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Praise The Pharmaceutical Companies

Re “The Little Pills That Sent Me on My Journey” (Cover Story, December 31).

I always enjoy the Reader and have never felt the need to actually send an email to respond to any particular article. But today I must say that has changed. As a person who was diagnosed with depression 12 years ago, then bipolar II disorder, I would like to draw a line in the sand. In addition, I am also currently an LVN who works with the mentally ill.

Without medication, many people will not return to their lives or their “normal” standard of functioning. This just doesn’t include those with anxiety, depression, or phobias, but even those with such serious illnesses as schizophrenia. As I teach my clients, the medication is able to take you halfway, and you must do the rest. Will there always be the need to take the medication? For some the answer will be no, but for others yes, they will have a lifetime of taking medication and of having to adjust those medications as their lives change and their bodies change as well. So praise the pharmaceutical companies for developing drugs that help, as it is a very expensive thing to do. I have seen it change many, many people’s lives — as in having no life to having their life back.

  • With respect to the writer,
  • D.B. LVN
  • via email

Fish Flakes

Your restaurant column frequently recommends Operacaffe on Fourth Avenue as being a good restaurant for “locals only” (“The Year in Restaurants,” December 31). Well, we are “locals” and went there for lunch once and never again. We ordered the smoked salmon with fettuccini and with the price of nearly $20 expected a small fillet. We were instead served microscopic flakes of salmon on this fettuccini. When asking about this scant serving of fish, we were told that this is how it is made. I imagine that because we dared voice our displeasure, we were also charged a 20 percent service fee on the bill. We felt gypped. Not only was the food inadequate and miserly, the whole experience was like that, and we fail to understand how your columnist can again and again recommend this place.

  • Name Withheld
  • via email

Sorry, Atheist Offspring

In the December 24 cover story, “This Is Christmas, Damn It! What Happened?”, Matthew Lickona’s interlocutor Thomas Reifer writes that his parents were “Jewish atheists.” I’m sorry, Thomas, but if your folks were atheists, they no longer belonged to any religion, but they may or may not have still accepted its concomitant culture. But don’t worry, I haven’t heard of any Christian or Muslim atheists walking around these days either, and it does sound as if your family had a most interesting and unusual life after they became secular.

  • Gerald A. Shepherd
  • Del Cerro

Paging Dave

In the middle ’70s through the middle ’80s, there was a really popular band featuring a guy named Dave Bradley. He was mentioned in the Reader a lot. I lived in P.B. and used to see him at beach bars. He was with Soupy Sales at the Belly Up once. I am now 64 years old and still wonder what ever happened to him. Can you ask any old-timers there if they remember him?

  • Kenny Hicks
  • via email

Ken Leighton responds: Original talent buyer Mac Falk put the Belly Up on the map. He died of a heart attack in 1995. While Mac brought many breakthrough music acts to the Belly Up, he also brought spoken-word headliners like Hunter S. Thompson, Abbie Hoffman, and Soupy Sales to the Belly Up. Nobody made Mac laugh like Dave Bradley, an outrageous singer-songwriter who wrote hilarious songs. He played in various local nightspots in the ’70s. Mac had him play the Belly Up regularly, and Mac recorded some of his shows. I think he even released some of those recordings on vinyl. As I recall, Dave Bradley moved out of the area many years ago.

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Naomi Wise Jan. 6, 2010 @ 7:28 p.m.

Re: "Fish Flakes"

I am sorry you disliked a restaurant I recommended. In its defense, however, I notice that your complaint involves SMOKED salmon pasta. Smoked salmon (unless otherwise specified) normally refers to salt-cured, cold-smoked deli salmon, best known in the US as lox (e.g., "bagels and lox," favorite New York Sunday breakfast, with a thick shmear of cream cheese topped with ultra-thin slices of the fish). It's also a favorite treat in Scotland, Norway, France, and, I think, Ireland, and seems to have moseyed down to Italy lately as a chic pasta garnish. Unlike fresh salmon, cold-smoked salmon is never, ever, anywhere, eaten as a whole fillet -- the curing and smoking reduce the salmon in size and intensifies its flavor, richness and saltiness. (That's why it's quite expensive --the fish loses a lot of weight.) New York deli countermen compete on how thin they can slice it -- because the thinner it is, the silkier the texture! In pasta, it's typically served in slivers in a cream sauce -- it's used purely as a flavor, not a protein.

As for the 20% service charge, you were probably a party of six or more. As it says on the menu, parties of that size have a 20% tip added to the bill. This is standard practice in most fine-food restaurants, ensuring that servers don't get stiffed when a large group includes a cheapskate or two. As an ex-waitress myself, I think it's the best idea since -- sliced smoked salmon.


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