The Finer Points of Water Balloons
Like Jojo, I, too, have found it rewarding to take personal actions against the drug dealers that congregate below my window all night ("Tender Box," July 21). I prefer water balloons, however, for a few reasons.

A big one can give a whole group a major drenching. It makes a great splash, and doesn't have to score a direct hit to be effective. It doesn't leave more garbage on the already crusty sidewalks and, finally, it is cheaper and doesn't waste food.

I, too, do it sporadically enough not to be caught, but enough to make it annoying for them to stick around. My only regret is that I probably push them over to Jojo's neighborhood, but maybe the petty harassment will eventually be enough to make them leave altogether.

Can you imagine what would happen if everyone in the Tenderloin did that? We probably wouldn't need city street cleaners anymore.

Name Withheld

Frankly Speaking
Many thanks to George Cothran for clarifying mayoral candidate Clint Reilly's enigmatic campaign slogan: "Clint Reilly -- Standing Up" ("What You Get When You Cross Night of the Living Dead With Being There," Cothran, July 21). I had thought it merely a ploy to aim voter expectation so pathetically low that Reilly could never be accused of exaggerating his qualifications. But, now that Cothran has explained that this is actually a case of reanimation, of a zombified rotting corpse walking the precincts, I know that there could be no more eloquent expression of Reilly's principal accomplishment -- a feat that makes him well worthy of his opponents.

Mark Rosenmoss
Glen Park

Intelligence is as overrated as testosterone, as long as one chooses cohorts well. Unfortunately, Frank Jordan surrounds himself with some despicable sorts ("What You Get When You Cross Night of the Living Dead With Being There"). My god, his was a drab administration.

Many thanks for the issue, juicy and fascinating cover to cover.
Virginia Newhall

Plain or Salted?
I loved your article on conspicuous consumption ("Revenge of the Leisure Class," July 28). As an East Bay transplant to Seattle, I'm fed up with SUV-driving, cell-phone-using, cigar-smoking nouveau riche millionaires. Eat the rich!

Adele Berlinski
Via Internet

Stuck Without Answers
A couple of items I'd like to add to your article "Sticking Point" (July 14). Some time ago, I called to find out more information about volunteering for the Phase III study. I wanted to know:

1) in case I moved within the next three years, what other cities would enable me to continue my participation, and;

2) since this vaccine is designed to create HIV antibodies, who would pay, after the three years had passed, for future tests if I wanted to learn whether I had subsequently seroconverted, since the standard antibody tests would not be useful.

The person manning the telephone did not know the answers to these questions, and nobody ever called me back with this information. Likely, I am not the only person who had these concerns, and I am not the only person who did not choose to be a part of this study since they were not addressed.

Steve Johnson

Gale Blows It
Having read Ezra Gale's piece on the North Beach Jazz Festival ("Blowing Their Horn," Music, July 21), I noticed a number of factual errors made with regard to the San Francisco Jazz Festival. I would like to point out a few of the most glaring errors.

Mr. Gale asserts that the SFJF does "little to nurture local talent. Last year's festival, for example, showcased almost no local artists (unless one counts Charlie Hunter, who now lives in New York.)"

Had Mr. Gale done even the most cursory research, he might have discovered the following facts: Of the 26 concerts in last year's festival, 18 featured performances by Bay Area artists (five concerts featured Bay Area artists exclusively or as headliners); 23 of the 54 groups presented at the 1998 SFJF were Bay Area artists; Charlie Hunter did not play the 1998 SFJF.

On shows that are headlined by visiting artists, a programming goal of SFJF is to match resident artists with out-of-towners whenever possible. Twelve of last year's shows featured an out-of-town headliner with a Bay Area opener. This practice exposes Bay Area musicians to fans who might not ordinarily discover their music (e.g., people who don't often go to nightclubs) and to critics and fans from outside the Bay Area.

For example, the Bay Area group Mingus Amungus opened our tribute to jazz great Charles Mingus last year and received a glowing review in the Los Angeles Times, which resulted in the band's booking at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles.

Mr. Gale also asserts that we have "rarely opted to offer" affordable concerts featuring local musicians. Mr. Gale would not have to look very hard to discover that, in addition to the fall festival, our organization produces six series of outdoor concerts from June through October -- 35 shows this year -- with nearly every show featuring Bay Area talent, and every single event presented free to the public.

With regard to affordability in our fall festival programming, this fall, we are again presenting a "Backyard Alchemy" show at Bimbo's 365 Club, showcasing five local salsa bands, with a single ticket price of $18. Furthermore, nearly all of our large-hall concerts featuring national acts have a $20 ticket level.

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