the fact that it's built around an audience of very sophisticated filmgoers.
But TIFF has fallen prey to the most alluring of seducers: money and fame. With the skyrocketing cost of tickets ($500 for a festival pass and $15 for a screening), the festival has essentially excluded the very people who made it.
The films themselves are being lost in the shuffle as the focus shifts to which big-name celebrities are gracing our city with their presence. The Toronto International Film Festival needs to re-recognize the value of its audience, because we are the ones who built it.
Making sense of sharia
Re Sharia Showdown (NOW, September 1-7). Thank you for a great story on three courageous women who are trying to move us all into the future. I, too, am an immigrant and of a faith community. However, I should not be able to impose my individual interpretations of faith on our liberal social justice system.
Our legal system is in place to protect people from the "tyranny of the majority" (and arguably now people from their own minority's religious structure). Our present system is not perfect, but it is why most immigrants came here.
I have some concerns about what happened at this event. Most Canadian Muslims say Islam is a religion of peace. So why the need for heavily armed security? Maybe in a theocracy, but in a so-called tolerant, pluralistic city?
These women's detractors were free in a democracy to attend and speak at a meeting. And now the speakers need armed protection!
Kudos to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Homa Arjomand and Irshad Manji. How about running for politics in Ontario? They make a lot more sense than the vote-motivated whores we now have for politicians.
Barking up the wrong tree
NOW's slagging of lawyer Clayton for taking on the pit bull case and suggesting that Mr. Ruby would do better helping a torture victim (NOW, September 1-7) seems fairly disingenuous coming from an "alternative" paper. Indeed, in a summer that has witnessed one of the longest hunger strikes in Canadian history by secret trial detainees Hassan Almrei (73 days) and Mohammad Mahjoub (60 days), both held in solitary confinement at Metro West Detention Centre without charge or bail for between four and five years, NOW has shown no interest in covering this human rights scandal.
The real question is: where has your paper been when people are being held under conditions that shame Canada in the eyes of the world and of the United Nations, which has published two recent critical reports? Stop barking up the wrong tree, eh?
Clay's no pigeon
Shame on you for trivializing Clay Ruby's actions in defending pit bull owners. The leap between civil rights and animal rights is very small, yet it's hugely significant in today's society.
One mangled bike later
Thank you for your article on drivers' disregard for cyclists (NOW, September 1-7). Your piece held particular significance for me, as I happened to read it the day of my first (and hopefully last) car vs bike accident. I was the victim of number three of your top five: the cutoff. Fortunately, I walked away with just a few bruises, but my bike ended up under the front wheel of the driver's van and will need repairs. What is the vehicle driver's responsibility when clearly at fault? Should the police be called? Can the driver be held responsible for bike repairs?
You mentioned that "as many as 90 per cent of bike collisions go unreported." If cyclists were better informed on their rights they might be more inclined to report them.
I ride on sidewalk, so fine me
I liked the article on the danger of bicycling in the city. I ride my bike on the sidewalk. I do. I always look out for pedestrians and I figure that if I do clash with one there is a good chance that neither of us will get too injured. If I ride on the road I could die in a crash with a car. So fine me if you like, but I'll continue to ride on the sidewalks of this fair city
I read Michele Peterson's piece about a short canoeing trip in Algonquin Park (NOW, September 1-7) and was left with a feeling that I couldn't quite place. But after a bit of digesting, I think I've put my finger on my impression of the piece and can sum it up in two words: so what? For a publication as widely read as NOW, this slice of grade-one homework passes as the sole piece in the travel section? It reads like a letter from camp: "Today we canoed and saw stuff - boy it sure is 'funny' up here!"
The writer clearly equates Ontario with southern Ontario, but is granted an epiphany at the water's edge that there really is more out there. And then I guess Lassie was going to come home, but you ran out of space.
Or maybe this piece is just another typical Toronto-centric view of the world.
It seems Michael Hollett enjoyed Neil Young's Nashville shows (NOW, August 25-31). One thing I disagree with is his comparing Neil Young to John Lennon. Both are individual artists, and it's wrong to compare one to the other in any context. Were Lennon alive I bet he would agree. A great article, in any case.
Monster bins boost litter
The new billboard/trash cans (NOW, August 25-31) are self-defeating. There's nothing that makes a kid want to litter more than an 8-foot-tall monument to corporate consumption asking him/her to keep our city clean.
Couriering no sweat
NOW makes it appear that bike couriers are in the same class as slaves (NOW, August 25-31). Granted, most of us do not make much money. However, as most couriers will tell you, our nine-hour days are filled with a great deal of downtime, especially in the summer. We can run errands, read, or write the next great Bildungsroman.
As far I know, we are free to quit our job at any time to work in a cube farm or at a donut shop. Because these options have no appeal for many of us, we make a free choice to live the lifestyle we do.
For the last eight months I have had the privilege of being a bicycle courier. I use the word "privilege" because what more absurd way is there to make money than riding a bicycle around the city? Because I'm a newcomer, I must not have been on the road long enough to become jaded and feel exploited.
Although I do have to pay for my radio, which is my only complaint, I can say that the company that employs me does a good job of spreading the gravy amongst its kamikazes.
Though unions are well intentioned, they would also bring more government oversight in terms of workplace safety, which would impede us from doing our job as efficiently.
Self-esteem with a bullet
Most commentators on the recent Toronto shootings (NOW, August 25-31) seldom mention that many of the youth who callously use guns to assert their self-centred power were raised in father-absent households. For a young boy, a close association with a mature, nurturing father or father figure teaches that male strength and authority come inseparably packaged with protective gentleness, generosity and love.
Without the grounding of a real, healthy father connection, a young male can mistakenly grow up believing that his developing male potency should be exhibited through violence, disdain for authority, sexual conquest and flashy possessions.
The "respect" they relentlessly demand from those around them is a sad echo of how a boy's self-esteem can be so hurt by a father's abandonment.
Meat is murder
In her letter meaty, beaty, big and biased (NOW, August 18-24), Sue Morra opines, "You don't find many meat eaters ragging on vegetarians, so why should it be okay for veggies to do it to meatheads?"
Well, although there are many vegetarians who give up meat for health reasons, many more of us have strong beliefs against killing, including the killing of animals. My beliefs about eating meat extend beyond health.
Fine A/C hogs
I was very happy to see your little exposé a few weeks back on stores that prop open their doors while running their air conditioning at full tilt (NOW, July 21-27). This is really just a thinly veiled attempt to attract customers into their stores on the hottest days of summer.
Unfortunately, there are few motivations for most businesses to do the right thing. I am not suggesting that we increase the rate we charge businesses for energy, but a municipal bylaw that levies a fine against such retailers would be an excellent start.
New Orleans goes Baghdad
I guess now the people in New Orleans know what the people in Baghdad feel like.