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Letters

Who Were They?

Re “But After All, He Was a Man” (“City Lights,” September 17).

I have been reading the Reader on and off for well over 20 years, and this is the first time I have written. I feel very much the same way the author does. I have not seen this exhibit, nor do I intend to. I’m not against it. I’m sure it would be interesting and fascinating, but ultimately sad. I do wonder who these people are: What are their names? Were they fathers, mothers, good, bad? Where are they from, etc. Without the personal stories, it reduces the impact this exhibit could have. It would enrich each person and enrich our own lives to have a more personal human connection. Otherwise, it dehumanizes them. It shows a lack of respect. I do feel they should have a proper place to rest after their current journey is over. I am not a religious person, but I do appreciate and understand the small gesture the author made to show she had been there and to acknowledge that he was more than a curiosity to her. I felt like doing so in my own mind. Miss Donaldson brought me there with her. I applaud the author’s humanity, because after all, he really was a man.

Mike Allen
via email

Where Have You Gone?

Your Janice Donaldson goes to the Natural History Museum, admitting her guilt after spying on Plastic Man’s genitals (“But After All, He Was a Man” “City Lights,” September 17), and then emits a pious reminder that this dead semimortal “was, before anything, from God.” Later, to make sure we get it, she says, “(T)hank God…because in my mind even a plastinate needs a funeral service.”

This prayer for political recognition of her god comes after the Reader’s cursing of those damned foreign pedicabbies (“Pedicab Wars,” Cover Story, September 10) and praise for lukewarm machos carrying empty political guns (“They Carry Guns,” Cover Story, July 16). Damn! If it weren’t for the regular appearances of Don Bauder, I’d have sworn y’all are working for the Republican National Committee. I want my Reader back!!!

Bob Dorn
via email

Authentic Q

We are flattered that Naomi Wise wrote about us in the barbecue portion of this article (Restaurant Review, September 17). I only wish she would come in and try our food right out of the smokers. Naomi says in the article that she was writing her article based on take-out food that was brought to her. How long was that food sitting in the car before it got to her? We do a very good job here, and we are doing it authentically, unlike most others in town. Reviews can make or break a restaurant. Please come back and give us a review that is fair. Come in and taste what we have to offer. You and the rest of this city will be quite impressed with what we are doing: barbecue, the way it is intended to be.

Brett Nicholson
Brett’s BBQ

They’re No Angels

I’m responding to the comments made about “Pedicab Wars,” (Cover Story, September 10). These J-1 visa students are not the angels that everyone thinks. They overcharge their customers $30, $40, $50 a person. They run red lights and stop signs and don’t obey any of the traffic laws — with customers on board. They steal from our stores. Case in point: three of the Russian kids that were here for the summer doing the pedicabs were arrested for stealing stereo equipment from Fry’s. That was on the news the other night. I’ve done the pedicab business for five years now. I’ve seen all the damage these kids have done.

Also, in reply to Mr. Schmidt from last week, I’ve never broken any laws in Mexico. Also, I’m not a racist, just a hardworking person who is frustrated about his business.

Guy Harinton
Downtown

Pedicrap

The article on pedicabs was a waste of words and paper (“Pedicab Wars,” Cover Story, September 10). Get rid of them.

Zondra Schmidt
via email

Evangelical Parallel

Re the article on the minister Aimee McPherson in the September 10 and 17 editions (“When Sister Aimee Came to Town,” Feature Story). Having read Sinclair Lewis’s Elmer Gantry, which was later made into a motion picture back in 1960, there is such a parallel to the whole evangelical movement in his book consistent with the article that appeared in the Reader. I mean, it’s just phenomenal, and Lewis was, of course, an extraordinary, gifted writer.

Thank you so much for such a beautiful publication.

James Willis
Chula Vista

A Table For None

I’m the epitome of open-minded thought. Voted for Obama, loved Cash for Clunkers, supported the stimulus package, voted no on Prop. 8, think the Demos should ram an uncompromising health-care reform plan down the throat of the Limbaugh/ Beck/Joe Wilson crowd, and am a proud resident of the 92101.

