Letters for March 9, 2006

Minor work of genius

Re “Clerks” by Noel Neuburger (SN&R Feature Story, March 2):

I’d just like to say that I’ve been enjoying the higher quality of articles and writing to be found in SN&R lately. This week’s cover article, “Clerks,” is a minor work of genius. It is interesting, amusing, accessible—in short, the sort of thing I’m looking for in a local newsweekly.

Also, the re-emergence of R.V. Scheide has been great. He is one of the more talented and insightful writers on the Sacto scene.

Holly Calderone

Love to shuffle that jazz

Re “Harlem shuffle” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Bring It Home, March 2):

Jazz musicians don’t seem to ever get the respect they deserve, and many documentary films themselves have become pretentious and exaggerated of late. Those two observations intersected in my mind this week when I read SN&R.

It was refreshing to read Jonathan Kiefer’s review of Jean Bach’s 12-year-old documentary, A Great Day in Harlem, a film simply about the taking of a photograph. Bach delivers a well-informed and dedicated film piece about a time and place that no longer exists in the true sense of the phrase. When I first saw this film, I felt like I was actually there in Harlem on that day, truly transported in time to another place.

Harlem is not just about the numerous giants of jazz that were assembled on that great day, but the serendipitous event in the life of photographer Art Kane. This film, along with Clint Eastwood’s 1988 documentary Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser, captures the attention of non-jazz fans like no other jazz documentaries. Sorry, Mr. Burns; 12-plus hours is too long even for lovers of jazz.

Like Kiefer, I also liked the assertion from jazz writer Whitney Balliett in the DVD liner notes that “jazz musicians are the least pretentious artists on earth.”

And that’s no bull.

Mark Hanzlik

The good ol’ days of no credit cards

Re “You’re going broke!” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, February 23):

Your article on bankruptcy, predatory credit-card companies and the pro-business/anti-consumer sentiment our elected leaders have taken with easy credit is very timely.

I tell my own children of a time in the not-too-distant past when I was in college and getting a credit card was nigh-near-impossible. I pine for a return to that day, but sadly that is long gone.

In the past year, our 17-year-old daughter has gotten 10 different credit-card offers at teaser interest rates, with accompanying crushing penalties and unforgiving fines that would easily lure someone into a lifetime of credit debt. Because the banking industry now holds the cards, one missed payment or late payment can and will result in a shot credit rating for a youngster’s foolish early dalliance with easy credit.

As parents, we now have the additional responsibility to teach our children of the pitfalls of easy credit like we would talk to them about drugs, drinking, promiscuity and being honest and productive citizens. While I am a firm believer in personal responsibility when it comes to personal debt, I also believe that we as consumers have been stripped of the protections one would normally expect in a society that prides itself as “world-leading.”

A lifetime of debt just might be the modern-day equivalent of the debtor’s prison that our Founding Fathers opposed when they declared independence from England. I, for one, pray we can avoid that!

George Kostyrko
via e-mail

Voting with the remote

Re “Hands off my remote!” (SN&R Guest Comment, February 23):

The American Family Association’s (AFA’s) well-publicized efforts to cancel The Book of Daniel before the first show aired succeeded in getting me to do something I never do: tune in a new prime-time show. I was intrigued—until the show actually came on. I don’t know how or why I sat through the whole thing. It was partly disbelief, I suspect. How can a prime-time show be this bad? How can a distinguished actress like Ellen Burstyn participate in a project like this? One thing I knew: This show would not last.

The AFA’s objection (“Where are the family values?”) was predictable, but my reaction had nothing to do with their concerns. The show had too much turmoil and too many emotionally cacophonous situations; the characters were too eccentric; just too much all around—except for Jesus. Ms. Rivers touts the show’s Jesus character as “soft-spoken and forgiving.” In fact, he was an unmitigated lightweight. You just don’t see him founding a religion with a worldwide following and a 2,000-year history.

Touchy subjects don’t doom a show if it’s good. Look at Seinfeld. Some of their stuff was amazingly controversial, but they got away with it. Why? Because the show was damned funny and entertaining and therefore hugely popular. AFA-like objections, if there were any, would have been drowned out in a heartbeat.

