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Funny, Cool, Short

Re “Nothing Normal About It” (Cover Story, May 13).

It’s a good story. Pit bulls will be always brave and strong, and I love pit bulls. They’re really nice dogs. The story’s kind of funny, you know, it has a little sense of humor. It’s one of the shortest stories I’ve read in the Reader. I was expecting a little bit more, but it just ended with mariachi singers, which I thought was kind of funny and cool. Happy birthday, ­Grandma!

Dr. Greenthumb
San Diego

Hearts Warmed

Laura McNeal’s story about Mr. Benjamin’s Cotillion was terrific — humorous, sensitive, and so well written (“Don’t Look Down,” Cover Story, May 6). I read it aloud to my husband and he agreed. We hope to see more articles written by this talented writer. How could any San Diego parent not relate to this heartwarming ­story?

Sue Streeper
via email

Dinos In Perris

Re “Ricardo Loves Dinosaurs…” (Feature Story, May 6). The lady who did it, Jeannette De Wyze, wrote a really good article. It’s very nice. I don’t know if you’ve ever done an article on the Perris Jurassic Park, but it’s a pretty nice place to go to. I would encourage everybody to take the children ­there.

Kimberly Howard
South Encanto

She’s No Group

Kudos to Naomi Wise for actually making it past the second straight review without hurling racist bile at a Mexican cook preparing food she deemed inappropriate given his heritage. Then again, this La Jolla high-society princess wannabe never lets facts get in the way of her faux hipness. In “Sensual Spa” (May 12), the song she quotes is from Little Peggy March (“I Will Follow Him,” circa 1964). She was an individual singer, not a girl group! What a wonderful world it would be if we could place Wise under house arrest and confine her to a trailer park in Lakeside for life. ­Jeez…

Tony Cooper

Naomi Wise responds: Wow, somebody’s got a great memory! I’d totally forgotten Little Peggy March. I assumed she was a “girl group” because I remembered the heavy vocal backup (definitely more pretty girls than one on this record). A recent compilation includes her version in a CD of Girl Group Greats, so I guess I’m not the only one to conflate Miss March with a ­multitude.

From The Legal Side

I completely agree with Todd Gilbert’s response (Letters, April 22) to Maribel’s depiction of the Minutemen and her characterization of the illegal immigration problem in general (Letters, April 8).

Contrary to what Maribel and perhaps many people who support illegal immigration may think, not everyone who opposes illegal immigration is racist or ­white.

My family legally immigrated to this country from Asia back in the 1980s. A few years ago, my parents and I finally obtained our ­citizenship.

One facet of the illegal immigration debate that I think people tend to forget is the perspective of actual legal immigrants. I know I do not speak for all legal immigrants, not by a long shot. I do know, however, that many other legal immigrants I have met and know share my sentiments when I say that amnesty for illegal immigrants is ­wrong.

There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people all around the world who would like to come to America, many of whom are trying to do so the legal way. To grant amnesty to illegal immigrants would be a smack in the face to those would-be legal immigrants by allowing illegal immigrants, who broke our immigration laws, to cut in line in front of everyone ­else.

It would be akin to the loud, obnoxious family who shows up at a busy restaurant and demands seating only to have the management cave in and seat the family ahead of other people who are patiently waiting in line for their ­table.

I firmly believe not only that illegal immigrants should be deported but that the employers who knowingly hire them should be prosecuted as well. Under criminal laws related to illegal drugs, the government can seize a house, car, or other items used in connection with the manufacture or distribution of illegal ­drugs.

Similarly, I would go so far as to say the government should apply similar forfeiture laws to businesses who are caught knowingly employing illegal immigrants. I think if a business is found to be knowingly employing illegal immigrants, the government should be able to seize the property and building upon which that business does ­business.

Lastly, I will end with a famous saying that says if you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you. The Mexican government may like to point its finger at Arizona and anyone who dares speak out against illegal immigration, but the Mexican government should look at its own laws as well before it points its finger at ­anyone.

For example, did you know that Article 27, Section I of the current Mexican constitution states that only “Mexicans by birth or by naturalization as well as Mexican corporations shall have a right to acquire legal domain over lands, waters, and their ­accessories”?

