One of the things we hope we provide for the community is a place to air people''s views and opinions. Over the years, our letters section has become a more-and-more interesting page, and has offered readers a place to voice kudos, criticisms and talk amongst themselves. Here are some of our favorite letters.

When we introduced a new cartoon, Max Cannon''s "Red Meat," into the paper in December of ''93, we knew it would be controversial--but we had no idea how controversial. Over the last five years, "Red Meat" has been one of the most highly debated features among our readers. Here''s a sampling:

Strange "Meat"

About "Red Meat" cartoons. I get Coast Weekly every Thursday morning faithfully and reading the cartoon "Close to Home" from John McPherson was always the first thing I read, having them to cut out and having them on my file cabinets for the students to read here at Harden Middle School. I now have students asking me why I no longer have more? "Red Meat" cartoons are very strange and distasteful. I wish you would change it back to "Close to Home"--a lot more laughs from everyone around.

--SHERRY POLING, SALINAS, NOV. 17, ''94

Meaty Treat

I''ve recently noticed several letters criticizing the "Red Meat" cartoons, and wish to put in a word on the other side. Sure, the cartoon is bizarre, unconventional and often borders on bad taste. That''s part of its charm! I can understand why some people don''t like "Red Meat," but to me it''s funny and, more often than not, makes me laugh. If people want conventional, safe and boring comics, they can read The Herald.

--ARLEN GROSSMAN, DEL REY OAKS, DEC. 8, ''94

Gratuitous Negativity?

There''s so much to like about Coast Weekly. I count on it every week for the reports and opinions and another slant on the local issues, music, movies and an occasional chuckle. But "Red Meat"?! The latest on Milkman Dan made my blood run cold. Who benefits from this gratuitous negativity...besides Max Cannon, of course?

--ANN ROSENBERG, MONTEREY, MAR. 6, ''97

Stop Reading!

I had to respond to Ann Rosenberg ("Letters," Mar. 6), who asked, "Who benefits from gratuitous negativity..." As long as she is referring to "Red Meat," I stand forward to be counted. Humor pokes fun at life and some (maybe lots) of life is negative. I enjoy "Maxine" but the first thing I turn to is "Red Meat." I find myself searching for it since it is buried as deep in the Classified ads...Be happy, Ann, you can avoid it by stopping when you get to the "Legal Notices." Here''s to diversity!

--ODETTE CHRISTENSEN, WOODLAND, MAR. 20, ''97

Sometimes, it seems, the main job of our reviewers--whether for film, theater or music--is to serve as whipping persons. They also stimulate often lively exchanges between readers.

Can It, Janet

I''d like to agree right off with the two valid points Janet Duke manages to slip into her diatribe on John [sic] Cameron''s True Lies: Arnold Schwarznegger is not, as we all know, Sean Connery, and a few of the scenes are a little wooden; but these are minor distractions in what is a largely entertaining movie. Take off those feminazi- colored glasses of yours, Janet, and take another look at True Lies. Yes, Schwarznegger''s character does put a surveillance team on his wife to check up on her, and yes, it''s nasty and unfair. But yes, Janet, men really do things like that. Ever heard of the O.J.. Simpson case?...And what about the wallop [Jamie Lee] Curtis gives Arnold Schwarznegger when she finally realizes she''s been lied to all these years? I guess knocking people to the ground is allowed as long as it arises from feminine rage, huh Janet?

--BRADLEY GROVES, PACIFIC GROVE, AUG. 4, ''94

Not Normal

Let me get this straight: Bradley Groves calls Janet Duke a "feminazi" >(Coast Weekly, Aug. 4) for objecting to Arnold Schwarznegger''s bullying of Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies--and then refers to himself as "nonsexist"? Yeah, and I''m the Queen Mother of England. According to Groves, it''s "normal" for a man to terrorize and humiliate his wife, like Schwarznegger in the film; or to beat, stalk and (allegedly) kill her, like O.J. Simpson...Actually, experience has taught me that both sexes are equally capable of good and evil...I''ll leave the gender stereotyping to Freudians, socio-biologists, and Bradley Groves.

--PENELOPE LEE ELLSWORTH, SALINAS, AUG. 18, ''94

The Pit of Hell

I am writing in response to your review of the movie China Cry, in the 4/11 Coast Weekly. This letter will probably not be printed. I found your review biased, intellectually dishonest and full of untruths; in short, irresponsible. I was personally offended by it...Because of my experiences as a believer involved in various ministries--and as a missionary--I have been brought into contact with present-day miracles of God...But the evidence for the risen and living Jesus Christ is overwhelming. And the miracles done in His name continue. If you can drop your bias long enough to take a look, you''ll see them and Him! Your review...not only reflects your own irresponsible intolerance, your intellectual dishonesty, it contains lies from what could only be the "pit of hell."

