The Business of Sex Is Business
You can add your "Web Rouser" cover story (March 31) to the ever-growing list of subtle morality tales about Inter-net porn. By choosing to focus your story on a site like Juicymango.com, which according to your statistics is a failure, you supply the public with the "comfort" that sin doesn't pay. You say that the "gold rush" is over and that few sites are based in the Bay Area. I have been running a vintage erotica site out of the Bay Area for just over a year now. On an initial investment of about $350 I now gross about $72,000 a year and have no employees but myself. I also helped a friend set up a site in San Francisco that after the same initial investment and about five months in business is already doing better than Juicymango.com.

I'm sure it makes your readers who work at 9-to-5 jobs feel a whole lot better to think that the success that I've had is not possible and that all the sites are the same old garbage just recycled over and over again. But, just like any business, creativity and originality pays off. You don't need to invest the kind of money that Caity McPherson did. You don't need the expensive equipment that she bought. You don't need to have the costly DSL connection that she has in her home.

She speaks at industry conferences? About what? How not to run an Internet porn site?

Joel Brandwein
Via Internet

Exactly How Far, Alex?
I'm far from a prudish reader (believe me, very far), but I found the picture of a woman's ass on the cover of the "Web Rouser" issue to be in very poor taste. This is not the kind of thing I want to leave lying around, especially at work.

Please, you can have these articles without the explicit covers. At least keep the outside acceptable for work environments.

Alex Pakter
Via Internet

The Shlain Machine
Thanks for putting the slam to the Webby Awards ceremony ("A Night at the Webbys," Bay View, March 24). The Tiffany Shlain mediamonger machine should grind to a dead halt pronto! Who cares about Web site awards other than the attention-hungry Shlain family? (Let's see, papa Leonard still peddling cockeyed art and physics books, while some other Shlain family goof was trying to take over the S.F. parrot-watching perch on the cover of the Examiner two weeks ago.)

Shouldn't this family get jobs instead of hawking their vapor talents? Tiffany, call us when you get a career, a life, and a clue. Better yet, don't call.

R.E. Harris
Western Addition

The Shlain Payroll
The Webby Awards have become the leading Internet awards by maintaining impeccable standards for production, talent, and business practices. Those standards were evident to all of us lucky enough to work with Tiffany Shlain on the 1999 Webbies. Judging from the ecstatic responses we've received, our 3,000 guests from around the world agreed.

Unfortunately, those high standards seemed to scare Jack Boulware ("A Night at the Webbys"). His limp, mean-spirited report made it clear he was unable to withstand the high-pressure environment backstage.

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. When creative people collaborate, they demand a lot of themselves and their colleagues. Differences will arise and tempers will be tested. It's challenging, but achieving excellence often is.

Boulware seemed to consider this some kind of revelation. The sad thing is that, for him, it probably was.

Michael Kaminer
Patrick Kowalczyk
Kaminer Public Relations
New York

Quick! Send George Zimmer to Oakland
Talk about petty. Since when did the casual attire of a crowd solely represent that crowd's appreciation of the performer ("Sartorial Sinners," Riff Raff, March 24)? Maybe some of that "overwhelmingly white crowd" for the Sonny Rollins concert at the Masonic worked all day in a suit. Maybe with a busy family with children it is unrealistic to dress to the nines.

Last time I checked, people of all color were buying tickets (at bloated prices, no doubt), waiting in lines for sold-out shows, and, most of all, enjoying and respecting their idols and inspirations of musicianship by being there and listening and loving it. Good vibes and appreciation are valid, three-piece suit, T-shirt, or not.

Kelly DeMartini

Rules, rules, rules. Now we gotta have jazz rules too ("Sartorial Sinners")? Hey, George Cothran (aka the Mr. Blackwell of creative music), I wonder: Did you bother to ask any of those "jerks" who dared to follow their own fashion code at the Sonny Rollins concert if they were musicians? Or if they spent their last $20 on the ticket to see the master, instead of a "fedora or leather cap"?

Oh, All Seeing One, should a poor man (knowing that the master, at 68, may not be by this way again) not attend the concert if he can't "dress to the nines"? And by the way, Judge G, what instrument do you play?

The "shame" and "embarrassment" you describe are your own, George. The fact that, for you, Rollins' playing was "a footnote" compared with your obsession over people's rags speaks clearly as to your qualifications as a critic of creative music.

I have an idea! When that other guardian of jazz propriety, Herr Marsalis, lays out all the rules and declares the True Jazz Republic, maybe you could be minister of fashion! Then creative music can be safe, just like the opera, and the symphony, and all the other co-opted playthings of your owners class.

E. Berkvist

Noxious Willie
Your "Law and Odor" article (Mecklin, March 24) was very revealing, and an excellent insight into this jerk named Willie Brown. Would to God that it could be in the hands of every San Francisco voter before the next mayoral election.

I wonder if S.F. has had enough of this disaster of a mayor, or do you think the left-wingers and liberals will keep him in office? If the electorate sees fit to send him back for a repeat, God help the city.

William Olivito
El Cerrito

Value of the Star
A cheap shot if you ask me ("Eat This Logo, Sucker," March 24). As a consumer I like the idea of ValueStar, and I don't mind the fact that it is a for-profit operation as long as the profits don't get in the way of the evaluations. Your piece, and its sizzling headlines, imply that that's the problem, that ValueStar is just a consumer scam turned on its head. But you don't offer much more than a few disgruntled commentators in a stew of tendentious language.

