Letters for April 17, 2008

Letter of the week
Almond$, arrogance

It’s the same old story. A large corporation threatened to leave a community and take its jobs with it. Sacramento responded to Blue Diamond’s threat by giving them millions of tax dollars. In return, Blue Diamond is supposed to keep 700 full-time jobs here. Years pass. The workers at Blue Diamond try to unionize. The Bush administration’s National Labor Relations Board finds the company guilty of 21 unfair labor practices. Blue Diamond has to rehire one of the workers it fired.

Community leaders ask Blue Diamond to meet to come up with a union-election procedure that will allow the workers to vote on representation without interference from management. Community leaders like Joan Lee of the Gray Panthers, state Sen. Darrell Steinberg and Chris Jones of ACORN request a meeting with management, as does a coalition of seniors, Mayor Heather Fargo and City Councilman Steve Cohn.

Blue Diamond management refuses to meet or even respond. They leave the seniors out in the driveway. They eventually tell the elected leaders that the city doe not have jurisdiction and that they like the current [union] election procedure, which vastly favors management.

During the seniors’ attempt to meet with Blue Diamond management, a manager yelled out the window at them, “Go home, go home.” We were astounded. We were home. Who raised this thug?

Recently, workers and community activists filled City Hall and asked the mayor and council to set up a committee to meet with Blue Diamond. They would look into how many full-time employees Blue Diamond really has and seek a way to resolve the labor dispute. The mayor and council (with the exception of Robbie Waters) stood up for the community. Cohn was rightfully confused by a business refusing to meet with its own city councilperson.

I have done community organizing for 38 years. This is the most arrogant company that I have ever run across. Let’s stop giving welfare to the rich.

L.R. Roberts

Pay attention to the 8th AD

Re “A delegate situation” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, April 10):

Thank you for your article about the 8th Assembly District race. We first met [candidate] Mariko Yamada as a next-door neighbor when we moved our family to Davis in July of 1995. At the time, Mariko was a stay-at-home mom with two beautiful girls.

Three weeks after our move, our son Alex was born, and not too long thereafter, he was diagnosed with autism. Mariko drew upon her social-worker background to help us understand the myriad of health-care and insurance issues we faced as a family coming to terms with our son’s condition. She stood by our side through the early and difficult years and would often walk around our neighborhood in south Davis late at night with Alex in her arms to help console him and give us time to rest.

Over the years, her daughters helped baby-sit our growing family, and we’ve developed a lifelong friendship and will forever be grateful for her support, particularly during those trying years.

As friends, constituents and members of the community, we’ve admired Mariko’s commitment to the people of Yolo County, and in particular, her progressive values of forthrightness, inclusion and standing up for the most vulnerable segments of our population. She is a major contributor to the heart of our community.

That is why we are supporting Mariko’s bid for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Assembly District. Mariko’s leadership, commitment to principled values and genuine integrity will benefit our region and our state.

Suheil and Christine Totah

Every day he writes the book

Re “Meet Jane Doe” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, April 3):

Congratulations on R.V. Scheide’s article. Having worked [in] law enforcement some years ago, I could relate to Scheide’s writing. He is so descriptive; it was like reading a great book.

I certainly hope to see many more of his articles in SN&R.

Bev Otey
via e-mail

Poetry and nostalgia

Re “Nobody puts poetry in a corner” by Kel Munger (SN&R Arts&Culture, April 3):

I commend Kel Munger’s desire to want to forge an identity for Sacramento’s literary efforts. We need one. Or at least we need to try to forge one. It is something that we all would benefit from. Her comments on the Sacramento poetry scene were very interesting to me.

She writes, “I’ve described it on occasion as elegiac, by which I mean less an ode to what has passed than a longing to inscribe the passing moment with some permanence.”

While that is by no means far from being accurate, I wonder if the word she might be looking for is not “elegiac” but “nostalgic.”

