Jane-Finch Web site – bad rap or too cool?

Paul Nguyen, a 24-year-old with a community “respect and integrity” commendation from Toronto Police, a 2004 BA in film and video from York University and a letter of support from Joe Clark, for “helping shape Canada into a better place for us all to live,” runs jane-finch.com, reported The Toronto Sun Feb. 18. Nguyen started the free site last March – to apparently put a positive, hip spin on an area that’s still the object of slurs. It features community resources, local art, poetry, stories on mentoring and how to get along with neighbours. Last July, the site posted a slick Nguyen-made music video called You Got Beef, featuring local rapper Chuckie Akenz in the role of a rescuing brother, coming to the aid of his picked-on sibling. Suddenly, the site was getting 3,000 hits each day. You Got Beef has apparently become something of a national anthem for some young Vietnamese-Canadians – “We were born to f—in fight, – we’ll leave u in a mess, the minute u talk u get machetes to ur chest,” the lyrics read. The guns and violence and heavy thug images have created uncomfortable stirs among community leaders. Nguyen, who’s heard the criticism that he’s feeding the violent lore, says the videos are simply a way to attract people to link to other Jane and Finch resources – a “necessary evil.”

Star choses student for some life coaching

The Toronto Star‘s 2005 challenge, Get A Life!, announced Feb. 18 that York student Amanda White is among seven people it has picked for some life coaching. Can a shy 19-year-old come out of her shell? “This is the time of my life I should be having fun,” wrote White. “I want to learn how to make friends and talk to people without feeling nervous or afraid. I want to be able to say what’s on my mind. I am determined to change in 2005 because it is my last year as a teenager.” White’s a good student, she’s bright and attractive and has lots to offer. She loves to read and write, and will update “Amanda’s Journal” for the duration of the challenge. She’s already got homework from her life coach, Maureen Ford. “Maureen asked what I like to do and why I think I’m shy. She asked me to write about my ideal future. That should be fun. She’s really nice and I think we’ll get along.”

Shimmy down a slide at York exhibit

Machinery Execution. There’s always hoopla and bombast circling like funnel clouds around Istvan Kantor, the Hungarian-born performance artist who once tossed his blood on the walls of the National Gallery in Ottawa – a stunt he followed up last December, flinging blood at a Michael Jackson statue in Berlin, wrote the Globe and Mail’s Maryam Sanati in a mini-review Feb. 18. The winner of the 2004 Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (“a no-holds-barred neo-Dada artist” were the jurists’ words, though others beg to differ) has installed a new exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University, the Globe said. Machinery Execution is a two-parter: “Spielraum” combines flat-screen TVs and old filing cabinets and asks visitors to shimmy down a slide while a video camera captures their images. “Lebensraum” is a feature-length video showing the naked artist strapped with wires portraying “an outcast yogaborg barely surviving in a cold basement studio of a warehouse building slated for demolition for condo construction.” Bring your hard hats, and the Gravol.

On air

  • Dr. Joel Lexchin, an emergency room doctor and a professor at York’s School of Health Policy & Management, discussed new drug safety measures announced by Canada’s health minister, with Jennifer Mather on Vancouver’s CKNW-AM Feb. 17. The measures include a new expert panel that will be formed to assess the safety of drugs before and after they are approved for sale.