Letters

The Poor House
I recently interviewed with Andy Olshin ("Weak Foundation," Bay View, July 24) for a temporary position as special assistant. The position was offered as a seeming afterthought that the office of the mayor's homeless coordinator might benefit from the experience of anyone who had actually worked with poor people.

Interviewing with Olshin was certainly a not-to-be-missed experience. He spent the better part of our interview doing all the talking, and it was all about how busy and underappreciated he is. There was no spontaneity, almost as if he were reciting a script, except at no point could I detect any sense of sincerity. It would appear that this demonstrated ability to whine figures largely in that special energy and vast experience he has brought to his office. I left our meeting wondering how Mayor Brown could have acted in such a staggeringly irresponsible manner -- placing the safety and future of 15,000 of our most vulnerable people in the hands of someone so patently inappropriate for the job.

That is where your article missed the boat: The office of the mayor's coordinator of homeless services exists solely to act as a "lightning rod" on volatile issues regarding poverty and homelessness. Olshin is actually callow enough to freely admit this. As long as Olshin creates as wide a gulf as possible between the mayor and issues impacting poor people in S.F., he'll still be pulling down $75,000 a year and bitching about it. Wonder how loud he'll howl when our imperial mayor finally asks him to fall on his sword. The real tragedy is that our "hands-on" mayor doesn't consider the plight of thousands of homeless folks to merit the same kind of response as Muni, or a ballpark, or Herb Caen Day.

Chance Martin
Tenderloin

Ill-Humored
I was offended by your "humorous" award to the Bohemian Club as the Best Place for Prostate Cancer Surgeons to Hand Out Business Cards ("Best of San Francisco," June 26). Cancers that strike only men are not fair game for humor. Prostate cancer is now killing about two-thirds as many men as breast cancer is killing women, yet the research funding devoted to it is only about 10 percent of breast cancer research. All men 40 years old or older are potentially vulnerable, including, in your words, "the minorities who wait on them," not just rich, white businessmen.

Our culture is not comfortable dealing with men's pain and diseases. Educational materials on self-testing for breast cancer are common, while most of us have probably never seen prostate cancer self-test materials. (They do exist.) And yet it's somehow OK to joke about a disease that kills tens of thousands of American men every year. The idea must end that men as a class are fair game for any joke because a very few men (and a fewer number of women) have tremendous power in this society. Men and women need to work to change our culture so that we all can talk about our diseases and our bodies, so that we each can have equal opportunity and permission to be rich, liver-spotted businesspeople or, if we prefer, housewives/househusbands.

J. Steven Svoboda
Berkeley

Corrections
The photo of T.J. Anthony ("The Life and Times of T.J. Anthony," Bay View, July 17) should have been credited to Rink Foto. Also, Anthony's age is 37.

 
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