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And Now for the Real Epithets...
What a smartfuck you [SF Weekly Music Editor Jeff Stark] are. I mean that in a positive manner. You picked on every band in your local review ("Local Yokels," Music, May 6), yet mentioned something to keep them from giving it all up as well. I do think Swell's last CD was good, but songs like "Love You All" from the first Swell can't be matched. (They're finishing up their new one now.) I digress. Thanks for reviewing the Cherries CD and pointing at their great CD cover.

Now what?
Dylan Magierek
Badman Recording Co.
Upper Haight

Cheesecake and Other Just Desserts
Hate to break this to you, but Mr. Stark stands to be corrected on a colloquial misstep in his otherwise competently written piece on the Donnas ("Detachment," Music, May 13). For future reference, Jeff, "beefcake" is common vernacular for extreme male pulchritude -- as anyone familiar with a particular episode of South Park could tell you -- while the female equivalent, e.g., the Donnas' gatefold sleeve, would in fact be "cheesecake."

A minor point, to be sure, but given your ritual goofing on Joel Selvin for oversights of an equally grievous nature, one that needed to be made all the same.

Michael Layne Heath
Via Internet

Community or Uniformity?
I read your recent article "Tales of the Circuit" (May 13) with much interest. Certainly the author captured a pretty accurate slice of the circuit party life, albeit while remaining a little cautious not to cast too disparaging an eye on certain gay men's attitudes and lifestyles.

Having attended a White Party in Miami a few years ago, I had to laugh at "Kurt's" use of the words "spiritual," "emotional," and "brotherhood" when describing these parties. These powerful and evocative words, used by the same men I have witnessed dismissing other men at these parties with comments like, "She needs to hit the gym a little harder" and "Not hot, not hot!," seem a little out of place.

I'm sure "Kurt" and others believe that they are celebrating community, togetherness, and harmony at these gatherings. Unfortunately, in order to fit in at these particular block parties, a body fat percentage in the single digits is required for access to the "neighborhood." It's rude, after all, to show up at a barbecue without a six-pack.

In a time when gay men are demanding the same rights as their straight brothers and sisters in this human experiment, and when we ask to be seen as more than sex-obsessed and superficial, it is amazing that some of us still choose to live in a callow, stagnant world.

Fortunately, if Dr. Kinsey was right, the 7,000 or so men who attend these parties represent only a small portion of a larger gay community that hopefully does truly celebrate diversity, spirituality, hope, compassion, and community. It is a shame, then, that in a society where the media knows that sex, scandal, and smooth hard bodies sell the rags, this segment of our community gets so much air time.

Paul Alameda
Via Internet

Short Circuit
I was most disturbed by your cover story "Tales of the Circuit" by Tara Shioya. Did the writer take time off from her Sunday school lessons to write this story? It reads like the circuit queens are some other species of humanity or less.

First of all, the piece is typed in an assault of quotation marks and explanations, as if we are uncertain that people actually mean what they say when they are "peaking" on the dance floor.

Come on Tara, Ann Landers could have better analyzed this one party among millions in the gay scene in her nightly bubble bath. You are a puritanical old fart. You made this extremely interesting and radical subculture sound completely "out of this world" and "neato" and "hey, look what the monkeys are doing now"-ish.

And don't think I didn't notice your apologetic "gorgeous" and "beautiful" every other sentence in describing these men, trying to make it sound like it was all right and A-OK after all to have a nice body.

The descriptions of love affairs, with that flimsy cautionary ending about the dangers of crystal meth, could have been -- in a successful article -- an article about changing values, perspectives, diversity in gay culture, and age-of-AIDS behavior. Instead we have a drip-dry discussion of drugs in alphabetical order, nary a mention that perhaps these guys are well aware of the danger they are getting into, barely a discussion of clones (look it up in your gay dictionary, Tara, and no, it doesn't need quotes), and mindless misrepresentation of "three San Franciscans" who, guess what, are actual people and don't do the party 365 days a year.

J.C. Baxter
Via Internet

Another View on Baseball Pensions
We were very disappointed with the various inaccuracies contained in George Cothran's recent story ("Baseball's Orphans," April 15), as well as important omissions in his story. Cothran's description of the supposedly punitive pension-plan treatment of certain players is flat-out wrong. Two of Cothran's assertions in particular are, quite simply, inaccurate and completely reckless: 1) that with respect to players who threatened to strike or who jumped to the Mexican League in the 1940s, some unidentified "clause denied these players a pension, forever -- even if they returned to the majors and played for years"; and 2) that Max Lanier and other players who jumped to the Mexican League "could never receive a pension -- no matter how long they played in the major leagues before or after the '46-'47 cutoff date." In fact, any player who joined the players pension plan at the time, made nominal contributions to it while he played, and earned at least four years of major league service in or after 1947 was eligible to receive a pension; whether a player had previously voted to strike or had previously jumped to the Mexican League was, and remains, irrelevant to the player's pension status. To have printed these baseless assertions without first checking your facts with the Commissioner's Office (or perhaps other sources) was irresponsible on your part. Mr. Lanier, had he chosen to join the pension plan when he returned from Mexico to play in 1949, could have accumulated the necessary service for a pension. He can blame only himself for the decision he made, when he played, not to participate.

