Letters for June 28, 2007

Tobacco story

Re “Smoked out!” by Ralph Brave (SN&R Feature Story, June 21):

This article is an example of journalism at its best. Brave took a complex policy issue—whether public universities should accept money from the tobacco industry—and made it understandable through a story about UC Davis professors who relied on tobacco-company money to do their research.

In addition to interviews with both critics and supporters of the policy, Brave did a painstaking and time-consuming study of letters and memos written by tobacco companies that he found in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. We invite people to look at the documents Brave used, and about 7 million more, that are related to the tobacco industry’s advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales and scientific research activities at http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu.

Kim Klausner
Library and Center for Knowledge Management

UC San Francisco

Puff piece …

Re “The American face of Islam” by Bob Schmidt (SN&R Feature Story, June 14):

The piece on Mohammed Abdul-Azeez—wow! A puff piece if I’ve ever seen one. The title should have been, “The messiah has arrived.”

George Rich
via e-mail

… but brilliant

Re “The American face of Islam” by Bob Schmidt (SN&R Feature Story, June 14):

I just would like to commend SN&R for the brilliant article recently published about Imam Azeez of SALAM.

Lana Tamimi
via e-mail

Matt sucks

Re “MIA” by Matt Coker (SN&R Editor’s Note, June 14):

Functioning as what once adorned the city of Sacramento, the Union, the journalistic challenger SN&R in the No. 2 slot supplies us who live here with a more independent and hence invaluable theatre of cerebral interaction. I have friends who actually swear by you. For myself, catching you in my peripheral vision—the frontal mien an assault of tacky, desperately “clever” come-ons, the back pages a full-color display of the whores who pay your bills—my embrace of you has been about equal in ardor to the hug given to a poor relative afflicted with leprosy. Case exhibit of all that is tawdry about you is offered in the Editor’s Note of your June 14 issue.

One wonders by what arts of slick chicanery this fellow by the name of Coker climbed to the dizzy top of your masthead. It’s beyond delicious to examine, as displayed in this column, what one high on the power-at-the-top will write when he can say anything he damn well pleases, and lets it fly.

Only run your fingers caressingly through this sensitive prose style. Attend the quaint turns of phrase that acquit him of the slightest taint of squareness: “Shiite happens,” “the gooey goodness we’d love to shove into your pieholes,” “we serpentine, serpentine” (as verb—clever, eh?), “this sparkalicious issue,” “a simply wang-tacular measuring stick.”

Ah! No mystery, after all. He is your perfect choice given your format: Your editor is a virtual Emperor of the Cutely Cool.

With such irresistible qualifications, never mind that the substance of his column emits the odor of our cat’s litter box after a spell of feline diarrhea. From his unappealable heights your mighty capo excoriates, deprecates and denigrates the very fruits his own husbandry has brought forth, closing out with the dismissive sneer, “So enjoy—or wait a week.” It’s really as though a little peahen, having delivered her brood into the world, turned and relieved herself over their heads, flooding the nest.

Perhaps the worst of it all, where discrimination simply doth not dwell, is how this little Caesar can belittle with this exercise in patronizing arrogance an essay of such scary significance, and so professionally written, that it can only be called a gem. Exactly such is the razor-sharp piece penned by Mark Drolette, who sounds the alarm to Northern California that Livermore lab rats are threatening to dump very death into the air that we breathe. It is this piece, while playing with his pathetic, tired pun “uranium/Uranus,” to which Mr. Matt Croaker awards the special designation of “sophomoric.”

Tom King

Matt rocks

Re “MIA” by Matt Coker (SN&R Editor’s Note, June 14):

Yo, Matt C. Loved your column: very witty, especially the “we here at SN&R aren’t ‘slaves’ to your ‘rules,’ maaan” comment (kind of retro-’60s).

Your paper is one of the best things in Sac. It always tells the other side and makes you think, laugh and sometimes cry, no matter what your political orientation. This ex-East Coast 52-year-old African-American/Puerto Rican socialist musician hopes you keep up the good—sometimes great—work.

