Sept. 19 2012 09:23 AM

Keep breathing

For Christ's sake, CityBeat, do not die! Decent news is hard to come by, what with Papa Doug and his reactionary newspaper. If it weren't for KPBS, under the steady hand of the best journalist on the West Coast, Mark Sauer, we'd have no idea what is going on here in the land of fruits and nuts.

Keith Taylor, Chula Vista

‘Something so small'

"It seems strange / How we used to wait for letters to arrive / But what's stranger still / Is how something so small can keep you alive" —Arcade Fire, "We Used to Wait"

Thank you to Dave Maass for including an update on the new rule limiting incoming mail to San Diego jail inmates in his Aug. 29 "Bonus News" column. This may seem like a small bit of news to the free people of the world, but for our local jail inmates, and for those of us with loved ones in jail, this is a huge, heartbreaking change in policy.

Recently, I visited my brother at the San Diego Central Jail. He was eager for information on the mail ban, and I was able to send him Maass' piece via the "Email an Inmate" system. He will be encouraged to learn that similar postcard policies have been defeated in other counties, and I'm sure he will write the local chapter of the ACLU to request their legal assistance in challenging the ban.

My brother has been incarcerated for about 16 months now. There's not a lot that I can do for him, but he does ask me to send letters—the longer the better, so as to pass the time. I wish that I would have written more often while I had the chance. He specifically asks for song lyrics. A year-and-a-half without music and you start to forget the words to your favorite songs.

No longer will I be able to send long lines of lyrics, news articles clipped from the local paper or big colorful drawings by my nephews and nieces. I can only send email messages consisting of 34 lines or fewer (which are sent through a somewhat cumbersome web form) or postcards. It's a ridiculous challenge to fit all of the week's family news into these limited formats.

Inmates and their loved ones spend a great deal of time waiting in desperation for letters from each other. As strange as it may seem, in the words of Arcade Fire, something so small can keep you alive.

Rebecca Bowman, City Heights

10 observations

Congratulations, CityBeat. Your 10-year issue (Aug. 22) was laugh- / swear-out-loud great! As a reader since SLAMM days, 10 thoughts of my own (no particular order):

1. It's OK for your columnists to skip an issue or two if they're writing vacuous filler (see the Reader's Barbarella).

2. Quite often, the best you can say about the non-Union-Trib's cartoon guy Steve Breen's stuff is that it's better than previous scratcher Mike Cavna.

3. I believe the term "jangly" can still apply to Roger McGuinn, Toulouse Englehardt and a few others.

4. While I enjoy their products, Stone and Green Flash brewing companies have gotten too big for their britches (West Coast IPA went from a six- to a four-pack—really?)

5. Piss-poor grammar exhibited by many of the talking heads on local news: Unfortunately this goes all the way to the national-news level, too. I haven't heard so many "uh's," "um's" and "and's" since Speech 101. Learn to talk good people!

6. "Retro" has become meaningless.

7. U-T sports columnist Nick Canepa: Retire! Please!

8. Shawn Styles: "It's a surreal scene. I'm tingly all over" and "She danced with the devil and lived!" are among my fave quotes—get an ego check and maybe some jackets that actually fit.

9. KLWN (KUSI): My favorite morning comedy show. Neon teeth, blowed-up boobies, multitudes of malapropos. Priceless!

10. Donna Frye: Where are you when we need you?!

Mike Loflen, Clairemont Mesa

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