Reader: Very nice write-up on Bakersfield's Lonnie Shelton ("Everyone wanted a piece of Lonnie Shelton, and he delivered," Robert Price, July 11). I have fond memories of Lonnie when we played together at South High School on the JV basketball team. I was the starting point guard, with marginal skill, in my junior year, and he was a terrific freshman bypassing the usual frosh-soph team. We had a great season, and in particular I recall countless times driving into the key, drawing the defense and dumping the ball off to him for an easy two. But most of all, I remember Lonnie as a kind and down-to-earth friend.
— Richard Rodriguez
Reader: This was a great article. I really enjoyed it. I am two years younger than Lonnie. I saw him play a lot in high school. Lonnie was God-like in basketball. We all knew he would play in the NBA.
I especially liked the story about the Oregon State track coach (borrowing Lonnie from basketball practice so he could use him in the shot put). I don’t know if you plan any other articles about Lonnie, but I thought this might have been included: In the shot put, in high school, Lonnie didn’t take any steps. He just stood at the front of the circle and heaved it! Like Superman!
Reader: I appreciate the kind words and insights re Lonnie Shelton. He deserves to be remembered well. Many of us loved him.
— Mike Maggard
Price: The day Lonnie Shelton died, editors discussed how we might treat the story in the next morning's paper. When the possibility was raised of devoting our front cover to the man, Vice President and Executive Editor Jim Lawitz, new to the area, asked how big a deal he was: "Is this, like, Frank Gifford dying?" We assured him that, to a couple of generations in Bakersfield and beyond, it most certainly was. Sports Editor Teddy Feinberg then pieced together a solid obituary.
But there was more to say, much more, so I gave it a crack the following day — and was pleased to find some funny, telling anecdotes.
And there's more still to say. Look for author-historian Patrick Vaughan's tribute to the Foothill High graduate and 10-year NBA veteran, coming soon in The Californian.
Reader: Regarding your July 1 column about the potential hazards of the proposed crosswalk on busy, soon-to-be widened 24th Street, "It's not 'Go play on the freeway, kids,' but it's close." Consider the pedestrian bridge over Eagle River Loop Road, near Anchorage, Alaska. It's at least as busy as Bakersfield’s 24th Street. A high school is on one side and elementary schools are on the other. Evidently Anchorage has smarter planners, not to mention wiser pedestrians.
— Gail Cheever
Reader: Robert, I just have to say, this last year or so, you have been really hitting your stride. For my 2 cents, your July 7 Sound Off was the best one yet.
I liked your add-on about the possibility of an underground pedestrian tunnel across 24th Street. The bridge makes huge sense, too.
— John O'Connell
Price: I haven't heard from Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonzales on this issue, but I've heard from many of his constituents — and I still haven't run into any opposition to the idea of a pedestrian bridge.
One reader suggested the alternate possibility of a tunnel under the road, but that didn't get much support. Some feared an underground passage might become a haven for the homeless or a magnet for crime and graffiti. It might also flood during Bakersfield's rare but significant monsoons.
My vote is still for a bridge, the more architecturally interesting the better.
Reader: I hadn't read one of Herb Benham's articles for almost two years, after moving out of Bakersfield. I just read his July 3 piece on vegetable party trays ("This crudite critic speaks for the crowd"), and realized how much I miss his writing, Bob Price's Sound Off column, and TBC in general. I'm back, reading it online. But I really miss the feel of newsprint.
— Bill Matthew
Price: My desk is near Herb's in The Californian newsroom and I see him every day, except when he is traveling the world or Roger Federer is playing tennis on television, and so I find him to be quite ordinary. (Herb, not Roger.)
But then I'll read lines of his like, "Hummus used to be exotic. Somebody brought a tub to a party and it was like a belly dancer had burst through the door." And I realize I really should be paying more attention to him.
I'm pretty sure he has the same enthusiasm for me.
Thanks, Bill, for being kind to us both.
