Thanks to James Bush for his timely "Parks Horror Story" (4th & James, 9/17). While Bush was listening to park neighbors, another horror story was unfolding at that exact moment at Golden Gardens Park, at a meeting on the proposed installation of two 300-watt floodlights at the park's off-leash area. The Parks Department was meticulous in sending invitations to groups, but failed to post any notices at the site. Had not two off-leash users taken it upon themselves to make their own signs, the people most affected by the proposed change would not have know about the meeting.
Of the 40-plus people who attended the September 9 meeting, virtually all made positive comments, and the facilitator led the group to believe that the future would bring either lights or more public discussion. Imagine our dismay when, within 48 hours of the meeting, the Parks Department issued a notice to the Ballard News-Tribune that it had rendered its decision and there would be no lights at Golden Gardens.
Once again, Seattle's Parks Department has failed in its mandate to: 1. Give appropriate notice to all affected parties; 2. Give adequate opportunity for public comment; 3. Balance the needs of interested parties. The DPR would apparently rather dictate that facilitate.
Sharon LeVine, dog owner
Not just Mr. Nice Guy
Although James Bush was dead-on in his September 17 take on the Seattle Parks Department's "notoriously poor record of public notification and meaningful dialogue with park neighbors" (4th & James), he is off in his assessment of City Council member Licata's draft ordinance as simply a "nice gesture." Legislating the Parks Department to work with citizens to evaluate their policy and procedures and report the findings to City Council would be a powerful first step towards ensuring that the department becomes more open and inclusive in deciding the future of our city parks.
Art's part of the game
Roger Downey was quite mistaken to suggest that the "baseball stadium . . . has gotten away without spending a cent on art" (Art Town, 9/10). Not only have we spent a cent, before all the accounting is complete, we will have invested $1.3 million to commission and integrate public art within the ballpark plus tens of thousands of additional administrative, legal, and architectural support services.
Ten artists from King County and one other from Vancouver, BC, were chosen through a peer review process that started almost two years ago. The successful artists, including the likes of Gerry Tsutakawa, Ries Niemi, Ross Beecher, are well under way creating works that promise to set a national standard for art in sporting facilities.
These works have captured the attention of other Seattle newspapers, which have offered their critical acclaim on several occasions. In light of the involvement among respected local artists and the visibility given to the works in the local press, it is surprising that Roger Downey is unaware of the existence of the ballpark's art program.
We would be more than happy to remedy this situation. We invite Roger to the Public Facilities District office to show him what is on the drawing boards in some of this region's most creative art studios.
Ken Johnsen, Executive Director
Public Facilities District, Washington State Major League Baseball STadium
Driving racism home
In response to Eric Scigliano's Quick & Dirty item "The Color of Money" (9/10), I would like to comment on the obviously racist treatment of Mr. Ansari and Mr. Gatterson by the Washington Mutual bank. I appreciate Seattle Weekly for printing such articles.
I am a Metro bus driver, one of those who says hello to all the people that I see all day. I have noticed that many black people react to my greeting by ignoring me or acting defensive, saying something like, "Oh, I have a bus pass." I was just saying hello, but I realized that as a group, they are not used to being treated in any way but unfriendly, unwelcome etc. You get conditioned to just not look at people, to put up a wall. I am not surprised that Mr. Ansari did not respond or smile back at the bank employee.
White America is full of good people who don't think they are racist, who think blacks' situation doesn't stink. What stinks is denial, that black people are regularly denied loans at banks, housing, job opportunities, they are singled out by security guards as potential shoplifters, waited on last at department stores, and asked for more ID for their checks and Visas.
I am not surprised that this happened in a North Seattle bank, and I would suggest that Washington Mutual should look into some serious cultural diversity training as I am sure it does train its employees well.
As for the young college students that were treated so badly, I hope they keep believing in themselves, despite ignorance that is always in their path.
Better read, better Red
John Longenbaugh's review of the Intiman's Red reveals his own pathetic inadequacy to judge the play ("Through Asian Eyes," 9/17). He begins by snipping at multiculturalism, then whines the play does not teach him about the historical events of the Cultural Revolution and Chinese Opera. Why didn't he prepare himself for the play?
It is hard to imagine anyone with the slightest knowledge of recent Chinese history not being moved by Red. With just three actors, and a tense, dramatic script, Chay Yew effectively peels psychological and political layers away from generational conflict. For Mr. Longenbaugh, we recommend reading Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang. His complaint that Michi Barrall as Lin is too much of a kitten misses the point. The Red Guards were adolescents ignorant of their cultural past, whose very childishness made them more terrible.
Longenbaugh says the "time scheme is terminally confusing" and that makes his head ache. We found the play clear, but in a circular, past-is-present, Chinese world view where ancestors are always with us. Perhaps the reviewer was dizzy because he likes his art, logical, linear, sequential, and factual? Furthermore, Longenbaugh complains viewers are "never given any reason to value" Chinese Opera as an art form. The many references to the "White Haired Maiden" obviously went over his head. Opera works precisely because it deals so directly with archetypal human characters and roles. An innocent maiden wronged by society, cast out and shunned, who lives for her ultimate revenge and vindication strike these readers as a powerful reason for opera: to transmit, teach, explain, and elevate a society's awareness of its own cultural inadequacies.
We suggest the Weekly only send reviewers to the theater who have done their homework, and who are open to varied, artistic approaches.
Gail and Phil Davis
Seattle Art Museum has stated that part of the reason it is demanding financial compensation if the painting is returned to the rightful owners is a loss of revenue from the painting not being on display ("SAM's Nazi Matisse," 9/3). This is a pathetic excuse for being greedy. Does the museum sue the owners of touring exhibitions that are in the museum when they leave? It would give SAM a good name to return this painting. What if other museums boycott SAM from their touring exhibits because of this affair? That is a greater disservice to the community and shames all of us along with discouraging future donations from private collections. A local boycott of SAM, as suggested by other readers, is a sound policy. In the international world of museums SAM is a young institution that is needlessly tarnishing its reputation. Perhaps SAM needs to have a whole new executive body as there is poor decisionmaking going on there now.
Take note, SAM
It is both nauseatingly offensive, and adding to the already great pain of all Holocaust survivors and their families (I speak from knowledge) that the Seattle Art Museum will not promptly return a work proved to have been outright stolen by the Nazis "SAM's Nazi Matisse," 9/3). SAM's rationalizations do not hold up.
The question is what can an informed public do about it? Shall we boycott SAM? Return our museum memberships? My suggestion is that we all call, e-mail, or write letters expressing the real anger and pain in the community. SAM badly needs a sensitivity check with its constituency. And every time we visit, each of us can give the museum a written note along with our money. It won't be able to ignore it forever. There is still hope SAM will take the only morally correct action.
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