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Smuggling controlled drugs from Tijuana, Jerome Weir had a lot more to worry about than U.S. Customs ("Confessions of a Border-Jumping Drug Smuggler," Aug. 30). He should have been worrying about spending eternity in a Mexican prison. Buying controlled substances without a prescription is illegal, even in Mexico. Some advice for anyone who's pissed-off at their pharmaceutically stingy doctor in Orange County: give your business to a Mexican physician in Tijuana who will be glad to give you a legal prescription for whatever ails you—and even for whatever doesn't. Then everything's on the up-and-up to both Mexican and American badge-carrying, gun-toting officials.

Richard Stull
via e-mail

I've brought a couple of boxes of Valium over the border on three separate occasions. I have never been caught for this, but like Jerome Weir, I know people who have been grabbed at the border with pills. Weir is lucky because when he was stopped, he didn't have a bunch of pharmaceuticals with him and could explain away a single bag of Percodan. Small amounts are key; they tell border cops, "I am not a smuggler, just stressed-out."

But Weir seems to be taking bigger risks every time he goes, bringing back larger stashes. He says he's aware that anyone in Mexico could rat him out at any time, but then he tells us he's bringing back OxyContin?! And snorting it in a Mexican bathroom?! And telling people on the street that he's looking for pharmaceuticals?! This guy will get busted.

Before then, Weir will continue paying too much. The key is to have Spanish-speaking Mexican-American friends go with you. Let them do the talking. Also, if you walk over, it's a good idea to drink a great deal; border cops will think you were there for the prostitution. As a side benefit, when you're lubed, you answer Customs questions quickly and naturally. One final thought: if I drive through, I usually buy some crap trinkets, so they have some bags to look through.

via e-mail

Thank you for the only article on the Gigante fiasco that appeared to be researched (Gustavo Arellano's "One Gigante Mess," Aug. 30). You did a wonderful job of capturing the snow job Gigante did in order to get its way and the number of people who used the issue to make political points.

Karen Walker
via e-mail

What exactly is the point of the seemingly never-ending persecution of medical-marijuana activist Marvin Chavez (Matt Coker's A Clockwork Orange, Aug. 30)? The 48-year-old Santa Ana resident originally got six years for providing medical marijuana to undercover cops who used a fake doctor's note. A cop commits fraud, and Chavez, guilty of compassion, is sentenced to prison.

If punitive marijuana laws are intended to deter use, they've failed miserably at doing so. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. than any European country. Yet America is one of the few Western countries that uses its criminal-justice system to destroy the lives of citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis—or who use it as medicine. The only clear winners in the war on some drugs are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians. The big losers are American taxpayers.

Robert Sharpe
Drug Policy Alliance
Washington, D.C.

Thanks to Joel Beers for a balanced and thoughtful review of my play, Trail of Tears ("Genocide Is Bad," Aug. 23). Reviews can be the bete noire of a playwright's nightmares (beginning Day One, when my uncle looked at me in my mother's arms and said, "That's one ugly baby!"). But this made me think critically about my work. That's the best an ugly baby can hope for.

Joseph Hullett
via e-mail

Your irreverent correspondent got it all wrong (Nathan Callahan's "You Don't Deserve This Home," Aug. 23). Eichler homes are about something. Okay, so built-up three-ply flat roofs are more troublesome to maintain than the concrete shingles on a faux French chateau. And yes, glass walls mean heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. So what? Eichler homes are not just a list of features (built-in microwaves, oversized tubs, country kitchens, etc.) the marketing department got from the focus group. Eichler design criteria didn't include energy efficiency (what house did in 1960?), but to describe an Eichler as "unworkable schlock" or "style-masked defect" is nonsense. Deb and I have lived in this habitat since 1986, and we wouldn't trade for your "Mission style" monstrosity with easily accessible plumbing on any terms.

Jon Webb
via e-mail

I spent the first three years of my life in an Eichler home, my consciousness forming under the open beams. Eichler tried to transcend a common syndrome of the '50s that was all too endemic in the music, TV shows and cars of the time—the tendency to "telegraph" emotions through design. Typical tract-home builders screamed warmth through such elements as window shutters and gingerbreading under the roofline.

True Eichler fans eschew such obvious touches. Callahan implies pretension on the part of Eichler people. But what could be more pretentious than a tract home that tries to look like a rural farmhouse?

Wally Fields


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