Your two cents: ‘tone deaf’

Has it really been three years since my last Your Two Cents post? Time flies. Anyway, Sunday’s column on my favorite Starbucks closing — not my favorite coffeehouse, my favorite Starbucks — was my most popular all month based on online views, which I would not have expected.

Although I made a point of saying that the loss of mom-and-pop businesses will be felt more keenly, some people were unmoved and wondered why they should care that a single Starbucks closed (they may have only been reacting to the headline) or why I would waste space writing about a corporate business.

Here’s an email to that point, sender’s name excised:

May I ask why you chose to focus on corporate closings for your article detailing a recent Starbucks shuttering? While you acknowledged that mom and pop stores will also likely close, I feel you wasted your article space by focusing on large corporations that will more easily navigate the difficult economic period. Your article could have addressed the local businesses or coffee shops that need all the help they can get! Sanctuary Coffee is one such location that is non-profit dedicated to social change and great coffee!

May I suggest that you consider highlighting organizations that can actually use the money we spend as consumers? I have little sympathy for corporations like Starbucks losing a location in the sea of their other locations. My only concern is for the employees that are working there and if their jobs are still available to them at locations which I don’t believe you addressed in your article. What of them and the impact of the closure on their jobs? Your portrayal of being inconvenienced by the closure comes off as selfish and tone deaf to be honest.


(Sender’s name)

OK, I admit I’m sharing this email mostly because when she followed up “selfish and tone deaf” with “Kindly,” I let out a horselaugh. One might even wonder if the writer was tone deaf to her own email.

When I replied to her, politely, I cut and pasted the two paragraphs about the fate of the employees, said that I write about local businesses often and that I never expressed sympathy for Starbucks or said anyone should.

But I’ll throw it out there anyway: Who else thinks writing about a closed Starbucks that I frequented was a poor use of column space?

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Your two cents: ‘no class as usual’

It’s been more than a year since my last Your Two Cents entry, in which a reader bashed me for saying I’m not an Eagles fan. Good times. But then not one, not two, but three readers on the Bulletin’s Facebook page criticized aspects of my column on the mayor of Fontana, Acquanetta Warren, meeting President Trump. Ohh, controversy (of a very mild sort, but still).

First, this part toward the end — “Warren, who’s African-American, is a Republican. She declined to say whether she’d voted for Trump, but she lamented how polarized the political environment has become” — got an objection from April Sims: “So why did this writer feel the need to mention the mayor’s race? Her political party? Maybe.”

Yes, actually. She’s a black woman mayor, interesting in itself, and a black woman Republican mayor, even more unusual. I imagine a lot of Republicans read that and thought with pride, “Neat.”

Then Andrew Land and Jason Gaudy both objected to another part. After the mayor grabbed a pad of paper from in front of the president, and he noticed and chuckled, I followed up with: “He may have been relieved someone else was doing the grabbing for a change.”

“Have a little class, David. Try not to live down to the standards of your newspaper,” Land wrote in part. Gaudy chimed in: “allen has no class as usual. disgusting comment and it has nothing to do with which party he’s from. if this guy didn’t work for the daily bulletin no one would read anything he wrote.”

I knew that line, tossed in as an afterthought, might rub a few people the wrong way, but I went ahead anyway. It was my lone joke at Trump’s expense, and it seemed to me one was OK. For some readers, even one was too many.

I’m a little surprised someone thinks I displayed “no class as usual” — is this a thing about me no one else is willing to say? — but I do have to agree that if I didn’t write for the Daily Bulletin that no one would read me. Because, well, if I weren’t published, where WOULD anyone read me?

Was anyone else bothered by my mention of the mayor’s race and political party, or by my “grabbing” joke? Or, now that it’s out there, by my lack of class?

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Your two cents: The Eagles ‘were great’

In my column on the Eagles after Glenn Frey’s death, honesty compelled me to note that I wasn’t writing as a particular admirer of the band: “(Candidly, I can’t say I’m a fan of the band, although I do still have my 45 of ‘Hotel California,’ bought when I was 12. At six minutes, eight seconds, the song was good value for the money.)”

A reader who didn’t give her name left me a voice mail, which I’ll quote in full:

“Mr. Allen, I happened to read your article in the paper today about Glenn Frey. It’s too bad you feel so badly about the Eagles, because they were great. And I’m sure you’re one of those stupid Beatle fans — ‘I want to hold your hand’ ignorance. I used to read your column all the time. I won’t be reading it EVER AGAIN, because you are that dumb.”

Wow! She did not have a peaceful, easy feeling!

I laughed out loud at least twice while listening to her voice mail and enjoyed playing it again and again to accurately transcribe it. A colleague said dryly, in response to the caller’s sign-off: “Good, who wants you?”

Always interesting what people take from a column or how they interpret it or what they read into it. I do like the Beatles, as most of us do, but I don’t think it’s an either-or, or that I shouldn’t be allowed to not love the Eagles. But correct me if I’m wrong.