But try as I might, my efforts in trying to be “down” with the pompous, self-important, condescending, supercilious, arrogant, hipper-than-thou, self-aggrandizing gasbag that is Naomi Wise are failing miserably.

And after her review of Truluck’s (September 3), I’m tossing in the proverbial towel. It’s pretty obvious (at least to me) that since this establishment was one of those heathen suburban-style chains, she was going to trash it, no matter what, and had made up her mind from the time she emerged from bed that morning. If Truluck’s had offered the same menu, had the same ambiance, had the same patrons, but the place had been in a part of town overridden with the urban-come-lately sect (North Park, Hillcrest, East Village, Kensington), she would have been raving about the joint for three issues. Hey, there was no need to repeat you’re not a fan of chains — we heard you the first time! Of course, her chain-hatred doesn’t preclude her from shopping at Whole Foods, I’ll bet.

Worse yet, what was the point of mentioning that many of the diners were, uh, corpulent? Never mind that making fun of someone’s physical appearance is a capital crime in my book; would she have penned a review of a University Avenue restaurant and said, “All the men here appeared to be gay”? Yeah, right.

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.

Richard Hutchings
via email

All entries — not just the first 100 — are eligible for the T-shirt. We print only the first 100 entrants’ names with comments in order to give the production staff enough time to get them typed and in the paper. (The Reader is moving toward Wednesday delivery to all areas of San Diego by November.) — Editor

Culture Comes To Fallbrook

This note comes to say thank you, thank you, thank you for sending the Reader to Fallbrook! In one day, I ran across it in two places. Over the past ten years, we have driven to Escondido or San Marcos each week to pick up this weekly. My husband prefers “holding the paper in his hands” rather than using the internet. We love to read the reviews of theater and movies, and we were also interested in music when Jonathan Saville was reviewing for you. We hope, in the future, that you will be able to sustain a music critic once again.

I want you to know how much we appreciate you thinking of us up here in Fallbrook. We may be at least 50 minutes away from downtown San Diego, but many of us visit the city and environs each week and depend on the Reader for the information we need.

I’ve already told many of my friends where they can now pick up the Reader in Fallbrook!

Many thanks!

Branda Montiel
Fallbrook

Rambo Tow

I would like to thank the Reader and reporter Joe Deegan for publishing my story of being towed at Midway Towne Center on June 3, 2009 (“Eat Here and Get Towed,”“City Lights,” July 9). I have now won a small-claims court case against Midway Towne Center with a substantial settlement by proving that they acted illegally by towing (or just about) my motor home while I was there to eat at Denny’s restaurant.

I would like to encourage all drivers to read Sections 22658 and 22953 of the California Vehicle Code. These sections are written specifically to protect the public from predatory towing and collusion with security companies, who in the past have used ridiculous and flimsy excuses to come into private parking lots and tow away and impound vehicles and then charge excessive fees to release them. The problem is that, even with the new laws, they are still doing this. The public needs to familiarize themselves with these two vehicle codes and keep a copy in their glove compartments so they won’t fall victim to very costly towing and impound charges after a tow truck gets hold of their vehicle on some trumped-up excuse.

One very important section of 22658, (g)(1)(B), reads: “Upon the request of the owner of the vehicle or that owner’s agent, the towing company or its driver shall immediately and unconditionally release a vehicle that is not yet removed from the private property and in transit.” In other words, the vehicle is not legally in the driver’s possession until he tows it off the property. If I had known this when my vehicle was illegally towed at Midway Towne Center, I would have called the police and explained that the driver was committing a misdemeanor. I did not know the law, so when I asked them to release my motor home, they refused until I paid them $235.

It is my hope that my experience will help others from being victimized by Rambo-type security guards who may be getting a kickback from the towing companies. The security employee at Midway Towne Center came pounding so hard on my motor home door that he cracked the window frame, and the judge awarded me $150 to replace that frame. When I showed that frame to Mr. Bernard, the owner of Midway Towne Center, he said to just put some stuff in the cracks and, though it won’t look good, it will stop water leaks. He bragged that he can tow a vehicle five minutes after it arrives at Midway Towne Center, but it’s not true. He just doesn’t learn.

Clark Waters

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Puddle Pedagogy

Who Were They?

Re “But After All, He Was a Man” (“City Lights,” September 17).

