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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Santa Monica to SFW: Garrote Garrett

Look, he already works for a "shotty" tabloid: I am writing in response to the article (or should I say "critique") by Garrett Kamps regarding the Moonwalk for Earth event [OK Then, Aug. 18]. I find it so disappointing that someone would a) judge those who are making a difference in this world, and b) treat this great endeavor as a reality television show being reviewed in a free, shotty community newspaper. Either Garrett is a member of the "Bush clan" and is threatened by liberal activists (who he all but writes off as drunk hippies), or he is just plain angry at someone (maybe Michael Jackson). Kamps' article also puts so much emphasis on the Guinness Book of World Records and the turnout at the parties, it fails to even touch on the actual PURPOSE of the event, which is promote renewable energy, a timely and relevant issue. Maybe Kamps should check out job openings for the latest tabloid.

Erica Bryn
Santa Monica

Our Kind of Crap. Got It?

And we're calling the Monkey Anti-Defamation League this instant: What kind of crap is this? I can't even really evaluate this article as a piece of "writing" ["Love on the Run," Aug. 11].

I think that SF Weekly must be doing that old experiment with a hundred monkeys and typewriters, and every time you do it, the code name for the output is "Nate Cavalieri."

The twist on the experiment is that the monkeys are drunk. And retarded. And masturbating. Yes, that's it, drunken, retarded, masturbating monkeys named "Nate Cavalieri" screeching and pounding on a bunch of typewriters. Just incredible.

Mike Caton (Oral Roberts)
South San Francisco

Infra Dig It

Deft is, actually, Bonnie's middle name: I just want to thank you for publishing, and Bonnie Wach for writing, "The Cost of Cool" [Dish Enchanted, Aug. 11] -- a deft pop fade into infra dig. Writing like this is rare. Anybody can be catty, only a few bother to be delightfully cinematic.

Bill Costley
Santa Clara

Progressive Regression

The man from the Committee on Jobs speaks: When I was a college student in the '70s, the word "progressive" stood for social change that resulted in personal empowerment, self-esteem, and respect, and dismantling those barriers that kept people in a "social class" that they wanted to leave ["Progressive Failure," Matt Smith, Aug. 4]. While the 2000 supervisorial election was a wake-up call to the consequences of runaway growth and unwieldy displacement, there has been no progressive agenda other than "Stop everything, change is bad!" There has in fact been "regressive" politics in our midst.

Newsom's election showed us something about S.F. -- we are a community that is socially progressive and fiscally conservative. That's who we are.

Nathan Nayman
Balboa Terrace

Moving letter: Thanks for [Matt Smith's] recent column on the destruction wrought by S.F.'s so-called progressive politicians. I think it was a little bit heavy-handed and a wee bit too kind to organized labor (after all, Joe O'D's boys have played a big role in killing large-scale apartments or condos that would compete with their Richmond Specials). But aside from that, it was dead-on about Chris Daly and company.

My partner and I just left S.F. for Portland, Ore. I'm a doctor, he's a middle-management type. We wanted to own a home bigger than a breadbox and not on a freeway -- a bit picky, we were. We also didn't want to take on so much debt that a job loss or disability would mean selling our home or going bankrupt. Oh, so entitled, no? Oh, and finally, we wanted to live someplace that encouraged decent urbanism and made some attempt to protect its remaining undeveloped periphery.

Well, none of that turned out to be possible in S.F., where I grew up and where my partner had brought his talented, educated, volunteering self a few years ago. And I'm convinced that one reason why is the practical ban on the construction of new housing in S.F. (There are others: Greenspan's policies, the eye-popping amounts of money that the stock market bubble left flowing through S.F., etc.)

I knew a woman who was quite prominent in one of the neighborhood associations. In the newspapers, she attacks infill development and the building of three-story condos as "neighborhood killers." In private, she admits that she wants to help perpetuate S.F.'s gross housing shortages, so that her home will continue to rise in value and provide her with a semblance of a retirement plan.

Portland is no earthly paradise. It's also a bit overpriced, relative to incomes, and it has its share of nasty traffic. Taxes are too low, and the schools suck. It's stupefyingly white and numbingly gray.

But it's chock-full of construction cranes building both apartments and yuppie condos (which means the yuppies won't be competing with blue-collar workers for Excelsior-style homes). It just opened a third light-rail line in May and will break ground on a fourth in early 2006. It's spending billions to fix its sewer problems rather than foisting them off on the next generation. It's hanging on to its greenbelt, and it's actively encouraging urban infill/neighborhood density. It has a large blue-collar population that hasn't been displaced to distant suburbs. And guess what? It is a mecca for under-35-year-olds, some of whom will go on to build businesses, make great art, or maybe even devote themselves to community service. All this in a city nearly as liberal as S.F.

S.F. can afford to lose thousands of people like me and my partner -- educated professionals who love their city and donate time and energy to make it a better place. It's that beautiful, cosmopolitan, and blessed by nature; someone else will take our places. But it makes me very sad to have left my hometown just to be able to own a home, and angry that I had to do so in part because of the venality of our politicians, labor unions, neighborhood activists, and rent-control nuts.

Name withheld
Portland, Ore.


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