(Previous Your Two Cents posts can be read here, by the way.)

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Your two cents: ‘Going down the tubes’

In Sunday’s column on the latest from the Chino Valley Unified School District, I wrote this about board member Andrew Cruz:

“To refresh your memory, Cruz had gone off on a monologue in July in which he gave his opinions on vaccinations, race relations, adoptions, gay marriage and black families and espoused an anti-government conspiracy about chemical trails in the sky.

“Was he speaking as a school board member or auditioning as a Fox News commentator?”

Perhaps predictably, someone objected. Here’s an email in full from an anonymous reader, female I think because of the email address. The all-caps signoff is hers.

“I cannot be the only one who is offended by your comment about Fox News and Cruz auditioning as a Fox news commentator because of his opinions which are deemed offensive. Fox is the top rated news channel –apparently a lot of people like it as somewhat of an alternative to the mainstream media which are democratic news organizations. They are not off the wall as you seem to suggest. Now I know why many people have stopped subscribing to the Inland Bulletin – their editorials now are in line with and copy the NY Times. Look for more layoffs. Some parts of the Inland Empire are becoming more demo because of huge illegal immigration but the new immigrants cannot afford your paper, therefore, you may be going down the tubes bit by bit. It will become digital at a reduced rate and your column will become a little sidebar with shots at Fox news. Keep up the good work. A RIGHT WING CRAZY PERSON.”

Whew! That’s a lot of ire and gloomy predictions over an offhand joke, but that’s how it goes sometimes. My comment wasn’t aimed at Fox News but was made as a way of pointing out how out of context Cruz’s hot-button commentary seemed for a school board meeting. Was there a better comparison than Fox? I don’t see anything wrong with it, and of course as a columnist I’m entitled to my point of view, but I wonder if others saw this as offensive or needlessly provocative.

Anyway, I love how the writer can’t bring herself to capitalize the name of the Democratic Party, as well as her claimed familiarity with the nuances of the New York Times editorial page. And who would have guessed that my little joke would, at a future date, lead to layoffs at my newspaper? Ulp.

Previous “Your Two Cents” posts can be seen here.

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Your two cents: ‘Puerile’

My Sept. 2 column led reader John Lamm to read an earlier column and then send me the following email, with the neutral subject line “Your work.” Here’s his missive in full.

“I read your column in today’s paper — specifically your account of a reader’s possession of copies of the Senate Watergate Hearings, and in that column you referred to your August 8th column. So I dredged up and read that column also.

“I am certain that as a chronicler of current events (at least within the 909) you also feel that your ‘take’ on various events of the past has some merit, simply because you have the forum to present that ‘take.’ I can assure you it doesn’t. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more vacuous, puerile or less-informed stab at wit or wisdom as your blather and version of the time and events of the phenomenality prescient Nixon Presidency you recall in your column.

“Your ‘take’ on Richard Nixon, his presidency, and specifically the events leading up to August 8, 1974 is as erudite as the assignment given the Rialto School District’s 8th graders to prove or disprove the Holocaust.

“In short, you are an idiot.”

Ha! Give him this, he knows how to write a punchy ending. A “sir” would have increased the disdain, though: “In short, sir, you are an idiot.” We could then imagine the finger snap with which he would have dismissed me.

Was the column that bad? It meandered, it was composed of random thoughts on Watergate, but you weren’t expecting a tightly written essay that cut like a diamond, were you?

By the end of the reader’s email I laughed out loud because it’s rare that I get such a rude letter, so it’s kind of a treat. All sorts of replies went through my mind: “You read two of my columns and then spent precious minutes crafting a put-down email; who’s the idiot here?” “Thanks for your ‘take’ on my ‘take,'” “My bosses loved that column and they’re the ones who pay me,” “How can I help you if you won’t tell me how you feel,” that sort of thing. Also, I considered asking if “phenomenality” is a word, but then, I’m an idiot so of course it must be.

My preferred response: “Thanks for letting me know. Best anyway.”
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Your two cents: ‘Snootiness’

My recent Restaurant of the Week post about Pomona’s Brick Market and Deli led to an email exchange with a Pomona friend that was unexpected. Reread the post first. It helps to remember that I live in Claremont. First she wrote:

“Interesting review. I’d argue that Pomona is smart and sophisticated as well. Sanctum, The Rookery, Pomona Downtown, The Pomona Art Walk, Vintage Renewals, etc., all have Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’m assuming they are all on Yelp since Yelp is customer-generated.

“I also don’t think Pomona should be more like Claremont. Pomona has a thriving artistic and ethnic culture, and I wouldn’t want that to change. If you walk around the residential neighborhood here at night, people are sitting on their stoops listening to music and laughing. It’s a really dynamic part of Pomona that I truly love!

“I’ve bought quinoa and wasabi peas at WinCo. They probably have the other stuff, but I’ve never checked (never been a big biscotti fan).”

To clarify, when I said The Brick is “active on Yelp,” I meant that management responds to almost every comment, which is unusually pro-active. Anyway, I don’t disagree with anything she wrote, but clearly she didn’t like what I wrote.

