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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.27.07




ONE MORE OFFENSE

I was alternately appalled and irritated at discovering an ad in the 12/13 EW for McDonald's!

You all call yourself an alternative newspaper, and now this?

First it was the T&A ads for the strip clubs working their way to the middle of the paper; then "Savage Love," then "¡Ask a Mexican!" and now this?

What happened to all the talk about buying locally, etc.?

McDonald's is one of the worst decimators of our planet and single-handedly contributing to obesity in this country.

So shame on you, EW! Yes, you may need the money, but putting an ad in for McDonald's is what it means to sell out to the "establishment" or big business in the U.S.

Kay Porter , Eugene

 

HOLIDAY PRIORITIES

I saw on TV where these folks were taking their pets to have their pictures taken with Santa. Then I remembered an agency, also on TV, that was pleading for a $10 donation to provide a mosquito net to prevent a third-world child from dying of malaria.

And so it goes.

Christine Coy, Eugene

 

BRING US TOGETHER

The problem with Eugene is that while an oft-quoted slogan here is "Celebrate Diversity," the actual behavior of most here dictates that the slogan ought to be "Celebrate Diversity — Unless It Happens to be Anything Different From My Way of Perceiving the World."

The recent item pointing this state of mind is the incredibly negative response generated around the EW's decision to adopt the column "¡Ask a Mexican!"

I have been reading Gustavo Arellano's column for over a year now in other publications, including a stint that I did last year with an almost entirely Mexican (there was also a Honduran) construction crew in Long Beach, Calif. It is interesting to note that both Mexican and Chicano culture are incredibly more prevalent down there. Nobody on the bilingual crew found insult in the column, probably because humor is culturally predominant in Mexican culture. If you didn't know that or wonder why it is so, perhaps you could ask Arellano about it.

I have lived around, befriended, gone to the birthday parties of, gone to school with and worked with Mexicans and Chicanos for much of my life, and guess what, folks: Some things across the culture gap are incredibly different from what you know and are used to. Humor can make light of these differences and bring us together.

The column is not the ramblings of a racist; quite the contrary. Arellano is well-read, funny, kind and passionate about improving the life of Mexicans and others living in this country today, all things which somebody familiar with his writing would know. He does not, however, filter his content to soften the blow for the delicate sensibilities of upper middle class white liberals with a cultural guilt complex.

I welcome Arellano's column to your publication and look forward to more voices from different races, classes, creeds and colors in the future.

Matt Watkins, Eugene

 

ASK AN ASS-CLOWN

Who was the ass-clown who made the decision to portray Mexicans with that offensive graphic? What the hell is wrong with you people?

No offense to you personally by calling you an ass-clown. I was just trying to reappropriate that term to castrate it of its power, publish it again and again and again until people no longer see it as offensive [see quote from Gustavo Arellano in the 11/29 EW interview].

So, ass-clown, how you doing? Ass-clown. How's it feel to be an ass-clown? Ass-clown. Ass-clown.

Feel better, now that you longer see the term "ass-clown" as offensive, ass-clown? I knew you would. My plan to reappropriate that term is working perfectly, isn't it, ass-clown?

Well, take care, ass-clown. Love you, man. Really.

I don't care one way or another if you publish this letter or my previous letter. But I am going to contact your advertisers and ask them each to make a statement (or decline to make a statement) about your Mexi-caricature and THEN I'm going to ask you to publish that letter, and you won't. And that's OK, because you're an ass-clown. No offense, man, I love you. Really.

Jock Doubleday, California

EDITOR'S NOTE: This letter comes from an email conversation with Jock Doubleday, a California author and lecturer with some Eugene connections. An ass-clown, according to UrbanDictionary.com, is "one who, through the fault of his parents' conception, is a skid mark on society's collective underwear."

 

DEAR GAZPACHO

Regarding "¡Ask a Mexican!," I'm glad you are carrying the column and especially pleased that you printed the cover story interview (11/29) with its author, Gustavo Arellano. While, like many, I was initially disturbed and repulsed by it, the interview opened my eyes to the overall context and intent of Arellano's writing.

I emailed him with a question and he responded quickly. He helped me discover I'm not a bowl of cold soup. ("Gabacho" vs. "gazpacho.")

