Letters for April 12, 2007

So many bookstores, so little time

Re “The survival & revival of Sacramento’s independent bookstores” by Ralph Brave (SN&R Feature, April 5):

Another Brave article, and many thanks to Ralph. Unfortunately, he omits Sweet Briar Books in Davis, which manages to have a “fresher” collection than Bogey’s and cheaper prices.

Next time Ralph’s pen comes ready to hand, you might send him to J. Crawford’s on Freeport Boulevard. They seem to be surviving with a small general collection and an emphasis on romantic novels. Then there is the Book Check on Marconi Avenue that survives on cheap paperbacks, as well as at least five different “religious” bookstores: Cathedral (Catholic Bookstore), Deseret Book Co., Christ Unity and Vedanta—don’t they count as bookstores?

A significant omission is East/West books on Fair Oaks Boulevard, which survives across the street from Borders by cultivating in great depth a “niche” of New Age literature, as well as by being a region-wide hub for people interested in alternative religious and philosophical lifestyles. Anyone interested in selling books to a niche public should look at how East/West organizes their collection of books and materials by narrow subjects. By serving their community better, they have prospered.

Let me add that the three things I look for in a bookstore are size, freshness and price. Bigger is better in both new and used bookstores because more titles means you are more likely to find something you’d like. My approach to buying books is serendipitous: I buy what appeals to me when I see it. The last book I bought was from Beers for $10: Sir Thomas Browne’s Urne Buriall, published by the Cambridge University Press in 1958. A peculiar book by an eccentric author; I have no further reason why I wanted it, but I couldn’t let someone else have it, could I? If a bookstore is not “churning” by buying and selling stock, it isn’t worth my time coming back to it often.

Such is one customer’s point of view, something no article on Sacramento’s bookstores has yet to take into account. After all is said and done, it is what we buy, and not what they think, that keeps them all in business.

T. Fante
Gold River

Work for the whole environment

Re “Confessions of a Republican environmental activist” by Candy Chand (SN&R Feature Story, March 29):

I am struck by the obvious irony of Candy Chand’s self-serving proclamation of herself as an “environmental activist.” This term is generally reserved for people who spend a lot of time, energy and passion rallying against causes larger than environmental transgressions within the walls of their own gated community. Candy and her group should wonder what impacts their houses and golf courses had on the environment that they profess to want to protect.

A better term for Candy and her group would be a “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) activist group. If I am wrong, then I will be the first to apologize to her in person at the next county General Plan meeting, global warming march, or in the HOV lane as she carpools to work.

Shame on SN&R for allowing Candy to write her own self serving article! SN&R is normally well-written, well-investigated and independent journalism at its best. This article was a departure that I hope I will not see more of in the future.

John Lane

Matsui’s restraint

Re “Outrageous violation” (SN&R Editorial, March 29):

In the spirit of being more collegial with those on the other side of the political aisle, I have to take issue with your editorial whining and sniveling about the “outrageous” treatment your photographer and some protesters received in Congresswoman Doris Matsui’s office.

I’ve met Congresswoman Matsui, a Democrat with whom I have many philosophical differences. However, she is a most sincere representative of her district, a fair-minded woman and certainly not in need of “handlers.” Contrary to the premise you proposed, her office is conducting the business of all the people of her district. This includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc.—no one sect of Mao-inspired banshees, Bolsheviks or anarchists has any exclusive claim to its singular use. Her office is not the proper forum for a pack of wailing ideologues or news people to conduct their “news circus.”

Certainly, it would have been different had the protesters observed the reasonable rules of her office and not been disruptive. But then these are the same types of people who told me I had no right to take ROTC (even though I had no interest) and formed a line to deter me from attempting to speak to corporate recruiters when I was at UC Davis. Why is it that they believe they have the right to tell me what I wish to learn or to dictate whom I may choose to work for?

