Letters for the week of December 17-23, 2003 

Some more righteous fashion commentary from a dedicated, loyal, obedient servant. More thoughts about veganism from teacher's dedicated, loyal, obedient fans.

"Queer Eye for the East Bay," Cityside, 11/26

Fashion for rugged individualists
I am dirt at your honorable feet. How righteously this person enjoyed your Queer Eye article. The Divine spirit of this wonderful country's soul permeated all your written words. This guy is proud to be an American, whose land luxuriates in the stalwart principles of freedom of speech and the rugged, independent individualist.

You have given a tremendous gift to the world. You have immortalized some awesome heroes, and a heroine. This one worships Al Davis. White represents the undefiled, the pure, strong, innocent, fearless, virtuous, the real (true), the Godly. Mr. Davis' sunglasses epitomize the man's efficiency, quality orientated life, since not just anyone could be so careful, disciplined, orderly to get so much from 1962 sunglasses. Mr. Davis is a rugged individualist whose hairstyle proves his invincible uniqueness. It is a prejudice to lack the broadminded understanding that wearing and not wearing socks with sandals are equal. Mr. Davis' radiant spirit makes his rings and watches totally subdued in his presence. There is no wrong to wearing pinkie rings.

Mr. E-40 is a rugged individualist from the very core of the US of A. Sweat suits are so righteously comfortable, fit for the truly humble.

This man is dirt at the dirt at the dirt at the feet of Alice Waters, the rugged, independent one. All shawls are stunningly beautiful on her. All headgear is magnificent on Alice Waters. Alice Waters doesn't look the least bit uptight. Her high-collared, top-buttoned shirt is divinely stylish, matching her humble, matter-of-fact, natural, core-simplicity.

Wavy Gravy, who am I to utter sounds in his Divine presence? I'll risk it! Mr. Gravy cannot do anything and look bad. His hair is naturally stylish. The rugged one is true to himself. His taste for hats is perfect. His beautiful shirt manifests his exuberant, buoyant enthusiasm (something the universe can always use). White sneakers always represent the clean, clear, healthy, wonderful, free. God bless Wavy Gravy's handsome balloon pants!

Your dedicated, devoted, loyal, obedient, surrendered servant,
Ronald Vivek Cabral, Santa Monica

"Hold the Bird (and the Snotty Guests)," Food Fetish, 11/26

Helping people look past the corpse on the table
Thank you for publishing Michelle Turner's very humorous article about my November vegetarian cooking class, "Thanksgiving for the Birds." Although she added a dash of poetic exaggeration to the events of the day, she was not entirely off the mark. It was a particularly tough crowd that day as I dodged questions that, I think, revealed more about those few individuals' personal paths than about vegans in general. Although these stereotypical vegans certainly exist, they do not represent the majority.

My sole purpose for offering these monthly vegetarian cooking classes is for people to see how EASY it is to eat and cook "vegan," since, as I like to say, it is not a separate food group. It is familiar to anyone who eats vegetables, grains, nuts, fruit, seeds, etc. They just may not put it in the "vegan box." The last thing I want people to feel is that they have to eat with a magnifying glass, scrupulously examining their plates for evidence of hypocrisy. Although everyone is on a different point of the vegetarian continuum in terms of whether they consume honey or refined sugar, the single most effective thing people can do to reduce animal suffering is to stop eating animal flesh and animal secretions. It's really that simple. Purity may be sought but not found, as many of us already know.

Although on average the classes have a larger number of meat-eaters than vegetarians, I think the Thanksgiving class attracts a greater number of vegetarians because it is an especially difficult time of year for those of us who very literally see a corpse on the dinner table and are keenly aware of the suffering that preceded the death of that animal. Thanksgiving should be a joyous time of life-affirming rituals, such as harvest celebrations, reflections of praise and thanks, and basic appreciation for the friends and family members who gather together. And these traditions are often painfully juxtaposed by the dead bird that has been unnecessarily sacrificed to stand as a symbol of these rites.

I do hope your readers will look past Michelle's references to those few people who may have nitpicked a bit in the class that day and focus instead on the food we cooked and the tools and resources provided. The classes are very informative, always welcoming, and never judgmental -- at least, that's the intention this vegan infuses into each and every class I do.
Colleen A. Patrick-Goudreau, The Compassionate Cooks, Oakland

A turkey saved
My mother and I have attended several of Colleen's classes, and we are always delighted and impressed by the beautiful and delicious gastronomy as well as Colleen's vivacious energy and contagious smile. Thanks to Colleen, my mother and I prepared our first vegan Thanksgiving dinner this year, which mimicked the menu that comprised Colleen's class. It was a lovely and decadent dinner without the heaviness of a typical Thanksgiving meal, and of course we felt peaceful about not partaking in the slaughter of a turkey.
Jolie M.F. Kakar, Diablo

Carnivores unite and cast off the yoke of your oppression
I became one of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's class participants earlier this year. Her influence was the catalyst to my becoming vegan! I, personally, had many misunderstandings about the ill effects of animal products and about the cruel treatment of animals. I'm still sifting through the misunderstandings, but have much more clarity after many group discussions guided by Colleen. My hope is that others who read Ms. Turner's article are intrigued and inspired to explore a vegan lifestyle, which, incidentally, isn't a big leap. I, who grew up in Pennsylvania, eating meat my entire life, can authentically say this transition was quite simple.
Kenda Swartz, San Mateo

Accentuate the positive
I'm still laughing at Michelle Turner's article. I've attended several of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's vegan cooking classes and am sorry I wasn't there THAT day. Colleen has shown hundreds of people how easy and delicious vegan cooking is, and I do hope that after reading the article that none of your readers think otherwise.
Cathleen Young, Oakland

Of course, there also are self-righteous carnivores
Sorry you had to encounter a couple self-righteous vegans. They give us all a bad name.
Shad Clark, Sunnyvale

The Express would like to know what you resolve to do differently in 2004. Whether you plan to get in shape (or go to seed), teach yourself a new skill (or forget everything you learned in school), or be a better (worse?) person, we'd like to hear from you. Please send a brief description of your 2004 resolutions to ResolutionGuide@eastbayexpress.com or to Resolution Guide, East Bay Express, 1335 Stanford Ave., suite 100, Emeryville, CA 94608. All submissions must be received by January 7. We'll publish a selection of the best ones.

In our November 19 cover story "Secrets of the Temple," about the faction of Sikhs who control the Gurdwara Sahib Fremont, we misstated the number of law enforcement officials who were present at the October raid at the Saffron Express trucking company. It was roughly twenty, not more than a hundred, as we stated. We also were imprecise in our description of the circumstances surrounding the detention of one of the trucking firm's owners, Jasjeet "Jesse" Singh Chela. Although we stated that he was escorted to jail on "charges" of immigration fraud, in fact he is being detained at a federal detention facility, but has not been charged. To date, the government is merely attempting to deport Chela.

We also would like to clarify two points made in the story. While we noted that some congregants harbor concerns about the disposition of funds collected at the temple, we did not point out that the Gurdwara's executive committee does provide monthly financial reports. Additionally, Satnam Singh Dhillon, the man who alleged in court that he was threatened by one of Chela's associates, has been accused in a separate case of stealing money loaned to him by Chela's trucking company.


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