Below is a letter sent from a friend in San Francisco.

Dear Shawn -

As a vegetarian, I almost can't BELIEVE I'm actually writing to you! I hope I'm not interrupting your live-goldfish-shishkebab snack. I finally had the chance to take a look at a couple of those articles.... and jeez! I'm glad that some people in this world are waking up to the fact that we spend WAY too much time on trivial matters such as forging peace in the middle east (and really, where has that gotten us?) and curing AIDS (just the result of bad habits in the first place, no?), and forcing us to turn our attention to really, truly Important Things like the heinous practice of Goldfish Torture.

I mean, sure, you could argue that these folks should have, well, _bigger_ fish to fry - I mean defend - but just think about the far-reaching implications of allowing your practice of keeping goldfish in bowls to continue. What if the CIA got hold of this kind of torture and started using it on all those Al Quaeda POW's? Would that be in line with international human rights law? Well, right, I guess that's not such an issue for our government in the first place... But anyway, do you really want to send a message to EVERY fish owner on the planet that keeping fish in bowls as pets is OKAY??!

It's good that you're doing a few things to make the goldfish happier, though. I'm glad they sometimes get an aerated tank. I was just thinking, though, that maybe you could pipe some soothing music into the bowls too, to keep the fish calm. Also, you might think about encouraging a weekly support-group forum for them. Perhaps you could hire, say, a hermit crab to moderate. (They're usually good at facilitating such groups, as they stay pretty quiet and give members plenty of chance to talk). Even, I think, some one-on-one therapy might be good. You could hire a licensed psychotherapist (he/she could just be part of the exhibit!) to go from bowl to bowl and talk to the fish about their feelings, focusing in particular on the traumatic experience of finding their exhibit-mates belly-up. In fact, have you been screening the fish for depression and PTSD? Thought about grinding a little Prozac into the fish food? Considered providing some (water-resistant, of course) notebooks and pens for the fishies so they can journal about their thoughts and experiences?

Okay, I gotta run. I heard they have some insects on display over at the museum in Golden Gate Park. Have to get my dying-bug costume and my picket sign together.

And also, though of course I hate to admit it, I looked at the on-line pics of your exhibit, and it's really cool! Sorry I missed seeing it, um, live!



Shawn Busse - A Freind Reacts to Heaven and Earth, 2003