Furthermore, illegal immigrants in Mexico may not even be afforded due process under Article 33 of the Mexican constitution, which states that “the Executive Branch [of the Mexican federal government] shall have power to expel from national territory, without a trial and in an immediate way, any foreigner whose presence is considered to be inconvenient. The foreigners shall not participate in the country’s political ­affairs.”

Those two articles are only the tip of the iceberg of Mexico’s hostility towards illegal immigrants within its own borders, so I find it incredible that the Mexican government has the audacity to accuse anyone of racism or discrimination simply for seeking to enforce immigration laws and deport illegal immigrants. In fact, there is not a single country in the world to my knowledge that does not have immigration laws. I know of no country that allows people to come and go as they please, completely ­unchecked.

Name Withheld
via email

Good Job!

It was nice and refreshing to read an article on Jehovah’s Witnesses that was factual and without bias (“Sheep and Goats,” April 8). Mr. Lickona did a very nice job on his article. Thank ­you.

via email

Flat’s Where It’s At

I know this may be an old debate, but here we go again. I am more a fan of the old stapled binding for the Reader because it can lie flat. I know the high quality of your literature and service to the community hasn’t changed, even though a binding is supposed to project some pretense, but consider these advantages of flatness. It is easier to read whether held in the hands or on a table, since no text gets tucked in close to a binding that needs wrestling and taming and training to be flat. It can double as a placemat and consequently is always in front of you on the kitchen table (all right, I’m single— what about it?). And finally, after the week is done, or longer, the flat Reader can be kept in one’s shop or garage, and the appropriate number of pages easily removed and used for all sorts of things when you need newspaper, and they’ll still end up in the recycling bin. And isn’t flat less expensive to produce? Flat keeps you around longer. Flat is greener. Flat is where it’s at. People of San Diego, Rally around ­Flat!

Rob Gworek
via email

I Flip You Off

I have not picked up a copy of the Reader for many, many months. Actually, since the “Classic Reader Format” has been reduced. Nowadays, the Reader is worthless. That’s actually a compliment. More like worth nothing, as my, and anyone’s, slow-speed thumb-flipping of the pages proves to show that the majority of the Reader is display ­advertisements.

Why not just stop completely the Reader and advertise— your ­market?

Name Withheld by Request
via email

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Russ Lewis May 19, 2010 @ 1:08 p.m.

Mr. Cooper,

So how does Naomi's information contradict yours, or was this just an opportunity to show off what you knew?

Feel free to bash people who choose to live in a smaller home or to live in East County.


David Dodd May 19, 2010 @ 2:05 p.m.

The "Letters" section is one of my favorite features in the Reader. Two things I can always count on: The number of people who become emotionally invested in the words and opinions of a food or movie critic, and countless complaints concerning the quality of physical contsruction and advertising content of a FREE magazine. Everything else in the "Letters" section is pure gravy on my biscuits.

The craft of a critic is not in soliciting business nor advising against a product. Presumably, critics have partaken of what they write about to the point where more comparison can be drawn than by those of us mere mortals who cook at home or prefer a good book to a movie. The idea, then, is to entertain; opinion, contrast, and descrption are offered in order to put the reader inside of the critic for the event. It isn't politics.

As for the physical contsruction and advertising content, I reckon it balances out when one considers the very affordable price of the Reader. The big ol' stapled model was sweet, but magazines are downsizing in more ways than one in order to try to stay profitable. I imagine that the Reader probably had no choice but to follow the model of other similar publications, because presses seem to be standardizing in order to offer competitive pricing. And the ads, you know, if not for those wonderful pages to flip through, there wouldn't even be a "Letters" section to entertain me.

But by all means, keep them letter comin' and give me something to look forward to on Wednesdays.


SDaniels May 20, 2010 @ 12:47 a.m.

re: #1: Darn, Russ, ya beat me to it. Well put, my man.

re: #2: Wow, refried, you also beat me to it. Feel like I can relax and go take that bubble bath with you guys on the job over here. :)

I will add a few comments just before jumping in that bath:

refried wrote:

"The idea, then, is to entertain; opinion, contrast, and descrption are offered in order to put the reader inside of the critic for the event. It isn't politics."

