sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

May 18, 2012

Local Press Reviews

The latest issue of the Alameda Sun, the one local publication we are still allowed to read, is something to blog about.  First, there is “The Sun Shines Everywhere” section for which the readers send in the pictures of themselves holding up the rag in exotic locations.  The latest installment shows locals partying in Cuba.

Alameda Sun Cuba

I had to do a double take. Is it really Cuba or some place called “Havana Club” in the heart of Miami?

The man and woman on the right are “two of Alameda’s favorite Realtors, Dianne Richmond and Victor Jin”.  Judging by the vibe of the picture, their trip doesn’t look too terribly legal, but it’s possible that they ostensibly went to Cuba on a humanitarian mission.  According to the caption, they went in April this year.  In January, the 31-year-old dissident Wilmar Villar died in Cuban prison on ahunger strike.  Did the foursome visit his family?  Did they try to gain access to Alan Gross, an American citizen held in Cuban prison since 2009?  When one of my extended family members was a refusenik in the Soviet Union, he had a string of Westerners visiting him.  It was very important to all of us in the uncertain times.

Here is an idea:when visiting a totalitarian state, make an acquaintance with freedom-loving dissidents and take their pictures holding up your little paper.  Party pictures from the Prison Island make revelers appear evil.

Me and DH were talking about what goes on in that section.  I thought that perhaps Alameda Sun publishes just about any picture that readers care to send in because they can’t possibly have that many submissions.  DH suggested a way to test out that theory.  Next time we are in Israel, take a picture with IDF soldiers next to the Wailing Wall.  Send it in, see what happens.


The same issue carries a story about the upcoming Harvey Milk Day at a local middle school:

Making schools and communities safer for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer teens is the focus of this year’s celebration of Harvey Milk Day from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 21, at Wood Middle School, 420 Grand St.

The evening will feature a screening of the film Not in Our Town: Staging a Response to Hate about the 2003 death of transgender teen Gwen Araujo in Newark,

Keynote speaker, veteran Palo Alto educator Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas, initiated “Not in Our School: Palo Alto.” Pat Skillen, a founding member of the Newark-Fremont Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) will also speak.

The Oakland Gay Men’s Chorus will perform at the celebration[.]

I admit that the concept of a transgender teen gives me pause.  I’m puzzled by the fact that individuals not old enough to vote or buy a can of beer can get gender reassignment surgery.  I must be a hater.  Especially because I don’t understand why middle school teens are invited to celebrate Harvey Milk.  I suspect Alameda Sun doesn’t know it either.  The sole reference to the historic accomplishments of the slain  SF Supervisor is found in his photo description:

Harvey Milk has milk on his shirt in this 1975 photo that Mark Cohen took in front of Milk’s business, Castro Camera. Milk, an avid amateur photographer, owned the store from 1972 until his death in 1978.

Who doesn’t like an amateur photographer, especially an avid one?  In real life, Harvey Milk, a buddy of Jim Jones, was a politico with no particular achievement record.  He had the misfortune of being killed by a madman, so now we get to canonize him.  Seriously, is there someone else a middle school can celebrate, queer or not?


On the 12th of April, under the title “Shooting for a Safer Community”, the paper published a photo of unbelievable coolness:

Shooting for a safer community

I still can’t believe they published it.

From the description:

Alameda Police Department (APD) Officer Emilia Mark (left) watches as Speisekammer Restaurant owner Cindy Johnson takes aim at the target at APD’s shooting range. Johnson recently graduated from the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) Academy.

Anyhow, pro-Palestinian activist and an old “friend” Paula Rainey obliged to respond.  Interestingly, she also feels that the paper needs to be pickier about the pictures it prints:

In response to the photo (“Shooting for a Safer Community,” April 12) paper I say not! What were you thinking? Immediately after seeing the offending photo, with the barrel of a gun nearly pointed to me, I called the Alameda Police Department. My question: Is this an accurate reflection of the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) Academy?

Why was this aspect of the training highlighted? What business does a citizen involved in the training program have with practicing with weapons? To what end?

What happened? Why did the newspaper so thoughtlessly choose a photo and headline that shouts disregard for the violence in our communities, violence that destroys families, hopes, and futures. I don’t know.

The Trayvon Martin case, and the overwhelming injustice in any number of other extrajudicial killings in our communities haunt us.

Of course these tragedies immediately came to mind. What were you thinking? Any citizen collaboration with the Alameda police needs to build relationships, not violence or threat of violence.

I don’t want to see guns normalized. I don’t want to see a repeat of the Trayvon Martin case in this city or anywhere else.

I applaud efforts to promote residents’ efforts to know and support their neighbors, especially in times of need.

I applaud efforts to erase stereotypes, to put an end to bullying and racial profi ling.

It is these efforts that make safer communities, not the use of weapons. I would like to invite the community to communicate directly with the police department about their views on the elements of policing that bring safety.

I request the Alameda Sun apologize to the community for running this most repugnant photo and headline. In addition, I would like the Sun to provide space for the community to have conversations about how to make our community safe for everyone.

We may want to consider meeting together to follow up on these conversations. [Bold is mine, -ed.]

— Paula Rainey

This lady evidently holds enough swing over the local papers to ban delivery to dissenters.

I think she might be under the impression that Palestinians are pacifists.  Maybe all these pizzeria bombings didn’t happen and the rockets don’t rain on South Israel.


In other news, the local government noted that  the sales tax in neighboring towns is higher, and duly wants to raise ours for unspecified projects: “It’s for the kids!”



  1. I too am puzzled by the concept of a transgender teen. Just another example of the ’60s generation avoiding their responsibilities as parents?

    Comment by Infidel de Manahatta — May 18, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    • The transgender teens of today probably do have boomer parents. I don’t know what it all means.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — May 21, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  2. Good point about the Cuba trip. They probably had a few Cuba Libres and figured they did their part.

    I am SHOCKED that a paper would publish any photo of a gun and say something positive about it.

    Looks like a Sig in 9mm.

    Comment by Harrison — May 18, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

    • I think the paper published the photo because the police department (good on them, they do a good job keeping us safe) sent a press release.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — May 21, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

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