Letters to the Editor

Week of April 30, 2003

Mine's Prettier Than Theirs

My Art Car, that is: The article about Philo Northrup and his Art Car was amusing, but I have to seriously disagree with writer Lessley Anderson's contention that the Art Cars selected by Harrod Blank for the Petersen Automotive Museum show in L.A. were either "arguably the best of the genre" or "certainly the most imaginative" ["Ecstasy Is an Art Car," April 9].

Neither assertion is true, and it is doubtful even Harrod would make that claim. In fact, knowing both Harrod and Philo as I do (I was in Harrod's movie Wild Wheels), I have no problem in cheerily pointing out the obvious: Philo's Buick of Unconditional Love is downright hideous, and Harrod's two Volkswagens are only slightly less ugly.

In the beauty/art category, my Mooncar beats their cars hands down, and if you don't believe me you can check it out for yourself in front of the Artgym, on Fourth Street in Berkeley, at least until the end of April.

Gary Siebel
Berkeley

Oops: Six years ago, I was introduced by a close friend to Kenny Irwin, who because of his penchant for making robots and transforming the interior spaces of his living quarters into galactic colonies, friends and I have referred to as "Spaceship Kenny." The quotes of mine that Lessley Anderson used in the otherwise great Art Car feature alienated him, and I was uneasy to hear about his response. I must retract the quote attributed to me that he is autistic. That is a misnomer.

I understand that to profile an individual, one must select from a variety of statements those that are the most vivid. There are more positive images that can be used to describe this artist than what went to press. In the last nine years of studying the places like those destinations mentioned in the article, I have not come across a transformed interior environment like his Oakland Space Base, which unfortunately is now gone. (It was near Payless Drugs/Top Dog.) He continues on in Palm Springs -- his family home is the one with the million-plus Christmas lights put on it each holiday season. His creativity is rarefied and warranted a better description than what I in part contributed to.

Daniel Paul
Los Angeles

Might Makes Right

Not peaceful protests: In "Remembrance of a War Past," Matt Smith writes that S.F. Supervisor Tony Hall "brings to mind the sort of politician who'd have punished the peaceful street protesters who brought down Slobodan Milosevic" [April 16]. Protesters did not bring down Milosevic's murderous regime, 78 days of NATO bombing did. Look it up.

Dan Weir
Sunset

Perpetuating a Myth

Childhood sexual abuse is real and widespread: In all his praise of George Csicsery's ill-conceived documentary Hungry for Monsters, Michael Fox perpetuates the myth that childhood sexual abuse doesn't happen and when it gets reported it's dismissed as a "recovered-memory hysteria epidemic" [Reel World, April 9]. The fact is that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. These statistics from the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (www.calcasa.org) are evidence that the problem is much more common than people think.

The prevalence of sexual abuse is difficult to accept, so it's quite common for family and friends to deny accusations. Mr. Csicsery plucks the heartstrings of America in a swan song for a very rare occurrence: false accusation. In truth, an astounding number of sexual assaults go unreported in this country. In 1994-1995 there were 251,560 reports of rape and sexual assault. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 1996) that's only one in every three sexual assaults that were reported to law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Fox says that "a child [is] once again the magnet for and reflector of a community's fears." Children have always been a magnet for sexual and physical abuse throughout history but have been fearful of reporting primarily because they thought no one would believe them. This Reel World perspective is skewed at best and fuels the organized backlash against survivors of sexual assault. It's quite appropriate that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

No one is hungry for monsters, Mr. Csicsery. There are thousands of registered sex offenders in this country, and they are not the victims.

Michelle Valdez
Bay Area Women Against Rape
Oakland

From the Mouths of Motes

All this, and Camelot, too!:Jupiter Getty vs. the Dust Motes of Democracy may be San Francisco's next really big show ["Bringing Up Baby Gavin," April 2]. If Gordon Getty is Jupiter, that makes his wife Ann Juno, and wouldn't that be fun! Olympus-by-the-Bay! Thunderbolts, showers of gold, people turned into swine!

But with Gavin Newsom and wife Kimberly cast as a kind of TV-movie Jack and Jackie, we've got Camelot, too. Mythologies collide! If they put a Round Table in the mayor's office, watch out!

Dust mote Robert Hurley
San Francisco

 
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