What we really should do is put together a collection of Wise’s reviews and force every Guantánamo Bay prisoner to read them — twice. That would be a torture program only Dick Cheney could love.

Tony Cooper
Downtown

No Free Eats

I’m calling in response to Naomi Wise’s food article on Truluck’s restaurant review of Truluck’s (Restaurant Review, September 3). I’ve been reading your publication for quite a while and actually have a friend who waits tables there, and I understand that people who write columns have to be opinionated and whatnot, but I just thought it was pretty tacky — I found out that Truluck’s was contacted by Naomi Wise and she said that she wanted to do an article on them and they said that they weren’t interested. And I can tell that obviously Naomi Wise — or I should say “Unwise” — took offense to that and it was sorely reflected in her review of the restaurant. I’ve dined there. I know plenty of people who have. They aren’t classified as fine dining; they’re classified as upscale casual.

So I just think that when someone doesn’t give you guys a free meal that your little girl who does her food reviews who obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about should just take it in stride and not think that just because it’s the San Diego Reader that everybody should give her a free meal for her obviously skewed opinion. I unfortunately haven’t always agreed with her, which is fine, but now even more so, probably won’t take anything that she says as worth anything since she’s a big baby and obviously the things that she said really shouldn’t be said about anybody, whether you like them or not, just out of good taste.

Pete Green
via voicemail

The Reader pays for Naomi Wise’s meals at restaurants that she’s reviewing. She interviews chefs or management after she’s eaten at the restaurant. Her brief call to the receptionist at Truluck’s before eating there was solely to ask how long the summer “Date Night” special would run. — Editor

Tourist Trapped

You had, I guess, a reader submit a blurb about Palm Springs ("Gather No Moss: Travel Stories and Tips From Our Readers,” September 3). She must be on crack. I live in Palm Springs, and telling everyone that Rick’s and Tyler’s are “a must” and Las Casuelas (locals only) is “amazing” is outrageous. She needs her head and taste buds looked into. There are much better restaurants that are less touristy and more reasonably priced than those price-gougers. Las Casuelas sucks. Rick’s is in the north end and overpriced, and Tyler’s, ahh, it’s okay (overpriced). The only thing that she did get right is Elmer’s. Great food at a good price.

If you really want someone to write about Palm Springs, let me do it. I know what I’m talking about. She makes the valley look bad.

Gordon Hatch
via email

No Ordinary Party

I am in shock by Josh’s inaccurate reporting of our party (Crasher, August 27). With all the negative comments, he made it sound like this was just another college summer party, when in fact it was the complete opposite. Nadia and I, along with three other women, will be participating as a team in San Diego’s “2009 Breast Cancer 3-Day” walk, supporting the Susan G. Komen foundation. Our intention for our fund-raiser party was to raise money and bring awareness to the cause of ending breast cancer for good!

We would like your readers to know we had a very successful turnout at our fund-raiser event and received many generous donations by both friends and strangers. As a team, we have already raised over $3400 to help fund important breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment.

If anyone would like to learn more about the three-day breast cancer walk or even donate online, they can by visiting our team’s 3-Day website, the3day.org/site/TR/Walk/ SanDiegoEvent2009?pg=team &fr_id=1298&team_id=91990.

It is amazing what we, as a community, can achieve!

Jessica Reif
Believe-age in Cleavage Babes
via email

Josh Board responds: Nothing I wrote was inaccurate. The problem with writing about parties for a CD release, an art or charity event, etc., is that the organizers think everything I write should be about plugging the cause. That’s not what I do. I describe what I see. I left out that fewer than ten people were at the party the entire time I was there. I figured that was irrelevant, although I did speculate as to why more didn’t show up (regarding the donation). I wish them the best of luck raising money for a good cause.

It’s A Smoke Screen

Smoking is the least of the worries in El Cajon (“I Blow Smoke on Your Law,” “City Lights,” August 27). If you want to make El Cajon a family-friendly place, why not start with the security guards at every convenience store. Almost every one has been robbed at gunpoint, has had items stolen, or has hoodlums/homeless citizens standing out front. Now why isn’t that a bigger concern than petty smoking!

If it’s health risks, then let’s make a law that citizens have to have a physically fit body. But we can’t do that because we have a choice to do whatever we want to our body. Right?

Why not investigate citizens on welfare each month, so we can make sure they’re not just taking hard-working taxpayers’ money?

Please! Write about at least one of these topics I have mentioned. I assure you results by review.

Tyler James
via email

Far Out

Your new rule that only the first 100 correct puzzle solvers are published and eligible for a T-shirt is not fair to those in outlying areas of the county because we do not have access to the Reader until a day after those closer to your delivery company. I have seen the Reader in some areas on Wednesday, whereas those in outlying areas do not have access to it until late Thursday afternoon! How about publishing the puzzle on your website as well? This would even things out more.

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Comments

SDaniels Sept. 23, 2009 @ 5:46 p.m.

