The Wild, Wild West

Coals for Jim West

Seattle Weekly, along with all the rest of the media, is overlooking the real problem in this case [Mossback, “The Wild, Wild West,” May 11]. The Democrats tsk-tsk Spokane Mayor Jim West’s hypocrisy in condemning what turns out to be his favorite pastime, and the Republicans—à la Benedetto Croce—say his private life is not important in doing his public job.

Both have a point, but the real problem to us average Joes (and Jills) who pay the bills is, how about his offering taxpayer-paid city jobs to someone who will provide him with private services? That is what West should really be raked over the coals for, especially since he represents the party that stakes out a position of high “moral values” for its citizens and leaders.

Larry Gockel


Pedophilia Exposed

I read Knute Berger’s article “The Wild, Wild West” [Mossback, May 11]. I am currently working with the filmmakers of the Academy Award–nominated film Twist of Faith. The film follows the psychological journey of Tony Comes, a firefighter from Toledo, Ohio, who survived years of boyhood sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest. Our film is showing twice at the Seattle International Film Festival’s Broadway Performance Hall: on Friday, May 20, at 9 p.m.; and on Sunday, May 22, at 1:30 p.m. The film’s director, Kirby Dick, and one of its subjects, Matt Simon, will be in attendance.

It seems particularly poignant to me on the heels of the scandal of Spokane Mayor Jim West. As Berger referenced in his article, the Catholic Church abuse scandals have helped to inform the public about the extent of this type of abuse. Now that many people in the state of Washington may be exposed to the issue of pedophilia in a new way, we believe that this film can help them to truly understand the experience of its survivors.

Jennifer MacLean

Co-Producer, Chain Camera Pictures

Los Angeles, CA

The ‘Bliss Factor’

Regarding Roger Downey’s article about the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition [Sips, “Shell Game,” May 11]: I do think that Downey has some valid points—muscadet, other dry Loire whites, Chablis, plus other austere, mineral-laden Old World wines are without a doubt the finest match for oysters. (And for goodness’ sake, let’s not forget about champagne!)

Yes, Pacific Coast wines often do tend to have too much fruit to be the perfect match for oysters, especially when from a very ripe vintage like 2003, the vintage that predominated this year’s Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition judging. However, should we not be aspiring to achieve the perfect match? Should we not be looking for the “bliss factor,” as PCOWC’s Jon Rowley puts it? Should we not be encouraging the wineries of the West Coast to produce more oyster-friendly wines? Of course we should!

I would never discount the enormous influence of climate, terroir, and tradition on the making of a great oyster wine. However, I do think that winemaking choices are a large part of the reason that so many Pacific Coast wines are not oyster-friendly. The current obsession with low yields, high Brix levels, oak, and often a little residual sugar does not always lead to wines that are friendly to many foods, let alone oysters. It would behoove us oyster lovers to do all we can to encourage winemakers to produce wines that are more compatible.

Therefore, long live the PCOWC! If, by encouraging wineries to compete in the competition, we can encourage them to produce more “oyster wines,” we will be doing oyster lovers (including ourselves) a great service. Yes, the opportunity to slurp unlimited oysters is a great incentive to be a judge, but I, for one, believe Rowley’s mission is a noble one.

Brian Huse


Don’t Blame Oysters

In response to Roger Downey’s column “Shell Game” [Sips, May 11], I have to say, “Wait a minute.” The Taylor Shellfish Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition provides direction for those folks who want to drink West Coast wines with their Northwest oysters. As a wine retailer, food and wine writer, and judge for this function, I find that my customers look forward to the results. They also love to hear about this great feast of these wonderful mollusks.

I am sorry Downey doesn’t like oysters. I am deeply saddened that he was traumatized on a beach campout by a drunken uncle. I had great times as a child slurping raw shellfish with my family on Hood Canal. This is primarily an oyster function, a wonderfully decadent oyster binge. Sadly, Downey just doesn’t get it.

Craig Miller


Necessary Genius

Concerning Peter Spencer’s review of Zappa: A Biography [This Week’s Reads, May 4]: I had many problems with the descriptions of and meditations on Frank Zappa. What’s all the crap about cynicism and genuine cruelty in Zappa’s music? Zappa was a genius and an innovator. I can’t tell you how many bands throughout Europe and the Americas in the progressive-rock genre he inspired. His lyrics were awesome! There were times he struck out with songs that seemed funnier at the time of their release than now (example: “Call Any Vegetable”), but he was more in form than not. We used to bust a gut with so many of his cartoon-style compositions. And lest we forget what a scathingly great guitarist he was. . . . Between his diatribes, he was certainly not afraid to rock! For all of us, if some biographer wanted to write about the low points of our lives and all the people who felt harmed by us, they could fill volumes. No, Zappa was not perfect, but he was certainly necessary.

Carlo D’Anna


Kinder, Gentler Crusader

I just wanted to write about Tim Appelo’s review of Kingdom of Heaven [“The Fair and Balanced Crusade,” May 4]. I found KoH to be the most heartening pop- culture missive since the election. I thought the movie would be another Gladiator or Braveheart, and instead, Ridley Scott delivered an intellectually challenging movie where compromise was valued and celebrated as heroic. And in response, Appelo called his protagonist a pussy. For real?

I think it was fantastic to have an epic action-adventure movie with a character whose dedication was to protecting actual human lives, rather than his own ideology. That makes someone weak? (Don’t get me started about the association of “pussy” with weakness.) This thought process sounds like the kind of baiting the right used to tell people to vote for Bush: He may be wrong some of the time, but at least you know where he stands. I don’t think this is what Appelo believes to be admirable, but his review does come off sounding a little like a neocon rant.

My hope is that KoH represents the beginning of a sea change in pop culture, a reaction—like The Daily Show is—to all the extremism of the last few years. Appelo’s review just solidified for me how important I hope this movie will become in propelling us away from the tired bifurcation of our current cultural climate.

Jennifer Hauseman


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