Letters for December 14, 2000

It’s their own fault

Re “ A Slow Deathray” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R, Dec. 7):

A few clues as to the why Deathray didn’t hit it big may be contained in the article itself:

1. They bailed on their tour because staff were fired at their label: “It was like, there’s no reason for us to be out here punishing ourselves.” How about the sheer enjoyment of performing music and connecting with new fans? Isn’t that a big part of why one becomes a performing musician? Maybe that isn’t Deathray’s motivation.

2. “ … delaying the record’s release for eight months really hurt its chances.” What does this mean … someone forgot to put the album in the freezer and it grew mold? The music was supposed to appeal to current trends and nothing more? I don’t buy the argument that the entire country’s musical tastes shifted between 1999 and 2000, leaving them in the cold. And the Beatles, whose songs are 30+ years old, currently have one of the top selling albums in the country.

3. Several times in the article we are told the Deathray album was “a record that reviewers described as brilliant.” But I seem to recall a “C-” review in Spin and other lukewarm reviews elsewhere.

I have nothing against the members of Deathray and wish them all the best. But if they want platinum record sales, I think they are just going to have to keep working at it. And maybe get lucky.

Kurt Foy Booker

Shameless self-promotion

Re “The Strange Loves of William T. Vollman” (SN&R, Nov. 30):

I can no longer hold my tongue. I know I risk the whiney, poor-me award for this. Still, here it goes: Why can’t you give a local writer a break?

You are titled the Sacramento News & Review. Sure, you did the cover story on William T. Vollmann, but he admits to living here only because his wife won’t move to San Francisco. I, on the other hand, have not only lived in Midtown for 15 years—my book is set in Midtown. And if it’s not bad enough that week after week I read book reviews of non-Sac natives, this week you advocate buying books as Christmas presents (a wonderful idea), but as far as I can tell none of these authors are from Sacto.

Again, can’t you give a local writer a break? I’ve sent my book to you guys twice this year. A review before Christmas would do much for this struggling writer. If not, at least print the letter, saying: “Why I Dream Of Falling, the novel, its cover is red, so it’ll look great under every Christmas tree.”

Sean Thomas Sullivan

Giganticus mistakus

Re “Redwood Luna Illustration” (SN&R Kloss cartoon, Nov. 30):

Please tell Mr. Kloss that Luna is a coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, not a giant sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum. The giant sequoias are found naturally only in the Sierra Nevada, such as in Yosemite and Kings Canyon, not the Coast Range. And when using a binomial scientific name, please capitalize only the generic name (first part), not the specific name (second part).

Dave Tamayo

Cartoonist’s note:

Yes, we now learn that Luna is not of the giganticus kind! I made a visual identification using a book on California trees. This was my error. Can we get some bark from Luna and run a DNA test to make absolutely sure? You know how promiscuous these redwoods are!

Two peas in a wealthy pod

Re “ Gray Area” (SN&R Editorial, Nov. 30):

There may be a difference in the legality of their actions, but I agree that ethically Governor Davis and Quackenbush are two peas in the same pod. For Gov. Davis, ethics is a foreign word that has no meaning as he relentlessly pursues his goal of the presidency. His fund-raising activities smell to high heaven, and one has to believe in the tooth fairy if one thinks Pacific Telesis benevolently gave $320,000 to Davis’ non-profit with no expectation of something in return.

The ethical and proper action for Gov. Davis would be to disclose who all the contributors are to his non-profits, but do not hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Hopefully, the IRS or some law enforcement agency will give the Davis non-profits a good look. Unfortunately, the Legislature at times has ethical problems of its own and chooses to ignore the situation.

James G. Updegraff

Cultural sensitivity required

Re “Don’t Exclude Seth’’ by Mary Bisharat (SN&R Letters, Nov. 30):

To state that “Palestinians draw a clear distinction between Judaism and Zionism’’ is a generalization that betrays the writer’s ignorance.

No doubt some Palestinians do separate Judaism and Zionism. Most do not. Please, people, don’t take a position in the Israeli–Palestinian situation until you have personally familiarized yourself with both Israelis and Palestinians, hopefully in their own lands. This familiarization requires far more than attending evening meetings in the U.S. and reading propagandist literature from either side.

The great majority of U.S. citizens do not have the experience or cultural conditioning to comprehend this exceedingly sensitive and potentially dangerous situation. We are simply too safe and far too enculturated in our own society to become activists in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Laurie Ferns

Non-emotional peace, please

Re “No Justice, No Peace” by Seth Sandronsky (SN&R Guest Comment, Nov. 16):

Mr. Sandronsky’s editorial about the problems in Israeli-Arab Palestinian areas was disappointingly emotional, lacking in historical facts and deliberately misleading.

Israel is not in a “military occupation” of any of its biblical-historical lands. The Hebrews (Jewish ancestors) established old Palestine (Israel) as their kingdom almost 4000 years before the birth of Muhammad, his writing of the Koran, and the creation of Islam or the Arabic peoples as an ethnic group. Thus the historical claim of the Jews to the area was made long before the arrival of the Arabs or present Palestinians.

The modern borders of all North Africa and the Middle East nations were set by the victorious Allies after WWI in the League of Nations Mandate known as the Balfour Treaty. This document set the boundaries for Jewish Palestine and includes all of Israel’s current borders minus that portion of Lebanon they recently evacuated south of the Latini River that once was part of greater Israel, and an area in which Jesus was said to have preached over 2000 years ago as a Hebrew rabbi.

The present borders of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iran and Iraq were set in that treaty. Only the borders of Jewish Palestine were altered since 1920, from pressure exerted by Arab oil sheiks on the Allies. In 1948, the borders of the new state of Israel, set by the United Nations, included all the land it currently occupies, including the so-called “West Bank.”

The “occupied territory” description is set forth by Arab and Muslim media interests, who own large blocks of stock in American-European newspapers, magazines, TV stations and other media outlets. These Arab oil interests bought large blocks of stocks and investments in all the media between 1975 and 1990. I challenge Mr. Sandronsky to compare the ownership of media stocks by Arab oil sheiks and Muslim investors as compared to the world’s Jews. He would be surprised to find that Arabs are the largest shareholders of American-European communications and print media in the world, outside of mutual-fund investors. They also own large blocks of stock in the American-European military-industrial complex, so Middle East peace is not in their financial interests.

The reference to “refugee camps” is also misleading. These are not tent cities as the image conjures up to Americans, but rather dusty small cities and towns typical of the Middle East. It should be a matter of Palestinian pride to rehabilitate them. The image politics is being used to gain world sympathy by a people who were displaced by a war they created in 1948, again in 1968 and then once more in 1976. Stop being “sore losers” and face the fact that Israel is here to stay and a mutual peace is in everyone’s best interest.

Maurice Bernard

A “physiognomy” historian

Re “Looks Count” by Carol Hartman (SN&R News, Nov. 9):

The discredited pseudoscience that inspired “personology” is not phrenology but physiognomy. The 18th-century Swiss polymath J.K. Lavater and the 19th-century Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso took widespread folk beliefs about facial features as indicators of character and built them into elaborate systems, replete with intimidating jargon. By the first third of the 20th century, Sir Charles Goring in England and H.L. Hollingworth in the U.S. had convincingly debunked all this, but that didn’t prevent the Nazis from embracing it anyway. Nor, apparently, will any amount of debunking prevent the credulous among us from embracing it today.

Arthur M. Shapiro