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Letters to the Editor 

Week of September 17, 2003

Comments
Surfing and Jet Skis: No Go, Bro

Real surfers don't need no stinking tow-ins: I've been a surfer for over 30 years and have no respect for the tow-in crowd ["Bad Vibrations," Sept. 3]. There are many things that one could do in the wilderness or on the ocean with a motorized vehicle that would not be possible otherwise. But just as a trail bike would destroy the wilderness hiking experience, jet skis are the last thing most surfers want around them in the water.

As far as rescues go, people need to be responsible for what they get into and not expect to be pulled out of situations by someone else. That is the mark of a real surfer. If you watch the tow-in sequences in Step Into Liquid, you will see the rides only last a couple seconds. This is just a media sport -- great photo ops of surfers on big waves -- but there is rarely any real carving or flowing with the wave. There are so many other big waves with much better shape that give longer rides without relying on an engine, why do we need to use this invasive technology at all? If you want thrills with an engine, get a trail bike and use it on an approved course, not in the mountains!

Peter McKenna
Sausalito

Public Pees on Public Pisser

This punk'll make a fine weasel lawyer someday: In regards to "A Piddling Matter" in the Dog Bites column of the Sept. 3 issue: Am I missing something or is Mr. Prechtl quoted as saying, "Oh, yeah, I was totally pissing"? It seems to me that whether or not Mr. Prechtl can "prove" that he was "not pissing" and how circumstantial he thinks the police evidence was (it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that someone is taking a leak, even from 41 feet away), the fact of the matter is that he WAS pissing. Not only that but it was in an "inset doorway," which no doubt some poor S.F. resident has to walk through on a daily basis.

As far as Mr. Prechtl feeling like "cops get away with too much," in my opinion people like Prechtl get away with too much. The amount of effort it would have taken him to walk back into the bar to use a proper restroom is not even worth talking about, and you can always (gasp!) hold it.

I think Mr. Prechtl is missing the important point that the police are simply enforcing laws that we the taxpaying residents of San Francisco pay them to enforce. Anyone who actually lives in this city knows that we have an insurmountable problem with public urination and defecation and the last thing we need is another citizen carrying on the grand tradition.

So to Mr. Prechtl I say this: Go back to Oakland, piss in your own doorway, and study hard for that LSAT. You sound like just the kind of conniving weasel that would make a great lawyer.

Robert Douthit
Cole Valley

String the thoughtless little bastard up!: I suppose that was a cute item about the wannabe law student getting off with no peeing fine. But it only makes me disgruntled. I would like to point out that this type of "quality of life" crime is usually blamed on the homeless when more often than not it is some drunk frat boy who is too wasted to think of using the toilet in the bar he just left.

It's a shame he didn't get fined, or maybe publicly executed, or at least sentenced to 20 years of scrubbing other people's urine off the sidewalk with a toothbrush.

Rose Skytta
Polk Gulch

Grrls Go Ga-Ga for Gonzo. But in a Good Way.

Matt Gonzalez is the studliest wonk in town: In 1999 I went to a Hastings-sponsored debate between five district attorney candidates. My point of view was as a victims' advocate, having worked in the field of victims' rights for several years. Usually victim issues are the territory of the right by default, but there is actually no reason for the left to abandon victims to the right. Usually political discourse about victims is patronizing. Usually I am disappointed.

Enter Matt Gonzalez ["The Chick Factor," Matt Smith, Aug. 20]: Miraculously, this public defender spoke with the compassion of a man who understands the victim, yet was not propelled by vengeful rage. Instead, he understood that state systems must respond to the citizen, must be held to a high standard, and must have a heart. I fell in love!

Working on the DA's race and then the wildly successful and fun city supervisor campaigns, I only fell more in love with Matt: his honesty, his concern, his smarts, his unconcern toward the material, his faith in people! He is the man I want as DA, as city supervisor, as president of the Board of Supervisors, as mayor, as governor, and as president of the United States. All at the same time!

But is this love of the goo-goo teenage kind? Maybe a little, I confess. But mostly it is because Matt is the kind of man you never thought could exist -- kind, sensitive, smart, and yet strong in values and determination, willing to work with people for goals that are not mired in self-interest.

This kind of love is a little more heavenly because Matt taught me by example to listen to and understand the elderly woman, the recent homeowner, the laid-off worker -- all who wanted to talk about the state of the city, their worries, and their desire to make San Francisco better. Matt showed me how to bring people into the dialogue, rather than convert and convince them to give up their votes.