I agree it isn't politics, but politics is in it at some level, even if not the motivation for the writing. It is a byproduct of any opinion on any subject. I would say that even literary criticism that is focused on matters of "pure" aesthetics, as opposed to say, an approach from cultural studies with its primarily sociopolitical concerns, still cannot escape some trace of political inclination. 'Course, this is being a stickler, but…:)

As for the politics behind such letters as written by our dear friend "Ron Tyler" (of letters of April 22), I have to quote this guy in full, because it is really remarkable:

"[Duncan's] attack on The Last Song is an attack on me and my tastes and preferences. When he describes as insipid, sparkless, and dreck the movies I like and prefer, he is implying that my tastes and preferences are insipid, sparkless, and dreck, when in reality it appears that this Duncan guy is the one who is insipid, sparkless, and dreck".

Oh man, I can't help but quote this tidbit, too:

"Why can’t you get a movie reviewer with heart, human emotions, and family values who knows and believes in real, kind, patient, unselfish, heroic, self-sacrificing, enduring, and committed love to review G and PG movies and let the so-called movie reviewer Duncan Shepherd review R- and X-rated movies."

You could say that it is just the sharpness of this guy's insecurities that explains why he takes a film review as an attack upon himself and his “preferences.” He does end by attempting to redeem himself with a little scatter of literary references, as if to say “Hey, I know I might seem sort of dumb to attack this learned reviewer, but looky, I’m the real gentleman scholar!” But what forms and fuels such cuh--razed insecurity? The guy tells us himself--it is his social values, which tell him that this movie is "decent," or that one "R-rated" (which seems to sum up his scale for judging cinema). He is insecure that a negative review of a movie he liked (a whole lot, apparently) contradicts his religious and social perspective that must have been upheld by that movie—shorthand for this would be, of course, "family value,"--and all the attendant complexity--including a growing sense of social oppression and tyranny for we adults who do not proselytize for it. Just please do not let guys like “Ron Tyler” in front of a classroom…


SDaniels May 20, 2010 @ 12:49 a.m.

And these opinions are pretty common...Has there ever been a field of work more misread, misunderstood, than formal criticism? Irony hits when you consider that a couple of generations ago, in the "Letters" sections of publications, people used what they learned of criticism to share and evaluate books. The same stuff, btw, that lets us distinguish a clumsy phrase from an entire personal system of racist convictions (critics of Naomi). Of course, given a little more reading of her work, one would likely get to know the idiomatics of that columnist in particular before denouncing and reviling her in easy fashion. (And of those who are currently picking on Naomi rather than choosing more carefully, I ask ‘uh, where ya been?! That is, while we had two very vocal, and very unapologetic racists contributing here daily?) But that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, so I will stop here, and add only ‘Hallelujah for free speech’ ;)


CuddleFish May 20, 2010 @ 3:11 a.m.

Hello there, darling girl! Nice to see you here. :)


David Dodd May 20, 2010 @ 3:13 a.m.

@ #3: Of course, my tongue WAS planted firmly in my cheek when I referenced politics; I was considering Duncan perhaps weighing in on the recent law from Arizona:

"A brilliant idea gone horribly wrong, Arizona takes an inverse angle to State's rights in the 2010 remake, a remarkably aggressive effort that ultimately falls flat. Seems that someone failed to consider, once again, that actual humans are involved in this often-told tale of immigrant-come-indentured servant spurned by society (as perhaps Hawthorne snickers from the grave), marked by a social divide not seen since Lincoln emancipated the Negroes. While the script alarmingly ignores the Mexican-American War, history is notably repeated using themes from the 1820 original classic, "Irish-Catholic Immigration to America". Unfortunately, as with most over-done, exhaustively trodden, well-funded spectacles, the splendid acting cannot overcome the obviously amateurish direction; time would be better spent on a jigsaw puzzle and a bottle of cheap scotch. Starring Jan Brewer, Barrack Obama, Rush Limbaugh; Directed by Rupert Murdoch. (Length: 7 Months, 16 Days)"

My point, of course, that we're talking about FOOD and FILMS! In other words, perhaps it would be best to unleash the Ron Tylers of the world in front of a National audience to debate the nefarious link between rock music critics and illicit drug use ;)


MsGrant May 20, 2010 @ 6:07 p.m.

re: #2: Wow, refried, you also beat me to it. Feel like I can relax and go take that bubble bath with you guys on the job over here. :)

Written as is I think this may have made "you guys" hearts skip a beat before they got to "on the job".


