Columns by Beverly Kelley


From the Los Angeles Times





902 words Ventura County Perspective Los Angeles Times May 28, 2000

Since l837, residents of Sacramento have been bothered by a weed that proliferates non-stop. As folks in Northern California have discovered, itís almost impossible to get rid of quackgrass. I suspect getting rid of quackenbush will be no picnic either.


1034 words. May 7, 2000 Ventura County Perspective.

Despite bruising community debate, Santa Susana High School opened its newly painted doors on September 5, l996. The magnet school, the first in Ventura County, was proposed two years earlier when Simi Unified was considering shifting from three-year to four-year high schools. Confounding critics who predicted there would be scant interest in the performing arts and technology, 803 students succumbed to the magnetic pull of school choice as they descended onto the former Sequoia Junior High campus.


730 words. Ventura County Perspective. April 2, 2000

In the movie "Patton," the title character observes that Roman conquerors were able to remain humble because a slave whose job it was to tote around the golden crown never stopped warning them, "all glory is fleeting."


794 words. Los Angeles Times. Ventura County Perspective. March 5, 2000

While only 100 Brauntonís milkvetch plants are supposedly left on the planet, this endangered species seems to be sprouting up all over Ventura County--especially where bulldozing is being battled. Ironic, isnít it?


729 words. Ventura County Perspective. Los Angeles Times January 16, 2000

If life is what happens while you are making other plans, what do you call it when you are able to check off every single destination on the career path you mapped out for yourself in college? Joseph P. Spirito calls it "being blessed."




710 words. Ventura County Perspective. Los Angeles Times . November 7, l999

If some gutsy Broadway producer finally resolves to make a musical out of J.D. Salingerís classic coming-of-age novel, I know the perfect person to croon the part of Holden Caulfield. Caulfield envisioned himself as a Catcher in the Rye who snatched children to safety just seconds before they were about to hurtle headlong over the edge of a cliff. Ironically, thatís exactly what Judge Steven Z. Perren does in real life.


749 words. Los Angeles Times. Ventura County Perspective. October 10, l999

Nothing is less permanent than a rope made of sand. In fact, this picturesque phrase serves as shorthand for a worthless contract. Ventura County residents know, up close and personal, that the fragile ribbon of beaches lining the Gold Coast is slipping away at a staggering rate. Without some sort of aggressive intervention, our seashore could vanish as quickly as salty spindrift on swirling swash marks.


800 words. Ventura County Perspective. Los Angeles Times. September 19, l999

Ventura County is a funny place in the Fall. While there are rarely enough gold and red falling leaves to warrant dragging out oneís trusty rake, we do find ourselves each September inundated in a flurry of yellow. Iím talking about piles of credit card slips tumbling out of back-to-school shopping bags along with spanking-new Trappers, fresh-smelling footgear, and unsharpened No. 2 pencils. A recent Consumer Credit Counseling Service survey predicts that half of us will expend more than $300 in preparing each of our progeny for the new school year. Too bad the legendary money tree is decidedly non-deciduous, even in these plentiful parts.


734 words Los Angeles Times. Ventura County Perspective August 29, l999

It was money, or rather the lack of it, that prompted George Bailey to attempt a Christmas Eve header off the Bedford Falls bridge. It was volunteering to save anotherís life, namely, Guardian Angel Second Class, Clarence Oddbody, that brought him back. The gist of Itís a Wonderful Life is summed up in the heavenly visitorís lines: "Strange, isnít it? Each manís life touches so many other lives, and when he isnít around, he leaves an awful hole, doesnít he?"


839 words. July 4, l999 Los Angeles Times Ventura County Perspective

Louis B. Mayer was neither a real live nephew of his Uncle Sam nor was he born on the 4th of July. Still, no native could rival the shower of red, white and blue fireworks he kindled on and off the silver screen. Mayer claimed he couldnít quite recall the day the stork dropped him off so the Jewish immigrant, whose family fled the pogroms in Russia, adopted his adopted nationís birthday as his own.


