Citius, Alton, fortius
We were all so sincerely ecstatic to see Kate Alton featured on your cover (NOW, January 11-17).
Glenn Sumi's presentation of Alton as not only an accomplished artist and professional but also a hard-working human being was refreshing and important for many reasons.
Revealing artists as relatable people is crucial to the elevation of their status in Canadian society. This is especially the case in dance, where, as Alton makes clear, it can be difficult to find one's voice.
Please continue to choose incisive and comprehensive dance coverage. Toronto boasts countless bright, talented dance artists creating and performing exciting work, but audience development remains a struggle.
Articles like this demystify dance and the artists who make it, and encourage engagement from a well-informed public.
On behalf of the board of directors and staff at the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, thanks again for a terrific job, and congratulations to the three Kates!
Justine Greenland Duke
Administrative Director, Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, Toronto
Jack's cross to bear
It seems rather odd that only Jack Layton gets heat for trying to negotiate improvements to the Clean Air Act in a minority Parliament (NOW, January 11-17).
Wasn't it the Liberals, including deputy leader Michael Ignatieff, who helped extend Harper's bloody combat mission in Afghanistan to 2009? Wasn't it Liberal MPs who supported Harper's motion to reverse same-sex rights and undermine equal marriage? Wasn't it successive Liberal majority governments that promised to reduce greenhouse gases while emissions rose 30 per cent?
And what about National Child Care or the protection of public health care, Red Book promises that were gutted only years after the 1993 election? The largest cuts to social programs in history were delivered under Paul Martin and the Liberals.
So why all the crap thrown at Layton for trying to make some real improvements?
Pot church messed up 'hood
The article outlining the bust of the Church of the Universe (NOW, January 11-17) seemed to indicate that NOW is not in favour of police methods in this case.
If NOW knew how the "church" obtained the space in the first place, you might not be so quick to call foul. The 1905 Queen East storefront was occupied for four years by Habanos on the Beach. An increase in rent was the catalyst for the demise of this business.
Peter Styrsky then opened up his "church" at the location. Then he got busted. Go figure. Styrsky and his "church" are a sham and a disgrace to the neighbourhood. They drove out a legitimate business.
Though I'm not a religious man, I say, "What goes around, comes around." Thank God I was around to witness it.
Don't give up on prohibition
I applaud NOW's bravery for publishing the article Fuzz Cooling To War On Drugs, by Gwynne Dyer (NOW, January 11-17).
I am a legal medical marijuana user due to the chronic indications of multiple sclerosis and a terrible pain in my face 24 hours a day caused by a condition called tic douloureux. I am also a retired law enforcement officer and one of Canada's busiest speakers for LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).
I'm a perfect example of people in this country and around the world who are caught in the middle of this catastrophic drug war. The strain of cannabis that works best for my health has been held hostage in the street market for the past 13 years. This, I'm sad to say, is not unusual. I receive minimal relief unless the strain available to me legally is coupled with more than 30 pharmaceutical pills a day and up to 2,000 milligrams of morphine. But I won't give up.
Please help me to legalize and regulate all drugs today so that those who are ill and vulnerable are no longer suffering and so our children learn drugs are for adults and those who are sick, dying and in pain. We don't have 50 years to wait.
Our image of two hasidic jews walking arm in arm with a Muslim cleric sparked an angry response from letter-writer Michael Lublin (NOW, January 11-17), suggesting that because there are factions of Judaism and Islam that are violently anti-gay, the image had no place in a pro-gay-rights publication like NOW.
By this measure, there are few images of struggle or conciliation from anywhere in the world that can be exhibited by anyone hoping to improve the human condition. Can we celebrate Bolivians' successful fight against Bechtel's privatization of their water if, as a machista society, they continue to deny equal rights to women?
Does Castro's misguided anti-gay harassment [discredit] the entire Cuban experiment in education and health equality?
Can we portray leather fetishists in gay parades as symbols of pride and resistance, given their rather cavalier disregard for factory farming? Should there never be an image of any struggle that isn't total? By extension, are there any total struggles?
GlobalAware doesn't have the answer to how to realize a single, total struggle. Our mandate is to consider the totality of injustice and work to get points of view to the public. With that in mind, our image has done its job and Lublin has furthered our mandate. Thank you, Michael.