The "shakedown" you refer to sounds like normal marketing language to me, when you read what it actually says. The fact that ValueStar pursues hospices and other medical care facilities already regulated by the state sounds more misguided than anything else. (And since when did you folks at SF Weekly suddenly think state regulation of the environment, industry, and the workplace was an adequate assurance of quality and safety anyway?)

So Jim Stein's salary "jumped" (your word) from $90,000 to $120,000 in one year. Ooh. For someone in his position, $120,000 is a lot less than he could earn elsewhere. The guy cradles his corporate logo as he gives office tours. Sounds goofy/dedicated to me, not oozing marketing slimeball.

Why didn't you speak to any of the companies that are happy with their experience? Or with consumers who have relied on the ratings and been very satisfied? Couldn't find any, or didn't bother to look? Of course that would have put the lie to the rest of your piece.

We're about to choose a roofing contractor, and the fact that it is ValueStar-certified is important to me. Sure, there are plenty of other contractors who could do the job, but why should I have to throw darts when I've got a decent list to choose from, already pre-certified? It doesn't bother me that companies pay ValueStar for the initial evaluation or the extra goodies. Some companies pay big bucks and take out big ads in the Yellow Pages to make themselves more prominent.

The fact that a company can't just buy its way into ValueStar the way it can into the Yellow Pages is the crucial point here. You tried to prove otherwise. You used deceptive language to suggest otherwise. But you failed. And no doubt your journalistic standards would fail the ValueStar test too, if there was one for tabloids.

Peter Goodman

Sic, Sic, Sic
Well, well, well ... another true misrepresentation of a local Bay Area business which may (eegads) think of charging for a valuable service it offers local consumers. After reading "Eat This Logo, Sucker" I suspected that either Ms. Davis is very young and a bad interpreter of information or seriously needs to reconsider going back to journalism school (if she in fact ever went!).

Hey Lisa, have you ever heard of getting the story right while writing a journalistic piece? How about interviewing the over 1,500 satisfied quality service providers that ValueStar DOES have, instead of the few who have either had a negative experience with VS or simply don't "get" what VS's mission is? ValueStar DOES NOT profess to be an expert in plumbing, day care, or any other service for that matter. What ValueStar DOES do is offer an objective evaluation of business' past customers based SOLELY on their customer satisfaction experience with the company.

So I guess if they exercise their right to charge for a service that other rating firms charge for, that makes them unethical? Where do your readers get the information from that ValueStar is a sleazy operation? Proof? Personal experience? What? I would like to address that question specifically to your reader David Stevens who I'm sure doesn't know shit about ValueStar, but sure thinks he does ("Sleazy Bedfellows," Letters, March 31)!

Hey, I know SF Weekly is a SLEAZY counterculture newspaper supported primarily by sex ads ... but come on guys and Ms. Davis, at least TRY to hire journalists who really get the FACTS straight. I felt like I was reading an article from the National Enquirer (biast, biast, biast) [sic].

Michelle Quintana
Via Internet

Editor's note: Lisa Davis is a graduate of San Francisco State University's journalism program and the winner of a long string of major national journalism awards.

Pay the Messenger
In your article about the movement to organize messengers in San Francisco ("Strike While the Iron Is Hot," Bay View, March 24), a major factor was not mentioned. Messengers are not paid by the hour. Instead, we receive a percentage of the price of each delivery we make. Because prices for messenger deliveries in San Francisco are among the lowest in the industrialized nations, messengers here are quite possibly the poorest in the nation.

The San Francisco Bike Messenger Association believes that delivery prices must rise if messengers are to receive the benefits and better pay we deserve. Higher delivery prices will also mean a higher income for our companies as well. The SFBMA believes the way to increase delivery prices is for messengers to form an industrywide union. With industrywide union standards, companies can increase their delivery prices (and thus messenger income) without fear of the drastic undercutting that currently plagues San Francisco's messenger businesses.

Howard A. Williams
President, SFBMA
San Francisco

Bok Choy? Really?
Matt Smith's "Strike While the Iron Is Hot" leaves much to be desired. For instance, the subtitle, "Bike messengers organizing for April 15 walkout," suggests the San Francisco Bike Messenger Association is calling for an across-the-board strike. Assuredly, this is not the case. A few select companies might strike; however, that depends on ensuing developments in a rapidly changing playing field.

We are not "making things up as they go along," considering the SFBMA has been planning April 15 actions for months. The ILWU and the SFBMA have had a formal working agreement since last April, not last October. A majority of San Francisco DMS employees have, in fact, signed cards with ILWU Local 6 and no one was coerced.

Regarding the statement: "messengers have been talking union for years, with nothing to show for it" -- independently messengers have won a few victories for themselves, but the current effort with the ILWU is the first ever industrywide organizing campaign for messengers in the Bay Area. And I think we have a lot to show for our hard work.

The only quotes by actual messengers are tacked on to the tail end of the article, and these lack surnames and are preceded by irrelevant descriptions of the messengers' appearance. Why no physical description of Sal Grassia or Greg Austin? The reason why our elected executive director, whose quote was taken completely out of context, "calls himself Bok Choy" is that happens to be his legal name.

Will SF Weekly join the daily papers, international magazines, radio, and television news by finally taking messengers seriously as workers fighting to regain some control over their working conditions?

Mary America Meredith
SFBMA Board Member
San Francisco

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