Gag Me With a Pink Ribbon

One Giant Step Backward

I am writing in response to Jeanne Sather's article "Gag Me With a Pink Ribbon" [Oct. 20]. As a breast cancer survivor and founder of Athena Partners, I think it is unfortunate that our important efforts to raise funds to help save lives were cast in a negative tone in the article. I want to set the record straight. The restaurants participating in the Athena Desserts program, and their patrons, made a generous and significant donation to women's cancer research through the Athena Desserts for a Cure program for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

First, every participating restaurant is donating a full 100 percent of its profits from "Athena Desserts" to Athena Partners, a federally designated charity. We, in turn, are donating the full amount, without deducting any operating costs, to important women's cancer research in our community to help find a cure. This is a significant commitment.

Second, the thousands of dollars donated do make a meaningful contribution to advancing knowledge. These funds will provide critical seed money for early stage innovative pilot studies. Every dollar counts.

Third, this program, through the advertisements, menus, and conversations, helps to raise awareness of the disease. Raising awareness is the first important step to early detection, which saves lives.

Athena Partners and our partner restaurants have given 100 percent to move us one step further in eradicating this disease. Unfortunately, Sather's article took us one giant step back.

Trish May

Founder and CEO,

Athena Partners

Kirkland

Don't Eat Pink Cake

If nothing else, we Americans are consistent. Given that we throw hundreds of billions of dollars into the pockets of insurance companies that can't possibly provide the medical care we are really trying to obtain, it is hardly surprising that we would spend our dollars on pink cakes, ribbons, and bottles of water rather than putting the money directly where it can actually do some good—with the cancer-care researchers and providers whose help and skill many of us will eventually need ["Gag Me With a Pink Ribbon," Oct. 20]. Jeanne Sather is right on the money. Do yourself a double favor: Skip the pink cake and invest in your health's future. Donate directly to those institutions, like the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, that can really help us out. And while you're at it, invest 37 cents and five minutes to tell your congresspeople to increase the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

Mark Miller

Seattle

Don't Blame Jayson Blair

I have known Jayson Blair for many years and have worked with him as a publicist on a good many stories for which he was a reporter. About two months ago, I took him on as a client. It is in that context that I am writing.

The tip of the hat to Jayson Blair has almost become de rigueur in any political assessment critical of The New York Times ["Mossback, "Opinion From the End Times," Oct. 20]. It misses the point and undercuts the argument. Here is why:

In several years at the Times, Jayson did not make up any stories of whole cloth. With the exception of one incident, an imaginary surname for an interview subject who refused to give it to him, his fabrications were confined to a period of a few months at the end of his years at the Times, when he was suffering from an untreated mental disorder.

This is what he did:

He told editors that he had interviewed out-of-town subjects in person when he had actually interviewed them by phone. He used secondary sources and the Times' photo archive to get local color for stories where he was supposed to have done the reporting in person. He lifted without credit portions of a published news story that he was using as background for a story he was assigned to report.

Neither Jayson nor the Times knew that he was suffering from manic-depressive disorder. He was aware that he was cracking up, and he had developed an aversion to going very far from home. He did everything he could to complete his assignments without letting on to his bosses that he was cracking up, sticking as close to the truth as possible without leaving home. He was afraid that admitting to a breakdown would end his career as a reporter. Jayson does not consider mental illness to be an excuse for what he did, but it does provide an explanation.

There was absolutely no political agenda in anything Jayson did. The fact that management at the Times caught on to his problems as soon as it did, despite his best efforts to cover them up, reflects well on the paper. I am sure that from a political standpoint one can find much to criticize at the Times from either end of the spectrum. Citing Jayson in that context undercuts the criticism.

Ted Faraone

New York, NY

Nightlife Network

Thanks to Neal Schindler for including us in his article on after-hours spots [Nightlife, "Trading Spaces," Oct. 27]. That was a nice (and fairly accurate) quote from Michael Leone about Commonfire. We had two really great years there, and without the overhead and responsibilities of the Commonfire space, we have evolved into a pretty cool network of businesses and micro-organizations doing new things. Our most recent endeavor was our Halloween party. (Too bad it ended at 2 a.m.!)

Ian Burke

Commonfire

Seattle

Was Rick Asleep?

In the old days, Rick Anderson would have written about Seattle nightlife all by himself [Nightlife, Oct. 27]. I guess we are all getting old.

Bill Talbott

Cathlamet

Virgin Vintage

Thanks so much to Roger Downey for such a generous and appreciative piece about the pleasures of well-developed riesling, and specifically about the virgin vintage (1983) of the Cellarmaster wine [Sips, "Golden Oldie," Oct. 27]. Riesling is so poorly understood and undervalued. It sorely needs champions like Downey to remind us that it is the greatest and most versatile white grape variety!

Now, I suspect, all of Seattle will be laying aside Cellarmaster's Riesling against the majority of their newly born children! Certainly, it will be cheaper than vintage port! Hopefully, some Seattleites will not feel entirely dissuaded from consuming the wine in its infancy. Downey's earlier article [Sips, "Success Story," May 19] should see to that!

David Lake

Winemaker, Columbia Winery

Woodinville

Savoring Elliott Smith

Thank you to Laura Cassidy for a beautifully well-written insight into Elliott Smith and his last musical endeavor, Songs From a Basement on the Hill ["Distorted Reality," Oct. 20]. The lyrics she highlighted are also prevalent to me as I unravel his newest album. It's terribly sad and at the same time obvious that it wasn't going down any other way. That's how legends are made; and in his weakness, Smith discovered the easy way out of a lifetime's work. As a singer-songwriter, I rue the fact that I will never have the opportunity to work with him. I feel shame for not "making it" sooner, while finding greater pride in my ability to create art as a sober, diligent being.

I am savoring every sensation evoked by this album, as it is his last. "No more surprises."

Amanda Smith Snider

Houston, TX

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