Letters to the Editor

Published May 3, 2000

We Ignored the Drummer? Well Damn Us All to Hell.
I was very disappointed to read Silke Tudor's review of Persephone's Bees (The House of Tudor, April 26), which negligently and rudely excludes any mention (even the standard noncommittal "backbone" comment) of arguably the hardest-working person on a Persephone's Bees stage -- the drummer, Paul Bertolino. Paul is a very equal and important part of a four-way chemistry which is VERY hard to find with any band.

Jimmy Chast

Ode to Angelina
I just want to say "thanks" for a review so complimentary, intelligent, and entertaining (The House of Tudor)! I am Angelina's [Moysov, of Persephone's Bees] biggest fan (I'm getting mushy) and am so influenced by her drive and abilities. Your review reflects an appreciation, the same that fuels my collaboration with her and again, thanks for putting in the time to write such a stellar review!

Tom Ayres

AGAIN With the Drummer
This is in response to the recent music reviews of two of the great bands in current existence -- the Bellyachers and Persephone's Bees (The House of Tudor). Thanks for possessing and expressing your musical good taste and also pointing out some of the finer points of what makes these bands so unique. The Bellyachers dare to be "Country when country isn't cool" (an old Barbara Mandrell song, I think). Songwriting of this quality makes any music -- even country -- cool. Thank you for pointing out the incredible use of vocabulary in their songs.

Re: the PBs, I love the way you drew references to Nina Hagen, etc., and lullabies. You noticed that what makes these songs so great are the ARRANGEMENTS, which take care to showcase the virtuosity of the musicians. WHAT ABOUT THE DRUMMER? Sadly, there wasn't any mention of him. In most bands I've seen I tend to forget the drummer is there -- what with the all-too-common patterns portrayed. WITH THE BEES this isn't the case. I wish you had mentioned the fact that this guy rocks AND rolls, and MOVES. His drums shift the parts of the song around like a bulldozer with an ungodly gift for finesse. Great drummers are hard to find and keep. I hope this guy marries the band so he'll stay forever.

Thanks for your time. FYI some other bands you might want to check out if you haven't already ... Bart Davenport's solo events, the Servants (brand-new group with screamin' '60s Animals-style singing -- they rock!), and watch for Paul Bertolino's (Bees drummer) new band (as yet unnamed).

Diana Manzanilla

A Fair Appraisal
You are to be commended for the investigative research in the April 19 article by Mike Moore on the ground rent dispute between the San Francisco School District and our partnership, S.F. Associates, regarding the land under the San Francisco Shopping Centre at Fifth and Market ("Market Economics," Postscript). I would like to add a few points.

It is typical in long-term ground leases that rent increases are tied to performance of the retail leases that the developer enters into with his tenants, and that was what the parties agreed to when the district negotiated the ground lease with the original developer of the Centre in 1983. The "as is" appraisal instructions were approved by the Superior Court settlement judge to make doubly certain the appraisers followed the intent of the original ground lease.

Despite those instructions, the district produced a ground rent appraisal based on the land sales for the projects with totally different economics and zoning restrictions than the Centre. Using these irrelevant points of comparison the district's appraiser arrived at a 1995 ground rent opinion of $2,250,000 per year. The district's appraiser disregarded the actual retail leases at the Centre, and essentially ignored the real world economics of the Centre as well as the "as is" appraisal instructions which specifically required him to consider the encumbrances (leases to the retailers).

S.F. Associates retained a respected local appraiser and retail expert, who followed the settlement judge's instructions, considered the economics of the Centre, including the leases in place, and concluded that the 1995 Fair Rental Value was $1.2 million.

We assumed the arbitrator would agree with our expert in the baseball-style arbitration process where the arbitrator has to pick one opinion or the other. We were wrong. Your article refers indirectly to the fact that there have been two appraisals, the first of which was set aside by mutual agreement of the parties when it turned out that the neutral appraiser -- who was to choose between the school district's appraiser and ours -- had done considerable work for the city. Rather than try to defend that conflict of interest in court, the district agreed to start the process over again. We have now completed the second appraisal process, and the decision reflects a serious departure from the agreement we reached with the district. The district may feel otherwise, but it will now be up to the courts to decide the case unless the parties can reach a reasonable, businesslike resolution.

Your article points out that rents and property values have risen dramatically, but two points should be kept in mind. First, almost all of that increase has occurred in the past two years. The ground rent at issue in our case was to be set with reference to mid-1995 values, a point in time well prior to the recent pressure on rents in the city. Second, the ground rent was not to be set according to a specific definition of rental value, and it was to be tied to the unique physical and economic attributes of this Centre. It is precisely because the district, in our view, ignored that requirement that we are now back in court.

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