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War and wild mustangs
When I saw the cover of the February 9 New Times I had to pick it up. I had no idea there were any wild mustangs on the Central Coast. I thought I would have an educational read about these beautiful animals.

 When I read Mr. Stone’s quote, “Horses have been so much a part of our history, unfortunately mostly for war�, I began to wonder just where this story was headed. While horses have been used for war, they have been used just as much, if not more, for prehistoric prey and in some cases are still unfortunately a source of food. They have been used for pack animals, to transport people, and in modern times mostly for pleasure.

 So why the war comment, I wondered. It didn’t take long to realize that New Times just couldn’t write about these majestic animals (or about any subject, it seems), without banging the anti-war mantra drum it so loves.

 If you were writing a story about horse’s asses, McMillan’s favorite TV anti-war show might have been relevant. As for the outlandish lessons he thinks he learned from the mustangs about war, it goes to show his agenda. His input is just another bash-the-war dog and pony show, without the dog.

Kitty Crockett

Never take the safe route
 Well, I guess you really put your foot in it this time.“We’re mad, we’re shocked, we’re outraged, we’re disgusted!� Wait a minute, I always thought that was part of New Times’ job. To never take the safe route. To challenge our comfortable assumptions and to delve into subjects that never see the light of day anywhere else. Isn’t that the paper that Steve Moss founded lo, these many years ago?

 I know I’m in the minority here, based on most of the letters, but I have to say that I never saw Alice’s article as treating the problem lightly. The “Neighborhood Meth Head� struck me as very sad. The “Fun Facts� were shocking. The recipe, rather than showing me how “easy� it was to make, showed me how toxic the ingredients are. Red Devil lye?! Acetone?! Brake Cleaner?! How could anyone ever put that in their body once they know what’s in it?!

 I showed the article to my teenaged sons and asked their thoughts on the way the article addressed the issue. They felt the same way I did and we had a great family discussion about meth, teenagers who use it and much, much more. Wait a minute… maybe that was the whole purpose of the article! D’oh!

 So, I for one want to thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes to the depth and breadth of this terrible problem and for beginning a discussion of the subject in this community and in my home. I can only share how the article struck me and hope that these others won’t stop reading and supporting New Times over one article that they didn’t like. What would this community be without you guys? No more articles about local artists, concerts and events that no one else seems to cover, no more generously underwritten advertising for nonprofits, no more “Split Screen� or stories about local bands in Starkey’s column. How about the sense of humor that underlies everything, the “Spring and Autumn Arts Annuals� and the “Best of� issue that’s become a tradition? No more New Times? I don’t even want to think about it.

 Please everyone, take a deep breath and remember why you picked up New Times in the first place. It’s still the same paper.

Patty Thayer
Los Osos

Impending disaster
 After reading all of the letters to the editor in your February 9 issue (which was hard to find — looks as if New Times is disappearing all over SLO County), I agree with every letter opposed to your article. New Times owners and editor, you really have cut off your nose to spite your face this time — guess this was inevitable since the Shredder’s raunchy writings have become more rude and vulgar which now appears to have been a sign of the New Times’ impending disaster. How sad for all at the New Times to have lost so much of the community’s support and respect for the sake of printing one outrageously destructive article in a town of 30,000 young, impressionable college-age students, some of whom are away from home for the first time, and whom I suspect were just waiting for an article like yours from a once well-respected newspaper.
 The damage you have done to yourselves and to our community remains to be seen. Furthermore, you need to keep telling yourselves over and over again, “No excuse is the best excuse.�
 I have been one of your most ardent fans since the New Times was first published. Hopefully you can overcome this nightmare for the good of all concerned.

Naoma Wright
San Luis Obispo

Redefine the dream
 I didn’t read the meth article until after all the fuss. I intended to be all, “It’s America, you blockheads, let freedom of speech win,� and to totally defend New Times. I thought people were attacking you because they had their heads in the sand about drug usage in this county.

 But then I read the meth article. The minute I read it I knew something was wrong. Here’s the thing. I love the IDEA of New Times. The Dream. A real community paper, telling the truth and never having to say you’re sorry. When I moved here 11 years ago, New Times was a breath of fresh air. I loved the paper. I loved the articles and the letters. And the Shredder was hilarious, on point and written from an intelligent mindset.

 Sadly, I have to wake up and see it’s not true anymore. In reality, the New Times has become less and less relevant. And do you know why? It’s not due to your recent articles on meth and a police officer gone bad. It’s not because you have turned the “Best of SLO� into one of the most blatant advertising schemes in California. And it’s not because you don’t carry the Palm Theater.

 It’s because you are not producing well-written and thoughtful articles. It’s not that you wrote about a bad cop and it’s not that you tried to tackle the issue of meth and drugs in our hometown. It’s just that you did it badly. And the Shredder is no longer witty and insightful. It reads as if it were written on the day of the deadline with nothing better to do.

