Fact or phallus-y?
I was appalled by last week's cover story on Linda McCartney's vegetarian entres. Specifically, I found Tom McNichol's sophomoric and overtly sexist approach to the topic unworthy of a professional journalist. Exposing the unhealthy ingredients of health food may be a worthy goal, but limiting your attack to one brand, and constantly referring to the sexual and musical reputation of its owner to diminish the appeal of the food is downright pathetic.
McNichol's interminable article resorted to such sexist comments as "Linda's set to go horizontal again -- this time right in your grocer's freezer," alluding to her first meeting with the Beatles, when according to McNichol she appeared "looking like a professional, though perhaps not a professional photographer." Why is Linda McCartney's sexual history relevant? Why imply that she is promiscuous, listing several of her previous lovers' names, if the focus of the article is the unhealthy ingredients of her product?
McNichol's contempt for vegetarian food in general was also obvious, and also couched in sexist rhetoric. Calling the McCartneys' band a "meatless entre on the menu of popular music" reminds us of the intimate associations between meat and manliness in the minds of many men, whose idea of a real meal and a real man is pitifully phallocentric.
A Paul apologist
Wow! Your cover story on Linda McCartney's frozen foods was a truly amazing piece of work. It actually made me feel like defending Linda and Paul McCartney. Fortunately that urge passed quickly. In its wake, however, I'm left with a few questions about the new editorial policy of the SF Weekly.
If this piece is indicative of a new hard-hitting investigative style, can we look forward to similar searing exposes on such topics as Dionne Warwick's Psychic Friends Network or Roseanne's love life?
And while I'm all in favor of longer articles that allow a writer to explore an issue in depth, isn't it the editor's job to shape the piece so that it's about something? I can't figure out whether Tom McNichol is incensed about the celebrity-driven marketing of a line of frozen foods of dubious nutritional value, or whether he's just still really pissed off that after the Beatles broke up, Paul married someone McNichol thinks is a hypocritical slut, made some records that weren't as good as the Beatles and didn't get shot instead of John Lennon.
To be quite honest, I always thought that the old SF Weekly was okay, but nothing to get excited about (at least they didn't consider themselves God's gift to investigative journalism like the Guardian). But if you guys keep this up, you're going to make me nostalgic.
Not on beans alone
Last week I sampled two of McCartney's entrees and they seemed more like airline food than anything else. However, a point you completely missed is that there is almost nothing in the frozen section for vegetarians: bean-and-cheese burritos, supposedly cheese pizzas, a prepared spinach lasagna (good but expensive) and Lucca cheese ravioli (great but not even stocked at some supermarkets because "our customers only buy the meat kind"). It can be really hard to find anything to eat!
So even though I didn't like Linda's meals, I'll probably buy them occasionally. And although I often don't agree with PETA, I'm comfortable with their getting a pittance of my consumer dollars, rather than Coors or Anita Bryant!
Flesh eaters, repent!
Tom McNichol states that the McCartneys have been strict vege-tarians for the past two decades, a commendable lifestyle choice marred only by the self-righteous sanctimony they can't resist bringing to the subject." McNichol goes on to defend this opinion by stating that "Linda pointedly referred to meat as 'flesh' and a 'pound of fear.'" What does McNichol think meat is? Meat is the flesh of an animal. There is nothing either self-righteous or sanctimonious about referring to meat as flesh. We use words like meat, steak, chop, burger and so on, so as not to remind ourselves that what we are eating was once a beautiful, breathing, feeling, thinking creature capable of feeling pain, hunger, reverence for life and fear. Speaking of fear, does McNichol honestly think animals don't feel fear? Has he never seen an animal that has been abused? Does he think that the animals that live on today's hellish factory farms don't feel fear?
Linda McCartney's frozen entres may not be all that tasty or healthful, but it sounds like McNichol is in serious denial about what meat really is.
Warren G. Jones II
All he can stomach
Although I am an avid Beatles fan, I will openly admit that Paul and Linda McCartney very often can be irritating public figures, with their all-important causes and "thumbs-up" image. However, being a fairly intelligent individual, I have always strived to maintain objectivity when evaluating them, or anyone, for that matter.
After reading Tom McNichol's article on Linda's frozen food line, it is painfully obvious he does not do the same. His writing style is as difficult to stomach as any of Linda's meals or Paul's recent offerings. The constant digs at McCartney via the use of song titles and lyrics is trite and distracts from the overall point of the article (Linda's food line sucks). Objectivity? Lost. Like it or not, Paul McCartney is an excellent, versatile musician. He has nothing to do with the horrible taste and quality of Linda's food line.
Back to the kitchen
"Bland on the run" -- what the hell was that supposed to be?
I'm all for SF Weekly running longer stories, but that wasn't it.
Church and state
In your article on St. Brigid's ("Passion Play," Feb. 8), I wish you'd stressed that the centerpiece of the archdiocese's plan is the calendar. Until the archdiocese went to City Hall, owners of unreinforced masonry buildings of this class (churches) had an optional 20 years to complete retrofit work. The new timetable negotiated by the archdiocese with the Board of Supervisors permits it to start destroying its own UMB churches (or selling them to someone else for demolition or retrofit) immediately, following what it assumes will be Rome's denial of the appeals.
Robert Bryan discovered the archdiocese may have inflated retrofit costs by as much as $4 million. For (North Beach's) St. Francis of Assisi, costs were estimated at $5 million without benefit of an engineering study. But to the archdiocese, it doesn't matter what the costs are -- it won't pay them, because of the tremendous real estate value of these particular properties.
While thousands of Catholics were being locked out of almost a dozen churches by their own priests, the archdiocese quietly worked to put in place new state legislation authored by Willie Brown, and new city legislation managed by Supervisor Tom Hsieh to rescind rights laity once had to participate in the fates of their properties. (So much for the separation of church and state!) As a double landmark, St. Francis of Assisi could survive as a secular building, given the savvy of a Robert Bryan. St. Brigid's, unfortunately never landmarked, must win its appeal in Rome, and every Catholic in the city ought to hope they win. These suppressions were, according to the archdiocese, only the "first phase" of San Francisco's Pastoral Planning Commission; it will return to knock the stuffing out of thousands more unsuspecting parishioners who will sincerely regret they didn't join the struggle against this archdiocese earlier.
Kim R. Delaney
Praise it, raze it
Congratulations for recognizing the architectural heritage involved in the closure of St. Brigid's Church in Pacific Heights.
Unfortunately, however, the Archdiocese of San Francisco was faced with the bitter reality that San Francisco had an excessive number of churches since the disappearance of "Catholic Frisco" during the 1960s.
St. Brigid's parishioners need to look at the larger picture, namely, that nearby St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Vincent de Paul's Church are the logical choices to keep open.
The real tragedies concerning the June 30, 1994, closures were two other historical churches: All Hallows' Church at Butchertown and St. Francis of Assisi Church in North Beach.
Designed by architect John T. Clark in 1885, All Hallows' is San Francisco's oldest Roman Catholic church building, except for the 1791 Mission Dolores. Its Victorian Carpenter Gothic architecture is the finest survivor of this style in San Francisco.
St. Francis of Assisi represented San Francisco's first established Roman Catholic congregation (June 17, 1847). The church's interior was designed by Charles J.I. Devlin, who reused its 1906-surviving Norman French towers and outer walls of 1859-1860.
The archdiocese badly goofed in closing those two churches, but St. Brigid's is just not quite as historic. It dates from about 1901 as a building and from 1863 as an institution.
What is needed now is a serious search for a readaptive use for St. Brigid's -- perhaps as housing, as has been done in Boston's South End.
James F. Gibbons