Newspapers play an important role, as do readers




If readers don't criticize their paper, the paper isn't doing its job. It is no small thing to get a paper out every day. The state of the newspaper is the state of democracy. Tom Paine fired the revolution with print. Ben Franklin made a colony into a country with print. It matters, demand a good read!




Opinion, humor, and irony are the right perspective on the day's events. The military-industrial complex, corporatism or whatever "ism" is running our lives can't stand to be made fun of. Irreverent free speech keeps disappearing from print when we most need it in this most dangerous time in history.




When most Americans cannot afford a library, an education, a book, or a theatre ticket (even at half price), the letters column keeps print alive. The imminent death of newspapers has less to do with profit ownership, than how boring papers are. All in the most interesting time in human history.




Even artsy Ashland reflects the fight by the few for Ashland's low income to be allowed to exist here. We don't want to be a town of giant, more-than-half-empty houses in neighborhoods where no one knows &

let alone loves &

their neighbor.




Yet our "feel-good, offend no one, local columnists," who use "I" in every sentence, keep missing the point of our time &

we're at war for survival now. Say something real!




Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken, and Edward R. Murrow would never be printed today. What's wrong with the human side of public affairs? Don't they affect humans who try, despite the odds, to think for themselves? If Molly Ivan's got away with speaking truth to Texas politics, anything can happen.




Those who are aware of, and care about what is happening on the planet, have a hard time remaining hopeful. The good thing is that really bad times bring out really good things in people. It's also time for government, media, and newspapers to catch up with "we the people" who are so far ahead of them, before readers are extinct along with their paper.




Leah Ireland









Sometimes, first impressions are accurate




For all who enjoy a bit of reflexive nostalgia, you might enjoy this little tale from my afternoon adventure in Ashland. To set the stage, I am an Oregon native, Vietnam veteran, longtime Ashland resident, and an earnest advocate for personal peace and social justice &

and oh yeah, I happen to have a ponytail and closely trimmed goatee.




So I was out riding leisurely upon my bike on a very hot Saturday afternoon, attempting to navigate my way home along the more shaded lanes, when I turned down Morton St. from Siskiyou Blvd. As I turned the corner, I noticed a big college-aged guy in a bright-red short-sleeved sports jersey &

replete with indiscernible graphics &

with drink in hand and looking a bit isolated from "the party." I imagined he was headed somewhere close by.




So, cliched stereotypes began coming to mind &

of rednecks and beer. Then I noticed he had some kind of sports drink bottle rather than alcohol, which allowed me to forego this presumption and assign it to another time, another place, another era, and begin to appreciate who he might simply be as a unique individual and human being.




Up to that point, it appeared he'd taken no notice of me until I was just far enough beyond his proximity that he felt comfortable enough to reveal his true nature with his delayed greeting, "Get outa here, ya f-----n' hippie."




I just turned around and looked at the guy, as if to say, "Are you for real?" I'm sure he meant it in the best possible way, but he just didn't strike me as a very happy person. So, it just goes to show, some first impressions are wholly accurate. Just had to get this off my chest, and am hopeful that it may get back to this "unique individual" and spur his personal evolution.




There, now I feel better.




Takin' one for the team,




Tod Boyer