Letters for January 4, 2007

Papers should find their audience

Re “Greedy vultures” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Feature Story, December 14):

I agree with vonKaenel in all aspects except one. Daily newspapers can provide a valued service if they want to and can still be purchased with subscriptions and as dailies.

The secret is providing news and articles about events and things that people want to read about. While it is true that we can get most of the information from the Internet, we cannot get it all nor can we get it without doing a lot of work and going to a lot of Web sites. The daily newspaper can provide all of this information to us in a complete package so that we can read what we want and ignore what we find unpalatable or boring.

I have been a reader of the San Jose Mercury News for many years. It was a very good newspaper until it was bought out by Media News. Now it has no interesting articles that are not better covered on TV. It also dumbs down the audience so that it is written to the lowest level of intelligence. I find myself annoyed by the lack of valuable information in what was once a good daily newspaper. I consider dropping my subscription, but keep hoping that someone else will come along and buy it and turn it back into a real newspaper.

Al Minard
San Jose

‘Personal’ papers

Re “Greedy vultures” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Feature Story, December 14):

This article reflects my views, especially with regard to how “accurate” information is valuable and will be paid for. The question is how to market information.

Print media seems to be going to infotainment, blindly following the broadcast media.

As a 55-year-old news junkie, I dislike reading through 10 inches of ’tainment to glean a half-inch of info. I was brought up on the idea that news is simply the who, what, where, when and how of an event, or simply the time, place, form and event of a happening. Adding opinion or altering any of the above rapidly decreases the value of the information.

I would enjoy being able to buy only those articles from reporters I’ve found reliable. My “personal paper” of just the articles I trust would be about four sheets of paper, and as I’d want it sent to my e-mail (to read on my cell phone); this would incur minimal cost in distribution.

Billed as a base subscription plus a charge for each reporter I wanted, a news organization should be able to easily survive. And I could have reporters covering just my immediate neighborhood, something no mainline paper would even attempt—like a small town paper of the past.

Richard Otten

How much land is it OK to take?

Re “Carter babies the Palestinians” (SN&R Letters, December 14):

Jordan Magill responded to John Freeman’s “Mr. President: ‘Tear down this wall’ ” (SN&R News, December 7) by stating that President Carter should stop “infantilizing” the Palestinian people and hold them responsible for their own situation, etc.

Mr. Magill’s letter is typical of our country’s perspective on the Israeli/Palestinian situation for the last several decades. While few people condone terrorism, few people also condone a virtual prison for an entire population. The Palestinian people are powerless to stop the steady encroachment of Israeli “settlers” on the occupied West Bank. The West Bank now has over 200 settlements with hundreds of thousands of Israeli “settlers.” These illegal settlements are connected via roadways that do not allow Palestinians access to their own land. The Israeli wall is being built on occupied lands which separate the Palestinian people from each other. Hundreds of roadblocks have been set up by the Israelis on occupied lands, which greatly limit movement by the Palestinians.

So far, that adds up to 10 percent of the occupied lands, but that doesn’t mean the Palestinians can move around on the other 90 percent. And when is it OK to take “just” 10 percent of someone’s land? Also, Israel has not stopped building settlements.

Mr. Magill suggests that the Palestinians should just shut up and accept whatever Israel decides to give them. Would Mr. Magill do that if a foreign power did the same thing to Sacramento? No one should have to live in the conditions Israel has forced upon the Palestinian people. And regurgitating the same old tired “solutions” will not bring peace to the Middle East. Moving the Israelis back to the 1967 borders will.

Tom Barcus
Cameron Park

Stupid religious wars

Re “Bitter bouquet” by Alison Rood (SN&R Essay, December 14):

Alison Rood’s essay about a Jewish host being seriously offended by an innocent (perhaps ignorant) gift of a poinsettia plant just reaffirms my belief that religion breeds intolerance and has been the cause of more and bloodier wars than any other cause in the history of human kind.

When are we going to evolve beyond the bullshit of “My god is better than your god”? Or “Your tribe sucks. Ours rules”? Ignorant, ignorant people! Grow the hell up! All the “holier-than-thou” people in the world make me want to vomit!

War is terrible. Religious war is just stupid.

Rob Vernon

More on ‘roos

Re “Miracle on K Street” by Becca Costello (SN&R Nothing Ever Happens, November 30):

I recently returned from a vacation to Australia and read with interest your article regarding Westy, the mascot kangaroo at Downtown Plaza. There was a tone in your article suggesting that the kangaroo is not always the most suitable mascot for all occasions.

Kangaroos are amazingly fast and very cool. At one point, while pursuing a photograph in Australia, I backed a mama kangaroo who was carrying her joey in her pouch against a fence. Feeling uncomfortable, Mama Kangaroo got out of the jam by springing, from a standstill, her full height. She jumped completely over the fence, joey and all, and in two bounds disappeared into the forest. Kangaroos are not only amazingly fast and cool, but they can quickly escape trouble, too. They are truly admirable animals.

The kangaroo is the best non-carnivorous mascot imaginable for all occasions. Every sports league needs at least one team with a kangaroo mascot (plus a wallaby mascot, for the sake of variety).

Marc Valdez

No center, just torch bearers

Re “The agitator” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Feature Story, November 30):

My comments regarding this article is not a complaint about B.L. Kennedy at all, but rather a disagreement about the notion that poetry in Sacramento has a center, or someone at the center of it, pushing it, being a primary catalyst—a most important figure.

Sacramento has a very diverse poetry scene ranging from very culturally aware spoken-word artists to poetry purists, from activists who use poetry to motivate and move people toward a cause to people for whom poetry is the cause, from humble poets who think of themselves as nothing more than vessels or promoters of freedom to poets whose poetry is their freedom, those who live and die by the word. In reality, this diverse community of poets is not a single coherent force thinking, acting, and working together for one cause.

It’s different for everyone, and depending on the flavor you choose, the center of that particular universe or the catalyst will be different than that of other circles. In the circle in which my poetry was refined, B.L. Kennedy was a nonexistent entity. That’s not a knock on him, but a reality—different circles, different universes, different purposes, different people. For me, the catalysts were Mario Ellis Hill, Straight Out Scribes, Guy Ollison Lamont, Vincent Cobalt, Samuel Eniguez, Angelo Williams, Khiry Malik, Marianna Sousa, Angela Boyce (who is largely responsible for bringing slam poetry to Sacramento, God rest her soul), Phil Goldvarg (God rest his soul) and many others.

This same community has bred new catalysts, such as Flo-Real, Rodzilla, Patrice Hill, Supanova, He Spit Fire and a whole host of young poets who are very dynamic and doing wonders in terms of moving Sacramento in a positive direction. By the same token, we can very easily get into trouble to think any of these very dynamic poets listed above are the backbone, the center, the most important figures in Sacramento poetry, much the same way we can get into trouble bestowing B.L. Kennedy or anyone else with such a lofty title for such a dynamic and diverse community.

In terms of the film, I have not watched it, but wish him well in his endeavors. I will say, however, to be careful in terms of thinking that this film is the first film of its kind, being that poetry is underground by nature. Who is to say definitively that another underground entity in another city has not already done this same idea with limited funding and thus limited publicity and exposure? I will agree that this is probably the first in Sacramento, and stop there.

We are mere carriers of the torch; let’s not get confused and begin thinking we are the flame.

Sean King