Letters to the Editor: December 26, 2012

Letters to the Editor: December 26, 2012

Food for Thought

While traveling for business in St. Helena, I came across your publication in a local coffee shop, and was intrigued. I lean toward the blue and live in a red state, and was curious just how far the leaning could go in Northern California. While reading articles that I can subscribe to pointing fingers at department stores and Amazon, asking people to shop local, I found the majority of the local boutiques carrying products made in China (“The Money Where Our Mouth Is,” Dec. 5). How is that “shopping local”? How is shopping “at Talbots back home” really that much different from buying a cute purse at a store in downtown Healdsburg that is made in China? It isn’t.

One portion of another “shop local” article I found especially revolting was, “We’re also lucky not to live in the rural Midwest, where Walmart has decimated downtowns.” Shudder. Sorry to tell you that there are lots of cute, quaint, historic small towns in the rural Midwest without Walmarts. California does not own the patent to shopping in small local businesses. I suggest you look around: Is the flour the bakery uses to make its scones local? Are coffee beans grown here? Is your water even local? You know what is local? The wine is local, and I found some of the winery reviews harsh too, describing one, “their biggest client is Costco, but the tasting room is a hole-in-the-wall in a drab beige facility.” When you point one finger outward in judgment, three more are pointing back at yourself.

Ste. Genevieve, Mo.

Hi Elaine, thanks for writing. You’re confusing purchasing locally made products with shopping at locally owned businesses, but I agree with your overall point. Ironically, the issue of the paper to which you refer has historically been a “Made in the North Bay” issue, spotlighting products made locally; we felt this year that the presence of big-box stores and online retailers was threatening enough to our smaller mom ‘n’ pops that we’d skew it toward supporting them. As for Walmart, I’ve been to 49 of the 50 states in America and have seen firsthand more abandoned downtowns in the rural Midwest than anywhere else in the country. I’ve talked to lifetime residents of these small towns who all, invariably, point their finger squarely at Walmart. I didn’t mean to denigrate the many vibrant downtowns that do exist in the Midwest—it sounds like yours is still intact, luckily—but the ratio of Walmarts to ghost towns is, in fact, strongest in that particular region.—The Ed.

Delayed Education

Many students have been helped with the passing of Proposition 30. I would like to share one of the many unintended consequences created by structuring state funding in this fashion. Given the unknown status of state university funding, state and UC acceptance of new and transfer students has been put on hold for winter semester enrollment. Instead, they will compete with first-time enrollees next fall, nine months from now. This is an expense, borne by all transferees, due to the delay created in completing their education..

I wonder what the outcome would be if we were to place some of Sacramento’s favorite programs on the chopping block instead. It is clear that the “budgetary education deficit” was a cognitive choice made by our leadership in Sacramento. Leadership is pulling the strings, and we are reduced to emotional reactions in place of responsible questions.


Striking a Nerve

David Templeton hit the nail on the head when he wrote about the worst theatrical productions of 2012 in Sonoma County (“Played Out,” Dec. 19), and in so doing he struck a nerve.

In 1979, I saw The Elephant Man on Broadway. It still remains one of the most memorable theatrical experiences of my life. I loved it so much I bought the book version of the play and the original poster in a shop in Shubert Alley—it still hangs in my office. I saw the play again about a year later, with Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill in the lead. I have since enjoyed the TV version and the movie, and went to the Broadway revival in 2002 with Billy Crudup and Kate Burton.

Naturally, I went to see The Elephant Man when it played locally. As one of the people escaping the theater at the halfway mark, a middle-aged couple rushing to their car smiled sympathetically at me. “Did you ever?” asked the woman. “No!” I replied. It spoke volumes.

This latest reincarnation of my favorite play will also remain as one of the most memorable theatrical experiences of my life. Unfortunately, it has broken me of ever wanting to see The Elephant Man again.


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