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Letters from September 6, 2000

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We Were Just Trying to Say There Won't Be a Revolution

But you can draw your own interpretation: What exactly were you trying to say with your inflammatory cover and bold title "The Revolution Is Canceled" (Aug. 30)? Were you trying to anger the large base of struggling political agitators in the Bay Area, or just get your magazine stuck to the hands of passers-by by virtue of an explosive graphic and ridiculous claim in the guise of a cover story? Either way, it is a hideous and sad moment in Bay Area journalism.

First, the graphic looks like a conservative political cartoon from the pages of Forbes magazine, rather than a cover for a supposedly progressive weekly out of San Francisco. Portraying environmentalist demonstrators as pop-eyed, tongue-wagging idiots only throws gasoline on the fire tended by the GOP. Are you lunching with Willie Brown?

The revolution is not canceled. It is alive and well and getting organized for the next confrontation. District elections are not doomed. They have considerable challenges, as any new political process would. It appears that you'd prefer to mock and criticize San Francisco's efforts to diversify City Hall than to help rally the troops necessary for such a success.

Matt Isaacs' story could have been spun to support district elections rather than flaunt their difficulties and shortcomings. Instead, the SF Weekly editors chose the sleazier route of moving magazines: make ridiculous claims on the cover and backpedal through the facts of the story inside. May your readership plummet as a result of your poor editorial choices.

Daniel Duart
Berkeley

Dancing in the Dark

Don't talk about his mama: Matt Smith says he's worried about the imminent extinction of the arts in San Francisco, but it's hard to believe him ("March Madness," Aug. 30). He seems more interested in running a hatchet job on the Dancer's Group protest (a protest for which Rachel Kaplan was not the sole organizer, and which drew more than 1,000 people), and doling out an extended character assassination (my favorite part: when he psychoanalyzes Kaplan as "unstable," not even pronouncing the slur himself, but putting it in the mouth of his own ma, fer crissakes -- using her statement that there are always unstable elements in protest movements to smear Kaplan's mental health by association).

Smith moans that the protest at Dancer's Group wasn't like the protests in the good old days, when street demonstrations led to practical action. In fact, if he'd gone to any of the meetings in the wake of the protest -- meetings that were energized in spirit, and drew larger numbers of participants, as a direct result of the protest -- he would've met people pursuing all the "practical solutions" he enumerates: looking for "publicly and privately funded art spaces, arts partnerships with amenable landlords, an aggressive campaign to rattle rich philanthropists' cages, artists' real estate cooperatives."

In the end, it's probably good he didn't show up at those meetings. His article was right about one thing: Bad means often foul up good ends. And what sort of means would Smith bring to the table, having written an article that is, in its heart, all the things it pretends to decry: "petty, pointless, hypocritical, and mean"?

Chris Lanier
Noe Valley

Going too far: Matt Smith's article simplifies a complex crisis so completely it begs the broader contextual question: What is responsible journalism?

Mr. Smith's article renders Rachel Kaplan as a mentally unstable, closet capitalist out for a fun, left-leaning riot, and Marci Reisman as the schoolgirl who will tell the teacher; neither woman should be so neatly boxed and categorized.

The Circus of Resistance performance marathon was a collective idea, not Rachel Kaplan's "reason for existence." It was not, in fact, "a personal spat between two wealthy, East Coast schoolgirls," nor was it a "pointless protest riot."

There were well over 1,000 people in the street to celebrate, mourn, and publicly call for help and action. The loss of the space singularly is profound; when weighed with the loss of Brady Street Studios and the impending loss of Dance Mission and 848 Community Space, it becomes stupefying.

There was nothing "petty, pointless, hypocritical, or mean" about the event. "The Mission, one of the world's great urban artist colonies, is suffering the equivalent of a pogrom." So says Smith. If what is happening is a pogrom, how levelheaded should any individual be in response to that reality? The situation at hand is serious. We are not willing to walk quietly to our deaths. Neither, Mr. Smith, are we "wandering toward an uncertain destination." We are quite purposefully walking toward the corrupt system that allows a pogrom for the sake of the dollar. Whether or not Sagerman and Reisman are making "every effort to accommodate arts and nonprofit groups" remains to be seen, but boiling away a hugely real crisis of space and culture into a personal spat between Marci Reisman and Rachel Kaplan is false and grossly irresponsible.

Victoria McNichol Kelly
Oakland

Life in the Fast Lane

Driven out of the city: I'm writing to comment on your recent article "Hooked on Speed" (Aug. 23). Like, duh. How long did it take you to recognize this trend? I recently moved out of Daly City, after living two years on the edge of Bernal Heights, and I lived in fear that some punk driving too fast down my street would mow me down outside my front door. Not to mention the countless parked cars that were totaled by these reckless idiots. Imagine that you are walking out of your house in the early morning hours to go to work only to find that your car has been smashed by some 20-year-old joy-rider who has never worked a day in his life. Am I bitter? You bet your driver's license.

How many people will have to die or be injured? How many millions in property damage will have to be totaled up before we can get simple speed bumps that will hopefully stop this madness? Now I live in Sonoma County, where the cows don't drive too fast and sheep don't do "doughnuts" on my street. I'd rather commute an hour each way than live next to people who see this kind of behavior and just shrug their shoulders and say, "What are you going to do?"

J. Blessing
Penngrove

If the Cab Companies' Plan Was to Aggravate People, It's Working

Why getting a taxi is so taxing: Thanks for seeing through the scam of Proposition M ("Death and Taxis," Matt Smith, Aug. 16). Your story, however, is not quite accurate. The truth is that S.F. has an inherent transportation problem. It seems people are not satisfied with Muni's performance, either. Until these problems are addressed, hundreds upon hundreds of additional taxis will not cure the city's artificial need for them.

In your article you asked why so few taxis were proposed by the Taxi Commission for the year 2000? My answer to that is, the Taxi Commission is in the pocket of the taxi companies. The taxi companies proposed the lowest number possible to aggravate voters for their scheme this November. If the Taxi Commission issued several hundred more medallions, those medallions would have placated San Franciscans, and that would ruin the taxi companies' plans for Prop. M.

Ralph Conforti
Mission District

Clarification

Matt Smith's column "It's an Ugly Day in the Neighborhood" (Aug. 9) asserted that three men "drafted petitions, demanded hearings, and filed spurious lawsuits" in opposition to an apartment complex project in southwest San Francisco. One of those men, attorney Frank Bacon, notes that as of our Aug. 9 issue, only one lawsuit had been filed. (Another lawsuit was filed after publication of Smith's column.) Mr. Bacon also takes issue with Smith's use of the word "spurious" to describe the lawsuit, which was dismissed on summary judgment. SF Weekly believes the word is correctly used, but wants to make clear that no inference of unethical or criminal conduct was intended.

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