Letters for August 26 

Readers sound off on our dining reviews and Cafe Gratitude's ties with Landmark Forum.

Page 3 of 3

Kate Swoboda, Berkeley

Call It a Mind Fuck

If last week's article about the Cafe Gratitude's employment policy is correct, the cafe's upper management would appear, ironically, incapable of discerning the human soul's will to freedom. Anyone whose a priori position is that he or she wants to cure you is telling you that a) you are diseased and b) because of your supposed disease state he or she is right and you are wrong if you disagree with either the diagnosis or the proposed cure. Such disenfranchisement of persons is the hallmark and mechanism of fundamentalist oppression. We old hippies used to call this a mind fuck.

The pressure applied to employees of Cafe Gratitude to attend Landmark seminars is indeed reminiscent of the manipulations used to pack 'em in at Erhard Seminars Training (EST) in the 1970s and '80s. Those who define themselves through authoritarian pressure (either applying or receiving it) seek emotional release through unequal power relationships. Freer hearts and minds do not confuse the relief of pain from a cessation of external force with the joy of personal revelation or healthy personal relationships.

The Cafe G.'s owners' and managers' admissions of forcing employees to engage in non-work-related activities (continuing to pressure and/or firing those who refuse) is abuse of more than the employees' religious freedom. California labor laws also forbid harassment. If the self-defined altruists at Cafe Gratitude actually practiced what they claim to preach, wouldn't they be grateful to have independent managers like Ash Ritter among them?

Glen Kohler, Berkeley

It's a Cult

I have to say I was very happy to finally see an article about the group Landmark. I have had the same personal experiences as the people that work at Cafe Gratitude. It's about time a news organization shines light on this cult. I had a dear friend in college who ended up getting involved with Landmark. It was the same thing, the pressure for everyone he knew to join. He lost all his friends from college because of this. You couldn't be around him without some reference to Landmark and their teachings and the constant asking to attend their meetings. I find it interesting as well to see a pretty big connection with Landmark and Burning Man, but that is from my own personal viewpoint. As well as I have noticed there is an acceptance of polyamorous relationships among the people I know who belong to Landmark. Not to say everyone that is involved in the group is that way, just the ones I know.

I think there really needs to be more investigation into this group more. I find it very similar to the Church of Scientology in that you have to pay more and more money to get to higher levels.

I hope the East Bay Express and other news organizations expose the group for what it is, a cult.

Lisa Zwirner, Alameda

Miscellaneous Letters

Your Events Listings Need Help

Last night a friend and I wanted to do something, we had a car, and we went to THREE events listed in the calendar, and NONE of them were happening as listed. Two of them weren't happening at all (the outdoor film showing at Jack London Square, and the open mic at the Nomad Cafe). The other, an open mic at Cafe Mediterranean, was happening an hour a half after it was listed.

This is the last time in a long time I'll check out East Bay Express online, unless you can assure me and other readers that you've cleaned up whatever problem there is.Thanks for listening.

John Lindsay-Poland, Oakland


In the shopping section of our August 19 Insider's Guide, we printed the wrong name of the business at 6309 College Ave. in Oakland. It's now called Heartware.

In our August 19 story about Combat Music Radio, ("Combat and Noise,") we incorrectly identified the location of Amanda Hines' Lava Nights shows. They occur at the Stork Club in Oakland.


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