Debbie Fein-Goldbach’s review of J. Karol Korczynski’s Canada Steel (NOW, February 7-13) was a thoroughly unflattering assessment of a play that I thought was wonderful.
But that’s not enough to get me off my happily sedentary butt to write a letter. Her clever sniping and witty one-liners do little to mask the fact her review is lousy journalism.
The Leafs making the Stanley Cup playoffs must be her way of assuring us that her cleverness is still in full force?
I encourage Fein-Goldbach to take her own advice and “cut the cutesiness to find the heart.”
Insult to black music
It’s unfortunate to see a local paper treat black music in near-exclusively American terms when Canada, including Toronto, has its own rich history (NOW, January 31-February 6).
Your timeline makes a few nods to the crossover popularity of T-dot rap and Oscar Peterson’s recent passing, but glosses over the larger context of reggae, calypso, gospel, blues, soul, and various traditional and popular African forms that have planted roots here, not to mention black participation in the multicultural environments of punk, rave, etc.
It’s not like this history is not available in printed form; much of it is right there in NOW’s archives.
Instead, your music writer tried to fatten things up with his parallel history of recording technologies, which only set the stage for the commodification of black music.
Ultimately, this timeline did a pretty good job of disrespecting all black music communities in this city and country, and furthered the dominant opinion that, though it preaches multiculturalism, Canada’s artistic cultures are still mostly white.
Black fashion faux pas
Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to include black Torontonians in the fashion section of Life & Style in the Black History Month special issue (NOW, January 31-February 6)?
Africentric too focused
RE Mr. Premier, Butt Out (NOW, February 7-13). It’s a serious problem that students of African ancestry drop out of school, but it has a multitude of complex reason.
School curriculum is a very small part of any solution, and an Africentric school is unlikely to help much.
Of course, it’s difficult to argue against “specialty” schools when they already exist.
A truly public school system would not create such schools but would devote the necessary resources to deal with problems in all institutions.
Shock, no dialogue
Rory O’Connor’s Is He White Enough To Win? (NOW, January 31-February 6) is proof of NOW’s increasing tendency to publish stories intended to shock rather than to initiate dialogue.
The issue of whether Barack Oba-ma is “black enough” continues to be raised by the white, right-wing media.
O’Connor’s use of the phrases “previously marginal blackness” and “modicum of African blood” are inappropriate, racially discriminatory distinctions. Senator Obama is a self-identified black man.
O’Connor refers to Obama’s mo-ther as a “white girl” and writes that his Ivy League education discounts his black identity.
An “alternative” Toronto magazine posturing as radical and diverse, NOW is propagating ignorant and harmful ideas about people of African descent.
In publishing such an article, NOW is strengthening the barriers it claims it’s trying to break down.
Next time, for the sake of your journalistic integrity, try running a story on who would make a better president. Better yet, write an article on the content of Obama’s character rather than the colour of his skin. That’s a little Dr. Martin Luther King, by the way.
R-word simply degrading
I have to say that when I first saw the cover proclaiming “Who you calling retarded?” (NOW, January 17-24) , I was quite ready to be offended.
Having worked in developmental services for 28 years, I’ve seen the hurt and despair that word has caused. However, the article was about an amazing play, so the question was apropos.
On the other hand, to the letter writer who suggests the word is the best one to describe her sister (NOW, January 31-February 6), I have one question: Did you ever ask her how she feels when you call her that?
I have worked with self-advocates for the past several years and I guarantee you that none of them like being called retarded. It’s not a taboo, it’s just hurtful and degrading. Think about it.
Community Living Toronto
Trouble with the maples
RE Out On A Limb (NOW, February 7-13). While a photo essay attempting to redress the critical problem of Toronto’s loss of forest is laudable, the Teddington Park Avenue trees are part of a larger city-wide Norway maple decline as trees are collectively near the end of their life cycle.
Also, the removal of invasive alien species in ravines is a significant component of the restoration of their ecosystems.
As a long-time supporter of Canadian musicians of all sorts, I was disappointed that Triumph was the Hall of Fame nomination at this year’s Junos.
It’s bad enough that Rush have thus far been overlooked for the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it insults our intelligence to see a tacky act like Triumph, whose style was derivative at best, put up for awards before, say, the always original Max Webster.
Pals of mine who worked with Triumph tell many disturbing stories.
They’re perhaps the crassest, most craven corporate rock band of all time. If rock were a smorgasbord, then Triumph would be the stale slice of white bread.
Alec Du Grabertitz
What readers are saying on nowtoronto.com
Natives left in the cold
RE In Mourning and Mad (NOW, February 7-13). These are just a few of the recent weather- and/or drug/alcohol-related deaths of natives in northwestern Ontario: Jordina Skunk (29), Ft. Severn, hypothermia; Alice Drake (44), Thunder Bay, hypothermia; Earlene Desmoulins (41), near Pic Mobert, hypothermia, after leaving a Greyhound bus on the Trans-Canada; Helen Mamakeesic (17), Keewaywin, hypothermia. I wish there were some way of identifying all the Ojibwe, Cree, Metis girls, boys, women and men who have frozen to death up here because they were left behind by a group who kept walking to warmth or they didn’t have transportation to get home or to safety.
RE Stifling a Cancon Yawn (NOW, February 7-13) Why not actually review Canadian TV shows? Can you imagine if NOW had this same attitude to Canadian music? “Yawn, all Canadian bands are boring.” If you don’t like a specific show, fine, but review it instead of just blanketing the entire domestic industry with one criticism.