Letters for August 6, 2009

Letter of the week

Give artists the reins

Re “How Now, Horse Cow?” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R Feature Story, July 30):

Why is anyone surprised that Horse Cow got the boot the minute that the minions of entrenched power could find a way to shut down an arts collective? It would require representatives from a sane society—whether from West Sacramento, the county or the state—to find ways to keep Horse Cow up and running as a benefit to all of us.

But we don’t live in a sane society. We live in a bureaucracy, and bureaucracies and government in general hate anything that can mock, satirize, and anger with the power of imagination. Governments are run by men and women predisposed to want to run other people’s affairs, and, just as predictably, to dislike anything that hasn’t been processed, approved, categorized, labeled, and guaranteed safe. Take the psychotic clowns who brought us our latest state budget fiasco, and who now, with much self congratulation, claim to have solved the problem. They are fuel for artists who see through their shamelessness to the sham creatures that they really are. The sooner such troublemaking artists with their paints and music and words can be turned out into the street and regulated to silence, how much better for our rulers. Civilization is made safe once again from the vandals.

The only problem with that, conveniently overlooked by our oligarchic rulers, is the fact that the arts are civilization. They are our collective expression, and, if most art is transient and insubstantial, it’s the process itself that becomes our ongoing voice.

If we were smart, we would make half the rundown buildings in town into greenhouses for emerging artists, whatever their discipline. We would let them speak in whatever form they chose. The worst sections of town would flourish, and bad buildings would be occupied. Most would-be artists wouldn’t last out the day, but a handful would, to become our newest Duke Ellingtons, Jackson Pollocks, Merce Cunninghams and Arthur Millers. And we would all be the richer for it.

In a world where “no new taxes” muttered like a religious fanatic’s prayer passes as political leadership, we shouldn’t hold our breaths.

Lonon Smith
Rancho Cordova

Bottom’s up!

Re “New nude order” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, July 30):

Please, R.V.! I thought your column was titled metaphorically, and perhaps even ironically. Can you spare me the sight of any more literal bottoms?

Jan Kline

Lack of perspective on nude beaches

Re “New nude order” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, July 30):

I think the ban on nude sunbathing is disgusting. I am an occasional nude sunbather, and sunbathing at the beach is a great experience.

My largest objection is that once these privileges are taken away, they will not be given back. Overall, we are only talking, in California total, about a few miles of nude beaches in over 800 miles of coastline.

Thomas Ray

White hats, black hats, gray hats

Re “Wal-Mart’s white hat” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Greenlight, July 30):

“Sometimes, you can’t separate the world into white hats and black hats.” Interesting point. Now that you’ve learned this lesson and shared it with us, would you mind explaining why SN&R would run a completely polarized piece of propaganda like “Selling out local” (by Stacy Mitchell, SN&R Frontlines, July 16) in the news section of your paper?

Does [vonKaenel’s] statement mean you folks are turning over a new leaf, like vetting the whole story rather than just drinking the neo-hippie Kool-Aid? I, for one, would be interested in what your crack research team can find out about who’s financing the “New Rules Project” (five bucks [says] you find a major union on their list of patrons).

Michael Krebsbach

Prosecute the writer

Re “After the crash” by Ryan Neal (SN&R Feature Story, July 23):

What’s wrong with this story? The major point that everyone seems to have missed and glossed over is that a minor brought alcohol to this gathering. That is illegal! Why wasn’t Neal cited and charged?

Oh, poor baby—he’s such good friends with the imprisoned and deceased? I wouldn’t have this idiot for a friend. With friends like this, who needs enemies? There would have not been a tragic accident if Neal didn’t bring alcohol. Arrest this guy! Highlighting underage drinking on the Fourth of July is a travesty.

Anna Morgan

One bad choice after another

Re “One bad choice” (SN&R Letter of the Week, July 30) and “After the crash” by Ryan Neal (SN&R Feature Story, July 23):

I am sorry, but I cannot agree with Ryan Neal’s assertions in “After the crash” or Ms. Tricomi’s follow-up letter.

What happened was not the result of “one bad choice.” I am not trying to affix particular blame, but there were a series of decisions made, each faulty, that lead to this tragic outcome.