RE wayne roberts's wisdom in a Wipe (NOW, January 11-17). I'm glad Roberts has finally spent some time with a clean asshole, but his explicitly Orientalist experience that "all is one" in India and that dualism doesn't exist will be quickly challenged next time he tries walking into a temple with flip-flops on or eating an idli with his left hand. All of sudden the universe will be very easily separable into what is pure and polluted. Perhaps Roberts was slapped for elbows on the table, but many Indian kids got the same for eating with their left hand or pointing their feet at the family guru.
Den Haag, The Hague
Why car is king
RE City Hall's board games (NOW, January 4-10) and Roadway To Certain Death (NOW, January 11-17). Is there a connection?
I'm a former member of the pedestrian committee who left in frustration. But let's get venal and talk money. The Toronto Parking Authority pays its members $500 per meeting, up to an annual maximum of $7,500. The pedestrian committee pays its members a big goose egg.
Does this financial imbalance contain a bias against pedestrians? I certainly think so. From my perspective, and if you follow the money, our civic leaders obviously favour the automobile.
This preferential treatment highlights the inertia of politicians and technocrats in implementing policies and practices that genuinely protect pedestrians from the tyranny of the automobile. Uninterrupted traffic flow, like water through a pipe, is their mantra. Reducing vehicular speed and designing our streets to be pedestrian-safe as well as pedestrian-friendly are anathema.
Many of the proposed street designs are window dressing: a few cans of paint, a few new lights. They do not address the real issues of poor road design and unfettered vehicle speeds. Until designs start from the sidewalk up, we will continue to see pedestrians maimed and killed on our streets.
William E. Brown
Landlord's rent lament
RE len desroches's shelter from The Norm (NOW, January 4-10). Do "drunken fights, fits of craziness" happen in "cheap rooms" because the landlord doesn't care?
In the 115 weeks that I've been in the rooming-house "business" (ha! ha!) two rooming houses in the west end, six rentable rooms in each house, average rent $105 a week my Visa card, used mainly for cash advances to offset rent shortfalls, has reached an outstanding balance of more than $8,300. I can barely manage the minimum payment every month.
Why am I putting myself through this? I am, in some small way, endeavouring to put order into chaos, "to treat houses as homes," as Desroches expressed it. Why should I bother, beset as I am by an endless parade of pious-sounding scumbags to whom I'm offering a decent place to live, yet who confess that they've blown their rent money on "a couple of hookers"?
NBC, the hard way
NOW got it wrong when it accused NBC of bandwagon jumping in posting the unedited Justin Timberlake/Andy Samberg Dick In A Box video from Saturday Night Live on its corporate website (NOW, January 11-17). That risqué (by network TV standards) version was actually produced by SNL itself and made available on YouTube immediately after the video (in its bleeped-out form) debuted on the December 16 show.
NBC learned the hard way that you can't stop YouTube when the 2005 spoof video, Lazy Sunday, featuring Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg, hit the Internet and became an instant phenomenon. Threats of a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement followed but were soon dropped when SNL realized that YouTube had done more to resurrect the moribund SNL than anything NBC could ever do.
SNL received the blessings of NBC top brass (including CEO Jeff Zucker) to collaborate with YouTube in releasing an uncensored version of Dick In A Box and reap the benefits of huge buzz and millions of hits (more than 8 million, in fact) in the wired world. Those are the facts.
Aaron E. Boles
Tories' unlikely conversion
Federal environment minister John Baird (NOW, January 11-17), like St. Paul on the road to Damascus, has changed his thinking. His visit to Stanley Park in Vancouver has led him to proclaim "a wake-up call for Canadians on the potential dangers of climate change."
Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, likewise affected by the devastation, has promised that "the federal government will step in to provide assistance to rehabilitate the park."
Whether based on recognition of reality or reaction to polling figures, their conversions bring to mind the saying "Between the saddle and the ground, forgiveness sought, forgiveness found." That forgiveness is being sought is clear. That it will be found is yet to be determined.
I'm sure i'm not the only reader who was bemused by Barrett Hooper's misspelling of my home province's name in his review of Little Mosque On The Prairie (NOW, January 4-10). Perhaps, I thought, Hooper's reference to "Sasketchewan" is a joke, a riff on local pronunciation, or simply an in-joke that I, despite being a native of the place, do not understand. But, in the end, I'm forced to confront the possibility that he and NOW's editors simply spelled it incorrectly. If I am right in that assumption, then I can only sigh.
We all know Saskatchewan is the neglected middle child of the prairie provinces, but do we need to be continually reminded of it? Even if you know nothing about the place beyond jokes about flatness and wheat farms, you could at least take 30 seconds to spellcheck its name.