Hummer of a green issue
I just picked up NOW's Green Issue (NOW, April 19-25). Yes, I know the green thing to do is read it online, but I keep this one ritual for the joy of holding something in my hands.
I am in a constant battle to shrink my footprint on the planet, so I was very much looking forward to this read that is, until I turned the first page and saw an ad about winning a night out with the Frank's girls in a big ol' Hummer limo!
Are you nuts?
Needless to say, I have not turned past this page. It just proves the sad fact that money is the guiding factor in most of our corporate choices today.
To the recycling box you go.
While I applaud your ancient forest Friendly policy and the fact that your magazine is printed on 100 per cent recycled paper, it's time you committed to going paper-free altogether. Running those presses, after all, still consumes a lot of energy, as does the process of making recycled newsprint, not to mention delivering the papers to newsstands.
The world's oldest newspaper, Sweden's Post-och Inrikes Tidningar, recently took the ecologically responsible plunge of scrapping its print version and going completely online. NOW should lead by example in Toronto.
While some may lament the loss of hard-copy newspapers, we should remember that sustainability requires sacrifices.
Greening of consumption
RE Mike Smith's Light Bulb Trap (NOW, April 19-25). Finally, someone is writing the truth about the greenwashing behind our shopping frenzy. I'm tired of green.
We must consume less and shop less. That's what the world needs, not more eco-friendly shit.
Hope springs a trap
In response to Robert Priest's truly stupid article about the cynicism around climate change (NOW, April 19-25), hope doesn't change a damn thing and never has.
I don't hope I will eat my next meal, I just cook it and eat it. However, when I fly to Vancouver next month, I hope the plane doesn't crash.
Hope is only for those situations where I have no agency. Otherwise, it's just a stupid excuse to do nothing.
Feel the hopelessness of it all, Robert, and damn well do something about it!
RE Garbage-free Ain't So Easy (now, April 19-25) and Adria Vasil's experiences going garbage-free for a week.
I use canvas bags to do my shopping, I try to carry a travel mug at all times, I pack lunches in Tupperware. A lot of the behavior of people in my 20-something age group infuriates me. I'm no activist, but I try to do my part.
It's not hard. All it takes is some thinking ahead. And, while I totally respect attempts to go completely garbage-free, I also think it's a little extreme. Who's willing to put that work in? I suggest relaxing a little and doing the best you can.
Rice Bar raises the bar
Here it is earth day and i'm on the patio of my favourite restaurant eating organic eggs, hormone-free chicken and fair-trade organic tea, wiping my mouth with a biodegradable napkin and packing up the leftovers in a corn container. The tabletop is renewable bamboo, the staff T-shirts are, too, and the paint on the walls (green!) is an eco-friendly, non-toxic variety.
This place, Rice Bar in Kensington Market (a haven for green foodies), does not advertise its ethics, but just runs ethically which is why I am so disappointed that NOW's Green Issue failed to inform its readers about it.
Next time I see your food editor at my local beer store , I might have to advise him to dig a little deeper when proclaiming Everything Toronto.
This city has so much to offer. I hope we can depend on NOW to point us in the most interesting directions.
Bridges bad, cars good!
Roger Brook's report on the recently discovered "problem" presented by pedestrian bridges over railway lines (NOW, April 12-18) could have benefited from more context and common sense.
The Wallace Avenue bridge he suggests is a pain was saved by local residents some years back because they felt it helped create a vibrant community and represented one of the few remaining links to the area's industrial history. While it has many stairs, using it offers exercise, a great view and a safe, lit path at night.
People carry groceries over it, old people use it, as do lots of cyclists. Do people cross illegally? Absolutely, and in fact, a few people live in the woods next to the line and are often seen walking the rails. The bridge is beloved because it provides a pedestrian-friendly route, whereas a level crossing would open the floodgates to car through-traffic that would overwhelm this working-class community.
Avril in the Pink
So Sarah Liss accuses Avril Lavigne of being "catty" and a "misogynist bitch" in her Best Damn Thing review (NOW, April 19-25). Isn't Liss the same person who wrote a page-long love letter to Pink, who sings about Stupid Girls? If anyone's, like, so whatever, it's Miss Liss.