--PAUL BIRD, CARMEL, MAY 2, ''91

Casting Stones

Like Paul Bird in his letter to the editor >(Coast Weekly, May 2), I also read Sue Fishkoff''s review of China Cry in the April 11 Coast Weekly. The problem, as I see it, is that Ms. Fishkoff has not accepted Jesus as her Personal Savior. In centuries past, we Christians had ways of dealing with that problem. The Inquisition. The St. Bartolomew Massacre. Them days is past, Mr. Bird.

--JAMES P. KINNEY, PACIFIC GROVE, MAY 16, ''91

You Call This Support?

Your write-up on Othello (Coast Weekly, Sept. 10) again exhibited the glaring errors that your critic (Chuck Thurman) continually makes, with regard to theater (in general) and Shake-speare (in particular.) It also, once again, displayed the poor advice your writer gives to actors and directors in terms of advancing their craft. First, the suggestion that Iago should start out "reasonable" is a ludicrous, almost laughable concept. And to ask Iago to show remorse for his victims is like asking Shake-speare to write a different play. Read your script, Mr. Thurman!...It seems Mr. Thurman doesn''t want to review our productions. He wants to direct them. Or at least review productions that were directed the way he would have directed them...Editors tout "dedication to the arts." It''s sort of like Bush saying he''s dedicated to the environment! If the arts are to survive through these desperate times, they need more support than this.

--STEPHEN MOORER, CARMEL SHAKE-SPEARE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, SEPT. 17, ''92

That damned dam and the continuing water problems in MoCo have weighed heavily on the minds of our readers through the years. Here''s a sampling of comments:

Water Wars

California continues in the midst of stiff battles and skirmishes over water in the Water Wars of the Nineties. We are slowly awakening to the actual demand for prompt action, targeting and BDAs (battle damage assessments) that Mother Nature''s sixth year of Drought has inflicted upon us. But along this Central Coast, we seem to be fighting these battles much like kids playing cowboys and Indians. Locally, we just can''t get our act together to overcome the S.O.B syndrome (Save Our Butts) of ill-prepared public agencies...

--W.C. WOODWORTH, PACIFIC GROVE, DEC. 19, ''91

Don''t Dam It

"Thank God" for the Monterey Peninsula Water Action Committee, newly formed by Carmel resident Larry Hart. In a recent news article, he said "that a long-proposed dam on the Carmel River is high on his committee''s list of priorities." We need to get on with the project of the "proverbial dam" and build it BIG ENOUGH, once and for all, to accommodate our future water needs. Once this megastorage dam is built, we can straighten the Carmel River to the sea and cement its sides to prevent erosion. How efficient this will be, for now it will leave more room on the adjacent valley floor for Caltrans to modernize a six-lane highway that will extend all the way from Jamesburg to the Toll Gates of the Point Lobos Reserve...The abundance of water will be the absolute delight of the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce...We will have no excuse not to build, for we will have the surplus water for the high-rise hotels and apartments that will rim the Bay...Future generations will credit those few rich, ambitious moguls as the developers of the Miami Beach of the West Coast. Hallelujah!

--J. WILLOUGHBY, PACIFIC GROVE, APR. 4, ''91

Tabloid Journalism

Your standards are slipping into the realm of tabloid journalism as evidenced by your article regarding the Carmel Dam and Marc Del Piero (Sept. 11.) The tasteless title "Wet Dream" was not the worst of it. The article was riddled with innuendo, speculation and conjecture...

--MATT ZIDAR, FREEDOM, SEPT. 25, ''97

Like water, the reuse of Fort Ord land has been a topic of debate. In the early years, readers had ideas both fanciful and prescient for how best to reuse the property...

It''s Obvious

Item: Fort Ord is probably closing.

Item: The University of California is looking for a new campus.

Item: The responses to your "Street Talk" >(Coast Weekly, Jan. 25) are undoubtedly representative of a large percentage of area opinion.

Conclusions: Obvious!

--VAL MILLER, CARMEL, FEB. 1, ''90

Ord

Well, when Fort Ord closes, that''s going to kill the economy. The Monterey Peninsula is going to be so poor that if they were going to make Fort Ord housing for the homeless, they would be housing most Monterey. To bring the economy back up, we should build an amusement park, or a concert hall or best of all, a drag strip, and dedicate it to Fort Ord...

--EDDIE CHARTIER, FORT ORD, SEPT. 26, ''91

Fort Ord

Build a giant theme/amusement park. I''m talking Disneyland size...Good for Marina...anything at this point would be good for Marina. Good for Seaside...lots of new locally owned motels with low "Family Friendly Rates."...Pebble Beach...the Japanese will keep the forest full. A theme park nearby could only help. Lots of Fuji film shops. And last but not least, Carmel...if anyone manages to find a place to park, they deserve to get robbed. Afterthoughts...how about that recreation trail? What a ride...Marina to Asilomar Beach. And I''m not even going to mention a shuttle train to the Aquarium.

