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Seeing young skateboarders targeted as consumers by large corporations is of less concern than the fact that they're targeted as consumers by local politicians (“OC's Radical Culture Czars” by Steve Lowery, Aug. 20). While skating has indeed found its way into the mainstream, this has unfortunately led many city councils to build skateboard parks at the expense of those who don't skate (the vast majority of the public, believe it or not, doesn't know Tony Alva from Tony Hawk and really doesn't care). Garden Grove, for example, has budgeted $150,000 for a skateboard park. Sure, that park will pale in comparison to the privately owned and world-class Van's skateboard park next door at the Block, but hey, Garden Grove will be keeping up with Cypress!

Cheers to young people who go underground when skating attracts too many corporate flies. But when it comes to finding a market niche, it's the political buzzards that should concern all of us, young skateboarders or not.

—Paul Marsden, Executive Committee Representative, Libertarian Party of Orange County

I was wondering how old the person on the front of the Aug. 20 issue is. His face makes him look about 13 or 14 years old. But the amount of armpit hair the subject has is making my friends and me wonder. If you could please let us know, we would greatly appreciate it.

—Kayte Turner, via e-mail A biochemist in theOC Weekly DataLab replies: We're glad to clear up this compelling mystery. For a story that examined the complex interplay between ostensibly “radical” subcultures and the marketing tactics of multinational corporations, we chose man-child Andy Hernandez, a 13-year-old skater from Irvine. We attribute the armpit fur to prodigious amounts of hormones in the nation's beef and poultry supplies.RAIL FOR AND AGAINST THE MACHINE

It doesn't surprise me to find a social conservative like Paul Weyrich defending rail mass transit; rail reflects the orderly, highly regulated, obedient society he yearns for (“Why Weyrich?” by Will Swaim, Aug. 20). But Weyrich is right: the automobile would not be where it is today without massive government subsidy and promotion. Ironically, those anti-rail people, who view subways and trolleys as “Rooseveltian Socialism,” neglect the fact that New Deal-era construction programs were far friendlier to highways than to rail transit. Railroads and street railways were owned by and run for the benefit of the Republican plutocracy. By contrast, the automobile was seen as the liberator of working people from crowded, noisy transit modes.

The real disadvantages of the automobile-dominated transportation system are better appreciated today than 50 years ago, when the era of Autopia began in Southern California. But there is no consensus on remedies. Among the advocacy groups for transit, two stand out: the pro-rail crowd (who believe that our transportation policies have been in a sort of Babylonian exile, the effects of which must be corrected by rebuilding the Red Car system) and the busway boosters (who believe any transportation improvements must be compatible with the scattered urban form created by freeways and boulevards; their recipes include infrastructure improvements, such as busways, and could even involve limited underground bus operation, as in Seattle and Pittsburgh).

It appears the pro-rail crowd holds an edge in Orange County, as they have played politics better than the busway boosters. The former have put together a good coalition of conservancy groups, environmentalists, contractors, consultants, and, now, a Christian conservative in the person of Paul Weyrich to push rail as the only mass transportation that can attract auto owners and improve the urban ambiance. Rail comes across as both environmentally friendly and upscale: that's a hard combination to beat. For all of their more common-sensical and cost-engineered arguments, the bus advocates have not produced a plausible, convincing image of an advanced bus system that enhances the quality of urban development and serves the transit dependent and which can, in some markets, lure people out of their Hondas and Tauruses.

—Robert P. Sechler, Cypress

Wayne King of Drivers for Highway Safety said, “If we build a rail line, and nobody uses it, we are stuck with it.” I say the same thing is true with freeways, so maybe we should stop building them, too. The proposed rail line has several distinct advantages: it would serve Disneyland, the Mall of Orange, the John Wayne Airport and the Irvine Metrolink. Right now, buses serving those places carry lots of people. A light-rail line would allow people to get there more quickly, would offer a smoother ride, and would have more comfortable seating. So it seems likely that the rail line would carry all the existing bus riders, and it would attract a significant number of people who presently drive. Also, the number of passengers the line would attract would be small compared to traffic volumes on nearby freeways, but it would attract most riders during rush hour, and at those times, a reduction of traffic of only a few percent would be very significant. The Metrolink trains going to LA carry only 28,000 people per day, but they reduce the length of rush hour on freeways going through downtown LA by about an hour. A light-rail line in Orange County could have a similar effect.

—Chris Flescher, via e-mail

As long as the words “highway” and “safety” are used without irony in the same phrase—as in “Drivers for Highway Safety”—I'll continue to support the development of light rail.

