I'd like to thank now for putting Elizabeth Shepherd on your cover (NOW, September 14-20). This original singer/songwriter (who also interprets standards in a refreshing way) is someone Toronto should celebrate.
I understand your grassroots-to-hipster storyline, but I was nevertheless disappointed to discover that no mention was made of her recordings and gigs with the Royal Jelly Orchestra (Toronto Launch Pad) or her recordings and numerous concerts with Babes in Jazzland.
Shepherd has performed in most clubs in town but has also donated much of her time to sing for large audiences at charity events for Covenant House and CANFAR.
I understand you can't give every detail in one story, but not mentioning bands she has performed with so frequently for over a year seems like a glaring omission.
Still, I'm thrilled to see one of the country's great new talents getting recognition from NOW. Good job!
VirginFest's Mean feat
Regarding Sarah Liss's review of the Virgin Fest (NOW, September 14-20): Yes, the whole event smacked of corporate shillery, but that's what ya get with a concert named after a corporation. I certainly found the Jumbotrons and car-selling out of place.
But in defence of the event, at least where my band is concerned, we have no representation, no record label, no suits calling up Emerge and pushing to have us on the bill. We are an independent band and had never before been on a huge stage. Organizers actually called us up and invited us to play, which is, frankly, in this day and age of commodifying and branding of music, totally unheard of.
Aside from the exposure, we get a good chunk of change, something that a band of our status rarely gets for any show. The opportunity to see Ohbijou or our band on a gigantic stage is something that should be celebrated, and my thanks go out to the powers that be who gave us a chance.
Greg Chambers Mean Red Spiders Toronto
Cheri quite contrary
NOW accuses the liberals of run ning a smear campaign against Cheri DiNovo (NOW, September 14-20). What did the Liberals do? They told the truth. It seems the truth rankles.
I expect you to give one of your former Trotskyite pals a free ride, but don't get all pissy with the Liberals because they told the truth about DiNovo.
What will be interesting to see is how long the NDP can cover up her past. I don't know how the NDP choose candidates, but they made serious mistake when they selected DiNovo.
Gwynne and bear it
I've been a loyal reader of your magazine for years. Occasional extreme views notwithstanding, NOW pretty much informed my life in Toronto.
However, with the arrival of Gwynne Dyer, I regret that I can no longer be a reader. If you wanted to be provocative when you made a deal with him, that was a bad deal.
To publish his article about 9/11 (NOW, September 14-20) was beyond the pale.
If Dyer thinks the world hasn't been much different since then, he needs to stop smoking what he is so obviously hooked on.
Is he saying the terrorist threat is illusory by putting it in ironic quotes? But didn't the 9/11 attack actually happen? Didn't people die? Wasn't it followed by attacks on Madrid, London and Bali?
Until Dyer gets the boot from NOW, no respect for you.
RE Handing it to Jack, by Andrew Cash (NOW, September 14-20). Cash inadvertently pulled down his hero Jack Layton. Layton is indeed "smooth" in every sense of the word - like a used car salesman.
Then Cash writes critically of Paul Summerville's "disingenuous announcement just before the convention that he's leaving the party because of supposedly unsound economic attitudes at the grassroots level."
I fail to see why Summerville's resignation is disingenuous. I'm sure he was very sincere and frank in leaving the party, just as some of us are equally ingenuous (sincere, frank) in not voting NDP. As a journalist, Cash should choose his words more wisely, not smoothly and not disingenuously.
Before more lives are lost
Why is Canada supporting a government in Afghanistan ruled by warlords and drug lords who are known human rights abusers (NOW, September 14-20)? Why do those who support this war never speak of the history of vicious rapes, beatings, killings and terror by the Northern Alliance, the side the West now backs? Why is Canada's main reason for being there - the building of the trans-Afghan gas pipeline through the south - not a part of the debate? Why has Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's admission that we can't win a war against the Taliban not received more press?
These questions, and more, are convincing so many Canadians to truly support our troops by bringing them home. Let's hope this sentiment can turn into action before more lives are needlessly lost.
Flip this cop shop
The proposed land transfer and sale of the old Heydon Park School (NOW, September 14-20) should be a warning to all of us. A ban on the sale of Toronto District School Board properties has recently been lifted. These are large pieces of property on quiet residential streets (as schools should be). Their sale is going to leave many neighbourhoods vulnerable to a very real loss of community control of large pieces of land.
If the transfer and sale goes through, the existing building will be demolished and replaced by an expanded 14 Division. By the police services' own admission, residential neighbourhoods like the one that would be destroyed by the proposed new station are "less than ideal locations" for cop shops.
Police stations belong in commercial or light industrial areas, or on major thoroughfares, not on small, quiet residential streets. In our rush to meet the very real needs of a growing police service when the commitment to public education is shrinking, let's not destroy one of Toronto's treasures, our diverse residential neighbourhoods.
Suckas for celebrity
Your upfront photo on page 12 (NOW, September 14-20) reminds me of everything I dread about the film festival: desperate celebrity suckers, their lives instantly validated by a glimpse of a passing performer; the preening of the visiting gliteratti; the favouring of the professional butt-lickers in the local showbiz media; the worship by the ever-present mob of mindless fans.
How did it come to be that mere actors and faux pop idols are the gods and goddesses of our time?
Those of us who value film and the arts are not obliged to be part of this infantile nonsense.
Celebrity worship is not natural or even amusing. It is an embarrassing symbol of cultural decline and a form of mental illness.
Give indie films a voice
I couldn't agree more with the recent letter to the editor referring to the lack of coverage of independent filmmakers (NOW, September 14-20). Sure, movies like Little Miss Sunshine are reviewed, but how independent is a film starring Greg Kinnear and Steve Carrell?
NOW devotes columns to budget-less theatre; why not film?
Who's the weenie now?
Letter-writer Fraser Firth's disdain for the aborted one-night stand in Mike Irvine's Love & Sex column (NOW, September 14-20) sounds suspiciously like a case of familiarity breeding contempt.
Firth's [guess that the morning-after talk would be about] where to "catch the bus" indicates that this is a situation he may know and fear.
I don't mean this as a personal attack; I just want to point out that [the aborted one-night stand] is a fairly common experience that leads to feelings ranging from awkward pleasure to embarrassment to pain.
Many of us respond by masking our vulnerability with cynicism. Firth's inclination to recoil, even to call Irvine a "weenie," is self-protective and natural.
Mississauga via Boston, Massachusetts
Eat vegan, save Sook-Yin
While I firmly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I must say David Kirkland's letter Sook-Yin's Ugly Ode To Arts (NOW, September 7-13) stirred my innards in a positive way. We ended The One.
Surely we can solve all the world's problems if we try hard enough.
Global warming isn't true, Electroclash was a passing fad, but Sook-Yin Lee is here to stay!
Eat vegan, you bastards!
Regarding the continual spate of readers disturbed or disgusted by the parade of sweaty college kiddies trying woefully to be seductive in those American Apparel ads (NOW, September 14-20). Switch them for some of the sex services in your classifieds.
At least then we'd be looking at something advertising exactly what it wants to sell to us.