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Neither the author of the article on the wanderings of John Mintz, nor subsequent writers of letters to the editor, seem to grasp an important fact:
Mr. Mintz, as described, appears to be an individual with an autism spectrum disability.To the unaware observer, it is easy to write off as mere flakiness Mintz' odd behavior, such as repeatedly getting lost in the woods overnight. But there are some important clues provided in the narrative:
Insensitivity to heat and cold — and failure to anticipate the weather, plan, and dress accordingly — are all red flags that this guy is either an Asperger's Syndrome person or a high-functioning autistic.
The fact that he apparently lacks the "executive function" to learn from his mistakes and modify his behavior provides more data to suggest he's on the spectrum.
Finally, the fact that he has not come forward to sue the Express for defamation, or at least written a letter in his own defense, makes it very likely that he's some kind of Aspie.
Maybe he is embarrassed, or maybe he is oblivious. But hey, tell him it is okay to be who he is. He just needs to have some simple habits and have some "cueing and setup" to follow a few procedures.
For those who care about this man, I would suggest that you train him, through repeated nagging and reminders, to tell a particular person when he plans to go wilderness running and to "file a flight plan" with you.I would also make him a laminated checklist with stuff he needs to take with him: GPS, water, cell, and that the batteries are charged. Help him make up a kit.
It is good that he is enjoying the wilderness and staying physically fit, rather than becoming a couch potato, like many people with developmental disabilities.
Amelia S. Marshall (mom of an adult Aspie), Oakland
"Jason Marsalis," Music Update, 10/21
Give Wynton His Props
Wow. I remember I used to feel similar about Wynton, and, on the one hand, must forgive what you wrote, on the other, my opinions on him weren't printed for countless impressionable readers, who may take your words and steer their ears and hearts away from Wynton. Through KCSM, the Berkeley Public Library CD collection, the Ken Burns Jazz series, and a few books, I've learned to respect him and his devotion to the art of jazz music. He comes across as a very direct, matter-of-fact spokesman for and about jazz, but make no mistake, he is the real deal. Many music critics in the past (white and widely published) ignorantly downplayed jazz musicians, not exactly knowing what they were hearing, as jazz developed. They controlled whether butts were in seats or not. Musicians playing for a living may have had to go overseas, some due to loss of their cabaret card, some to pursue appreciative audiences — and, of course, a better living. One critic said Ellington's best was behind him early on, he then proceeded to win countless best jazz this and best jazz that awards for twenty additional years (Downbeat Magazine). (Thanks to the Duke for sticking it out, as our world is better for it.) You know a lot about music, and may have your opinion on Wynton for reasons I'm not aware of. I hope not. As far as I can tell, Wynton singlehandedly blew fresh wind into the sails of jazz when it desperately needed it. It is well known when on tour, Wynton would make a point of visiting local schools to encourage students in jazz programs. (He could have been chasing skirts, like most of us would have.) Wynton has long been known to have an attitude jacket by interviewers because he is so straight forward and refuses to continue the impediment of jazz by bad press. Nobody likes a "know it all," but when asked, Wynton will give you both barrels. He is not famous for smoothing things out. Wynton is very aware of jazz roots in blues, which formed directly from the end of slavery. The fact that this amazing human expression came from people who couldn't read, or lived in horrific conditions conjured up a jealousy or resentment in existing musical establishments, making it even harder due to the embedded racial condition. Yes, Wynton is very Wynton, but calling him a snob seems, to me, very shallow, and unrespectful of the whole picture. Mr. Keresman, please forgive my rambling and poor computer skills, but (if I may) recommend a book by Albert Murray titled Stomping the Blues. Maybe you've already read it, but I suspect not. Wynton didn't come from a dirt-floor shack, neither did Miles, but Louie did. My favorite quote of all time, which is built up to and substantiated very cleverly before stated is on page 148, "Louis Armstrong, Promethean bringer of syncopated lightning from the Land of the Titans." Wow. Oh, thanks for hipping me to my next CD purchase.
Steve Logan, Berkeley
The Parking Nonsense
Attached is a letter sent to Oakland City Reps. The parking in this city is getting out of control.
Dear Oakland Representatives. I am writing to let you know how much I love living in Oakland. I've lived here for six years now and know that of all the places I've resided (Montana, Seattle, Sacramento, San Ramon, San Diego, etc.) Oakland is the place I am meant to be. The diversity and culture and sense of Oakland pride makes me proud to call myself a resident. This is why it saddens me to no end to have received a notice in the mail (nothing was left on my vehicle) informing me of a $100 parking ticket (given on a Sunday and increased from $35) for parking in MY driveway that happens to sit on part of the sidewalk in an area that has more residential buildings than parking spots. My boyfriend and I are both out of work and don't exactly have $100 lying around ... upsetting in the least, but it doesn't stop there.
While we've been looking for work, we've been using the downtown 24-Hour Fitness almost every day of the week to try and stay sane. On Monday 11/2/09 while at the gym my boyfriend and I noticed we were being given yet another parking ticket and ran out to ask your parking enforcer why (we had paid our $2 for the hour the same way we do at least six days a week and give Oakland a minimum of $65 a month in parking). She stated it was because we had parked between two parallel parking spots, the same way everyone, everyday park along the front of 24-Hour Fitness — DAILY! I'm there nearly every day and this was the first I had seen of this. Most of the time this parking enforcer drives on by, but this day she decided to give our car and only our car a ticket. I wasn't aware that you could not park in an available spot if the entire row of cars parked half a space off. Had I known, I wouldn't have parked there and now instead of owing you guys $100 I now owe you $165 of which I don't have on top of beings harassed by your inconsistent parking enforcer who clearly doesn't care! This does not make me want to live in Oakland and give you my tax dollars.
My suggestion is that you clean up this city and the miss use of city dollars by YOUR city administration and stop leveling the city deficit on the unemployed residents who call this place home!Thanks,
Kasey Nichols, Oakland
Seven Days - February 24, 5:52 PM
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