During the day of the Million Man March, Willie Brown was teaching a lesson on civil rights to high school seniors at Raoul Wallenberg High School. It seems fitting that Brown took the opportunity of the march to teach students and provide them with the insight of a true civil rights leader -- a champion for all people, including African-Americans, women, gays and lesbians, and children.
Your story should have added some of Brown's achievements. Brown was responsible for making Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a holiday; he helped arrange open housing for African-Americans; he was one of the main opponents to Prop. 187; and he opposed the UC Board of Regents decision on affirmative action. Brown also secured millions of dollars for the San Francisco public education system.
Cyrus E. Bradford
Art in Outer Space
From what spaceship did Deborah Peifer just disembark? In her virgin piece for SF Weekly (Aisle Seat, Oct. 18), she postures a sophomoric and, I might add, undefended premise that art (in this case, theater) doesn't need to depend on funding from big business or government grants.
Well, gee-whiz. All this time spent scraping around like mad, trying to get those nasty corporate white guys to pony up, groveling for a few government giveaways just to keep things going, and now we find out we don't need those fund-raisers because we don't need the money! Damn.
Where does Peifer think the money's going to come from? Arts patrons? Here's the news: The "arts patrons" in this town contribute to those entities from whence they get the most bang for their buck -- the symphony, the opera, the ballet. The remaining pocket change goes to ACT, Berkeley Rep, and the Marin Theatre Company. So where does that leave all the others?
"Bare boards, two artists, and a passion" just don't sell tickets anymore. Theater must compete with every other visual stimulant in the media galaxy, and without more (not less) government and corporate support, it's a competition live stage is bound to lose.
Peifer's academic posturing is pure Swiss cheese. I'm not convinced that there's all that much "control" being exerted anyway, except by Jesse Helms. I say: Take the money and run the theaters with all the talent that money can buy!
Press Criticism by Numbers
John Sullivan's piece about difficulties in the San Francisco gay press ("Out, and Down and Out, in S.F.," Bay View, Oct. 18) was OK as far as it went, but had the feel of a story by someone who hadn't spent much time actually reading the publications he was discussing.
As one who knows the field too well, here's another assessment:
By and large, the local gay press sucks. It sucks because most publishers are too cheap to pay journalists a living wage and thus can't hold on to good talent, and because petty agendas often get in the way of fair, meaningful coverage.
A few questions Sullivan might have asked:
1) Why has there been no serious coverage of the mayoral race in the gay press? A couple of papers have interviewed the candidates, but none have taken any sort of serious look at why many key gay politicos have chosen not to support the first queer candidate with a chance of winning.
2) Why did the Bay Area Reporter endorse Arlo Smith for re-election two months ahead of time, when one of his opponents, Terence Hallinan, has an excellent record on gay issues and support in the queer community? Does it have something to do with the fact that B.A.R. political editor/columnist Wayne Friday works in the DA's office? And what kind of mentality led Frontiers to do a cover story on international issues and illustrate it with a picture of a shirtless white guy holding up the world? Kids, can you say "racist"? Or maybe just "dumb"?
3) What does it mean that the guy who was the S.F. AIDS Foundation's media flack while it was battling its unionized employees is now writing for Bay Times as Publisher Kim Corsaro tosses union organizers overboard?
The gay community deserves better, and we should insist on it from our publications.
Name Withheld by Request
Fear of a Gay Planet?
The problems with San Francisco's gay press ("Out, and Down and Out, in S.F.") go far deeper than the newsprint price explosion -- or even the legendary larger-than-life egos at play. As one of the "minor players" in the area's gay press, I see a fundamental lack of understanding in what being gay is all about.
Run the numbers. At 6 million people in the Bay Area, we've likely got well over 600,000 gay folk here. Yet the largest gay paper can only manage around 40,000 copies? Perhaps if San Francisco's papers didn't think the world ended at the Bay Bridge and Daly City, they'd be able to pull in more readers and advertisers.
But to do so, they'd need to get over their precious tunnel-vision view of the gay world, dictated by the city's own Thought Police. Not all gay people are liberal; some are pro-life; many find the word "queer" as despicable as the famous n-word; many don't patronize phone-sex lines or "escort services"; many don't do drag; and, yes, some are even Republicans. We're as diverse as the general population, and we have only one thing in common: our sexual orientation. Everything else is open to debate.
Chris Thomas, Publisher
No Free Parking
Regarding Jo Hirschmann's letter ("Move Along," Oct. 11), wherein she states, "He [Mayor Frank Jordan] has unleashed a campaign of police harassment and intimidation against residents of Golden Gate Park": residents of Golden Gate Park!
The only aspect of Mayor Jordan's Matrix program I unequivocally support is the sweeps minimizing the number of "residents" in Golden Gate Park. The park is under lots of stress just from the proper use of its thousands of daily visitors; it cannot and should not be further burdened with "residents."
Absolutely no one should ever be allowed to be a "resident" of Golden Gate Park. It is sacred ground, a special place for all San Franciscans.
Peter Joe Sanchez
Thank you for your coverage of Paul Mavrides' case against the California Board of Equalization ("The Difference Between Comics and Literature," Bay View, Oct. 4).
If your readers want to know how they can fight this injustice, they can attend the CBLDF benefit reading Oct. 31 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater. Mavrides, Sandman author Neil Gaiman, Cerebus creator Dave Sim, and Minneapolis-based gothic folk duo the Flash Girls will all be on hand to raise money and awareness for Mavrides' defense and the fight to protect the First Amendment rights of comic book professionals.
Susan Alston, Executive Director
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Editor's note: See Events listings in Calendar for particulars on the CBLDF benefit.
In "The Last Seduction" (Oct. 18), SF Weekly omitted acknowledgement of some of the historical information on Willie Brown that was culled from previously published works by Sacramento Bee reporter James Richardson, who is working on a Brown biography. The uncredited material was published in the Alicia Patterson Foundation Reporter last year.