Letters to the Editor

Week of 2003-06-18

The Teeth That Ate the Commonwealth Club

But the other ads are good:As a fan (us curmudgeonly contrarians gotta stick together), it pains me to point out that John Mecklin's column about the Commonwealth Club ads, while entertaining, is based on falsehood, or at least half-truth ["So I Wrote a Snide Column," June 4].

Maybe he doesn't spend that much time on Muni/BART, but the club's ad campaign consists of at least three posters that I've seen. In addition to the one he referenced, there's one featuring a 40-ish black woman wondering about The Vagina Monologues, and another with a sixtysomething white guy addressing Daniel Ellsberg. So to say that the club is dumbing itself down to attract the 18-34 demographic, or that the ads "radiate condescension" (!) -- while it may be a great hook to hang an article on -- is a bit off the mark. If anything, I'd say they indicate the S.F. transit-riding audience is far more intelligent than its counterpart anywhere else (imagine a Vagina Monologues reference on a Kansas City bus).

In any case, sucking up to target demos is what advertising is all about, ain't it? I'll grant you that the woman's teeth are hilariously unflattering, but the series (taken as a whole) is far less obnoxious than, say, your typical campaign for a teen-targeted summer movie.

Mike Schaefer

Noe Valley

Big teeth are hot!:Here's my entry for Mecklin's contest:

"I wanted to ask Larry Harvey if success is killing his original idea for Burning Man. But then I realized because of his slow mind, he would only notice my large teeth and ignore my question, so I decided to keep my mouth shut."

Mecklin is right. Since the 1992 presidential election, when the Commonwealth Club hosted a speech by Vice President Quayle in which he criticized the "gangsta" rapper Tupac Shakur and the television character Murphy Brown, both of whom he knew nothing about, the club has lost touch not only with public affairs but also with intellectuals such as himself.

When I originally looked at the Commonwealth Club ad mentioned in his column, I thought I was an asshole because of the impure thoughts that I was having about the woman with the big teeth. But now I realize that the true assholes were laughing at her teeth and not thinking of her as a sexual object.

Joseph N. Simao

Daly City

Charges dismissed, lack of evidence:John Mecklin's unsubstantiated misgivings towards the Commonwealth Club's transit-oriented ad campaign would be better directed at his own publication, specifically, SF Weekly's glorification of professional misogyny (aka pimping) that graces the June 4 issue's cover.

Mecklin displays a knack for adjectives in employing such terms as "unctuous," "cloying," and "fulsome" to describe the Commonwealth Club's supposedly poisonous billboards. I read his column several times, however, in search of any specific points to substantiate his griping, but all I could find were two paragraphs and a contest devoted to an aesthetically displeasing set of teeth.

Mecklin further obfuscates his point by attempting a few unfathomable metaphors. Kids at home, try this analogy: Sinatra is to disco as the Commonwealth Club is to speed dating? I'd like to hold my own contest for anybody who can explain that one. Personally, I kind of like the Commonwealth Club's direct, uncluttered message of the opportunity for direct participation in public affairs.

Of course, if he knew that I am a 25-year-old, college-educated white male, Mecklin would probably reply that as a member of the "slow minded youth demographic," I have become too desensitized to this brand of pandering condescension to recognize it. Why, then, is it so easy for me to recognize SF Weekly's own shamelessly sensationalized depiction of the sex-trade hustler? (I'm referring to the cover, not the article.) Fancy clothes, sexy women, fuzzy dice; shee-it, take down "Further," replace it with "Groovy," and you've got a black Ken Kesey ready to take us all on a hip, 1970s trip. No exploitation, violence, drugs, or poverty in this cartoon fairy "tail"; this is a place of business, after all.

Mecklin, please back up your points with evidence. SF Weekly, please resist my generation's revisionist tendency to glorify 1970s street life, even if it does sell advertising space.

Jeffrey Blumenthal


Where's the Beef?

Less blah blah about the reviewer, please: One-and-a-half pages: That's how much reading it took to get to the actual "review" portion of SF Weekly's restaurant review column by Meredith Brody ["Urban Explorer," June 4]. Instead of describing and evaluating the food of Shalimar Garden, Ms. Brody spends all of Page 55 telling us about her books, food-related and otherwise; her visiting friend, Anne; her other friends; Anne's friends; etc. All the while peppering her writing with pretensions of grandeur, and trying to promote herself as an urbane, witty, and hip gal about town.

Listen up, Meredith! We read restaurant reviews to learn about the restaurant -- its food, ambience, prices, location, and staff. We expect discerning criticism and observations about the quality of the food and the restaurant. Not self-indulgent verbosity about the food critic (and I'm being generous in describing Ms. Brody as such), her parents, life, etc. If you want to preen, Meredith, do it in front of a mirror, but spare us, the readers of SF Weekly's Eat column.

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