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But You Did Read It, Didn't You?
I read with amazement the cover story "Trophy Boys" (Nov. 18). The only reason that I kept reading the story was to see how much more inept and boring it could get. It did not disappoint me. I truly cannot understand the newsworthiness of this topic let alone the fact that it was the cover story.

Who the hell cares about the fact that older gay men are buying younger gay men? Or how they go about finding each other, or if they have sex and how often? As I continued to read this "article" or "expose" or whatever the fuck it was I was wondering if there were "sweeps weeks" for local weeklies. It was something I'd except out of some tired gay rag, but not SF Weekly.

Again I must ask who green-lighted this "story" and more importantly why? There must be more important cover stories in this city. I am truly discouraged by this piece of fluff from what I consider an otherwise exemplary weekly.

Joseph Tonto
Via Internet

Offer Us Beer,
We'll Print Your Letter
I have always been a fan, but I just read Joel P. Engardio's article and felt it was time to speak ("Trophy Boys"). Thanks, Joel. Brilliant journalism. Exposing power structures and making them clear and understandable to anyone is a difficult task in writing anything, let alone in journalism, where you have the added time constraint. Your rigor with the material was impressive, and although you spoke about the gay world in relation to the broader hetero context, you left me questioning the hetero context itself by revealing people's assumptions from both poles (young and old).

I'm a straight guy without a girlfriend. Given your insights, I am inclined to invite you for a beer sometime. And thanks for a brilliant article, dude. That's all I really have to say and I know people appreciate it when they are acknowledged for their work.

David Sarpal
Via Internet

No Head Injuries, But Lots of Beer
In his piece examining the career of liberal housing activist Calvin Welch, George Cothran described San Francisco tenants as if we are a privileged special-interest group ("A Home of One's Own," Cothran, Nov. 11). Did Cothran suffer any major head injuries before being hired at the Weekly? S.F. has the highest rents in the United States. Only the most deluded "libertarian" ideologue can claim this situation benefits most of the people who live here, or that home ownership offers a way out for more than a few. Cothran relies on a number of stupid assumptions, like thinking everybody wants to own a piece of real estate, and if big government and rabble-rousers would stop meddling, the market would justly and wisely straighten out the housing crisis.

If Cothran ever loses his job at the Weekly, he should get a job with the friends of the real estate industry at the San Francisco Examiner. Apparently inspired by Dog Bites' exchanges with Nestor Makhno, the Ex ran a piece on Oct. 26 dealing with the gentrification of the Mission District as seen from the perspective of the gentry -- two poor little carpetbaggers who could only afford to gobble up one three-unit building. The Ex even claimed that many of the cities' owner move-in eviction landlords are actually low-wage sweatshop workers who've saved their pennies to buy rental property. Do the potted plants at the Examiner really believe the stuff they write? I doubt anyone else does.

The Examiner is the city's leading cheerleader for gentrification. Every Sunday's issue overflows with advice from perky realtors on how you, too, can hop on the speculation boom and ride to wealth on the backs of your neighbors. Drawing from the use and abuse of language under totalitarian regimes, the vile Ex ran a Nov. 15 cover story attempting to rename gentrified areas of formerly working-class sections of the city, for example describing the tony part of the Mission District as "Mission Deluxe." Presumably, this would allow the gentry to colonize these neighborhoods without the loss of social standing that comes from living in a low-income, predominantly nonwhite area.

Servile corporate journalists and work-within-the-system activist types like Calvin Welch share a belief that housing must remain a commodity. The solution to the housing crisis is clear: Tenants of rental properties will have to organize for an unlimited mass rent strike. The housing market has failed us, so we should abolish the market before it abolishes our housing. This would be devastating to landlords, but landlords are parasites. Our need for housing in this city can't be reconciled with their profit system.

Tom Ripley
Mission

Come and Get It
Tenancy in common is a great idea, in theory, but the economic reality is that only people with upper-middle-class incomes (at least $60,000 a year per person) can afford it. It is no longer 1973 when a struggling young activist like Calvin Welch could pool resources with friends and buy a home ("A Home of One's Own," Cothran).