To Mike Allen:

...in response to his and author of the original article, Donaldson, in the claim that preserved human bodies in the exhibit "Bodyworlds," for purposes of medical education and display--"plastinates"-- are somehow 'dehumanized.' Of Donaldson's gesture of leaving a wrapped piece of candy before an exhibited plastinate as a religiously motivated gesture to stand in for a ritual of burial, Allen writes: "I applaud the author’s humanity, because after all, he really was a man." Yes, the plastinate in question was a man; a man who chose to donate his body for medicine and education, and who likely belonged to a burgeoning club of people who have put their names on a list waiting to be plastinated and displayed, or dissected for the benefit of medical study. Why not respect this man's final wish, rather than push your religious or knee-jerk humanist values on him, now that he can no longer speak for himself?

Mr. Allen, and Ms. Donaldson have clearly not taken any time to research anything about this exhibit, or they'd be raising a hue and cry about a different matter altogether: Gunther von Hagens used to have a lab in China, where he was accused of accepting or purchasing, knowingly or unknowingly, the bodies of Chinese dissidents for plastination. I do not know for certain if this was not the case, but have found no evidence to support it whatsoever, besides a few suggestive articles written for sensational value, and a brief skirmish in the press with his former student, who started his own exhibit, called "Bodies: The Exhibition." I do know, again, that there is a very enthusiastic following of would-be donors who are more than willing bequeath their bodies to von Hagens’ students; in light of this fact, that remains might be accepted under dishonorable or criminal circumstances makes little sense.

Should those rumors be completely untrue, then there are many more complex social and ethical issues we should be exploring here, including how exhibits of plastinated bodies mark a fascinating shift in social conceptions of the meaning of death, the ritual of burial, and the rights of the individual to dispose of him or herself in a safe, and even educational manner. Unfortunately, Ms. Donaldson’s article will be of use only as a reactionary opinion, rather than a thoughtful journalistic treatment of this subject, and Mr. Allen’s response adds nothing to it at all.

Let's be curious and question social phenomena with some intelligence, rather than immediately push our religious values or personal, unquestioned humanist ideas on others' very personal decisions about what to do with their own remains. At the least, honor the final wish of these dead, and learn--or at least allow others to learn--from their generous gifts to society.

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PistolPete Sept. 23, 2009 @ 11:38 p.m.

Very well spoken SD. I too thought about the very act of placing the wrapped piece of candy. I'm on the fence on that one and most likely always will. I see it from both sides.

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SDaniels Sept. 24, 2009 @ 11:39 a.m.

I should add that the gesture of placing the candy in front of the plastinate is a very effectively emotional one; most people, including myself, feel an instinctive connection with such a gesture. We are (hopefully) used to not having to question the fact that besides the obvious hygienic necessity of burial, death is quickly made to transform (cremation, embalming) and disappear, so that we may immediately abstract it, and transform it in our minds to memory of a life lived. Something like plastination is conceptually not that different from embalming, or any ancient ritual of preservation--it is the reason that it is done, and that the fact that death in this case does not disappear and remains visible.

We might think we are used to this kind of concept only in horror fictions, which strive to violate any and every psychological boundary possible for a cynical public surfeited with images of horror. But instead of the automatic run with the feeling that "it must be wrong," and then proceed to auto-filter the experience through one's particular religious or humanist lens, why don't we consider this phenomenon, and the process of polymerizing human remains for the purposes of study? If ethical boundaries are violated, it is much more interesting, and intellectually profitable, to bracket the personal for a moment, and look at this phenom qua phenom. (Btw, for a great study of a uniquely American fascination with and compulsion to preserve the signifiers of life, see Tony Richards' film "The Loved One").

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SDaniels Sept. 24, 2009 @ 11:40 a.m.

(cont).

Von Hagens' exhibit does another thing: It is "info-tainment" or "edu-tainment" in a way that crosses a line that makes people nervous and/or ambivalent. Is it really necessary to display these remains in the poses of the living? von Hagens has a macabre sense of humor, to be sure, and you'll find plenty of playful touches in the exhibit, such as the plastinate with a black lung holding a cigarette, or the horseman of the apocalypse-style display, with the horseback rider holding his own, and the horse's heart in his hands. Here is where we need to discuss the ethics of a line crossed somewhere between exploitation and education, and we need to look at it honestly. Boundary-blurring is a big market. We enjoy “reality” television, and the suspension of disbelief that contestants are really paid (and crappy) actors, not ‘authentic’ starry-eyed lovers looking for soulmates. We are increasingly accepting of the crossing or questioning of boundaries of race, gender, and religious practice—these are arguably good things. The blurring of lines between news and entertainment on CNN, “Faux News,” and “MisinformationBC,” not so great, perhaps. Plastinated bodies as “edu-tainment?” If we open earnest dialogue on the subtextual, symbolic significance of cultural events such as these, we may find some not so flattering conclusions about our abilities or inclinations to learn without the added effect of the shock value--but we might also become more open to understanding how we allow ourselves to be conditioned by it, how we create and react to cultural subtext, and how ultimately, we ask to be taught about the world around us.

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drudolph Oct. 1, 2009 @ 3:49 a.m.

Re: Brett’s BBQ

Considering how many different reviews on yelp.com said the same negative things about meat (dry, tough...), I doubt that this case had anything to do with "How long was that food sitting in the car before it got to her".

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