Later, she wrote that her email had been “extremely gentle and completely toned down from how truly offended I was by your post.” She said she saw Claremont “snootiness” in this line from the blog post: “They seem like a smart, sophisticated bunch, the kind of business you’d expect to find in Claremont and thus great to see in Pomona.”

Obviously no offense was intended on my part; if anything, readers usually tell me I’m too kind to Pomona and, if they live in Claremont, too hard on my own town. What I was trying to get across, and perhaps failed at, was that what is essentially an organic convenience store, with high-end sandwiches, struck me as the sort of business you’d find in the Village rather than Pomona, and especially not at an intersection with a KFC, a vacant grocery store, a donut shop and a drive-thru burger stand.

But I’m curious if you folks — anyone, but particularly those of you who live in Pomona or used to live there (John, Deb, Ren, Andy, etc.) — were offended or thought I came off as condescending. Be honest. Your thoughts on the Claremont-Pomona dynamic, Pomona gentrification, etc., are welcome as well.

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Your two cents: ‘Do you do…?’

I had this email exchange recently with someone whom I expected at the start was at least an occasional reader.

Him: “Do you do reviews on anything? My friend is hosting a Car & Bike show event in Pomona this weekend on 3/22/2014 which will be an annual event, but this is their first year hosting the event in pomona. Would be great if you can join us, and maybe do a quick interview with the owner? Thank you so much David!”

Me: “Sorry, Mike, but car shows and such aren’t really my bailiwick. Good luck on your friend’s show, though.”

Him: “Ok what about businesses?”

I was tempted to reply, “What about them?”

Me: “Do I do reviews of businesses? No.”

Unable to let this go, he sent one more.

Him: “What do you do then?”

A variety of responses came to mind, such as “Things other than reviews of car shows and businesses,” “Ask someone who reads my columns,” “My bosses are probably asking the same question,” etc. Instead I replied: “Things like this” and linked to my column on the citrus packing house in Upland.

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Your two cents: ‘Crummy’

This potential column item has languished for a couple of weeks, so I’ll use it here.

At the library telethon in Rancho Cucamonga, two readers introduced themselves separately and offered commentary. The first rushed up to meet me and said she’d wanted to make a point of doing so after reading that I would be there.

“Your columns are kind of funny, when I get it,” she said. I thanked her but felt a little bad if I’ve confused her.

Some time later, a second woman cheerfully nattered on for a while on various topics. At one point she said, “Where did you park?” Um, in the garage. Why? “I’d like to see your new car,” she said. Referring to my former car, a Toyota Corolla, she continued: “I once saw that crummy car you used to drive. I’m so glad you got rid of it.”

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Your two cents: ‘Is this…?’

For the Bulletin staff, having your phone number at the end of your story often means fielding calls from readers who think you’re the contact for that company, nonprofit or issue, even when the body of the story contains contact information. Evidently they just impatiently skip to the end. Stories about job fairs, for instance, always prompt one or more calls to the reporter from readers, to use the term loosely, who want a job.

In that spirit, I had this exchange with a caller recently.

Me, picking up: Newsroom, David Allen.

Caller: Is this Mel’s Drive-In?

Me.: …

Me: This is the Daily Bulletin newsroom.

Caller: This isn’t Mel’s Drive-In?

Me: This is the newspaper. Mel’s closed two or three years ago.

Caller: I was reading about Mel’s Drive-In on the Internet and your number was there.

Me: Yes, I work for a newspaper, and I wrote about Mel’s when it closed. That was three or four years ago.

Caller: Oh.

For the record, Mel’s closed in October 2010. And if you do a Google search for “Mel’s Drive-In Rancho Cucamonga,” my column is indeed one of the top results, under the headline: “Farewell to Mel’s Drive-In, which is driving out.” Which would seem to be a pretty good tipoff the restaurant isn’t there anymore, but maybe that’s just me.

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Your two cents: ‘Lazy’

Responding to my Oct. 16 column about parting with my 1999 Toyota Corolla, reader Robert Kiensler wrote in full:

Why do novice drivers feel obligated to write about their car neglect as if it’s anything more than being cheap and lazy? A mini will cost a pretty penny to repair and the Toyota will end up in the hands of an illegal alien. Any running car is worth double the money you gave it away for. Being uninitiated (lazy) lost you six hundred more out of pocket!

There are a lot of issues with Kiensler’s blast of negativity: How exactly am I a “novice driver”? Or “uninitiated”? “Car neglect”? My mechanic would disagree with that. And Kiensler couldn’t resist playing the illegal alien card. But let’s peer through the haze and look at his complaint.

WAS I lazy to part with my car for $650 to the dealer instead of selling it privately? Even if I could have gotten “double,” to my mind, another $650 may not have been worth the trouble of figuring out how to get two cars to my house, and then advertising the car and dealing/haggling with potential buyers.

But maybe that’s a lazy person’s thinking. What do you think?

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