Straighten Those Facts
It’s always good to get media attention for the plight of 50,000 seniors that live in poverty in San Diego County and the Angel’s Depot mission to feed them. However, Matt Potter in his November 18 article (“Under the Radar”) did not do his homework, and his facts are simply not accurate. While state assemblyman Martin Garrick has been an honorary boardmember of the Angel’s Depot for approximately one year, and he personally makes contributions, he had nothing whatsoever to do with the donor contributions listed in Matt Potter’s article.
Donors such as the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and Harrah’s Foundation are founding partners who gave start-up funds as early as 2005 and continue to provide support. The other donors listed came as a result of very competitive grant requests totaling over $1,000,000 in grant submissions each year and started donating long before Martin Garrick had the Angel’s Depot on his radar screen. Martin is our friend, but he did not generate any of the donations listed in Matt’s article. We are required to make Martin aware of any contribution of $5000 or greater because he does hold an honorary board position. We love the press, but please, in fairness to all concerned, get the facts straight.
The Angel’s Depot
Matt Potter responds: The contributions noted in the item were reported to the state Fair Political Practices Commission as “behested payments,” as reported. This requirement is explained as follows on the commission’s website:
“Below are links to reported contributions solicited by members of the Assembly, Senate and statewide elected officers. These payments are not considered campaign contributions or gifts but are payments made at the ‘behest’ of elected officials to be used for legislative, governmental or charitable purposes. While state law limits the amount of campaign contributions and gifts, there are no limits on these so-called ‘behested’ payments.
“State law only requires the reporting of ‘behested’ payments if they total $5,000 or more per calendar year from a single source. There are no reporting requirements for payments up to $4,999.99.
“Officials must report the ‘behested’ payments within 30 days of the date they are made. This information is updated on a regular basis. Copies of the full reports are available at the FPPC office in Sacramento, 428 J Street, Suite 600. For additional information please contact Roman Porter at 916-322-7761.”
Let Me Pick Up That Tab
I read your article, “What do you wish you could afford?” (“Off the Cuff,” November 18).
I want to remain anonymous, but it appears I can afford to give Kenyatta Smith a full day at the spa and possibly give Val Buss a marimba. I’m not rich, but I’d like to give it a try if you’re up for it. I’m retired and like to find ways to help people with my money. This seems like a fun way.
The “Stringer” item from Gail Powell about the disabled cruise ship that was towed into San Diego last week (“Fun Ship?” November 18) had little new information other than the insult to the Chilean miners (bystanders comparing a month underground to a few days on a luxury boat!). Has anyone looked into the possibility that this minor inconvenience could have turned into a major catastrophe? My questions will reveal that I am no expert on modern ship design, but it is interesting that no one else seems to be even asking the questions or major media outlets are declining to consider them.
I was amazed to realize that a large modern cruise ship could be out there on the open ocean with no emergency backup power system! The main engine(s) dead due to a fire, and the ship is reduced to the status of a huge top-heavy barge? The vessel stabilization system and rudder control were probably disabled if both depend on power from the engine room; what if a storm had blown in with high winds, waves, and currents? There would have been injuries as people were tossed about in their cabins and the passageways and, of course, hundreds of seasick passengers. Without rudder control, the ship could not even be turned to face the waves head-on. Would this giant boat have been quickly pushed onto the beach or on a reef? You say the 4000-plus on board could have taken to the lifeboats?; does the lowering of those escape capsules require power from the engine room? Was there any way to operate the elevators, or were several hundred of those who are unable to climb stairs and/or are in wheelchairs left to fend for themselves? Were any passengers caught in disabled elevators? Lower-deck cabins and passageways can be as dark as a coal mine when there is no power, since the battery-powered emergency lights have a limited duration span. Were flashlights readily available to all on board? What are the relevant rules in Panama (please, hold down the laughter) where this ship is registered?
Are the cruise ships that go to Alaska similarly ill-equipped? Suppose we find ourselves so close to that calving glacier that we are tingling with excitement even though we know that the experienced crew knows better than to let us drift under the tons of ice falling from the face of the glacier, and then suddenly the engines fail?
Many large cruise ships have side-thrusters of various designs (mostly water jets) to allow maneuvering into and away from mooring places without the help of tugboats. Would it not be a good idea to have those systems independently powered with diesel-electric systems installed far removed from the main engine room and modified to provide at least a bit of forward propulsion? Large cruise ships have enough topside area to accommodate a landing platform for helicopters, which might be needed for emergency evacuations, not to mention solar panels that could keep batteries charged up for emergency use.
