Letters for the week of January 19-25, 2005 

Speaking Greek in Orinda? Speaking English in España. Speaking with others at Daily Kos. Speaking down in West Oakland.

"The Butler Did It," Bottom Feeder, 12/15

Milatay ellinikah?
The aptly named Bottom Feeder column about Cristina Schultz's dabblings in the oldest profession neglected to mention whether the Express also benefited from her activities through ad revenue in its featured "escorts" section. Inquiring minds also want to know if she "speaks Greek."
Damian Anderson, Emeryville

"Misdirected," Film, 12/22

Muy Americano
Melissa Levine is a fine writer and clearly knowledgeable about cinema; however, she has written a North American review of a very Spanish film.

No one emerges unscathed from the child abuse portrayed in Bad Education. Almodóvar draws upon noir, to be sure, but just as much upon the uniquely Spanish artistic vision from Goya to Lorca and Dalí. The most important line in the film is hurled at the abuser years later and goes something like this: "It is 1977. You cannot take away my freedom with your hypocrisy." Two years after the death of Franco in 1975, the Spanish world was turned upside down.

I first saw La Mala Educación in Madrid in May; upon returning to the small family-owned hotel where I always stay, I told the night-desk clerk where I'd been. "Oh," he said, "Americans and Europeans love Almodóvar. He's against my morals." But, in fact, the title of the film in Spanish comes from the expression, "mal educado/bien educado": well raised or brought up, badly raised or very badly brought up.

After the film came out, the Spanish papers were for the first time ever full of stories about sacerdotal child abuse.
Gloria Bowles, Berkeley

"Party Central," Feature, 12/15

It's about community
I just wanted to thank you, and to add this: people seek dKos out in order to find other like-minded Democrats, not a guru. Kos himself doesn't really speak much for me, nor for many of the site's followers, to judge by the post-election diaries. Unlike e.g. Wonkette, however, dKos is about the community and not about reading one journalist's views.

Now that some bloggers have themselves become well-known media personalities, their value to the reading public has declined precipitously, as they struggle with the same issues of professionalism and career that have all but silenced mainstream journalists.
Maria Bustillos, Los Angeles

"Take Two Buses and Call Me in the Morning," City of Warts, 1/5

It's not either/or
Chris Thompson is being a bit harsh when indicting Dana Harvey for favoring a locally-based food store over a chain drugstore. There are more drugstores just outside West Oakland, and traveling to a drugstore is easier than traveling to a food store (the packages one has to carry are smaller).

Either/or is not the solution here -- West Oakland needs both types of stores. Having a Walgreens next door would probably improve the survival chances of a food cooperative, because of extra foot traffic. I tend not to welcome chainstores that send their profits far away, but Harvey might want to consider courting an ally that would serve a complementary need.
Hans Thomas, Oakland

In his recent Wal-Mart ad, uh, piece about West Oakland, Chris Thompson writes that "since poor, inner-city residents aren't exactly known for their devotion to healthy food," the idea of building a consortium of stores which offers healthy food and fresh produce to West Oaklanders is one to be "wary" of. Instead, Thompson implies, the poor, mostly black and Latino folks who live in the hood CHOOSE to eat the nasty, greasy crap offered by Mickey D's and Burger King because they are just that stupid, not just because there's simply no other places around that offer healthy food.

So OF COURSE they would prefer a huge conglomerate like Wal-Mart in their community, especially one which, as Thompson writes, "has been so supportive of urban development," despite the fact that Jesse Jackson called the corporation an "economic Trojan horse ... [that] represents short-term pleasure and long-term pain."

Because, hell, who would want a healthy, sustainable locally run alternative like a fresh-food co-op in their neighborhood when offered a bastion of free-market monopoly capitalism which offers substandard wages and crappy benefits to its workers and undercuts small business all across the nation? Not those "poor, inner-city" West Oaklanders, says Thompson -- they'll take urban sprawl, minimum wage, and a Big Mac anyday. Supersized.
Sylvia W. Chan, Oakland

Chris Thompson replies
I wrote about Walgreens, not Wal-Mart. There is a difference.

"The Voodoo Priestess in Court," City of Warts, 12/22

Print this, editor!
You cannot imagine how many letters of support I have received as a result of your obviously skewed article. It becomes a real problem when other spiritualists ask for much larger donations than I for spiritual services, like the churches requesting tithes of 20 to 40 percent of a person's income.

The world is getting it, thanks to New Age spirituality, that there is something beyond damaging drugs and mindless, eternal psychotherapy ... that end in NOTHING. That is what alternative medicine is all about. People and their insurance companies pay millions of dollars to extend their suffering from diseases like cancer for just a few more miserable months. Alternative medicine offers an alternative. I have always extended free and sliding-scale payments -- but you forgot to print that! Now find the courage to print this, editor!
Dr. Sharon Caulder, New Orleans


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