As a single, straight San Franciscan woman, I will vote for Matt Gonzalez for mayor because he is not a love-'em-and-leave-'em politician but a committed and dignified public servant. What is not to love?

Elizabeth Grant
Haight-Ashbury

Gonzo, mon amour: I am a single, white, thirtysomething volunteer for Matt Gonzalez, and I'd like to thank Mr. Smith for confirming what I'd always hoped was true about myself: that I am "better-than-average-looking." Despite such flattery, Smith's observations were quite obnoxious in their misrepresentation of the source of Gonzalez's volunteers' inspiration to work for free. What politically aware women (good-looking or bad-) really desire is to see effective, positive changes in local politics.

Do I feel amorous towards Matt? Sure. But, I also felt amorous towards Tom Ammiano when I volunteered for his campaign, knowing all the while that not only was that affection aimed at a gay man, but also at someone I'd probably never even talk to, being one volunteer among hundreds. It didn't matter one bit, because the affection was based on simple admiration for the rare public figure who's not completely depressing to observe, not on the sort of googly-eyed wonder that Smith alludes to.

But, as Smith implies, since I'm waiting for Matt to fall head-over-heels in love with me, so I can finally shed the overwhelming sense of disenfranchisement that he refers to in his column and become the next Jackie Kennedy, I might as well kill some time volunteering because I actually believe that Matt has integrity, that he's working his ass off to do some good for this city, and that the issues he chooses to focus on are in line with those that concern me.

Smith also failed to recognize the large number of men (straight, gay, single, married, asexual, or perhaps even some combination of these) who have "crushes" on Gonzalez because they are sincerely excited to have a reason to shed some of their political cynicism, acquired after years of observing other politicians be typical politicians.

Perhaps Smith is due to shed some of his cynicism as well and concede that it's possible that "chicks" (as he terms women) have the ability to put aside their assumed need to get laid and get politically active for the right reasons.

Christine Macpherson
Glen Park

Length Matters

What's wrong with an occasional short Page One story?: As a metro reporter at the Contra Costa Times, I must take issue with your Dog Bites item about our managing editor's memo regarding short front-page stories ["News That Fits," Aug. 27]. I found it to be snide and incomplete, as did others here at the Times.

Lisa Davis' article made a snide comment about CCT Managing Editor Chris Lopez not returning her phone call, "perhaps because we fancy longer stories," but didn't bother to use the extra length to provide any depth to her article. Regardless of whether Chris returned her call, a letter signed by 20 Contra Costa Times staffers is posted clearly on John McManus' "Grade the News" Web site and states the position of the majority of our reporters. If that wasn't enough to provide an opposing voice for Davis' article, she could have found Chris' comments on the issue to NPR if she had done a simple Internet or Nexis search.

I have always respected SF Weekly, but you missed the boat on this one, as did Mr. McManus. Chris' memo was misinterpreted by people outside of the newsroom, and the vast majority of people who work for him realize the memo was a very minor issue that was blown completely out of proportion. For our editor to expect an occasional short, to-the-point story on the front page is completely understandable to most of us, especially since a 16-inch-long story is often not warranted.

Matt Krupnick
Walnut Creek

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Muni's cooking its accident reports: While I have no idea who Donald R. Johnson is, or how he came to learn about Muni's policies and practices, as the professional in charge of Muni's accident reporting for the past 20 years, I must say his letter to the editor is factually incorrect on at least two counts [Aug. 20].

His first point that Muni's reporting policies were revised to conform to the California Public Utilities Commission is largely irrelevant, since that agency is concerned only with rail accidents. Those accidents account for less than 10 percent of all accidents and included none of those cited by Peter Byrne in his Aug. 6 article "Death, Maiming, Money, and Muni."

While it is true that Muni is required to report certain incidents to the Federal Transportation Administration, for internal purposes Muni has chosen to not count certain types of accidents as being such. As Byrne's article pointed out, I objected to the exclusion of a large number of accidents from the overall count, specifically falls on board which comprise the largest share of passenger accidents.

It appears that such accidents were excluded from the overall count in order to comply with the accident reduction goals of Proposition E and to provide for the monetary incentives contained therein. Thus that determination was not based on principles of system safety but upon managerial venality. The system that has been acquired to render my functions as being no longer needed is considered by all users as woefully inadequate, even though Muni spent nearly $1.5 million on it.

R.J. Hundenski
Berkeley

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Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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