Baggin' on Byrne
Last week's Bohemian featured another that illustrates the need for a decisive change by the editors of the paper ("Election Blues," Nov. 1).
In that piece, Byrne attempts to slime councilman Mike Healy of Petaluma for refusing to talk with him. As an ally of Mike Healy, who has been supportive of the living wage ordinance in Petaluma, and as another victim who has been dragged through the Byrne mud-pit, I can attest that the primary mistake that we both made was to talk with Byrne in the first place. I have had hostile interviews with Fox News-type right-wingers that were more fair and balanced than the hatchet job that Byrne metes out to anyone who makes the mistake of granting him an interview.
It's too bad, in a way, that after lacking significant political content for years, the Bohemian made such a bad choice for a political columnist when they hired Byrne. Although he has done some interesting pieces on national political issues, similar material is widely available on the Net. What the Bohemian really needs is someone who is part of the real progressive movement in the North Bay and is committed to the patient, long-term process of developing the broad coalition of labor, environmental, religious and social justice groups necessary to build a progressive majority.
I can supply, on request, a short list of qualified local activist writers for the position who are actually part of the movement and can perform a constructive role.
Ben Boyce, Sonoma
Peter Byrne is a multi-award-winning investigative journalist who is rabid for the truth, tolerates duplicity not at all and whose best stuff cannot indeed be found "widely available on the Net." An independent columnist, rather than one who is entrenched in area politics, makes for a tougher and ultimately fairer voice.
Greek Defamation league
Alastair Bland's (Oct. 18) miserably fails in its attempt at humor and at times is downright offensive. It is unclear why this article was printed, for it offers neither an educated view of the Odyssey nor an accurate description of Greece. By using a poem thousands of years old as a tour guide to contemporary Greece, this article discredits the Odyssey for what it truly is--a heroic tale of an epic journey. Ignorant remarks are made about the mighty Odysseus; he is likened to a "handsome brute," while his men are called "rambunctious tourists." Tourists! These men were veterans of Troy, heroes in their day, striving to return home with their spoils!
Midway through the article, while criticizing the lack of hospitality he encountered on his journey, Bland remarks, "There were only six occasions when friendly strangers invited me in for the night." Not only does this statement suggest that the writer felt entitled to receive such hospitality as was described in the Odyssey, but it also discredits those who were kind enough to generously share their homes with him. On the whole, I found "Mythic Journey" to be written in a snobbish and unbearably sophisticated manner.
Samantha Sharpe, San Rafael
Alastair Bland decided to travel to Greece and used the Odyssey as a travel guide, to follow Odysseus' footsteps. It is a clever concept, but Bland approached it the wrong way. His writing expresses a point of view that is degrading to the Greek culture. Bland's tone is very condescending to the Greek people as a whole, insulting their food, customs and language. He says, "It was a challenge, this strange archaic language, for English has grown mostly from Latin and Germanic roots. . . ."
Coincidentally, "archaic" is actually from Greek roots, but he does not mention this. And we owe much of our mathematical and scientific language to the Greeks. The Greek language is also not archaic, as people still speak it today. Bland's article is trying to be ironic and sarcastic, but it just comes off as belittling and insulting to Greece. Next time, your staff should think of how such a tone can deeply anger and hurt someone of different origin than American.
One more thing, "sarcasm" is also from Greek roots.
Remy Wallace, San Rafael
No, no, no! This was our Lit issue. We mixed it up with a foodalogue that included Lit. Given the volume of women from San Rafael writing to us about this (six letters unprinted), we humbly hang a head and say: We apologize to the great country and great people of Greece. Geez.
Keep up the good work, indeed!
I just wanted to thank you and let you know that I very much enjoyed ("Iraq the Vote," Nov. 1), particularly the tid-bit about Measure R. I very much look forward to riding that train as well, and am well aware of the fact that it is only a drop in the bucket of what we have to accomplish to solve all of our planning mistakes of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and even '00s. Keep up the good work.
Brian Lamoreaux, Mill Valley
We love you, Brian.