My wife lost interest in cruises (for other reasons), and now I would agree with her, but for the reasons cited above.
Mind That Metaphor
My long love affair with the Reader began when she first appeared in 1972 (a very groovy year indeed!).
Her occasional loss of various limbs and features over the decades may have tested my troth, yet I remained insipidly resolute. She would always be my bitch.
Duncan Shepherd was forever her heart. Now with that heart’s exit, my passion atrophies. All future intercourse will be, for my part, that of a sad and shamed necrophiliac.
aka Jose Sinatra/Georges Alvina
The Dots I Lived By
Add my lamentations to the sorrowing chorus mourning Duncan Shepherd’s announced departure (“So Long,” November 11). Increasingly, relentlessly we’ve all had a lot to swallow and a lot to stand up to in the broader world, but this particular unwelcome change, here at home, cuts deep.
I hadn’t given thought to having to continue my moviegoing life without the ongoing benefit of Mr. Shepherd’s praiseworthy service to us all. For longer than I care to think about, we movie enthusiasts have had to pick our way gingerly midst the onslaught of contemporary repellencies (e.g., Dane Cook: My Best Friend’s Girl). Black dots from a trusted source are warranted, useful, invaluable.
No matter how busy and burdened the day — if a movie was in the offing — I knew from forlorn experience to ascertain Mr. Shepherd had not pinned a black dot to his review. I came never to doubt them and hadn’t realized fully, until now, how grateful to him I was for their placement. He saved me time, misery, money. I thank him belatedly.
Alas. To whom shall we now turn? How to know which new offering is an open sewer to avoid? Which same old hash pile to sidestep? Or which is a wonderment to rush to? How to do without his resolute discernment and warnings and endorsements? How to do without his singular learned, artistically astute acumen and insight? There is, quite simply, no other like him in quality of conviction and integrity and breadth of knowledge. It’s a great loss, and he will be missed.
Lynne Moran Yarrington
A Brighter Light
No, Duncan, not enough said. Not from this side of the computer screen, or paper, or wherever it is we the readers are. For 38 years, your column has been…brilliant. It has illuminated the art and artifice of moviemaking far beyond any other local writer and stands as the equal to anybody writing about movies, anywhere. It’s been a great pleasure. Thank you.
Duncan Shepherd’s gone and David Elliott’s arrived? There must be a God.
Name Withheld By Request
via voice mail
The Only Reason Now Gone
Duncan Shepherd was the only reason I read the Reader. Done!
I read Duncan Shepherd’s farewell with great sadness. I started reading his reviews when I moved here in 1977 and started keeping a scrapbook with the capsule reviews of my favorites as well as his four- and five-star reviews (not always identical).
Looking through them, I saw Annie Hall at the Guild, Ashes and Diamonds at the Strand, La Balance at the Cove, Broadway Danny Rose at the Cinerama, The Family at the Balboa, Careful, He Might Hear You at the Fine Arts, Days and Nights in the Forest at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, Eat My Dust at the Towne, Housekeeping at the Park, and Knife in the Water at the Unicorn. I mention these films specifically because the theaters that showed them no longer exist, except for the museum, which is dark these days.
I am enclosing my 1979 rebuttal to Mr. Shepherd’s review of Apocalypse Now, which is still a disagreement we have. One of my favorite memories was reading his review of Desert of the Tartars, which was shown here one time (on the day of the Reader’s publication) as part of the San Diego Film Festival, and being able to see it that evening.
It is my hope that Mr. Shepherd will not follow his mentor Manny Farber and completely terminate his outstanding film criticism. I would hope he would be allowed to write a review whenever he finds a worthwhile film, which is to say, perhaps, a few times a year. I would also buy a book of his film writing if he compiles one. Thanks for the film education, Mr. Shepherd!
Kim C. Cox
Grace Under Fire
Film critic Duncan Shepherd’s retirement after a remarkable 38-year tenure marks the end of an era for the paper and most certainly for San Diego filmgoers. The city is losing an important voice and a remarkable wordsmith that, I believe, have yet to be fully appreciated. I am thankful for the unusual integrity, precision, and insight I found in the columns; the occasional humor was a bonus. Thank you for the undeniable grace, courage, and fortitude. Thank you for a job very well done. His was a classy act and, as the saying goes, a tough one to follow.
