Letters for the week of May 21-27, 2003 

Learning about Cinco de Mayo, shopping for refractive eye surgery, celebrating Hank Ballard's role, and mourning the loss of lofts.

Billboard, 4/30

Talk to your readers

Cinco de Mayo does not mark Mexico's independence from Spain; it marks the Battle of Puebla -- the defeat of an invading French army by an outmanned, outgunned group of Mexican peasants. In the future, please make an effort to do a little research on this subject prior to writing about it, or at least talk to someone -- like a Mexican American -- who might actually be celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
Richard Raya, Oakland

"A Pain in the Eye That's Forever," Feature, 4/23

As with anything else, it pays to shop around

Although your article pretty much chronicled the LASIK mishaps, let me put my two cents' worth in as somebody who is THRILLED with my LASIK results. I was so happy to throw away my glasses and am forever grateful to my surgeon, Steven Pascal, MD, in Oakland, who allowed me to throw my glasses away. Dr. Pascal was slow to tell me that I was a candidate and quick to tell my husband that he was not a candidate -- note that my husband was told, before he saw Dr. Pascal, by one of those "LASIK mills," that he was a "perfect candidate." Dr. Pascal noted that my husband's corneas were too thin, and, therefore, not candidates for LASIK.

My sense of the LASIK docs is that, like any other field -- law, teaching, architecture, etc. -- there are those who are mediocre and those who are heroic. My husband and I happened to find one of the heroes. I also find it noteworthy that Dr. Pascal trained under the doctor that your article lauds: Dr. James Salz in Los Angeles.

I guess when it comes to LASIK, the saying, "Let the buyer beware," is more than prudent advice.
Libby Showalter, Berkeley

"Twistin' in His Grave," Planet Clair, 3/12

Lowering the ropes one dance at a time

I am a late-sixty-year-old white man who grew up in Durham, NC. I am now retired and live in North Myrtle Beach, SC. Your article was sent to me by an old jitterbug friend who lives in the Bay Area, who also lived in Charlotte, NC. Boy, did it bring back fond memories of my favorite R&B singer, who helped break down the color barrier in the early '50s in a Southern town.

During the '50s, R&B music was taboo and seldom played on the white radio stations. We would go to the "Colored Dances" (official name during that period), which brought in the top R&B artist at the time. When the Midnighters were in town we were there, although we were restricted to the balcony or upstairs. If I remember correctly, Hank and the Midnighters were there once during the 1953-'54 time period and things were beginning to "lighten up" a bit. This particular night they put up ropes downstairs, and the white people were allowed to come down and dance. First time ever that we were allowed on the dance floor with the black people. The rope lasted about thirty minutes, and it was one night I will never forget.

I live in an area, Ocean Drive, that is famous for the Shag dance, a smooth version of the Jitterbug that black people originated. People like Hank and other R&B artists were responsible for the music (and still are) that we do the Shag dance to. Too bad the ropes are still up in some places in our society. Thanks for the memories.
Larry Blake, North Myrtle Beach, SC

Live-Work Lost," Feature, 4/9

Subsidize artists' lofts, don't shut them down

I am writing in response to the "Live-Work Lost" story. I am disgusted that the city would try to rip somebody's property for bettering an otherwise dead space. With rising rents and declining wages, I would like to think that the city would like to have someone come in and fix up such a space, we all know the city can't manage to do it.

As a resident who has lived here his whole life (34 years) and passed by the same empty spaces year after year, and has helped put together similar warehouse spaces, it never ceases to amaze me the rocket scientists that try to run our lives. I have helped with many such endeavors, and they were put together better than any code could possibly ask for. If the city really wants to crack down on codes and such, why don't they lay into the slumlords that have property all over Oakland?

The city should subsidize such endeavors, not shut them down, and I guarantee if that was a corporation: 1) It would not be up to code and 2) with a little cash to such and such in the county building, he or she would turn a blind cheek. I have seen it. The people at the Creamery took a dead space and brought it to life, paid for it up front, and made a haven to not only work but to live in. If I had my way, the person that complained would be in jail for ruining something that was worked so hard for, and so many people that they affected. It's places like the Creamery that contribute to the community, not make it worse; and since the city can't seem to do anything, why shouldn't citizens give it a shot?
Len Johnson, Oakland

Corrections

At least a dozen recent capsule film reviews in the Express contained material lifted without attribution from other sources, or language suggesting the writer had seen the film when she had not. A complete report appears in this week's 7 Days column.

In the May 14 City of Warts column "How Not to Write a Law," about the trial of medical marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal, we mischaracterized the participation of fellow pot club operator Bob Martin in several respects. Martin testified in Rosenthal's January trial, but was considerably more reluctant to do so than we suggested. He was compelled to testify by prosecutors and did not, as we appeared to suggest, sing like a bird to eliminate a competitor. In addition, we erroneously reported that Martin was ejected from April's convention of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In fact, attendee Bill Panzer says he saw Martin leave after a confrontation with Rosenthal.

In our May 7 Best of the East Bay issue, we erroneously stated that "Best Live Mixmaster" DJ Joe Quixx, performs at Oakland's Radio bar every other Friday night. In fact, he performs every Friday at 10 p.m.

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