—Tim Paquet, Seal Beach SCHOOLIN' US

I read Margaret J. Soos' “With Friends Like These” not with horror, but with a smirk (Back to School, Aug. 27). Does Soos suppose these “shocking” revelations will really surprise anyone? When I went to college, I purposely chose a school with no Greek system because anyone with half a brain and a modicum of independence saw sororities for what they are: mills of conformity where the future rich and powerful exercise their power over vapid girls whose values will be shaped easily to mirror their own—girls with no backbone; girls with no balls; girls who will end up pulling the same power trip because they are the elite, because they can.

I guess Ms. Soos thinks she should be commended for having the guts to expose the truth. However, I find nothing commendable in her anonymous revelation. If she had any guts, she would've gotten up off the floor and transferred to a school with no Greek system. If she had any guts, she never would have pledged in the first place. If she had any guts, she'd probably question her goal of a “corporate” career, where she'll meet many more like her “sisters” and “brothers” in the Greek life . . . and many more like herself.

—Stacey Earley, Via e-mail

I read with great interest Soos' article on sorority membership and incidents of binge drinking. In this regard, I would like to inform you of College Parents of America's efforts to further involve college parents in talking and otherwise interacting with their students on the subject of alcohol.

College Parents of America (CPA) is the only national membership association dedicated to helping parents prepare and put their children through college easily, economically and safely. You can find information on CPA's initiatives and resources/services for parents by writing to CPA, 700 13th St., N.W., Ste. 950, Washington, D.C. 20005; calling toll-free (888) 256-4627 for automated information; or visiting www.college parents.org on the Internet.

—Richard M. Flaherty, president, College Parents of America

Re: Steve Lowery's “CSULB Revisited” (Back to School, Aug. 27):

Hey, Steve, you got punched by a professor? How come you didn't describe the incident? You got me guessing. Was it an English professor? Back in my Cal State Long Beach days ('94-'97), the only guy (I'm assuming it was a male faculty member) even vaguely capable of throwing a blow was Ray Zapeda, and he was a burned-out, supposed ex-cholo with a schoolbooky thing for Hemingway. And surely you weren't socked by Gerry Locklin, ex-Catholic, ex-buddy of Bukowski, ex-Reno Room barley loader (if you studied verse at CSULB, you'll remember Dr. Locklin as resembling a cartoon-style turkey with Coke-bottle glasses). I can't think it was old, lipless Eliot Fried, or Steve Cooper, who is to this day still searching for Fante's 1938 B text. . . . In any case, when I attended CSULB, hanging out and getting stoned with professors was easy enough.

I can dig what you said about dealing with fellow students: “Not only was eye contact dangerous, but it also had the potential of bringing you in contact with losers, i.e., other Cal State Long Beach students. We were all losers because, after all, we were at Cal State Long Beach. C'mon, what good was going to come out of a conversation between two Cal State Long Beach students? . . . What was amazing was that no one told me this or actually showed me how to avoid it. Rather, the paranoia, apathy and revulsion . . .” I, too, felt a certain shame at attending a university where a pulse and a TB test were the only entrance requirements; perhaps this explains the “apathy” and “revulsion.”

However, you failed to mention the other life skills taught by CSULB. One, bureaucrats behind sliding windows are to be feared. They can lose your grad units, transcript request and student aid check. Two, you learn the great secret that one's public face (the white-haired scholar and lover of poetry) has nothing to do with one's everyday life (middle-class Long Beach homeowner worried about the number of Mexicans in his child's elementary school). Finally, you should count your CSULB blessings: perhaps your BA led (at least at some minute level) to your current position at OC Weekly, which sure beats my job at McArgus here in Afterbirth California.

—Mark Michaelson, OrangeFREE ADVICE

Dear Sir or Madam,

I just have a couple of questions re: Orange County. I am interviewing for a couple of positions at UC Irvine. If I am hired, I won't know where to live. If I were to be hired by UCLA, I would know where to live (I'm a Santa Monica kind of guy). But I don't know much about Irvine (what I have read on the Web indicates it is a white-bread kind of town; I lived in the La Jolla area and didn't like that). Here are my questions: (1) Is there anywhere around Irvine that is remotely hip? (2) If Irvine is out of the picture, is there someplace close to LA where I can live that is practical to take public transportation (I am without vehicle) to UCI? (3) Should I wait until there is a position open at UCLA?

—Name withheld by request, Via e-mail A white-bread editor responds: (1) There are plenty of places around Irvine that are extremely hip, but perhaps not to a “Santa Monica kind of guy.” (2) There's a good, imminently hip place almost precisely between LA and UCI: Long Beach, especially downtownish, near Second Street and Belmont Shores; Idunno about public transportation, although an editor did mention this morning that he caught a bus from Irvine to our Costa Mesa office (less than 10 miles) and it took 55 minutes. (3) You're gonna rely on an anonymous e-mail for such a major life decision? Hell, wait for UCLA, then. We have enough hipper-than-thou Angelenos down here.

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