People love to tell us what they think about the stuff we’ve published, the stuff we forgot to publish, the stuff we “refused” to publish, the stuff we shouldn’t have published, and anything else that might or might not have ever appeared in our pages.
Some letters don’t make it to print because they’re missing key information—a full and real name or a city of residence—while others slip through the cracks.
Sometimes the sender’s name is prominent in the e-mail header, but the accompanying letter is signed “John Smith.” That’s an automatic red flag to me, as I’m the gatekeeper for the opinion section. I choose which letters, commentaries, and the like appear in New Times each week.
I get a lot of submissions from out of the area—many out of the state—and some of those come with requests to educate New Times readers on one subject or another:
“Please publish. Thanks.”
“Please publish my letter so your readers can become aware of the real solution to this financial crisis.”
“Please publish my letter so your readers can know the status of the best stimulus this country could have when H.R.25 is passed.”
I make an effort to present a breadth of voices, but I see a lot of familiar names show up over and over again.
I also get the short and sweet missives: “Double tax is illegal....Media where are you????”
Scattered around this section are a few of the letters that, for one reason or another, never saw readers’ eyes beyond my own in 2013—until now.
Please, keep writing—and thanks.
The bare necessities
- COURTESY OF MICKEY WEEDON
This letter—and accompanying photo—came in response to the commentary about Pirate’s Cove (“And God created perverts,” Nov. 28). It was directed at the opinion piece’s author, Sean Shealy:
“I just spent seven months on the Sea of Cortez by myself on my sailboat—four of those months, not a stitch of clothing. I snorkeled every day, naked, diving deeper and longer and deeper and longer until I could sit 60 feet deep for three minutes on the sea floor meditating. Naked. Free beyond belief!
“Mother Nature rocks! Please keep up the work to save at least a sliver of what our world should be. How can I help?”
I asked if he would be willing to let us run it as a letter, and—if so—if he’d provide his full name and city of residence, as that’s the information we include with such published opinions.
“I have no problem with that. … You’re going to upset the general public with my bare ass, it’s up to you. America is the most uptight country I know, having traveled the world. Thank you. Full name? No problem—as you can see I have nothing to hide … . Mickey Weedon, Los Osos.”
An automotive missive
This letter came in as a response to “Blast from the Past” columnist Bryce Wilson’s fond adieu to Roger Ebert, for which he reviewed 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.'
Wilson responds: “If you do choose to run this, please attach my rebuttal: ‘That Pauleeen Kaaeeell sachs, and Roger Ebert is still as wicked ahsum as Dahnkin Doughnaughts,’ in my best Boston accent.”
Putting the brev in brevity
Sometimes we get letters that put the brev in brevity:
“I came across Jack Lukes story about why dogs ...”
“Insightful ... Gutsy ... Genius!
Turtles are still annoying
Daniel Brainerd frequently sends us little essays and thoughts on life, often about turtles. Here’s one:
"Today is a big day. I’ll tell you why. I saw my first turtle of the year in this secret pond I know. There is not much I can figure about these critters after two full seasons. They annoy me just as much as last year, and I have had only one brief sighting. It blows my mind.
"So there I am, the first one there, and I am as still and patient as a blue heron. One thing I learned from being homeless is that if you do absolutely nothing for long enough, something will happen. So there I stand, stoic and still. Doing absolutely nothing—and sure enough, at a distance of approximately 30 feet, directly below me, at the water’s edge, from out of thicket emerges the critter. There is no way he can tell I am here because I’m in stealth mode. But sure as shit I’ve learned to recognize the recognition. My eyesight is not so great these days, but good enough to feel his eyes on mine.
"Instantly I start to feel annoyed.
"Sure enough, he explodes to the bottom of the pool. Like I’ve said around the campfire with the boys, “What’s the point in having a shell if you’re going to be so nervous?” It makes no sense at all. Let us say he needs good eyesight, I’ll give him that. Why does he have to be so damn nervous; I just wanted to watch. Furthermore, who says turtles are slow. That is not true. So if you have great eyesight, and you are fast as hell, why do you need a shell?
"Furthermore, at the end of the last season there were only two turtles and they were surprisingly large. Who is this new upstart genetically wired for survival? He is only slightly bigger than small. Then it hits me, I am a turtle grandpa. Not for real, but I don’t have many friends. The reason I say this is because it dawned on me that the last time I saw the two big ones they were having a romantic encounter. I witnessed it for 1/8 of a second before they spooked. Hot damn, it took."
Daniel Brainerd - San Luis Obispo
Ryan Miller is executive editor of New Times. Send comments, letters, rants, praises, and anything else you might feel like contributing to firstname.lastname@example.org.