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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wisdom of the Aged

Comedy with a point: I was interested in your story about the Amber Frey lecture -- and most particularly about a woman named Ethel, who "smells like old people" ["My Evening With Amber Frey," Infiltrator, Aug. 17]. I am very anxious to find out what a woman like Ethel does to smell like old people. Is there any way you can check the roster of those attending the Frey lecture to see how I can contact the Ethel you spoke of? You see, as an old person myself (71 years and counting), I have run out of my supply of Calvin Klein, Dior, and Lancôme -- fragrances that I wore until I got old. I even have a bit of patchouli oil, but I'm afraid to use it for fear of, well, smelling like a young person.

Actually, you seem to have the nose of a bloodhound, particularly for ferreting out old people, so you may have some ideas that you can offer me to smell right, should you be unable to locate Ethel. A little dab of mothball essence, perhaps? A spray of Ben-Gay (nice ring, that)? Or maybe just a smidgen of Eau d'All-Bran? Any help you -- or Ethel -- can offer will be most appreciated. With so little to offer society at large and young folks like you in particular, an old person like me should try to smell my age. It's the least I can do.

Arlene Silverman
San Francisco

P.S. When you get a chance -- and only if you have time -- could you tell me how African-Americans smell? Asians? What about those Latinos? And if they are old, well, one can't even imagine ....

School Scandal

Bias ignored is bias allowed: Thank you, Cristi Hegranes, for your revealing article about a troubling and unrecognized form of discrimination that is emerging today ["Suffer the Little Muslims," Aug. 17]. As a recent trainee for a national teaching program, Teach for America, I participated in numerous seminars on issues of diversity and inclusiveness in the classroom. Being a teacher embodies a lot more than assigning problems or teaching new concepts -- it is about motivating leaders and citizens of the next generation. Let us hope that teachers such as those mentioned in your article are in a very small minority.

I can attest to the frustration that many of the individuals mentioned in your article feel. As a Muslim, I know that discrimination against Muslims and Middle Easterners is pervasive. However, knowledge of this kind of discrimination does not exist outside of the Muslim community. Hopefully, journalism such as your own can spread the awareness necessary to remedy this troubling phenomenon.

Shahid Zaman
Saginaw, Mich.

We've set aside a bushel basket to hold the letters from people who see racism in every use of the word "spade": I hope you keep drawing attention to the sad plight of Muslim, Middle Eastern, and Asian children who continually suffer discrimination at the hands of fellow students, teachers, and administrators. We need to call a spade a spade. Hatred, racism, and bigotry have absolutely no place in our schools!

Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq
Atlanta, Ga.

We're Genuinely Sorry

That we keep having to waste space on Billy Ray Cyrus: Just a little observation from a journalist, who is also a fan of Billy Ray Cyrus and Shirley Barrow. First off, you certainly can understand why you have ticked off thousands of Billy Ray Cyrus fans for portraying him as a country hick ["Hung's Jury," Music, Aug. 3]. Having a Southern accent does not denote stupidity or ignorance. If it did, there must be quite a few Southern accents at, which carries through to my second observation.

Judging Shirley Barrow for her "unuse" of capitalization in her letter to the editor ["lowercase complaint," Aug. 17] is very petty. Instead, you should admire the 74-year-old senior citizen for her staunch support of her hero. How many seniors past the age of 70 are on the Internet and head a forum? Not many! And how many even know how to type?

I really do think you owe both Billy Ray and Shirley an apology, but I'm not so naive to think that you're man (woman) enough to issue one.

Marti Clayton
Toronto, Canada

UFOs. PG&E, the SFBG.

Now, now. Didn't your mother tell you not to hate?: Saw the pic about the UFO-PG&E connection online ["Insulted Yet?," an illustrated spoof of the S.F. Bay Guardian's love of undocumented conspiracy theories]. Good stuff! Please continue making fun of the Guardian in general and Brugmann and Redmond in particular. Those self-righteous NIMBY assholes need to be taken down a few notches. I hate "progressive" Naderites, and I hate that newspaper.

Keep up the good work, from an S.F. transplant living in L.A.

Noah Zimmerman
Los Angeles


In an item on the new play Mapplethorpe: The Opening ["Open Wide," Performance, Aug. 24], the year of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's death was misstated. He died in 1989. SF Weekly regrets the error.


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