Dare to rail
Why spend billions on new sub way and streetcar lines when we have miles and miles of track passing through the heart of the city that is going unused for most of the day (NOW, March 22-28)? I'm talking about the various CN and CP tracks on which VIA and GO shuffle commuters from the burbs to Union Station and then back home.
All it would take is to purchase new trains, build a few new stations and a long-overdue transfer tunnel at the east end of Dundas West station. An airport express has been proposed before along these same tracks, but such a service would do nothing to serve the communities it would race through.
Don't tell me you can't run express trains and local commuter trains on the same track. Such a system has been working just fine in Tokyo for decades.
Light rail delusions
In a miracle worthy of St. Jude, three levels of ideologically opposed governments agree to pump $2 billion into transit expansion in Toronto - and NOW's response is to complain that your city-wide LRT pet project didn't get funded.
Even assuming the financial will existed to build it (and, in the wake of the federal budget, it clearly doesn't), it is delusional to believe that a vast network of street-level LRT would be easy to install in Toronto. The experiences of the St. Clair project and the transit-only proposals for King Street are that vocal business lobbies will do everything they can legally, politically and financially to protect car traffic.
I'm not saying you should give up on LRT, but is it too much to ask for you not to dump all over a transit funding success?
I shouldn't be surprised that Gwynne Dyer makes the elementary mistake he does in his facile dismissal of 300 as pro-war propaganda (NOW, March 22-28). He openly admits he didn't feel it necessary to see the film, but had Dyer done his research, he might have realized the lion's share of the "super-patriotic, over-the-top macho dialogue" he condemns comes not from U.S. pop culture but is lifted almost verbatim from Herodotus and other contemporary historians.
The movie didn't make the Spartans the underdogs, or "reimagine" their doomed last stand as the event that saved the rest of Greece; history did that. And the concept of democracy wasn't projected backwards onto the Greeks by the filmmakers; this was the time and place where democracy was born. To complain that the film mirrors history in this way makes as much sense as complaining that British soldiers are the underdogs in Zulu!
Stephen J. Barringer
One for the money-grubbers
Gwynne Dyer seems to like making sweeping judgments concerning the people who made the film 300: "[They] have probably never had a consciously political thought in their money-grubbing lives." Harsh, to say the least. The only thing Dyer and those who oppose the film will accomplish (as usual) is that more people will want to see it (thus fulfilling the money-grubbers' dreams).
RE TMNT is DOA (now, march 22-28). I don't know if the new Turtles movie is any good or not, but reviewer Jason Richards clearly walked into it with the wrong baggage. He refers to Playmates action figures and live-action sequels on VHS as "the first wave of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," when they were anything but.
He completely misidentifies the Ninja Turtles' "original formula," which was laid out in 1984 in a series of self-published black-and-white comic books that, while far from masterpieces, completely changed the independent comics publishing industry.
Only years later were the characters licensed and, for better or worse, substantially altered (with pizza, multicoloured bandanas and over-the-top surferspeak like "Cowabunga!") for a larger audience through TV cartoons, live-action movies and toys, toys, toys.
The comics didn't overemphasize one villain (Shredder) the way Richards does. Nor were they about wacky humour; rather, they took a more deadpan approach to parodying the likes of Daredevil and X-Men comics.
Bottling eco ethics
RE Starbucks ethos all wet (now, March 22-28). A friend told me about this article because I mentioned I was attending the World Water Day walk in Vancouver and quite like Ethos. There's a reason why this water is sold - because [people are] buying it! If it weren't for the trendy boom in bottled water, there wouldn't be so many companies selling it.
Why not give flak to companies like Evian that charge a premium price and don't give back? Did you bat an eye when Second Cup released its Foster Parents Plan Water? This is an easy way for consumers to make a difference.
And about greenhouse gases from trucking the water to stores? I guess you've never purchased anything from a grocery store. Get yourself a reusable bottle and drink the tap water, eat a strictly local diet and make your own clothes. And I hope you're not typing on a computer that was flown across an ocean or trucked in.
Thank god I don't read this type of crap in my local free weekly.
Hey, Toronto, who's to blame for that smog above your head?
RE Starbucks' selling bottled water. As Mark Twain said, "Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over!"
Cathy Crowe, whose work I generally respect, misses the point in her response to neighbours of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church angered by increasingly anti-social behaviours (shitting, pissing, vomiting, screaming, etc) (NOW, March 22-28). By lumping together and labelling frustrated neighbours as "anti-poor" or simply uncaring, she's guilty of the same overgeneralization she writes to counter.
Too many homeless advocates take this baffling stance: that all manner of anti-social behaviour is simply the result of poverty and will be solved by more soft government services not more policing and a vigilant neighbourhood.
Much of what has been so unappealingly described is the product not of homelessness itself, but of the drug and alcohol problems with which it is correlated.
All poor people are by definition in need of better housing and services; very few respond to their plight by defecating and urinating on a place of worship, screaming obscenities all through the night, threatening each other, breaking glass and shooting up on front steps.
Having lived in close proximity to these facilities for years, I know that many no longer simply accept the doctrine of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, OCAP and the like that more of these services in an already stressed and overburdened neighbourhood are going to solve anything.
Cillian Murphy the thinking man's Colin Farrell (NOW, March 15-21)? What a moronic, and beyond that, vaguely racist comment. Is Halle Berry the thinking man's Beyoncé?
Okay, so Oz banned incandescent light bulbs (NOW, March 1-7). What could we do here in Toronto to match that? How about banning all drive-thrus?
I gather there's an anti-idling bylaw in the city, but no one is enforcing it. Isn't that pretty much what all of those cars are doing as they sit in line waiting for their morning caffeine fix or Macbreakfast?
Ban 'em! Then people would have to get out of their cars and face the people who are serving them. What a concept: walking, interacting with other people and saving the fucking planet!
And if it adds five minutes to travel time, plan to leave five minutes earlier; it's not going to kill you!
Or perhaps the city should just consider putting bylaw officers on drive-thru duty.
Think of the revenue from all those illegal idlers.
Eulogy for Elegies
I read your review of Elegies (NOW , February 22-28). Unfortunately, I went to see the show last night. As the audience stood around my partner and me, applauding wildly, we wondered what we'd missed. We found it trite, banal and unfocused. The only moments that worked for me were the All-Male Thanksgiving songs, while my partner also enjoyed 14 Dwight Avenue. We both were impressed with Thom Allison.
Anyway, we're glad to see that we were not alone in our views.
Thanks for trying to warn us. Usually, I check reviews in NOW before going to the theatre. I've learned the painful cost of failing to do so.
I read your restaurant review of M&B Yummy in Parkdale a few weeks ago (NOW, February 1-7). For a strictly vegetarian foodie like me, the picture you painted of this place was incredibly enticing. I told all my friends about this new restaurant, quoting your positive descriptions.
A friend joined me for a much-anticipated vegetarian Ethopian food adventure. What we discovered was thoroughly disappointing and frustrating. M&B Yummy is not exclusively vegan or even vegetarian.
The food was not at all spicy or fresh and was heavily overcooked. In addition, the baked goods come from an Italian bakery.
We left rather dejected, wondering how you had gotten it so wrong and hoping not too many others make the same misinformed trip.