Monday, November 16, 2009

New blog -

Hi all,

Blogspot has served me well but I've decided to move over to WordPress. From now on, you can read my insightful articles and silly thoughts at



You may have noticed some cosmetic changes that I've made to Noter. I was getting tired of the old look and thought it'd look nice with a change. But I'm still trying to work out some kinks. 

Feel free to leave comments and suggestions. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Totally dental

My mom and I made a curious discovery about half an hour ago on the corner of 30th St. and University Ave. in North Park: three-dozen heavy boxes containing hundreds of plaster molds of peoples' teeth.

The boxes were the discarded records of Western Dental, located just a few steps away at 2948 University Ave. Along with the dental molds were several binders containing detailed patient records--names, birth dates, social security numbers, and all. 

As we stood there examining the dental molds, a pickup truck pulled up and three guys started hauling the boxes into the cargo bed. 

Feel free to put aside some boxes for yourselves, one of them told us. 

"Where are you taking this stuff?" I asked.

"Dump," he replied. 

Quite a few questions linger: What were all these molds and records doing sitting on the street? Why take it away so late at night? And is it all really headed for the dump? 

But one thing is certain: I won't be getting my next checkup at Western Dental.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tent City II: Imagining San Diego County with Sheriff Jay in charge

This article was published in this week's issue of San Diego CityBeat:

At Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “Tent City,” inmates sleep in Army tents, wear pink underwear, eat 15-cent meals and join chain gangs to pick up trash in Arizona’s desert heat. 

For Jay La Suer, a former state Assembly member from East County who wants to be San Diego County’s next sheriff, the notorious Arizona lawman known alternately as “Sheriff Joe” and “America’s Toughest Sheriff” has been an ally and a mentor. In fact, as part of his own tough-on-crime platform, La Suer has vowed to build a tent jail that’s just as unforgiving. 

“I can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t,” he told reporters during a press conference before a fundraiser at Marina Village Conference Center last Friday, where Arpaio headlined with a jocular, 25-minute speech. “We’re going to save taxpayers money. We’re going to incarcerate people at a cheaper cost, which is going to make you safer.”

La Suer, 69, a conservative gun-rights advocate and immigration hardliner who imagines himself as “Sheriff Jay,” is easily the race’s most divisive candidate. Depending on whom was asked at the event—the 200 donors dining on meat and potatoes in the woodsy hall or the four-dozen mostly Latino protestors chanting “Racist sheriff, racist friends, this injustice has to end!” just beyond the parking lot—Sheriff Arpaio’s endorsement is a blessing or a curse. 

La Suer faces stiff competition from the incumbent, Sheriff Bill Gore, a former FBI agent who has the support of much of San Diego’s political establishment, political analysts say. But he will have better chances if he manages to expand his conservative East County base and beats Gore’s main contender, Jim Duffy, a 28-year police veteran toting the endorsement of the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, in the June 2010 primary.

So, what would San Diego look like if Sheriff Jay were to take command of the Sheriff’s Department and emulate Sheriff Joe? We fed Sheriff Joe’s record in Arizona into our virtual crystal ball and took a peek:

A new Tent City

To save taxpayers money and relieve prison overcrowding, Sheriff Jay follows the Arpaio model and pitches a tent city in Otay Mesa. 

Maricopa County paid $1 million to house 500 inmates in Arpaio’s first tent prison, while it costs $80 million to house 5,000 inmates at San Diego’s jail Downtown, La Suer noted at a debate in September, according to East County Magazine. A state-of-the-art stun fence and hydraulic watchtowers bring up the price tag, but housing inmates in canvas tents saves the county as much as $65 million. 

To make the 5,000 inmates in San Diego’s jails regret what they did—even those who are just awaiting trial dates and therefore presumed innocent—Sheriff Jay bans coffee, candy, pornography and transistor radios. But inmates are given the opportunity to compete for McDonald’s and pizza in a grueling reality contest called “Solitary Survivor,” a spin-off of Sheriff Joe’s “Inmate Idle.”

What Sheriff Jay doesn’t realize is that Sheriff Joe has been the subject of more than 2,000 federal lawsuits alleging poor prison conditions, prisoner abuse and wrongful deaths, costing taxpayers $41.3 million in liability claims and insurance costs, according to a 2008 study by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank based in Phoenix. 

As the years pass, Sheriff Jay is swamped with federal lawsuits alleging poor prison conditions and wrongful deaths, which siphon off the money the tent city saved.

Immigration sweeps

Denouncing San Diego as a “sanctuary county” for undocumented immigrants, Sheriff Jay joins 287(g), a federal program (Sheriff Joe is an enthusiastic participant) that allows local police forces to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. 

Jay initially vows to adhere to the program’s regulations by focusing on major crimes, like human trafficking and drug smuggling. But, instead, he enforces immigration the Arpaio way and launches a series of indiscriminate sweeps that target people who, as observers note, “drive while brown.” 

The effort leads to a few hundred arrests but fails to close down any drug cartels or smuggling operations—as was the case in Maricopa County between 2007 and 2008, when the sweeps brought on a $1.3 million deficit in one three-month period, led to 200 arrests of suspected illegal immigrants and nabbed zero human-trafficking bosses or drug kingpins, according to the Goldwater Institute report. 

