Letters for August 20 

Readers sound off on Indian cinema, movie projectionists, and stereotypical language.

"Namestey East Bay," Feature, 7/30

East Is East, and ...

Regarding the cover story, "Namastey East Bay," and making a film about Indians in the East Bay (allegedly never done before), I recommend viewing David Rathod's 1987 low-budget feature, West Is West, set in San Francisco and starring future real-life filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker as an immigrant who arrives from Bombay and lives in the Tenderloin district, where multiple forms of culture clash ensue. The film, made in English, also features a Bollywood sequence and one of the first on-screen romantic relationships between an Indian and an American. (Such a relationship is also featured in Paul Mayeda Berges and Gurinder Chadha's 2005 film, Mistress of Spices, also set in San Francisco.) 

Ajay Gehlawat, Berkeley

"Alameda Labor Dispute Hinges on Skills of Projectionists," News, 7/30

It's a Shame to Mar Such a Spectacular Renovation

This is an age-old quandary regarding unionized labor being squeezed out by new technology. I have no doubt that Mr. Conner does not want to negotiate a union contract for fear that he'll then be "stuck" with a unionized theater when digital projection finally becomes a reality. In the meantime, I have been to the theater twice and suffered through projection problems both times. Other people I've talked to have complained as well, including one person who had to endure a fifteen-minute malfunction in the middle of Iron Man. The print of that film was already scratched and had pieces missing only three days after the film opened! "Plattering" films, as all theaters do (except some rep cinemas), already guarantees the prints will sustain some damage, making it all the more important that the projectionists know how to properly handle films. The interminable gaps that come with malfunctions are due to the theater requiring one projectionist to be responsible for several screens simultaneously; not impossible for a trained professional, but a recipe for disaster using regular employees pulling double duty. It's a shame that such a spectacular cosmetic renovation is flawed right at the core of the moviegoing experience — the actual screening of the films. Count me (an Alamedan) out as a customer until Mr. Conner (and Mayor Johnson) do the right thing and hire union professionals.

Eddie Muller, Alameda

"Roots and Branches Block Party," Events & Attractions, 7/16

Help Us Evolve

I am writing to you as the program director and co-founder of Roots and Branches. I appreciate the publicity about Roots and Branches' Oakland State of Mind Block Party. We have been sending press releases to the East Bay Express for the past three years and it was exciting to see our event written up in the Critic's Choice section.

As an up-and-coming organization our image is of the utmost importance to our community and to our funders. We rely on the trust of our community to come out and experience our events. We have been writing to you for three years in hopes that the East Bay Express would represent us honestly and to our fullest intent. I would like to discuss some issues we had with your writing. Roots and Branches is a growing organization and we need proper advertisement in our community because we are trying to involve all of the Oakland community in what we do. Community members that attend our events include major supporters of our organization, as well as future members and funders of Roots and Branches.

The entire article was based around Phil Lewis' legitimacy as the first to record a rap song in Oakland. Please understand that although Phil Lewis was an important part of this specific show, Roots and Branches features many artists from disciplines across the board. We chose to feature Phil because of his positive presence for many youth in our community. Phil himself was disappointed with his representation because he felt that the article was slanderous to his name and his career in Oakland. If you feel that his credentials are in question then please contact Lee Hildebrand who wrote about Motorcycle Mike for the East Bay Express in the '80s or Mickey Moore who put out the record and wrote about Motorcycle Mike in his biography. Comments like "... let a pimp know" are part of the discourse that we are trying to evolve and move past with our young leaders in Oakland.

Nicholas Basta, Oakland

Correction

In our August 6 review of The Mikado at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, we incorrectly credited the role of the Mikado to Charles Martin. It was actually played by Ray Thackeray.

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