Letters

2000, Clown
It was interesting to see the article and cover story by Matt Smith "Recycling America" (July 30).

Unfortunately it began with the words "As the millennium approaches," so I could not read it.

Stan J. Maletic
SOMA

All You Need Is Love
In your article about Chet Helms ("The Fall of Love," Aug. 13), Jeff Stark says that in 1965 Helms became "infatuated by the Beatles, particularly by the political content of their lyrics." What songs is Stark talking about here? "Ticket to Ride"? "Yesterday"? The Beatles were not a political band. Their repertoire generally consisted of rock 'n' roll tunes, love ballads, and novelty songs. The few times they actually did get political, it was toward the end of their career, in 1968 and '69. But there was always a message, which they expressed as much by example as by their music: Do your own thing. And make a living doing it.

John Goins
Nob Hill

Just read your piece about Chet Helms ("The Fall of Love"). Beautifully written. A beautiful guy. I always thought Bill Graham was the hero -- maybe he was, in his way. But Chet Helms' attitude reflects, I think, the America we all wish existed. Maybe, once, it did. If so, it's long gone.

Anyway, I've lived here going on three years now, and I never get tired of learning the history. So thanks for that.

One minor quibble -- you didn't give the address of the Avalon -- on Van Ness, or Market? Where was it?

Every Wednesday I pick up both weeklies, but SF Weekly is the more interesting of the two, on a regular basis. Keep it up.

Jeff Calvin
Outer Richmond

Fished Out by Compliments
I agree with Naomi Wise's review of sushi restaurants on one point ... only ("In Quest of the Perfect Sushi," Eat, Aug. 6). Ebisu is the best sushi bar in the city. The rest of her review leaves a lot to be desired.

I have frequented Ebisu numerous times. Saturday morning I picked up SF Weekly and read Wise's incredible review. We (myself and three other people) decided to go for sushi for dinner, and knowing that if we arrived at Ebisu at about 7 we would not be seated until at least 8:30, decided to try Xiao's Sushi House.

That was the biggest mistake of the weekend. This is a perfect case of success ruining a business. We arrived about 7 for dinner. There was a 15-minute wait, which was perfectly fine. It went downhill from there. We were seated shortly (in a rather full restaurant; obviously others had read the review). The owner apologized for the wait; last week, he said, the restaurant was empty, and the chef can only make thing at a time. We ordered our meal. It was at least one hour before one entree came out to the table, followed by the appetizers. It was another hour before someone else at our table received a meal. Every table in the restaurant was getting extremely upset, and some people left. It took one more hour before someone from our table decided to complain about the service. Not one person in the restaurant was able to eat with the people he came with. We finally left at 10:30 with three of our four eating their meal. The sushi was at best OK, but the beef teriyaki was cold, and the sashimi entree was cut in huge chunks. All in all a very bad experience. I think I will stick with what is good, and not follow any more rave reviews to destroy a Saturday night.

Bobbi Levenson
Excelsior

Double Trouble
I'm writing to offer up a challenge to Michael Sragow. Write a film review that does not compare that film with any other film. Can you do it?

Charles R. Shaw
Pacific Heights

What's the Frequency?
There is nothing more irritating than to read a review of your favorite band written by a non-fan (Radiohead, Reviews, Paul Kimball, Aug. 6). Admittedly, Radiohead is an acquired taste, a sophisticated blend of rock and even opera that most Americans, spoon-fed their music by bands such as Sublime and Third Eye Blind, cannot grasp. But anyone who can dismiss Thom Yorke's peerless vocals and the first hour and 20 minutes of the concert, which included songs from their last two albums, which qualify as two of the best albums of the year they were released, is obviously too busy writing his article in time for his deadline and not paying attention to the music.

A writer who obsesses over the fact that the band did not play the two songs that he knew the words to, and then classifies the whole event as a failure, has lived in California too long. If I can, let me apologize for Radiohead, and let me assure you that any true fan of the band appreciated the sarcasm of not pandering to the MTV fans in the audience and instead catering to the album-buyers, who as any record executive will tell you, are your real fans.

Bill Bitopoulos
Western Addition

Full Cycle
In response to Steve Boland's story ("Spokesman Without a Cause," Bay View, July 30) on my activities relating to local bike advocacy and Critical Mass organizing, I fail to understand in what way my prior altercation with the law many years ago (already officially expunged from my record), which SF Weekly trumpeted in the most sensationalistic manner through its publication of multiple mug shots, is in any way relevant to my strictly cerebral activities as an assertive bike advocate. Since Boland of course failed to draw any valid connection with the present, one can easily conclude that his use of overplayed innuendo was simply a gratuitous attempt to unfairly malign me.

Unfortunately, the altercation that Boland referred to was presented completely out of context, even though he surely must have known what really happened: I was walking down a hill, listening to music through my headphones, when suddenly, without any warning, I was assaulted from behind by a person who viciously grabbed at my neck and backpack strap. Upon having twisted to deflect the attack, I saw the assailant bump against a wall, a few inches away, as a consequence of her own momentum. The subsequent courtroom histrionics, though, during which I was inadequately represented by a court-appointed attorney, provided me with valuable insights into the peculiarities of our so-called system of justice, according to which money (or the lack of it) plays a rather significant role.

This unfavorably biased piece about me, by SF Weekly, appears to be my "reward" for having evoked a rather drastic reversal of an earlier position, by the mayor, that he enunciated immediately after our widely publicized encounter at his office. Yet the ill-chosen headline, "Spokesman Without a Cause," is contradicted even by Boland's very selective choice of information, according to which there can still be no doubt that I have advocated important bike-related causes over the years. Since Mayor Brown's initial, derogatory comments about Critical Mass events during a press conference were prompted primarily by the success of the well-attended Bicycle Celebration Day ride to Sausalito just four days earlier, on June 27 -- a ride which I had organized and promoted almost exclusively, as Boland correctly pointed out -- I felt strongly obliged to respond in a public way and defend the bike ride, especially after nobody else within the semiorganized bike community had bothered to do so. Presenting a televised defense of Critical Mass rides, however, does not necessarily also make me a "spokesman" for these events, as had been suggested.

It should be pointed out that, back in March of this year, I had received explicit assurances by one of the mayor's assistants that Willie Brown would be signing an official proclamation, in recognition of Bicycle Celebration Day and, by extension, the associated Fourth Annual Critical Mass Summer Ride to Sausalito. Thus, had Mayor Brown followed through with his alleged promise of support, he would certainly not have later been in a position to attack this event in the manner that he did. His failure to endorse it can be fairly attributed to a few self-destructive people within the bike scene (some of whom Boland apparently spoke with at great length), who, for purely petty or personal reasons, obsessively dissuaded officials at City Hall from supporting the event, as had been planned.

Although one of my goals has been to help transform Critical Mass rides into much larger and more popular events than they used to be -- an endeavor I believe I've been successful at -- it is absolutely untrue, contrary to what Boland claims, that I have engaged in efforts to make them more confrontational. Indeed, one of the aims of these rides, in my mind, is to impart a highly visible sense of purpose, unity, and fun among cyclists. Regarding Boland's comments, stating some may argue that certain proposals I've presented are not feasible (he gave only one example), I regard these objections to be displays of self-defeatism and continue to believe that there is certainly no reason that developing Jefferson Street, at Fisherman's Wharf, into a pedestrian zone with a bike path, and possibly even an extended rail car line, ought to be considered "unrealistic." Moreover, such an urban redesign scheme, while benefiting cyclists, would also be a great revenue-generating enhancement to the city's tourist industry.

C.J. Lackner
Russian Hill

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