The San Diego Minutemen applaud the sweeps and fill the ranks of Jay’s volunteer posse (a citizen-semi-deputization program modeled on Sheriff Joe’s), but police complain that Jay has overstepped jurisdictional bounds, county officials blast him in the national media and civil-rights leaders and Latinos stage mass protests. As they did in Maricopa County, the sweeps lead to a Justice Department investigation into allegations of racial profiling and a class-action lawsuit filed against Jay, the Sheriff’s Department and San Diego County. 

The Obama administration refuses to reinstate 287(g) for San Diego County. But Jay is just as defiant as Arpaio was when Obama reined in his 287(g) powers and promises to keep sweeping. 

More crime, less efficiency

As Sheriff Jay gains international attention, San Diego County sees a dramatic increase in crime as deputies struggle to investigate cases—just as Maricopa County experienced between 2004 and 2007, when the rate of reported violent crimes increased by 69 percent, homicides alone grew by 166 percent, the arrest rate plummeted, thousands of felony warrants went unserved and deputies responded sluggishly to 911 calls, according to the Goldwater report.

To attack the massive problem of unserved warrants, Jay stars in “Book’d,” a reality show based on Sheriff Joe’s “Smile… You’re Under Arrest!” that compels fugitives to participate in elaborate pranks leading to their arrest. 

Unimpressed, The New York Times editorial board votes Sheriff Jay “America’s Second Worst Sheriff,” after Sheriff Joe.

Delusions of grandeur

Seeing enemies everywhere he turns, Sheriff Jay suspects that somebody is out to kill him. Eventually, he comes to believe that CityBeat columnist Edwin Decker has teamed up with the Arellano-Felix cartel to hatch a bizarre assassination plot. 

As Sheriff Joe did to the Phoenix New Times when he was having similar delusions, Jay issues a subpoena to CityBeat, demanding documents related to the reporting, editing and writing of all articles about him, along with e-mails, IP addresses and other sensitive information about the alt-weekly’s readers. When CityBeat responds with an editorial criticizing the subpoena as a “blatant violation of our Constitutional rights,” CityBeat editor David Rolland is arrested.

The FBI investigates whether Sheriff Jay used his powers to intimidate and harass his critics, as it’s now doing with Sheriff Joe.

Adding to Sheriff Jay’s legal troubles, Sheriff Joe sues him for intellectual property theft.  

Photo: Sheriff Jay (left) and Sheriff Joe, by David Rolland

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friendship Park just got friendlier

Well, not exactly.

The Border Patrol has built a "public access area" allowing entrance to a portion of the no man's land that runs against the border fence at Friendship Park, the bi-national hang out spot that stands against the border in Border Field State Park. 

But activists are lamenting the fact that the new public zone blocks off human access to people on the other side of the fence. Visitors need a government-issued I.D. to enter (effectively keeping out undocumented immigrants), limits occupancy to 25, and bars "physical contact with individuals in Mexico." 

"Friendship Park is a place characterized at its root by human contact, human touch," John Fanestil, a member of a local coalition called the Friends of Friendship Park (of which my mom is a member), told me over e-mail. "Friends don't greet friends from a distance of six feet across two fences." 

In years past, people in the United States used to meet people in Mexico at the park to hang out, talk, and even hand tacos between the fence. But in January, the Department of Homeland Security blocked off public access to the fence, creating the 150-foot wide no man's land as part of an effort to construct 700 miles of triple-tiered barriers stretching the length of the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The Friends of Friendship Park have been lobbying for months to restore public access to the border fence, meeting with the Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security. All the while, they've sought to remain connected to their friends across the border in creative ways--for instance, via long-distance conversations in sign language. [I gave a Border Patrol agent some questions about the new site, but he hasn't returned my calls.]

With the new zone, the Friends will no doubt find new ways to keep in contact with their pals across the border. 

On Monday, the Friends are going to hold a candlelight vigil at noon to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Directions: Take Hwy 5 South, exit Dairy Mart Rd, turn right (west) and follow the winding road to the entrance of Border Field State Park. You will be allowed to drive in to reach Friendship Park. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Job hunt scam

I found the job posting on craigslist, of course. From my e-mail.

fromjohn duke
toPeter Holslin
dateSun, Nov 1, 2009 at 8:03 AM
subjectRE: Administrative Assistant application

The Hiring Desk of the company has reviewed your resume and we believe you have the required qualifications. This is a work from home data entry job and you will get paid weekly doing data entry inputting (alpha and numeric data) into excel database,work is sent via email and you will be working M-F.
Earn $28 per hour
Do you have a yahoo messenger on your computer. To proceed with this Data Entry Clerk job position you must undergo an online interview via yahoo messenger.
I want you to setup a yahoo messenger (IM) Mrs Becky Wiliams and Instant Message this ID ( asap for the interview so you can get considered for the position

fromPeter Holslin
tojohn duke
dateSun, Nov 1, 2009 at 10:16 AM
subjectRe: Administrative Assistant application

Hello John,

Thank you for your consideration. I have contacted Mrs. Williams for the interview but so far she hasn't replied to my IM, but I will keep at it.