Of course, for many people “nostalgic” as a modifier for poetry isn’t a very charitable one. I also wonder if the term “smugness” might apply. We are very self-satisfied with our past achievements, but is anyone addressing the future? Is anyone asking why, despite our plethora of micropress chapbooks, a city our size doesn’t have one independent literary press designed to expose and feature book-length manuscripts of many of our talented poets and fiction writers (a question that we at the Sacramento Poetry Center endeavor to answer next year with our first nationwide poetry manuscript contest and subsequent literary press)?

I fear that too often by championing the past and telling ourselves that our literature scene is sacrosanct, good enough the way it is, defiant of any other expectation placed upon it, we lose an opportunity to build on the momentum we have already achieved.

Perhaps, though, to do this, we might have to start taking ourselves a little more seriously. Perhaps it might mean embracing outside influences a little bit as well. We shouldn’t be afraid to do this if we believe that our experience as Sacramentans will undoubtedly stamp these outside influences with a uniquely Sacramentan mark.

It is also one of my observations that those who are so heavily invested in the past might be accused of not believing in the future. They would rather harbor their old antipathies so that their opposition might serve to enforce their old shopworn identities. How sad. I think that there is a word for this, too. It is “throwback.”

I know that Munger, like me, wishes for Sacramento to be a dynamic place to live, a place that people look to with envy, not only for its natural beauty but for its vitality. We are wary of commercial encroachments (as we should be) in Sacramento, but with literature, is this really a concern? Are we afraid that our lives will somehow be colonized if we let a little bit of the outside in?

Tim Kahl
vice president Sacramento Poetry Center

Josh, you swine!

Re “The music biz is alive and well” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Night&Day, April 3):

I happened to be in attendance at the industry panel mentioned in the piece, and I must say that Mr. Fernandez’s comments couldn’t have been more off the mark. It is apparent that Mr. Fernandez had a certain amount of loath for writing this article, as his caustic vitriol was a revealing look at his true feelings.

It is troubling to me when I read this type of journalism, as in this instance not for how Mr. Fernandez chose to express himself, but more for the kind of damage that it does to an already marginalized program at Sacramento City College. In portraying this event to be nothing more than a waste of time, Mr. Fernandez belittles the efforts that were undertaken by instructors, students, and panel guests to make this event into a reality. In fact, this event was very successful in its ability to present a viable insider’s view into the music business and how the panel guests are dealing with the current dynamic situation in the music industry today.

Narada Michael Walden said it best that night: “In this day when technology has all of us spread apart and isolated away from each other, now is when we especially have to work harder as a community to bring the feeling and spirit of being together, whether in the studio or not, back into this music business.” It is this kind of intrinsic knowledge that is “pearls cast before swines” like Mr. Fernandez. Fortunately, there were approximately 200-plus musicians, studio engineers and interested students in attendance that could have expressed more than the limited sarcastic remarks displayed in your periodical.

It is true that times are tough with the economy these days, and I understand if Mr. Fernandez was the only “competent” writer you could afford for this assignment. In the future, I would recommend that you might try to increase your journalist pool to include some of the more worthy students from local high schools, as they are just as competent and probably would work for free.

Jeffrey “Stromboli” Anthony

The editor responds: We received so many letters similar to Stromboli’s that we only have room to run them below.

Peak oil education

Re “Peak oil’s slippery slope” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, March 27):

This article was excellent and brings up some very pressing issues. Certainly the market’s failure to appropriately price oil has resulted in a world completely dependent on “cheap” oil and now the ride is ending.

There is awareness here at the California Energy Commission about peak oil, which is why the IPERS addressed the need to reduce oil consumption and promote alternatives. Of course, there does need to be a more unified message coming from all levels of government that a mobilization is needed to move away from our unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels. Hopefully, articles like yours will help start educating the public so that when policies are proposed, the public understands the basis for action.

