NOW magazine used to be the “alternative” weekly of record in Toronto. Then, about 15 years ago, along came “eye weekly” (which contrasted itself with NOW from the outset by insisting on the lower-case title, if little else). Lots of people see that cute lower case as camouflage for the fact that eye is owned by a huge media corporation, Torstar. Then again, NOW ain’t exactly mom and pop stuff anymore itself. Today there exist a few more alternatives to NOW, such as the cheeky free daily subway papers metro (part-owned by Torstar) and Dose (owned by Canwest media).
But NOW and eye are where people turn to know what’s happening in the arts, in the bar scene, and in politics. Lately they’ve been the target of some negative attention from cycling advocates and opponents of automobile hegemony.
THIS WEEK we love both papers, and here’s why:
NOW published this letter to the editor about the need to ban car advertisements:
Smog alert: ditch car ads
It was nice to see two items about smog in your last issue (NOW, June 9-15). Maybe next time when Nissan wants a full-page ad on page 9 you’ll say no. And then you can say no to GM-Chevrolet when they try to book a full-page ad on page 19. It goes without saying that Mazda will have trouble finding ad space at the bottom of page 92. As for the car giveaways by Walkman on page 16 and Z103.5 on page 73, well, they know the “alternative press” won’t support them, so they won’t even bother trying. In fact, NOW is doing such a kick-ass job of promoting transportation alternatives, I’m surprised there are any cars left to advertise.
while eye printed this one:
eye – 06.16.05
ADS MAKE US COMPLICIT
Gord Perks, in his biweekly Enviro column, lays a big fat turd all over page 16 (“Car-culture contradictions,” June 2). Is it worth reading? Only if you’re willing to watch a grown man squirm. It appears Perks came under some heat as a result of what he wrote last time out (“Nothing personal, but we can’t be friends,” May 19).
In that column, Perks went on at length about how the petroleum industry’s bad because it encourages car dependency and other unsustainable practices, without fessing up to his own complicity in car culture.
But to the astute reader, there it was, in plain sight, leaving traces of ink across Perks’ column whenever you closed the magazine: a full-page ad for some car or other on the opposite side.
In other words, as we pointed out in [an unpublished] letter to eye and to Perks himself, Perks is hypocritical to condemn the very agency of his “free” speech.
We went further, of course: Perks, by virtue of his wife’s membership, benefits from all the rights and privileges of membership in the Canadian Automobile Association, a screwy bunch of pavement fanatics if ever there was one.
In “Car-culture contradictions,” Perks wants to have it both ways. The jerky motion of his prose is no doubt a result of his left hand writing a cheque to the CAA while his right dabbles on the keyboard. Or vice versa.
The point is, maybe something got through to Perks. Dare I hope, even my letter of two weeks ago? Because on June 2, on page 17, there’s no car ad to be seen. Is it possible, just possible, that Perks’ editor (ha!) woke up to the hypocrisy of placing car porn cheek by jowl with a column that would kick straight up the goalposts of car culture? Until Perks tells us himself, we’ll assume it’s just a coincidence, and keep trying.
Oh, if the writing in that last one looks a little familiar, perhaps it’s because you read it here first.
NOW magazine also printed a letter from me this week. It’s on the subject of bikelanes, and the city’s move to install sub-standard bikelanes on a street in the west end, (about which you can read more here, on the petition “Toronto cyclists deserve better”).
Today’s letter to NOW is appended below:
If a tree falls on Royal York
I appreciated your item about Ben Paskus (NOW, June 2-8), and your pointing out that Horner Avenue should by rights have a bike lane. The local councillor, Mark Grimes, is not one to take proactive steps to bring in the needed bike lanes, and you’re right to aim a boot his way.
But Don Wanagas, in his article about bike lanes on Royal York (NOW, June 2-8) and his kissy-face interview with Adam Giambrone, is another issue.
The expert councillors turned to for advice on the subject of whether or not trees would have to be cut down to make room for the bike lanes was unable to say if those trees would be saved or not by the road width that was agreed upon. In other words, it really was not a case of cyclists versus tree-huggers.
The ratepayers association that Councillor Peter Milquetoast (sorry, that’s Milczyn) kowtowed to on this issue is led by a rather familiar character: none other than Mike Harris’s former pot-scrubber, bootblack and official thug Guy Giorno. The same ratepayers group apparently insisted that the sidewalks remain at 120 centimetres instead of the 150-centimetre standard. Call Mr. Milquetoast. Ask him about that.
And finally, why was there even a question of taking out trees? Royal York in this section has four lanes. Why not take a few centimetres from each car lane to make room for the bike lane?