Cothran's story also failed to mention that the Commissioner's Office offered, in late 1997, Mr. Lanier a $10,000-per-year supplemental benefit, even though he did not qualify for the Major League Baseball Players Benefit Plan and even though he did not qualify for the new supplemental benefit plan for pre-1947 players who had never had the opportunity to join the ongoing pension plan. This offer was consistent with any assurances Mr. Lanier had from Bud Selig that he should receive a benefit. Mr. Lanier did not even respond to the offer, which your story ignored, and instead filed a lawsuit, apparently believing that the generosity of the Commissioner's Office was not generous enough. Also omitted was the fact that Mr. Lanier sued the commissioner and the major league clubs in 1949 in regard to his return from Mexico and received what was then a substantial settlement payment.

The very premise of your story, as reflected in your subheadline stating that 74 old-timers are "without pensions," is misleading. Over 1,400 retired Major League Baseball players and coaches receive pensions under the Major League Baseball Players Benefit Plan, which may very well be the most generous pension plan in America. In addition, you recognize that last year the Major League Baseball clubs established the supplemental benefit plan for pre-1947 players, but failed to mention that 118 players actually enrolled and are receiving benefits from the Commissioner's Office. The Commissioner's Office pays this $10,000-per-year benefit to these old-time players even though it had no legal obligation to establish the new plan. In addition, your story failed to mention that another 108 pre-1947 players were also offered the opportunity to participate in the voluntary supplemental benefit plan, but chose not to do so.

It was disappointing that there was no mention of the pro bono aspect of Major League Baseball Properties' Former Player Program, the subject of the lawsuit in Oakland that Cothran covered. To help former players, such as Pete Coscarart, for whom there would be virtually no interest in names and likenesses, MLBP established the program, acted as the players' agent in marketing their personality rights, and took zero percent of the money attributable to such player rights in the licenses. (MLBP took its usual agency fee from the licensing of club logos, as it does in all of its licensing business.) Players remained free to sell their images on their own. With the exception of a few marquee players, every single dollar players received from the program was a dollar they likely would never have been able to generate on their own. Through the Former Player Program lawsuit in Oakland that Cothran covered, Pete Coscarart received all of $2 more than he otherwise would have had he not sued.

The plaintiffs' lawsuit recently concluded in Oakland was an attempt to obscure facts and substitute sympathy for reason. It is disappointing that your writer took the same approach.

Bob Rose
Vice President, Communications
San Francisco Giants

George Cothran replies: Mr. Rose correctly points out one error in my story. I reported that a player who wasn't on a major league team on the last day of 1946 or the first day of 1947 -- a crucial qualifying requirement for the pension created in 1947 -- was not eligible for the pension even if he played in the major leagues after the '46-47 cutoff.

Under an exception to the '46-47 clause, if, for example, one of the Mexican League players, like Max Lanier (who was not on a major league team at the end of 1946 or the beginning of 1947) or one of the pro-union Pittsburgh players, like Pete Coscarart (who was punished with demotion to the minors before the last day of '46), had come back into the majors and played for the required five years and paid into the pension, he would indeed have garnered retirement benefits from Major League Baseball.

Mr. Rose neglects, however, to point out that these requirements were often nearly impossible for players to fulfill. The 1946-47 clause still meant many players like Coscarart and Lanier didn't qualify for a pension. Yes, Lanier came back to the majors in 1949 -- but by then he was a 12-year baseball veteran, and was, predictably, unable to play for another five full years. Had he not been affected by the '46-47 clause, his nine years in the majors prior to 1946 would have qualified him for a pension. Coscarart never made it back into the majors after being sent down to the minors. His union support and the '46-47 clause rendered his nine pre-'46 years meaningless.

Mr. Rose says I didn't mention that baseball offered Lanier a $10,000-a-year payment. I mentioned the $10,000-a-year offer to the pensionless players prominently.

Moreover, if Mr. Rose wants to portray a paltry $10,000 a year as "generosity," that's his right. I choose to see it as Max Lanier did: an insult to players who, while playing for peanuts, built the sport that now pays Mr. Rose handsomely.

Correction
In our May 20 issue, a caption in the Night + Day section referenced an artwork by illustrator Mark Ulricksen. Unfortunately, the wrong artwork was published above that caption. SF Weekly regrets the error.

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