Fantino behind booze blitz?
I was originally puzzled as to why the Alcohol and Gaming Commission felt it necessary to send three (three!!) Ontario Provincial Police officers to an art gallery to ensure compliance with what is basically a civic law "meant to guard against the serving of minors and rowdiness" (NOW, January 18-24).
Much better, I thought, to send a civilian inspector (municipal or provincial or whatever). A solitary public servant seldom carries the subtle hint of intimidation or bullying that three badge-carrying (possibly armed) police officers do, whether deliberately or not.
Then I remembered Julian Fantino is the head of the OPP. We well know of his love of scare tactics, especially around budget time. Stay tuned.
Driving magic off Queen
The recent OMB decision regard ing Queen West's Art & Design District (NOW, January 18-24) has taught me a lot. Now I get it.
I need a friend to get me a job where I can have final say on development projects. Whoever does the best job of enticing me can do what they want with whatever piece of land they like.
It'd be great. Nobody could tell me otherwise. The city would be powerless. Even if the whole neighbourhood banded together, I'd reign supreme. I'd collect lots of cash from really rich people and be wined and dined like nobody's business. Who do I have to sleep with for that to happen?
I thought honesty and creativity were the ways to go - spread wonderful art and help people. But what's the point of that? If I did do that, the developers would come and gentrify my area anyway because I helped make it cool. And cool sells, don't you know? We can make a whole lot of money and drive all the magic right out of Toronto. Isn't that what we wanted?
Randy Le Gendre
Jury's out on backlog
Alan Young writes that little will be done to clean up the backlog of cases in our criminal justice system until we look for alternatives to criminal courts for dealing with minor offences (NOW, January 18-24). We don't need to look for new alternatives, because we already have them. There are restorative justice programs operating throughout Canada. The problem is that these programs are not getting the support they need to be used to their full potential. Until this happens, the situation can only worsen.
It was with some alarm that I read Doctors Without Borders' Hidden Agenda on the cover of your recent issue (NOW, January 18-24). What this headline says is that there is something funky going on with DWB.
I wondered with dread, Have they been infiltrated by the CIA? Are they pushing phony pills to impoverished nations?
I quickly turned to page 17 and scanned the article, only to infer that, no, Doctors appears to be the reliable source of important information about health, war and poverty issues around the world that the mainstream media under-reported last year.
Or maybe the mainstream media just used communications flunkies to write their misleading headlines, and that's why we missed the real stories? Truth in advertising, please!
In Glenn Sumi's roundup of winter film openings (NOW, January 18-24), he mentions that San Francisco's never-solved Zodiac killer case, the basis of David Fincher's new film, Zodiac, "has inspired a handful of lousy films." He has, however, forgotten one hardboiled classic that features a villain clearly inspired by Zodiac: Dirty Harry, in which Andy Robinson's sociopathic killer, Scorpio, sends taunting letters to the SF press.
Jack, Stephen's best bud
Andrew Cash expresses some discomfort at the prospect of the New Democrats propping up the minority Stephen Harper government with all its reactionary policies (NOW, January 11-17).
In the most recent national election, Jack Layton asked voters to give the Liberals a "time out," which could only mean that he wanted Harper to form the government. The New Democrats are a branch plant operation of the Conservatives. The two parties drink each other's bathwater. They are in bed together, fondling each others genitals. This despicable unholy alliance has cost Canadians dearly. A vote for the New Democrats is a vote for the Conservatives.
The average number of pedestrian fatalities per year over the last 10 years is, thankfully, smaller than stated in Roadway To Certain Death (NOW, January 11-17). It's 36. But that's still too many.
Bringing the number down won't happen until the city commits itself to implementing the Toronto Pedestrian Charter, which was adopted by council in May 2002.
Since then, 147 pedestrians have died on Toronto's streets, 10,000 have been injured, some so seriously that their lives are forever changed.
Political leadership from council could start to turn this around. Transportation staff won't do it alone.
Pedestrian Planning Network, Toronto
Cannabis over Cohibos
I sincerely wonder what Kevin McQuade's motivations were for his letter against the G13 Shop on Queen East (NOW, January 18-24). Reverend Peter Styrsky owns the building where Habanos on the Beach was a tenant.
The good reverend is free to rent to whomever he chooses, and in the case of Habanos, it looks like cannabis won out over cigars.
That's business, I suppose.
Legalize it, for kids' sake
Thanks for publishing Alison Myrden's outstanding letter Don't Give Up On Prohibition (NOW, January 18-24). Please, for the sake of our children, re-legalize our now illegal drugs so they can be produced and sold by licensed business establishments, not criminals.
When to say uncle, George
Oh, great. George Bush has finally come up with the final way for the U.S. to "win" in Iraq (NOW, January 18-24). It's so easy! Just flood the place with good ole boys and those nasty insurgents will be set a-runnin'.
There will be no amount of cleaning this dark stain on America's history, even if the impossible happens and the U.S. totally pulls out of Iraq tomorrow.
When it comes to wars and lost causes, our so-called leaders (including Stephen Harper on Afghanistan) have mastered most skills but one: knowing when it's time to quit.
Saddam on reality TV
With Saddam Hussein's death a reminder that hanging still happens (NOW, January 18-24), I have been anxiously awaiting the reality TV series offering Canadians the ultimate in sacrificial glory - martyrdom.
Art facts, or artifacts?
There are several mistakes worth pointing out in Bjarke Madsen's review of my exhibition (NOW, January 11-17).
There is no "photocopied map of Newfoundland" on display; the statistical charts were generated, not found; the photos are not "antiques," but artifacts from the 1950s and 60s (especially obvious in the context of a historically themed exhibition). The "few" photographs displayed indicate the scarcity of visual documentation of the Resettlement period.
The use of outdated criteria for judging the validity of contemporary art practices reads more like self-parody than insightful commentary.
I have learned a tremendous amount over the years from the knowledge, experience and verve of Sheila Gostick. The class cynicism in her rightful sidelong glance at the construction of Toronto's various city subcommittees (NOW, January 4-10) snottily insinuates (as the subhead boldly emphasizes) that a couple of official letters appended to an applicant's name are the magic passage to an enlightened contribution.
As a fledgling newspaper reporter in Niagara Falls two decades ago, I sat through innumerable tedious meetings.
Despite the efforts of the apparently good citizens chosen as members, virtually all meetings were beset by defensiveness from leading city staffers and various councillors whose four to eight years spent in the academic hidey-hole had earned them an air of irreproachable superiority.
Committee members with the audacity to question established policy and procedure opened themselves up to scornful ridicule from supposed experts who knew better.