Jared Babula
staff counsel
California Energy Commission

No answers, just attack

Re “Ten answers for McCain” (SN&R Letters, April 3):

In his letter, Ron Lowe states his fears for “President” McCain. Not the most careful reader, Mr. Lowe mistakenly attributes a comment from a California Democratic Party campaign adviser to McCain on the abortion issue.

Like McCain, a “President” Obama would have some high negatives. He evidently takes his foreign-policy approach from the movie The Godfather: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” whatever that drivel means (hey, Adolf—want a beer?).

Obama wants to bridge the racial divide but belongs to an Afro-centric megachurch whose former minister and friend lives in a $2 million house and preaches hate, anti-Semitism, victimhood and paranoia.

His political rise to state senator may have murky strings attached to it from indicted real-estate developer Tony Rezko, who enabled Obama to get a $1 million home.

Even his “community activism” may have helped Rezko in the low-income, sub-prime, fair-housing industrial complex of urban Chicago by using laws and regulations to push banks into vastly increasing their lending to sub-prime borrowers right in the middle of the golden age of the expansion of the sub-prime industry.

There is also his wavering on the rights of cities to ban handguns. This could be a problem; there are 90 million gun owners in the United States.

Finally, “Commander-in-Chief” Obama seems to be using the left wing and its cohorts in the anti-war movement to get to the White House. Once there, the strategic view of Iraq vis-à-vis Iran and its quest for nukes will have a much more chilling effect on his current presidential fantasies.

Dennis McMurray
Nevada City

Josh, stay after class!

Re “The music biz is alive and well” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Night&Day, April 3):

I have been a working musician and resident in Sacramento’s Midtown area since 1988 (I’ve been on the cover of SN&R twice). I am an instructor of recording arts at Sacramento City College and San Joaquin Delta College. I invited the National Academy of Recording Arts & Science to my college as an enriching experience for my students and to introduce them to working professionals from the Bay Area.

The event was inspirational and intended to motivate students to pursue the level of excellence at their craft necessary to be successful in the music industry. They also participated in a networking exercise with the panelists and other invited guests to develop their skills in cultivating professional relationships. Such activities are often lacking from collegiate music courses.

As a regular reader of SN&R, I was confused by your attack on the Grammy U event presented at SCC. Obviously, you did not contact anyone involved with this event at SCC or the NARAS. To clarify, Recording Industry Association of America is the organization concerned with the illegal downloading of music. The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences is concerned with excellence in the recording of music and sound. They are the organization responsible for the Grammy awards. There was an egregious error in your perception of the event.

Sarcasm is easy. Good reporting is not. You produced a mindless and inaccurate rant about music that was neither informative nor provocative. It was in poor taste to include reference to Internet porn in conjunction with an educational event at Sacramento City College. Furthermore, your piece was extremely narcissistic. The first paragraph alone contains seven references to … you. Perhaps a better approach would have been to merely list the time and date of the event as a service to your readership that is interested in such events.

As an educator, I feel it is important to understand your perspective as a journalist who writes about the arts. Perhaps you can help me to understand your negative perception of the recording industry. There are many legitimate concerns. It would then be possible to communicate them to my students, as they too were confused by your article. Even better, you are always welcome to come share your views about music with my class in person. My goal is to always provide my students with learning that is current and relevant in this very difficult industry.

John Villec

Porn and research

Re “The music biz is alive and well” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Night&Day, April 3):

I find the article about the Grammy U panel appearance at Sacramento City College to be completely ridiculous. I am a firefighter by career but have been a DJ for several years. As someone who has tried to earn a living in the music industry, I find it offensive that SN&R would even publish this garbage. I would think a company that makes its money from reporting on the arts would make an effort to support the arts, not encourage the illegal theft of intellectual property. The fact that Josh Fernandez has illegally downloaded countless hours of porn and music does not give him the credibility to comment on the condition of the music industry.

