Our Forebearer Chimes In
Having just survived a record breaking flood where I live in Brisbane, Australia, your piece on the 1986 Valentine's Day flood and The Paper's role in providing quality coverage (this despite the fact that the reporters-photographers involved often had their own homes underwater) was both timely and moving. While each event had distinct causes and impacts, what stands out is how similar they were in detail, e.g., reluctant insurance companies, lawsuits against culpable government bodies, as well as personal despair and mud to the rafters. Most importantly, however, they highlighted how communities and individuals are willing and able to pull together when "attacked" by the elements. Meanwhile, on a coincidental, if not ironic, note, as The Paper's general manager, I wrote a series on the impact of urbanization on the speed of downstream flooding (for which I received the Lincoln Steffens Journalism Award, sponsored by the Sonoma County Press Club) and am now in the middle of putting together a piece for a journal I write for and edit on the role poorly regulated development and zoning can have on flood damage, inundation levels and property values. The Paper series led to changes in how the Army Corps of Engineers managed its water flow responsibilities. I'm hoping the Brisbane equivalent will have a like result.
General Manager, 'The Paper,' 1986
See It Again
I read with quizzical interest your review of The Final Scene at the Sixth Street Playhouse ("Soap Box," March 9). You praised the "confident clarity" of the direction (lots of laughs and pratfalls by Jeremy and Milton), yet failed to recognize that the performances you labeled as "one-note" (Allison and Gretchen) were crafted from that same direction.
However, the characters of Allison and Gretchen are not farcical. They are character studies and don't rely on laughs alone. One (Allison) is conniving and manipulative, with overreaching ambition. The other (Gretchen) is attempting to maintain her dignity as she watches everything she has lived for unravel over the course of a day. She has been a positive influence in many people's lives and sees how little effect in the end she has over her own. These characters, along with that of Joseph (whom you credited with providing a "counterbalancing pathos") give the play depth.
I agree with you that The Final Scene is "hugely entertaining." It is a must-see event, and you might consider giving it another look with a fresh point of view.
Illustration to the Editor
Thanks for the recent cover story about wineries' impacts on local watersheds ("Sapping the Well," March 9). I figure we'll be changing the name of Salmon Creek to Salmon Gulch any time now.