 PROPOSED SOLUTION: How about a re-focus? Redefine YOUR OWN DREAM for the New Times, know why you bother doing any of this. Then, write to us. Write from your hearts. We deserve it.

Barbara-Jo Osborne
Morro Bay

Lighten up
 A few weeks ago you printed a letter from a gentleman castigating New Times, unfairly I thought, for a headline over your review of the movie “Brokeback Mountain,� which read, “Homos on the Range.�
 He showed an excellent command of the English language, and demanded an apology from New Times, which of course, was not forthcoming. I found the headline amusing, but then again I’m a heterosexual female. I’m also pro-gay, pro-gay marriage, etc. “Homo� is merely a shortened version of homosexual, and to my mind is not nearly as derogatory as “fag,� “fairy,� or “queer.� I saw the movie and enjoyed it immensely, and suggest that the gentleman in question lighten up.

Jan Strain

 Hang in there, Thomas family
 For the most part, I have often appreciated the New Times’ ability to push the journalistic envelope, but this time it broke my heart. The cover photo of Officer Thomas’ grieving family, at the funeral no less, was wrenching. Of course, I did wonder what Enquirer-mentored photographer would snap such a photo at such a personal time. Then I saw that the photographer was Christopher Gardner. Question answered. But then I had to wonder why some clear-thinking soul at New Times wouldn’t have had the heart, conscience, or sense of community to eliminate some of the dramatic details. Your intent, sadly, was obvious.

 The question of New Times’ journalistic integrity aside, this is what I wanted to tell Officer Thomas’ family: As a member of this community, I apologize for the lack of consideration and care your family was shown. You are no more the successes, than the failures, of anyone else. Cherish what you loved about your husband and father, and set free what does not serve you or his memory. This life is a long road, and by the very nature of surviving such an emotional time, you will have a compassion and understanding that others can only hope for. This community will support you, Thomas family, and we will honor this unimaginably difficult time in your life. Love and light to you.

Cindy Giovacchini
Grover Beach

I smell a rat
 In response to the San Luis mouse problem article (January 19), I can’t believe how people in the Laguna Lake tract are saying Home Depot, Costco, and Dalidio are the cause. If that construction is the reason, then why didn’t the mice swarm over when the common-looking condos were built on LOVR and Madonna? It seems whenever expensive tract homes are built in SLO that’s OK, but bring in new business for all those people to use and expensive special elections happen to keep them out.

I say maybe the mice are coming from the neglected Laguna Lake and its unmaintained overflow runoff canal behind all the houses in question, which of course is so bad in part due to the lack of new revenue. It’s a natural cycle for mice to have good years, and they are have been doing it in their natural environment (near humans and their food) since time began. SLO residents need to stop spending so much time complaining about nice new stores, and more time at council meetings to get their roads and public services back in shape.

James Parry
Morro Bay


Thanks for the wake-up call
 Much has been said about the cover article in the February 2 issue of New Times titled “Meth Made Easy� that reported the horror of the growing methamphetamine epidemic. The article contained the details of how easy this powerfully addictive drug is to make and clearly laid out its devastating effect.

 I understand the concern people have for the safety of youth who might be inclined to take the perhaps all-too-detailed information in the article and experiment with the process of making meth. But to make that the issue is to miss the bigger point the article makes. The information in that article is already widely available to anyone. Meth is a dangerous drug epidemic and it needs to be understood as such to deal with it effectively.

 Ignorance is seldom the best policy. Knowledge is power, and to that end New Times should be thanked for the wake up call. Perhaps it’s time to have that talk with your kids.

Martin U’Ren

Keep Hodin
 What are you thinking? Russell Hodin’s cartoons are what keep me looking out for Thursday and your new edition. Add to that the meaty articles by John Peabody — for example, Peabody’s powerful in-depth reporting  on the BLM hounding of Marlene Braun. Hounding her to death because she actually worked to protect the Carrizo Plain. Hodin’s cartoon “BLM Vision for the Carrizo Plains� (September 1, 2005) added just the right pithy visual editorial comment.

 You can’t really be thinking of limiting Hodin to every other week. Please say it isn’t so.

Maria Lorca
Ed. Note: It’s not.

Anything goes 
 I was out of town, and missed the “meth recipe issue�. I read all of the well-meaning, self-righteous breast beating in the next issue, and I must say, I think it WAS pretty dumb to include the recipe. However, I don’t think the number of addicts will increase — it’s not like there is a shortage of information out there for those inclined to slow suicide.

 My problem is with the editor’s contention that, in this Internet-wired world, somehow anything goes. The theory is that somehow the information will get out anyway so we may as well pass it on (the “cuz I can� mentality). 

 This journalistic approach, totally lacking in self-restraint, is the media equivalent of a running sewer. The sheer volume of information requires a more discerning attitude. This is not self-censorship. The meth epidemic needs to be covered to find out the “what� and “why�.
 What you guys screwed up was the “how�.

A. McCloud
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