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Real Life

How appropriate to run your excellent lead article about how texting and twittering are now ruling the world (“You’re Standing Right Next to Me,” Cover Story, May 28). At the onset of summer, when I was the age of the children in the article, summer meant freedom. There were Nancy Drew books to be devoured from the old shelves in the attic, woods to run through, dolls to play with, plum trees to climb, jump ropes, bikes, kick balls, ten-cent ice cream cones, seven-cent popsicles to split with my best friend Rita, the latest Archie or Little Lulu comic book. We neighborhood kids would run all sweaty from morning to night and finally wind down by catching lightning bugs under the starry, humid summertime sky while our folks visited on the front stoop. This was the 1950s in Cleveland, Ohio.

After reading your tragic story of a society that’s lost control of its children, I feel like I lived through magical times. I feel very sorry for our current crop of plugged-in, tuned-out youngsters, who only seem to live “vicariously.”

Phyllis Hordin
Normal Heights

Power To The Palis

This is in response to the letter “Wise Up, Guys” by Michael Isaacs in the May 28 edition.

Mr. Isaacs, truth is victim to your propagandizing in support of Israel.

Israel as a state was accomplished by a U.N. resolution in 1948 that forcefully displaced the Pali Arabs from their lands and homes to make way for the return of Jews to their biblically claimed homeland following World War II. The Arab group of persons now called Palestinians was and is under occupation in the West Bank and in the refugee camp known as Gaza. It is with U.S. financial aid and support that the Palestinian people have remained under siege by Israeli military in what can only be called an effort at eradication of the Arab Palis backed up by Israel’s biblical claim of land given by God.

Persons in refugee camps and occupied territories do not enjoy having their own governments or currency. As to borders, language, religion, those lands are historically the possession of Arab persons who speak Arabic and practice Islam.

The U.S., Britain, and France are responsible for the reconfiguration of borders in these Arab lands, beginning with the breakup of existent empires in the early 1900s and with the creation of Israel in 1948.

I think it’s time to rescind the U.N. resolution of 1948 creating the state of Israel, unless the Pali people are granted immediate relief via statehood.

Lorna Garrison


The name of the author of “P.B. Underground,” which appeared in last week’s Reader, was misspelled. The author’s name is Jon Campbell.

Fun Like A Car Crash

I recently relocated to North County, and I look forward to the Reader every week; I purposely leave it outside on my deck so I can savor it a little at a time and make it last longer, rather than reading it cover to cover in one sitting. This has become a ritual of mine, and I love it.

My peaceful enjoyment of the Reader was rather rudely interrupted with the May 21 issue; specifically, the abominable cover story written by Thomas Lux on San Diego’s Zirk Ubu troupe (“Bless This Crew of Visionaries”).

That Thomas Lux is a published author is a simply horrifying thought. I have never read anything in writing anywhere that is as awful as Lux’s article; quite frankly, I usually don’t read what I don’t enjoy. However, after I tossed the entire Reader aside after the first page of the cover story, I found myself returning to it; I was as transfixed as a rubbernecker passing the scene of a brutal accident.

It took me five days to finish Lux’s written upchuck, and a tremendously painful five days at that. Not only was I forced to deprive myself of the rest of the excellent columns by the Reader’s outstanding staff and contributors (because it’s just not in me to skip around), but every single passage Lux wrote grated on my senses and my education so painfully it was like being locked in a room of fingernails scraping chalkboards. I could not believe the Reader would publish such amateur drivel on the heels of last week’s excellent investigative piece on the new owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune. I still can’t believe it — and I am not alone. A brief survey of friends, family, and neighbors found an overwhelming majority of people that agree this cover story and its author are asinine.

