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April 18-24, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

What's 'Ouch' in Italian?

I just finished reading Alastair Bland's article on the Italian Wines 2007 event in San Francisco (News of the Food, "Italian's Take SF," April 11.) The article, besides being insulting to Italians, showed a complete lack of knowledge of Italian wine and culture. The man must have been inebriated on high-alcohol Zinfandel or some 15.5 percent Cabernet before he "tasted" wine at the event. Though I was not present at the Italian Wines 2007 event, I cannot believe that he "tasted" only one offering that he found acceptable.

Is Mr. Bland a real person? What experience does he have "tasting" Italian wines, or any wine for that matter? Toward the end of his anti-Italian diatribe, he describes the one wine he liked as "like a Zinfandel of softened pepper notes over a foamy sweetness of blueberry pudding." This gives the only telling glimpse as to Mr. Bland's "tastes." It seems he does have a fondness for high-alcohol, overripe, fruit bombs.

I am an Italian American who has been a professional chef in Sonoma County for over 22 years. Besides cooking for Sonoma County wineries for over 10 years, I cooked in Italy for two and a half years and was the chef and owner of Santi Restaurant in Geyserville for five years. Most of the Sonoma winemakers who dine at Santi order Italian wines. I guess that they feel that they can learn something from a country with a few hundred years of winemaking history. I submit that Mr. Bland still has a lot to learn about wine. Opening his mind will do wonders for his learning process.

Franco Dunn, Healdsburg

What's 'Ouch' in Hip-Hop?

Gabe Meline's article "Hyphy Overload" (Critic's Choice, April 4) exemplifies the need for the media to sever the connection between rap music and hip-hop. The editor's ignorance of the genre demonstrates the Bohemian's need for informed and competent researchers. In essence, the underground hip-hop community deserves an apology for the inaccurate classification of Zion I and Grouch as hyphy. Both artists promote social consciousness through intelligent and poetic lyrics. They have worked to bring intelligence to the corporate and media-corrupted genre disguised as "hip-hop." Their music is the antithesis of hyphy, or what some would label the "Bay Area Minstrel Show." In actuality, hyphy endangers a movement that artists like Zion 1, Grouch, the Roots, Nas, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Aceyalone, Living Legends and others are fighting for their lives to protect and resuscitate.

Allison Frenzel, Santa Rosa

What's 'Ouch' in Opera?

I disagree with David Templeton's review of the opera Cavalleria Rusticana which was performed at the Cinnabar Theater (Critic's Choice, "Hit and Miss," March 14). He seems to consider the opera a waste of time and devoid of memorable music. How wrong can he be, or does he not know any better?! The chorus melodies have been dancing in my memory since I saw the performance. Also, I remember being at a double bill performance of Cavalleria and Pagliacci at the San Francisco Opera when Placido Domingo sang the title roles in both operas. The performances were outstanding.

How can anyone forget the beautiful intermezzo from Cavalleria? Of course, Mr. Templeton does not have to like all operas, but his criticisms should be valid.

Willard D. Bristol, Santa Rosa

What's 'Ouch' in Social Commentary?

Peter Byrne's views and mine generally coincide, but his latest assertion (The Byrne Report, "Marketing War," April 11) jostled me some. He claims that we the people "have been psychologically conditioned to accept unpardonable acts of violence as moral imperatives." He is implying, as I see it, that we are made of vastly impressionable emotional and intellectual plastic, and so are easily molded by a fiendishly clever media and governmental and war propaganda programs, which is why violence and war are endemic.

World history, however, suggests that the first resort of humans everywhere when confronted by social problems is the assertion of power ("I'll teach you to talk back to me," "Kill the infidel," etc.). In other words, especially adroit propaganda isn't needed. We bring a readiness to accept and employ violent acts along with us when we look at, listen to or read anything.

I wish Byrne was right, actually. Solving world violence problems by changing media programming would be so much easier than the long, daunting task of changing human nature. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the latter is possible, but the first step in any successful modification strategy is identifying causation.

The "enemy" is still us.

Don McQueen, Constant Reader, Santa Rosa

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