Letters for March 13, 2008

Letter of the week
All-ages: Ignore the law

I just read Nicholas Miller’s “All-ages all over?” piece (SN&R Feature, March 6) on the all-ages music situation in Sacramento and have to comment on some things mentioned about the Loft, the underground venue I ran during the 1990s.

First off, the Loft was started by Craig Usher and me in a space above Time Tested Books. The early shows were heavily publicized and even listed in SN&R’s calendar. We ceased to publicize them when word of mouth was sufficient to draw people, not because, as my friend Rick Ele states, we had a skinhead problem or because of police interest.

In the 10 years of the Loft’s existence, we had five fights and four visits by the police. One fight involved skinheads beating up some guy who smacked his girlfriend. It was a one-time incident. The other fights were caused by random drunks or people who wandered in from the street who did not understand the Loft’s culture. The police were never called in to deal with any of these disturbances. Loft regulars were successful in policing themselves, and that included dealing with skinheads.

Of our four cop visits, one was thanks to a disgruntled patron dropping a dime on us; one because a tagging incident was blamed on us (the guilty party was someone not connected to the Loft); one was due to a drunk mooning cars on 21st Street; and the last came on a Sunday afternoon due to a phantom noise complaint, about the time that Midtown gentrification really started to kick in.

The last police visit signaled to me that the Loft’s run was pretty much over, that if I wanted it to continue I would have to fight the city. Having worked with Stewart Katz in the 1980s, I knew what that fight would be like, so I decided not to take it on. However, like Stewart, I stopped doing shows because I was burned out. Ten years was long enough to play “scene dad.”

It is unfortunate that Miller neglected to contact me for the piece. If he had, readers would have had a much clearer picture of what went down at the Loft, one that was more substantial than sensational.

They also would have learned the two main reasons for the Loft’s longevity: First, its patrons were entrusted to police themselves. We had no security and only three rules: Don’t smoke inside, don’t act like a macho asshole and don’t do anything to draw attention to the Loft. For the most part, those rules were willingly obeyed.

The second reason the Loft survived for so long was because it was illegal. From the onset, I made no attempt to obtain permits. Because it wasn’t a business, I had no obligation to get a business license. We did not serve alcohol, so there was no reason to get a liquor license. And I knew that asking for a dance/entertainment permit would just give the city an excuse to close the Loft down. So we operated clandestine, with no official sanction, had a good time doing it, and no one died.

Essentially, we ignored the law and we won.

Scott Soriano

Uh, what about the rest of the scene?

Re “All-ages all over?” by Nicholas Miller (SN&R Feature, March 6):

This article is written with blinders on for sure.

To ignorantly place the Sacramento “all-ages music scene” only in the downtown area is a huge disservice to the scene as a whole. There may not be all-ages venues in the downtown area, but maybe that’s because a majority of the underaged fans actually live in the ’burbs. The Boardwalk, Club Retro and The Underground seem to be doing okay. They are booking local and national acts.

And WCWW never got any recognition for their role in Sacramento’s hardcore scene. I find it troubling that not once in the article did it give a solution to this “problem.” It just sounded like a bunch of promoters crying because the all-ages scene has moved to the suburbs.

The Sacramento area has a thriving music scene at the moment. Just look at the new venues (although not all-ages) popping up around the area: Onyx Club, Fire Escape, etc. Also, you have local music promoters who care about the local bands. It’s not just a few promoters running things anymore. SacShows, Sith, Nor Cal, Supergiant, Adrenaline Trigger, Circle of 5ths, etc., are putting all of their efforts to make this Sacramento scene as big as possible.

It upsets me to see the ignorance of such great promoters of the past. It truly saddens me because I consider the scene “my baby.” That’s why in my logo, it says “Improving Your Scene.” This article might have hurt more than it will help.

J. Rossi

He hardly knew ye olde all-ages scene

Re “All-ages all over?” by Nicholas Miller (SN&R Feature, March 6):

This was a great article. It had it all: passion, violence, oppression … ah!

And what a bitter taste it left in my mouth. To know the history of a once rich and clandestine scene nearly made me cry. I’ll never be able to experience the raw thrill again. Or ever, I should say.

The few venues I’ve been to open to all ages (when they are) are contained and tame, full of people with something to prove and bully bouncers looking for a perceived threat to eliminate or a law to enforce by force. Old scene, I hardly knew ye, but I’ll grieve anyways.

Brian Williams

Judges bad all over

Re “Sacramento judge denies ‘disgracing the American Judiciary System’” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, March 6):

Thank you for your article on Judge “Chainsaw” McBrien. I work in the Washington, D.C., office of Justice For Children; we have plenty of opportunities to observe judges behaving badly.

One Maryland judge called both parents into his courtroom and told them to leave their attorneys at home. The mother was ordered to bring the two children in with her. The judge screamed at the boy, ordering him to look his father in the eye when he said good morning to him. When the boy started to cry and went to his mother’s side, the judge grabbed him and violently shook him, leaving bruises on the child’s arms.

