Letters for the week of March 30-April 5, 2005 

What would L. Ron do? What would AOL do? What would Elton do? What would Cleopatra do?

"Oh, Give Me a Home," Feature, 3/9

What's the e-meter say?
It didn't surprise me that Araceli Ramirez is the "do-gooder" who offered her home to a sexual deviant. She represented my foster children in a court. She didn't talk to me or the children before she arrogantly decided what was "best" for them. Once again, her arrogance reigns as she decides what is good for the community.

Now that Cary Verse has gotten religion, he feels all should be forgiven. Well, he had religion before he committed his first crime. He knew it was wrong then, and it didn't stop him. He wants off of the chemical castration drug. If he were really rehabilitated, he would want to stay on the drug in order to make sure that he had no inclination to commit a crime and in order to protect the community and his next victim.

As usual, psychiatry tries to fob off its latest aversion therapy as something that really works. Have they used standard scientific methods to prove that this actually works? No, they send this guy out into the community, and we are the guinea pigs. Aversion therapy may work on dogs, but men are not dogs.

The only hope for Cary Verse is that he has truly realized he is a spiritual being and that he is the one that has to take responsibility for his own actions.

Then, if he availed himself of a therapy that has been proven to really work, such as Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health, he could get this problem resolved.
Sharyn Obrigewitsch, Antioch

"1175 Hours Free!," AOL CD insert, 3/23

More wasted resources, more annoyed readers
How about a story about a progressive weekly publication that allows AOL to put its incredibly wasteful, eco-unfriendly, and annoying discs in the paper?

Seriously, I'm surprised and appalled that you folks would put these discs in the paper. Yeah, I understand that AOL might offer a pretty penny in advertising fees, but think of the end result -- more trash, more wasted resources, more annoyed readers. I will think seriously about not picking up a copy of the Express if I feel that telltale rigid insert.

Please talk to your advertising folks about this. This is the Bay Area, for goodness' sakes! We don't go for this kind of stuff. Thanks for listening.
Alan Howe, Oakland

"It's Everybody's Fault," Feature, 2/23

Emergency response? What emergency response?
Your article in the Express about the damage by earthquakes to the East Bay infrastructure seemed pretty accurate. We were just arriving at Tokyo on a container ship when the Kobe earthquake occurred. One thing which stood out was the blockage of almost every block of the city streets. If it was not rubble from a building, it was downed wires and poles from electricity and telephone service. So even if the fire engines worked and had enough hose to reach to the harbor, they couldn't drive more than about half a block before finding their way blocked.
Hugh B. Harvey, Walnut Creek

"Wok of Ages," Books, 2/23

Wok this way
When I first moved from my parents' home and started cooking for myself, I had a Chinese friend. When I expressed an interest in cooking, his mother showed me how she cooked with a wok. I loved the food so much that I asked her where to buy a wok. She gave me the name of one of the stores in Chinatown and phoned the owner to tell him I was coming. When I got there, he went to the back and gave me a sixteen-inch cast-iron wok just like hers. It was heavy with handles that were cast into the bowl. It was ugly and utilitarian. He told me how to season it in the oven and that the food would taste better the more that I used it.

Sometimes I have the occasion to cook using other people's woks and I have never had the success that I have had with my old wok. As the steel wok is to the nonstick pan, so is the cast-iron wok to the steel wok. I have never wanted a nonstick wok after using my own.
Robert Lewko, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

"Aida," On Stage, 3/2

Don't go breaking my heart
Your attack on Elton John's score for Aida was extremely narrow-minded. It's hard to find another modern musical where every song basically has a melody that, yes, is rather memorable and becomes more memorable with more listens.

Musical dissection aside, you clearly think of Elton John as an Adult Contemporary whitebread artist with no artistic integrity. Let me guess: You never heard the gospel/countrified classics "Honky Chateau" or "Tumbleweed Connection"? You never knew that he is an exceptional prodigal piano player that has always been critically known to incorporate soul, blues, country, classical, jazz, and rock leanings in his work? Of course not. You heard "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and his other Adult Contemporary hits and judged him.

Try to be a little more subtle in the future.
Greg Brunswick, analyst, sales and marketing research dept., Sony BMG, New York

"Cleo's Mood," Film, 2/23

A condescending tattoo
I enjoyed reading your descriptive review of the film Cleopatra Jones. Your guide was a thorough incentive to see the film. Props on a job well done.

All that said, there is one segment, regarding the label of "blaxploitation," that I need to comment on. You made the statement -- "even though in itself it's a relatively harmless movie-biz marketing label serving the same function as 'biker pic' or 'softcore porn.'" My objection about the title is not about you and has no relationship to the labels you used as examples to strengthen your point. The term 'blaxploitation' was/is the condescending tattoo tagged on '70s black action films. Quiet as it was kept, ironically, these films helped keep the studio system alive during a risky decade for movies. I hope I was able to give you insight into why growing numbers of African Americans agree with Pam Grier. It's all in the name.
Lasana Taylor, Palo Alto

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