G.B. Koerner, Eugene

 

RUSSIA AND IRAN

The perception of U.S. hegemony should be waning now. As Corvallis' sturdy demonstration groups convene for passer-byers outside the Benton County courthouse, Russian warships have entered Syrian ports-of-call. Mooring alongside their Iranian comrades, the message is clear: An attack on Iran is an attack on Russia.

Analysts in Jerusalem suggest the military buildup is a two-fold signal. First, that Russia isn't going to sit on its hands as the West, including Israel, threaten military action against its multi-billion-dollar investment in Iran's energy infrastructure. Second, that Russia is serious about motivating the Arab-Israeli peace process, particularly in light of the current Israel-imposed stranglehold on the Gaza Strip.

This signal was pre-empted weeks ago during the Annapolis conference when the Russian Foreign Minister announced to former Israeli PM Ehud Barak (now defense minister) that Russia will be supplying the nuclear fuel to the Bushehr electrical generating plant in Iran, as previously arranged.

Thus, in the week following, Russia moved several warships and nearly 50 fighter jets into range, putting its money where its mouth is, between Israel and Iran. And as the Hamas government celebrates its 20th anniversary in Gaza, it has one more thing to be happy for. Whereas the U.S. maintains Hamas as a terrorist organization, Hamas maintains its diplomatic ties with Moscow.

A million people demonstrating in the streets around the world could not keep the U.S. from invading sovereign Iraq. Many pray now that warships, tactical missiles, and fighter jets will keep it from invading sovereign Iran.

Thomas R. Estes, Corvallis

 

ASK AN ATHEIST?

Bob Saxton (12/13) thinks "EW should add a Latina column to balance the sometimes over-the-top cutting wit of the [Gustavo] Arellano Mexican column."

Why stop there? Ask an Unemployed Legal Immigrant, Ask a Black Person, Ask an Asian, Ask a Homeless Person, Ask a Kid with Meth-addicted Parents, Ask a Small Family Farmer, Ask a Transgendered Person, Ask a Prescription Drug-addled Senior Citizen, Ask an Atheist, Ask an Anti-war Activist and Ask a Full-time Bicyclist.

The above groups, and many abused others, should be on the same page, but we're not. We're too busy trying to drum up sympathy for our own group's plight. But even so, the massive outpouring of concern (for and against) Arellano's column is puzzling to me. This successful and superficial Mexican has found his money-making niche with a Southern California style of entertainment and information. Don't like the column? Don't read it. Isn't the EW about information AND entertainment?

Having a problem with the caricature? "Ask the EW" if they would kindly caricature a different representative from the population each week so that we can all be amused or disgusted, depending on our own hypersensitivity.

Or, we can stop this nonsense of playing the minority-group card and unite to defy the voracious, evil triad of militarism, corporatism and organized religion that dominates and wastes our lives and destroys our planet's wellbeing.

By tolerating the excuses of a particular group for not confronting these three evils head-on, we support the endurance of fascism — no matter what "¡Ask a Mexican!" does or does not do.

Robert Simms, Corvallis

 

BICYCLING NOT PRACTICAL

Being a car-free, everyday transportational cyclist (who willingly sold his car), it doesn't surprise me much that bicycle transportation in Eugene is declining. With the much-enamored multi-use trails here, which are often congested and slow, and the dangerous, trash-filled bike lanes I frequently have to avoid (while suffering the wrath of militant Eugene motorists), there remains little that makes bicycle transportation here a useful and enjoyable endeavor.

Only after people get past the delusion that the illustrious peak oil is upon us that will supposedly drive throngs of Eugene motorists to start riding their bikes will things really start to improve. Despite this fanciful vision, there's no denying that Eugene (despite its supposed environmental tendencies) is a pro-motoring town and will continue to be that way. Neither peak oil nor global warming will change that. That is the city's infrastructure, and it is the environment that bicycle transportation will have to work within for the foreseeable future.

I think at this point the only way to make bicycle transportation more popular and useful is to start teaching cyclists to operate like vehicle drivers rather than rolling pedestrians, teaching motorists to be civil and to share the public roads, enforcing the traffic laws even-handedly and fostering a more cooperative transportation environment between motorists and cyclists. Every traffic lane is a bike lane.