Among them: A decision by underage individuals that to have a good time on the river required alcohol; at the least, failure to notify the parents/adults that this was the plan, and at the most, [parental] complicity in that plan; an underage individual obtaining alcohol; the assumption that you could only have a good time if drunk, the only rationale for needing hard liquor to be involved; the lack of designated drivers with zero alcohol consumption (remember alcohol consumption is illegal at this age); driving 70 miles per hour on Folsom Boulevard, ever (the claim that there was no one else on that road on a holiday weekend is ridiculous. I know that section of Folsom and that is impossible. Not to mention speeding is illegal); inexplicably driving into the center of the road; and none of these kids deciding that any of this was dangerous and potentially lethal and either opting out or intervening.

We need to be smart and brave enough to make the right decisions, moment by moment, day by day. There were many opportunities for this to have been a happy, healthy day in the sun. I am so sad it wasn’t.

Steven Parry

Use story to talk to teens

Re “After the crash” by Ryan Neal (SN&R Feature Story, July 23):

This article provides an excellent opportunity for families to talk about the “choice one makes” in terms of drinking and driving, as well as getting in the car with a driver who has been drinking and driving. We have just recently had discussions with our son about the importance of making the right choice and not getting in the car with anyone who has been drinking, including an adult. Our son will hear from us that, at any age, we will be happy to give him a ride home and that he can call us at anytime, day or night, if someone has been drinking and is about to drive.

While it is a given to discuss with your child the importance of not drinking and driving and the added responsibility of being the driver of your peers, it is also equally important to discuss with your child about making the right choice when it comes to being a passenger in a vehicle with someone who is drinking.

This article should be copied and discussed in classes of junior high and high school students throughout our area as this scenario will unfortunately play out again and again amongst our youth. It is an opportunity for role playing in class to work through situations that inevitably will come up in most of our youths’ lives. What do you want your kid to do if one of their peers has been drinking and now will be driving your kid and others? While teaching your child about being a responsible driver, also teach them about the importance of being a responsible passenger and making the right choice when it comes to who they will allow themselves to be driven by.

Please thank Ryan for writing this first-person account. His article has the potential of helping others in making the right choice.

Tina Capozzola

Too bad he didn’t learn much

Re “After the crash” by Ryan Neal (SN&R Feature Story, July 23):

Unfortunately Ryan Neal has gained neither maturity nor wisdom in the three years since the tragic event. This is shown by his insistence that the crash was just an accident, that the driver’s sentence for manslaughter was somehow an injustice, and that follow-up legislation against booze on boats during summer holidays was mere political opportunism.

We all tend to think that under-age drinking is just an innocent right of passage. It is not. The laws are there because even smart people at competitive universities, like Ryan and his friends, too often do not have the judgment and maturity to deal with alcohol. The crash and the loss of these bright futures is the tragic result.

Dennis Gilliam

Earth first

Re “Cartoon” by John Kloss (SN&R Opinion, July 23):

John Kloss’ cartoon celebrating the Apollo 11 moon landing with the astronaut pointing toward Mars was enlightened, but before we budget to go on to Mars, we need to shine a light on the filth of the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, Malibu lagoon, and so on.

William J. Hughes

Send Schwarzenegger a (loving) message

Re “Down the drain” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, July 23):

I’ve got a couple of suggestions.

First, everyone should send Schwarzenegger (a.k.a. the Austrian Asshole) hearts. All kinds of hearts: stuff cloth, drawn on paper, or even metal sculptures of bull’s hearts, and tell him he needs to grow one of these.

Second, send him lots of movie-ticket stubs to remind him that he might not be as rich or as powerful if it hadn’t been for “special interest” people like the elderly and the disabled paying to see his movies.

Finally, it’s probably not possible to do scratch-and-sniff in SN&R, but I think you should print a full-page picture of a cup of coffee because every last man, woman and child in California needs to wake up, smell the coffee, and see Arnie’s intentions for what they are: to drive every last poor and middle-class person of California, then turn it into a rich-bitch paradise for himself and his fat-cat cronies.

D.M. Kirk

Make sure they’re legal chickens!

Re “Egg heads” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green Days, July 16):

Thank you, Sena Christian, for this story. I’ve been thinking about getting chickens for their eggs for some time, especially since finishing Michael Pollan’s books In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I wish everyone would read your article.

Thom Wallace
via e-mail