February 9, 2005: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length,
accuracy, clarity, and civility.
Chengdu, in Szechuan province of China, is still very like President Tilghman’s description of the Beijing of 1980 on the President’s Page (Dec. 8). In other words, it’s beautiful. The streets are wide, with two bicycle lanes on every thoroughfare. The urban population is 3.2 million. President Tilghman, you recall a China “suffering from ... dust [and] bicycles.” The natural dust of Chengdu is more easily expelled from one’s lungs than the smog of Manhattan.
Everyone in Chengdu wears the same clothes. Not “Mao suits,” necessarily, but mismatched jackets and slacks. Yet individualism reigns: Elderly women do tai chi by the highway in rush hour; men who are too hot take off their shirts and show off their potbellies as they bike home from work.
You mention a “sense of foreboding” in 1980 Beijing. I felt exactly the same thing in Chengdu. After a couple of days, I realized it was because the buildings were so short. You could feel the atmosphere and the vastness of the landscape surrounding this metropolis, rather than be choked by the false comfort of “shining new skyscrapers” and malls. The worst section of Chengdu was the small luxury mall, where Louis Vuitton billboards with leering, smoking anorexics in leopard-print underwear reminded me how superficial and manipulative capitalism can be.
I’m not a Maoist, but your assessment seemed dismissive and derogatory of some valid traditions. There are some of us in the States who wish development would slow down to a reasonable pace, and that more people could ride bikes everywhere. If capitalism is “in the DNA” of anyone, it’s in the cutthroat, competitive side of human nature that leaves the weak and the kind in the dust. I hope that the understanding promoted by a Princeton-Asia connection can be a two-way street.
As a footnote, there’s a Chinese herbalist in Princeton with an herbal tea that treated the symptoms of all my winter colds from 1999 to 2003.
JON KENNEDY ’03
Am I the only Princetonian a bit embarrassed by these words in the song, “Going Back”?
It’s the one and only university
That statement once was true. Later, it was whimsy. Today, it makes us sound like idiots. I suggest this substitution:
It’s A GRAND AND GORGEOUS university
It’s A ROCKIN’, ROLLIN’ university
If you don’t like these suggestions, why not send yours to the editor of PAW?
JAMES C. DAVIS ’52
Re “Donation disparity” and “Politically incorrect” (Letters, Dec. 8): How shocking that a group of educated University employees in New Jersey tended to favor Sen. Kerry! Perhaps Princeton should start asking prospective faculty and staff for political affiliation? And would Mr. Max Maizels ’72 prefer that Dean Dobkin’s announcement of this year’s new hires harkened back to the good ol’ days when nary a woman could be found on campus? Get over it!
MACAULEY PETERSON ’01
Princeton University is not responsible for whatever financial support its employees give to any politician (Letters, Dec. 8).
PHILIP D. DIGGDON ’54
I am appalled and amused by recent letters (Nov. 3) regarding kicking wives (now spouses) and children out of the Reunions P-rade. I wrote a letter to PAW some 20 years ago the last time the subject arose. I am a P-rade junkie, having marched in 42 of the last 45 P-rades since my graduation. One has to wonder: How many graduates marching today first marched in a P-rade as a kid? A lot more than one might think.
At a time when alumni are complaining that their three times the national acceptance rate to Princeton is not enough, why kick the kids out of the P-rade prematurely? Being from an all-male class, I pointed out then as now that wives were the thread that held the class together. We just made one of our class wives an honorary class member! I’m sure that male spouses of Lady Tigers are equally as committed.
One problem in recent years is that the P-rade route, while having gotten shorter, is more difficult to traverse due to the many bends around campus construction. I think this will be overcome. But to deny spouses and children from the P-rade is throwing the baby out with the bathwater!
The P-rade is a tradition, a family tradition!
ADRIAN WOODHOUSE ’59
An excellent article (features, Nov. 17) about Michael Graves, an architect I have admired for the past 30 years. My tea seems to taste profoundly better being poured from his famous teapot.