Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm in the New York Times!

Aha! I thought that might grab your attention. And it's not a lie - they did publish a letter I wrote to the editor this weekend. Like most crazy/semi-retired people, I think of writing letters to the editor all the time, but only rarely find the energy to do it. I'm very proud to say that out of the 5 letters to the editor I've ever actually sent, this is the 4th one that's been published (the others were in San Francisco Magazine in 2002, and in the Int'l Herald Tribune in 2003 and 2005). Each letter has been about a completely different subject, from child poverty to the dating scene in San Francisco. The great thing about writing a letter to the editor is that you don't need to be an expert, just a fairly intelligent person with an opinion, and so you can write about anything you want. Without sounding too much like a government pamphlet, I do believe it's one of the few direct ways in which you can exercise your right of free speech as a citizen. Who knows if it changes anything, or helps anyone, but hearing other viewpoints (and spending time formulating your own) can't be a bad thing, can it?

Blame this tendency or philosophy on my intellectual/hippie upbringing in Cambridge, MA, when my teachers had us writing letters to Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, and a whole host of other people, about everything from Vietnam to legalizing marijuana (OK, I may be remembering incorrectly, but there were some pretty racy topics going on in the 1970s, even among us 11-year-olds). At the time of course, my politics pretty much derived entirely from Mother Jones and Mad Magazine, so you can imagine the kind of letters I was writing (fervently, on a little black manual typewriter one of my teachers had given me in 4th grade). I do remember getting a response back from Richard Nixon's White House, just months before he resigned; I think the topic was the energy crisis. The official letter thanked me for my letter and said that my comments would be taken under consideration. At first I thought it was Nixon himself and I felt quite honored to think that the President was writing to me personally. Then I noticed that the signature was a stamp, and it wasn't him at all. Suddenly the world felt a lot bigger and impersonal than I had been led to believe in my cozy Cambridge community of touchy-feely, impassioned people. Why, Nixon didn't care about me - he didn't even know about my existence, much less that I wrote to him. (Thus began my cold awakening to the basic insignificance of my own little life, a realization that to this day leaves me fairly stricken with horror - in between cooking and painting and writing letters to the editor of course...)


Blogger Jill said...

I love this! CW in the NYT!

Of course I have a story for everything -- When I first moved to SF I used to write letters to the editor of the SF Chronicle and point out things that were wrong with the paper, such as mispellings (which weren't really mispellings, just quirky ways they spelled things)and other problems with their coverage. The first letter I got a nice response from the editor, and I took that as a sign he appreciated and wanted my feedback! Though after that my letters got nothing but radio silence...

3:15 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

You are so funny! I remember that SF Mag letter, LOL. Get this, I actually got an apology email from Jet Blue. I will still fly with of the best airlines I've flown with-nice people, plush seats with leg room,, if only they went to Maui...

7:34 PM  

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