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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, June 28, 2006

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Mind the Gap

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God: In Matt Smith's cover story regarding Gap founder Donald Fisher ["The Influencer," June 21], he quotes San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin as saying "I think he's a mean, rich old man who's trying to be relevant and is afraid of dying." The supervisor's public comments about Mr. Fisher are informative of his own attributes when it comes to being mean-spirited. Donald Fisher is an extraordinary human being, and his contributions to the citizens of San Francisco and to society in general dramatically overshadow anything Aaron Peskin has accomplished. In founding the Gap stores and building this company into a prominent national retailer, Mr. Fisher created jobs and wealth for tens of thousands of people. I wonder what Aaron Peskin's track record is on job creation — other than using taxpayers' money to fill political patronage jobs?

In addition to providing thousands of employment opportunities, Donald Fisher, through the vehicle of the Gap stores, provided millions of American consumers with products that they wanted. Aaron Peskin sits where he is today, not because of millions of consumers wanting what he has to offer, but rather because he convinced a few thousand voters in his district to elect him to office. Donald Fisher has used his financial success to play a vital role in the San Francisco community, and through his personal involvement and philanthropy has funded numerous civic and charitable causes. What are Aaron Peskin's accomplishments? He advocated a proposition that would have doubled real estate transfer taxes. Thankfully, it was defeated. He used his position on the Board of Supervisors to expropriate, by the power of eminent domain, property for which a gentleman had received planning-commission approval to build a residence for his aging mother. More recently, Peskin blocked a commercial development along the Embarcadero that would have subsidized a YMCA recreational facility.

If, as Aaron Peskin suggests, Donald Fisher is "afraid of dying," at least when Mr. Fisher passes away, based on his many wonderful accomplishments, he can be assured of going to heaven.

Richard Beleson
San Francisco

WTF, IPA?

A bitch of a distro problem: I'm writing to let you know how much I appreciated Ryan Blitstein's story about the Independent Press Association ["Pulp Friction," June 14]. As a committed subscriber to Bitch magazine, I'd known for a long time that Bitch was having financial difficulties. There were subscription campaigns; there were newsletters containing blatant pleas for nonsubscribing readers to subscribe rather than buy from the newsstand. Blitstein's article further illuminates why. Thank you for telling the back story and showing us the bigger picture.

Emily Ostendorf
San Francisco

Morbid outlook for small zines: Thank you so much for the story on the Independent Press Association. Now I really do thank my lucky stars that my magazine wasn't large enough in circulation to be accepted for IPA distribution. I hope someone will be inspired by Blitstein's report to develop distribution for truly independent zines.

Loren Rhoads
Morbid Curiosity

San Francisco

World Beats

Last night an MBA saved my life: I think it is time to put DJs where they belong: in the business section ["We Are the World" by Eric Arnold, June 14]. Beyond "mixing" and perhaps "scratching" (a form of percussion, actually), they are mostly gatherers (of other people's music) and presenters (resellers) of same. I know there are some DJs who supposedly "make" music, but the vast majority here in S.F. usually get someone else to do it, and then they steal it and put their names on the music. Good business, but not art. It takes years to learn how to play/write/sing/connect with an audience. Time for some publication to make the stand and separate the masters of self-promotion from the hard-working composers, singers, and musicians around town.

Knox Bronson
Oakland

Lights Out

Dewey decimation: A Clean Well-Lighted Place is closing in two weeks, and Booksmith in the Haight is apparently in danger of doing the same ["Bookstore Love" by Karen Zuercher, May 31]. I asked someone at Stacey's how they were doing, and it doesn't look good. Maybe this will create the political will to keep our libraries open later?

But I'll check out The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, because I've been wondering how we got so many indie bookstores in the first place. Was there a book boom? Also, my grandmother used to rent books from the bookstore.

Another angle to consider is that libraries have really embraced the Internet, while indie booksellers still curse it. Also, the Stacey's rep told me that many a parent will come in asking for books on insects for their kid's book report due the following day, and when she asks why they haven't tried the library, they respond with puzzlement, "the library?"

Alison Fish
San Francisco

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