Because of attitudes like Mr. Fernandez’s, it has become next to impossible for small artists to pursue a career in the music business. While illegally downloading music might not extensively damage larger companies, it is the smaller companies and individuals that are being forced out of the music industry.

In addition, Mr. Fernandez commented that, “There are going to be some industry heavy hitters talking dirty about the music biz at this seminar,” which is about as far from the truth as one could be. I attended this seminar and found it to be very friendly and inspiring. At no time did Grammy award-winning producer Narada Michael Walden or Grammy-winning engineer Leslie Ann Jones “talk dirty about the music biz.” Instead, they provided very informative information on their own career paths, as well as information and advice for the audience regarding the pursuit of a career within the music industry. At one time Narada Michael Walden even offered for a member of the audience to work with him at his personal recording studio.

As you can see, this seminar was nothing like Josh Fernandez made it out to be, nor is the music biz “doing just fine.” I thought journalists were supposed to research the issues they write about. That was obviously not the case, unless Mr. Fernandez considers masturbating to illegally downloaded porn research.

Nick Cassar
via e-mail

Josh blows

Re “The music biz is alive and well” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Night&Day, April 3):

I would like to address the distaste I found in Josh Fernandez’s article about the Grammy U: State of the Mic Music Industry Panel presentation at Sacramento City College the other night. As an audio student there, I attended, was quite excited about it and was completely blown away by the time I walked out. They had some amazing things to say, having been in the business for years and years as it has continued to change. I’ve never felt as passionate about music as I did when I came home from that presentation and picked up the guitar.

So shame on you, Josh Fernandez. Know what you’re writing about before you criticize. And next time you feel like criticizing music, the people who make it and the people who immortalize it, save yourself some trouble—and blow it out your ass.

via e-mail

Josh is an idiot

Re “The music biz is alive and well” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Night&Day, April 3):

Ignorance is bliss, idiot. That’s my opinion on your article.

Jessica Reynolds
via e-mail

Pity the poor panelists

Re “The music biz is alive and well” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Night&Day, April 3):

I went to the Grammy U event and it was fantastic. I don’t know what Josh Fernandez was writing about, but it was definitely not the same event that I attended.

First off, the speakers were warm and genuinely interested in the people that showed up. We were just a group of students with dreams and hopes, but nothing to offer the speakers. Every last one of them extended themselves to encourage us and answer our questions in a way that lifted us up. You can’t imagine what this means to someone that is sitting there wondering if they even have a shot at living their dreams.

The panelists drove themselves all the way to Sacramento in rush-hour traffic to talk with a bunch of students that really had nothing to offer them. And then they all drove back to the Bay Area with nothing but our thanks. The panelists did it all because they are passionate about their craft. There wasn’t anything negative about the evening; it was amazing.

The point is: Josh Fernandez obviously didn’t bother to attend the meeting, and he certainly didn’t talk to anybody who did. If you are someone that has big hopes and wonders if you even stand a chance at making them come true, then come to the next Grammy U meeting. The panelist’s message was clear: Work your butt off, be ready to seize an opportunity and be passionate about living your dreams.

Carolyn Stephens

Adorable and annoying

Re “Here’s your stinking press, now stop calling me” by Eddie Jorgensen (SN&R Music Pick, January 10):

This story cracked me up!

I, too, have been awakened at odd hours of the night by a We Prick You text flier. The massive self-promoting fliers plastered on the “comments” section of my MySpace page are even worse, though. Marcus continued posting his show fliers on my page even after he knew I had moved to Mexico and was obviously not going to fly back to watch him wiggle his afro around Old I.

He is adorable and I admire his continuing strive to reach rock star status, but kudos for calling him out.

Desiree Danel
via e-mail

Art education is a good thing

Re “Improve Second Saturday” (SN&R d’Art, January 10):

It’s good to know that some of the local galleries are trying to do more in terms of educating the community about the different mediums of art.

Erica Joseph
via e-mail