|Former Mayor John Buchanan|
But there are some who have no problem with Naughty Noah's antics, and wonder what the fuss is all about. It is those that I would like to focus on today. That indifference to accepted moral precepts is part of a pattern that has been with this town for quite some time. And is certainly still with us today.
Not all that long ago there was a blog in town called The Sierra Madre Cumquat. There was also another one with a name so vile that it cannot be repeated here. Though neither ever achieved anywheres near the readership The Tattler currently has, they did have sizable and devoted followings. Some of which was made up of actual elected officials here in Sierra Madre. They certainly found a home with many who claimed to be at the heart of our local fashionable society.
And these sites would often use pornographic or homoerotic imagery to degrade and humiliate people from many walks of life in this town, including those who were not politicians and never dreamed of becoming one. Just regular people who supported Measure V. These are the people the Cumquat and its unnamable counterpart blog fiercely attacked.
Yet despite all of that, then Mayor John Buchanan saw fit to use the influence of his office to endorse this Cumquat blog, and did so in an article that was published on the front page of the January 14, 2007 edition of the Pasadena Star News.
In this article, entitled "Blog makes Sierra Madre politics a laughing matter," Mayor Buchanan was quoted this way:
Even Sierra Madre Mayor John Buchanan answered (Cumquat Publisher Jim) Snider's online request for an interview, producing a piece Buchanan called "light-hearted and fun."
Buchanan was a fan of the site even before he was chosen as the subject of one of its posts. He said a political environment like Sierra Madre's, where "substantial tension" exists, is exactly where Web sites like the Cumquat can flourish.
"They provide a kind of comic relief that all human beings need to cope with life on a day-to-day basis," Buchanan said. "A little humor and a little poking fun is good for politicians so we can maintain a perspective."
Not everyone saw the Cumquat in quite the same way as Mayor Buchanan. One of those people, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist from the Los Angeles Times by the name of Steve Lopez, had a decidedly different take on this matter.
In an April 1, 2007 L.A. Times column entitled "Sierra Madre Fears for its Treasure," Lopez described what he found on the Cumquat and elsewhere. I have removed the names of those mentioned in this column (you will see why), and I am not posting the entire piece here. However, if you are curious and wish to read the whole thing you can link to it by clicking here.
Each time I drive back to Sierra Madre I half expect the town to be gone. I figure it must have been a movie set or existed only in a dream, but there it is each time. Postcard perfect.
You settle in at a sidewalk table with a cup of joe from the homey Bean Town cafe and feel like you're in a remote mountain hamlet, the San Gabriels towering overhead and well-scrubbed villagers strolling by without a care, perhaps on their way to the Huck Finn Fishing Derby or Wistaria Festival.
Or so it always seemed.
But it turns out that looks can be deceiving. Beneath its charming veneer, the town of 10,000 is in a dither over two development proposals: a 72-unit residential and commercial project and a 55-unit residential deal.
Measure V -- which would give citizens approval power on large developments -- is supported by, among others, (name deleted), a columnist for the Observer. In an apparent attempt at humor, an anonymous blogger who's adopted a pen name that can't run in a family newspaper, likened Henderson, who is black, to Aunt Jemima.
Another blogger, known as the Sierra Madre Cumquat, reported -- in one of the lamest stabs at satire I've seen in a while -- that Councilman (name deleted) had opened a bathhouse for young men, superimposing his photo over what looked like a gay orgy. The same website made up a story that pornographic images of Measure V supporter (name deleted) had been released on YouTube.
"It's so vile," said (name deleted), an author who has lived in Sierra Madre for nearly 50 years and speaks with a very proper Aussie accent. "I don't look at the blogging, but there are people around town who monitor it and let me know."
When I told (name deleted) that DowntownDirt.org didn't appear to be as satirical as other sites and instead seemed devoted to jabbing the Observer, she scoffed. DowntownDirt has a space devoted to "lively, spirited and civilized debate," on which a February entry by "Cumquat" asked "how long it's been" since (name deleted) "had an orgasm."
Makes you wonder if there are any grown-ups left in town.
That gives you a taste of what was going on at the time. Those running the "NO on Measure V" campaign, financed to the tune of $180,000 in developer and Realtor money, had incorporated into their efforts attempts to humiliate their opponents through the kinds of Internet smear attacks described by Steve Lopez in his column.
And the then Mayor of Sierra Madre, John Buchanan, a leading light in the campaign to defeat Measure V, endorsed the most well-known of the two sites engaged in that effort, something that sent hundreds of curious readers The Cumquat's way.
Now call it a coincidence if you like, or fate, but that core community of anti-Measure V political activists, those who had no problem with the Cumquat back then, or even supported it in some ways, are today key proponents of Measure UUT. This same core group of political activists also supports the two pro-Measure UUT candidates running in April's election.
Kind of serendipitous if you think about it. And it would certainly explain why certain folks have had no problems with the antics of Noah Green. And continue to support him despite his now widespread notoriety.