Reader: One reason there may be more letters criticizing the president vs. those supporting him, as Sound Off contributors often point out, might be because it’s easier to criticize obvious bad behavior based on clear evidence vs. praising him based solely on an emotional or ideological preference.
How many people can compose a letter they would want to put their name on that, say, celebrates jerking small children from their parents, rolling back environmental rules designed to protect us from chemical poisoning and air pollution as two examples? How would someone compose a letter supporting the president’s tweets loved and supported by bigots and xenophobes?
While many are out there who love the fact these things are being said or done, or remain angry that Hillary Clinton hasn’t been charged with something and locked up, how would they compose letters of support defending and justifying these things without looking like complete fools? Not so easy.
— Stephen A. Montgomery
Price: You put it a bit more pointedly that I might have, Stephen, but there's truth in what you say. A simpler way to explain it: People simply tend to complain more than praise. We saw that phenomenon at work during Barack Obama's eight years and George W. Bush's eight before that.
Donald Trump, a far more confrontational man than either of them, occupying the White House in an even-more polarized time, is just going to generate more negative criticism than praise — from letter writers and national columnists alike.
But really, there's no plot to stack the letters, folks. Write.
Reader: Thank you for publishing an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence on your July 4 front page, with the entire declaration on Page 9.
There was a day, not too long ago, that The Californian took every opportunity to toot a patriotic horn for our freedoms and how we have helped other countries establish and maintain their freedom, with much of the credit going to our belief in freedom, as provided in the Declaration of Independence.
I’m sorry The Californian failed to write an editorial to help us focus on why we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence each year.
— Jon Crawford
Price: As a columnist and occasional editorial writer who has written many of the type of essays you describe, I'm sorry, too. Your observation is duly noted. But, as you point out, we did publish the finest example possible of patriotic horn-tooting: the declaration itself.
Reader: This is the kind of crap Trump supporters — Americans — have to put up with in the MSM (mainstream media):
According to BizPac Review, "The anti-Trump left and their media allies seized on the story of an elderly Hispanic man being beaten with a brick and told to go back to Mexico, as if the incident was a sign of life in America because of President Donald Trump’s 'zero tolerance' policy toward illegal immigration.
"... The Washington Post reported that Rodolfo Rodriguez, 91, a permanent resident, was attacked with a brick and taken to the hospital with a broken cheekbone and broken ribs. ... But WaPo was hesitant to inform readers Rodriguez was beaten by a black woman, the tidbit of information coming well after the lede.
"The paper also cited a Department of Justice report to say that there was 'an uptick of more than 17 percent' in hate crimes since Trump took office, with 'anti-Hispanic and anti-Latino crimes soaring over 50 percent last year.'"
— Gerald Todd
Price: BizPacReview.com's analysis of The Post's story is a classic example of hyperpartisans seeing persecution where there is none. The fourth paragraph (and sixth sentence) of The Post's 21-paragraph story identified the alleged assailant, 30-year-old Laquisha Jones, as a black woman. That's not "well after" the lede. How that is "hesitant" on The Post's part is beyond me.
Not that her race or gender matters one whit. Her alleged shouts of “Go back to your country” should be evidence enough for a prosecutor considering a hate crime enhancement. And the fact is, such assaults are up this year, as The Post reported near the end of the article. It was entirely appropriate for The Post, in a story about an alleged hate crime, to note the recent increase in hate crimes.
Did you actually read The Post's story about the incident, Gerry, before calling it "crap"? Or are you just basing your complaint on the skewed perspective of a right-fringe "news" site?
Reader: Thank you for the July 8 "Puzzle Quest" insert, with all of the puzzles. It was great having extra ones to do. I enjoy all of the paper, especially the puzzles.
I get a big kick out of the liberals and conservatives both complaining and find your column fun.
— Alice Merebach
Price: Think of those arguments about politics and media as bonus puzzles, because a lot of them puzzle me.