I have been reading the Reader on and off for well over 20 years, and this is the first time I have written. I feel very much the same way the author does. I have not seen this exhibit, nor do I intend to. I’m not against it. I’m sure it would be interesting and fascinating, but ultimately sad. I do wonder who these people are: What are their names? Were they fathers, mothers, good, bad? Where are they from, etc. Without the personal stories, it reduces the impact this exhibit could have. It would enrich each person and enrich our own lives to have a more personal human connection. Otherwise, it dehumanizes them. It shows a lack of respect. I do feel they should have a proper place to rest after their current journey is over. I am not a religious person, but I do appreciate and understand the small gesture the author made to show she had been there and to acknowledge that he was more than a curiosity to her. I felt like doing so in my own mind. Miss Donaldson brought me there with her. I applaud the author’s humanity, because after all, he really was a man.

Mike Allen
via email

Where Have You Gone?

Your Janice Donaldson goes to the Natural History Museum, admitting her guilt after spying on Plastic Man’s genitals (“But After All, He Was a Man” “City Lights,” September 17), and then emits a pious reminder that this dead semimortal “was, before anything, from God.” Later, to make sure we get it, she says, “(T)hank God…because in my mind even a plastinate needs a funeral service.”

This prayer for political recognition of her god comes after the Reader’s cursing of those damned foreign pedicabbies (“Pedicab Wars,” Cover Story, September 10) and praise for lukewarm machos carrying empty political guns (“They Carry Guns,” Cover Story, July 16). Damn! If it weren’t for the regular appearances of Don Bauder, I’d have sworn y’all are working for the Republican National Committee. I want my Reader back!!!

Bob Dorn
via email

Authentic Q

We are flattered that Naomi Wise wrote about us in the barbecue portion of this article (Restaurant Review, September 17). I only wish she would come in and try our food right out of the smokers. Naomi says in the article that she was writing her article based on take-out food that was brought to her. How long was that food sitting in the car before it got to her? We do a very good job here, and we are doing it authentically, unlike most others in town. Reviews can make or break a restaurant. Please come back and give us a review that is fair. Come in and taste what we have to offer. You and the rest of this city will be quite impressed with what we are doing: barbecue, the way it is intended to be.

Brett Nicholson
Brett’s BBQ

They’re No Angels

I’m responding to the comments made about “Pedicab Wars,” (Cover Story, September 10). These J-1 visa students are not the angels that everyone thinks. They overcharge their customers $30, $40, $50 a person. They run red lights and stop signs and don’t obey any of the traffic laws — with customers on board. They steal from our stores. Case in point: three of the Russian kids that were here for the summer doing the pedicabs were arrested for stealing stereo equipment from Fry’s. That was on the news the other night. I’ve done the pedicab business for five years now. I’ve seen all the damage these kids have done.

Also, in reply to Mr. Schmidt from last week, I’ve never broken any laws in Mexico. Also, I’m not a racist, just a hardworking person who is frustrated about his business.

Guy Harinton
Downtown

Pedicrap

The article on pedicabs was a waste of words and paper (“Pedicab Wars,” Cover Story, September 10). Get rid of them.

Zondra Schmidt
via email

Evangelical Parallel

Re the article on the minister Aimee McPherson in the September 10 and 17 editions (“When Sister Aimee Came to Town,” Feature Story). Having read Sinclair Lewis’s Elmer Gantry, which was later made into a motion picture back in 1960, there is such a parallel to the whole evangelical movement in his book consistent with the article that appeared in the Reader. I mean, it’s just phenomenal, and Lewis was, of course, an extraordinary, gifted writer.

Thank you so much for such a beautiful publication.

James Willis
Chula Vista

A Table For None

I’m the epitome of open-minded thought. Voted for Obama, loved Cash for Clunkers, supported the stimulus package, voted no on Prop. 8, think the Demos should ram an uncompromising health-care reform plan down the throat of the Limbaugh/ Beck/Joe Wilson crowd, and am a proud resident of the 92101.

But try as I might, my efforts in trying to be “down” with the pompous, self-important, condescending, supercilious, arrogant, hipper-than-thou, self-aggrandizing gasbag that is Naomi Wise are failing miserably.