And how about some more bicycle parking (I still go to grocery stores and restaurants just like all the motorists out there)? It's a fraction of the cost of car parking spots and multi-level garages. Otherwise bicycle transportation here will just be the in-laws throwing the kid's bikes on the Winnebago for a Sunday stroll on the West Bank path.

Ryan Conrad, Eugene

 

OUCH!

From City Club of Eugene's ad in EW Dec. 13, and I quote:

"A DOZEN ANSWERS TO THIS QUESTION: If you could give the comminity any gift, what would you give and why?"

Wait! Let me answer that. A dictionary, because it's obvious why.

Glenn Leonard, Eugene

 

THEY WILL CATCH UP

I am indeed bemused. When I first read the title "¡Ask a Mexican!," I was astonished and prepared to be disgusted. It turned out to be hilarious, and the satire was indeed delicious. I anxiously anticipated the fallout. The very people who attacked Arellano first are well intentioned champions themselves. So, no harm done, I'm sure they'll catch up soon.

Moving on, I breach the subject of honesty and tact. The Savage twist on what's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander was also hilarious. Once again, the well intentioned are hoisted by their own petard.

People! Please! If you can't laugh at yourself, how can I take you seriously?

Thomas L. Twyford II, Eugene

 

STOP SEX ADS

Please stop running sex ads in your paper. I know this issue has been discussed before, but please consider it anew. I read in the fall issue of Ms. magazine that sex ads are often fronts for human trafficking. Some highlights: According to the article, in one study of sex workers, "69 percent said they had been isolated, confined or restrained by pimps; two percent suffered daily or near-daily abuse." And the CEO of one publishing company which has stopped running sex ads was quoted saying: "To actually be an accessory to crime by providing advertising space for prostitution undercuts our mission as newspaper publishers and as reporters and journalists … Other companies know in their heart of hearts that these ads are for prostitution and they just continue to accept them because they're addicted … to the revenue."

Please take responsibility for what you publish in your paper. Stop running sex ads now!

Mary Van Brocklin, Corvallis

 

IT'S OK TO TOOT

Cheers to Holiday Market for providing reusable flatware in the food court. I was really impressed by this and hope to see it at Saturday Market in the spring.

Jeers to Justin Bengtson (12/6) for ASSuming that local businesses are tooting their own horns by advertising their "green-ness." Why is this different from businesses advertising their sales or anything else they offer? Environmentally conscious consumers prefer to support environmentally conscious businesses, and these businesses are advertising to these consumers. Maybe you need to consider why this type of advertising gets your panties in such a twist. And no, I'm not a hippie, but I do hope to steer clear of your "thick cloud of two-stroke smoke" while you and your scooter "grace" the streets of Eugene.

Sheree Walters, Eugene

 

SPEWING TOXIC STEW

Greetings! It certainly is good news that a coalition composed of citizens concerned with green urban renewal is growing stronger, for we have many challenges occurring as the new year approaches like a riptide below the lights of this season:

Various politicians flit between Iowa and New Hampshire, shrieking like caffeinated blue jays as Bush/Cheney, busy with commanding the ghosts they create, wanting more oil, being unrestrained, eye the holy sites of Iran and spew their toxic stew of fear and loathing, their carving knives and nuclear buttons at the ready.

Impeachment would be one appropriate form of apology, not only for the war crime of attacking Iraq but also for criminally subverting the attempts of many, many nations to work together to reduce global warming and its effects. (What would an attack on Iran, a nation of 65 million people, spawn?)

The incoming year has another undertow; do you see it? It's caused by world-wide droughts. For instance, Australia used to produce 60 percent of the world's wheat. That entire nation is now beset with severe water shortages, droughts that are also causing food prices to rise alongside fuel prices. In developed nations, many more people, including children and elders, will go hungry. How many more Africans and Asians will starve? How unbearably hot and dry will Central American countries become next summer?

Droughts in the southeast and southwest U.S. have damaged several food crops as cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and L.A. continue to sprawl and demand more fresh water. And, of course, the ongoing die-off of crop-pollinating honeybees will magnify crop losses. How do you spell DEEP SHIT?

Yes, let's build a greener Eugene, planting vegetable gardens everywhere, including at City Hall, with raised-bed gardening on every flat rooftop. And lawns? Who can eat grass?

Let us Eugeneans stand up, step up and speak out, demanding that Bush & Cheney resign, as we work together to create peace, help reduce global warming, plant more gardens and help feed and shelter humans in desperate need.

