LETTER TO THE EDITOR: No joke: In defense of violists

To the editor:

I want to especially thank Zoe Hensler for joining the viola section at the Wednesday Saratoga Chamber Orchestra concert.

I felt it was unfortunate that she had to hear all the viola jokes, because she’s at the place in her life where she’s playing trumpet in the community orchestra and it isn’t easy to talk her into playing viola at all. The violin students were up in front getting all the applause while she was in the back hardly visible. It is bad enough that composers seem to consider the instrument so unimportant that the parts are often boring. Over the 40 years I’ve been teaching, I’ve had hundreds of violin students and only two or three viola students who stayed with it.

I always appreciate when violinists like Talia Marcus and Linda Morris play viola. People who laugh so heartily at viola jokes may not understand that violists usually also play violin, and have been asked by the conductor to play viola because there is a shortage of violists.

I was so glad that Judy Geist, our local celebrity from the Philadelphia orchestra, was asked to play a solo so people could hear what a beautiful and expressive instrument it is. Students should also know that if you learn viola you are more likely to get scholarships at colleges and music schools. Plus you’re always in demand for string quartets.

Linda Good

Island Strings

I would rather not eat factory food

To the editor:

I read Michael Seraphinoff’s editorial about food and agriculture in the March 8 Record with interest. My family background is a little similar to his. My grandfather was a dentist in Chicago who became fascinated with Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s belief that “colonics” could cure just about every illness. Grandpa became a naturopath and also raised his children (including my father) to be “health food fanatics.” My parents were also fervent fans of Rodale and organic gardening.

At first, I rebelled against my parents’ beliefs and attitudes; now I think my perspective has become more nuanced. The alternative health movement is full of quackery and superstition. For example, my parents believed that laetrile was a cure for cancer that was being suppressed by the medical establishment. Laetrile has never proven to be useful. However, conventional food practices can be just as ridiculous. The dosing of our society in high-fructose corn syrup is just as much a kind of quackery as is the constant advertising for questionable prescription drugs on television.

Michael is correct that the industrialization of our agricultural system is a terrible blight on our society and our food production. While I suspect that the “organic food” movement to some extent is based upon myth,

I regard sensible eating as a matter of playing the odds. I would rather eat unsprayed food grown with organic fertilizer than take my chances with a supposedly “safe” pesticide applied to a genetically modified plant sprouted from seed “patented” by a large corporation and grown on massive doses of petroleum-based fertilized on exhausted “soil” we have turned into a kind of desert.

I would rather eat meat raised without the “aid” of hormones and antibiotics or cloning. I would rather eat eggs from chickens that run around and scratch and peck in the dirt than eggs from antibiotic-dosed chickens raised in tiny cages with their beaks cut off to keep them from pecking each other to death. I would rather grow some of our own food and let my granddaughter pull a carrot out of the ground than have her grow up thinking all food magically emerges from a market untouched by dirt or human hands.

Although we have a large garden, we don’t pretend to be farmers, so my wife and I buy much of our fresh food at the Tilth farmers market where we can look farmers in the eye and talk to them rather than buy shrink-wrapped produce shipped in containers from Chile and China, even the containers questionably labeled “organic.”

I commend Michael and the other organic farmers on Whidbey, and encourage everyone on the island to buy some of their food from the various farmers markets available to our communities.

Stephen Kahn


Country singer needs your votes

To the editor:

There is a local boy,

John Thompson, looking for your support.

Many of you know John; he has been performing locally and not so locally since he was 5 years old. John sings country with a little bit of rock-and-roll while playing his guitar. He is a regular at the fairs and festivals.

John’s goal right now is to make it to Hollywood. He is in a national competition being held by KIRO TV and could sure use some hometown support. If everyone would go on line to www.kirotv.com the BIG SHOT competition and vote for John under singing talent, we could move him from number 19 nationally to number one.

John is listed in the competition as “Screamintele.” Your support would be greatly appreciated!

If you have questions or just want to see what John is up to, you can visit him at his Web site www.JohnThompsonCountry.com.

Thank you for your support!

Laurie Thompson