Letters for September 9, 2004

Hard to watch, harder to endure

Re “The heart of the (gray) matter” by Joel Davis (SN&R Cover, August 19):

This recent article was fantastic—informative, riveting and very moving. I commend Davis for his positive attitude and his courage in facing (and enduring!) that frightening operation.

In doing some recent research regarding my father, I attended a lecture about the deep-brain-stimulation procedure at Sutter Hospital and could barely watch the graphics.

I feel sure that Davis’ writing will be wonderful therapy for him in many ways. I offer him my sincere wishes for comfort, love, as much fun as possible—and dignity. The Dylan lines that popped for me out were “Bites the bullet and he looks within / For dignity.” Joel Davis seems to have done that.

Cathy Washington

He wrote a classic

Re “The heart of the (gray) matter” by Joel Davis (SN&R Cover, August 19):

Wow!! This piece in SN&R was incredibly moving. Joel Davis conveyed the power, fear and trauma of his experience so well, it took my breath away. To do all that and still have a sense of humor and irony put it absolutely over the top.

Davis has great courage to write such a personal story. I hope it becomes the classic it deserves to and that many people get to see it.

Michael F. Malinowski
via e-mail

Touching elegance

Re “The heart of the (gray) matter” by Joel Davis (SN&R Cover, August 19):

I am a Kaiser employee and member. I had a couple of free minutes this afternoon (a rare commodity) and used them by checking out the latest links on our intranet. There I found Joel Davis’ story on his brain surgery.

Usually, I just scan these articles, getting their gist. But not this one. Mr. Davis writes with an elegance missing from all newspapers and (sadly) most novels. His descriptions brought a smile to my mouth and a tear to my eye.

I marvel at his spirit. He is something special. I just wanted to let you know that this article touched my heart today, and I thank you for it.

Gail Ptacek
Santa Clara

Not paying without a guarantee

Re “Car wars” (SN&R Letters, August 26):

Both this letter and the Bites item about parking permits (“Fight club,” SN&R Bites, August 12) got my attention.

On one occasion when my handyman had to carry his tools from a block away, I added it up—there are significantly more residents’ cars than parking places on my block. Charging the proposed minimal fee for a parking permit isn’t going to solve that problem.

The only solution would be to limit each house to the number of permits equal to the number of parking places in front of that house. For example, the neighbor who has one-and-a-half parking spaces in front of her house should not be able to have a total of six permits for herself and her tenants, at any price. The current situation leaves 4.5 cars to park in front of other people’s houses; if I’m not home by 4 p.m. (which is pretty hard to do when you work until 5 p.m.), both spaces in front of my house are taken, and I end up parking a block or more away.

Carrying groceries or other heavy purchases from that distance is no fun, but we have to do it almost every time we go shopping.

I grew up with the common courtesy that the space in front of a house was left for the owner of that house (unless you asked permission), but that courtesy simply doesn’t exist in Midtown. In fact, when I was expecting a delivery (and had received a call that the truck was two blocks away) and asked someone not to park in front of my house, I got a mouthful of profanity.

One space in front of each house should be designated for the exclusive use of that house (whether for its car or its trash cans). Maybe then I would be willing to pay for a parking permit. But it’s simply unfair to expect residents of one part of town to pay for parking when others don’t, while offering those residents who pay for their parking no guarantee that they can park anywhere near the spot they paid for.

Karen M. Campbell

Still more complexity needed

Re “No time for fatigue” (SN&R Letters, August 26):

I agree with Gregg Wardrip’s criticism that “you [SN&R editorialists] might try to be more evenhanded as you discuss complex events in the Middle East.” And complex they are; we don’t know the half of it.

We’re initially told by the president that we’re going to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and is tied to the events of 9/11. When those reasons proved false (by the administration’s own admission), we’re told that our purpose for preemptively invading Iraq is to “liberate” Iraqis from an evil despot and give them a democratic government. Dubious strategy; a democratic Iraq likely would be a Shiite theocracy—hardly in the U.S. interest.

Turns out none of these reasons was quite right. Following the “shock and awe” of the invasion, Paul Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)—working through the neocons’ brilliant agenda—set forth to immediately privatize Iraq’s non-oil economy, about 200 formerly state-owned companies (see the article on “pillaging Iraq” by Naomi Klein in September’s Harpers). About half a million Iraqi soldiers and civil servants were fired, and these companies were to be sold to the highest foreign bidders—investors like Halliburton and other “strategically placed” firms, mostly from the United States since the CPA is quite limited. What an economic coup! Trouble is, many of those Iraqis who were fired and had no viable alternatives have since become “insurgents,” and the resulting violence has driven off all the foreign investors, there’s been little infrastructure recovery, three of five Iraqis are unemployed, the CPA has resorted to plan “B” along with other ad hoc measures (like “handing over authority” to the Iraqis), and the resulting chaos is preventing the transition to a new government.

Ever alert to the potentially disastrous implications of all this for the upcoming election, the Bush administration is now running media ads that assure us that our president’s war activities have enabled Afghanistan and Iraq to field athletic teams at the Olympic games in Athens for the first time in many years. What better evidence of liberation, and finally a preemptive war objective around which we can all rally and support! Complex indeed!

Chuck McIntyre

No whiskey and cigarettes in his sound

Re “Whiskey and cigarettes” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Clubber, August 19):

I am a single father of two. I have struggled to work, play music and have my children learn the positive things in life, like not smoking and not drinking. So, how do I tell my 9-year-old that she can’t read the article that my whole family has been waiting to see?

Christian Kiefer said he was coming on five different occasions when the Electric Flood was my project, and he never did. Then, almost a year later, he sits through two performers and then leaves early and writes, “Why don’t local musicians support each other?” What a contradiction!

I got in a minor argument with my girlfriend because I was watching Allegra (who is very good) for too long; incidentally, there was no Christian Kiefer to be found.

Then he tears apart my guitar playing, which is my strength, and fails to mention I had the biggest crowd or that they were lovin’ it. In a music scene that’s already hard, why doesn’t Kiefer ask himself why he doesn’t support anyone? Why is he concerned with who’s watching whom, when he’s more than guilty?

Anytime Kiefer can play three notes behind his back, let alone a chord progression, then he can say something. Until then, keep writing all these lovely articles that you don’t have the experience or facts to write. I don’t smoke cigarettes, and I don’t drink whiskey, and there are only two words that come to mind: jealous and slander.

Chris Horton


Re “Victim recitation” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, September 2):

Because of an editing error, Jill Stewart’s column last week on education reform described California Education Secretary Richard Riordan as disinterested in reforms that would permit the easier firing of ineffective school principals. In fact, Riordan leads the push for accountability reforms to remove ineffective principals from schools.