Charles F. Thielman, Eugene

 

IDLING IN TRAFFIC

Lane Council of Government's souped up (or slightly lower official) projected population growth numbers are staggering (R-G 12/13, page D1).

In 23 years some planners anticipate 127,000 to 133,000 newly arrived people will live in towns in the Willamette Valley. Coburg, Lowell and Veneta plan to triple or quadruple their size. Creswell, Junction City and Florence will nearly double their present size. Eugene/Springfield will grow a more modest 50 percent.

Rural residents will decrease nearly 40,000 as local urban growth boundaries expand. This incremental sprawl makes all towns in the county less environmentally sustainable and our beloved countryside less accessible. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require energy efficient building codes, zoning rules and transportation systems. Sky-high gas prices will sideline automobiles as a preferred mode of transport.

Building up outlying town infrastructure without revamping the systems connecting places like Lowell, Veneta, Junction City, Coburg, Creswell and Cottage Grove to Eugene/Springifield is short-sighted. Lane Transit District plans to eventually make EmX expansions within Eugene and Springfield, but little consideration appears to be going into the needs that all those folks residing in outlying towns will require to commute to work and to access commercial centers.

Where are plans for a more efficient regional commuter rail, bus rapid transit system and improved bike to bus and bike to train systems? Where are plans for bike paths connecting outlying towns to Eugene Springfield?

Hopefully we'll do more than dream, "Beam us up, Scotty!" while idling in traffic as 2030 approaches.

Ethen Perkins, Eugene

 

 

TORTURE TAPES

I don't understand all the fuss. I'm sure the CIA made copies and gave them to their friends for Christmas, like the KGB and various friendly, at least to us, ruthless dictators. Not to worry; once all the proper negotiations have been made and their people talk to our people, the DVDs should be available sometime next year.

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

ABUSE AT PRIMATE CENTER

Recently, PETA conducted an undercover investigation into the Oregon National Primate Research Center, which found apparent violations of animal protection laws and monkeys who were living in constant fear, confined to small cages and traumatized by rough handling. Well, the latest news I'm hearing is that the USDA, which is charged with responding to animal abuse complaints such as this one, has investigated the ONPRC and come up with nothing.

If the USDA really has found no problems at the Primate Center, either the law needs to change or the inspectors do. The evidence gathered by PETA's investigator was shattering: Monkeys screamed in terror as employees chased them around gang cages, grabbed them and pinned their arms behind their backs. An infant monkey, taken from her own mother, rocked inconsolably on the floor of a cage, clutching her arm — her only source of comfort. Monkeys, cornered in their small cages, couldn't escape the needle-sharp spray of high pressure hoses. Animals driven mad by confinement and isolation whirled in their cages, unable to find comfort. See video of all this online (StopAnimalTests.com).

More likely, this is a shameful whitewash by the Primate Center, and this inspection is just one part of a larger, ongoing investigation. It would be impossible to examine fully — in just two days — every example of abuse PETA's investigator documented. USDA inspectors normally spend many, many months, reviewing documents, photos and video, and interviewing the whistleblower.

The real tragedy is that the Primate Center continues to make disingenuous excuses rather than taking meaningful action to alleviate the terrible suffering witnessed by PETA's investigator.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene

 

CARELESS CYCLISTS

Dear cyclists: You inspire little respect from motorists because you observe few if any traffic laws beyond the apparent self-evident creed that you always have the right-of-way. You ride on the sidewalks, crosswalks and in the street, encroaching on the paths of pedestrians and motor vehicles. You ignore stop signs and traffic signals, and you rarely signal when turning.

Of course, there are exceptions … very few exceptions. You then make a big stink about "careless" drivers and how we're ruining the environment, even implying that we're the cause of this war, while cyclists, being visionary activists, are actually supporting the troops. When I consider the gall, the megalomaniacal hubris of it, I become nauseous.

The reality: Cyclists endanger themselves, and motorists can be careless, often times distracted or too busy trying to avoid an accident.

