I breezed through your organic issue (NOW, October 13-19), and you spotlighted two places I'm familiar with, Live on Dupont and Left Feet. I've eaten at Live four times and gotta say it has the grumpiest staff. Only once was the person serving me pleasant.
The other times the wait staff were downright rude. Yeah, the food's great, but I'd be hard-pressed to return, and if I do I'll get takeout.
Left Feet didn't return my e-mails or pick up the phone when I called during the hours posted on its website, so I ordered a pair of shoes from vegetarianshoes.com instead.
It's great that NOW featured organic Toronto, but the people running these businesses need to learn something about customer service or they'll soon be gone.
Pic messes eco point
In another typical irony, the stock photo you chose for Putting Soul Back In Soil (NOW, October 13-19) ensures that I won't take the article seriously.
Shouldn't "protecting biodiversity" mean that you don't show pictures of hands symbolically nurturing and protecting non-native invasive plants like Pachysandra terminalis?
And speaking of soul in soil, that soil looks suspiciously like potting mix.
Urban art's about context
Though I'm a supporter of bright ening up Toronto's dismal neighbourhoods with works of art and colour, Ivan Yovanovich's In The Grey Zone (NOW, October 13-19) seems unable to consider one important thing: context.
A poorly scrawled sign and rusty, toxic furnace are simply not nice-looking lawn ornaments on a street of historical homes. Then again, I feel the same way about concrete Virgin Marys and chain-link fences.
Black perspective, forget it
I don't buy into Bairu Sium's arguments that black public and high students in Toronto should be rescued by having their own school and curriculum (NOW, October 13-19). While I recognize that the children of black immigrants have particular challenges, so do children from Sri Lanka, India, Iran, China, the Philippines, etc.
I think the schools are wise to teach all children history from a Western point of view. In order to be successful in Canada, students need to be taught how things work here - democracy, capitalism, socialism, and where these ideas came from.
I don't see how it would benefit black children to learn history from an African perspective. They don't live in Africa.
And while all students should be taught that those who created the Egyptian empire came from the Sahara desert, for the purposes of their acculturation they need to know how Egypt contributed to Western montheism and architecture.
Look who's on honour rolls
Bairu Sium's Black focus for a change is just another plea for special status for blacks, one of many that regularly appear in left-wing publications.
Your children are failing in school? The Eurocentric curriculum is the reason! The children of the latest immigrant groups from India, China and Eastern Europe are appearing on their schools' honour rolls within a year or two of arriving here. Is it due to the good-old Eurocentric curriculum, or their ambition, discipline and brains?
Cole hits sour note
Susan Cole's Paul McCartney review (NOW, October 13-19) is enjoyable until the last sentence: "...you had to admit that he is still one of the best white male rock singers in the world." That comment is just so wrong on so many levels. I wish you'd either refrain or explain. Is Paul's drummer one of the better black male drummers of rock? Was Charlie Pride one of best black male country singers, or was he simply a great singer? Race should only be used if it's relevant to the story, and it ain't in this case.
To quote Bob Marley's song War, "...until the day that the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes."
And to think, until this article I used to believe that Susan Cole was one of better white female journalists out there. (See what I mean?)
Broken Social's bad scene
The new Broken Social Scene disc by Sarah Liss's own admission is "a difficult collective mess" (NOW, October 6-12), but she still gives it four Ns, a rating echoed in similar publications.
Could it be that everyone has a little too much invested in the darlings of Torontopia? Could calling this album bloated, unfocused and self-indulgent be a little too close to admitting defeat? Could we have lost the ability, amid all the sloppy kisses and group hugs, to say this record is a pretty major disappointment?
Smog's cold hard facts
Jean-François Gouin and Satoshi Irei's informative article, Smog's Cold Comfort (NOW, October 13-19), hits home.
Life-killing air pollution is here to stay unless we take action now.
It's time to follow London's lead and bring in tolls to reduce the number of cars in the city core and promote the use of alternate electrical vehicles.
Air here worse than NYC
My older brother and I love living in Toronto. We both moved here in our late 30s. In the past year my brother was diagnosed with a chronic, lethal lung disease "of unknown cause" and I, at the age of 47, have been diagnosed with bronchial asthma.
When I moved here from Sacramento, my experience of breathing Toronto's air was a surprise. It was far worse than both Sacramento's and New York City's, where I had also lived. I did a bit of research on Toronto's air soon after getting here, and learned that my subjective experience was consistent with the measurable facts: our air is terrible, worse than that of many, far larger American cities.
It's a shame that such a great city spews lethal smoke into its air.
We need to find cleaner solutions to electrical generation, and fast.
We're dying here.
Tale of two tailpipes
In response to letter-writer Steve Koch's Indy Greener Than You Think (NOW, October 13-19). Koch is dreaming if he believes that the only thing coming out of the tailpipes of Indy cars is water. Emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter still come from methanol-dedicated vehicles. Their formaldehyde emissions, known carcinogens, can be higher.
Sawing corruption in half
Re Time to push the panic button? (NOW, October 13-19). Now's the time for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to take a sharp knife, as opposed to a broom, and slice city council's size by 50 per cent for the 2006 municipal elections. It would be far easier to monitor the corruption of 22 city councillors than of the current 44. The monetary savings in salaries and staff alone would exceed $10 million. Twenty-two skidoo!
Feeding needy no loophole
I take exception to your labelling special diet provisions for the disabled "loopholes" and stating that activists who are making the poor aware of the supplement "are fully aware they are bending the law" (NOW, October 5-11). The problem isn't that people are applying for what they are legally entitled to. The problem is that they weren't told they are eligible and encouraged to apply. If a doctor prescribes a special diet, should bureaucrats be empowered to override that because (gasp) it will cost money?
Parents chewing kids' fat
There's no question that our kids need more physical activity (NOW, October 5-11), but why the snarky attitude toward teachers? There are only so many hours in a school day. If time for physical activity is going to be shoehorned in, something else is going to have to go. So what gets cut, reading, writing or 'rithmatic? And why can't parents trash the Game Boys and get their kids outside to run around for a while?
CBC's bonus track
According to letter-writer J. Scott, managers at the CBC made only a little extra money during the CBC lockout (NOW, October 5-11), enough to buy "a discount-store pair of shoes."
Hmmm. Let's do the math.
Twenty-six dollars an hour times 15 per cent times 40 hours times eight weeks = $1,248 and that's not including the extra $52 per hour and the weekly bonuses of $100 to $700 for all the hours we're told that managers put in.
Boy, that's some discount shoe store.
Name withheld by request