Letters for January 29, 2004

Remembering Robin
I saw the review by Stephen Metzger about the 65th anniversary of The Adventures of Robin Hood [“Robin’s hood,” Reel world, Jan. 22]. There was excellent coverage at the Chico Museum a while back that had Olivia DeHavilland’s dress and other items from the movie. Apparently at the time the movie company “paid back” the town by hosting a photo op. Both my sisters got Errol Flynn to autograph a photo of him. My niece has one of them. I always thought it funny that the preprinted 8x10 had on it a statement that he was “The World’s Most Perfect Specimen.” Very modest, huh?

Bob Ramsdell

Car dependence
It disheartens me to realize that a person such as Deva Daniel is evidentially a step or two away from obtaining her teaching credential and in doing so might possibly be released upon our children [“The importance of being car-less,” Guest comment, Jan. 22].

Anybody who thinks that society can and should do without personal motorized vehicles is, well, lacking common sense. The United States cannot in any way be compared to or expected to conform to the ideals and the ways of, say, Europe or Asia. These people have had centuries to build upon their cultures and communities, including mass public transit, which I might add is achievable only because of the density of the countries involved.

Doing without a car in Chico is impractical. Doing without a car in the more rural areas that surround Chico is next to impossible, and doing without a car in the really remote parts of this country is crazy. What’s happened to common sense, anyway? Why do teachers and educators seem to be afflicted with this ailment more than most? I fear for the fiber of our society and the well-being of our children. You should too.

Alan Hiatt

Had his Phil
In your Jan. 22 issue you had an article on Toby Keith [“Working class hero?,” essay] and another one on Dr. Phil McGraw, the TV pop-psych guru [“I get it, I think,” Backbeat].

You raked Toby Keith over the coals for being a creature of corporate-media marketing conglomerates. However, the article on Dr. Phil, failed to mention that he is a creature of Oprah Winfrey’s media machine, also a super-rich media juggernaut.

Dr. Phil seems to me to be the modern descendant of the traveling “snake oil” salesman of yesteryear because he offers cookie-cutter “quick fixes” for complex personal problems and caters to the irritating American penchant for “in-your-face” meddling in other people’s business. He is red meat for a public that loves to see others squirm.

Why not portray Dr. Phil in the same negative light that you did Toby Keith, who perhaps also deserves to be criticized? Both are superficial, media-driven superstars. Why not be fair?

John Lorenz

Corporate country
Jaime O’Neill sounds like “Sour Grapes of Wrath” to me [“Working class hero?”]. How does he think Toby Keith got that $45 million? He formed his own corporation, has his own payroll, and went out and got those contracts with AT&T, Dreamworks, Disney, Ford, etc. It is the American dream, Mr. O’Neill. Some have the guts to go out and try. His grandparents would be mighty proud.

Kathryn Shimizu

Is there life on Mars?
First we’re swindled by Enron. Next we’re conned into war. Then we’re supposed to trust a space program with no program since the space shuttle blew up. We have a generation of young adults who mumble rude advice under their breaths like Jewish mamas’ subliminal expletives and a dingy Austrian actor living his fantasy as California’s governor. No wonder America’s public can buy an escapist’s dream of leaving the planet for Mars. “To the moon Alice, to the moon!”

Guy B. Morey
P.S. You can’t cheat an honest man, but you can send him a $600 phony tax refund and he’ll follow you anywhere, even to Iraq to get Halliburton those oil wells. Would Bush or Cheney grab a gun and go? No.

Listen to the Lorax
Praises and gratitude to the CN&R for the excellent article, “The salads of wrath” [cover story, Jan. 15]. Consumers are usually so unaware of our connection with where our food and goods come from and how they are produced. That beautiful, healthful salad we righteously sit down to “knowing” we are doing right by our bodies and our planet turns out to carry a lot of “karma.”

Serious health impacts to workers, back-breaking labor and poverty, pollution of soil, water and air and corporate greed are contained in every bite of that healthy meal—UNLESS!, as the Lorax says (The Lorax by Dr. Seuss).

Unless we purchase locally grown foods from organic growers, unless we purchase organically grown food products from grocery stores, unless we eat at restaurants that use organic products, we are complicit. When we support sustainable agriculture, when we ask stores to carry organically grown products, when we thank those who do, when we send a check to the United Farm Workers union, when we read The Lorax to our children, we help to break that karmic chain, not to mention the extra health boost we give to ourselves and our families as we consume less-toxic foods.

Emily Alma

Watching what we eat
Three cheers for “The salads of wrath,” by Vince Beiser. The means by which we get our food is common to all of us, no matter our age, race or socio-economic status. Our food and how is it produced speak volumes about America. Food is the cornerstone of our culture.

There is a fairly new concept in regard to food and its production called “food security"—how a community acquires its food, its sources of food, the effort it takes to obtain the food and its accessibility. Basically, what foods come from different states, different countries, different cities and especially how much is produced locally and how vulnerable those sources are.

Food security can be affected by mad cow disease and beef coming from Washington, salad from Salinas Valley, dairy products from all over California and the East Coast, fruits and vegetables from Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Beiser’s article highlights what we can do for ourselves here in Chico. A few ideas: shop seasonally—do we really need fresh tomatoes in the winter? Support local producers as much as possible, meaning local butchers, farmers’ markets and bakeries. Address the City Council on how better to support local food and agriculture production.

Finally, and most important, plant a garden and see how much work goes into producing a head of lettuce.

John Iott