NOW senior film writer John Harkness passed away last week. Funeral services will be held Friday (December 28), 1:30 pm, at Morley Bedford Funeral Home, 159 Eglinton West; 416-489-8733, www.morleybedford.ca, and a memorial event is planned for January. Details in future issues of NOW. See Michael Hollett’s tribute at nowtoronto.com, Cameron Bailey’s Top Locals story on page 64 of this issue and more on John Harkness’s legacy in NOW’s January 3 issue. Post your own tributes at nowtoronto.com.
John Harkness had rare gift
I am very sorry to hear John Harkness has left us (NOW, December 20-26). He had the rare courage to speak the truth as he saw it, felt it and lived it. He had the even rarer gift of being a damn fine writer. Those gifts married made for a man whose thoughts were not only always worth reading but also worth thinking about.
No truer critic
This comes as a shock. I have been an admirer of John Harkness for many years. In an age when glib opinion passes as film criticism, Harkness stood out for his careful consideration. He didn’t kowtow to the PR machine; he was a true critic. No matter how inept or self-important the film, Harkness always gave it a fair and thoughtful assessment.Congratulations to Michael Hollett for writing such a fond obituary. It couldn’t have been easy.
Alice Klein’s Call for Unity Among the Liberal, NDP and Green Parties for the Purpose of Defeating the Conservatives (NOW, December 20-26) is refreshingly honest and beautifully eloquent. Well done, Ms. Klein!
However, if you really want to pull together for the cause, the most effective strategy would be full amalgamation into the New Intelligent Gloriously Green Liberal Enlightened Party, also known as the NIGGLE Party. Gotta love that.
A call to artists
Stephen Harper and his pathetic ideologues have given Toronto a big, fat middle-finger.
Never mind that they’re also working to trash every bit of environmental, social, cultural and civic programming they possibly can; their masters are only letting them off the leash to reduce taxes.
So my message is this: what can we collectively as artists, poets, writers, dancers, musicians, thinking people do? I really think if we all put our gifts to this task, we can help Toronto and other worthy causes, perhaps roll back some made-in-Canada-friendly fascism and generally make some ignorant/unaware/uninvolved people become more aware of the real dangers Harper and his kind pose to just about everything in Canada that is worthwhile. NOW and its readers can do more. I pray this is so.
Condos killing club district
While passing through downtown today, I stumbled upon two developments that involve the demolition of some buildings I consider part of Toronto’s history: the site being excavated for the Shagri-la condo/hotel at University and Adelaide, and the former Joker nightclub at 318 Richmond West.
While the University and Adelaide location qualifies as a historic site, I have more of an attachment to 318 because I had my first-ever DJ gig there.
As I watched the cranes tear into the building’s back stairwell, up and down which I’d carried records many times, my thoughts wandered to the war being waged by condo residents against clubs in the district.
I’ve been to Los Angeles, Ibiza, New Orleans and London, to name a few, and crime exists in all their club districts. It cannot be eradicated, only managed. You’d think the advertising that these condos are “steps from entertainment” would indicate to buyers that there might be some noise.
Our collective car-ruption
There’s no doubt that the collective response to climate change is too little, too late (NOW, November 29-December 5), but we can’t think that we’re so pure, green and clean in Toronto.
A city report a couple of years ago put our sins of emissions at 20 per cent above 1990 levels – the exact opposite of the Toronto Target.
And as car transportation leads our emissions growth, we have chosen to build a subway to sprawl.
Eaton’s hex on Xmas
In the past few years, it’s become a bit of a tradition for me to purchase toys from one of the retailers at the Eaton Centre and donate them to Toy Mountain, a charity program with the mandate of providing toys to disadvantaged children.
This year I went to the Eaton Centre with a friend, purchased a large bag of toys and inquired at the customer service desk as to where the Toy Mountain deposit box had been set up. They directed us to the Gap Concourse, where we poked around unsuccessfully. We returned to the customer service desk and were told to try again later in the weekend.This morning I called the Eaton Centre, relayed my story and was again assured that the Toy Mountain box had been set up. I lugged my bag of toys back to the mall but again could not find the deposit box. Customer service told me to try again in another week.
The Eaton Centre gives the appearance of embracing the holiday spirit. It has a Santa for photos, a large crystal Christmas tree and reindeer and a sleigh suspended from the ceiling.
But setting up a box so donations can be made to disadvantaged children is clearly too much effort.
Michael K. Cheng
Safe harbour for U.S. heroes
Thank you so much for your reports on the American heroes (NOW, November 22-28) who are just saying no to orders that they criminally harass, or do much worse to, the civilians of Iraq as part of the U.S.’s illegal, murderous invasion.
I’d like to urge people to write their federal MPs to allow these guys (and gals?) to stay and allow us the privilege of having these deeply moral and struggling young people of integrity stay with us!
To the cold and callous recent letter-writers on the subject, I’d like to suggest they might want to check out the outright lies that many of these naive, poor (sometimes desperately so), often confused young people were fed in the most manipulative ways in order to get them to sign up.
Please read the very accurate, deeply moving recent book by one of Canada’s own proud U.S. war-resisters, Joshua Key (with Lawrence Hill), The Deserter’s Tale.
I feel sure that your mind and heart will be blown open to the reality of it all, as mine was.
Massimo’s pie on the fly
As a 25-year devoted patron of Massimo’s pizza (at College just west of Spadina), I was shocked to find that the TV show Restaurant Makeover had ruined a Toronto pizza landmark.
They removed the warming oven and replaced it with a top-of-the- counter pizza warmer. The result: a smaller slice that just doesn’t taste the same. The young owner is clearly asleep at the switch for letting this happen. His father, the original owner, who passed away a few years back, must surely be flipping in his grave.
I will drive 35 kilometres on Saturday to pick up their full-size pizza, but the days of walking in and grabbing a slice out of the warming oven are gone.
RE Facade Fakeout (NOW, November 29-December 5).
Unfortunately, NOW has shown little interest in the destruction of the Danforth. Just so your readers know, three large commercial properties will be destroyed in the name of Shoppers Drug Mart, resulting in the destruction of six to 10 smaller businesses. On the upside, toilet paper will be 10 cents cheaper!