Letters for August 13 

Readers sound off on anarchists, theater reviews, and, uh, shit.

"Military of Ideas," Your Words Here, 7/16


What an intelligent and mature example Greg Kim displayed for his young child in engaging with LaRouche supporters in a radical lefty dick-measuring contest. If Kim was so nonplussed by the activists' use of aggressive and condescending attitudes, why did he think he would accomplish anything with an equally aggressive, self-important confrontation? So he acted like a jerk in front of his family and boosted his little ego by owning some teenaged trustafarian. Anar-cheeeee. I'm inclined to agree with the "ATM lady" in Kim's little boast: Fuck them both.

Erika Larson, Oakland

"Kill Your Plumbing," Feature, 7/16

Knock Mr. Crapper Off His High Chair

In this time of decentralization, how come we have a big, superhighway of shit under every street? Right next to the fresh water pipes and cable TV. In post-industrial America, when we have closed down shoe factories, plants for making steel and iron, and even lots of our airplanes get built in France, do we need the biggest factory in every town to turn out processed poop, just to remind us that the US was once the industrial giant of the world?

It is time to move beyond centralized, industrial-sized solutions. We have cell phones, not central switchboards; we have laptops, not IBM 360s; we have iPods, not radio stations. Life in the US is small and spread out, like the suburbs, and our shit needs to be spread out too. Yes, kill your plumbing but don't stop with the gray stuff. We need to knock Mr. Crapper off his high seat and rethink his century-old toilet invention.

We need a new way to deal with all this shit. Not pipes coming out of the house. We want to just pull the handle and BAM: everything gets processed, clean water flows out to the tomatoes and a pile of clean, sweet-smelling, org-dirt comes out ready for the garden. OK you said to compost. But who wants to wait a long, smelly year to make backyard brownies from the processed poop. And turning it with the shovel is worse than following your dog without plastic baggies.

We have a prize to send someone up to outer space. That encourages rocket development. I say let's develop the solar poopster. Offer a new prize, a million bucks, to you, Mr. or Ms. hot-shot inventor, to think about poop for a few minutes and design us a poopster. That's what I call the invention now, but remember, it will be named after you when you succeed. Mr. Crapper's big days are over. When you win, you will be remembered once or twice a day by everyone on earth (if you have good marketing).

Charles Kerns, Alameda

"Suffering Shakespeare," Theater, 7/16

Critique, Don't Attack

Had I picked up your review of The Merry Wives of Windsor earlier I would have spent my Friday night quite differently. As it stands I am happy that I waited to open my copy of the East Bay Express, otherwise I would have missed out on a hilarious and clever staging of one of the Bard's lesser loved plays.

Beyond the actors' performance, Merry Wives' two-man band and the array of extravagant costumes alone made the show worth seeing for me. The costumer for this show deserves a lot more praise than I have yet to see him or her get, with everything from fleur-de-lis shorts for the stereotyped Dr. Caius to clown couture for the two titular wives.

Having said that, I shall openly admit that I felt that the play still felt somewhat rough and unfinished as I was watching it. But I believe that the actors' performances and the artistic direction merited a good review. The group that I went with to see Merry Wives greatly enjoyed the director's use of clowning throughout the play. The physical comedy and slapstick humor helped to translate the play's language to a modern audience, and certainly not did not have the negative effect of mangling the words. By the time that I saw the play the intermission had already been moved up a few scenes, which may have made a small contribution to my greater enjoyment of the play. Even so, the play still flowed very well and no member of my viewing audience left before applauding at the end of the show.

While writing this letter I started to ask myself what I was hoping to receive by writing it. A retraction of your criticisms? Certainly not, for while I did feel as though they were somewhat rudely phrased I did agree with some of your critiques and I doubt that you might change them. I believe then that what I am hoping for (and what prompted me to write this letter) is that you will be more gentle in writing future reviews. There is a difference between critiquing and attacking the performers, and after reading your review I strongly believe that you crossed a line of civility. I don't know if any of the cast members of Merry Wives have written to you with this sentiment in mind, but if they do I feel like some of them would be deserving of a small apology.

Hannah Hodel, San Francisco

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