Letters for the week of February 27 

"I urge everyone to go see the Gaia building. It shows density can be delightful."

Caption Quibbles
Your piece ("Across the Borderline," Feb. 6) on Migrations: Photography by Sebastião Salgado, the exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum through March 24, was welcome. Seeing the pictures is rewarding -- well worth at least one visit, but the text on the museum walls and in its brochure is often misleading. You report that Salgado "feels that photography should be involved in the debate around social issues." Well, the captions are debatable, especially as the role of the US in creating many of the refugees depicted is absent. Here is just one example: "Late in the Bosnian war, when Croatia occupied Drajina, it was the Serbs' turn to flee." Actually the Serbs were the first victims of massive ethnic cleansing in what was once Yugoslavia. After Croatia was recognized as an independent state in 1991, the Croatian army, armed and trained with CIA help, drove a half million Serbs out of Croatia between 1991 and 1995. Karjina wanted to remain in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but with the aid of US-NATO air strikes, the city was taken and an estimated 225,000 people driven out. Many of those fleeing were massacred.
Richard Wiebe, Berkeley

It's Our Party
In response to the item in "7 Days" (Feb. 6) regarding Jessica Bryan and the "Misguided Individual." If Jessica Bryan and Dona Spring had actually tried to embody David Nadel's principles instead of making a cottage industry to their own self-aggrandizement out of his death, their records of public service would look a lot like Carol Denney's.

Bryan paid herself a huge salary, according to her own budget, for running a folk festival where the bulk of the money went to pay herself and her friends, and the "philosophy" of keeping it "intimate" meant there was hardly room for anyone else to participate. If you add up the actual amount of players and volunteers in the show, it exceeded the capacity of the hall.When will this community catch on to the unadulterated corruption of rounding up public funds to throw a private party?
Michele Thomas, Oakland

Department of Comic Shrugs
I cannot help commenting on your treatment of the conflict between the Berkeley Folk Festival and Carol Denney in your 7 Days column of February 6. In the spirit of issuing a comic shrug over personalities of Berkeley politics, you appear to cast the dispute over making the folk festival handicap-accessible as a referendum on Carol Denney. ("Where you come down on this fight depends on where you stand on Carol Denney.") The question of whether the folk festival should be accessible to disabled musicians and festivalgoers should not be about Ms. Denney's motives for supporting this cause, any more than it should be about whether festival organizers are using their personal disagreements with Ms. Denney to avoid confronting the need to make the festival ADA compliant. Issues of accessibility for the disabled are serious and deserve serious treatment. If the festival would comply with the ADA then the problem would be solved. One can bury the matter in as much personal vitriol as one wishes, but at heart it boils down to obeying a law that most of us think is a good law. It has nothing at all to do with where one comes down on Carol Denney; it is just the right thing to do.
Kathleen Vanden Heuvel, via the Internet

Who's Out of Control?
Just a small note to thank you for another perspective on Lynn Rubin's lawsuit versus Logan High ("Daddy's Got Game," February 6). I like many others thought it was another parent out of control but when I read his side of the story, he is to be commended for staying with his beliefs, whether right or wrong.

The business of high school sports is very flawed and there are many programs, athletic directors, and coaches who are out of control. Their agendas extend way beyond that of the best interest of the players and the team. Thanks for the insight.
Robert Allen, Oakland

Gaia's Delightful Density
I beg to differ with my longtime (40+ years) friend and colleague, John Kenyon, on his portrayal of the Gaia Building ("How Green Is My City," January 30). I think it is a wonderful addition to downtown Berkeley. I am surprised that John, who has worked as a planner, only looked at it in a narrow, formalistic architectural manner.

It is a beautifully conceived building. But even if the architecture was not so good, it is the right kind of building -- housing -- in the right place -- a transit node -- for sound planning, for smart growth. It provides a smart choice for those who want to live near the action and don't want to be saddled with a car. It has a solid urban flavor, with its clean facades of large, industrial-like windows, some with "French" balconies, leavened by playful details and domestic references like roof trellises.

It is not out of scale with its surroundings. It plays to the middle range, not competing with higher structures on Shattuck. The varying levels and articulation break up the mass. A lively urban place has a variety of scales and styles for a variety of needs. This building, with its carefully chosen colors, is a very exciting addition to the skyline as viewed from the western side of Shattuck Avenue. The Moderne style of Eddie Bauer in the foreground on Shattuck creates a particularly lively juxtaposition.

I urge everyone to go see this building. It shows that density can be delightful. It can add and enrich without subtracting from the existing fabric. Let's hope that this is the beginning of smart development for downtown Berkeley.
Joyce Roy, Oakland

Bring Back Vance
I was glad when you printed Kelly Vance's review of "The Wide Blue Road" in ("The Big Bang," January 23). It made me want to see the film and to really enjoy it when I did. I always enjoyed his film reviews in the past and was very sorry when you transferred him to a different department a few months ago. Is there any hope of bringing him back as a film critic again on a regular basis?
Ying Ying Wu, via the Internet


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