693 words. Los Angeles Times. May 23, l999. Ventura County Perspective

The Littleton thunderhead seems to have yielded a two-fold silver lining: 1) a visceral realization that nothing is more precious than our own progeny and 2) uncharacteristic silence on the part of our politicians (albeit momentary) properly humbled by an inability to prevent a Columbine-type frightmare from happening again.


701 words. Los Angeles Times. Ventura County Perspective

Commuters shuttling to jobs located 100-miles away via 200-passenger aerial buses--does that sound like some futuristic flight of fancy overheard at one of those visioning events taking place from Simi Valley to Ventura? Actually this prediction (for the year 2000) turned up in a l950 issue of "Popular Mechanics," published at a time when gasoline was being pumped for 27 cents a gallon and you could purchase a quart of milk for 22 cents.


712 words Los Angeles Times Ventura County Perspective March 21, l999

Sheriff Bob Brooks may be popping the buttons off his shirt now that major crime has hit a 25-year low in Ventura County but heís apparently missed the scene of some pretty mangy high crimes and misdemeanors, namely, our neighborhood parks.


704 words February 14, l999. Ventura County Perspective. Los Angeles Times

According to Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Charles Weis, if Rip Van Winkle were to return from snoozing in the Catskills today, the only place that would still look the same would be the school house. Learning has undergone little change since Washington Irvingís short story was published in l820.


667 words. January 17, l999 Los Angeles Times Ventura County Perspective.

American journalist Ambrose Bierce defined politics as a "strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles" and heíd never even heard of the Thousand Oaks City Council.




From the Ventura County Star





727 words. October 23, 2000 column. Ventura County Star.

Oxnardís Halaco and pollution have been politically linked for more than three decades but this is the first time they have surfaced in a city council race in Port Hueneme.


749 words. October 9, 2000 column Ventura County Star 

Before Robert Frost built a wall, heíd want to know exactly what was being walled in as well as what was being walled out.


672 words. September 25, 2000 column Ventura County Star   

Truly unforgettable moments seem to be seared into memory by the Olympic flame: a trembling Muhammad Ali stepping from the shadows in Atlanta to ignite the waiting cauldron, the palpable tension as Spanish bowman Antonio Rebollo arched his blazing arrow through the Barcelona sky, and for Terry Schroeder, a four-time Olympic water polo player from Westlake Village, it was legendary decathalete Rafer Johnson kindling the spirit in Los Angeles.


668 words. September 11, 2000 column. Ventura County Star

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND. According to Chumash legend, the magic seeds containing the first human beings were sown on Santa Cruz Island by earth goddess Hutash. After a while, however, the 96-square-mile island got so crowded, Hutash decided to move her people to the mainland, so she stretched a rainbow bridge across what is now the Santa Barbara Channel. These days, however, we take a boat or a plane.


673 words. August 28, 2000 column Ventura County Star

Now I know why women donít usually head up political campaigns--weíve never even heard of Carl von Clausewitz, havenít had the yen to read "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, and arenít all that sure Frederick II, the Prussian military strategist, was all that Great.


671 words. August 14, 2000 column. Ventura County Star.

American humorist Mignon McLaughlin observed "our strength is often composed of the weakness that weíre damned if weíre going to show.


669 words. July 31, 2000 column Ventura County Star

If it seems to you thereís nothing but Lincoln Navigators on the 101 Freeway and you canít walk a block without stumbling over some place featuring almond Frapuccino, youíre right. Ventura County is Bobo country.


671 words. June 19, 2000 column. Ventura County Star.

Despite the fact that some of the more fanatic Ayn Rand devotees have been summarily dismissed as silly and sophomoric, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas have all publicly acknowledged the high priestess of libertarianismís influence on their personal political evolution.


669 words. June 5, 2000 column Ventura County Star

AN OPEN LETTER TO ELIZABETH HANFORD DOLE Are you going to sit next to the phone all summer? Trust me, heís not going to call.


669 words. Ventura County Star column, May 22, 2000

Have you come down with a case of dynophilia as yet? Itís not just preschoolers who are preoccupied with properly pronouncing polysyllabics such as stegosaurus, coelophysis, and postosuchus. Weíve all found ourselves, at one time or another, peering through the prehistoric peephole with awe and wonder.