The layout of this city is awful, yet it seems to cater to cyclists with its bizarrely low speed limits and abundance of bike lanes. Eugene is a city grown too big for its britches, and these issues will only worsen as the population expands. Yet to suggest that motorists should begin a widespread shift to bicycles is delusional and grossly impractical. Many people have children who must be driven to school/daycare. Many people lead busy lives, having to accomplish multiple tasks every day. Other people have health limitations (i.e. arthritis, vision problems, physical handicaps.) Bicycling is simply not a feasible mode of transportation for the masses.

You want to support the troops? Vote only for politicians who fervently appose the war. Otherwise, mind your own business.

Dylan Wilks, Eugene

 

NOT SO VICIOUS CYCLE

I'm a human being. Every day when I step out my front door, I enter a vibrant and beautiful city. Oftentimes, I'll pass parents dropping their young passengers off at the nearby school, and I think to myself how easily I can cruise by their idling machines. Nearly every morning, I smile and wave to others doing the same thing as me.

I breathe deeply the clean air and am pleasantly reminded that I'm one with my surroundings while gliding through space and time. I gracefully navigate any obstacles on my lightweight two-wheeled human powered machine.

There are days when I cannot believe I'm able to spend 30 minutes before and after my workday effectively relieving stress for free and without a prescription. Sleep comes easy each night after calmly winding down on the quiet neighborhood streets and off-street paths. You won't find any restless syndrome in these legs.

It's easy for me to realize why I'm out here doing what I do. First and foremost, it is for simplicity, efficiency and personal pleasure. Secondarily, it comes from a deep sense of obligation to set an example for my fellow citizens, my country and future generations.

I made a conscious choice to sign up for this commute; I ride my bicycle across Eugene each day. While I concede there may be an occasional challenge, the benefits of riding a bike for transportation far outweigh any perceived barrier. Please don't let the naysayers keep you from experiencing the joy of commuting by bike.

Dave Roth, Springfield

 

SAGGY YOUTH

I am writing this letter to delve a wee bit deeper into Skye Rios' letter (11/29), and this comes with a small risk of "exposing" myself and some truths about these so-called "homeless" youth that, yes, infect downtown today.

I came to this town in May of 2002 on my way back up to Washington State, and I ran out of money and ended up getting stuck here, thanks to the wonderful EPD. The next six months were a whirlwind of chaos; I made many friends, and I had the pleasure of filming that whole "homeless protest" thing in September that aired on local access Channel 29 (yes, that was me).

Here it is: Yes, there are a few select actual "homeless" youth; however, I am going to have to say that when folks pass judgment on the "punks," well ... they are right. Most "homeless" youth are just little kids who think that they can pass off their parents asking them to take out the garbage as some kind of horrible abuse, and so they go out in the clothes their parents bought them and beg for change so they can buy their precious marijuana (to save my ass, I am pro-ganj) and booze.

Am I passing judgment? No, I am not, for I work at Monaco and have to get off the bus to watch throngs of the saggy youth in front of the library get harrassed by security for clogging up space reserved normally for people who either work or folks who travel and try to play quite nice tunes on the instrument of their choice to make money so they can possibly eat or stay somewhere nice.

When I used to go to New Roads in 2002 and tried to eat dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would watch as the kids who HAD houses would walk in and, freshly stoned, I should add, grab a seat and almost take over ("I'm hungry, feed me first"). I do believe there are other folks, including very good friends of mine, who can attest to this "judgment call."

Bottom line is, Skye, that there ARE true homeless youth out there who really do earn a living by begging for change to eat a slice of pizza — but they are extremely hard to find, and if you do find them, be careful, cuz they may just be faking it.

Jimmy Spoor, Eugene

 

LEGAL ENTITLEMENT?

In response to "Give us our lane" (11/21 letters) I'd like to point out that lawful behavior does not necessarily equal just, equitable or sustainable behavior. According to the letter's author, a bicyclist is entitled to the full width of the lane in the absences of a bike path. As a fellow bicyclist, I don't take up an entire lane. I only exercise that right when necessary, such as to avoid a pothole, pile of leaves or an opening car door. Otherwise I strive to use up only as much of the lane as I need.

Similarly I have the legal right to own and operate a "gas guzzling SUV," but I don't. I don't need a Hummer just like I don't need to ride down the middle of the lane all the time. I think we all need to think more critically about our behavior in terms of justice, equality and sustainability rather than simply claiming legal entitlement.

I don't think that provoking road rage even by legal means is a productive way to motivate positive change.

Ryan Ojerio, Eugene