Letters for April 26, 2007

Ride a bike, save the world

Re “5 things Sacramento can do to save the planet” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature Story, April 19):

Getting on the bus is good, but getting on the bike is better. A good transit system is essential, but biking is cheaper, cleaner and healthier. And biking is a great way to get to transit. With a bike, there are zero emissions: no ozone precursors, no particulates and no greenhouse gases.

More trips now in Sacramento are made by biking and walking than by transit. If we made cycling safer and more convenient we could move toward European (and Asian) levels of bicycling. After all, our climate, at least until it gets too hot, is better than northern Europe and Sacramento is amazingly flat.

We need more complete streets that are safe for everyone to use. We need a bikeway network that eliminates the significant barriers—such as getting across freeways and rivers—to bicycle use.

We need political will and more enthusiastic, happy cyclists to make it happen.

Walt Seifert
executive director Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates

Violence, American style

Re “Death, American style” (SN&R Bites, April 19):

As the administration rushes in to confirm Second Amendment rights, we’re faced with the bottom line in such tragedies: the usual grief, outrage, analysis and—also as usual—no (zero, zip, nada) action on gun control.

Guns are plentiful and easy to get in America (an estimated one for each of us) so supply way exceeds demand. If there is interest in gun control, the NRA, lack of votes and our addiction (to use our president’s vernacular, and he should know) to violence all work to prevent it.

As the NRA argues in defending Second Amendment rights, “Guns don’t kill people; people do.” Law-abiding hunters need AK-47s when trying to kill quail, deer, elk and assorted other small and large animals—it’s their constitutional right.

But our predilection for violence also seems part of the problem. Even Michael Moore, in his documentary on Bowling for Columbine, which compared America (lots of guns, lots of killing) to Canada (lots of guns, little killing), concluded that it was America’s tradition of violence, stimulated by our media, that makes the difference.

Violent media? Surf through the cable-channel movies and network shows like CSI: for every city in the U.S. and you’ll likely find that many feature the use of handguns and automatic weapons to solve every conceivable human dispute. Always artfully done, of course: The aerial shots of a city are beautiful and violent shots in the streets are awful—thousands of rounds of ammunition, explosions, blood, guts.

The media is all over the Virginia Tech incident, the campus a virtual media campout for days. Self-anointed experts like Larry King, Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper and other talking heads will explain why the killer did this and how we can avoid being shot dead—“see this ‘insight’ on the news at 11”—scaring the crap out of most normal people.

But next week the media will be onto the next crisis, and this one will be all but forgotten, that is, other than by the friends, relatives and those involved at Virginia Tech who, it seems fair to say, will always remember it.

Chuck McIntyre

Everyone’s a critic

Re “Shlock and awe” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Film, April 12):

You may have seen some of their collaborations in the past: such films like Four Rooms, From Dusk till Dawn and Sin City. Such is the case for their latest project Grindhouse, a modern version of the low-budget style trash and exploitation films that notoriously made their way to many small and seedy art deco movie theatres across the nation in the 1970s to even the present.

This double feature comes with eye-candy goodies and awesome movie trailers that I really hope come to life in the future as full-length feature films (MACHETE, Don’t and Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, to name a few), even if it’s straight to DVD.

It starts from the sexy striptease of Rose McGowan, then moves to conflict, then tension, then all-out anarchy. Josh Brolin’s role as a doctor carries the tenseness and gloom of the film, at times, and Tarantino’s role as a soldier in this film is unforgettable once watched, and I guarantee you it is not for the squeamish.

Tarantino gives the audience a punch in the face with Death Proof. To sum up this film: Muscle cars, foxy ladies, murder and comedy all rolled up into one. McGowan’s role in this film almost reminded me of the blonde-headed character played by Asia Argento in the Dario Argento film The Stendhal Syndrome. If you have ever seen that film and see this one, you may see the similarity. Kurt Russell once again pulls off a great role and even though he’s not all up there in this film, he still manages to have the audience laughing.

I sure as hell was laughing and had a good time at this movie. Who really cares about movie perfection? After all, like past “trash” films, they were anything but perfect. That’s what was so fun about them.

