Letters to the Editor: July 4, 2012

Catching ‘Thieves’

I sure enjoyed your resident tourist guide to film locations (“Where Was It Filmed?,” April 18). Of special interest was the film Thieves Highway (1949). My father, a commission salesman, worked at Drum and Washington streets in San Francisco, where many of the scenes took place, in the old produce district. He stated that since filming was early in the mornings, many scenes were interrupted by early-morning workers’ catcalls. When actor Richard Conte arrived with a truckload of apples and was quoted a price per box on them, some onlooker in the crowd yelled, “You better take it—they aren’t worth $2 a box!” Of course director Jules Dassin yelled, “Cut!”

When the Italian actress Valentina Cortesa, playing a street worker, arrived, the workers, mostly Italian, yelled, whistled and made comments in Italian, much to the delight of the onlookers. Jules Dassin later refilmed these scenes, before the workers could get to work. Jackie Oakie, one of the actors, would talk to many of the workers while they were in the cafe.

When the interior scene between Lee J. Cobb and Richard Conte was filmed in an upstart produce business office, they removed the frosted glass for better viewing. This was at Sunrise Produce across from my father’s employment at Jacobs, Malcolm & Burtt.


Sad Transit

I have just returned to the North Bay from a year submerged in the smoggy, urban, desert landscape of Cairo. When I returned last week to the place I have called my proper home for well over a decade, I was in for a rude awakening. Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder and I idealized the North Bay while wading in Cairo’s trash-ridden streets, dodging cats in 90 degree weather and wondering if the protesters in Tahrir Square were being shot at with live or rubber bullets today.

Americans, or at least we Marin- and Sonoma-ites, don’t like to share. My car, my health insurance, my food. This manifests itself most especially in our public transportation system. The United States in general spends an appallingly small amount of our GDP on transportation infrastructure. As gas prices rise, people are starting to ask questions about oil lobbies and funding sources, but perhaps in addition to this, we should also be questioning our mentalities and ourselves. How can an area as affluent, as beautiful, as blessed as this have let itself get to the point where we have all the sharing capacity of a cranky three-year-old in a sandbox?

The public transportation system we have in place right now in Marin and Sonoma county is not bad, it’s broken. The price of a one-way trip on your bus system today costs slightly more than the gas it would take to power your average sedan the same distance, in twice the time, and likely includes you walking over 30 minutes since the coverage is so stunted. Routes are not clearly marked, and they’re changed nearly every season.

Unless you just don’t have a car and must submit yourself to the mercy of the transit gods, it is up to people to choose to share to keep this system alive. And when it’s more time-effective, cost-effective and germ-effective to take your own ride, why would you ever want to? The truth is, we just don’t like sharing with strangers. If we did, this likely would never have developed into the issue it is.

If the mark of a developed, advanced, stable culture is how people get around from place to place, then the question I’m asking myself lately is how this place got so great. Or do I just need to rethink my pride?


Inhumane Foie

Great article (“Opportunity Quacks,” June 27), love the way in which Holly Abrahams utilizes parody in the great tradition of Swift and Twain, in order to underscore the absolute brutality involved in producing foie gras.

If the quality of the meat is dictated by how poorly the animal was treated in life, then we, as a civilized country, need to outlaw said meat.

Bravo to Ms. Abrahams for calling attention to the greed which sustains such an inhumane practice. Ironic that we call such cuisine “delicate” when the creation of such is anything but.


Write to us at [email protected].

Sonoma County Library