Where was the editor? This “article” reads like it was written by a fifth grader, and a condescending one at that. It was not informative, entertaining, instructional, or enlightening in any way. The couchsurfing cover story from two weeks ago was a fabulous article — not because I’m into the subject; I didn’t know what it was before I read the article. But guess what? The article entertained me, informed me, enlightened me, and told me how to go about couchsurfing if I was interested in doing so. Earth to Thomas Lux: I might have been interested in seeing the alt circus had I been able to read about them and what they do and where I might catch a show. I have no desire to know the real names of alternative circus troupe members (and it’s in very poor taste that against at least one of the troupe’s wishes, Lux published that Justine’s last name could be found on the troupe website after she specifically requested he not publish her name — although he never listed the Web address); who they’re sleeping with; what the sexual orientation of each member is; what the audience at their shows are wearing (by the way — Lux’s article didn’t tell me anything pertinent about the troupe, like where and when they perform); now, thanks to Thomas Lux, I have no desire to see Zirk Ubu. Ever. I could never see this troupe perform without hearing Thomas Lux’s erratic, disjointed, grammatically incorrect, punctuation-abusing words flipping through my head while I watched them. Never have I read something that so blatantly ignores the basic rules of grammar, nor witnessed as much perverted punctuation (rampant run-on sentences, frequent sentence fragments, misused colons and commas, and a written landscape littered with idiotic exclamation points and overused parentheses) as I did in Thomas Lux’s written bowel movement.

I sincerely feel a disservice has been done to Zirk Ubu and to the loyal followers of the Reader, both by Thomas Lux and by the editorial staff of the Reader. This article is a turn-off in all respects; however, in the hands of a capable writer, I’m certain it would not only be a captivating read but also a crowd-generator for the Zirk Ubu troupe. If I can expect more cover stories or major contributions from this condescending buffoon in the Reader, or if the editors plan to “phone it in” again, then I will no longer be a reader of your magazine.

Wendy Cryingwolf
via email

A Couch In Riga

I read Rosa Jurjevics’s article (“The Whole World Sleeps on My Couch,” Cover Story, May 7) and noted her interest in Latvia and couchsurfing. I was in Riga in November and met some couchsurfing hosts there who showed us around the city. The hosts were great, and Riga was nice but expensive and sort of sterile. Doubt I would go back.

Kenneth Peterson
via email

Deep Fresh Air

After reading another negative letter about the cover story “Searching for San Diego’s Sea Turtles…and a Job,” your April 30 cover story by author Nasreen Atassi, I felt that I must take a moment of my time and respond in her defense. I absolutely loved her story and felt it was a breath of fresh air. The theme of this story is much more than job markets and sea turtles. It goes much deeper. If you read between the lines, you will see that it is a story of our world and its sorry condition. Great job, Nasreen! Keep up the fantastic work. You have a unique view and style that is greatly appreciated by those of us who can see beyond the obvious.

via email

Too Much Reaction!!!

For the record, I live in Normal Heights, not Talmadge, where the Reader erroneously placed me (Letters, May 6). My letter knocking Nasreen Atassi for her April 30 essay about looking for a job while doing purported research on sea turtles in San Diego has gotten more reaction than the letter was worth. In online comments it ranged from Lisa Leitter’s very measured and witty defense of Nasreen to a moronic post from NotQuiteADiva who uses exclamation points like a ten-year-old!!! In hard copy, I got a nice seconding from Gail Powell and, just this week, an anonymous “must be jealous” dismissal from Krishnamurti in La Jolla.

I was angry not because I was supposedly all befuddled over her “misty vapors” comparison of her own situation with that of the turtles but because she seemed to betray a disdain for anyone who actually stayed with or had a job — in an article half about a job search. Secure in the warm effluent of her parental home, Ms. Atassi is free to float through it all and blow off any job she deems beneath her, but anyone who actually sticks it out is a tool and a loser? Exactly.

If the Web comment from one of her sources is genuine, then the framing mystery about why the sea turtles hang around San Diego (“They just are”) isn’t even a mystery. In the article, ecologist Jeffrey Seminoff allegedly says the attraction of the warm power-plant waters is a rumor, but in his online comment after the article he states that Nasreen “botched the information that I provided” and that the turtles “ABSOLUTELY key in on the warm water effluent.” You gotta wonder exactly who was “rushed” in their exchange. But I guess if she had realized there was no mystery after all, the tenuous connection between herself and the sea turtles disappeared altogether.

Regarding narcissism and any who accuse me of throwing the term around to be highfalutin, please take a look at answers.com/topic/ narcissism. Three of those definitions are applicable to the term as I used it, and I admitted to the condition myself. No other word with less syllables fit — sorry, NotQuiteADiva!!!

I stand behind everything I wrote, without requiring Name Withheld in La Jolla’s gutless anonymity. I just am.

P.S.: Why print anything a writer won’t back up with his/her own name? What possible danger was avoided?

Neil Allen
Normal Heights

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NotQuiteADiva June 7, 2009 @ 6:21 p.m.

Well, you got one thing right – you definitely are a narcissist! It’s all about you!! Clearly!!!!