I firmly believe that Ms. Rivers’ remote was taken from her not by the AFA, but a viewing public that collectively held its noses from the show’s opening scene.

Richard Lavelle

Bourgeois is cool …

Re “What would Jesus read?” by Brent Bourgeois (SN&R Essay, February 23):

Thank you for this article. I welcome any coverage that lets your readers know that not all Christians are angry, right-wing liberal-bashers. I am hopeful Mr. Bourgeois becomes a regular contributor to SN&R.

Gaylen Halbert
via e-mail

… or just confusing

Re “What would Jesus read?” by Brent Bourgeois (SN&R Essay, February 23):

I wonder if anyone else found Brent Bourgeois’ article as confusing as I did.

First, he quotes scripture as authority against “vain babblings,” and then he engages in the supreme vanity of putting words into the mouth of Jesus!

He announces himself to be a “follower” of Jesus, yet he doesn’t tell us anything profound he may have learned in his diligent study as a disciple of his leader (lord). Instead, he denounces the work of others, calling it “trash” and calling them “purveyors” of “hate-mongering garbage.” Aren’t finger-pointing and name-calling blatant violations of the teaching of Jesus?

The rhetorical question of his title—“What would Jesus read?”—begs a thoughtful answer, which he does not deliver. Instead, he dumbs Jesus down and reinvents him as a political radical who is reading the denounced garbage. Huh?

They say you are not supposed to add or subtract from the scriptures. I guess once you have accepted the Bible as its own proof source, you may broaden your phylacteries and make it say whatever you want.

What would Jesus do? What did Jesus do?

Mike Jackson
Citrus Heights

Happy campers at Rancho Rancho

Re “Ground zero” by Claire St. John (SN&R News, February 16):

I am a resident of Rancho Rancho, and I love it. The portrayal of my home as a place littered with crappy cars, dead animals and trash doesn’t sit well—with me; with any of the other residents; or even with Gil, the only resident who was interviewed in depth for the article. What real reporter writes a story about a place with several residents after talking to only one of them? And that one happens to be only a part-time resident.

I would ask Ms. St. John to do some real journalism next time she decides to publicly describe someone’s home, and I would ask the editors of SN&R to require good journalism and good writing from their reporters.

Tod Kershaw
Rancho Cordova

Where’s the vandal bait?

Re “Bait and swish” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, February 16):

Very cool article about the high-tech trap Jason Cecchettini set with the Sacramento Police Department (SPD) to catch a bicycle thief!

What I’d like to know is how in the world he got SPD to not only cooperate, but to use helicopters and patrol cars in the process! Our car was recently shot up by some local thugs in our townhouse complex. Not only do we have an eyewitness who actually saw them in broad daylight discharging a firearm at our vehicle, breaking the window and putting holes in the door, but we have surveillance video footage showing who the thugs are and where they live!

SPD has not done a thing. They won’t even send a patrol car out to get the video and arrest the thugs (who, by the way, are very easy to find—they are always loitering outside in front of the complex, staring down every car that drives in). We also have reason to believe that these are the same thugs who keep breaking into our cars and vandalizing the buildings.

We are hardworking, taxpaying, law-abiding citizens, yet SPD refuses to give us any help in this matter. So, reading about Mr. Cecchettini’s sting operation, I was quite surprised that SPD would go to such lengths to catch a bicycle thief but would not do a thing for a crime that caused much more monetary loss (thousands of dollars vs. a bicycle loss in the hundreds) and was much more threatening.

Do I need to be the owner of a company, as in the case of Mr. Cecchettini? Do I need to promise coverage in SN&R? Do I need to move to a different city or jurisdiction in order to be safe and to have justice on my side? What can I do?

Rachel Gillis

Start him up—on a bike

Re “Start your engines” by Becca Costello (SN&R Nothing Ever Happens, February 16):

I really enjoyed the “Autorama” article. Thank you for reaffirming that those of us who choose a car-less lifestyle are helping the planet as well as ourselves. Costello did an excellent job of spelling out many of the benefits.

Kenneth Richards
North Highlands