Richard Hutchings
via email

All entries — not just the first 100 — are eligible for the T-shirt. We print only the first 100 entrants’ names with comments in order to give the production staff enough time to get them typed and in the paper. (The Reader is moving toward Wednesday delivery to all areas of San Diego by November.) — Editor

Culture Comes To Fallbrook

This note comes to say thank you, thank you, thank you for sending the Reader to Fallbrook! In one day, I ran across it in two places. Over the past ten years, we have driven to Escondido or San Marcos each week to pick up this weekly. My husband prefers “holding the paper in his hands” rather than using the internet. We love to read the reviews of theater and movies, and we were also interested in music when Jonathan Saville was reviewing for you. We hope, in the future, that you will be able to sustain a music critic once again.

I want you to know how much we appreciate you thinking of us up here in Fallbrook. We may be at least 50 minutes away from downtown San Diego, but many of us visit the city and environs each week and depend on the Reader for the information we need.

I’ve already told many of my friends where they can now pick up the Reader in Fallbrook!

Many thanks!

Branda Montiel

Rambo Tow

I would like to thank the Reader and reporter Joe Deegan for publishing my story of being towed at Midway Towne Center on June 3, 2009 (“Eat Here and Get Towed,”“City Lights,” July 9). I have now won a small-claims court case against Midway Towne Center with a substantial settlement by proving that they acted illegally by towing (or just about) my motor home while I was there to eat at Denny’s restaurant.

I would like to encourage all drivers to read Sections 22658 and 22953 of the California Vehicle Code. These sections are written specifically to protect the public from predatory towing and collusion with security companies, who in the past have used ridiculous and flimsy excuses to come into private parking lots and tow away and impound vehicles and then charge excessive fees to release them. The problem is that, even with the new laws, they are still doing this. The public needs to familiarize themselves with these two vehicle codes and keep a copy in their glove compartments so they won’t fall victim to very costly towing and impound charges after a tow truck gets hold of their vehicle on some trumped-up excuse.

One very important section of 22658, (g)(1)(B), reads: “Upon the request of the owner of the vehicle or that owner’s agent, the towing company or its driver shall immediately and unconditionally release a vehicle that is not yet removed from the private property and in transit.” In other words, the vehicle is not legally in the driver’s possession until he tows it off the property. If I had known this when my vehicle was illegally towed at Midway Towne Center, I would have called the police and explained that the driver was committing a misdemeanor. I did not know the law, so when I asked them to release my motor home, they refused until I paid them $235.

It is my hope that my experience will help others from being victimized by Rambo-type security guards who may be getting a kickback from the towing companies. The security employee at Midway Towne Center came pounding so hard on my motor home door that he cracked the window frame, and the judge awarded me $150 to replace that frame. When I showed that frame to Mr. Bernard, the owner of Midway Towne Center, he said to just put some stuff in the cracks and, though it won’t look good, it will stop water leaks. He bragged that he can tow a vehicle five minutes after it arrives at Midway Towne Center, but it’s not true. He just doesn’t learn.

Clark Waters

More from SDReader


SDaniels Sept. 23, 2009 @ 5:46 p.m.

To Mike Allen: response to his and author of the original article, Donaldson, in the claim that preserved human bodies in the exhibit "Bodyworlds," for purposes of medical education and display--"plastinates"-- are somehow 'dehumanized.' Of Donaldson's gesture of leaving a wrapped piece of candy before an exhibited plastinate as a religiously motivated gesture to stand in for a ritual of burial, Allen writes: "I applaud the author’s humanity, because after all, he really was a man." Yes, the plastinate in question was a man; a man who chose to donate his body for medicine and education, and who likely belonged to a burgeoning club of people who have put their names on a list waiting to be plastinated and displayed, or dissected for the benefit of medical study. Why not respect this man's final wish, rather than push your religious or knee-jerk humanist values on him, now that he can no longer speak for himself?

