Letters | January 28, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - January 28, 2011


Second chances


Accolades to Ken DeLeon, Ken Byk, Sue Rinsky and Ellie Guardino for their inspiring "second chance at life" stories and to Carol Blitzer for her touching interviews. I am sure these stories will help people for years to come when they are faced with similar circumstances.

In 1986, I felt like I was "near death" and, luckily, checked myself in Stanford Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center at Hoover Pavilion after encouragement by two close friends. It saved my life.

In September 1987 I shared my story with the Weekly, along with two other Palo Altans. Because I was the only one to use my full name and photos, I have been amazed through the years by comments from people about this article and how it helped them. In fact, a friend called me on Friday about her brother who had just gotten out of treatment and who was not following the advice given to him.

One of the most helpful comments by a counselor was, "I treat my alcoholism like a snake in the closet always ready to come out and bite me." I am grateful every day that I did not lose my friends, family, house or job, and I can continue to be an even more active Palo Altan.

Carroll Harrington

Melville Avenue

Palo Alto

Homeless art experts?


After the California Avenue fountain fiasco, several letters have appeared calling for the reconstitution of the Public Art Commission. However, choosing new commissioners from the pool of local arts enthusiasts will lead to the same decisions made by members with different names and faces but the same aesthetic values.

I suggest that being homeless be made a requirement for serving on the commission. After all, the homeless must live with public art all the time while those of us fortunate enough to have homes can stay inside and draw the blinds.

Victor Frost would be an excellent choice for chairman. He has been running for City Council forever and obviously wants to serve the city. His occasional public comments indicate a level of common sense at least as high as that of the average resident. It will give him something to do and provide a few hours of shelter each month.

David Lieberman

Kingsley Avenue

Palo Alto

Ebook errors


I count five times the Weekly has repeated its misconception that library ebook collections require physical space.

This error first appeared in a Nov. 19 editorial wondering whether the public would like to remove books in the library to make space for ebooks.

Then the Weekly repeated this misconception in a thread on Town Square. When a reader replied online that this was absurd, you'd think the Weekly would not repeat the mistake. Of course, there is no need to remove anything from a library to make space for ebooks because ebooks don't take up physical space.

Then you posed the meaningless question in your online poll, and you asked it again in your "Streetwise" feature. You repeated this pseudo dilemma last week on Jan. 14 in "Around Town" wondering whether "to reduce shelf space at the new libraries and to make more room for ebooks, possibly at the expense of traditional books."

Ebooks are downloaded by the user from a remote location, not even from the library. Nothing in our library needs to be removed for them to continue to offer even more ebooks. They already offer thousands.

Your misunderstanding of the nature of ebooks confounds the ongoing discussion about the big reduction in the collection at Main.

Elaine Meyer

Kingsley Avenue

Palo Alto

Public-art ideas


I appreciated the excellent article on public art by Karla Kane and the accompanying photo essay by Veronica Weber depicting or referencing some 20 examples of art in our midst. The fact that you included the "Kura" carving at Stanford's New Guinea folk installation — which for a second I did confuse with the City's former holding "Foreign Friends" (from Sweden) — triggers me to suggest two more public arts ideas for our community to imagine and consider:

1) I think Palo Alto should do something substantial and ambitious to honor the passing of Nathan Oliveira (1928-2010) and his legacy here in town. Although the university (where Oliveira taught for more than 30 years) is said to be planning an impressive legacy project, we as a public community should do something to match. There is precedent in the form of the great painter's in-town history. Oliveira was honored with an Avenidas Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. He lent his work for a comprehensive show at the Palo Alto Art Center in 2008. Perhaps most significantly, a large body of his earlier work was created at his downtown studio at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Emerson Street. We should do something larger and more permanent than the loan of his sculptural piece in the courtyard of 1313 Newell Road.

2) Speaking of "Foreign Friends, in honor of our new mayor Sid Espinosa I think we should ask our siblings in our sister city of Linkoping to try again. The first installation was attacked by vandals (several times) and ultimately removed from the city art collection. Although Espinosa has a Latino surname, he has also spoken publicly about his family's Scandinavian heritage.

We budget about $25,000 of our $147 million dollar municipal budget for the Public Art Commission, a tiny fraction.

Although many question the value of the arts in recessionary times, our local arts are part of what makes us unique, what makes Palo Alto Palo Alto, what makes us human even. Even when we disagree about the merits or meaning of individual pieces (or the program as a whole), the debate itself is part of the commons, what makes us a community, what makes us us.

Although we are on a budget there may be considerable and propitious public-private, project-specific, and philanthropic support to honor Oliveira and Espinosa via the arts.

Mark Weiss

Oak Creek Drive

Palo Alto