Benjamin’s Boot Camp

As longtime fans of Mr. Benjamin’s Cotillion, we were thrilled to find the story “Don’t Look Down,” with its much-deserved praise for Peter Benjamin and his dance class in the May 6 issue of the Reader! We belong to the vanishing generation that saw Peter’s father give birth to the class, and we watched it become a treasured institution. We looked on as our children and later our grandchildren experienced the rigors and joys of Mr. Benjamin’s basic training course, which turns San Diego’s 11-year-olds into civilized young men and women. We also want to congratulate Laura McNeal on a beautifully written piece. Her humorous insight could only have sprung from a parent who had lived through the experience of sitting in the parents’ gallery at those charged and touching get-togethers.

Tom and Jerry Williamson
via email

Needs A Companion

Kudos to James Ziegler-Kelly for remaining in school regardless of events (“A Low-Budget Way to Higher Education,” “City Lights,” May 6).

I find it unfortunate. I have an elderly neighbor, a man, who lives alone with his dog. He’s willing to offer a room free to someone who’ll just be there with him during the night. I feel there are others like him who could use a little companionship and reassurance in trade for a spare room. We live close to SDSU too.

A. Ravitch
via email

You People Don’t Get It

After reading all the feedback in the letters page (April 29) about the article “Broken Heart, Broken Skull” (Cover Story, April 22), I felt that a few things just needed to be said regarding all the people that commented. First, I want to say it was a great article. (Yes, some might say that is a rarity, but, hey, we can’t always bat a 1000 all the time, right?) I am glad that some people, such as Laurie Murray and Lynn Mariano, were able to understand the point of the article. It was disheartening to see that for some the whole point of the article was lost.

Mike, concerning your letter “Disturbed,” it’s too bad that you couldn’t get past the cover— to the point of tearing it off and not bothering to read the article itself. Yes, life is disturbing, and that’s the point that the picture was trying to make! You see, life itself and its truths aren’t always submitted to us in a pretty package that has a neat little message on the same comforting level as a Disney cartoon. Sometimes, the truths are disturbing, ugly, shocking, grimy, gritty, disgusting, and not easy to look at, but, you know, some of the lessons that we remember the longest are the ones that shock us to our very core. Maybe we need those harsh truths to drill those lessons in so that we never forget them.

The next person that wrote in was Dr. “Name Withheld,” who sounded off with his letter “What an Insult” and felt the need not only to write in but to resort to character attacks— calling Dorian immature, careless, insecure, angry, self-absorbed. (Hmmm, you mean like a doctor writing in, whining because his patient didn’t publicly kiss his ass in print?) Tell me, Dr. Withheld, what part of it was “derogatory” or in “poor taste”? Since when is expressing your opinion about the quality of health care received any of those things you claim? You complained that the article didn’t go far enough to educate the public about the consequences of brain injury; hey, this isn’t an article for the American Medical Journal, and frankly, between the content of the article and the picture on the cover, I thought it did quite well, but then again, the point of the article was not only his injury and his recovery but also his desire to share what he had been through in hopes that others will start wearing protective gear and not suffer his fate. Yes, “Doctor,” he was immature and careless in the events leading up to his accident, but then again, most accidents are usually due to someone engaging in some kind of careless and maybe even immature behavior that in one moment of thoughtlessness leads to a tragic event that can have serious consequences. Then again, that’s why they are called accidents— no one ever said, “Hey, I think I’ll go out, not wear a helmet while skateboarding, and see if I can crack open my skull.”

I don’t know Dorian, nor have I ever met him, but I am curious to know if you ever met or observed his behavior before his accident? Did it ever occur to you, “Doctor,” that maybe the reason for his behavior that you encountered and have such issues with might be due to his head being caved in? Now, I haven’t had years of medical training like you, but even I know enough to figure out that maybe a severe head injury might alter a person’s perception of things and their behavior, also considering the pain he must have gone through, the drugs he was on during treatment, as well as the frustration of his body no longer being in his control as it was before. It is very easy to be critical of others, but until you are going through what Dorian has gone through, how about a little bit of compassion and lighten the hell up.

The last letter, “Too Rude for the Kids” from Mr. Cobb— this guy really took the cake, having issues with how graphic the cover was for his small children. Granted the ages of these children were not mentioned, but newsflash update, the Reader is not made for kids; anyone with any common sense would be able to figure this out, unless you think those ads for breast enlargements, bars, casinos, and pot dispensaries are being marketed towards the grade-school crowd. Did it ever occur to you that maybe the traumatic image of what can happen if you don’t wear a helmet when you ride your bike, Rollerblade, skateboard, etc., might go a hell of a lot farther than Daddy and Mommy doing the constant and easily ignored nagging of the kids to wear their protective gear?

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