Letters for August 8, 2002

True art stirs the soul
Re “Sheep Exhibit Stirs Up Backtalk” [RN&R News Brief, July 25]:

I didn’t have a chance to read the essay, only saw your write-up. But the paragraph that started, “We are the same species that built the pyramids …” really struck a chord.

I know little about visual art, so let me talk about music. Every orchestra, every opera company, knows there is “bread and butter” repertoire—the Beethoven symphonies, Pucini and Verdi, etc.—then there is the other stuff. Let a Philharmonic put too much Cage or Villa-Lobos on a season’s series and you can bet next year’s subscriptions will be down. Do it two years in a row and your orchestra will be in receivership. From the baroque to classical to romantic to early 20th century impressionistic music, the themes, melodies, chord structure, lyrics, movement, rhythms were rich and complex and emotionally driven. They didn’t reflect humanity and culture, they lifted audiences out of themselves, above their circumstances toward the transcendent. People know what nourishes their minds and souls. They won’t eat Kleenex and suck rocks forever.

Another problem with “the modern stuff” is that you sort of suspect you could do it pretty much as well as the artist did. How many of us listen to Mozart’s Mass in C major or a Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion and have those same thoughts? Artista is right. The modern stuff is unworthy to be compared to what has come before.

Here is where Karen Craig, I think, misses the boat. The existential, experimental and avant-garde happens ONLY BECAUSE it’s supported by selection committees, corporate sponsors and government grants. When the public drives production, you get melodies that make you sing your heart out in the shower. Yes, I know—Bach and Mozart had ecclesiastical or aristocratic supporters. That’s how things worked in their day. But Mozart’s works were almost immediately published and purchased by the hoi polloi, and Bach’s works were revived by Mendelssohn and have been indispensable since.

I guess what I’m saying is, down deep everyone knows that their lives would be impoverished if they could never hear these famous musical works again. The only place you hear Cage’s stuff is in mandatory music appreciation classes. And after that semester, you’re glad you never have to hear him again.

So there you have it. Glad Artista raised the issue, and I appreciate you reporting on it.

Jeannette McHugh Reno

Man of God makes difference
Re “A Faith for all Seasons” [RN&R, July 18]:

Kudos to Deidre Pike for her greatly appreciated article on former priest and current history professor Dr. John Marschall.

Though I grew up in Reno and attended local Catholic schools and parishes, I did not have the pleasure of knowing John Marschall, the priest. Rather, I met him after registering for the first of two semesters in his U.S. Religious History course. I was immediately impressed with his scholarship, as well as his personable demeanor. I came to regard him an academic and, on a subtler level, a spiritual mentor.

I am deeply grateful for the knowledge, inspiration and guidance I received from Dr. Marschall while I was an undergrad at UNR, made possible by his enlightened decision to serve his community in a secular academic forum. As a result of his courageous choices, inquisitive students like myself can benefit from his extensive historical expertise, his trans-denominational understanding of religion and spirituality, and his abiding faith in the ability to do God’s will beyond the confines of the priesthood.

Mary Anne Souza-Galperin via e-mail

Catholic story lacked balance
Re “Father Figures” and “A Faith for all Seasons” [RN&R, July 18]:

I read the articles regarding the Roman Catholic Church and the Priesthood in your magazine with some degree of sadness. I was very disappointed with the one-sidedness of the articles. The articles gave only the point of view of Church dissidents. Why can’t we hear from a priest or lay person who loves the Church and is loyal to her traditions and teachings?

Groups such as CORPUS, Catholics for Choice and others disagree with traditional Church teachings and values. Some of these groups are so strongly opposed to Church rules, laws and dogma that they have put themselves outside of the Church. They want to recreate the Church in their own image and not the image that God created. If they believe that the Church is failed as an institution, then they should leave and start their own church like Martin Luther, John Calvin and others did. They should not try to destroy something that many millions of Catholics love and cherish, just for their own selfish reasons.

Many millions of people throughout the world—the Church has about one billion members—love and cherish the Roman Catholic faith as it is. These faithful Catholic Christians believe that Christ created the Church nearly 2,000 years ago, and that same Church is present today. They do not want the Church to be changed in the ways the dissidents want. Dissent is not always good.

Persons loyal to Christ’s teachings know how difficult those teachings are. How can we love our enemies? How can we be chaste? Not only priests are to be chaste, even married people have a form of chastity to live. Married couples are to be faithful to one another. When a married person has an adulterous affair, does that mean that the institution of marriage is somehow dysfunctional and must be reformed? If a married man molests a child, does that mean that marriage causes such acts and must be changed?

Aren’t journalists supposed to present fair and balanced stories?