Thirty-eight years is a long time. I started reading Duncan Shepherd’s movie reviews when I arrived in San Diego in 1984. I never stopped reading them. In the early days, I wondered why he worked as a movie reviewer because he didn’t seem to like any of the films he reviewed. Gradually, I came to realize that something else was going on — Duncan was one of the most literate, knowledgeable, and intelligent writers I had ever read.
His standards were high, and he didn’t care about trends. Story, writing, and characterization mattered far more than special effects and the wow factor. I came to agree with him far more than I disagreed. We shared a fondness for Clint Eastwood, not so much for the Coen Brothers. How he has survived the past several years with most movies targeted to ten-year-olds is beyond me. I would have bailed long ago.
We hear every day that print is dead and the future belongs to the web. I stand with Duncan in praise of the written word delivered on paper, preferably newsprint, which can be held in the hand and savored. Just like Duncan, we’ll miss it when it’s gone.
Decades of Guff
I just have to say I’m really sad to hear that Duncan Shepherd is not going to be writing for the Reader anymore (“So Long,” November 11). He was the most erudite and intelligent of writers and critics, and even though I didn’t go to the movies, I always enjoyed reading what he had to say. Oftentimes, I would look up different movies that he talked about that were perhaps not available for casual viewing in our theaters and really just enjoyed seeing them, seeing his ideas, and hearing from him. I know he took a lot of guff over the years, but he will be sorely missed, and the paper will be doing something without somebody who’s very important to their success.
We wish you lots of luck, and enjoy your reading in your spare time. Thanks, Duncan.
via voice mail
Dear Mr. Shepherd,
I am sorry you have decided to retire, and I will sorely miss your reviews. Where film is referred to as a business and an industry, where movies are regarded as no more than one consumer product among others, it has been refreshing and comforting to be able to read reviews that reflect a different view. Thanks to your acute awareness of film history and of the formal and aesthetic issues involved in filmmaking, you have provided viewers with much-needed guidance of a kind that — to my knowledge — is not available elsewhere in San Diego.
It is not surprising that you find the ever-increasing commodification of film demoralizing. But this very process also makes your critical view and its public expression more important. If the hegemony of commercial interests is allowed to go unchallenged, something vital will be lost: the existence of film as an art form capable of helping us examine our own lives and become aware of the beauty of the world. Someone else can review the next installment in the Harry Potter series. But your expertise in helping us choose among the independent and foreign movies we are given the opportunity to see in San Diego remains precious. I hope you will follow the request made by some readers and continue to provide us in some form with your reviews of the movies you find most worthy of an audience.
38 Years Of Aggravation
Congratulations, Duncan Shepherd.
Never in the history of San Diego has one man pissed off so many people for so long.
Write hard, Duncan. Get it done and let them howl!
Tiny Host, Huge Parasite
Don Bauder’s “Remember September 2006?” (“City Lights,” November 11) is a good examination of the tip of the economic-disaster iceberg. Yes, the public sector is paid more (let’s be honest — quite a bit more) than the nongovernment sector. But that’s just the start. In addition to the paychecks, the medical/dental benefits, sick leave/vacation leave, pension, and retirement age are much better than the nongovernment sector. We now have 30 to 40 percent of the people (nongovernment sector) supporting 60 to 70 percent of the people (government sector). The federal government alone is now the largest single employer in the nation. The government sector includes everyone paid by federal, state, county, and city government, as well as all public-funded systems (like schools, nonprivate universities, the military, military contractors, etc.). In blunt economic terms, we now have a rapidly dwindling host class supporting an ever-increasing parasite class. This is why the government (operated by the Federal Reserve) continues to print up vast quantities of paper money. Anyone who thinks this can go on indefinitely is simply deluded.
According to the California Employment Development Department, the state’s employed civilian labor force in October was 15,971,800, which included 2,452,000 employees of federal, state, and local governments, or about 15 percent. — Editor
Bon Voyage, Tora
This is the first time I have picked up a copy of the Reader in well over a year, and I had to let you know how much I enjoyed Tora Lutzen’s view of San Diego (“Where Are You From?” Feature Story, November 11). She had tremendous observations and insights. I thoroughly enjoyed and agreed with her views, and I truly wish she had a weekly feature to keep me coming back for more. I wish her a safe journey back home and someday hope to visit her island. I hope her agency continues to send us more young people like her to work here. They are a welcome influence.