NotQuiteADiva May 20, 2010 @ 7:12 p.m.

I want to be in that bubble-bath with SD...

No beans or seafood allowed!!!



antigeekess May 20, 2010 @ 7:22 p.m.

"The big ol' stapled model was sweet, but magazines are downsizing in more ways than one in order to try to stay profitable. I imagine that the Reader probably had no choice but to follow the model of other similar publications..."

Like ROLLING STONE, you mean? Have you SEEN Rolling Stone lately, refried? It shouldn't even be called a "magazine" at this point; it's a pamphlet.

Sad days, indeed.


David Dodd May 20, 2010 @ 7:51 p.m.

Yeah, AG, the entire publishing world seems to be on its ass. Everyone's trying to find an online identity, no notion as to how it will finally wind up. My guess is that old farts like myself who enjoy actually flipping through pages are going to be out of luck.


Naomi Wise May 21, 2010 @ 7:31 p.m.

Oh, man, how much longer will this calumny-folklore of "the drunken food critic" disseminated by a disgruntled restaurant owner go on? Can't you guys do simple arithmetic. Four of us shared seven cocktails. That would make 1 3/4 cocktails each -- except that most of them were so icky-sweet I passed my share after a few sips to younger friends accustomed to modern candy cocktails. (She didn't get drunk either). So I had about 1 1/2 cocktails, and then sharing a bottle of wine with three others, one glass of wine.or Scarcely a drunken revel. I was probably soberer than most judges.

As for leftovers: The meal is eaten hot at the restaurant. The leftovers are for analyzing what's in the dishes, and sometimes re-checking first impressions. (Some restaurants have gotten higher ratings based on re-tastings.) They don't last for days and days in the fridge, fading away -- they're used up within 48 hours normally. By the way, if you actually cooked on any regular basis, you'd know that most braises and stews actually improve after a night in the refrigerator or even "a cool place." A friend who has won numerous chili-cooking contests specifically leaves the half-done chili to sit overnight so that it mellows before he finishss cooking it the next day.

Another point: I didn't insult the Mexican cook, who was doing the best he could with his instructions. Instead, I was sharply criticizing the restaurant-owners who furnished him with such inauthentic and UNAPPETIZING (!) recipes. (continued)


Naomi Wise May 21, 2010 @ 8:18 p.m.

(continued from previous post) -- Ooops, several typos in that previous post. Print on "preview your comments" is so small and faint, I can barely see it.) Typo Patrol alert!

To continue: Jambalaya has many variations but they should all taste really good. If a jambalaya tastes lackluster, it's pretty useless, no? And gumbo has even more variations. They don't all involve okra -- some have okra, some have file, some have neither one. For instance, my old friend Dewey Balfa (of the Cajun music group Balfa Freres, out of the Eunice area) used to make a Cajun file gumbo with no okra at all. Another old friend, Stanley Jackson (ex of Commander's Palace) favored the okra version with no file. But one sure thing is that you can't use frozen okra in a serious way in gumbo (as Indigo did) -- it doesn't work because pre-cooked okra loses all its "draw," the mucilaginous quality that thickens the liquid.

Oh, finally, although this scarcely seems necessary (but it's another bit of foul play against me), I'm not a La Jolla princess. (My late predecessor, 10 years ago, was that.) I live in a distressed fixer-upper in a mainly-Mexican central city neighborhood with pawn shops and porn at the 7-11 but nothing so yuppie-ish as a dry cleaners, drugstore, bank, or supermarket. I've seen double-wide trailers bigger than this place. Maybe a trailer in Lakeside would improve my living conditions.

Too bad that my editors will run thousands of words of hate mail in the Letters, but rarely let me see it in advance, much less answer it in full. (I didn't even get the whole letter about Little Peggy Marsh over my email, just the final part.) I think I'm supposed to maintain a dignified silence like Duncan usually does -- but this string goes on and on, with the same themes and outright falsehoods set out by the restaurant owners in their hugely long original salvo. Dignity be damned! I reviewed them honestly and they lied about me.


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