Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Mything the Point

Some S.F. legends are worth repeating: I like Matt Smith's positing of the Zygmunt Arendt House story as a new urban legend ["A Tale Worth Retelling," Feb. 4]. However, having been involved in many of the '70s protests, I find his dissing of those older legends lacking in substance.

I heard nothing in the debate over Arendt House that reminds me of those battles. In Yerba Buena, for example, the issues were appropriate and affordable housing for the elderly -- longtime residents of the area -- and keeping human scale. Victories included a mix of housing options, an underground Moscone Center and public gardens, art venues, and a commercial center. These are what people now view as defining this neighborhood.

Further, what's this about a "progressive" coalition of West of Twin Peaks homeowners and Mission activists? Two progressive leaders, Supervisors Matt Gonzalez and Gerardo Sandoval, worked to make Arendt House happen. West of Twin Peaks voters, as I recall, supported Gavin Newsom against last fall's progressive challenge. How does this "new myth" work?

Smith's underlying messages -- that we need a housing plan to keep the city vibrant and appropriate points of reference, urban myths, to keep us on track -- are great. I'd like to encourage him to keep giving us new myths. Regarding those powerful old myths, some may merit rehabilitation. He might check out and remind us of the reality behind the echoes.

Paul Quin
Mission

Boys Don't Cry

But men sure do!:I read Carl Nagin's art review of "Inside of Inside," a show curated by Big Ballyhoo and presented at the Lab ["Home Work," Feb. 4]. For the most part, Carl's review worked to draw me to the show, based mostly on his description of the installations' provocative exploration of the subject of "home" -- and did well at making the curators' point that in that broad theme, there are no "niche" categories.

Carl then undermines the point of the artists and curators, and insults a sizable portion of the public with his description of a nurturing relationship between two female prison inmates depicted in a video segment, saying that it would be "hard to imagine two male prisoners with comparable histories speaking with such compassion." It was disheartening that Carl, apparently ruled by some uncontrollable male self-hatred, felt compelled to make the point that "men are emotionally inferior to women." Too bad. It would've otherwise been a well-considered and uncomplicated review.

Peter Smith
Ingleside

Black Power

It's B-I-G in entertainment: I just read the review of Barbershop 2 by Gregory Weinkauf ["Gettin' Windy in the City," Film, Feb. 4]. Although Weinkauf gave what may be considered a positive review, he missed the point of how barbershops serve as a forum where ideas are freely expressed. So the emphasis is not so much on the amount of hair one has to have cut, but everything else that takes place there.

Weinkauf's statement "It still makes no sense that guys with no discernible hair desperately need haircuts, but on it goes" lets me know and everyone who has been in the barbershop environment know that he has little to no idea, even as well-meaning as he thinks he is. In reference to his "close with a little cynicism," it is both confusing and misleading. What was his point? Regardless of what the movie executives do to exploit the success of the Barbershop franchise, its success or failure will depend on the support of blacks, who, by the way, make up to 25 percent of the moviegoing public in the U.S.

This represents a huge portion of movie revenues. Blacks are increasingly aware of their buying power and have used this to enter the mainstream of the American economy, especially in entertainment. So the opinion you cite from Spike Lee's sophomoric film about a barbershop is outdated and irrelevant. Just so you know, here are a few blacks who have certainly entered the mainstream of the entertainment economy: Robert Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, and Magic Johnson.

Please stay tuned, Gregory, there are more to come.

Larry Wright
Santa Rosa

Come Back, Michael!

You gave us good dish: I was shocked to learn that Michael Fox will no longer be writing his column, Reel World. His weekly article is the first thing I turn to each week and sometimes the only thing I get around to reading. While news about our film community tends to be celebrity gossip in the other papers, Fox has kept us informed about what really makes the Bay Area film world tick and why it is exciting to be here. Every week I learn new things from his column. Please convince him to return soon.

Gary Meyer
Oakland

 
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