Letters to the Editor

So long, Monty Python, and thanks for the penguin. Plus: Mr. Blue is too quick to dismiss recovered addict; breadwinner moms have to work even harder.

Published October 12, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

And now for something completely familiar


George Rafael reaches the sentimental marrow in our funny bones with his
Python perspective. The Pythons have indeed touched many of
us deeply. A quarter-century later our knowledge of how the world works
encompasses negotiation, consensus and fish-slapping dances. But Rafael
ends on a fussy note, accusing the troupe of melding into the mainstream.
The Pythons had their time, and what a silly, lovely time it was. They made
it possible for others to push new limits and boundaries in humor, just as
Spike Milligan and others had before them. Let's not quibble over who's now
teaching Chaucer or announcing cricket. Instead, let's thank them for the
memories, and for the penguin on the telly.

-- Joe Leisek

It's true that after Python became popular, it became
a sort of Masonic handshake. But there still
were plenty of people who never quite got it.
Python is one of those things that isn't even an
acquired taste; it's an inborn taste. My sons, ages 11
and 13, and I love to watch it together. They
don't waste time trying to "figure it out"; they just
go with the inspired lunacy.
On the other hand, I remember watching it with my dad,
who was a pretty funny guy. He laughed once the entire half-hour.

-- Tom Pantera

Fargo, N.D.

Sharps & flats: "Run Devil Run"


Paul McCartney "wasted his talent"? You make this comment about a man who in one year wrote enough
incredible songs to solidify a place in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame?
That is the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard from a music critic. This man
realized his talent at a very young age and pushed the envelope for several
years, developing and turning out one superb song after another.

Just because he's decided to enjoy life
after he had changed popular music eternally is no excuse to say that he
"wasted his talent." On the contrary, this man pushed his talent as far as
one could push without giving in to exhaustion. You
think that light burns forever? I suppose that Bob Dylan has wasted his talent
as well. I'm a musician. I make records. It is exhausting. To deliver what
McCartney delivered in such a short period of time is worth a lifetime of
work. It's certainly enough to let the man rest in peace.

-- Michael Rains

Yes, McCartney hasn't put out much good music lately, but I think he's earned
the right to live life the way he wants to, to put out the music he wants to, and to
suck if he wants to. He owes us nothing. And I will say that I've always found Dave Gilmour's
playing to be uncommonly soulful and thoughtful -- he's not one for wasted notes or flash
for its own sake. Granted, he hasn't always had the best material to work with,but I get sick
of seeing him slammed -- how I wish more guitarists, and musicians in general, would adopt
his less-is-more approach.

-- Jeff Calvin

San Francisco

Call me Laurie



I'm a Laurie Anderson fan from way way back. Clearly, finding the right approach to "Moby-Dick" has been on her mind for a bit. At one point -- I think it's in "Sharkey's Night," though I may be wrong -- Anderson actually lampoons the canonical gravitas of the book, saying,
"'Moby-Dick'? Nevah read it ..."

-- Karl Mattson

Mr. Blue: Should I stay or should I go?

Garrison Keillor's usually poignant (albeit a bit conservative for the end
of the 20th century) advice to "Worried" strayed deep into alarmist
territory. Keillor's second sentence frankly terrified me with its pernicious attack on a man who
has suffered greatly and conquered his nemesis heroically. With the vitriol
that follows, I can imagine him heading up a witch
trial. I do not see anything, either stated or implied, in Worried's letter
that would prompt such presumption as "He just plain needs you much too
much. The combination of his history and his all-out campaign to win you
over sets off an alarm here."

What wisdom does his knee-jerk reaction offer beyond this? That even if you
have recovered from a life-endangering addiction, you are tainted goods?
That you should "lie and scheme" to hide your past from your love interest
to spare yourself the ax, rather than being honest and forthright as she
would expect? That you are not worthy of a relationship because of your
history, no matter what strides you have made in recovery? Please open your
eyes and stop perpetuating the myth that all addicts/drug users are
deceitful, unforgivable criminals. You risk the alienation that could force
just such a person back into the cycle of addiction he most likely narrowly

-- Thomas Heys

Garrison Keillor should stick to subjects he knows when giving advice. His
advice to the woman in love with a recovering addict was way off-base.
Would he suggest that she dump a depressed person in remission because the
chances of suicide are higher than normal and he has a 50 percent chance of
recurrence? How about a cancer patient?

The woman's description of the man she loves gave no indication that he was
putting any kind of pressure on her or manipulating her in any way. She
was expressing her concerns -- which she never would have had if the man had not been honest with her about his addiction.

Drug war myths may proclaim that addicts are always liars and manipulators,
but if you talk to people who actually know addiction, you'll find that
these are just stereotypes. There is no "addictive personality" for
Keillor to sense -- while certain histories and the
illicit nature of drugs increase the likelihood that addicts may lie in
certain circumstances, a history of addiction alone does not make someone a liar.

A person should judge someone on his current behavior -- not on his past.
Fifteen months is a significant period of recovery and this man sounds like he's
doing everything possible to maintain it. Even by AA standards, which
suggest no relationships in the first year, he's good to go. Don't ruin
this poor woman's life with your ill-advised prejudice.

