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The Fly

Electile Dysfuntion

Palo Alto City Council candidate DANIELLE MARTELL is against "penal enlargement." No, not that, read it again—we're talking about the criminal justice system here, not penile enhancements. Fly thought Martell's campaign platform, complete with a phallic cartoon satirizing the proposed police station expansion by CHIEF LYNNE JOHNSON, was certainly eye-catching, if admittedly wacky. But certain genteel minds did not agree. The Merc refused to sully its pages with the above image when it mentioned Martell. And, alas, competing City Council candidate Roger Smith was so insulted by the "obscenity," he dropped out of the race last week. The whole brouhaha reminds Fly how boring refined politicians can be. Only a novice would have the guts to campaign like this. "It's funny," Martell smirks. The 56-year-old education software engineer (picture an attractive blonde wearing a pearl necklace and a modest suit) started to relive her hippie youth this summer when she witnessed the infamous anarchy protests in Palo Alto. Martell was standing with a handful of other well-dressed adults on University Avenue, she says, when police officers informed her, "All law-abiding citizens will go home now." The others sauntered away, but Martell stayed. Something that had been dormant since the 1960s stirred inside of her. "We have the right to witness," she shot back. "Our streets are free." She repeated this over and over, while spectators began to nod in agreement. Despite the soft tone of her voice, Martell has continued to speak out—and some people want her to shut up. She was excluded from a candidate debate held Monday by the local group Keep Our Region Energized (KORE). Board member CAROL JANSEN says Martell isn't a serious candidate because she fixates on a single issue. KORE is not a public agency, Jansen adds, and does not have to "devote a heck of a lot of time to something that's off track."

It's a Drag

De Anza College student TOBY NIXON (not his real name) admits that smoking is unhealthy, even as he takes a drag from his hand-rolled cigarette. But he's been addicted for the past 14 years, and if he had any intention of quitting, it wouldn't be because officials at his school said to do so. That's why he thinks the DE ANZA/FOOTHILL DISTRICT's new smoke-free campus policy is out of line. Since classes started a couple of weeks ago, students are being told that they can only light up in certain parking lots, some of them too far to reach during short breaks. The inconvenience is coupled with fliers announcing smoking cessation programs. Here's the eyebrow raiser—there's no penalty for smoking in the quads, so campus police officers aren't enforcing the ban. Instead, policy-makers have left it up to peer pressure. De Anza health educator MARY-JO LOMAX prefers to call it "enforcement through education" so students can get used to the new restriction as it's phased in over the next year. She pushed for the policy last year after a voluntary survey indicated the majority of respondents (4,700 on the De Anza and Foothill campuses) wanted to clamp down on smoking. Now Lomax is developing guidelines for nonsmokers to approach and correct offending puffers. So far, there seem to be several major flaws with this method. On a recent Thursday afternoon, hours after the lunch rush when Nixon says students were freely ignoring the new rule, at least five people could be seen smoking outside of the cafeteria. No one told anyone to stop, although Fly did overhear two women muttering disapproval under their breath. Nixon says a few of his friends have been told off and made to feel stigmatized for their habit. If this continues, he anticipates a growing tension between smokers and nonsmokers. Medical marijuana advocate and De Anza student JIM LOHSE also took issue with the smoking policy, as it affects disabled people who may need to medicate between classes. He brought up an interesting point: ashtrays have been moved to the designated parking lots, but students aren't following them. The result may just be a bigger mess.

Lowriding High

The buzz began when Metro's cover story "Low and Behold" hit the streets last summer. Partly based on a documentary by local filmmaker DANIEL OSORIO, the article delved into San Jose's lowriding scene, featuring hard-core cruisers that were not—contrary to popular belief—gangsters gearing up for drive-by-shootings and drug deals. The stereotypes about these so-called "getaway cars," enthusiasts pointed out, didn't make sense. For one, a hefty 1950s Chevy Impala would bottom out as soon as it broke the speed limit on a bumpy road. But getting cops and the public to recognize lowriders as artists, not troublemakers, was the hard part. So it goes without saying that Osorio was stoked to see thousands of Metro readers exposed to another perspective on the cruising culture and his film, Lowriding in Aztlan. Other media finally started paying attention to his work. In March, Osorio was invited to speak on Wild 94.9's popular morning show The Doghouse. Just last week, he rode the airwaves on TONY SANDOVAL's Sunday Super Oldies Show, 98.1 KISS FM. The Santa Clara University alum went from selling DVDs out of the trunk of his car to showcasing at the 2005 Tiburon International Film Festival. Next month, he'll be vying for East L.A. audiences at the Cine Sin Fin Chicano/a Film Festival. Osorio isn't stopping there—he hopes the exposure will lead to bigger distribution outlets like Netflix and Blockbuster. But however far he goes, he says, "it all started with the Metro article."

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From the October 12-18, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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