Letters

Stop Picking on Our Swami
Do you folks not have a clue? Quite aside from the countless errors of fact in your story on Swami Kriyananda ("Sex and the Singular Swami," March 10), are you completely unaware that virtually every high-profile sexual harassment case in the last 10 years has proved bogus?

Why do you imagine the mainline papers no longer print this trash, especially not without carefully researching primary sources? Because they've been burned countless times.

The list is endless: Tawana Brawley. Cardinal Bernardin. Larry Ellison. Dr. Fran Conley. Gary Dotson. Kathryn Tucci. Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe). Lt. Kelly Flynn. William Kennedy Smith. And, gosh, Kathleen Willey -- who seemed so believable, till Linda Tripp revealed in Salon how Willey hotly pursued a sexual tryst with Clinton. And, finally, Anita Hill. Oh, yes, remember the pubic hair in the term papers?

Folks, it never happened. Not the way they're telling it. It's the same tired old story but with a different cast of ayatollahs. Instead of Barr and Hyde, we've got Mike Flynn and Ford Greene.

In fact, the hidden agenda is real. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), which has a 30-year history of extreme animus toward Kriyananda, wants exclusive control over all of Paramhansa Yogananda's teachings. Having failed at accomplishing that through the courts, they're letting others do their dirty work for them.

As for Anne-Marie Bertolucci's claim that Kriyananda "sexually harassed her" (Helen Gao didn't bother to give specifics), that's a real laugher. Days into the Bertolucci deposition, after describing in lurid detail her sexual encounters with Danny Levin, Bertolucci began telling about an incident where she complained to Kriyananda that she had a strained neck, and he asked her if she wanted him to massage it. She agreed.

At the deposition, she had just begun to describe how Kriyananda placed her head in his lap in order to reach her neck more comfortably, when her attorney, Ford Greene, suddenly called a "comfort break." Five minutes later, Bertolucci re-entered the room and said she'd felt "a hardening" in Kriyananda's groin. Asked why she hadn't mentioned it before, she coyly explained that it had seemed "too delicate." Please. After giving a blow-by-blow (no pun intended) account of numerous oral sex encounters with Levin, she suddenly gets an attack of Victorian daintiness? No post-feminist Camille Paglia, she.

It's obvious that Gao spent lots of time over lunch with SRF's anti-Ananda media agitprop flacks, Eric and Naomi Estep and Steve and Cheryl Scott. She's simply repeated unquestioned the same old boring party line on Swami Kriyananda that they've been dishing out for years. They don't give a damn about sexual harassment. Even if it happened, it's over anyway, and Ananda lost the case. So why are they continuing to attack Kriyananda and Ananda?

Are they afraid that a 72-year-old man who happens to have spent two weeks recently in atrial fibrillation, and who's had triple bypass heart surgery and a dual hip replacement, will suddenly leap out of bed and start attacking innocent young women? In fact, the last of the alleged sexual encounters occurred more than 16 years ago. SRF is clearly still tending its pet sharks, letting others do its dirty work for it while maintaining a dignified facade.

Readers of the Weekly who visit Ananda Church in search of prurient adventure are likely to be disappointed. Indian religion, while compassionate toward human weakness, holds fastidiously pure aspirations. Sorry, but there it is.

George Beinhorn
Mountain View

To Err Is Divine?
Swami Kriyananda's misuse of power is reprehensible and I'm glad Helen Gao reported on it ("Sex and the Singular Swami"). However, articles that "out" spiritual communities for their leaders' indiscretions and questionable practices often neglect to mention the earnest and positive aspects of spiritual practice. This breeds a nasty cynicism and does a disservice to those with sincere spiritual yearnings.

We all have blind spots -- spiritual leaders included -- and male spiritual leaders in particular, having grown up in a patriarchal, capitalist culture where they were often privileged. In no way does this excuse inappropriate behavior, but can help us understand how it happens.

Jodi Perelman
Duboce Triangle

Aioli as We Wanna Be
I don't expect much from free newspapers, but I am surprised that your restaurant critic, Naomi Wise, seems unfamiliar with rudimentary cooking techniques and terminology. Her review of the Cole Valley restaurant Zazie ("My Heart Belongs to Zazie," Eat, Feb. 17) was a mess.

Wise says that the lemon-garlic aioli was "actually, a light textured house-made mayo." Well, actually, that's exactly what aioli is. Reference to any standard cookbook (Fannie Farmer, Rodale, Escoffier) shows that aioli is made by adding garlic and lemon to a mayonnaise base.

Wise cracks that the tuna served was not ahi, as stated on the menu, but instead was probably hamachi or yellowtail because the fish was "lighter" than the "red" she expected. In fact, ahi is nothing but the Hawaiian word for yellowfin tuna that are, in fact, naturally pale pink in color.

Wise states that "the powerful musk of a strong sage au jus reduction" arose from the mashed potatoes. "Au jus" translates literally as "with juice." Reduction is a process of boiling liquids to thicken their consistency. How, exactly, do you get enough liquid from sage to make a reduction? And, anyway, doesn't sage smell like, um, sage -- not musk?

Most bizarre of all was Wise's assertion that the wine is served in "jelly glasses." In fact, Zazie follows the tradition of most bistros and cafes in France by serving wine in small, sturdy tumblers rather than the ostentatious wine goblets that Ms. Wise seems to prefer.

Tom Erikson
Cole Valley

Naomi Wise responds: If you omit the garlic from aioli, what's it called? How about -- mayonnaise? As for "ahi," in current usage (which is mainly derived from Japanese fish-grading for sushi, sashimi, etc.), the term has evolved to refer to dark red tuna (for which restaurants in Japan pay as much as $100,000 for a single fish). The way to get a sage reduction? Add sage leaves to your cooking liquid as you begin the reduction of a demi-jus. I employed "musk" metaphorically to describe the herb's powerful aroma after this treatment. I grant that Zazie's glasses aren't literally jelly glasses; that was a way to recognizably describe the type of the vessels to readers. I'd hardly say that "most" French bistros and cafes use such glasses; in the course of several months-long visits to Paris and Burgundy, most of the cafes and bistros I frequented served wine in stemmed wineglasses -- not for the sake of ostentation but the better to smell the aromas. While many French artisan-class wines are better left uninhaled, Zazie's well-chosen quaffs deserve better, although I appreciate the practicality of the untippable glasses on the crowded tables.

We Love Dogs, Truly.
Regarding the review of Carlos Alazraqui in This Is a Size 6 ... and This Is Your Head ("This Is a Size 6 and This Is Your Dog," Stage, Feb. 24), here are a few items that seemed obvious to me and others I went to the show with, which did not seem to register well with you.

First, I did not find that there was much mention of the dog at all. You mention a long routine about the "damn dog." We didn't catch that. Are you angry about the dog? If so why? Please explain!

Second, why did you spell Xavier as Javier? You are like the acting teacher in the sketch, you missed the joke! Clearly if you were listening to the joke about the acting teacher mispronouncing Xavier as "X-avier," which we all thought was very funny, you would have understood that the real name of the character is spelled with an X, not a J. Then you might have understood and appreciated the sketch.

You felt that the material was forgettable. Yet, we were not only entertained by the show, but we found we could relate to many of the stories from our own life experiences. Many of us have had our own "Marina Girl or Boy" experience where our parents embarrassed the hell out of us in front of a huge crush, many of us have had to deal with an older sibling who acted out as a bully. My sister was with me at the show, and we still laugh about the "Car-Nose" for Carlos bit.

Just wanted to add our feedback to you here on this show. We went in not knowing what to expect, and left very pleasantly surprised.

Renee Hughes
Via Internet

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