Lighten up a little, Jonathan Kiefer. I’m sure back in the day Scorsese had his fair share of naysayers and haters that didn’t like his style of filmmaking, either. But, like Tarantino, do you really think Scorsese gave a damn who didn’t like his work?

Darrell Glenn

Join Rhonda …

Re “A mother’s prayer” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, April 12):

Thank you so much for the article spotlighting Rhonda Erwin’s struggle. She is an inspiration to us, and we support her efforts to break the cycle of violence.

Rhonda has dedicated so much of herself to the future of this community and turned her pain into positive action. We are pleased to have her as a member of the Valley Hi Youth & Adult Coalition and have joined with Rhonda in her fight to ensure a safe and healthy future for young people in Valley Hi. We encourage other concerned members of this community to help us in our efforts to strengthen and revitalize Valley Hi.

Briana Peacock
People Reaching Out

… and pray

Re “A mother’s prayer” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, April 12):

Thank you for your article on Rhonda Erwin and her fight to destroy the roots of youth violence. Especially poignant were the words: “There’s hope, so you fight. If you’re Rhonda Erwin, it’s the only thing you know how to do. Amen.”

And when I read the title, I thought of a godly woman from 3,000 years ago. In 1 Samuel in the Old Testament, Hannah cried out to God in bitterness of soul for a child. In God’s time, her prayer was answered. So my heart tells me that as Rhonda continues to cry out to God on behalf of her son and others, the Lord will bend down and listen and answer in a way that will be beyond anything she could ever ask or imagine.

God’s ways are not our ways and it just may be that God has brought Rhonda to her knees so she can storm the heavens with her prayers and touch the heart of God, who indeed does ride the wings of prayer.

Terry McDermott

Deeply troubled

Re “A mother’s prayer” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, April 12):

I am deeply troubled by some misrepresentations made in this story about my close friend and colleague, Karol Repkow. The story appears to be a loosely edited freeflow of both facts and fiction narrating how Rhonda Erwin’s son “wrongly” pleaded to a criminal charge of which his mother says he is innocent. The author presents Ms. Repkow as an attorney who personifies the “system,” which Ms. Erwin wants to blame for her son’s outcome.

Anyone familiar with Ms. Repkow would know that is not the case. I personally observed Ms. Repkow work tirelessly on this case from the time she was appointed until the time the case was resolved. She put in such effort and energy that, at one point, I mentioned to her (after watching her work nonstop for several evenings and weekends) that she had put in much more time and effort than any individual would ever rightfully expect of an attorney, and that she needed to maintain her own health in the meantime.

Ms. Repkow smiled, said thank you and continued working.

That is how she operates. In the nearly 10 years I have known her, I have never observed anyone more dedicated to their clients. In addition, Ms. Repkow dedicates a great deal of volunteer work to assist homeless clients, as well as nonprofit organizations. Ms. Repkow in no way personifies “system.”

It is troubling to see SN&R allow such a one-dimensional story, one which strongly warps the facts and attempts to represent the parties involved as stereotypes. Not only is the story plain wrong once you know any of the actual people involved, it also is a shallow misrepresentation of the sadly gray and complex scenario that surrounds both this case and most young criminal clients.

A mother’s struggle with her own willingness to accept the outcome of her son’s case is a natural consequence, but not justification for this unprofessional bash against another community activist such as Ms. Repkow. Such an attempt is not journalism; it should have been labeled a letter to the editor from Rhonda Erwin, if it was printed at all.

Kelly Tanalepy

Cruel month, cool arts supplement

Re “The cruelest month” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R d’ART, April 12):

All of us at Toyroom want to thank you for taking the time to put together the preview article on the “Time Capsule” show in SN&R.

To tell you the truth, I’m not just saying this because of what you wrote about us. The whole package was thought out and well-written with awesome pics—and then just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I flipped to the Canvassing column. What a treat.

A special thanks to whoever is the brain child behind the Second Saturday art supplement d’ART. Keep up the good work.

John Soldano
Toyroom Gallery