Oh, yes; I forget. They wrap themselves in the flag of freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is distinctly American and wonderful—if it’s practiced with respect for the rights of others, courtesy and tolerance. When a protest becomes a noisy occupation, interfering with the “people’s business,” it demonstrates none of these things.

Please don’t wail to me about there being any analogy between the congresswoman’s actions and those of some tin-horn dictator anywhere else in the world. If this was the case, these protesters would have been shot, bludgeoned or simply would have disappeared for eternity.

It would have been OK with me if they had simply been pitched into the street on their raggedy, disruptive asses. Why couldn’t you be satisfied with a photographic montage of them leaving the office? It appears your concept of “free press über alles” is misplaced.

The good congresswoman and her staff showed great restraint and tolerance. They should be applauded, not maligned.

Douglas C. Miller

Jesus wouldn’t bait and switch

Re “Paint and switch” by Becca Costello (SN&R Nothing Ever Happens, March 29):

Thankfully, Becca Costello was more gracious than I would have been in her piece on the David Garibaldi art show/spiritual revival at the Crest Theatre.

As a Christian pastor who believes Jesus offers something we all need, I still disagree vehemently with any approach to sharing one’s faith that bypasses things like honesty, respect and an understanding of the kinds of spiritual questions people are truly asking. I’m puzzled at this kind of disingenuous behavior. As I’ve been working to start a church downtown, I often find myself saying to people I meet: “I’m very sorry that you’ve had to experience that kind of treatment from people who are talking about the same God as me.”

Marc Holland
City Life Church

Demented, strong, brave sicko

Re “Prime offenders” by R.V. Scheide SN&R Night&Day, March 22):

Your watering down of the No. 1 most offensive band in the world is not appreciated. Every hateful word spoken by Anal Cunt is to be taken seriously as a fist in the face. Only a demented sicko would joke about sexual harassment, racism, homosexuality, Hitler and sexism. It takes a strong and brave man—also known as Seth Putnam—to tackle these issues in the way that he does.

Cheryl Peril

It’s not about the First Amendment

Re “The Sacramento Union” (SN&R Advertisement, April 5):

Jeff vonKaenel said that one reason he granted the Sacramento Union advertising space is his vow to support the First Amendment “not only as it impacted news stories, but also when it guaranteed an advertiser’s right to a platform.”

This is really not a First Amendment issue, however. The First Amendment protects speech against state infringements, not private ones. If SN&R denies anyone advertising space, that’s not state action, so the First Amendment has nothing to do with it. If Jeff’s goal is to operate within the “spirit” of the First Amendment, that’s pure generosity. But withholding such generosity would not be a First Amendment infringement.

The better question is whether the Union’s views already reach a sufficient audience and whether it will benefit the public if SN&R gives the Union an additional voice.

Jeff is too kind. It seems to me that right-wingers now have substantially more control over the newspapers, TV and radio in the United States, and that, on balance, there is an overwhelming need to level the playing field.

Therefore, I think it’s more detrimental to the public good to sell the Union any SN&R space. It just adds more lopsidedness to an already lopsided media.

Stephen Pearcy

Hate speech, not free speech

Re “The Sacramento Union” (Advertisement, April 5):

The only paper worth reading for me—where I can escape the bigotry, ignorance and outright hate so prevalent in society—will now proudly carry hate speech. I cannot under my moral conscience continue to read your paper. Some of us still believe there’s a fine line between free speech and hate that could threaten our future.

Just reading what [the Sacramento Union] posted in their first publication in SN&R is appalling: “Flying airplanes into buildings or killing your own young. You cannot make me believe for a single moment that the Democrat Party is not populated by a critical mass of monsters every bit as savage as any Jihadist.”

It’s not about being perceived as “liberal” or “conservative”; this is about advertising hate toward women, Arabs, African-Americans and Hispanics. You’re contributing to me and [my] family being looked at with suspicion and hate. You’re not being a standard-bearer of free speech; you’re attacking me personally for reasons I can’t change.

Thanks for nothing.

Mohamad Qutub