Thursday, August 20, 1998
In his review of this year's Carmel Bach Festival (July 30), Scott MacClelland complains that Bach is taking a backseat to "the frivolous castrato nightingales and silly violin concertos" by such composers as Biber, Stradella, Farina, and Locatelli.
While I, too, prefer Bach to Locatelli, I feel the festival is enriched by the works of earlier Baroque composers. Until the last couple of decades, you might read about the stylistic or technical innovations of these composers, but you would be hard pressed to find a recording or edition of their works. Thanks to several generations of musicologists and performers who have devoted themselves to rediscovering early Baroque music, we can delight in superb performances of the music that Bach and his contemporaries once enjoyed, right here in Carmel!
I am reminded of Goethe's words as he reflected on the marvels of Italian Renaissance art upon his arrival in Italy: When one lives far away, one hears only of the major artists in the galaxy and is often satisfied with merely knowing their names; but when one draws closer, the twinkle of stars of the second and third magnitude becomes visible until, finally, one sees the whole constellation-the world is wider and art richer than one had hitherto supposed.
JEAN WIDAMAN, PH.D.
Your story on Latinos, by Tracy Hamilton (Aug. 6), although narrow-visioned, is a welcome to a much-needed discussion.
By narrow-visioned I don't mean a put-down, but a criticism of the writer's range in perspective: She is basing herself on a social analysis which perceives Latinos as a racial or ethnic group, which we are not.
In this country, social analysis seems to be confined to racist analysis. Perhaps it is the pervasive fear of becoming communist (much like the homophobe's dread of becoming gay), or perhaps it is sheer lack of exposure to a wide range of perspectives, but opinion writers never mention a class analysis when they discuss social problems in this nation.
To understand Latinos, to do us justice in your discussion of politics, you must bring some sort of analysis of socioeconomic class structures into perspective. To the extent that we are a people, if we are at all a conglomerate (as the classification "Latino" implies), we are a people defined by class differences and class interests in our numerous and varied countries of origin. We are more unified by our understanding of our place and our role in our respective class structures than we are by our understanding of our Spanish language.
The vast majority of what you call Latinos are poor, oppressed "campesinos," ravaged for generations by the political and economic infrastructures established by the rich, city-dwelling landowners' class. These poor workers, who come to the U.S.A. as economic refugees, are used to the leadership of the middle class in our home countries (the rich don't need to dabble in intellectual exercise; at any rate, there is little example of intellectual or ideological leadership in Latin America by the capitalist class.)
Middle class Latin Americans abound here in the U.S.A. But, unlike our poorer compatriots, we have plenty of reason to immediately assimilate.
We also come with the educational resources to assimilate, beginning with a bilingual educational structure from our home country. So that we don't lose our socioeconomic class standing, we become American middle class as rapidly as possible.
Now, fortunately your writer doesn't go off on the race analysis. The concept of culture is invoked, and it meanders dangerously close to a racist presupposition. But even the political leaders who were interviewed, Uranga, Rodr¡guez and Ortiz, refrain from even hinting at an analysis which will help folks understand our lack of participation or unification in the American political arena. Furthermore, they appear to fall into the political fallacy of "we versus them," as if the Latinos are a political group with interests in opposition to everybody else. Then they get into the Democrat vs. Republican fallacy.
No, no, no.
Yes, the discussion is welcome. But, no, the parameters of the discussion need to be opened up. And when we start talking about stuff, listen up: We'll have all kinds of new ideas and new political groups.
Our interests are even more diverse than our faces, features and skin colors, or than our many ways of speaking Spanish. Any Latin American from any class can tell you that.
Mad About Bad
So, Chuck Thurman thinks country music went "bad" in the late 60s? Well, it's too bad he missed out on some of the important moments in country music that the '70s brought us. Sad to see he turned off his radio when Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Gary Stewart and many others came across the dial. Yeah, Chuck, some of those folks all had the big hair, glitter costumes and other things you say you hate about country music. And they were all great, also.
But are you really a big fan of classic country? Like other music genres, country has had its wan moments. And your love of Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers is commendable, but I believe the decade of country you really dislike is the early '80s (Urban Cowboy pop) or the '90s (the Hunks-With-Hats decade).
Chuck, please stick to what you're best at. Writing about who's playing where. Leave the music criticism to those that know better. The Monterey Bay has needed a good music voice for some time.
The Herald doesn't have one, either. So, I invite all Coast Weekly readers to check out my music site at http://members.aol.com/Seeno99/Tomslist.html for a music page with reviews and articles and more stuff. You can email me at Seeno99@aol.com also. And by the way Chuck, check your spelling. It's Jimmie Rodgers not Jimmy (he was a blues singer).
THOMAS C. LANE
I would like to thank the Coast Weekly for your coverage of our new outreach program Raza Campesina Monterey at the Monterey County Aids Project (Aug.6.) Our HIV/AIDS education program, which targets farm workers in Monterey County has been well received by the local community. However, I would like to clarify a couple of points in the news article about Raza Campesina Monterey. Although some of the farm workers I reach have very low reading skills, many of them in fact, are very literate in their own native language (Spanish.) I would not want your readers to assume that all farm workers are illiterate simply by reading last week's article. I do not want to add to the existing stereotypes that many farm workers already confront.
In addition, the article gives the impression that all Latino communities are homophobic. The truth is Latinos are accepting, loving people who have brothers, sisters and family members who are gay.
Again, thank you for your article on and the continued support Coast Weekly has given MCAP. If anyone would like to volunteer for the program, or to donate used clothes, please contact us at 772-8200 in Salinas.
EUGENIO J. GARCIA
RAZA CAMPESINA MONTEREY
MONTEREY COUNTY AIDS PROJECT
Differing on the Dam
I knew the pro-dam spin doctors were starting to get dizzy, but I didn't know how dizzy until I read Charlie Page's letter in the Aug. 6 CW.
Measure C wasn't a vote on the dam? Are they serious? Despite the fact that Measure C was fought, by both sides, squarely on the pros and cons of building the dam (with the dam losing by over 57 percent), the dam promoters now want to claim it was merely a vote on financing!
They're not even technically right. Measure C asked two questions: Should the dam itself be approved? and Should the water district be authorized to finance it in the most cost-effective way? Not even Cal-Am has tried to claim that the dam lost because of that financing language.
Next, they want us to believe that a more than 10-year-old vote, described as being for a dam, is a better gauge of public attitude than the vote we took less than three years ago. They conveniently forget to mention that the 1987 vote was an advisory vote on whether to go ahead with studies on a different dam in a different place. No dam proposal was ready to be debated on its merits then, and most environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, did not oppose doing the studies.
Wow. Giving more weight to a 1987 advisory vote on studying a different project than to a 1995 vote on actually building the very same dam that Cal-Am is still trying to build today. That's creative thinking!
The clincher, though, is the opposition of the pro-dam forces to Assemblymember Keeley's efforts to let the people choose between the dam and an alternative package in an election. If they really believe that the public supports the dam, what exactly are they afraid of?
I sympathize with their plight, though. I really do. Supporting a project as idiotic as the dam and opposing democracy in a country founded on democratic principles are hard enough jobs to drive anyone crazy. I just wish they'd do us one favor. Now that they've succeeded in forcing the election provisions out of Keeley's bill, I hope they'll have the decency to give us a month or two of peace before they start raving again about how much the public wants their dam.