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Misrepresenting the Inland Life?

February 11, 2001

So John Johnson claims he's a former desert rat and then confesses to being raised in Colton ("Confessions of a Former Desert Rat," Jan. 14). Colton? I was raised in Indio and the Coachella Valley, when swamp coolers were all there was and you didn't move on the highway without a prayer and a canvas water bag hanging from the bumper of your '49 Studebaker. So I know. Johnson's no desert rat; he's a big-city boy. Well, no matter. He writes like a dream and brought back many memories.

Ann Calhoun

Los Osos

*

Johnson's work is sophomoric, supercilious, defamatory and inaccurate. I'm not so sure about his qualifications to write about the desert. The desert has some misfits, fugitives and nut cases--but no more than do the coasts, plains or cities. There's no mysterious aura that draws society's outcasts and lost souls to the Mojave. We have cleaner air, less noise, less traffic and (so far) no gangs. And we like it. We may miss the Getty, the Music Center and MOCA, but it's a trade-off, and we've decided we can live with that. It's a shame. You had such a nice desert issue going there, and somebody had to go and plop a dirty, nasty little stain right in the middle of it.

Derald E. Martin

Joshua Tree

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