Letters for July 17, 2003
On Saturday morning, July 5, a phone call informed us that the new art school we’d just started in Chico was burning. Barreling out of Paradise down the Skyway, we saw a towering black thermal column rising from the downtown and knew with dread certainty that our lives, and the lives of our friends who occupied 330 Flume St., would be drastically and irrevocably changed in the hours to come.
Those heartbreaking hours on Saturday afternoon, as we watched the flames surge relentlessly through our new business, were made in some way tolerable, and somehow bearable, because of the heroic efforts of Chico’s incredible Fire Department, consummate professionals technically and, in every sense of the word, humanitarians.
We will never forget Marie Fickert, Rick Doane, John Staveley, Ron Ferarra and David Grimes. Amidst the chaos of that fire scene these individuals responded with true compassion and understanding. At great personal risk, members of C.F.D. repeatedly climbed the steps to our burning third-floor art school, carrying out two pastel portraits of our daughter and the drawings and paintings belonging to our students. They rescued more than 80 books from our school’s library.
So, over and beyond the great losses we sustained that day, these treasured things have been given back to us by C.F.D.
Oscar Wilde once said, “We know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” In the days since the fire, many friends have expressed concern over the damage to and loss of numerous artworks that were in some sense “priceless” to us, but we can tell you from experience what is really and truly priceless is the company of your friends and loved ones, the caring and compassion that are offered to you in the midst of a crisis, and the valuable life lessons that emerge in the wake of an event like this.
Fire’s transformational energy is a part of a much larger picture. This fire brought us new friends and greater understanding, and for this we are grateful.
Eddy and Janet Hood
The Loft Art School
Please, baby, please, for the sake of the Great God of Cinema in the sky (not to mention for your readers), don’t let Craig Blamer write any more reviews.
Tom S. Reck
The Bowles tragedy
I read with fascination your tribute to Linda Bowles ["The last word,” by Linda Meilink, July 3]. The only thing I know of her is what I learned from reading your fair and balanced article.
After I read your article I asked myself, how on earth do right-wing politics and a belief in God mix? According to your article, Bowles used “a love for God” as a platform from which she took delight in shredding people to pieces. Bowles and people of her ilk are using Christianity for ulterior means, to further their cause, which is mean-spirited and sadistic. Can you imagine Jesus being a right-wing Christian?
I found Bowles’ suicide a real tragedy in the truest sense of the word. She was sincere in her beliefs, but since it was laced with selfish motivation, it couldn’t sustain her through the hardest of times, the death of her husband. It could not bring her true happiness, either.
Had she been on the path of first-class religion, she would have known that every living being is part and parcel of God. She would have known that God resides in everyone’s heart. Ultimately, she would have known that her primary relationship is with God, which is eternal, and not her husband, which is temporary. My heart is full of compassion toward her. God provided her an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. How sad she couldn’t take advantage of this and see through it.
Kudos for Court Theatre
After the outbreak of war in 1939, Noel Coward approached Winston Churchill about how he could serve his country. Churchill’s advice was for Noel to make a lasting contribution as an entertainer. Noel consented to this but decided that a lasting contribution meant writing. The result was Blithe Spirit, which has been entertaining us ever since. When the play went to the provinces, Noel stepped into the role of Charles after an acting break of six years. Having found his stage legs again, he was knocked off them on learning of the death of his friend the Duke of Kent. Yet, as the saying goes, the play went on, with Noel delivering Charles’ tongue-and-cheek comments on death.
The Court Theatre cast gave us a taste of Coward that makes me want a whole season of Noel’s plays. And not just because martinis are the primary stage prop. I could close my eyes and listen to the dialogue and know they ‘had it.” Ginger Hanner’s performance as the whirling dervish Madame Arcati was the perfect counterpoint to Elvira’s (Jenny Rand) ghostly seduction of Charles (Rich Matli). Ruth (Denice R. Burbach) was a pitch-perfect terror of insecurity to Charles’ caddishness. Rich Matli looked good in Noel’s shoes.
But it was Ginger Hanner who was unforgettable in this play. What came to mind was Noel’s song, ‘Don’t put your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington.” Thankfully Ginger Hanner’s mother was not a Mrs. Worthington.
Rights and responsibilities
I read your July 3 editorial concerning Iyman Faris, the man accused, tried and sentenced in secret. Concerned is hardly the word for what is happening in this wonderful country. Freedom as I knew it as a child 50 years ago is gone. I am very frightened for the future, for my grandchildren.
The most frightening aspect of this whole era is that so many people are not frightened: too long since World War II and Germany; too long since Russia and the total disregard for individual rights and freedom. Along with all of this, personal responsibility is waning. Thank you for an excellent editorial.