At last, a cover story worth devoting seven pages of your gradually deteriorating paper to: Jack Boulware's retrospective article on the genius of Mal Sharpe (“Mal on the Street,” May 24). Seeing Sharpe's face peeking out of the corner distribution box finally got me to pick up my first issue in several weeks. After your seemingly endless stream of long-winded articles in drastic need of pruning on subjects hardly worthy of a cover in the first place, it was very encouraging to see Boulware's piece run complete with generous transcriptions of classic Sharpe and Coyle routines and was typical of the superior profiles found in the SF Weekly of old. I hope this proves to be a trend … you might regain the legions of readers I think you have lost since the New Times takeover, myself included.
While I doubt it was the desired effect, Darryl Inaba's assertion that four out of the five shootings in the Haight since 1993 were “marijuana-related” made me laugh out loud (Letters, May 31). This statement reminded me of a Saturday Night Live skit from the late '70s titled “Ex-Police,” about a pair of gung-ho cops whose expulsion from the force for excessive brutality “doesn't stop them from enforcing the law.” In the skit, the Ex-Police bust into the apartment of a recreational pot smoker, warrantless and badgeless, and proceed to smash his head against the wall repeatedly while shouting ludicrous anti-weed rhetoric. As the unfortunate “criminal” slumps to the floor, one of the “cops” solemnly intones, “Another marijuana-related death.”
Being that pot smoking rarely, if ever, leads to gunplay (in contrast to, say, abuse of the legal drug alcohol), it's clear that what Inaba really meant to say was that the shootings were a result of illegal pot deals gone bad. Apparently, he doesn't feel that the distinction between crimes caused by drug use and those caused by stupid laws is important. I beg to differ. Unfortunately, Inaba is all too typical of “agency directors” who suck up to the ludicrous, lethal war on drugs. They willingly parrot the drug-war lies, ignoring the fact that laws against drug use are more about re-election than intelligent policy. They turn their heads as the government pours millions into the drug-war bureaucracy, money that should be spent on treatment and education. They quote addiction statistics and bitch about bongs while innocents die in the crossfire of the illegal drug trade.
Since Inaba is so fond of the phrase “can anyone deny,” I've got a few for him. Can anyone deny that most drug-related crime is directly attributable to the illegal status of drugs? Can anyone deny that the idea that addiction can be controlled by passing laws has been thoroughly discredited? Can anyone deny that the lessons of Prohibition have been completely ignored by the craven demagogues who litter our legislatures?
Can anyone deny that the war on drugs is a complete goddamned fraud?
Block That Ego
In response to your article on ambient music, “The Sound of Silence” (May 17), I can only offer you one thing: a little leftover advice.
I think you might be able to use it on your next trip to Gardening Club, Eighth House, or any other party you might decide to pay a visit to.
“Lego your ego!”
It worked for us; I betcha it'll work for you.
The Economics of Immigration
As a liberal who nonetheless believes in market economics, I get some of my jollies by opening alternative newspapers such as yours and reading letters or columns from paranoid, foam-at-the-mouth radicals who are so out of touch with reality.
Imagine my amusement when I saw the letter from Marion Syrek in your May 31 issue, whence I learned that legal and illegal immigration to the United States are an outgrowth of “wealth produced in … underdeveloped countries (being) siphoned off by the global loan sharks, the bankers and governments of the industrial world, including the U.S.,” and by “stockholders, (who) by definition, do not work, but are merely well-paid parasites.”
It baffles me that even after countries like Russia, China, and Vietnam have, in practice if not in rhetoric, abandoned collectivism and moved in the direction of capitalistic economies, that there are still people in this country who with a straight face can espouse such Marxist claptrap. Syrek is correct in saying the multitudes of immigrants are coming here to find opportunity that's wanting at home, but his blaming of “imperialists” is misdirected.
The fact is, American corporations that have invested in, and created jobs for, Third World countries have improved the quality of life for the workers there. The source of the workers' dissatisfaction is the often corrupt leaders of their nations who siphon off wealth and, fearful of the demands of newly enfranchised and upwardly mobile citizens, clamp down on civil and human rights as a means of maintaining power.
If anything, U.S. investment abroad — and the maquiladoras in Mexican border towns are the best example — reduces the quality of life of Americans by eliminating higher-paying jobs, often union jobs, to other countries.
The best way for the American government to discourage immigration is to take an activist role in dealing with Third World governments. Adopt a carrot-and-stick approach that ties further investment and foreign aid to advances in human rights. Only then will the demand for U.S. citizenship decline. I don't think putting corporate shareholders in prison for the audacious crime of wanting to make money will do the trick.
I have followed with some amusement the recent flurry of letters in response to Tim Kenneally's Engine 88 review. What's with you guys? Never have I seen such an outcry over a mediocre local band. I'm beginning to think Tom Barnes has more friends than Bill Clinton.
So, “Christina,” you expect us to believe that you read Kenneally's review, decided it probably didn't do the band justice, and then, based on that, decided to go to their show … that night? All the way from San Bruno? Yeah, right. And as far as “giving local boys a break,” sure it's great to promote local bands, but thankfully SF Weekly doesn't kiss asses just because they advertise their shows and merchandise.
Mr. “Jeff McCampbell” states that Tom Barnes is one of the best lyricists in the city and on vinyl anywhere. What a gift for hyperbole! He assails the critic for having “the nerve to attempt to dissect [Tom's] lyrics.” And then he has the gall to tell Kenneally, one of San Francisco's finest music writers, to get out of the music business. Sorry Jeff, I'd rather read Tim's drivel than yours.
Hey, Tom, tell your friends to stop writing. If they can't prevent themselves, I suggest they join Amnesty International and put the paper to good use. I'm tired of taking the time to read about you. By the way, kudos to the Weekly for starting to slowly crawl your way up from the depths you had sunk to.
Are either James Sullivan or Sia Michel aware that Blondie's “Hanging on the Telephone” was written by Plimsoul Peter Case (Samples, 5/31)? Is there a fact-checker position open at SF Weekly?
And as for “How Long Will It Take?” being “a fitful commentary on the Icarus-like ascendancy of [Case's] band's first go-round” — excuse me? Was this a rock show or an exhibit at SFMOMA?
James Sullivan Replies: “Hanging on the Telephone” was written by Jack Lee, Case's bandmate in the Nerves.