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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?

And please, Mr. Cobb, tell me what the hell gangsta rap, Middle East terrorism, and the movie 300 has one thing to do with a guy that, without thinking of the possible outcome of a simple act like skateboarding with his dog without a helmet, had his life changed forever? Greg, no one is trying to partake in any “neo-barbaric movement,” nor do I think he was trying to glorify his injuries— he was just a guy that is stating what happened to him and what he went through, and continues to go through, in hopes of educating others so that maybe no one else will have to go through the horrible events that he went through.

Yes, you are 100 percent right— we are all going to die, but God forbid that we be “rude”— let’s not protect or educate children by showing them the possible horrible reality of why they do need to wear protective gear. Yes, it is better to let them run out in the world ignorant while parents shield themselves with crossed fingers with that wishful thinking of “It won’t happen to me if we don’t think about it, it will just happen to someone else.” But then again, I am sure Dorian thought the same thing when he got on his skateboard that day.

Chaos Rabbit
via email

Have A Heart, People

I was surprised to read so many complaints in your recent issue (Letters, April 29) regarding the article “Broken Skull, Broken Heart” (Cover Story, April 22). Dorian was brave enough to write his story and even made a comment that he hoped it would persuade just one child to put a helmet on before they go skateboarding. Those who wrote in described how gruesome and disturbing they found the cover photo to be. It hurts me to read these comments and just imagine what these types of people would do if they ran into Dorian on the street. Would they turn the other direction or put their head down while their children point and stare? His story is indeed horrific, but the Reader didn’t print a bloody and sickening picture of the doctors while in the process of removing his skull; they printed a picture of Dorian. I commend your choices for both the story as well as the image of him that was used and hope that some of those who wrote in can imagine how Dorian feels after sharing his experience only to receive letters of how “gruesome” and “disturbing” people found his appearance.

Janae
via email

Talent Show

This letter is in response to Don Bauder’s April 29 article “Orgy of Self-Congratulation” (“City Lights”).

In this article, Don addresses high compensation for a corporate CEO when the company had reduced earnings. I wonder what the nonexecutive employees received during this time? It’s likely that they received little or nothing, or maybe some got laid off?

This is a major problem in Corporate America. The usual comment by the board members who approve these bonuses is that “We must retain the executives because they have special talents.”

First of all, there is usually nothing special about most executives. They tend to be manipulative people who surround themselves with yes-men and yes-women. They also tend to select the board members, and it goes without saying that they select people who they can control. The end result is a corporate CEO with a board of directors that approves everything that he/she requests.

I realize that board members must be approved by the stockholders; however, the candidates are generally nominated by the CEO, resulting in candidates who are beholden to the CEO. We also must understand that the board members must work closely with the CEO or chaos will ensue. If anyone has ever tried to run an organization by committee, you know what I mean. Unfortunately, I don’t have a better way to select board members.

I do, however, have an idea to help mitigate this problem. Incentivize the CEO and the board members to run the corporation based upon longer-term goals. This can be done by extending time frames for bonuses. Executives and board members should not receive “annual” bonuses. Instead, bonuses should be based upon three- to five-year time frames. Bonuses should be paid on average net earnings over a three- to five-year period, which means that no one should receive a bonus for year one or year two. This should include all types of bonus related to compensation for executives and board members. I believe that American businesses will be more competitive and stable when longer-term goals become the focus of the executives and board members.

I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for corporations to apply this concept. I believe that it should become an accounting standard. CPA organizations need to adopt this concept and include it as part of their audit. Just as depreciation standards are applied and reviewed by CPAs, I believe that compensation standards should also be applied and reviewed.

I’m interested to hear other ideas to resolve this issue.

Ronald Harris
Scripps Ranch

Real News for Real Americans

Re “Broke Cities” (“City Lights,” April 8).

Great article!! Thank you for doing real news that matters to all Americans.

Chris Williams
via email

VHS And Ravioli

Is there a Reader “Off the Cuff” rendezvous location that potential interviewees are being invited to? A mystical boat ride? A secret handshake I must learn? Based on the gray-scale portrait backgrounds, it seems likely that these people are meeting in some sort of underground facility, which is quite surprising to me. I ask because I know nothing about your methods to find worthy respondents, and I’m growing weary in my desperate wanderings throughout this city, finding no one that will inquire me for my non sequitur ramblings to be included in such a fine publication. The questions presented are interesting and entirely relevant (hand claps to the columnist), but there’s a certain buzz kill that takes place in my soul when Cliff from La Mesa is somehow gifted with an entire paragraph to explain how VHS tapes are far superior to ravioli. Perhaps the focus shouldn’t be so much on politics, yeah? With no expectations, I request the opportunity to give answers on command. I greatly appreciate the effort it takes that you will spend on materializing this goal of mine. Thank you for being free.

Jake Glazier
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