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Letters to the Editor 

Week of 6-13-2007

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High Crimes

She doesn't have balls!: I have often been critical of the assholes who write for the "Geekly." Finally, you've found a journalist with some real balls who writes readable, straight copy. Unfortunately, her name is Eliza Strickland. She has her finger on the pulse of the medical marijuana community ["Stop Snitching," June 6].

Russell Kyle

San Francisco

Kitchen Confidential

She has balls!: Thank God someone finally had the balls to write about the CCA ["Burnt Chefs," June 6]. I nearly fell off the curb when I saw Eliza Strickland's article on the cover of the newspaper. I graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 1992 when it was still considered a respectable, although suspect, rival of the Culinary Institute of America in New York. I was in the first class that actually received an accredited AOS degree, so that gave us extra credibility. Not that it mattered. I went on to work in the kitchens of Venticello, Bistro Don Giovanni, and Il Fornaio. I lasted in the food industry for five years before I left, in debt, and ultimately ended up filing bankruptcy a few years later. The most I ever made in one year was $20,000, and that was because I was the assistant manager of a cafe. Cooking was a nightmare. I was a Caucasian woman in male-dominated kitchens. The sexual harassment was relentless. The verbal abuse was even worse. No one at the CCA ever told us what it would be like once we graduated. And we didn't ask, either; our bad. The good news: It wasn't all bad. I love food and I love to cook, and my culinary education gave me an enormous amount of confidence, not to mention killer knife skills that I will have for the rest of my life. My friends think it's cool that I know so much about the restaurant industry. My chef instructors were talented teachers. I am sure that some graduates go on to have successful, satisfying culinary careers. Not one person in my graduating class works in the industry today. I want to thank you again for taking the time to write this expose. It was long overdue.

[Name withheld]

San Francisco

Blame "them": Graduates of the California Culinary Academy cannot find jobs, or they only get paid $10 an hour. We are lead to blame the school administration, and the state. Apparently, one employer sneers at mention of the CCA. But is there a preferred training ground? Walk down any street in the city: There's no lack of food service jobs. Who is elbowing out trained professionals by accepting low wages? Whose skills are acquired "on the job"? Who makes no claim to workman's comp, unemployment benefits, Social Security, or union protections? So much for the argument that "they" only take jobs that Americans don't want.

James Young

Oakland

Laughing matter: I wanted to applaud Eliza Strickland on a great article. I graduated from the CCA in 1996 and since then have seen the decline of what was once a great school. While I attended there I felt I received a great education that I had to work for, although like any school students could skate through, I felt upon graduation I was ready for the work force and since then have worked in some of the finest restaurants in the city. Now, I see graduates who have difficulty grasping certain basic tasks and have seen that rise in recent years. So much so, I even hesitate to say I graduated there even though it was 11 years ago. It's a shame that a good school is now a complete joke in the industry (one that is lost on the current students of the school).

Thank you for shedding some light on the goings on at the CCA.

J.B.

San Francisco

Our Loose Left

Same old bedfellows: I couldn't agree more that our press-release mayor lacks the focus and executive acumen to solve San Francisco's problems and that the city's progressives can do little to stop him in the next election ["Lacking (Progressive) Definition," May 30].

However, Matt Smith describes the progressives as "a loose and meandering political faction, allied around financial interests, old personality disputes, long-forgotten turf battles, all joined by rhyming rallying cries." What I don't understand is how that fact separates the progressives from any other political group or party. After all, Republicans manage to keep Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Ashcroft in the same party. It wasn't that long ago that the Democratic tent was large enough for both Zell Miller and Ronald Dellums. Even locally, anti-choice good-ole-boy Tony Hall and greasy-haired Green Matt Gonzales seemed to agree more often than not about city policy.

As the old saying goes, "politics makes for strange bedfellows." So often, politicians define themselves by common enemies rather than common goals. If the progressives are indeed no different, we shouldn't be surprised.

Penelope de Vaaris

San Francisco

Pragmatism + progressivism = Daly?: We wanted to compliment Matt Smith for his piece regarding the nature of progressivism. As much as anyone in the city, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC) is keenly aware of S.F.'s crazy, bitter housing politics. We've found, however, that the best-suited path to our goal is pragmatism, not ideology. This year, SFHAC is recognizing two Housing Heroes at our July 18th luncheon for their exceptional contributions: Marcia Rosen, the remarkable leader of S.F.'s Redevelopment Agency and, yes, Supervisor Chris Daly. Both approach the city's housing supply crisis from different perspectives, but both are delivering substantial amounts of housing of all types. While Chris Daly is well known for his political style, it's less commonly appreciated that, more than any other supervisor, he has delivered significant amounts of housing for his district, including market-rate. Pragmatically, we want to acknowledge this — it suggests that folks at different ends of the political spectrum can work for a common good. Is that progressive?

Tim Colen

Executive Director, San Francisco Housing Action Coalition

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Slideshows

  • 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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