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Letters to the Editor 

Week of October 30, 2002

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Gray Days

Must. Fight. Darkness. Can't. Hold. On. Much. Longer.: Certainly San Francisco and the California government give plenty of grounds for despair ("Notes From the Edge," Matt Smith, Oct. 23), but a vote for the Gray Man? Feh, Mr. Smith. Double feh! My soul may be challenged, but it is not so dead as to become a Grayling.

To vote for Gray Davis is to vote for the current figurehead of a money-driven, venal, and cynical political system. Money is Gray's avatar and his seal (the Poe references are obviously rubbing off). So great is my disgust with Davis that I will vote for Bill Simon (who did, after all, win our primary -- I voted for Riordan). I will vote for Simon despite the fact that his campaign is a doomed ship, and has been a doomed ship since at least August.

Fight the darkness, Mr. Smith.

For to yield to the numbness that is the Gray Man -- sort of like letting yourself die by freezing -- is to let the special interests (really dumb, greedy special interests) cover all.

Robert Rudolph
Mission

Shock the Monkey

Get a real conspiracy theory, please: What a waste of a cover and two full pages on Monkey Knife Fight ["You Grab the Monkey; We'll Bring the Knife," by Dan Siegler, Oct. 23].

Was it so long ago that you forgot about the "peace love and penguin" stencil all over the city (and many other cities nationwide) for an OS? Your "investigative reporting" was pretty lame. Google is great but sometimes it doesn't find everything. Sure you posted on [Craigslist] and KUSF's Jet was asking for clues as well. The same Friday morning she was asking what it meant/was, all I did was type in www.monkeyknifefight.co.uk (remember, there are domain suffixes other than .com) and there it was, just more marketing of trinkets à la Sanrio.

The site has since changed and now features the same photos that were in your article. Which now leaves me to wonder: Was all this hype and defacing the city part of the Weekly's marketing ploy? I just want to know what happened to all of the MKF trinkets and crap that were on the ".co.uk" site two weeks ago.

John Pavlat
Laurel Heights

Dan Siegler responds: I saw the www.monkeyknifefight.co.uk site early in my investigation, and had three or four correspondences with the site's owner, a guy named Pete who lives in Gloucestershire in the U.K. Like many other sites I visited, his has nothing to do with San Francisco. It's a personal Web site. To Pete, it's just a cool-sounding name. Recently he posted some pictures from the SF Weekly article. He also sells some MKF T-shirts and stickers -- which, again, mean absolutely nothing and are not linked to S.F.

Stick to the day job: You're a dingbat for writing that silly, silly article. MKF is just some street artist's no-meaning gimmick? Oh really? Why don't you spend another thousand words exploring the Andre the Giant stickers, reaching (gasp!) the same boring conclusion.

I like your comic, [Puni], nevertheless.

Tom V. Jamgochian
Richmond District

We're thinking about investigating those Andre the Giant stickers: The article was hilarious. Too bad the mystery wasn't solved. But it sounds like you had fun investigating it. Not many people have a job where they can roam around bars, video stores, record stores, etc., asking about graffiti. What's next?

Melissa Nasseri
Ingleside

And now, a word from our sponsor:

MONKEY KNIFE FIGHT IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKIN' BUSINESS! THOSE WHO RECOGNIZE IT, KNOW WHAT IT MEANS. CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU FOR BRINGING SO MUCH ATTENTION TO IT THAT WE NOW HAVE TO CHANGE THE CODE. EXTREMELY INCONVENIENT FOR ALL OF US. TO PREVENT SUCH A PAIN IN THE ASS IN THE FUTURE, HOWEVER, WE WILL TELL YOU WHAT IT MEANS AS SOON AS YOU PROMISE NOT TO GIVE IT ANYMORE UNWANTED PRESS. WE ARE WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU NOW. - THE BARREL OF MONKEYS

Joe Parrilli
North Beach

Back to School

SOUL's no sellout: As a staff person at SOUL, the School of Unity and Liberation, and a member of a community fighting for social justice, I am disgusted by Peter Byrne's lack of research, insight, context, or responsibility in his article "SOUL Trainers" [Oct. 16]. Byrne opens the article commenting on SOUL's location -- "a falling-down neighborhood surrounding the West Oakland BART station" -- and yet somehow his last paragraph is a comment by Michael Napp, who does not know SOUL at all, saying programs like SOUL "got a vested interest in The System and moved to the suburbs. We called them poverty pimps." How did he get from describing our yeast-reeking warehouse to asserting how we have sold out like other anti-capitalist poverty programs? With a lot of misleading information, misquotes, and irresponsible journalism.

Byrne's article is about the so-called contradiction of SOUL's salaried employees -- who teach working-class youth of color why their parents are poor, why they don't have books in their classrooms, and why we shouldn't go to war -- with [money from] a "score of gold-plated, capitalist foundations." First off, foundations do not call themselves "capitalist." Second off, using foundation money is a viable way for organizations and the people in them to create sustainable organizations.

If Peter Byrne really wanted to ask an important question about the movement's use of foundation money, he would have acknowledged that almost every social justice nonprofit uses foundation money and would not have preyed upon a youth organization to do it. At SOUL, we believe using foundation money to pay our staff, who are almost all people of color, and students, who are mostly poor, women, queer, and people of color, to learn about their communities is where "redistribution of wealth" starts. We cannot advocate for a world where everyone has health care, food, and education without giving that to the people we work with (including ourselves).

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