Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, March 10, 2004

APE was more chaff than wheat: I, too, was a little disappointed by (my first) visit to the Alternative Press Expo, but for different reasons than your writer, Karen Zuercher ["Zine Stealers," Books, Feb. 25].

First, the attendees barely outnumbered the exhibitors, it seemed.

Second, the attendees were flat broke, having spent everything on hair products, piercings, and tats. They didn't seem interested in picking up books and zines. They seemed very interested in being seen walking around at APE and gazing at the T-shirts hanging behind the AK Press table.

Third, I found plenty of beautiful and moving books and zines. True, most of them were not brand spankin' new and were largely available at the Last Gasp and Fantagraphics table (rather than at the independent creators' tables). But as someone who easily spends more than $300 a month on alternapress titles (not to mention the free altswag I receive as an arts and entertainment editor for a weekly paper), I think I can speak with a little authority that there was in fact great product at APE.

Not that I can fault Zuercher for not seeing it. There was, by the same token, a lot of chaff obscuring the wheat.

Jarret Keene
Las Vegas, Nev.

I should be jaded about APE, but I'm not: Read Zuercher's article about APE, and I got the feeling I was at a different show than she was. I found the whole thing amazing, and I wasn't so jaded that I came out of it with the feeling that there was nothing to read.

Which is all the more odd, because I'm one of those rare people that makes his living publishing independent comics, and if anyone should be jaded by now, it's me.

Larry Young
Via the Internet

Plugola:Not being familiar with 99 percent of the exhibitors there, I have to agree with Zuercher. I saw a lot of cute things to look at, but not much else. In fact, I had only gone to pick up the print version of Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim, and I had hoped Zuercher would mention him in her discoveries. Alas, he was not. If you're unfamiliar, it's a quiet, human story, first serialized on the Web. I would encourage you to read it there: http://smallstoriesonline.com/Comics/comics.htm.

Stacy Wong
Via the Internet

Watch Your Step

You might get one of this guy's columns on your shoes:Matt Smith continues to bemoan San Francisco's political activism ["An Instigator's Instigator," Mar. 3]. This time, he attacks ordinary citizens like me who participate in government as loathsome "gadflies" who are often found "below the crust of manure piles, and at San Francisco committee hearings."

I can think of many things worse than San Francisco's "400 tiny interest groups, neighborhood associations, and related gadfly swarms," including anti-democratic journalists like Smith. The difference between me and Smith is that I let people know my position and what I think of them to their faces rather than after manipulating a story from them (I invited Matt to do a story on the Natural Areas controversy and set up the meetings and contacts he used to do his hatchet job on me). I do actual productive civic work and I don't get paid for what I do.

As I told Matt (and he failed to report), there are legitimate differences between the stakeholders in San Francisco's Natural Areas controversy. But I'm convinced they can be worked out through mediation with win/win results as we recently did (under my leadership) with the Quail Recovery Plan for San Francisco.

As Socrates noted, gadflies are useful prods to sluggish governments. I don't know if gadflies are often found "beneath the crust of manure piles," but if they are, Matt Smith is one steaming pile I would avoid.

Steve Cockrell
Via the Internet

On the other hand, you might get Steve Cockrell on your shoes:Smith missed the best part of the story. This is Cockrell's second switcheroo -- he turned on the native plant groups several years ago when he "went to the dogs."

So it's native plant groups 2, dog groups 1, and this is one contest I'm quite happy to concede to the native plant folks. When Steve turns, he does it with a particularly nasty viciousness and leaves no friends behind.

Linda McKay
Via the Internet

Politics + Money = Disaster

Exhibit A: This so-called progressive candidate:Peter Byrne's exposé on Democratic congressional candidate Rohit Khanna is a useful example of why efforts to reform the Democratic Party are doomed to failure ["Neo Con Artist," Feb. 25]. The influence of corporate money in the Democratic Party is so widespread and so pernicious that even those candidates who appear to be progressive populists are often sponsored by and beholden to the millionaires of the corporate world.

I've been puzzled by Matt Gonzalez's endorsement of Khanna. As a Green and a candidate for the San Francisco Green County Council, I believe Greens should not endorse in other parties' primaries. We wouldn't want Republicans or Democrats meddling in our primaries, and we shouldn't meddle in theirs. I think Gonzalez erred in endorsing Khanna, and Byrne's article helps illustrate how.

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