Letters for July 31, 2003

Corrections: In the July 17 Newslines story, “Stripper gets off, Ramsey ponders punting” the pay rate of deputy sheriffs was overstated. The actual average wage for a deputy sheriff is between $16.83 and $21.48 per hour. Consequently, the cost of county manpower for the First Amendment bust may also have been misstated. Also, we accidentally dropped the author’s byline for our Music feature in the July 24 issue, “Solid Body Electric,” about local guitarist Matt Baldoni. It was written by Christine LaPado. We regret the errors.

A digital future
I enjoyed your recent article on HDTV [“The high-definition wasteland,” cover story, June 19]. I did find it quite accurate. I recently purchased a Toshiba HDTV and a Hughes HDTV satellite receiver. I’m currently able to get on Direct TV six channels in high definition. That’s ESPN, HDnet, Discovery HD, HDnet Movies, HBO and Showtime. The image is spectacular! A good analogy might be the difference between VHS tape and DVD.

Also, the prices on HD digital TVs have come down. I’ve seen some 27” HD CRT (4:3) sets for as little as $600. You’ll need some type of satellite receiver to get HD around here, at least till Comcast upgrades our cable system or our local stations start broadcasting in HD.

The real problem is after you have watched HDTV it’s hard to watch analog! The transition is like from LPs to CDs. I realize there are always going to be some nay-sayers, but the future is digital. It’s time to smell the bytes!

Geoff Bartels
Received via email

Dashed hopes
I must say that I was excited when I noticed a slight makeover for the News & Review. I got a certain feeling of hope, thinking that perhaps the editors had finally decided to make the CN&R relevant again. They must know they’re becoming as out of touch as the Enterprise-Record, I thought. Maybe, I thought, they’ll finally get around to exposing long-known open secrets in local government. Maybe, I thought, they’ll finally restore the level of quality in arts writing they once maintained.

Instead, I found that the changes were no more than a slight retooling in format and went no farther than the back pages. You replaced one pointless column with another, picked up arguably the second-best writer from The Buzz (whose work plunged down the drain the moment he made the move), and decided that more grandstanding might make up for lazy reporting.

Your publication likes to think of itself as a tool of liberal crusade and defender of the fine arts. In reality, you haven’t broken any relevant stories in years, and your reviews have become gimmicky and uninformed. Sure, DNA’s column is best suited for The Synthesis, and Womack’s probably got some weird contract with The Buzz for the next 10 years, but there are still plenty of ways to bring the News & Review back up to snuff. For once, just once, please do your readers and advertisers a favor and write a news story that isn’t just a love letter to Councilwoman Jarvis and run a review that isn’t completely off-target because of some moronic ‘angle” you decided would make for a good headline.

For the love of God, get some real political backbone and some decent music and theater writers. Oh, and please, please make Juan Carlos-Selznick write about an entire movie and not the most obscure bit of subtext that usually is the exact opposite of the real meaning of a movie, included only for juxtaposition.

Jon Merkin

Prayer meetings
As for the secularization of City Council invocations: Thank God

Stephen T. Davis

Shameful Shrew
It is common practice these days to make fun of those who pay attention to the politically incorrect. However, I was at a performance of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew last night. It was clear from my listening meter that many people were having trouble laughing at the humor intended by the production. While it was a good production and a great job by all actors, putting it into the 1920s just made the disturbing elements of this play all the more evident.

Most of the behavior of Petruchio would now be considered that of a stalker and rapist, and Baptista is selling his children into slavery. While it’s an interesting historical document, it is hard to get behind these characters because their behavior is so unacceptable, we are so painfully aware of the repercussions of these dysfunctional relationships. So what to do about the famous bard? I suspect that Taming is a play like Merchant of Venice, with such a problematic premise—in this case sexist rather than anti-Semitic—that its theatrical life will be on the downswing.

There are, of course, plays by Shakespeare that still have relevance to our times. However it is hard to imagine a production of this play that would be able to salvage the wisdom about how the dynamics between willful people progress and the great written lines and still speak to us in a way that brings greater understanding rather than greater discomfort.

Claudia King

How do you feel?
I challenge you, my friends in Butte County, to ask yourselves, when fund-raising opportunities arise pending the next presidential election, do you feel safer with the present administration or less confident about your future? Do you feel richer or poorer? Do you believe the natural environment is improving or declining? Do you believe your personal rights to privacy are intact, or are they being eroded by recent changes in laws from Homeland ‘Security? Do you have complete confidence in President Bush and just forgive his blunders? Are you worried about eroding states’ economics? Are you comfortable spending billions every week in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are you worried about the future for yourself and your family? Will Social Security funds (your money) be there for you when you need it? How do you feel about cuts to education happening across our nation while demands for testing students increase? (Do you know one of President Bush’s brothers sells school testing materials?)

We can contribute money, even small amounts will add up, to voice our concerns. And when the time comes, I hope our collective votes will be overwhelming in causing a change for a more positive future for all of us.

Tanya M. Henrich