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I am in love with Rebecca Schoenkopf; her Commie Girl column and art reviews are spot-on. But I'd like to comment on her review of Phil Borges' show of photographs of Tibetans ("70 Minutes in Tibet," Nov. 20). I am a photographer, and I can attest to the phenomenal technical clarity of Borges' photographs. They are wonderful. What I question is their social commentary. As Schoenkopf admits, Tibet is the trendiest cause since Live-Aid brought rock stars and Ethiopia together, which makes me question the strength and validity of Borges' portrayal of Tibetan hardships. I spoke with Mr. Borges at the opening, and several things distressed me-in particular, that he did not spend any significant time talking with the Han Chinese population, which is vilified. I, too, have spent significant time in Tibetan areas, but I've also lived in Han-majority China. I understand the complexity of the problems in Tibet in a way that the one-sided Western media refuses to address. Borges' images reinforce that simplistic view that Tibet equals nirvana and China equals evil.
In no way do I want to denigrate or lessen the hardships the Tibetan people have suffered, for they are real. But I am tired of viewing biased images of the situation, even if they are beautiful. I think of the Tibetan monk I spent time with, who heated his tea using a solar parabolic mirror, drove a motor scooter, wore a Bulls cap, and sold thangkas to Han Chinese visitors to the lamasery-he's not the image Hollywood or Borges like, so he is ignored. If Borges' photographs are meant as documentary, I wish he would have been more balanced and less clichéd.
If Schoenkopf's article left your readers wondering why people of Tibet deserve our support, we encourage them to find out the real story when Orange County Friends of Tibet holds a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 4 to 9 p.m. on Main Beach in Laguna Beach.
Join us as we use our precious freedom of expression in support of the restoration of basic human rights in Tibet.
-Tenzing Chonden, Orange County Friends of Tibet, Westminster
I must take umbrage at the notion that Borges' work is somehow an exception in the world of photography because Ms. Schoenkopf believes it is actually art! I have seen a great number of photographic works that are undeniably wonderful examples of [gasp] "art."
I suppose that in the daily life of a newspaper employee (even a paper as interesting as the OC Weekly), one doesn't come across very many photographs that are elevated above the category of photojournalism (which in its own way is also capable of being art). But please, Ms. Schoenkopf, open your eyes and your mind. Just because it isn't created with pen, paint, pencil or clay does not mean it isn't art.
-Anne Sherrill, Orange
Rebecca Schoenkopf responds: I said it was "rarely" art. Go away.
I read the OC Weekly because, at its best, it smacks people around a little. Conventional news reporting is pornography at its worst, but the Weekly is here to inform us that there are perverted and psychotic people right in our own back yards manipulating us, our children and our money-all for the sake of some kind of "improvement." These days, it doesn't take a Frank Zappa to grab you by the collar, shake you up, and make you realize that most Republicans in Orange County public office have the potential to be more dangerous than Heinrich Himmler. At least Himmler didn't lie about what his true purpose was. The Weekly is able to cut through at times to remind me that my gyro is working.
Which is why I must respond to Rebecca Schoenkopf's article "The Devil Made Me Do It" (Commie Girl, Nov. 20). My little counterfeit communist girl, your column compromises the credibility of the paper and generally brings down property value. NO ONE GIVES A SHIT WHO YOU HAVE A CRUSH ON. Or, for that matter, how long it's been since you got laid. That's your fault.
So okay, Commie Girl, you wanna know what turns me on? A blonde who thinks she's important in stilettos giving me head while looking right in my eyes. But you don't see me putting that in print. If you want your articles to be funnier and more effective, don't write about being so insulted because you were shoved when you went to a "shove club." If you want to write, shut up and write. Otherwise, put on a pair of stilettos, become a professional groupie, and write about it in 20 years.
-Socialist Alex, via e-mail
Rebecca Schoenkopf responds again: Turn the page, my friend, and witness the glory of 1,400 words devoted to me, Me, ME!!!, with my thoughts on: a boyfriend who left me almost two years ago, why I was sad, how I got happy, why I drink, why I sometimes don't, my height, my sprained ankle, the kind of car I drive, my little brother's birthday, and my evil nanny. Hope you like it!