663 words. May 8, 2000 Ventura County Star column

The toddler I dropped off at the California Lutheran University Preschool, seemingly only yesterday, will be graduating from college this weekend. How did I ever become the mother of a college graduate?


665 words. Ventura County Star. April 24, 2000 column

No stranger to Ventura County, Deborah Lipstadt served as the Director of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley from l986-88. Nearly two years have elapsed since she and I chatted on the radio about her international best seller "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory."


670 words. Ventura County Star column. April 10, 2000

Did you know the cheeseburger you order "your way" (lettuce, tomato, hold the pickle) requires 698 gallons of water to get from Old McDonald's family farm to your Ventura County fast-food factory?


665 words. March 27, 2000 column. Ventura County Star.

"This is your brain on beer. ... This is your brain on milk. ... Any questions?"


672 words. Ventura County Star. March 13, 2000 column

I teach in a field where the paradigm, technology-wise, seems to shift every fifteen minutes.


664 words. February 28, 2000 column. Ventura County Star

Cyberpunk novelist William Gibson has envisioned a future world completely dominated by consumerism--a veritable technotopia in which international corporations eventually replace current nation states. Heís not so far off.


666 words. Ventura County Star. February 14, 2000

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that otherís consent." Abraham Lincoln

Even though the primary is all but upon us (March 7th), potential electors arenít paying the slightest bit of attention. Big surprise. Voter turnout has steadily dwindled for more than two decades.


656 words Ventura County Star January 31, 2000 column

I suppose you could call it "ministering while black." An African American Episcopal priest, in total liturgical regalia (he had just finished celebrating the Eucharist at St. Martin-of-the-Field Church), was confronted by a phalanx of police officers with weapons drawn. He was forced to drop to his knees while being summarily handcuffed in front of protesting parishioners as well as gape-mouthed parish school children. The police claimed they were hunting for robbers fleeing from a nearby fast-food restaurant and told the priest that the humiliation he endured was "standard procedure."


661 words. Ventura County Star column. January 17, 2000

One hundred years ago, author James Weldon Johnson collaborated with his brother on "Lift Every Voice and Sing." The hymn, which reveres the African American struggle for liberty, is also known as the Black National Anthem. Like a biting blast of wind, Johnsonís punch-packed words seem to sweep members of any audience, black and white alike, to their feet whenever it is played.


668 words, January 3 column. Ventura County Star.

H.L. Mencken once observed that "politics, as hopeful men practice it in the world, consists mainly of the delusion that a change in form is a change in substance." He wrote that 45 years before a handful of UCLA students and scientists planted a crop of computers which would eventually sprout into the World Wide Web.





668 words. December 6, l999 column, Ventura County Star

KAUAI, HAWAII "You go fast, you no got style" proclaims the hand-lettered sign nailed to a phone pole on Kauaiís North Shore. Anywhere else in the United States, that same message would be blocked out on a standard-issue white metal signpost and would read "Caution: Children at Play." Although Kauai is in the United States, it is definitely not in America.


666 words. Nov. 22, l999 column. Ventura County Star

How do you find God? Thatís easy. For some.


667 words. November 8, l999 column. Ventura County Star

In l860, GOP patriarch Abraham Lincoln spent $1.8 million (in l999 dollars) to beat three opponents. Elizabeth Hanford Dole raised a whopping $4.8 million in her presidential bid, yet three months before the first primary vote was even cast, ended up unceremoniously abandoning her White House trajectory.


666 words. October 25, l999. Ventura County Star column.

Remember the Human Genome Project? Those double helix-busting biologists hope to clinch a "working draft," (90 percent of the human genetic code) by March of 2000. They have recently announced they will be able to earnestly tinker with the DNA coils defining who we are, nearly a decade sooner than anticipated.


653 words. October 11, l999. Ventura County Star

"Freaks and Geeks," the NBC entry on Saturday nights, is high school unplugged.


669 words. September 27, l999 column. Ventura County Star.