(Whoa! Is that too many exclamation points for you to handle? Sorry!!! Oops!!!!)

What you fail to comprehend is that some of us like to encourage young writers rather than try to break their spirits. In the face of a culture that has turned disrespect of aspiring artist into some sort of perverse sport, I feel a little pat on the back now an again is the least I can do. Sadly, there are legions of your ilk that seem to gain great satisfaction from hulling hurtful bile at aspiring young artist. Why this is I do not know, nor do I care. Never the less, I will continue to stand in the face of the haters and offer encouragement to young artist the best I can.

Are any of you with me?


David Dodd June 7, 2009 @ 6:45 p.m.


Credit Neil with leaving his real name, at the very least. Nasreen got a lot of support (although some of us had a little fun at her expense), but criticism is part of the writing process. I'm not sure if you've ever braved the waters, but I can tell you first hand that rejections (and harsh criticisms) are part of it. I wish Nasreen the best of luck, but the Neil's of the reading world are every bit a part of what makes a writer good, or often better, in the long run. Neil can rip my stuff anytime, I'm just sort of encouraged that he doesn't hide behind an anonymous hedge.


NotQuiteADiva June 7, 2009 @ 7:23 p.m.


You are 100% correct.

Yes, I have braved the waters, which I think is the reason why I tend to rise to the defense of artists rather than criticize them. Criticism is important, with out a doubt, but I think when a writer is first starting out, support is even more important!

Yet for the haters of the world this is never a consideration. For them it is just an opportunity to hurt, to lash out and thereby somehow empower themselves. I don’t understand this and I hope I never do…


Neil Allen June 8, 2009 @ 2:32 p.m.

NQAD Angry! Why so angry? My letters had to pass through an editor to see print, which means that someone thought enough of my writing to publish them—just like Nasreen’s article. Aint no thing, maybe, but on the web-comments page, anyone with an account can vomit out their bilge, string up a bunch of clichés, tacky insults and bad grammar and get it uploaded. (See?!?) Jesus, take another look at your first comment above and see if it couldn’t benefit from some judicious editing. Write something coherent (and decent) to the Letters Editor and get it in print, if you want to get your point across to more than me and refriedgringo. (“Are any of you with me?” crickets) I’m thinking last week might be as long as the Reader is willing to draw this out, but if you switch to decaf for the space of a letter and write with your heart and head instead of your bowels and anus, they might go one more week. Trash me as payback for Nasreen, if it’ll make you feel any better. I’m over it, myself, so have the last word. But your writing would have to do it, not the heat of your expression, or your desire to save already-paid writers from any criticism. Nasreen Atassi lost no sleep or money from my letters, and (in print at least) any negative comments anyone made were balanced out by positive comments. No one got hurt, as far as I can tell, and Nasreen will continue to write no matter what anyone thinks of her, like any good writer. She’s not an aspiring artist—she was published: she IS an artist.


NotQuiteADiva June 8, 2009 @ 3:01 p.m.


You are right. Why did I waste even a moment on this? The perils of being drunk and bored on the internet…


David Dodd June 8, 2009 @ 3:10 p.m.

Mr. Allen,

I think it's a defense mechanism. I certainly understand NQAD coming to Nasreen's defense, I've been writing for a while now and I'm pretty quick to come to the defense of a new writer. I can tell that Nasreen is new, her paragraph structure needs tightening and she overuses certain words. But I think that if she keeps it up and listens to certain criticisms, and painfully edits what she writes, she could be good. Really good.

Nasreen is very descriptive, a couple of passages were exceptional that way, and her use of a turtle as a vehicle to carry her personal story was clever, even if she didn't accurately convey certain details from the interview with the marine biologist. And there are some certain aspects of her life that are quite fascinating. I can't imagine the Syrian/American cultural difference, it's probably very profound.

Regarding the employment, the first thing that comes to mind is Charles Bukowski. I am a huge fan of the late and great Bukowski, who toiled in a post office for years until he finally realized the dream of his true calling, writing. As for me, I've worked my tail off all of my life in jobs that I mostly hated. Bukowski made it bearable, he hated the mind-numbing work he was forced into just to eke out a living. Nasreen is not alone, Mr. Allen.

Writers need to be criticized, and I'm very glad that you're willing to do it. But sometimes they need to be defended, too, and I'm glad that NQAD is here to do that as well.

  • Dave

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