Letters to the Editor for Sep 27, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
When Words Fail Us
Composer-trumpeter Terrence Blanchard mesmerized the Monterey Jazz Festival with hauntingly beautiful songs of compassion from New Orleans. It was art that matters.
More than a century ago, W.E.B. DuBois incorporated “sorrow song” transcripts into his remarkable sociological writings, acknowledging that the most precise research and most revealing prose still cannot convey a full picture of the central problems that face us. Music helps us get closer to that kind of understanding.
Two years after Katrina, as the battered people of the Gulf Coast struggle to recover amidst the inaction of a pass-the-buck Federal government and a corporate media with a gnat-like attention span, Blanchard’s “Katrina: A Requiem” reconnected us to scenes too hard for words: children waiting on roofs for days on end, a father desperately wading through neck-deep flood water, a mother opening the door of her home to find everything gone.
The pressing undercurrent of Blanchard’s heartbreaking 21st century sorrow songs was his warm consoling trumpet tone, like the sound of an urgent calming embrace that the devastated Gulf region needed then and needs now, but has yet to receive. We need a world like that sound.
But there I’ve made the error of trying to put the music into words. If you missed the 50th MJF, please listen to Blanchard’s recording, “A Tale of God’s Will.” Where politicians and media talking-heads have failed, maybe the music that helped create New Orleans will help rebuild it. —Mark Weller | Seaside
Weekly Reinforces Stereotypes
“Wasted Wilderness” [Sept. 13-19] draws much needed attention to the environmental damage that results from illegal marijuana cultivation on public land. However, the subtitle on the cover of the Weekly, “… huge pot-growing operations run by Mexican drug cartels… ” was not only misleading it was unfounded. Apart from one statement from enforcement officials, “the bulk of today’s illegal pot supply comes from operations run by Mexican drug rings,” the author does not provide any substantial supporting evidence.
This sensationalistic approach ultimately reinforces negative stereotypes by leading the public to associate illegal drug cultivation and environmental damage with Mexicans. This is quite timely considering the bias of American media on today’s immigration issues. Heightened immigration laws and border patrol are repeatedly defended as a national security issue based on the flow of illegal drugs coming across the Mexican border; Mexican immigrants are thus villanized as drug traffickers, whereas most are just folks looking for a better life.
“Wasted Wilderness” both perpetuates stereotypes and further promulgates negative associations of Mexicans with illegal drug cultivation and thus is in conflict with the Weekly’s stated mission of “inspiring independent thinking and conscious action.” —Karen Janes | Monterey
Build A Light Rail
I enjoyed your story about the possibility of changing Reservation Road, encouraging people to use it for walking on, and visiting local stores, instead of just driving through to get somewhere else [“Downtown Redo, Sept. 20-26]. Right now, the most common way to travel between Salinas and Monterey is to drive on Highway 68 or Re servation Road. The main alternative is to take the MST buses that travel on the same streets and get stuck in all the traffic.
I believe that if Marina removes two lanes from Reservation, a transitway should be created in their place. A light rail line would carry a lot of people, but getting it all the way to Salinas would be difficult and expensive. If funding can be found to build a light rail, it would be a better solution.
For Bus Rapid Transit, the bus lanes could go on Reservation all the way to Davis Road or Highway 68, so buses traveling to and from Salinas would bypass most of the traffic. The bus lanes could later be extended to downtown Salinas, but the entire system could be built in phases, saving money.
Narrowing Reservation and widening the sidewalks will produce many positive effects, especially if the development on the street is gradually changed to be more friendly to pedestrians. However, creating a transitway of light rail or bus-only lanes, using the extra roadway space, will be an even better improvement. It will help provide fast transit between Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula, which should reduce the need to drive on Reservation. —Chris Flescher, associate director for the Rail Passenger Association of California | Salinas