Most of us eventually grow up. To that end, Susan Faludi, author of Backlash, nearly a post-Pulitzer decade later, is chanting a new mantra. " I donít see how you can be a feminist and not think about men."


667 words September 13, l999 column. Ventura County Star

When Dorothy insists that the Wizard of Oz is a very bad man, he protests: "Oh no, my dear, Iím a very good man--Iím just a very bad wizard."


663 words. August 30, l999 column Ventura County Star

Bob Woodward, both deified ("All The President's Men") and demonized("Dick" ) on the silver screen, is used to ratting on residents of the Oval Office. Heís the investigative reporter along with Carl Bernstein, who, twenty-five years ago, helped bring down the 37th President.


665 words. August 16, l999. Ventura County Star.

Mary Vincent, who made the irreversible mistake of hitching a ride with the infamous Lawrence Singleton in l978, chose Port Hueneme to make her debut as a crime victim advocate. Vincent didnít know what to expect from the SRO audience.


663 words. Ventura County Star. August 1, l999 Pulse Page

Generations of California schoolchildren have studied Ishi "the last of the Yahi." This wildman, who resembled nobody else in Northern California, created quite a sensation when he staggered out of the woods in 1911.


658 words. July 19, l999 column Ventura County Star

Willie Brown, outfitted as usual in stunning sartorial splendor, was honored in Sacramento for his Ripley record as Assembly Speaker. A room where the self-designated "ayatollah of the legislature" claims he liked to summon recalcitrant Republicans now bears his name.


665 words. July 12, l999 column Ventura County Star

Romantic love shares the same physical manifestations as the anxious anticipation of a public speaking stint, and with the same irrelevance. Ever heard of fight-or-flight syndrome? No one has yet figured out what to do with all the gratuitous adrenaline both activities seem to engender.


658 words. July 5, l999 column Ventura County Star

Alexis De Tocqueville, whoíd never heard of celebrity biography, observed over 150 years ago that Americans lacked an appreciation for what he called the "pleasures of the mind, preferring instead "books which may be easily procured, quickly read, and which require no learned researches to be understood." When it comes to sinking our teeth into sumptuous literary fare, we seem to opt for fast food instead.


661 words. June 21, l999, Ventura County Star column

It would seem that the 90s woman has more in common with the world of l8th Century Lord Chesterfield (who contended that making love "is a grossly overrated pastime") than the supersexualized society in which she makes her bed and lies, if statistics are to be believed, too often, alone.


662 words June 14, l999 column Ventura County Star

American culture has undergone a sea change since "Star Wars" arrived in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate over two decades ago. The tri-part saga of Luke Skywalker so shaped a generation that Francis Ford Coppola suggested, more or less seriously, that Lucas turn his philosophy into an organized religion. Yet as we prepare for the second installment of the prequel trilogy perhaps a catechism class re: the Gospel according to George Lucas might prove a tad premature.


664 words. June 7, l999 column. Ventura County Star.

A sea of green is literally spilling out of right-wing closets these days. Iím not just talking about those so-called sportsmen conservationists ala Teddy Roosevelt but waves of thoughtful conservatives who are determined to laugh last. No longer convulsed by environmental extremist jokes, these diehards realize theyíve spent entirely too much time snorting up a sleeve while parked on the wrong side of the eco-debate.


657 words. May 24, l999 column. Ventura County Star

Film director Robert Altman has yet to give up on deceit as a cinematic leitmotif. His most recent screenful of Southern discomfort is deliciously dubbed "Cookieís Fortune." When Miss Jewel Mae "Cookie" Orcutt (Patricia Neal) makes up her mind to join hubby in heaven by taking a pistol and firing off a fatal round to the forehead, her nieces Camille (Glenn Close)and Cora (Julianne Moore) concoct a clumsy cover-up to disguise the shameful suicide as a robbery.


662 words. May 10, l999 column. Ventura County Star

The mantra "Gerr-ee,Gerr-ee" merely accentuated the swing beat of the "All in the Family" theme at the l984 Democratic convention. A tsunami of women both at home and on the floor of the Moscone Center simultaneously embraced, giggled and wept. Male delegates, in a Twilight Zone moment, had essentially disappeared. In actuality, female alternates simply absconded with their floor passes, this being an historic moment and all.


