Letters for August 14, 2003

Bring on the recalls!

Re “Recall Death Match” by Jeff Kearns (SN&R Cover, August 7):

The comments of the two spin doctors certainly indicate why a significant number of eligible voters no longer go to the polls. I found their dialogue irrelevant to the major issue involved with the recall.

And their comments certainly explained the disgust many people have for the political process. Namely, how do we bring to heel the political class, with its supporting cast of spin doctors, fund-raisers, sycophant followers and arrogant elitists, and force it to start dealing with the critical problems facing California?

Perhaps we need 120 simultaneous recall elections.

James G. Updegraff III

It’s not paranoia if they’re watching

Re “FBI nabs suspected bookworm” by Marc Schultz (SN&R Essay, July 31):

I enjoyed this article, but it seems designed to make the public feel there are needless investigations performed by the FBI. Does your paper want to promote paranoia?

It’s possible the person who initially contacted the FBI about Marc Schultz may have misled them. The person obviously was concerned enough to follow him and get his car’s plate number.

We’ll never really know just what initiated the original complaint. The FBI checked it out and appeared to dismiss it once they verified Schultz’s harmlessness. No one seems to write essays about how the police investigate noises reported by the old lady next door; maybe if they dressed like guys from The Matrix or came in full body armor, we could get more paranoid writing published.

What would compel Schultz to write of a two-minute encounter with the FBI? I always enjoy SN&R, even though it rarely shows both sides of a story. I’d like to see more objective articles or at least some counterpoints.

Lewis Green
via e-mail

Facts and talk radio?

Re “Dueling egos of the AM dial” by Jeff Kearns (SN&R News, July 31):

I was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and caught a bit of Roger Hedgecock’s show from San Diego. He was saying how Gray Davis was helicoptered from a fire in Riverside to his home in Santa Monica. But Davis lives in West Los Angeles, not Santa Monica, and I began to wonder if they’re so reckless with other facts.

Of course, the electorate doesn’t know; they assume someone in those positions must be speaking truth.

Bill Collins
via e-mail

Visual fantasy, not magical realism

Re “Damned nation” by Mark Halverson (SN&R Film, July 31):

Mark Halverson, who has worked long and honorably for you as a film reviewer, has unfortunately misled your viewers with his review of Northfork. It is not a “very good” film, as his chuckling popcorn-bag icon indicates; it is a beautifully photographed artistic mess.

The makers are in love with their images, but their subject matter and their ideas are confused. The topic of the film is—supposedly—the building of a dam in Montana that will flood a small town in order to send power and water all over the area: a key subject in the modern history of the West.

This conflict between progress and old ways of life has been around since the Tennessee Valley Authority project, the Indian land flooded in upstate New York, and all the dam building in the West. There is a Mormon village at the bottom of Folsom Lake, for example. It’s a great theme.

Northfork does not exist in Montana or the real West but is just a visual fantasy about such problems. Almost all the townspeople have responded by “moving to higher ground” and taking the government reparations before the movie begins. The only people left are the symbolic characters of the “evacuators” (a scatological pun, I’m sure) and the few clinging to their land and homes, which include a guy who has built an ark and has two wives, as well as a guy who has nailed his feet to the porch to defend his land.

Walking, talking or crucified symbols rarely create drama, but they never work when they are supposed to deal with the issues correctly listed by Halverson: acceptance of change, independence, community and “the oft-ignored details of history.” These themes cry out for social realism.

How can you deal with social issues when all the characters and landscape are abstracted and treated as visual icons or simple, idealized virtues and vices? Throw in some costumed “angels” right out of Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real, and you have a series of scenes with little or no conflict. No conflict, no drama. For example, the conflicts that James Woods’ character and his son experience are played so flatly for image and “high concept” that we don’t care whether they move the people, whether they get their lakefront acre, or even whether they move the grave of their mother/wife. How can we? They don’t have any concrete existence, only abstract images.

By the way, the definition of “magical realism,” which Halverson also claims for this film, is, according to the great magical realist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “transforming the supernatural into the domestic.” It’s all in the homely and specific details of everyday life.

Charles Gregory

Found dog blues

Re “Dog gone blues” by Carol Terracina Hartman (SN&R News, July 31):

Much to my surprise, your article about a stolen dog named Jake turned out to be the dog that my boyfriend, Alex, and I took to the vet after a co-worker found him wandering in our office parking lot.

However, rather than focusing on how an owner’s persistent search after losing an animal can pay off, the article’s focus on dog abduction might lead people to think the worst of good Samaritans who attempt to protect the health and well-being of a lost animal.

Dog owners and animal lovers ourselves, we were just doing what we felt was right in our hearts and what we hope someone would do for us if we were in that situation. Our main concern at all times was the health and safe return of the dog.

A co-worker of ours found Jake running around the parking lot of our office building as she was leaving work. She attempted to contact the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to come and get Jake, but they refused to come out. So, she took Jake to her home for the evening and brought him back the following morning in hopes that his owner would come looking for him.

Everyone in the office fell in love with Jake, and there were plenty of monetary offers to take him home as their own. We felt that we shouldn’t give him away and that we should try our hardest to find Jake’s home. Alex and I decided that we would take Jake to our home because, unlike our co-worker’s seven large dogs, we had two small dogs that would make Jake feel less intimidated. We also lived much closer to the office and thought that if someone came looking for Jake, we could run right over and get him.

As we finalized plans for Jake’s temporary placement, we began to worry about his physical state. Because our parking lot backs up to Highway 50, we were concerned that perhaps he’d jumped from the back of a car and suffered a small fracture when he received many of his cuts. In addition, we were concerned that perhaps Jake may have been carrying some sort of virus or infection that could easily be transferred to our dogs.

I called many local vets to see who could examine him as soon as possible. All Our Pets Veterinary Hospital, around the corner from our home, could see him at noon that day. Alex and I took time off work to take Jake in, with no expectation of reimbursement for the cost, to make sure he was OK. We were ecstatic to find that Jake was the missing dog described in an e-mail sent to the vet’s office.

We left Jake at the vet’s office, along with our phone number and address so that the owner could contact us. We also took a copy of the e-mail from the vet back to work and proudly showed everyone that Jake had a home.

We never received a phone call from the owner—not even a thank you. It wasn’t until we saw this article that we even knew what happened to Jake.

Courtney Vasques

Salvation and good gas mileage

Re “What would Jesus drive?” (SN&R Streetalk, July 10):

He’d drive a Honda! It says so right in the Bible: “We shall all be in one Accord.”

Candy Tutt