Letters for March 18, 2004

What punk jerky looks like

Re “Hardcore devotion” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Cover, March 11):

One-two-three stop!

Isn’t it cool when people get old and chubby and wrinkly and yellow-eyed, but they still love to act exactly like they did when they were 13?

I’m probably not the only person who’s wandered into a model-railroading show—by accident, of course—and seen all the “seniors” in their B&O Railroad overalls. The playful togs aren’t evidence that the wearers aren’t geezers—it’s proof positive that they are.

To me, the sight of an old punk-rocker is like those Los Angeles women who refuse to age, so at 50 they get fake tans and boob jobs and wear Bebe, and all I can think is: That’s what girl jerky must look like.

No disrespect to the trailblazing 7Seconds, but part of me wants to say, “Silly Seconds, punk is for kids.”

Charlie Barnes

When tough meets dumb

Re “Three strikes, he’s in” (SN&R Essay, March 11):

The “three strikes” law is, indeed, a misguided concept.

Removing flexibility from the criminal-justice system is not the solution. We can’t operate on the premise that there is something wrong with our judges and jury system. The prison system is already overtaxed and does not need tough but dumb laws that add to the burden.

As Eugene Alexander Dey’s essay clearly points out, the law leads to grossly unequal judgments that treat people who are as much victims as criminals in the same way as the most violent of offenders.

Paul Kekai Manansala

Webster’s truth or dare

Re “A Bush wedgie” (SN&R Editorial, March 4):

There is an easy solution to this lingering debate over who can be married, one that is much easier than some may like to admit.

But first, I will say that a faction of our society has been willfully making a mockery of this ancient institution of marriage in recent years, and especially lately in San Francisco.

For all the people still struggling to define “marriage” and “matrimony,” I ask, please, pick up the nearest dictionary and turn to the letter “M.”

I dare you.

Robin Herman
Fair Oaks

Thanks for the writing (but lose the typing)

Re “No one home” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, March 4):

Thank you for this excellent article. It was well-researched and well-written. This is a service to the community.

Also, providing the space free of charge for information on Building Unity in Oak Park is a significant contribution to the effort to restore Oak Park to its status as a stable neighborhood and is a tangible contribution by SN&R to the entire community of Sacramento. Again, thank you.

In regards to Harmon Leon’s essay, “I was a young Republican,” SN&R has a wide readership, and I’m sure there are readers who found this entertaining. I can only refer to Truman Capote: “This isn’t writing; it’s typing.”

Sharon Goodnight

Thanks from a space cadet

Re “Never mind NASA” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, February 26):

I wanted to take a minute and thank Cosmo Garvin for this article.

I enjoyed it very much—so much, in fact, that I am going to go to one of the L5 meetings!

I would love to go up in one of John Powell’s balloon ships. What a visionary he is!

Anyway, thanks for the article, and keep ’em coming. Kudos to SN&R for inclusion of so many diverse things in the newspaper.

Tom Porter

No thanks to green beer and SN&R stereotypes

Re “Take your best shot” (SN&R “Tour O’ Pubs” Promotion, February 26 and March 4):

As an Irish-American who has drunk deeply from the invigorating spring of Irish culture, I am dismayed to see SN&R trot out a stale St. Paddy’s Day promo like “Tour O’ Pubs,” in which the day set aside to honor Irish tradition becomes an excuse for a commercially motivated pub crawl in which the participants don plastic green hats and dutifully drink themselves silly.

To catch the reader’s eye, the “Tour O’ Pubs” ad features two young women in standard-issue leprechaun outfits holding a bottle of booze. It then offers readers a chance to “win a cool prize” by submitting a photo of their St. Patrick’s Day celebration, which must include a sign of the bar in which they celebrated.

Such a shallow and ignorant misrepresentation of Irish culture is par for the course in corporate America, which too often reduces cultures to their lowest common denominators and then attempts to make a buck off of them.

In the past, the Irish have been depicted in the American media primarily in stereotypes. Nineteenth-century newspapers almost dehumanized the Irish, and comic-but-still-demeaning images of Irish drunks and simpletons persisted in Hollywood movies well into the 20th century. Now it is time to throw out such images along with cigar-store Indians, Mexicans asleep under oversized sombreros, and other stereotypes that serve only to misinform.

In this promotion, SN&R is doing its readership a disservice by promoting an empty, inauthentic celebration instead of opening the door to the delights of the real thing. Instead of promoting barhopping as Irish culture, direct your readers to the satisfying tradition of poetry, drama, music and storytelling the Irish have woven.

Some good ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day would include reading James Joyce’s The Dead, renting the Katherine Hepburn/Jason Robards video of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, listening to either traditional or contemporary Irish music, or maybe going to see the recently released film In America. It’s fine to have a drink or two along the way, but don’t do it because you’ve been programmed by corporate advertising to believe that this is what it’s all about.


Brian Michael Hassett
Meadow Vista

Now we’re talking good green

Re “Shocking truths” (SN&R Bites, February 26):

We found the recent SN&R Bites column referencing the Business Environmental Resource Center’s (BERC) Sacramento Area Green Business Program to be mostly positive and informational. Accordingly, we trust that the intent of the notice was to bolster community awareness of the Green Business Program, which encourages, supports and rewards any business in the pursuit of environmentally efficient avenues of doing business.

As with many new programs, the initial program focus is small. We are currently targeting automotive-related businesses, but we plan to expand to all business sectors by the end of 2004. Participation in the Green Business Program will not only allow businesses the opportunity of discovering a “silver lining” in the cloud of regulations, but will deliver positive returns for years to come to the business itself, our local communities and our collective quality of life in Sacramento.

We appreciate SN&R’s interest in the program and invite readers to visit our Web site at www.sacberc.org.

Marcy Barnett
coordinator, Sacramento Area Green Business Program

SOA’s not-so-civil actions in Haiti

Re “A civil action” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R News, February 12):

This article on School of the Americas [SOA] couldn’t have been more timely.

A recent U.S.-backed coup forced democratic Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile. Historically, Haitians have received training at the notorious “School of the Assassins.” It is also clear that U.S. intervention and military training of Haitian fighters has continued beyond SOA training. In fact, several of the leaders of the armed rebels, including rebel leader Guy Philippe, who has proclaimed to be the head of the new Haitian military, have received U.S. military training within the last eight years.

The current crisis in Haiti is the direct result of overt U.S. policies that have supported Haitian fighters and the Haitian military. In 1915, President Wilson sent Marines to Haiti to protect Americans and American interests. This led to a de facto U.S. occupation and control of Haiti for nearly 20 years, during which the resident U.S. naval commander dissolved the Haitian congress. Since then, the U.S. government has been actively supplying former Haitian dictators, death-squad leaders and paramilitaries with U.S. military training and CIA training, some of which has taken place at the infamous SOA.

Question: If U.S.-backed coups can happen in Colombia, Venezuela and Haiti, what might happen right here in the United States? Think “Homeland Security.” As citizens, we should thank Leisa Barnes and Elizabeth Bradley for their “civil action” in putting their necks on the line for real democracy. Please show your support by calling Peace Action to ask what you can do to help and reading www.democracynow.org for updates.

George Holden