665 words. May 3, l999 column. Ventura County Star

Remember Phisohex? It was a disinfectant popular in the 60s which was employed for just about every cleansing purpose from surgical scrubbing to zapping zits. Phisohex even ensured that the bottoms of babies would remain spankingly spotless. Wouldnít it be just dandy if Ron Unz (the software millionaire who shook up California schools by rolling back bilingual education) could clean up campaign financing as effectively?


657 words April 26 column Ventura County Star



666 words. April 12, l999 column. Ventura County Star

Just about any school day of the week you can find students scuffling, shuffling and snuffling as they attempt to keep their eyeballs directed toward but another "educational" film. It was, however, during a recent showing of "October Sky" at the local multiplex, that this columnist found teacher-student roles reversed. An aggregation of hooky-playing educators were found crumbling (emotionally), fumbling (for facial tissues) and mumbling "this is the reason I went into teaching" during the "every-word-is-true" story on the silver screen.


670 words. March 29, l999 Ventura County Star Opinion

Unlike "The Truman Show," a cautionary tale which documents the round-the-clock existence of an average guy who doesn't know he's on camera, Ron Howard's latest release, "EDtv" is a cautionary tale about an average guy who knows full well he's starring in an ongoing serial, namely, his own life. At first flattered by the offer of a role he was born to play, the character of Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughey) grows to detest the nonstop paucity of privacy.

655 words. March 15, l999 column. Ventura County Star.

Remember the l969 comedy in which American vacationers embark on a whirlwind tour of seven European countries in eighteen days? "If Itís Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium" handily serves as cinematic shorthand for the veritable kaleidoscope of clashing cultures that is Europe. For centuries, when they werenít bloodying themselves in battle, Europeans bickered and bartered in thirty languages while attempting to move across a checkerboard of national borders.

667 words March 1, l999 column. Ventura County Star

Breathes there a boomer with soul so dead, who never to himself has said (backed by a throbbing "Bolero" beat, no less) "when logic and proportion has fallen sloppy dead . . ."


659 words. February 22, l999 column Ventura County Star

In the l989 Academy Award-winning film, "Dead Poets Society," an eccentric English teacher named John Keating (Robin Williams) challenges the empty traditions of 100-year-old Welton Academy by vowing: "My class, you will learn to think for yourselves again. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."


633 words. February 15, l999 column Ventura County Star.

This conversation was overheard just outside the Oval Office where President William Jefferson Clinton was purportedly working alone.

Mr. Jefferson, allow me to be the first to wish you a "happy birthday."


657 words. February 1, l999. Ventura County Star.

Have you been keeping track of the bumper sticker battle between drivers who affix Darwin footed-fish to the backs of their automobiles and the proverbial Pisces people, a.k.a. "Christians?" The latter hold that science undermines faith and reduces spirituality to a series of biochemical reactions while the former complain that believers blind themselves to scientific certainty in order to suit their needs.


661 words. January 25, l999 column. Ventura County Star.

I read every single word of Steve Allenís latest (No. 51) book titled "Dumbth: The Lost Art of Thinking"--not just because his thesis (American "know-how" becoming American "donít-know-how") resonated with my convictions but because I feared he might use me as a prime example.


660 words. Monday, January l8, l999 column. Ventura County Star.

Isnít it ironic that we honor a man who made books central to his life by closing libraries on his birthday? Even as a toddler, Martin Luther King, Jr., the recipient of scores of honorary doctorates as well as the Nobel Peace Prize, was charmed by the written word.





657words. November 9, l998 column. Ventura County Star.

Jeff Daniels describes himself as a "walking, talking contradiction." The star of "Pleasantville" is torn. His voice, sticky with sentimentality, bemoans the loss of the American innocence depicted by the Andy Griffiths and Dick Van Dykes of yesteryear yet heís also troubled by what he sees as an unthinking, visually-impaired veneration of the good olí days.



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