And after her review of Truluck’s (September 3), I’m tossing in the proverbial towel. It’s pretty obvious (at least to me) that since this establishment was one of those heathen suburban-style chains, she was going to trash it, no matter what, and had made up her mind from the time she emerged from bed that morning. If Truluck’s had offered the same menu, had the same ambiance, had the same patrons, but the place had been in a part of town overridden with the urban-come-lately sect (North Park, Hillcrest, East Village, Kensington), she would have been raving about the joint for three issues. Hey, there was no need to repeat you’re not a fan of chains — we heard you the first time! Of course, her chain-hatred doesn’t preclude her from shopping at Whole Foods, I’ll bet.

Worse yet, what was the point of mentioning that many of the diners were, uh, corpulent? Never mind that making fun of someone’s physical appearance is a capital crime in my book; would she have penned a review of a University Avenue restaurant and said, “All the men here appeared to be gay”? Yeah, right.

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.

Richard Hutchings
via email

All entries — not just the first 100 — are eligible for the T-shirt. We print only the first 100 entrants’ names with comments in order to give the production staff enough time to get them typed and in the paper. (The Reader is moving toward Wednesday delivery to all areas of San Diego by November.) — Editor

Culture Comes To Fallbrook

This note comes to say thank you, thank you, thank you for sending the Reader to Fallbrook! In one day, I ran across it in two places. Over the past ten years, we have driven to Escondido or San Marcos each week to pick up this weekly. My husband prefers “holding the paper in his hands” rather than using the internet. We love to read the reviews of theater and movies, and we were also interested in music when Jonathan Saville was reviewing for you. We hope, in the future, that you will be able to sustain a music critic once again.

I want you to know how much we appreciate you thinking of us up here in Fallbrook. We may be at least 50 minutes away from downtown San Diego, but many of us visit the city and environs each week and depend on the Reader for the information we need.

I’ve already told many of my friends where they can now pick up the Reader in Fallbrook!

Many thanks!

Branda Montiel
Fallbrook

Rambo Tow

I would like to thank the Reader and reporter Joe Deegan for publishing my story of being towed at Midway Towne Center on June 3, 2009 (“Eat Here and Get Towed,”“City Lights,” July 9). I have now won a small-claims court case against Midway Towne Center with a substantial settlement by proving that they acted illegally by towing (or just about) my motor home while I was there to eat at Denny’s restaurant.

I would like to encourage all drivers to read Sections 22658 and 22953 of the California Vehicle Code. These sections are written specifically to protect the public from predatory towing and collusion with security companies, who in the past have used ridiculous and flimsy excuses to come into private parking lots and tow away and impound vehicles and then charge excessive fees to release them. The problem is that, even with the new laws, they are still doing this. The public needs to familiarize themselves with these two vehicle codes and keep a copy in their glove compartments so they won’t fall victim to very costly towing and impound charges after a tow truck gets hold of their vehicle on some trumped-up excuse.

One very important section of 22658, (g)(1)(B), reads: “Upon the request of the owner of the vehicle or that owner’s agent, the towing company or its driver shall immediately and unconditionally release a vehicle that is not yet removed from the private property and in transit.” In other words, the vehicle is not legally in the driver’s possession until he tows it off the property. If I had known this when my vehicle was illegally towed at Midway Towne Center, I would have called the police and explained that the driver was committing a misdemeanor. I did not know the law, so when I asked them to release my motor home, they refused until I paid them $235.

It is my hope that my experience will help others from being victimized by Rambo-type security guards who may be getting a kickback from the towing companies. The security employee at Midway Towne Center came pounding so hard on my motor home door that he cracked the window frame, and the judge awarded me $150 to replace that frame. When I showed that frame to Mr. Bernard, the owner of Midway Towne Center, he said to just put some stuff in the cracks and, though it won’t look good, it will stop water leaks. He bragged that he can tow a vehicle five minutes after it arrives at Midway Towne Center, but it’s not true. He just doesn’t learn.

Clark Waters

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5

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.

Sept. 23, 2009

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.

Sept. 23, 2009

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").

Sept. 24, 2009

(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.

Sept. 24, 2009

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".

Oct. 1, 2009

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