Why does it seem like every time I open your paper to Barbara Lane's Eat section, she's reviewing yet another $$$-$$$$ restaurant? Granted, many readers of restaurant reviews -- myself included -- read them purely for the sake of escapist fantasy, supping vicariously on what only the critic-with-an-expense-account can indulge in on a weekly basis.
However, I am getting sick and tired of reading about $23 entres and $9 appetizers at chichi, nouveau and/or predominantly continental-cuisine-serving restaurants -- e.g., Julie Ring's, Elka, Vertigo, Socca and Flying Saucer (Eat, May 3). I mean, if I had the bucks to eat wherever I wanted every week, I for one would certainly try to visit a broader range of eating establishments and balance out my diet with food from more cheap-but-good-restaurants and/or more ethnically diverse cuisines.
Further, if I also happened to be a food critic for a free weekly, I would try to make my reviews more appealing and useful to a wider audience (especially across income brackets) -- unless, of course, I had some sort of disdain for low-end restaurants or the editors of my weekly are aiming for a readership that happens to be of the same income bracket that can afford to frequent the Cypress Club and Stars. (Hint: They read the Wall Street Journal and probably think free weeklies are vulgar anyway.)
Fact or Faction?
As practically the only person to go public with criticism of Factsheet 5 back when Mike Gunderloy was its idolized editor, I think I can claim a certain credibility to speak to recent criticisms of current editor Seth Friedman ("Ragging Factsheet 5," April 5). I was getting F5 when it was a single, double-sided ditto sheet, not the book-length behemoth it now is.
I see nothing in the claim that there is any truth-in-packaging problem in F5 aside from the fact that its new subtitle, "The Definitive Guide to the Zine Revolution," alleges the impossible. Seth Friedman ventures opinions as to whether you're good at what you're doing, not usually whether what you're doing is good, and he should be judged the same way. Of necessity, many of the reviews are stereotypes because, unfortunately, so are many of the zines they review. The good thing about zines is that anybody can do one. But the bad thing about zines is that anybody can do one. At its best, F5 has made the snap judgment into an art form.
In general, Friedman has implemented Gunderloy's principles (painfully worked out, I can say, by trial and error) as well as, and often better than, Gunderloy himself did, especially toward the end when the 80-hour weeks were turning Gunderloy into a robot. He's shed some (not enough) of the time-wasting side projects and is not afflicted with the abysmal columnists Gunderloy hosted just because they knew-him-when. Mostly, what's wrong with F5 (as with zinedom) is built in. If you don't like it, you can look elsewhere -- and F5's a good place to find out where else to look.
Albany, New York
To Feller, With Love
Certain oversensitive complex individuals seem to be forgetting that humor comes in all forms. I always look forward to my weekly dose of "sarcasm and meanness" from Eggers & Leon. They make me laugh. Fuck you, I love Smart Feller!
I would like to know exactly what is racist about Prop. 187 ("La Cucaracha," May 10). I admittedly only read through the proposition briefly, but I never saw anything in it which said that Hispanics shall be denied health care and education. It said to me that all illegal immigrants shall be denied health care and education. It seems to me that it is being called racist because it just so happens that a large portion of illegal immigrants are of Hispanic origin. Your cartoon indicates that it is white America that is backing Prop. 187, which seems racist in its own right since it just so happens that the largest portion of middle-class America is white, and it just so happens that the middle class (of which I am a member) is the one that ends up footing most of the bill.
I am Asian and thus a member of a minority group, but I am really getting tired of minority groups (Asians included) waving the racism flag every time they see something they don't like, because racism is a high-caliber political weapon that carries constitutional ramifications. There are times when it needs to be done, but I think it is getting to the point of crying wolf in this country.
So tell me, if, hypothetically, the largest portion of illegal immigrants were Asian or even white, would all these Hispanic communities be crying "Racism"? I think not. I am not some hard-line anti-immigrant xenophobe and would love to be able to help the whole world if I could, but the reality of things is that the state and fed are broke and can't seem to help their own citizens and you want us to help people that came here illegally? We have our own citizens homeless on the streets and starving below the poverty level, the public schools are a joke in the world community and our Social Security and Medicare systems are on the verge of financial collapse and you want us to pay for people that are not even citizens of this country? Get real.
I really don't care if the largest portion of illegal immigrants are Hispanic, Asian, black, white or Martian, I'm really getting sick of seeing one-third of my paycheck (not to mention 8.25 percent sales tax, and numerous other taxes) go into a pit and still see shabby public schools, homeless on the streets and a pathetic health-care system. I wouldn't care if all the illegal immigrants were Asian, I'm not paying for them.
As a final note, I think that this is just another example of how our society rewards people who don't follow the rules and work around the system. Suppose you went to a nightclub where you paid $10 and you got a T-shirt and a free drink. Then as you walked around, you saw a group of people who sneaked in the back door, and still got their T-shirt and free drink. Wouldn't you feel kind of shafted? In this country, it seems that too often we grant exceptions to people who do not follow the rules and processes and are not only not penalized for it, but benefit from it, leaving the rest of us who follow the rules feeling pretty frustrated by it since we end up paying for it all.
via the Internet
Improvement by Design
I couldn't help to notice in your Letters column recently the disparaging comments from some of your readers regarding your redesign. Though I'm not familiar with your old design since I have only been out here for a short time, I must say that I quite like your present design. It's snappy and contemporary. Despite one reader's criticisms, I do not find the choice of fonts jarring. Instead I find the design makes good use of the tabloid page, with the fat sans serif fonts bringing a nice balance to the page. The department heads are simple and interesting. On the whole, I find the paper quite easy to read because of the design, and coupled with good content, it makes for a great read.
Keep up the good work.
Scott H. Bray