It ain't that angry Russki: Vladimir Khlynin may be the youngest and the most angry entertainer in San Francisco, but the hardest-working ["Vlad the Mad," March 24]? As an entertainer who wrote, produced, and performed a one-man show based on working -- Are Ya Working? -- and is the self-titled Uber Schlepper, I take issue with the use of this phrase "hardest-working."
Two years ago I was working four jobs to keep myself afloat as an artist in this city. Hey, we all can't live with our parents. If Khlynin thinks it's tough now, add a few more years to his meager stint (10 months) in the entertainment industry and then talk to me.
It's not a good mix: I wish to take issue with letter writer Robert Winshall, who wrote that "'Jew' is considered derogatory" [Letters, March 24]. As a long-standing Jew, whose bris was nearly 65 years ago, I strongly disagree. You do not owe him or anyone else an apology. I chuckled when I heard the definition of "judicious" (matzos, gefilte fish, and bagels with lox). I chuckled when I heard the lament of the Pennsylvania rabbi who was losing congregants by virtue of their conversion to the Quaker faith ("Some of my best Jews are Friends").
Daniel Pearl's last words are reported to have been, "I am a Jew." Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and a Catholic, bravely stated, "I am a Jew," in response to anti-Semitic propaganda proffered at a U.N.-sponsored conference on bigotry in Durban in August 2001. Edmond Flag wrote a famous essay titled "Why I am a Jew." None of these persons declared themselves to be a Homo sapiens of the Jewish persuasion.
"Political correctness" can be carried to absurd extremes.
Tax out-of-town parking hogs: As Matt Smith recently noted, San Francisco could likely save millions of dollars a year by selling all of its 910 fleet vehicles and contracting with City CarShare for its fleet services ["Share and Share Alike," March 24].
But there is another proposal that would also help reduce illegal parking in residential neighborhoods and at the same time generate revenue for neighborhood improvements: the "parking benefit district."
In a parking benefit district, nonresidents are charged market rates for parking in a residential neighborhood. Neighborhood residents with a parking permit can still park anywhere in the permit district for free, and the price that nonresidents pay can be set so that spaces for residents are always available.
With a parking benefit district, no one is prohibited from making their trip: Drivers may choose to continue to drive and pay the new parking charges, or to start carpooling in order to split the parking cost, or to begin to travel by transit, bike, or on foot. To ensure equity, the city could exempt low-income persons whose work or household duties leave them no choice but to travel by automobile.
Parking benefit districts solve the problem of parking shortages in residential neighborhoods that cause drivers to illegally block residents' driveways or to park on the sidewalk, because some of the parking revenue can be earmarked to pay for better enforcement. The rest of the revenue can be invested back into the neighborhood to pay for services and amenities that residents themselves choose (like planting street trees, expanding hours at the local branch library, or placing utility wires underground). And the city doesn't lose any money because it is paying for the better parking enforcement and expanded neighborhood services simply by charging for something it used to give away for free.
The residents of Temescal Terrace could negotiate a truce to their parking war by petitioning the Department of Parking and Traffic to institute a parking benefit district to charge nonresidents for parking in their neighborhood. After all, if you can't beat them, why not charge them?
Transportation for a Livable City
Well, maybe you should read it again: The first three times I read your explanation of why Dan Siegler's cartoon strip, Puni, was canceled, I was hoping it was a joke, perhaps one scripted by Siegler himself ["Puni discontinued," March 24].
I found it hard to believe that you would so willingly point out your own ineptitude and lack of journalistic integrity while trying to place the entire blame on your now-fired columnist.
I have always been a fan of Siegler's comic strip and his work in Dog Bites, and it saddens me to hear that he may have fabricated some of his quotes and plagiarized others. In any reputable publication, this is a firing offense. But I was dumbfounded at your allegations that he stole many of his illustrations from other sources, including Dr. Seuss and Sanrio. I was dumbfounded because the supposed theft of these images should have been obvious from the moment he began using them. Although I am only a casual reader of your paper, it was obvious to me where these images came from the first time I saw them, and I assumed that they were a casual homage to the original illustrators, rather than "plagiarism." I'm sure this was obvious to many of your other readers as well. If Mr. Siegler was, as you stated in your explanation, "[in] trouble" with Sanrio for his use of "Hello (Goodbye) Kitty" in his first six months at your publication, you should have either terminated him then or asked him to remove the character, rather than letting him continue. To justify terminating him now over actions that occurred in 1999 infers that you were the negligent party, not Siegler.
The same argument applies to Siegler's fabricated stories about "Monkey Knife Fight" graffiti and plaster-cast dildos. Those stories came out over a year ago, and at the time I remember being very impressed with Siegler's writing, as well as intrigued by his subject matter. Once again, I am sorry that he had to resort to fictional topics to create an interesting story, especially in a city like San Francisco. But wouldn't the absence of dildo-casting materials at Good Vibrations have been alerted to you within a few weeks of the article appearing? I'm certain that many people went out to buy those same materials after that issue came out, as I was tempted to, and there is no reason why you would not have heard about the fabrication from GV employees immediately.
Finally, in response to your pathetic accusations that Siegler "plagiarized" John Steinbeck and Matt Groening, I suggest that you take a basic literature course at City College and brush up on the definition of the word "satire." In case you are too busy scrambling to find a writer to replace Mr. Siegler, I'll help you out. "Satire," a derivation from the Greek word saturate, refers to a genre of writing that uses sarcasm to underscore the folly or humor of a situation by imitation and mockery. Often satirists borrow aspects of popular culture or literature to make a "play on words." For example, Mr. Siegler titled one of his comics "Of Mice and Mona," a humorous reference that might have produced in Steinbeck aficionados an emotion known as "amusement."
The question that remains is why, why did you not catch some of these inconsistencies earlier? If the fabricated quotes were the reason for Siegler's termination, then apparently your staff responds more quickly to misquoted public officials and CEOs than it does to the rest of your readers. If Dan Siegler's stories in Dog Bites were so obviously fabricated, you should have received numerous complaints from people like me, upset with the nonexistence of genital-replicating products and angry at having been misled. My only conclusion is that you must not acknowledge letters that point out your own misjudgment. For that reason, I am submitting this letter to the Guardian, my new weekly of choice, as well as to your letters department. By the way, in the literary community, that is referred to as "irony."
Editor's note: Thanks for the lecture on the meaning of "satire," Linda. Now go look up the definition of "hoax."