Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter186



Letters to the Editor

(March 8, 2010)


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Greenways, the Antidote to Atlas Shrugged, written by a Friend of Swans.

To the Editor:

Greetings from Thailand and Green Island. We have been sort of distant acquaintances for several years. You published an article of mine 2-3 years ago, and maybe a couple of comments in your letters a time or two. I am sending you a book I have written, through Amazon.com - Greenways. I have been thinking of doing this for awhile, and a couple of days ago, going through the latest Swans, when I came to the "Hungry Man, Reach For The Book" section, I just thought the hell with it and ordered one for you.

I want more people reaching for Greenways someday. I cannot find a publisher for this book, or even an agent, which may be because it is a piece of crap and no person of intelligence would have any use for it, or it may be because it is a strong anti-capitalist book and you'd hardly expect them to publish a book that spoke so eloquently and truthfully about their false religion and god. I tend to the latter explanation, although admittedly I am somewhat prejudiced, at least in part. No doubt, there are agents and publishers who do not support the capitalist religion, but they are swamped with all sorts of possibilities and limited budgets and don't have time to adequately assess every e-mail they get. Many such places seem a bit pretentious too -- serious folk too busy with "important things" to consider "fiction." C'est la vie.

Whatever the reasons, I think this is going to be a great book once it is recognized. It is, more or less, in short, a "socialist-anarchist-democratic" response to Ayn Rand's books, especially Atlas Shrugged. In Green Island, the capitalists are not the hard-working saviours of humanity gallantly opposing the lazy socialist hordes, but I offer what I believe to be the somewhat more truthful portrayal of them as the latest incarnation of the ever-present-in-human-society human predators who feel they have a right to oppress the great mass of humanity, and claim the wealth produced by all as their personal fortune, using any means they can find to do so.

Like Atlas Shrugged, however, I endeavor to wrap the philosophy up in a good story to try to give it access to a wider audience -- and we all know how Atlas Shrugged has become kind of a libertarian-capitalist bible... I think we need something similar for the social-democrats, which I hope to see Green Island become. The book also includes lengthy sections of speculation on the history of our civilization, on how we got the way we are today, in fictional form, and yet a third story-line in which a "Great Universal Incarnate" intercedes briefly, putting all of humanity on trial for millennia of barbaric crimes against Life in general.

I am sending a copy to you as someone who might find it of interest, and if so you might find it worth mentioning to your readers. I have no money for big PR campaigns, so am forced to do the best I can, sending a few copies out to people such as yourself who might find the book worthy of mention. I must confess, I do not have a great success rate with this strategy so far. Nobody I have sent the book to yet has done anything for it or me. Which may, of course, again, be because they judge the book to be unworthy. But I do what I can.

Whatever, I send it entirely obligation free. You may read it yourself, or send it along to one of the Swans reviewers, or if you do not feel it worthy of your or their time, all I would ask is that you drop it off at the nearest library so others can at least have a chance to have a look and judge for themselves. I have a Web site telling a bit about it, if you want a preview -- Green Island. But I send you the hard copy anyway. Somehow, as a lifelong reader, when I am hungry to reach for a book, holding a real book in my hand is considerably more apt to attract my attention than some other Internet page, no matter how good the stuff on the Net may be at times, and I suspect many older readers are of a similar disposition.

Keep up the good work, Gilles; mayhap I can welcome you to a real Green Island some day.

(PS - I know you support Independent bookstores, and when I am in Canada I do too, but for me in Thailand, it is Amazon.com or nothing for many things I want to read, and the DVDs I like to watch (old musicals, opera, G&S, any stuff like that that is not a recent Hollywood blockbuster..) and it has been a godsend, really.

Also, PS2, Green Island is actually a two-volume work, of which I am sending only the first -- my speculation budget has limits, so if you like this first volume, I fear you will have to buy the second yourself.)

Dave Patterson
Hat Yai, Thailand - February 12, 2010


Thank You Taxpayers

To the Editor:

Your dollars financed my stride this morning beneath a "Criminal Operations" sign in the Santa Ana courthouse that initiated a cascade of mistakes and apologies by the California justice system. However, it began on 10-10-08 at the Irving Ranch Conservancy, a popular hiking area on the western lip of Los Angeles, that is signed "No Trespassing." A beefy man peeled a white Bronco from behind a Live Oak, cuffed me, read my rights, and instead of quoting the Conservancy's claim ("The organization works with its partners to enhance the public's appreciation, understanding and connection to the land."), he chided, "Last night a deer hunter sneaked onto the ranch, so at sunrise I began arresting trespassers, and you're the first." He called a sheriff, and an hour's drive later two squad cars arrived, with one officer apologizing while scratching a trespass ticket, "This ain't right, bud." The tardy notice to appear in Santa Ana Superior court was for 7-16-09, but I had left for South America on 4-22-09.