John M. Siino Reno

Burned by KOLO
Re “Pay Per News” [RN&R, July 25]:

I found your piece “Pay Per News” doubly interesting, primarily because I was one of those affected by “Bloody Thursday” at KOLO-TV. Although I was fairly low on the food-chain as a member of the engineering staff, I was astonished by the actions of Smith Television of New York on their first day of ownership. But after 30 years in radio and television, having witnessed the decline in the caliber of broadcast ownership, I was not surprised. Fortunately, the extremely generous manner in which Donrey treated all of us offset the immediate sting of job loss. I wonder, was Dennis Myers similarly treated by Smith Television?

I, too, heard Bob Smith, in a staff meeting at KOLO-TV early in 2001, state that there would be “no significant changes” at the station upon its acquisition by Smith Television. In another staff meeting, on the afternoon of Bloody Thursday, the new general manager was asked, point-blank by a member of the on-air news team, “How can we trust you?” regarding the firing of 10 staff members, after Smith’s obviously hollow promise. Interestingly, he sidestepped answering the question completely. Certainly, those of us who were fired that day, and those who have subsequently left the station, some under less than cordial circumstances, won’t hold our breaths for the answer.

I believe that all Reno TV viewers should be asking the same question of KOLO-TV: “How can we trust you?” As a long-time broadcaster who thinks that service to the public should be the foundation upon which all broadcasters operate, I don’t believe that Smith can find an adequate answer to that question!

Jack Parker Silver Springs

Media’s biz not shocking
Re “Pay Per News” [RN&R, July 25]:

The article “Pay Per News” was alarming, but not surprising when taken in the larger context of general trends in the United States. The U.S. economic standard of living has increased steadily for many decades, and the economic expectations of each generation have become more inflated. As a result, the pursuit of money has become almost all-consuming. Accumulated wealth is the measure of success in the United States. Pursuit of this dream requires more and more cash flow—money per unit time—each year. The old saw “time is money” weighs more and more heavily on each of us and each of the businesses we work for. It is not surprising to see the ethics of some people slip under such pressure.

The installation of the new type of “reporter” who asks, “What’s on the press release?” is a response of the station to this pressure to make more money per unit time. It takes too much time to investigate and prepare a story to generate the dollars per employee per unit time desired, and an employee with such skills must be paid more, decreasing that “figure of merit” further. Look at the cuts that have occurred in time-intensive occupations such as counseling and nursing. Look at the quality, the amount of work-time that has gone into the typical merchandise you buy at a Wal-Mart. A high standard of living is a double-edged sword.

Tom Wicker Reno

On Ford’s ‘look’
Re “Lose the ‘Look,’ Ford” [RN&R Film, July 25]:

At last, I agree with you on a review. I thought I was weird after reading so many reviews about how great this movie is. But I discovered, after two hours of being trapped on that goddamned submarine with Harrison Ford, just how truly awful an actor Ford can be and how stifling a submarine can be.

Jeez! It was hard not to laugh during the film. As a matter of fact, I can’t recall any good movies he has made this decade. This movie really SUCKS! I want my money back. Help, I’m trapped in a submarine, and someone is learning to play the saxophone.

Charles Eversole via e-mail

Don’t dump Grimm
Re “Ditch Grimm, Already” [RN&R Letters, Aug. 1]:

As a college student in “exciting” Reno, I attend a lot of movies. I occasionally consider myself a bit of a critic. Four years of theater and direction [classes] have made me very picky about the quality of the movies I will allow myself to sit through, and very rarely do I agree with film critics in magazines, newspapers or TV shows. I might agree with them on a few points or once in awhile; however, you are the exception. You always seem to hit the nail right on the head! Your impressions of the movies are very distinct, and you often pick up on things that I may have missed or overlooked. You’re one of the few whose opinions I’ll trust and take into consideration before I head off to the movies. The RN&R is lucky to have your services. Keep it up.

Brandon Flanery Reno

Re-naming Yucca
Re “That’s Nuke-LEE-er, George” [RN&R Editorial, Aug. 1]:

Aside from obvious stuff like Dubya’s Dump or George’s Folly, how about the Bush Numbskull Nuc-U-ler Knoll or the George W. Bush Radioactive National Park. (Fun for the whole family! Your kids will light up like Christmas trees here!) It could be a theme park with rides like Tunnel of Carcinogens and Walk the Plutonium Plank! It could also feature a petting zoo with deformed creatures! The Bush twins could serve up cocktails at the adjoining restaurant/bar, like the Buried Bomb and the Atomic Bloody Mary.

The twins aren’t 21, of course, but that doesn’t seem to stop ’em.

Besides, we all know the law doesn’t apply to George and his cronies.

Name withheld via e-mail