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May 16-22, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Bloggers: Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

Re "Blogged Down" (MetroNews, May 2): We all know that we have to take a stance against such behavior, and let perpetrators and aggressors of this type know that theirs is a subculture, and not accepted by the majority of society that raises children responsibly to be upstanding citizens. The aggressive behavior (by males or females) toward one of society's members is barbaric. Surely, America itself is being viewed by other nations as having a very low moral standard.

The cowardly hiding and hideous bloggers in question need to know that their actions are deemed criminal. They might have succeeded with and against this woman. But they will find out as repeat offenders—very soon indeed—that another feminine female and her family will not take such demeaning discrimination. And might decide to hire a lawyer, find the subjects and sue the proverbial "pants" off of them.

Which is what Miss Sierra is advised to do, too, since certain personalities have decided on their selfish and cruel rampage for entertainment. There is a way to deal with bullies—through their wallets. Ouch! That will stop the crude laughing, too, especially if it's turned over to the District Attorneys Office—ouch, again.

Name Withheld by Request, Santa Clara

Seeing Red

Your review of Red Charcoal Restaurant in San Jose is disturbing.  This is a great find of a restaurant and the food is very nice! I was offended that you refer to the typical American palate as "whitebread." What a racist statement. I am your "whitebread" American, and I enjoy various international tastes—spicy or not.  I enjoy the wonderful diversity of eating in Silicon Valley, and don't like to be classified with unkind statements about my nationality.  It is particularly offensive to mix these statements with this restaurant review. Red Charcoal deserves better from Metro.

Susanne Sill, San Jose

Mad? You Call Them Mad?

I beg to differ with the review of The Colorful Apocalypse appearing in Metro, April 11 (Books, online only). Essentially, The Colorful Apocalypse is the epitome of vanity publishing. Compelled by his own ghosts, Gregory Bottoms sets out to prove the link between madness and the art of Christian ecstasy. He admits in the prologue of the book that he has a preoccupation with this link for personal reasons; but it is in fact an obsession.

He enters the life and work of a number of visionary artists, including Norbert Kox, William Thomas Thompson and Howard Finster. It is clear from dialogue in the book that he was not honest with the artists about his intent, but presented himself as a published author, a professor from the University of Vermont, who had an interest in visionary or outsider art.

While a responsible author or journalist might have a hypothesis, they understand the need to be objective and to deal with fact. Bottoms, on the other hand, is welcomed into lives, introduced to family, and given time by these artists, and then he goes back to his motel, picks up his copy of DSM–IV, an encyclopedia of mental illness, to diagnose what he perceives as their disease. Throughout the book Bottoms quotes such sources as The Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Surviving Schizophrenia, Auden's The Prolific and the Devourer, Schizophrenia and Art, etc. Clearly, Bottoms had a game plan.

According to Bottoms, anyone hearing a voice, seeing a vision—anyone having a dream carrying a message or finding a reality outside the "norm" is ill. If that is so, Moses, Christ, all of the disciples and saints, innumerable artists, musicians, writers and poets are insane. Neruda would have to be locked up; Gabriel Garcia Marquez would be certifiable; and Faulkner should have been protected from himself.

Another incredibly evident bias is the author's distaste for the South. While he admits Southern roots, he paints a picture of the cracker barrel South equating it with ignorance, and religion in the South as prehistoric and deluded. He chooses quotes that spin the openness and charm of Southerners into an arrogant foundation for the prejudices that exist, and then takes pot shots at his subjects calling them prejudiced. It is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black. As a fifth-generation Californian (currently living in the South) I feel I have some objectivity.

This is not an honest book. While I object to the slant he has put on each artist, my real outrage comes because visionary artists in this country are part of our soul. While Bottoms discounts the importance of this book, it will become a part of history. When the work of these artists is sitting in the Smithsonian or in other museums, historians will look to his book for information on the artists. In that light, what Bottoms has done is more than vanity, it is unforgivable.

Sally Renata, Surfside Beach, S.C.

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