The mother filed a complaint with the Judicial Disabilities Commission which, at first, seemed very interested in pursuing the complaint. Some months later, the mother was informed that the complaint had been dropped because the judge was taking early retirement.

Judges need much more scrutiny by the public than they get! Thanks for bringing some sunlight to the recall of Judge McBrien.

Eileen King, Justice For Children
Washington, D.C.

Judge not, lest ye …

Re “Sacramento judge denies ‘disgracing the American Judiciary System’” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, March 6):

I find it amazing that any publication could so easily publish such a one-sided piece once, let alone three times. I also find it amazing that Scheide still has a job. His ability to interpret the reality of a situation is lacking, at best. He argues the alternate side of his argument for a total of one sentence. Additionally, he has added nothing from previous articles to the current one.

What does this guy do with his time? I have an idea. After writing a letter to the editor following a similar article a few months ago, Scheide found me through MySpace, and looked to pick a fight. I guess a 45-year-old who has a MySpace page has nothing better to do with his time. After all, there are a lot of 45-year-olds on MySpace. I have seen their Dateline interviews.

The “Sacramento judge” has not disgraced the “American Judiciary System,” but SN&R has disgraced the “American Journalism System.”

Kyle McBrien
Palo Alto

The editor responds: To clarify, after we received Kyle McBrien’s first letter, we were curious whether he was related to Judge McBrien. Turns out he’s the judge’s son. Our search led us to Kyle’s MySpace page. On it was a photograph of a pile of copies of our August 9 edition, which included Scheide’s story “Judge dread” (SN&R News, August 9, 2007). Scheide then contacted Kyle to inform him that since emptying racks of so many copies is a crime, he should take the photo down. And after receiving this letter, I contacted Kyle to say that a recall campaign being mounted by citizens against a sitting local judge has indeed added something to Scheide’s previous coverage. R.V. would also like to state that he’s 48.

Help West Sac renters

Re “Here comes the neighborhood” by S. Howard Bransford (SN&R Frontlines, March 6):

Thanks to S. Howard Bransford and SN&R for the write-up covering our very serious housing problem in West Sacramento. Anyone wanting to help in the battle to preserve low-income housing can call me at (916) 375-0967.

Michael Breda
West Sacramento

Time to change

Re “Spoiler alert” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, March 6):

Cosmo Garvin has an excellent point regarding the need for instant runoff voting in presidential elections. That way we can really vote for whom we actually want, without playing the role of spoiler.

If IRV were in place, I’d love to see Ralph Nader in the presidential debates. Without IRV, the additional exposure would just steal votes from someone who might otherwise win. Of course, once IRV is in place for several cycles, today’s “fringe” candidates might actually have a shot at being elected.

I’ve been trying to convince CalPERS for several years to adopt IRV. It could save them up to $1 million for runoff elections. Incumbents like the idea, since it would save time and money in their own campaigns. Staff argues the Secretary of State has no process to “certify” IRV elections.

CalPERS can convince corporations to change their policies on global warming. Why can’t they get our own Secretary of State to be more cooperative?

James McRitchie, Publisher
Corporate Governance

Overpriced, impotent …

Re “A blown mind is a terrible thing to waste” by Matt Coker (SN&R Frontlines, March 6):

I’m very sorry that Matt didn’t become intoxicated from his use of Salvia divinorum during the Oscars, but I think the explanation is not that Salvia divinorum has no effect, but that, bluntly, he got bad shit. “Purple Sticky” Salvia is widely considered by the online Salvia community to be the most overpriced and underpotent commercial form of Salvia on the market, but for some reason, it’s the most popular in smoke shops.

I suggest that Matt buy some online from Bouncing Bear Botanicals; the “10x” standardized extract is only $15 (plus $5 for shipping on your total order). If that doesn’t work for you, then you may be in the approximately 10 percent of people who feel no effects from Salvia divinorum.

But before you try it again, make sure you read everything you can about Salvia divinorum, how to use it properly, how to prepare for it, etc. The best resource is www.sagewisdom.org, a site run by Daniel Siebert, who was interviewed for the Bee article; www.erowid.com also has great information and many testimonials about not only Salvia divinorum but also many other drugs.

Sam Fredrickson
Fair Oaks

… and just not enough

Re “A blown mind is a terrible thing to waste” by Matt Coker (SN&R Frontlines, March 6):

You didn’t do nearly enough. What you purchased completely ripped you off. If you barely felt a buzz, it couldn’t be more than regular, unpotentiated leaf. If you paid $40 for this, it wasn’t nearly worth it. My site sells it for a lot cheaper. This may seem like an ad for my Salvia. Quite frankly, I don’t care if you buy it from me or another reputable online vendor. However, I want you to understand Salvia’s potential.

It’s possible your body was just afraid of inhaling the smoke properly. That happened to me the first few times. Try it a couple of times. You won’t be disappointed.

You might be terrified, but not disappointed.