May 17-23, 2006

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Letters to the Editor

Meth and money

Thank you for publishing a series of articles about methamphetamine. You do a great service by bringing this serious matter to the public's attention, and the writing by Patricia Lynn Henley is excellent.

The latest installment ("Rocking the Cradle," May 10), about mothers who have been afflicted with meth addiction, was very moving. How heartbreaking to have a drug addiction come between a mother and her baby!

I wish success to the women who are bravely trying to overcome their addiction, who are struggling to become drug-free moms. And I wish all the best to those who are helping them.

The article mentions that people have been turned away from rehabilitation programs due to lack of funds. It saddens me that we as a society have not committed enough resources to help all the meth-addicted people who wish to come clean. I understand that drug rehab can be expensive, but we as a society will have to pay much more for the torn people and the torn families who do not get the help they need and want.

Paul Morand, Rohnert Park

everyone's a critic, part 1

Unfortunately, your two music writers writing about Neil Young got some of their facts very wrong ("Overcome by War," May 10). Gabe Meline says Neil wrote Southern Man "from the point of view of a racist Confederate." Very wrong. That song is famous for being a condemnation of the racist Confederate's abuses of black folks. Neil also wrote a song at that time with a similar theme called "Alabama." These songs were so famous that Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote a rebuttal song called "Sweet Home Alabama," defending Southern culture as having evolved beyond the racism of the past. This is very well-known rock-music history that Meline gets terribly wrong.

Byrn also says incorrectly that Neil "flat out names Colin Powell . . . as Dubya's replacement" on "Looking for a Leader." Neil says "maybe" Powell or "Obama" or a woman or black man could lead the country back on track. This is important, as it's clear in the lyric that Neil is calling for empowerment of historically oppressed women and blacks as potential leaders for all citizens. This song is clearly the most misunderstood song on the album by most critics.

Both writers stereotype Neil as a conservative, which he is not. Neil's politics defy categorization. While he briefly supported Reagan and later released "Let's Roll" (the lyrics to that song merely celebrate the courage of Flight 93 passengers fighting off the terrorists), Neil has also released "This Note's for You," a song criticizing the corporatization of music and artists selling out their songs and images for money, and vowing he'll never sing for Coke or Pepsi.

Karl Byrn does a good job of categorizing Neil's values on Living with War as culturally "conservative" in the sense of pro-family, freedom and pride. But let's remember Neil's previous release was Greendale, a whole concept album protesting the erosion of such values by the Wal-Mart-ization of a small town. Neil is no right-winger, nor is he a leftist firebrand. He is his own man, one who, though originally Canadian, dearly loves this country. While Neil's politics are almost as eclectic as his musical styles (hard rock, screechy garage rock, pretty acoustic folk rock, country rock, synthesized weird experiments, rockabilly, blues), consistent themes aren't hard to identify if you're a fan. Neil isn't for everyone--some hate his singing or the simplicity of his lyrics--but there's no denying his place in our musical culture as a great presence and a huge influence.

I don't begrudge your writers' views on Neil, both made a decent case for them, and Byrn wrote a nice piece with good ideas. But it sure would be nice if your music writers would get their facts right (a simple Google of the lyrics on their part would be a good start) or be less flippant in the writing style so the facts don't get turned wrong.

Andrew Mayer, Santa Rosa

EAC, part 2

When Karl Byrn referred to Pete Seeger as "the last great living leftist folkie" in the article "Overcome by War," is he excluding the last 50 years? Many of the greatest of these artists came out of the folk movement of the '60s. Many have arisen since. This statement needs clarification.

Robert Feuer, Camp Meeker

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