Kamau Mensah

Bites’ understates

Re “State of disgrace” (SN&R Bites, June 14):

Bites’ comment about “do-nothing Democrats” is arguably this year’s understatement. Last November, in a rare display of reason, we voters overturned the neoconservative hold on Congress, only to see by this time zero/zip impact on public policy or on anything much at all. For instance, why are there not articles for the president’s impeachment under review in the House of Representatives?

“What for,” you say? The list is long, so I’ll abbreviate the president’s outrages in the interest of saving SN&R’s Letters space: lying the country into war; failing to heed warnings of an al-Qaeda attack; Cheney’s secret energy task force; the torture memo; Abu Ghraib; (lack of) Katrina response; billions “lost” in Iraq; failure to capture bin Laden; Jack Abramoff and friends; providing White House access to a fake reporter and hiring “news” stories; voter disenfranchisement; Walter Reed; reducing veterans benefits; failing to reform social security and (it seems) immigration; the Patriot Act; bill-signing “statements”; environmental degradation via relaxed EPA regulations; warrant-less wire-tapping; Pat Tillman; the air at Ground Zero; outing a CIA covert operative; shorting soldiers and vehicles armor in Iraq; illegal contracting/payments to firms such as Halliburton; and firing federal prosecutors for not doing political bidding.

Enough? I’ve likely forgotten a few. And, yeah, I know, were he involved in a sex scandal, our current president would be “toast.”

“Impractical waste of time,” you say? Perhaps, but nothing much else is going on in Congress these days, and it would at least have some symbolic impact, letting the world know that we Americans have regained our senses after seven years “off-course.”

Chuck McIntyre

Bravo, Bites

Re “State of disgrace” (SN&R Bites, June 14):

I was happy to see Bites point out that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was involved in the California Legislature’s decision to force divestments from Iran. As Bites points out, this is an act of aggression, even though Iran has done nothing illegal and has never even threatened violence against us. However, Dick Cheney, the neocons and the Israeli right are itching to preemptively (illegally) bomb Iran—with who knows what fearful consequences.

So it’s of life-and-death importance to point out that Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never threatened to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” He did say, quoting another Iranian religious leader, that like communism, “Zionism [which is not Israel as a whole, nor the mindset of all or even most Jews] will disappear from the pages of time [history].”

Likewise, rather than denying the reality of the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad claims that Israel uses that horrific event to justify its aggression against other states in the region.

If the U.S. bombs Iran, it will be thanks to the evil of the Bush administration, the tragic cowardice of the Congress and the power of the Israeli right—not because Iran is a threat to us.

Jeanie Keltner

Oh, sooooo Sacramento!

Re “Hiding out in Sacramento” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Feature Story, June 7):

Normally, I only pick up your liberal rag to see who’s playing in town and to read Brezsny’s horoscope. But I was attracted to this article, which was not your usual rhetoric about marriage for Sodomites, abortion on demand and relentless hate speech about the “religious right.”

I don’t believe the author was around in 1967. I was; 18 years old and in the thick of it. When something in this town is extremely lame, the crowd I run with says, “That’s sooooo Sacramento.” That statement sums up this article.

You interviewed Linda Parisi, who was a cheerleader at the time. I’ll bet she could tell you all about the post-game high-school dances, but not many concerts. I still have my ticket stubs for the Monterey Pop Festival (June 1967, Saturday afternoon show) and its ersatz Sacramento shadow, the Sacramento Pop Festival.

The story didn’t mention the Falasouf Shop, where we hippies got our incense, rolling papers and hip-wear, or the Sound Factory, Sacramento’s homegrown version of San Francisco’s Fillmore and Avalon Ballroom. I still have an original poster-handbill of Pink Floyd’s concert. Of course, you were correct in saying that one had to venture out of Sacramento to go to a really hip venue.

Still, there was no mention of the two-day show at the merchandise mart in the old fairgrounds, which hosted Buffalo Springfield, H.P. Lovecraft, the Troggs, the Mojo Men and many others.

The hostile attitude toward any non-“middle-of-the-road” culture and the ongoing efforts of [then-] Sacramento County Sheriff John Misterly and his goon squad to suppress any of that “San Francisco hippy crap” have made Sacramento the cultural desert it is today.

Tommy Johnson