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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

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

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


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  • 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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