By Chris Roberts
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
By Mike Billings
By Rachel Swan
By Erin Sherbert
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
Fear and Loathing on Haight
Would someone please tell Barbara Lane that the poor, the homeless and the "screaming drunks" of the Haight ("Last Tango on Haight," March 29) probably aren't too fond of her white-bread, fear-mongering, yuppie-out-of-water breed, either? Not to mention her cloying family anecdotes, lame jokes and groping, juvenile attempts at psychological insight: "I made a mental note to return at my first opportunity and order up all the pork items on the menu, which appeared more enticing than ever because I couldn't have them." (Thank you, Dostoyevsky). I'd tell her to stick to food, but reading her writing sends my appetite running out the door, careening down Haight Street and looking for bad writers to frighten.
As a recent alumna of the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, I was disturbed by the quotes of students in your feature article "The Student Body" (March 22). Susan Carpenter was very skilled in collecting quotes that would assist her attack on the funeral business. However, that is another issue. I am mainly concerned with the lack of professionalism Lisa Klein displayed. Her references to the human body as "meat" did not reflect a readiness to graduate from mortuary school.
It only seems natural to me that most people should have a high degree of respect for human remains aside from the proper care and caution a student learns in the mortuary school. It appears Klein has wasted her time and money attending SFCMS if this proper approach has not been assumed.
In addition, Klein's speculations on tasting a person reflect the thought pattern of a mentally disturbed person on a dull day at work and not of the student population or faculty. Although I may not be able to eradicate the negativity that the article generated toward the funeral business, I can contest that Klein does not represent the principles of the school. Furthermore, although I do not know her personally, I would not want her to handle funeral arrangements for any members of my family; otherwise I might have the added worry of missing fingers and toes on the decedent.
Mortality as a Way of Life
The article on the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science could have been an informative and helpful story, but instead it was just sleazy, sensationalistic and pathetic.
What Susan Carpenter did not learn at the college is tact -- something taught to people who didn't grow up with a sense of propriety or just the decency not to refer to someone's dear departed as a "stiff" (which is a word never heard in a mortuary). At the end she tried to clean up her tale by glibly adding that religion and status play a part, but my overall impression of Carpenter's article is that it was written not to inform but to sicken.
Further, in my capacity as a house painter in a local mortuary, I can tell you that all of the funeral directors are extremely professional, courteous and respectful of the deceased and their grief-stricken loved ones. They are all graduates of the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science. They do not sit about talking the trash I read in that article. Rather, they discuss their own lives and activities and tend to be very interesting people who truly value life because they know about mortality.
The Smile Chronicle
Though it must be said that Domenic Priore is the authority on the Smile album ("Heroes, Villains, Obsessions," March 22), his comments about Capitol taking "unacceptable liberties" on the Smile outtakes released on the 1993 box set, Good Vibrations -- 30 Years of the Beach Boys, are somewhat unfair and out of line. Granted, some of the tracks do sound like pieces from various places spliced together to sound like completed tracks, which may be different from what Wilson intended, but Priore overlooks the fact that some of the material included was nearly finished and what does appear, in some cases, are tracks precisely as Brian wanted them (e.g., "Do You Like Worms").
Also, the box set booklet never claims that the material is released as Brian intended. Priore's comments about Capitol ruining Brian's art just doesn't hold up. What is clear to me is Priore's exploitation of the Smile myth for his own personal gain, whether financial or otherwise.
Priore seems to think that Brian Wilson doesn't really remember how the Smile material was intended. I disagree. In the upcoming documentary about Brian titled I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, Wilson, while discussing Smile, sings a line about "Barnyard Billy" -- which, I'm told, is another previously unheard Smile lyric. It's a small bit, but does Priore really believe that Brian has forgotten everything about the project? Brian knows more about Smile than he cares to reveal.
Priore needs to acknowledge that most, or much, of the mystery of Smile is still in Brian's head. The key to getting an accurate picture of Smile is to let Brian go back and piece the material together as he sees fit. It may not be right, even if done by Brian, but an artist should have the final say on how he wants to finish his creation. Smile is Brian's vision and he should retain his right to do with it as he pleases. Priore needs to understand that if Brian wants someone else (i.e., Capitol Records) to compile the outtakes, then we, as fans, should let it be. I respect his wishes.