--JEAN ABRAHAM, MONTEREY, JULY 4, ''91

Fort Ord University

This is my opinion about Fort Ord''s closing. I think they should change the barracks into a small college. The family housing units should be used for the people who attend the college. Silas B. Hayes Hospital should be left the same...I say they should turn it into a college because I would like to attend that college some day.

--LATASHA JAMES, FORT ORD, AUG. 22, ''91

There are some columns that become such an integral part of the paper, that it''s impossible to remove them without incurring our readers'' wrath. Case in point: Rob Breszny''s "Real Astrology." In early ''94 we dumped the column to make way for a locally written science column. The outpouring of outrage was immediate--and prolonged. For nearly eight months we were inundated with letters and phone calls demanding we return "Real Astrology." In August of that year, we gave in to public demand.

Brezsney''s [sic] Wit

I have to write and say that I truly miss the astrology column. Often I would pick up your ''mag'' and turn to my favorite column. I knew for a few moments that I would laugh, think and be entertained. The ''mag'' has become a bit dry and serious without Brezny''s [sic] wit. "Red Meat" is not funny, McPherson''s cartoons can make me chortle but Bob truly entertained me with some great reading...Bring back Bob!

--STEPHEN HARMER, CARMEL, JAN. 20, ''94

Bring Back Brezsny!

I write for seven other people I''ve spoken to this week who all mentioned the absence of Rob Brezsny''s column and requested you bring back Brezsny! As a teacher/student of both psychology and the humanities, I find Rob Brezsny a constant source of famous quotes, philosophical and psychological insights, literary, artistic and musical metaphors. The guy is one of the most eclectic and well-read people writing presently. It may not be traditional astrology but it''s packed full of what Aristotle would call "wisdom" and "virtues."...

--Sidney Ramsden Scott, Monterey, Feb. 10, ''94

Our most recent column addition has been "Squid Fry." Almost from day one, it''s managed to raise readers'' hackles.

Biological Breakthrough

Congratulations to Bradley Zeve and CW for a biological breakthrough--crossing a squid with a pig! Such an outcome: a lame-brained and callous squig! Not to wish you any more bad luck than you already deserve, squig, but I''d love to hear the tune you''d sing if Knight Ridder took over CW, canceled whatever agreement you have with Zeve, and put you on the street...

--STEVE TURNER, TURNER@CRUZIO.COM, DEC. 4, ''97

Ridda the Squid?

Re: your ''Toilet Paper'' squib "you''ll never get ridda Knight Ridder (Nov. 20)." What are the chances of getting ridda of Squid Fry? The Town Hall meeting, unattended by Coast Weekly, drew a full house of very angry Peninsulans over the ugly takeover of the Herald. Ridder''s infamous remark "they don''t come up to our standards" should have been directed your way instead, as you sure don''t come up to our standards? Where did Coast Weekly pick up this piece of trash? From a used doggie bag?

--WINSTON ELSTOB, MONTEREY, DEC. 18, ''97

But mostly, our letters to the editor section provides a place for our readers to blow off steam (or get steamed up). Whether they''re yelling at us, or at each other, it''s almost always a lively and entertaining place to visit. Write soon.

Shock and Disgust

We the undersigned students, faculty and staff of Monterey Peninsula College, wish to express our shock and disgust at the image displayed on the cover of the Nov. 16-22 issue of Coast Weekly. The image of a man in an open trench-coat, exposing himself, is our society''s stereotype of the sexual pervert. Humor may have been the intent when using this image and the accompanying title "Exposed To Art" on your cover. We, however, do not find it humorous....We feel that your newspaper owes an apology to everyone who is offended by this cover.

--SIGNED BY 68 STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF, MONTEREY PENINSULA COLLEGE, NOV. 30, ''95

Simple Pun

I especially liked the Nov. 16-22 cover of Coast Weekly, "Exposed To Art." Too bad a small group of self-appointed censors of political correctness cannot appreciate a simple pun or freedom of the press....I urge Coast Weekly to publish what they see fit and not cave in to a few whiners who haven''t learned to appreciate an art form....

--JEFFREY A. KELLOGG, CARMEL, DEC. 7, ''95

Greatest Scam?

I thank Richard Pitnick for his good article on Rancho San Carlos >(Coast Weekly, Jan. 18.) Before I read it, I had a gut feeling that we were experiencing one of the greatest scams perpetrated on the Monterey Peninsula. His article confirmed it for me. This beautiful peninsula is already concentrated with golf courses and there are literally hundreds of "For Sale" signs strung from Pebble Beach to Carmel Valley. We don''t need more high-priced development. It is unconscionable that those of us who live in this area, and have for a long time, have no say in what happens to the quality of our life here...

