The Cost of Beauty
"Symphonie Fantastique" (Sept. 26) isn't a story about right and wrong or no-confidence votes from Sonoma State faculty or an approving thumbs-up from Lang Lang or Sanford Weill. It's a classic tale of the human pursuit of excellence permitted, encouraged and practically worshiped in our culture. Ruben's personal quest to build the Green Music Center reflects the heroic journey depicted in Ayn Rand's novels, which many of my right- and left-biased friends have found invigorating—the individual ascending above the daily grind in quest of the highest human expression despite all obstacles in his or her way.
Now and for many years, the Green Music Center, with its superior acoustic qualities, will showcase not only Ruben's achievement but some of the world's most highly talented musicians in one of the most acoustically divine spaces attainable.
The downside is that to create such a gem is very expensive, and it's logical to argue that the resources could have been put to more practical use at Sonoma State, or in the bigger picture, to benefit a wider swath of people in need, such as the sick or the hungry, or the poor, as might be the course advocated by Martin Luther King Jr. But it's not logic that drives the heroic journey to rise above the ordinary; it's the undeniable human pull toward excellence, even celebrity and beauty.
One side of us craves the exceptional talent and/or beauty of great art, a gorgeous landscape or a great athlete, dancer, movie star or an awesome temple of sound like the Green Music Center. Another side of us longs for fairness and equity. We oscillate between these poles and live with the contradictions. Either that or stand in the middle of the road where nothing at all very enthralling happens.
So I'll take a risk here by saying thank you, Ruben. Thank you, Ayn Rand. And thank you, Martin Luther King Jr. I'll think of you all when I listen to the music at the Green Music Center, and for a few moments of delight, let the sound dissolve all conflicting thoughts.
Kudos to Grizzle
Nicholas Grizzle, I read your fair, nonjudgmental, illuminating, funny and thoroughly investigated article ("Symphonie Fantastique"). Kudos! This morning, I read the one in the San Francisco Chronicle. While it was good, it could not match your intelligent assessment of this building and what it all means.
I must say that you have become a real jewel to the world of journalism, and I hope that your peers realize just how much you contribute to raising the cultural curtain in the North Bay.
Too Much Love for Levi?
I cannot help but get the impression from the last couple of references to Levi Leipheimer in your paper that the Bohemian is now endorsing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports ("Roll On," Sept. 26) Sadly, the same win-at-all-costs attitude that has ruined our political system has now done the same thing to the world of professional bicycle racing. Those who prefer to take the ethical high road need to realize one basic unshakable reality, and that is, without sportsmanship, there is no sport. Once you take performance-enhancing drugs, you have thrown sportsmanship out the window. Just like the politician, you are now nothing more than a cog in a corporate, money-making machine. You are no different than the guy sitting next to me in class at SRJC who is cheating on a test. The true heroes of the Tour de France are those who were man enough to stand up to the pressure and not do those drugs. Unfortunately, we will probably never know the names of those people.
The real story about Levi Leipheimer is the story that your paper does not seem to want to tell. You do not want to mention the fact that Levi is now serving a six-month suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. How convenient is it that the suspension did not start until after this year's Tour de France and will end before next year's Tour of California? Should society overlook all of the bad things that people do just because they happen to be raising money for cancer or because they happen to be the local hometown hero? Let's face it, Lance and Levi are just another couple of juicers, and that is exactly how they should be looked upon.
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