Letters to the Editor: January 16, 2013

Visualize Whirled Peas

Thank you, Brian Gallagher, for your delicious counterpoint to the positive thinking (really nonthinking) crowd (“Visualize This,” Jan. 9). I might add that, in my experience, these blissed-out folks decline to engage in the frightening and important political, social and environmental issues of our times because they are too “negative” to think about. Like their religious and “spiritual” compadres, they cling to the notion that God (or Goddess) will handle the unpleasant business for us if we just smile, drop our quarters in the collection plate, visualize whirled peas or speak in pleasant platitudes. In abdicating the responsibilities of good citizens to participate in a meaningful way, they let the religious right, the gun-toters, big business, polluters, parasite, and bloated government hijack the public debate and have their way with the majority. They are not simply benign self-delusionals. They are a big smiley player in the demise of democracy in America.


In a culture in which negativity reaches epic heights, the Bohemian and Brian Thomas Gallagher pile it on in “Visualize This.” Being negative is not realistic. Cynicism is not realism either, though a lot of people falsely think that they are wise to be cynics. Pragmatism, though, and even skepticism can be useful. Unfortunately, Gallagher did not appear to be skeptical enough in his review of a book that is sloppy, unfocused and inadequately researched. It seems he swallowed Oliver Berkeman’s negativity whole, and persuaded Bohemian editors to feature it on the cover.

Much of our TV encourages viewers to be fearful, judgmental smart alecs. News media are mostly negative, too, following the motto “If it bleeds, it leads.” One can be in denial at either end of the optimism-pessimism continuum. Realism occupies the middle. My opinion of the Bohemian staff suffers after this issue. You folks can do better than this, and have in the past. Moving back to the middle could very well make readers, including this one, happier.


You, too, can bestow with kisses and/or throw tomatoes at ‘Antidote’ author Oliver Burkeman when he appears at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7pm.—The Ed.

Don’t ‘Mis’ It

Last weekend, having exhausted the local holiday film fare, I was dragged, still protesting, to Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. I had read Richard von Busack’s review of the film (“Nip It in the Bud,” Dec. 26) and was anticipating two-plus hours of tedious, overblown hooey. In the first minutes of the film, however, I was relieved by a spectacle that was obviously well-produced, and soon I found myself absorbed in the lives of Fantine, Jean Valjean, Cosette and Javert, pleased to be once again immersed in the dramatic and inspiring world of Victor Hugo’s great novel. (I confess, Les Misérables, required eighth grade reading, was my first favorite long read.)

I found the casting surprising excellent, the acting consistently convincing (despite singing parts, verse and close-ups, which von Busack derided), and the director, Tom Hooper, to be congratulated, hopefully awarded, for bringing Hugo’s behemoth, via the stage production, successfully to the screen. The music, verse and, yes, even the close-ups heightened effects, telescoping complexity and condensing into codas Hugo’s major themes—which remained, despite the complications of the tale, in the forefront. There were not many people in the theater that evening, but those few, as the credits rolled, applauded. Hopefully, they found the film, as I did, fresh and full of heart. Sorry you missed it, von Busack!

Santa Cruz

Dept. of Napa

Last week’s news story (“Where’s the Money?,” Jan. 9) contained an erroneous reference to the “city of Napa” and its checking accounts. As consistent with the rest of the story, it is the county of Napa that uses Wells Fargo and Bank of America for checking accounts.

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