The Rogue Voice


January 01, 2008

Letters and comic

Plug for the transgendered

To the Rogue Voice:

I’ve been reading your magazine for the past several months, since my brother, Duane Hagabee, began sending me his articles. Considering my brother’s, shall we say, conventional ideas about life, I was rather surprised to see such an otherwise liberal-minded publication coming out of my hometown. The stories from the downtrodden in life, opinion pieces about universal health care and the evils of the Bush administration, along with edgy poetry, made me wonder if this is the conservative, old “SLO town” that I grew up in and fled from, as soon as I was of legal age.
Your Christmas issue, however, exceeded even my expectations. It was so courageous of you to feature on your cover a member of the transgendered community. It is difficult enough for us to find acceptance, even in America’s major cities. If a guy like Talmadge Jarrattee can say that this is his “ideal woman,” then maybe there’s hope for America (“just enough of the she-devil to make it interesting, but not enough to swallow me whole…”—indeed).
I do have one concern, though: I’m wondering if the line on the cover—“How about a hot toddy?”—is enough of a hint to the straight community that this is actually a transgendered individual? I don’t think that “Crying Game” shock value is helpful in gaining acceptance for alternative lifestyles (apologies to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie). Anyway, to your cover model I say, “You go, girl!” If that is the new face of San Luis Obispo, then maybe it’s time for me to move back to town—if Duane doesn’t mind.

Sincerely, Melissa (formerly Michael) Hagabee San Francisco, California

Talmadge Jarrattee responds:
Excuse me! The cover portrait by Martin Shields was taken from a photo of Tish, a former stripper at “Sassy’s” in Portland, Oregon. I met her while visiting Frank Peters, who owns a nightclub called the Grand Café. He took me to several strip clubs and in Sassy’s I fell in love with Tish, and we lived together for two years in Santa Cruz before she got out of control on alcohol and cocaine. She has since recovered and works the bar for Mr. Peters and, although she is deliciously and voraciously bisexual, she is not transgendered.

Skeptic won over
I must admit that I picked up your publication with some skepticism. But it was with surprise and delight that I discovered the commentary on health care by Steve Pittelli [“Mire in neglect?” November 2007].
I was intrigued by Dr. Pittelli, and I wondered just how many of your readers know about State Senate Bill 840 [Single-payer health care coverage], and all it has to offer. It is the only universal bill that covers everyone in California and is actually affordable.
If Schwarzenegger doesn’t veto it in February I may actually be able to afford comprehensive health care. Let’s hope the governator reads your rag-mag too!

Shannon Miller Santa Barbara, Calif.
Editor’s note:
Thanks to your comment, we’ve added the governor’s office to our mailing list and shipped a package of past issues for his reading pleasure.

Listen to the soldiers
Thank you for your story on Iraq veteran Noah Charles Pierce and his poems [“Friends,” November 2007].
I live in Twenty Nine Palms, Calif., home of the largest U.S. Marine base in the world (19,000 active duty). This is the Marines’ primary desert training center and we see convoy training on our roads every week. I can hear munitions exploding and see dust clouds from the base out my front door. Black Hawk helicopters fly almost silently at night just above my house—a bit spooky. The Marines are all around me. In my neighborhood, probably three of four homes are occupied by active duty or retired Marines. Most of the active duty soldiers are young, relatively uneducated, and in my view, entered the Marines naively. The biggest thing in their lives was the successful terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. They wanted to avenge a wrong and “defend their country.”
Few of them knew about the truck bomb attack in 1993 on the Twin Towers and they knew little of Middle East politics when they joined. Heck, I bet most of them could not even find Kuwait on a map, and now they know more about sand and heat than a camel. Many of the ones coming back from Iraq seem to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They might have thought that they were going to Iraq to defend their country, (e.g., find the WMDs) but they soon learned their job was to defend their comrades. Almost all the ones I have spoken to say something like, “That war is messed up,” and I have spoken to plenty. They probably use a lot worse language among themselves. We see all kinds of irrational behavior from the ones coming home: reckless driving, loud cursing and fighting with spouses, getting married and then divorced in days, inability to stay in a residence for more than a few months, etc. etc. Everything back “stateside” seems unreal to them. They have told me, “I don’t care about ANYHING anymore.” They say, “I don’t care what anybody thinks.” They are old men at age 21 both in their spirit, and sometimes in their bodies, due to wounds and concussions.
These young soldiers might have known about the success of 1990 Desert Storm, where the European/American forces pushed the Iraqis back into the center and then controlled the air space subsequently. Desert Storm took four days. None of these young people, and apparently their officers too, expected the guerrilla war in which they are now engaged. Too many have seen their buddies die or be maimed, seen civilians killed (or killed civilians themselves)—and for what?
I think America owes these returning men and women better psychological counseling and support than they seem to be getting now. About 1 million Americans have served in the Middle East since the war began. This is a HUGE number of people coming back with potentially life-long illnesses. I think we let our soldiers down in Vietnam, first by sending them there on false pretenses (to stop the domino of communism) and then by treating them as pariahs when they came home. The current batch of soldiers coming back seem equally dismayed at the stupidity of their mission and the dishonesty of the politicians who sent them there. These lads returning now deserve better than the poor guys got coming back from Vietnam.
Anyone who would like to visit with returning Marines might want to come down to the desert for a spell. There are plenty of watering holes in Joshua Tree, Twenty Nine Palms, and surrounding towns where you can meet them and they will very politely tell you their stories. It’s not a pretty thing many times, but its important, and once you hear them you will be a bit more motivated to help.
Keep up the good stories on things that matter!

