Letters

Chet Helms lived his life in a similar anti-materialistic fashion, putting people before money. Your writer, Jeff Stark, implies that Chet was punished for his business failures by contracting heart disease and hepatitis C.

To have praised Bill Graham for his business acumen and damned Chet Helms for the virtue of being kind is a grave misreading of the '60s and the human condition here on the edge of the millennium. Though Chet is wounded, he is still flourishing. Bill is producing Jerry and Janis in rock 'n' roll heaven. Someday, probably after a long and personally fruitful life, Chet will join them there and the chorus will begin again. Or will it?

Allen Cohen, Editor
San Francisco Oracle
Walnut Creek

Jeff Stark's article on Chet Helms ("The Fall of Love") missed the point. I'm going to guess that Jeff Stark was not in San Francisco in the '60s and that he is too young to have experienced either the civil rights movement or the Vietnam War. It is unlikely one can accurately judge something without knowing its roots and the soil from which it grew.

I thought the '60s were confusing at times but in retrospect and compared to the '90s, the path was clear and obvious. As we looked for a mission statement for the Summer of Love Anniversary, we had the usual difficulty that 16 to 18 strong-minded people seated around a table trying to come to a consensus will tend to have.

A clarity of purpose is what the youth of the '90s seek. And don't kid yourself, there is a war to stop -- the war being waged against our environment. It is only children who can change the direction of the human race.

I view the 30th Anniversary of the Summer of Love as a ceremony, a passing of the mantle from the children of the '60s to the children of the '90s. A sharing of a vision. The myopic concern of whether it is "profitable" or not is just another major symptom of our problem.

Doug Green
Garberville

Spawn Fan
I thought your reviewer's criticism of Spawn (Elvis Mitchell, Movie Capsules, July 30) as talky didn't take into account the actual structure of the story. The supposedly good hero can only slip into his old killing habits if he does them now for evil -- that seems sort of modern -- thus he spends a lot of his time talking to a clown, trying to figure out what to do next. It's like a comic-book Beckett for Satanists. I thought hell was over the top; but as for borrowing from other pictures, how about the tight fetish shots, which were inspired by the fetish illustrator/artist Hajime Sorayama ... and very well done, too?

Justine Herbert
Mint Hill

Selling the News
I enjoyed Phyllis Orrick's column on ABC/Disney crossovers in the July 30 issue ("Mickey Mouse at Channel 7," Unspun), but she touched only the tip of an ever-larger iceberg ... the steady usurpation of television "news" by the marketing departments of all kinds of entertainment offerings.

Some examples:
Despite Channel 7 News Director Milt Weiss' claims of journalistic commitment, witness Channel 7 weatherman Pete Gidding's recent "visit" to Disneyland for a series of on-air reports on their latest attractions, including the Festival of Light. Weiss can argue that this isn't "news," but less and less of what goes on local "news" these days is really news, nor is it originated by the staffs of these stations. Just make note, for example, of how many stories appearing on local TV news are actually the headlines from that morning in the local newspaper. TV doesn't initiate ... it follows.

And for every minute Pete and his colleagues take up touting the wonders of Disneyland, that's one less minute for actual local coverage.

Although Disney and ABC are now one, Disney's skills at playing television news for its marketing needs go back a long way. I still remember back in 1988 when I was living in Connecticut, watching with amazement as the local CBS channel devoted several minutes of coverage to the fact that Disney had flown a group of inner-city kids to Disney World. Of course, they also flew along the local CBS reporter who also got to use Disney's own video uplink to feed reports back to Hartford.

And of course, who can overlook the continual "local" news coverage "behind the scenes" of each station's prime television entertainment shows -- like Henry Tenenbaum [from KRON Channel 4] visiting the set of Law & Order to interview the stars, or similar reporter visits to shows like Seinfeld?

Doug Webster
Oakland

Correction
Last week's Calendar listed Hemptown on the wrong day. It took place on Saturday, Aug. 23. Our apologies.

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