I returned with Hepatitis A on 11-13-09, and recovered by Christmas to open the mail and discover a bench warrant for "failure to appear" with a $2,500 bond, or arrest.

Finally, this morning 2-11-10, I drove five hours from desert to courthouse to walk under the Criminal Operations sign at 7 am, as suggested online, where the clerk added me to this morning's 8:30 am session.

Two whites, one black, 30 English-speaking Hispanics, and 20 Spanish Hispanics all rose as a blonde judge in black settled below the California State Seal. By the time my case was called two hours later, I had noticed on my Case Sheet from the clerk that though the full name was correct, the DOB was a decade short of my own, the height 2" shorter, the eyes brown instead of blue, and the driver's license # a few digits off. The judge called me to the podium, asked my name and date of birth, that I uttered, to which she retorted, "You weren't born in 1959?" "No." "Mr. Keely," continued the judge, "a warrant was issued for failure to appear for a misdemeanor trespass long ago on 7-16-09." "I was out of the country," I stated. "Would you like a trial?" "I would like to talk to the District Attorney." "May I make an offer?"

"I honor your offer, your honor," I replied. "The court will dismiss the failure to appear and trespass if you consent to a DNA test." "There's no other penalty?" I asked. "None," she said. "I accept," and did march to my seat to await the DA's paperwork for the test that I hoped I would pass. She brought it, noted it costs $75, so I asked to see the judge again. Thirty minutes later, I stormed the podium and asserted, "The bargain we struck was a DNA test with no penalty." She apologized that everyone had to pay a processing fee. So I took the paperwork from the bailiff to the second floor and into a door marked "DNA Testing" where a lady asked for my Waiver. "I was given no Waiver." "Then return to court to get it." Forty-five minutes later the bailiff found the sheet slipped in a crack in his desk, and I returned upstairs to as instructed thrust a popsicle stick seven times against the inside of my cheek and stuff it in an envelope marked with my correct first, middle, and last name but the wrong date of birth. She asked for an ID, but when I offered a passport she said, "Oh, that's ok," and didn't look at it. On return to court, a man was being hauled to jail in chains, and the honor broke for lunch at noon, and re-adjourned at 2:00 pm. At 3:00 pm the judge looked at my $75 receipt for the test, apologized, "Thank you for being patient with the court all day," and dismissed the case. Somewhere across this country a poor guy with my name has my DNA.

This is your estimated total cost for this story:

Security officer (one hour)... $40
Two officers (two hours)... $160
Court expenses (accumulative 30 minutes)... $200
total $400, plus a just-hearted person has suggested how easy it is to recoup $600 for my time, toil and expenses from an all-thumbs bureaucracy.

Bo Keely
Blythe, California, USA - February 11, 2010

[ed. Bo Keely, aka Steve Keeley, the former racquetball champion, appeared on Swans with Art Shay in "On Burrowed Time" (August 10, 2009).]


Kenneth Rexroth in SF Examiner 50 Years Ago (from the Bureau of Public Secrets)

To the Editor:

In January 1960 the San Francisco Examiner (a Hearst newspaper) offered Kenneth Rexroth a job writing a weekly column. He accepted. By May 1961 the column had proved popular enough that he was asked to do two and sometimes even three per week.

The association was an odd one. Although Rexroth was by that time a well-known figure in the Bay Area, he was known primarily as a political and cultural radical, and even (somewhat misleadingly) as "the godfather of the Beat Generation." But he was willing to work for the Examiner as long as they gave him complete freedom to write whatever he wanted. They did so until June 1967, when they fired him after he wrote a particularly scathing article about the American police.

All told, Rexroth wrote approximately 700 columns for the Examiner. I am tentatively planning to post all of them 50 years after their original appearance. If all goes well and don't get OD'd with the project, it will be completed on June 18, 2017.

Normally I plan to post each column on the exact 50th anniversary of its original appearance. But to kick-start the series, I have posted the first five all at once -- January 31, 1960, plus the four from February.

Needless to say, the columns vary widely in topic and interest. Some offer incisive commentary that remains astonishingly relevant on all sorts of general issues, social, political, cultural, urbanistic and ecological. Others are more dated, such as reviews of particular musical or theatrical performances. I think you will find, however, that his remarks about even the most ephemeral topics are full of amusing observations and perceptive insights; and that the ensemble constitutes a unique and fascinating chronicle of those eventful years.

The complete columns are being posted at:

As a preview of things to come, you can also explore my earlier selection of some of the more interesting columns at:

Ken Knabb
"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."
Berkeley, California, USA - February 22, 2010


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Published March 8, 2010
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