--ROSEMARY MATSON, CARMEL VALLEY, FEB. 1, ''96

Natural Selection

A large number of the 50 million condoms given to Egypt by our foreign aid officials wound up being sold as toy balloons. Several places on this planet could have made better use of them, such as, helping to slow down our out-of-control population growth, so that nature could let up on the part of its Master Control Plan that apparently includes the AIDS epidemic...

--MEL VERCOE, SALINAS, JAN. 2, ''92

Try Living in Prundale!

So Jeffrey A. Kellogg wants to pave Hatton Canyon because he''s tired of the slow traffic along Hwy. 1 (Jan. 9, "Letters")? Aww, poor baby! He should try living in Prunedale, which has yet to see a freeway bypass--no matter how many cars and people get smashed up every year along Hwy. 101. Seems that a bunch of local merchants have been lobbying local politicians not to approve the bypass, on the grounds that diverting traffic from 101 might deprive merchants of potential customers...

--PENELOPE LEE ELLSWORTH, SALINAS, JAN. 23, ''97

Shocked

I am shocked that you''d put a lesbian picture-article in your magazine ("Mother Love," Coast Weekly, May 10.) I didn''t like it...I''m sure both those women are nice people but their relationship is not normal and I feel very sorry for those two sons in that environment. I hope they don''t end up homosexuals just because their mother is one. To me it''s a very sad situation. I wouldn''t rent to them either. People forget that the AIDS virus started with homosexuals... Years ago, you wouldn''t have the nerve to put two lesbians in your paper.

--NAME WITHHELD, SALINAS, MAY 24, ''90

Vive La Difference!

Thank you for your article "Mother Love." It pointed out the fact that less than 16 percent of families in America are what most consider the "norm," or nuclear-type families. It was validating for those (more than 80 percent) families who do not fit into the traditional myth mold. A special thank you goes out to Erica and Robin, the beautiful lesbian couple with children, who are proud and brave enough to be "out" in a society of homophobes. There are thousands upon thousands of lesbians with children and if all were courageous enough to be "out of the closet," we would see that it is not an unusual occurrence at all. We must be open to differences.

--MARILYN MODESKY, CARMEL, MAY 24, ''90

Lemmings

...has anyone noticed that the Democrats have declared this the "Year of the Woman," obviously in the hope that Barbara Boxer''s genitalia will be large enough to hide 152 bounced checks?

--MARK S. TOWBER, SEASIDE, AUG. 6, ''92

Sizing Up the Candidates

Is this "The year of the woman?" Obviously not, when there are still so many chauvinist idiots like Mr. Towber who can''t make the separation between a woman''s qualifications and her sexuality. I refer to Mr. Towber''s comment about Barbara Boxer''s genitalia being large enough to hide 152 bounced checks (Coast Weekly, Aug. 6) Mr. Towber, what do Ms. Boxer''s genitalia have to do with bounced checks? I noticed you made no mention of Bill Clinton''s crotch, Congress'' cojones, or Dukakis'' derriere when you referred to their qualifications...

--EILEEN JOHNSON, DEL REY OAKS, AUG. 13, ''92

Right On!

I used to love to hate you guys. Your editorial writers were so far out in left field that I didn''t care how far the ball went or who caught it. Now I''m noticing a change in the game, a growing sense of professionalism, maturity and balance in your news coverage. Thanks for giving everyone a turn at bat and KUDOS from the right back field.

--CAROL MARQUART, PACIFIC GROVE, JUNE 4, ''92

No More Problems

I pick up your paper every week. I want to like it, however, it seems to me, that it focuses primarily on the problems of the world.

Please, let''s have more humor, love and real life upbeat people stories. Let''s not look to the government so much. Let''s not lay the blame at anyone''s door. We each must be fully responsible for the life we choose to lead.

--PAUL JOHNSON, MONTEREY, NOV. 19, ''93

Bad Job

This letter is in response to your article on "Safer Sex" in the February 13-19 issue. Your graphic description of sexual acts and the "safe" way to perform them was very offensive. Infinitely more important however is the dangerous message this type of journalism sends to the young people of Monterey County. In this particular issue of Coast Weekly, these young people were basically told by their elders that any form of sexual activity can be performed with any number of partners, at any time, just as long as they have a condom handy. Your article all but completely ignored the alternative of abstinence. It seems logical that given the physical, emotional and spiritual dangers associated with casual sex, people would be open to the message of abstinence. In fact, I suggest to you that people even want to hear the message of abstinence. They are only looking for a valid source to encourage them and to instruct them how to be abstinent until marriage...

--MICHAEL J. WAGNER, MONTEREY, MAR. 19, ''92

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