SALUD, NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK! "Freedom to read," is the slogan, although book culture is seriously on the wane, book culture defined the old way as several million people abreast of the good stuff as a way of life. That's another discussion. Anyway, it's good to see that some people still think books and ideas are dangerous. Here in Mendocino County the "liberals" are the most active censors, occasionally rolling out to demand that the Ukiah Daily Journal ban the Sunday columns of Tommy Wayne Kramer. Needless to say, the Boonville newspaper has also often felt the feathery moist lash of the lib's condemnation but, unequipped as they are for adult give and take, it's not often we have to slip on our flea collars. Could censorship happen here? It does happen here. If David Smith-Hyphen, a poet of all things, and a Harvard grad and retired Boonville teacher named David Rounds, had their way Tommy Wayne would be a goner. Put the Boonville newspaper to a vote at KZYX, say, or the Mendocino Environment Center, and we'd be bye, bye baby, too. But if you put the theory of the free exchange of ideas to a vote I'd bet Mendo would go for it about 60-40; attach names to the theory it might not make it. It's always precarious, and it's a huge irony that in this county it's the "liberals" who do it the most. As a young subversive, books and mags were central to my life and the lives of everyone I associated with. The diff now, and excuse the generalization, is that with print on the way out today's younger radlibs tend to be inarticulate and incapable of coherent thought even though their instincts are good. It's not only them; tune in any talk radio, commercial or public, and chances are the host or hostess will be non-verbal, as will most of the callers. KZYX talk, for handy example, is so garbled it's painful. Another couple of years and the talk hosts and guests will simply be grunting at each other. Anyway, according to the Office of Intellectual Freedom and the American Library Association, the following are the 10 most challenged titles of 2011 with the reason they were objected to. I'd only heard of three of the authors and books — Huxley, Harper Lee and the great Sherman Alexie.
On the off chance a person under the age of 50 happens to read this, Alexie is the cat's pj's. He's really good. A spirted person of any age is going to like him. Quaint that people are still objecting to Brave New World and To Kill A Mockingbird, but it's encouraging that some high school teachers are still trying to get the good stuff into the hands of The Tweet People:
1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle. Offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group .
2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa . Nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. Anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.
4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler . Nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie . Offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor . Nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint.
7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. Insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit.
8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones . Nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit.
9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar . Drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit.
10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee . Offensive language; racism.
I PROBABLY ought to shut up about radio. I seldom tune in Public Radio Mendocino County because its talk programming is mostly unlistenable except for Jeff Blankfort, an old school print guy. I listen to Michael Krasny, the last of the civilized talk guys and, I might add, a very good writer, too. And I tune in Doug Henwood on KPFA most Saturday mornings. Lately, when I'm doing my hill work in the city I listen to sports talk on KNBR with The Razor and Mr. T. The Razor just got fired in a particularly thuggish way. He shows up for work, the boss calls him in to say he's been fired, giving Barbieri no reason, and he's escorted out of the office and onto the street. I'm not the only guy who doesn't get it. That show is the only intelligent sports talk I know of. The others are really, really dumb, especially Mack and Murph, complete with a lot of sound effects barely suitable for ten-year-olds. It was one or the other of these two clowns who advised Jim Harbaugh "to spend more time with your family, dude." Harbaugh surely had to resist taking a punch at the fool. Then, just this morning, some cretin whose name I didn't get hosted a show that partly dwelt on the Ozzie Guillen controversy. For you non-sports fans, Guillen, the manager of the Miami Marlins, home of lots of people on the wrong side of the Cuban Revolution, said he admired Castro's longevity. The Gusanos went nuts, and Guillen is probably going to be fired because everyone in pundit-ville has piled on since. To me, Guillen's statement was simply the obvious. And Guillen's one of the most colorful guys left in big time sports, which has steadily been blanded down like the rest of American culture. Castro has outlasted his critics. Is there something wrong with that statement? No, but Guillen said he admired how the guy's hung on. Is there anything wrong with that statement? Shouldn't be because Castro has hung on, and it terrifies capitalist countries that millions of Latins admire him. How many times has Castro been on the cover of Time magazine? "Castro's Finished." "This Is It For Fidel." And so on down through the years beginning in 1959 which, I think, was the year he announced that his historical engine was Marxism. So, here's this talk jock chatting with a tax lawyer (and major radio advertiser) named Moskowitz about Guillen's Castro remark. Moskowitz compares Guillen's statement to Holocaust denial and says Cubans "are starving and dress in rags." The talk show idiot adds, "Look at all the people he's killed." It went on like this with no one calling in to make at least the basic corrections, pointing out that Cubans are well fed and quite stylish despite… well, Castro could have lightened up years ago, it seems to me, at no peril to his regime. But all these years the CIA has tried to murder him and Cuba has been boycotted, hence the shortages of lots of stuff, and hence Castro's, uh, nervousness. Raul Castro seems headed in the direction of major reform, but most informed people understand that the regime has lasted because most Cubans support it. Ditto for Chavez in Venezuela, Guillen's motherland. Probably the only place in this country of yobbos where there could be a rational, intelligent, calm conversation about Castro would be on Krazny's show on KQED Radio.