-- Maia Szalavitz

Co-author of the forthcoming "Complete Guide to Recovery Options"

She wins bread, he loafs



Make the dough, do the laundry: Life as a breadwinner mom


As a working wife with a househusband, I was very interested in Rob Ryder's
article. It seems that there are universal truths about househusbands (and
this includes mine): They only do the minimum amount of housework necessary,
and if it isn't on the list the wife gives them, they don't do it. I allowed
my husband to "take time off to pursue a dream." This was the biggest
mistake I ever made in our marriage, because now he will never go back to work.

It is interesting to note that stay-at-home husbands are eligible for alimony
should a divorce ever be sought: They're too lazy to work while married, too lazy to
work after the marriage is over.

If I had it to do all over again, I would never have permitted the sabbatical
that turned into a way of life for my husband. I caution all wives out
there: If your husband wants to stop work to pursue a dream, make sure it is
not a pipe dream and put a time limit on it!

-- Carol Martin

I, too, am the breadwinner for my family. But my story
has a bit of a different twist than Lane's does. My husband, a jock with
a Ph.D. in civil engineering, currently stays home not to watch young
children but to home-school our 14-year-old son. He also volunteers in a
home-school co-op and keeps an eye on our 16-year-old, who attends public
school. Yes, the household tasks don't often get done to my satisfaction, and
I always have to pitch in. But in general, I don't mind the arrangement, and
I am glad my sons have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have their dad
around all the time. I think my husband has come to realize that women who
are homemakers hardly stay home to bake cookies, as a famous first lady once

-- Isabel Lyman

How has this happened to us well-educated women? I thought my
marriage was going to be an equal partnership; I somehow envisioned each of
us working part-time jobs and sharing the load of raising our two beautiful
children (who were long awaited). What was I thinking? The reality is, for
both sexes in my experience, that nothing is easy or goes as planned.

As A.A. Milne wrote: "'I don't see much sense in that,' said Rabbit.
'No,' said Pooh humbly, 'there isn't. But there was going to be when I began
it. It's just that something happened to it along the way.'"

-- Tara Pangakis

Frankly, it's a bore



Brilliant Careers: Frank Gehry


Karen Templer's critique of the newly released retrospective on
architect Frank Gehry's work is accurate and amusing. I've got to
believe that this must be one of the first such volumes she's reviewed.
The propensity for architectural writers to engulf themselves in
"linguistic calisthenics" has put more than enough readers to sleep.

It's amusing that architecture would attract such stale and elitist blubber -- and sad that the response is not more honest.

-- Michael A. Hazard, AIA

Vail, Colo.

I worked as an architect in Frank O. Gehry's office for two years on the
Guggenheim Museum, so I have firsthand knowledge of the daily life there. First I would like to point out that the majority of the museum was
designed by Edwin Chan, the project designer. On a daily basis, Chan did the
majority of the design, specifically the organic shapes of the building. He
was hands-on in designing the cladding, the HVAC systems and the
curtain wall systems. Gehry merely approved or disapproved of his ideas. This was how the
majority of the design took place in the office.

Gehry is brilliant when it comes to site planning and flow through the building, but the majority
of the design is done by his minions, who work 80-plus-hour weeks for $30,000 a
year. I rarely read or hear Gehry praise any of the young architects
and engineers who work for him, but without them, he would never see his
designs come to fruition.

-- Mark Lefitz

Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings were functional as well as beautiful, but Gehry's buildings are non-functional to a great degree, extremely expensive (due to the fact that they cannot be built or maintained using
normal construction methods) and generally ugly, odd
ducks. Titanium is one of the rarest metals on earth, and here this architect is using this material for
an exterior finish? Give me a break! Gehry is
clearly a fad; he reflects the cultural excesses of America at this time in
history. He has taken his design cues from Disney's cartoon works. It is silly to glorify him in your pages. He is an unfortunate, erratic anomaly.

-- Rex Giesenhagen

As American and Canadian expatriates living in Bilbao, you can imagine our
disappointment when we read Karen Templer's article about Frank Gehry:
"Despite the city's seedy reputation, staggering murder rate and perpetual bad weather, some 2 million people have visited since the museum's opening in late 1997."

We had to laugh when we read about the "staggering murder rate." Bilbao's
crime rate, let alone murder rate, is far lower than most of the cities in
the United States and Canada. This is one of the safest places that we've ever lived. Templer should have clarified that the staggering murder rate was throughout
the Basque country and spanned 30 years.
As for "seedy reputation," no one we've ever talked about has ever said
Bilbao was seedy. Industrial perhaps, but never seedy. And about its "perpetual
bad weather," Bilbao does get its fair share of rain, but its temperatures
are moderate throughout the year and we just had three months of pure
sunshine. (In fact, we needed more rain.)

Both of us have had dozens of guests here since our families were transferred here
two years ago and everyone has left here in love with the entire Basque country.
It's one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places left.
The only thing Templer got right about Bilbao was that the Guggenheim is drawing
the tourists here, as it should. It is an amazing architectural feat.

-- Susan Simon and Cynthia Craig

Laughing with the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama rocks my world, and Rachel Snyder proves
why in her article. Knowing someone like him is on the planet gives me
hope, makes me laugh and helps me identify with the way of
compassionate living.

-- Rita Koppel

By Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------