There is some information I would like to know about your company. What is the company called and what does it do? Does it have offices in San Diego? Do you have a website?



fromjohn duke
toPeter Holslin
dateThu, Nov 5, 2009 at 5:08 AM
subjectRE: Administrative Assistant application

The Hiring Desk of the company has reviewed your resume and we believe you have the required qualifications. This is a work from home data entry job and you will get paid weekly doing data entry inputting (alpha and numeric data) into excel database,work is sent via email and you will be working M-F.
Earn $28 per hour
Do you have a yahoo messenger on your computer. To proceed with this Data Entry Clerk job position you must undergo an online interview via yahoo messenger.
I want you to setup a yahoo messenger (IM) Mrs Jenifer Daches and Instant Message this ID ( asap for the interview so you can get considered for the position

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rupa & The April Fishes take in the good, bad and ugly of the border

This article was published by San Diego News Network yesterday

Rupa & The April Fishes do what they can to bridge boundaries — political, geographical and musical.

Take for example an April concert at Friendship Park south of Imperial Beach: Half the band performed in the United States while the other half played in Mexico, standing on the other side of a rusted border fence that runs into the ocean.

And consider “Este Mundo,” their latest album: As songwriter Rupa sings alternately in French, Spanish and English, the band swerves seamlessly from heady Indian raga into festive Jewish klezmer into romantic French chanson, sometimes in the same song.

The problem is that boundaries can be hard to surmount, a point that became glaringly clear when the band toured the U.S.-Mexico border region last April. At a hostel for migrants in Tijuana, Rupa met a man who had smashed his ankle and barely survived his journey across the border. And near El Centro, they explored a cemetery filled with over 500 unmarked graves — all of them migrants who had perished during their sojourns across the unforgiving desert lying between Tijuana and San Diego.

“Este Mundo” is dedicated to the thousands of migrants who passed away while trying to cross the border. But the album is anything but grave. In fact, it’s rather carnival-esque, driven by upbeat rhythms, bright melodies and tender lyrics. Even the sadder moments are full of gusto: Over the wacky boom-chuck and off-beat accordion pumps of “Por La Frontera,” Rupa asks in Spanish, “How can a line be worth more than a life?”

Rupa, a 34-year-old physician who tends to sick patients in a San Francisco hospital when she is not on tour, wants her music to consider both hope and tragedy. After all, she points out, the lovely shores of the Pacific Coast are less than an hour’s drive west of the rugged canyons of East County’s backcountry.

“That kind of contrast is the truth of life—it’s not all joyful, and it’s not all miserable. It’s not all struggle, it’s not all celebration. But there seem to be equal parts of these things,” she said. “I feel like honest art, for me, is something that can try to hold those poles in the same word, in the same gesture, in the same song.”

In part, the April Fishes are an expression of Rupa’s own complex identity. Her parents are from India; she grew up in Southern California, and she has also spent time in Southern France.

“I consider myself a citizen of the world,” she said. “I’ve been living in several different cultures and I wanted to give a musical voice to that experience.”

But the band’s sound — a synthesis of Balkan-styled accordion passages, languorous draws on the cello, heavy trumpet lines, jumpy upright-bass solos, Latin-tinged rhythms, and Rupa’s laid-back acoustic guitar strums — isn’t exactly serious. Feeling more light-hearted than Manu Chao, it’s actually a lot of fun.

That’s not to say that the songwriting process has always come easily. For two years, the band struggled with “Soy Payaso,” a downright schizophrenic song that begins with a dark flute passage and languid pops of tabla, segues into a madcap Jewish wedding tune with swirls of accordion and chants of “Hey!” and finally moves into the kind of upbeat French swing that belongs in a smoky cabaret.

“It took years to be able to play that song well, so that it felt that the styles were seamlessly blending together out of the same mouth, not like five different people talking at the same time,” Rupa said. “It takes living and breathing and sweating and loving each other, being kind to each other, learning about each other, spending time together and talking about music and working on music.”

Eventually, it came together. “Now, we’ve got it in our hands and we can play with it,” she said. “Every time we play it, I think, ‘Oh my god, is the audience gonna go with us?’ And every time we play it, it’s a total ride.”

Touring along the U.S.-Mexico border was an intense experience all its own. Recently, the band finished an hour’s worth of music telling the stories of the people they interviewed between shows, who had faced danger and hardship on journeys across the border, or who had plans to.

Whether it’s the good or the bad, though, the band has been eager to soak it all in.

“There’s a real hunger and curiosity — everyone exhibits a complete life curiosity, like almost at all time,” Rupa said of her bandmates. “This whole thing is just one giant experiment and God knows where it’s gonna go and what the next step is, but it’s been quite a ride.”

Peter Holslin writes about music for SDNN.

Event info
Who: Rupa & The April Fishes
When: 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4
Where: The Loft (UCSD)
Tickets: $5-$12

Event info
Who: Rupa & The April Fishes
When: 9 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5
Where: El Lugar del Nopal, Tijuana