Lovable or just creepy?
In your Hot Docs coverage, critic Glenn Sumi gives the film Lovable four Ns, calling it "probing, moving and occasionally profound" (NOW, April 19-25). But then there's the final paragraph where he questions the filmmaker's motives as "creepy." If there's something creepy going on, maybe it doesn't deserve four Ns. It's as if Sumi can't feel good about giving a good review unless he gets in his little dig.
In that sense, the review is more about him than it is about the film. And actually, that's kind of creepy.
Grindhouse from Gramps
I turned to page 88 hoping in good faith to read an actual film review of Grindhouse (NOW, April 5-11) only to find a rant from someone old enough to have fought in the Vietnam War telling me (and my generation) to get off his lawn.
John Harkness seems too caught up in the memories of his lost youth to actually bother reviewing films on their own merits. We're not in the 1970s any more! And complaining that a Tarantino film has too much dialogue? Honestly. Next time, why not print an actual review rather than a lecture from Grandpa on the days when he could ride the trolley, enjoy a sarsaparilla and take in a moving-picture show, all for less than a nickel.
Horror balm to my ears
Never one to give a critic's opinion much credence, I always find it encouraging when I'm at odds with a NOW reviewer, and consequently was delighted to read Jon Kaplan's review of the Rocky Horror Picture Show (NOW, April 5-11) and discover that I couldn't have disagreed more.
While I, too, was somewhat put off by the sound inaudibility (as Kaplan mentioned), apparently it interfered with Kaplan's ability to properly assess the one Rocky song performance that truly deserved to be lauded Frank 'n' Furter's I'm Going Home, sung by Adam Brazier.
Although I found the show itself at times mildly headache-inducing, I'm Going Home presents Brazier with the opportunity to really pour himself into it, and the much-needed release he provides is balm for the ears.
Front bike lane insane
It's nice to know that Europe is so far ahead of us on bike and transport issues (NOW, April 12-18).
But while I totally agree with your number-one choice for improving bike conditions a living legacy for Tooker [Gomberg] beside the Bloor/Danforth subway pushing for bike lanes on the car-based Front Street is bizarre.
Sure, there's a dire need for better east-west biking in the lower west core, but it's most likely, given the way we do bike lanes in T.O., that we'd just be dumped into industrial traffic at Bathurst anyway.
The dirt on mask filters
RE Fume Fever (now, april 12-18). Your "experts" give dubious advice about how to avoid smog when riding in Toronto. Do these folks even ride?
Bruce Urch says we should use carbon filter masks and ride "away from traffic." To get anywhere quickly we have to use main streets, and that's also where most of the bike lanes are.
Adrien Bledstein recommends his own company's "honeycomb mask with a carbon filter."
Eva Ligeti "would not rely on anti-pollution masks" and says "there's no escape" from smog.
When I was selling carbon filter masks at a well-known co-op, I found that all the masks that fit tightly on a cyclist's face restrict your breathing enough to make them a liability.
You end up sweating, starved for oxygen and have to slow down your pedalling.
They also don't provide a tight seal around the edges, so bad air leaks past the already dubiously thin carbon layer. They also cost about $60 a pop, and their expensive filters have to be exchanged after 30 hours of use.
I use a 3M filter mask from an auto paint store. It features a soft airtight rubber mask and two replaceable carbon filters that twist onto the sides. These bayonet mounts mean the filters can be put on in three different orientations, so you can give yourself good chin-to-shoulder clearance for traffic checks.
The whole kit costs $35, and you can replace filters after a year if you ride a lot. This is the only device I trust to filter Toronto air.
Jerzy Smokey Dymny
RE Heady Hate Stats (now , march 29-April 4). As a Jew, I am always surprised by the media's coverage of B'nai Brith's annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada. They're meaningless, because the total lumps together some serious but mostly trivial incidents.
B'nai Brith's hysterical message that the sky is falling is intended to raise the group's profile in the media and among those in the Jewish community who assume it is a major fighter for Jewish rights.