Dave Morrow Twenty Nine Palms, Calif.

In a quandary
Dear Mr. Hagabee:
Your letter [“Flab-boys and feminists”] in the December 2007 of The Rogue Voice has me in a quandary. You called The New Times a Christian publication. Since when, is it a Christian publication? I have been reading the New Times for as long as I can remember and I have never read or heard it referred to as a Christian publication. I asked around on this subject and everyone I asked did read The New Times, but none of them thought of it that way. The New Times writes about politics and SLO happenings, not what the Lord God wants for our community. Assuming the people behind the newspaper are Christians, it does not mean their paper is a “Christian paper.” Plenty of people who own businesses are Christians and they don’t consider themselves to have a “Christian” electrical business, a “Christian” farm or a “Christian” gym. The New Times is an informative, well-written, and wonderful resource for the Central Coast.
You go on to say that the writers of The Rogue Voice experience something and then have to write about it. I have to ask you, “So what?” Isn’t that what writing is all about? Sharing an experience? Maybe some of us “SLO-lifers” like to hear what a fellow “SLO-lifer” has to say about Santa Cruz. For those of us who like to travel past the Central Coast’s borders, perhaps myself and others appreciate what they have to say. Why do you feel you have to give your advice to writers who obviously write well enough to have a job in this slower job market? They can write what they want based solely on the First Amendment of the Constitution and if they want to write about what they experienced in Santa Cruz or wherever else their writing hearts desire, then so be it.
You continue to “advise” these writers to stay away from conflict yet your suggestions would also create conflict. Partially because the way you chose to end the story with the black man wanting to watch a cooking show about ribs and the woman caring about a golf tournament for menopausal hormone therapy. Is there anything more stereotypical then that? Whether it’s the back man as “effeminate and homoabnormative” or the woman as “transgendered,” either way you are going to offend someone. You can’t make everyone happy, so if you don’t like what is being written, then don’t read it! By the way, according to every dictionary I could find, “homoabnormative” is not a word. Did you make that up all by yourself? Or did Ashley Schwellenbach help you?
And finally, the best I saved for last. You said, “I don’t know about Santa Cruz, but in SLO we are very diverse and have few taboos.” I laughed and laughed. Have you ever been to Santa Cruz, Mr. Hagabee? Or do you live vicariously through what you read in The New Times? The City of Santa Cruz has been known for a long time as a culturally diverse city and one that literally has few taboos. The Central Coast is known for being a conservative Bible belt in California. Our diversity statistics match those of the United States, but only because our great nation has a lot of states like Kansas and Nebraska that are mostly Caucasian. Tell me, Mr. Hagabee, where on the Central Coast can a person find soul food, or a good Pakistani restaurant? Do you think this area would even support a Pakistani restaurant? I don’t think it would, but I have traveled this world and this country and found places of similar population who do. Just because we have an abundance of restaurants featuring food from Mexico and Japan does not mean we are culturally diverse. Oh, and the Central Coast has plenty of taboos. Just standing in line I have heard more ethnic slurs toward our Arab community than anywhere else I have been in America. Parents won’t let yoga classes in elementary schools, even though it has been proven over and over again that yoga calms the mind and body and creates better focus. But, I guess there are no taboos on the Central Coast as long as it fits in with conservative Christian ideals.
Mr. Hagabee, please continue to write for The Rogue Voice. I truly enjoy reading opinions different from my own. It only makes me stronger in my own convictions. Only this time had The Rogue Voice left in everything intelligent you had to say they would have only printed your name. Instead, they decided to leave in everything arrogant and pompous and fortunately for you, that was your entire letter.

Respectfully, Faye Fraser Atascadero, Calif.