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February 20-27, 2008

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Letters to the Editor

Kidding Themselves

I APPRECIATED Christina Waters' article about the "back to the pasture" movement ("The Meat of the Matter," Cover Story, Jan. 30). I have been a vegetarian for 15 years now, but I am heartened that there are ranchers and farmers who are improving the lives of farm animals by raising them in a more humane fashion than the large, intensive factory farms do. And I am glad that better options (local, more humanely raised) exist. There was one part about how animals from TLC Ranch are "taken to a family-run slaughterhouse and dispatched as humanely as they were raised." I am sure that those pigs lived a far better life than their counterparts in factory farms, but I doubt that they were "humanely" killed. Most slaughterhouses, even small ones, use the same practice when killing animals. They are hung upside down by one leg, have their throats slit and then bleed to death while still conscious. It is a painful, terrifying and violent death. I hope that while people choose a more humane option (and I am truly glad that they can), they don't delude themselves into believing that the animal died a "humane" death. I also suggest that they contact farmers directly to ask for details on how the animals that they are eating are raised, transported and killed.

Rachel Cadman, Santa Cruz

Silly, Not Mean

THIS LETTER is in response to Stephanie Foo's criticism (Letters, Jan. 30) of Denise Vivar's dining review of Charlie Hong Kong. Miss Foo expresses the opinion that the food served at this establishment lacks authenticity and that along with the restaurant's name, logo and website, its overall presentation creates a dining experience tainted by racism. (A similar discussion regarding this specific restaurant was thoughtfully presented in the Asian American/Pacific Islander Community Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 3, published by the AA/PI Resource Center, UC-Santa Cruz, and is available online.)I am an Asian American who is not similarly offended by the Charlie Hong Kong restaurant. That might be because I am also a longtime Santa Cruz resident, and if I remember correctly, the restaurant was started by a young man, actually named Charlie, who wanted to provide Santa Cruz with inexpensive, healthy Asian-fusion- (emphasis on fusion) style food, in a casual, fun setting (a former hot dog stand). In other words, it was not intended to be haute cuisine nor a showcase for classical or even traditional Asian food nor a cultural center. It was more like a chop suey diner a la "Santa Cruz healthy" style.I do agree that both Vivar's review ("Orient Express," Dining, Jan. 2) as well as the restaurant's logo and website, present Hollywood-esque stereotypes in their effort to adhere to a marketing theme. The "exotic Orient" allusions, Fu Manchu caricature, "karate-chopping" shadows and "happy Buddha" mascot are clichés that are racially and culturally insensitive in today's more sophisticated and diverse society. They may not quite carry the same negative historical connotations as Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Colonel Sanders, Little Sambo, etc., but it might be time to retire these outdated, exaggerated images of Asians because they perpetuate an inaccurate portrayal of contemporary Asians, Buddhists, martial artists and old men in general. However, I personally don't think that the stereotyping is mean-spirited or intentionally disrespectful. I think that it is silly, not racist.A couple of years ago I had an experience at a restaurant in Scotts Valley where no one would serve my mixed-race family. That's racism.

 A. Yen Redell, Santa Cruz

Lame Endorsements

I READ YOUR recommendations every election cycle and appreciate your commentary on the issues. Especially for initiatives, which are always suspect in what's supposed to be a representative democracy, your thoughts help clarify.But what you wrote on the first two initiatives [Props 91 and 92] ("Poll Dance," Endorsements, Jan. 23) actually convinced me to go against your recommendation! When will we stop earmarking funds for specific projects in the constitution? Aren't we already totally hamstrung by past initiatives? What's the use of an annual budget or even a legislature when almost all their decisions are locked in by temporarily swayed voters?

Anyway, thanks for convincing me on those two and making me feel better for not totally aping your recommendations overall.

Paul Noel, Mountain View

Corrections: Last week's article about the Songwriters Showcase ('Joe Strummers,' Arts) contained two errors. Ken Capitanich is not a musician, and the event happens at 7pm on Tuesdays through May 13. We regret the errors.

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