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Letters to the Editor 

Week of November 12, 2003

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J'Accuse (Falsely)

Thanks for spotlighting this important issue: I am writing to commend Bernice Yeung and SF Weekly for their excellent coverage of people falsely convicted and imprisoned ["Innocence Arrested," Oct. 29]. While working with Yeung for the last few months, I was continually impressed by her knowledge of and commitment to these issues, as well as by the paper's extensive investment of time and resources in her article. I think the final product really reflects all of her hard work, and I know everyone at my office feels she did a wonderful job.

In addition to the compelling personal stories, I think her coverage of potential reforms is very well done and will be useful for us in promoting those changes in the future.

Nicole C. Herron
Staff Attorney
Northern California Innocence Project
Santa Clara

Trashing the Dead

This dickhead smeared our hero!: Garrett Kamps' essay about Elliott Smith's surprising and tragic suicide was disturbing, embarrassing, and exploitative [OK Then, Oct. 29]. The message was contradictory: Nobody helped Smith while he was alive, but now that he is gone it is OK to unveil him as a drug-addicted fool.

Not only did Kamps pat himself on the back for "noticing" Smith's rough life, he also used it as an opportunity to plug his friend's band, the Caseworker, who coincidentally released an album recently. Why would fans of Smith, who enjoy his talent because it is private and intimate, want to hear unchecked gossip about him? It is sad that instead of a thoughtful tribute to this well-loved musician, we had to read this.

Andria Alefhi
Dolores Park
Jaime Borschuk
Potrero Hill

If you've never been piss drunk at a bar, don't criticize those of us who have: I found Kamps' article on Elliott Smith to be utterly disgusting and a poor example of journalism, if you can call writing for a rag magazine journalism. I don't typically read this piece of shit, but got into work early and needed to kill time.

Back to my point -- how dare Kamps make assumptions about a man's mental stability and addictions and then profess to his fans his death was imminent, which Kamps based on what? Some wannabe S.F. musician who witnessed Elliott's true friends, who actually knew him, make fun of him while he was piss drunk and high at a bar? Like we've not all been in that position? Like Kamps has never been piss drunk or high? Maybe he hasn't, in which case he should keep his opinions about the subject to himself, seeing he has no real opinion having never had the experience.

People have their vices and depressions and deal with them in sometimes destructive ways. But for Kamps to criticize him and his friends is extremely arrogant. Kamps didn't know him and neither did his fans; their opinions Kamps writes about in his article are simple assumptions. Elliott admitted to having problems with drugs; who at some point in life hasn't? Kamps' article made me sick. It would have been more poignant to remember the amazing musician he was instead of speculating about his personal demons. It was his life; he chose to end it and we should respect that.

Melanie Marie
La Honda

Let the Man Speak

Lefties sometimes have a real problem with free speech, don't they?: Jason Jungreis' letter to the editor barely scratched the surface of the problem between Jews and Arabs, and what causes it to continue [Oct. 29].

I recently attended the anti-war rally at S.F. City Hall. I was repeatedly told that I was a racist because I don't recognize the "right" of Palestinians to murder women and children, and because I don't think that Muslims should be allowed to slam airplanes into buildings!

No, I'm not making this up, and this BS was being stated by people who claimed to be marching for peace!

I was unable at any time to say that I'm actually against the occupation of Iraq because everyone I spoke to cut me off, talked over me, put words in my mouth, then accused me of racism and sexism when I asked if I could finish at least one sentence.

I did manage to tell one woman that I thought ALL killing was wrong, regardless of whether the killers were American, Israeli, or Arab. She responded by doing an impersonation of Fran Drescher's "talk to the hand" routine from The Nanny!

Can someone please explain to me how this kind of childish, ignorant behavior is going to bring about peace?

David Alexander
Tenderloin

The Joys of Arnold

He's a lot like Gray Davis, with personality: To some extent, Carole Migden could be onto something ["The Migden Chronicles," Matt Smith, Oct. 29]. Examine their policy positions carefully and you won't find that much difference between Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-environment, lots of business connections, etc. On paper, you'd wonder why Democrats were so opposed to the recall and Republicans were so supportive.

It comes down to personalities and principles. Politics isn't done on paper. Davis was the most unlikable resident in Sacramento in living memory. He was also the most arrogant and indecisive. You could count on Davis playing kick the can with any tough decision or problem like the budget or the energy crisis. His MO seemed to be ignore the problem, deny the problem, get run over, and then blame the problem on others. No wonder his nickname, according to the Chronicle's Debra Saunders, was Gumby.

Schwarzenegger has charisma to burn. I suspect that many Democrats were secretly hoping for Davis' ouster simply because they disliked him. Whether they agree with Arnold or not, people will probably like him personally (shades of Ronald Reagan). Whether Arnold can be decisive and make tough and unpopular decisions that anger constituencies remains to be seen. He also seems like the pragmatic sort rather than the ideologues who control the GOP.

At the same time, Arnold is not about to turn California into a San Francisco social experiment. S.F. is a city with a bloated bureaucracy prone to overspending and inefficiency. Cronyism, featherbedding, and arrogance plague S.F. -- between the vice mayors and multiple commission heads who owe their jobs to Willie Brown, it's a wonder that anything works in S.F. Sacramento doesn't need more of that. Arnold may be a social liberal and not exactly Tom McClintock on fiscal issues, but he won't stand for the kind of inefficient overspending characteristic of S.F. He'll demand accountability and results.

In the end, for liberals like Migden, Arnold will be one part dream and one part nightmare.

Tom Ryugo
Berkeley

We're Not Bitter

We just fucking hate you for not recognizing us!: You guys are about nine years behind the times with the Devil Rock deal ["To Hell and Back," Night Crawler, Oct. 22]. The Demonics, the S.F. band that has been adorned in red makeup and devil horns for nine years, would like you to know that they noticed the blatant rip-off of their style.

Not that they own devil imagery, but red people with horns playing rock 'n' roll is all too familiar. The Demonics have released three full-length records independently, with no major-label money, no industry ass-kissing.

The Demonics are not pissed off, bitter, or whining about the blatant rip-off by their own city's "music awards" (to which the Demonics were not invited or nominated, of course!). But hey! Maybe next time steal from a band that isn't from the city; it's just too damn obvious and lame -- not to mention rude as all hell. So ...

GO TO HELL!!!!

Amy Cesari
Daly City

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