Mr. Allen, and Ms. Donaldson have clearly not taken any time to research anything about this exhibit, or they'd be raising a hue and cry about a different matter altogether: Gunther von Hagens used to have a lab in China, where he was accused of accepting or purchasing, knowingly or unknowingly, the bodies of Chinese dissidents for plastination. I do not know for certain if this was not the case, but have found no evidence to support it whatsoever, besides a few suggestive articles written for sensational value, and a brief skirmish in the press with his former student, who started his own exhibit, called "Bodies: The Exhibition." I do know, again, that there is a very enthusiastic following of would-be donors who are more than willing bequeath their bodies to von Hagens’ students; in light of this fact, that remains might be accepted under dishonorable or criminal circumstances makes little sense.

Should those rumors be completely untrue, then there are many more complex social and ethical issues we should be exploring here, including how exhibits of plastinated bodies mark a fascinating shift in social conceptions of the meaning of death, the ritual of burial, and the rights of the individual to dispose of him or herself in a safe, and even educational manner. Unfortunately, Ms. Donaldson’s article will be of use only as a reactionary opinion, rather than a thoughtful journalistic treatment of this subject, and Mr. Allen’s response adds nothing to it at all.

Let's be curious and question social phenomena with some intelligence, rather than immediately push our religious values or personal, unquestioned humanist ideas on others' very personal decisions about what to do with their own remains. At the least, honor the final wish of these dead, and learn--or at least allow others to learn--from their generous gifts to society.


PistolPete Sept. 23, 2009 @ 11:38 p.m.

Very well spoken SD. I too thought about the very act of placing the wrapped piece of candy. I'm on the fence on that one and most likely always will. I see it from both sides.


SDaniels Sept. 24, 2009 @ 11:39 a.m.

I should add that the gesture of placing the candy in front of the plastinate is a very effectively emotional one; most people, including myself, feel an instinctive connection with such a gesture. We are (hopefully) used to not having to question the fact that besides the obvious hygienic necessity of burial, death is quickly made to transform (cremation, embalming) and disappear, so that we may immediately abstract it, and transform it in our minds to memory of a life lived. Something like plastination is conceptually not that different from embalming, or any ancient ritual of preservation--it is the reason that it is done, and that the fact that death in this case does not disappear and remains visible.

We might think we are used to this kind of concept only in horror fictions, which strive to violate any and every psychological boundary possible for a cynical public surfeited with images of horror. But instead of the automatic run with the feeling that "it must be wrong," and then proceed to auto-filter the experience through one's particular religious or humanist lens, why don't we consider this phenomenon, and the process of polymerizing human remains for the purposes of study? If ethical boundaries are violated, it is much more interesting, and intellectually profitable, to bracket the personal for a moment, and look at this phenom qua phenom. (Btw, for a great study of a uniquely American fascination with and compulsion to preserve the signifiers of life, see Tony Richards' film "The Loved One").


SDaniels Sept. 24, 2009 @ 11:40 a.m.


Von Hagens' exhibit does another thing: It is "info-tainment" or "edu-tainment" in a way that crosses a line that makes people nervous and/or ambivalent. Is it really necessary to display these remains in the poses of the living? von Hagens has a macabre sense of humor, to be sure, and you'll find plenty of playful touches in the exhibit, such as the plastinate with a black lung holding a cigarette, or the horseman of the apocalypse-style display, with the horseback rider holding his own, and the horse's heart in his hands. Here is where we need to discuss the ethics of a line crossed somewhere between exploitation and education, and we need to look at it honestly. Boundary-blurring is a big market. We enjoy “reality” television, and the suspension of disbelief that contestants are really paid (and crappy) actors, not ‘authentic’ starry-eyed lovers looking for soulmates. We are increasingly accepting of the crossing or questioning of boundaries of race, gender, and religious practice—these are arguably good things. The blurring of lines between news and entertainment on CNN, “Faux News,” and “MisinformationBC,” not so great, perhaps. Plastinated bodies as “edu-tainment?” If we open earnest dialogue on the subtextual, symbolic significance of cultural events such as these, we may find some not so flattering conclusions about our abilities or inclinations to learn without the added effect of the shock value--but we might also become more open to understanding how we allow ourselves to be conditioned by it, how we create and react to cultural subtext, and how ultimately, we ask to be taught about the world around us.


drudolph Oct. 1, 2009 @ 3:49 a.m.

Re: Brett’s BBQ

Considering how many different reviews on said the same negative things about meat (dry, tough...), I doubt that this case had anything to do with "How long was that food sitting in the car before it got to her".


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