Every year I look forward to the Best Of Toronto (NOW, October 26-November 1). I have one query concerning a category you seem to exclude. About 10 per cent or more of your overall pages are dedicated to the sex trade in one form or another, yet we are left directionless as to which sex services are the best in Toronto! Please help us!
Re Best of Toronto. Hey, Now and Matthew Behrens, thanks so much for acknowledging the work I've done over the years. Even though no one can be the "best activist," it's nice to be noticed and appreciated.
In turn, I'd like to give thanks to all of the people in this wonderful city who, individually and collectively, bravely confront the powers that be day in and day out - people who are not protected by money, status and privilege, but who stand up for all of our rights. I'm proud to stand alongside them. And congratulations NOW on your 25th! I've particularly appreciated your police reporting and efforts to make them at least nominally accountable over the years.
We take issue with your choice of David Cronenberg as Toronto's best filmmaker. The rightful holder of this position is Atom Egoyan. While Cronenberg films jerk off horror films, Egoyan made the first major film to deal with the Armenian genocide. What's of more consequence?
My dad drives a truck full of bread to Toronto once a week, and he always brings a copy of NOW back with him. Hooray! It's fun to know what's going on in the city where so many of my friends reside.
But sometimes I get worked up into a fit of snobbish laughter while reading your fine publication, and your Best Of Toronto issue is one of those times. I was skimming the excitingly massive issue and more or less agreeing with your choices until I came to your nomination for best singer, female. Jenny Whiteley?
Now, I'm not denying her status as supreme reigning queen of country-music-that-doesn't-suck. But you do know she's not a Torontonian, right? In fact, she comes home to a place a good four-point-five hours away from your big city and about five-point-four minutes away from me. I'm always glad to see people who I think are awesome getting their due, but at the same time, my Lanark County pride is not going to allow you to so casually claim her as your own. She comes by that hillbilly style honestly, dammit!
What the eff is the full-page colour ad for Xtreme Right Guard deodorant doing on page 19 of your latest issue (NOW, October 26-November 1)?
This ad has two idealized (i.e., enhanced with Photoshop to make them look "sexier") women wearing weird "sexy" green outfits with matching protective helmets and roller skates.
The pair are violently knocking down a woman in black who is not "enhanced" or wearing a protective helmet and whose face shows extreme anguish and pain. The image implies that the woman in black will fall backwards on her unprotected head at a high velocity sufficient to sustain a very serious head injury.
Additionally, the central focus is on the soon-to-be-exposed crotch area of the unlucky victim, thus enticing the reader to witness further imminent humiliation to this unfortunate woman, whose only apparent crime seems to be that she may not be wearing deodorant, or at least not this particular brand of deodorant.
The headline of the ad is an imperative: "Put a serious hurt on..." The advertiser is operating from the premise that viewers will respond positively to seeing women physically hurting and humiliating each other.
Why would this company for one second believe that this type of brain-in-the-gutter advertising would be effective or even tolerated by the demographic they are so desperately aiming to appeal to? It sucks. Big time. Sad.
Soknacki's green cred
In green writing on the wall (NOW, October 19-25), one council candidates is quoted as saying, "Sylvia Watson and David Soknacki on budget committee have sabotaged the cycling plan, public health and public transit repeatedly."
The numbers certainly don't support any of those assertions.
On bikeways, there were 185 kilometres approved prior to this term of council, and almost double (320 kilometres) today. The cycling budget has more than doubled during the term, from $1.5 million in 2002 to $3.8 million in 2006.
Public health has been another fast-growing city endeavour, thanks partly to the province. The public health budget has grown from $160 million last term to $210 million in 2006, a 31 per cent increase. This growth has far outpaced the rest of the budget.
The city's investment in transit has been enormous. The capital budget for the TTC in 2002 was about $275 million.
In 2006 the TTC capital budget was over $550 million. These figures do not include the new Spadina subway extension. Both Councillor Watson and I supported all of these measures at council.
Chair, Budget Advisory Committee
Torstar is bleeding
Following the firings of the Toronto Star's publisher and editor-in-chief, NOW offered that there'll be "more bleeding" at Torstar (NOW, October 19-25). Too bad it's not in the boardroom.
In Hamilton, Torstar's Spectator has little blood left, even after a recent Spec revamp.
Weak, predictable local coverage has kept the Spectator a stifling status quo and chamber of commerce tout sheet in a city where public questions are an affront and where a fiefdom prevails instead of city government.
Wilful idiocy for fun and profit seems to be Torstar's and private broadcasters' goal: "Keep Hamilton stupid." Keep Hamilton quiet is what it's really all about.
k-os crap out
Could Jason Richards sound more affected by the so-called rantings of k-os (NOW, October 26-November 1)? "Should I have based my review on ancestry?" and "I won't be deterred by the ravings of temperamental artists."
It's one thing to express your opinion for the whole world to see, but why must you use your position to file a response when you meet disapproval? It sounds rather childish: "Oh yeah, well, I don't like you because..." Let your view stand on its own rather than offer excuses and explanations when other people offer theirs.
Your reviewer of the dvd release of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's That's My Bush (NOW, October 26-November 1) was too kind. It was a dreadful television series.
For this kind of comedy to work, both of its elements, the political and the sitcom, need to be taken seriously. Imagine Father Knows Best meets The West Wing.
The humour would come out of the collision of conventions of two very different kinds of TV series.
That's My Bush famously was developed before Bush was elected; Parker and Stone intended to base a series on whoever won the 2000 election. They weren't interested in politics, and satirical content in the series was negligible.
On the other hand, on the DVD they say that they don't like sitcoms, ruling out any serious parody of that form. What we were left with was a completely formless mess.
Israeli melting pot
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to finish the article in your recent issue on Israeli apartheid (NOW, October 19-25).
True story: I was reading the article while digesting a delicious shawarma at my local Mideast joint. In the midst of this multi-tasking I struck up a conversation with the gentleman behind the counter. An Israeli of Arab/Muslim origin, he's been in Canada for a bit more than a year.
While he likes Toronto, he's eager to go back to Israel, where he claims that life is much better. He spoke longingly of his village near Haifa and of going to the beach after work. I guess he simply forgot to mention the "apartheid" that allegedly makes his life intolerable in Israel.
Jews on disastrous path
Considering the usually nuanced reflection and understanding in his work as a journalist, film critic and former director of programming for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, I was amazed at letter-writer Shlomo Schwartzberg's brief rant (NOW, October 26-November 1) on Glenn Wheeler's excellent report on the conference hosted by the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid.
Schwartzberg should know that "progressive Jews" can see the forest and the trees clearly - the path Israel has been taking has led and will lead to nothing but disaster for itself and its Palestinian neighbours.
As the great Yeshayahu Leibowitz predicted in 1967, occupying Palestinian lands has eroded the true spirit of Judaism in Israel, bringing with it deep moral corruption. Those who are inured to the suffering Israel has wrought are the real "deluded Jews" and Israel's inner enemies.
For whom death toll
I don't know why Gwynne Dyer is so impressed with the latest Iraqi casualty count from the Lancet medical journal (NOW, October 19-25). Do they actually expect anyone to believe that 555,000 Iraqis have died in two years and nobody else noticed?
In the Second World War, six years of round-the-clock bombing against German cities killed 600,000 civilians. The Lancet's estimate is simply not credible.