Letters for the week of July 31-August 6, 2002 

Even when they get credit, translators -- and fighters -- don't get the respect that they truly deserve.

Appreciating each link in the chain
When I turned to your Books supplement (June 26) and saw that it focused on world literature and translation, I was thrilled. However, I would like to address a major oversight: the translators in the book reviews were not credited -- an oversight even more striking next to your profile of translator Michael Emmerich, which pointed out that translators are often overlooked!

Indeed, translators are shockingly invisible when people are talking about international literature in translation. Sculptors of language themselves, translators' own literary voices are deeply embedded and embodied in every translated piece. Translation is an artistic collaboration wherein a new piece of art is born. (This art form can take on multimedia formats, too -- just think of subtitles in a foreign film.)

We have been working to address this issue since 1994 by publishing Two Lines: A Journal of Translation (www.twolines .com), which is based in San Francisco. Two Lines is a unique magazine that combines world literature translated into English -- published alongside the texts in their original languages -- with another story: that of the translators. Each piece is prefaced by the translator's introduction, giving the pieces cultural and historical context in the spirit of translation. Let's appreciate each link in the chain.
Shevi Berlinger, managing editor, Two Lines, San Francisco

The point is history
7 Days (June 26) missed the point in its criticism of El Cerrito for buying the old Cerrito Theater. The building is one of the few historic buildings remaining in this town, which has lost most of its historic structures over the years to thoughtless development.

The city did not buy a movie theater. It bought a grand old building that is filled with wonderful murals and other decorative treasures. The primary goal is not to operate a movie house, but to preserve a community resource.

If the Cerrito can be operated as a movie house, all the better. The best way to preserve a historic structure is to return it to its original use. But some form of adaptive reuse may turn out to be preferable. Other theaters have been turned into community centers, bookstores, and libraries without losing their historic character.

Your comment that the city council "rubber-stamped" the proposal to buy the theater was snide and wrong. Members of the council thought long and hard about the proposal for months. Many were reluctant to commit redevelopment funds, because they are tightfisted with taxpayer money and the city has other needs. But as several consultant and staff reports made clear, the project "pencils out" economically. Lease payments from a theater or other operator should cover the city's costs, and the benefits to nearby businesses and the community are clear. The council sees efforts to restore the theater as a way to build community spirit.
Dave Weinstein, El Cerrito

Now pole-vaulting, that's a truly dangerous sport
I'm very disappointed in your article ("Caleb's Cage," July 3). Your article portrays MMA (no one even calls it No Holds Barred NHB any more) in an obvious condescending fashion. You make Caleb out to be a psycho and fans to be bloodthirsty. You compare the fighters to social dirt and you make many allusions to your own personal feelings about the sport.

First off, the man's name is Rorion Gracie, not Rordian or whatever you thought it was. You seemed to completely skip over anything to do with skill, focusing, instead, on the spectacle of something that hasn't been so for eight years. There have been more pole-vaulting deaths than there ever will be in MMA.

I am an avid fan and I disdainfully disagree with your assessment that "fans and supporters alike, agree" that our sport is a spectacle. Bullshit.

Maybe you don't understand it, but in that circumstance do you feel qualified to write about it? Maybe you are just relating your observations. I suggest an editorial instead.
Kuangyan Huang, Chicago

For once, an article that isn't demeaning
Thank you for the article on Caleb Mitchell. As a fan and practitioner of NHB fighting, in the oppressively "politically correct" atmosphere of Northern California, it is very refreshing to read any article about the mixed martial arts and no-holds-barred fighting that does not begin with the hysterical premise, "Oh, my, isn't this just TERRIBLE! What barbarians!" Considering his upbringing and the horrendous family traumas that he has overcome, Caleb Mitchell strikes me as a perfectly sane, rational young man. I applaud Caleb for his courage and his achievements -- and you for bringing them to our attention without demeaning him or his fellow fighters.
Hank Trout, San Francisco

By giving away the plot I will spare you from having to see this stupid movie
And now for a different take on last week's movie review ("Fathers and Guns," July 10). There is a scene in Road to Perdition that takes place at a funeral when Paul Newman sits down at a piano and is joined by Tom Hanks; they play a very boring, uninteresting, very simple one-finger piece together. Afterwards, everyone in attendance applauds loudly. I found this scene to be a metaphor for the entire movie and any critical acclaim it may receive. It is essentially the story of a very stupid person who consistently and with determination remains stupid throughout the duration of the film.

Tom Hanks plays the stupid person who works as a hit man for Paul Newman. It is so obvious to everyone but the characters in the movie that there will be a huge price to pay for all of this. And, indeed, it is not long until Hanks loses not only his home but half his family and is on the run. It is an opportunity for him to gain some enlightenment and make some changes, but he stubbornly refuses to change. He continues making monumentally bad decisions and completely wasting his precious life. It is so annoying watching someone being so stupid for the entire length of this film.

There are so many things that make no sense. Hanks is a hit man who kills many people throughout the course of the movie, but when he has the opportunity to kill the one person who has been hired to kill him, he only wounds him and does not stay to finish him off. Then, of all the places he could go, he decides to go to the one place where his assassin is waiting for him, a place he previously decided not to go to because he had already figured out the assassin was there. And then it does not seem to occur to the assassin that Hanks, a hit man, might have a gun and takes no precautions. And then Hanks does not use his gun until the last possible moment, presumably for dramatic motivation. This is a bad movie, albeit a well-made bad movie with good actors who you think would have something better to do.
John Maes, Oakland

In case it escaped your attention, we don't care about your rules
To the person who said that urban explorers put not only themselves but others in danger (Letters, July 17) by putting at risk any people who would choose to rescue them: We all know that you are wheelchair-bound due to your morbid obesity, so you yourself by your fat ass are putting at risk any brave souls who would try to lift your two-ton ass if you fall out of your wheelchair. Back strain city!

Liberté, Égalité, Fatassity.
33rd Degree Freemason, Blackhawk

How about that Quaker Uzi?
I enjoyed David Miller's letter titled "Don't Explain Away Genocide" (July 17), but feel that his statement relating to Jews being "culturally as pacifistic as Quakers" needs a bit of clarification. I doubt that Quakers would "remove" from America to a foreign country enough plutonium, enriched uranium, and high-speed nuclear triggers to build 300+ nuclear and thermonuclear warheads. I also doubt that Quakers would design for both domestic use and worldwide sale an endless array of weapons from the Uzi light machine gun, the "Arrow" intermediate range missile system, a satellite controlled AWAC system, and the list goes on and on. Obviously, Israel needs its arsenal and military industrial complex as much as America does, but please let us not be lost in a sea of propaganda.
Richard Kibsgaard, Berkeley

The power of positive thinking
David Miller describes Jews as gentle, innocent, pacifist victims of horrific, bloodthirsty Arab murderers (Letters, July 17). If true, this dreadfully one-sided situation raises a puzzling question: how did such powerless folk take over all of Palestine from its indigenous inhabitants? Meditation? Prayer? The power of positive thinking, perhaps? Miller might ask some other Semites -- Palestinian ones -- how they came to be here and not at home in Palestine.
Kenneth E. Scudder, San Francisco

In our recent item about the proposed construction of the world's largest straw-bale home in Berkeley, we misquoted Jason Dunn, the director of marketing for builder Integrated Structures, Inc. Dunn said the five-story structure will only appear four stories high, not two, as we reported.

In our story about Caleb Mitchell ("Caleb's Cage," July 3), we misspelled the name of ultimate fighter Rorion Gracie.


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