Thursday, February 15, 2001
Woody Irony, Take Two
Faithful readers may recall a recent column in which Squid roasted the firm of Lombardo and Gilles, Monterey County's premier counselor to the stars and to developers (as well as stars who happen to be developers), for sponsoring the Woody Guthrie exhibit at the National Steinbeck Center.
(The column inspired some creativity among readers, who responded with some verses of their own to accompany Squid's parody of the Guthrie classic "This Land is Your Land." Here's one: "From Pebble Beach fo-rests to south county vine-yards/From big hotels to September Ranches/From Moro Cojo to the Mohsin Market/This land was made for me and mine." Very nice.)
Now comes a revelation that rings every bit as ironic, if not a little more, than Tony Lombardo paying his respects to the populist Guthrie: The Monterey County Herald is also sponsoring the Guthrie exhibit.
Now, far be it from Squid to cast aspersions on a worthy competitor, but the Herald is owned by Knight Ridder, the corporation that blasted the union when it bought the paper a few years back by firing everyone and then requiring employees to beg...er, re-apply for their jobs. What's left, says local Newspaper Guild organizer Karen Osmundson, is a mere "shell of a union." After almost four years at the negotiating table, the Herald still doesn't have a union contract, and its workers no longer enjoy union-negotiated wages, regular raises or a grievance process (not to mention that they must periodically pee in a cup).
Yet this same entity sponsors an exhibit honoring a guy who fought for unionization wherever there was a worker, who frequently plucked his guitar and warbled poetic at union rallies, and who took his inspiration from the plight of the common folk.
Strange days, indeed.
Seems Monterey has its own little Napster copyright saga of sorts. A cyberspat ensued after Bob and Barbara Bass Evans of the Save Our Waterfront Committee posted drawings of the proposed Ocean View Plaza on their Web site, www.evansmonterey.com. Bob superimposed the drawings of the project--the latest incarnation of the Cannery Row Marketplace--over a photo of the site in order to show the scale of the two buildings compared to surrounding structures.
The posting prompted Marc Beique of the Sienna Company, the project's architect, to fire off a letter to Bob demanding that the retooled version of his copyrighted artwork be removed from cyberspace or else acknowledged as an Evans creation.
""We...believe that accurate information is the best tool to facilitate the rational and well-considered discussions necessary to support our American political and regulatory processes," Beique pontificated in his Feb. 2 letter to the errant Evanses. "Your organization harms our community and us by your irresponsible distortion and manipulation of our design."
Barbara insists the picture was not distorted. And if the Plaza looks taller than it does in the original rendering, she says, that's just because Beique and Co. failed to depict the neighboring El Torito and Chart House restaurants or people or cars or anything else that would have portrayed scale.
While Mrs. Evans pleads innocence, she and her hubby nonetheless yanked the picture to avoid conflict. They replaced the line drawing with two opaque red blocks outlining the buildings' proposed magnitude, and she says the new illustration is in proper proportion.
"It looks worse than it did before," she sniffs.
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