A lot of us who have made a permanent commitment to San Francisco as a place where we want to "raise families, start businesses, create art, and engage in politics" have incomes of $20,000 a year or less, and that doesn't cut it in the housing market, TIC or otherwise.

And most people buying a TIC building would not have the conscience Welch did to pay the evicted tenants' moving expenses and first month's rent. I don't believe there's any law requiring people to do this.

So the result today in San Francisco of TIC is that people with money throw poor people out of their homes.

Yes, I think Proposition G is shortsighted and a stop-gap measure. What we need are laws much more radical than G -- laws which will heavily tax speculation and make home ownership a possibility for genuinely low-income people.

And, by the way, I don't believe property is theft. I believe private property is sacred. And I believe my apartment is my property, not my landlord's. I've been here 10 years, and it's my home.

And I've lived in San Francisco 25 years. How long have you lived here, Mr. Cothran?

Rose Skytta
Nob Hill

Arcana 'R Us
I would like to thank Lisa Davis for her National Archives and Records Administration article ("Tales of the Country," Nov. 4). Our staff agrees it wins the competition for "Best Article on Archival Arcana." It allows people to get a sense of the National Archives, our mission to prevent "federal Alzheimer's" with regard to substantive federal programs, and a few of the records we've been fortunate to collect, preserve, and make available to people, through real rather than "plastic bureaucratic" public service.

Because getting a handle on the complexity of our operation can daunt even those of us who work here, I also need to clarify for the record, hopefully without nit-picking, a few items in Lisa's top-rate article:

1) "Bugs munching" on the records is one problem that, thankfully, we don't have with our records holdings. Though federal, we provide "no free lunch" for bugs. However, before some older historical records came to be protectively housed in our NARA facility, they sojourned under dismal agency site storage conditions which sometimes increased their availability as munchables to the "history for lunch bunch." It's also true that, as noted by Lisa, NARA and many public archival institutions face massive records preservation challenges.

(Information on NARA's is contained in the September 1998 issue of NARA's bimonthly public newsletter, The Record, which can be ordered at www.nara.gov.)

2) We do have finding aids which provide access to information on all our records holdings, ranging from more aggregate descriptions for records used least to file indexes for many most-used holdings. This does not deny that we are starving in many respects for resources needed in this critical public service program area.

3) For my money, a crisis even more challenging than preservation of historical records already held by the archives is the "front end" of historical records management -- of first identifying and saving the most valuable records held by agencies, then getting them to National Archives storage to be preserved, protected, and made available. We're very good at what we do, but for every office where we have success, there are many times more where we haven't the horses to get to (the records). The hair-raising magnitude of the long-neglected permanent records management challenge has major long-term quality-of-life-and-service consequences for the government and the people (including journalists). We're talking history not just for historians, but for the millions affected by government programs with substantive long-term implications for life, health, the public trust, and "billions upon billions" of dollars.

Sadly, there is far from universal recognition of the simple fact that to devise, plan, and execute intelligently the substantive government programs of the future, we need adequate, accurate, accessible documentation and information on what, how, and how well such programs worked in the past.

The head of our agency, John Carlin, has shown courage in laying out for internal and public review -- for instance in the current NARA Strategic Plan -- the major dimensions of NARA's and the government's information infrastructure, archival preservation, and records management crises. He has also been more successful than previous U.S. archivists as an advocate for desperately needed additional funding to at least make a start at addressing these crises. However, it's my view from the front lines that without a near-total "revolution" in government and public awareness and support, we can meet only a small percentage of real needs, a fraction of the cries for help that come constantly from agencies, researcher communities, and the public. We work very hard with what we have because we know you deserve it; but the real need is for a "sea change" in support for work to rescue you, us, and our children from the specter of impaired federal accountability due to significant levels of institutional amnesia.

Daniel Nealand
Coordinator, Archival Operations
National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Region

All or Nothing
I loved your article about Julia Butterfly ("Up a Tree. Still?" Nov. 11). She is an amazing woman with tremendous courage. We should all be so committed to our ideals. That is the only way to bring about change in today's cutthroat world.

I was, however, dismayed at the narrow attitude exposed by your reporter that now that a second-rate deal has been negotiated, we should be thankful and give up the fight. You call yourself a liberal magazine? You should be ashamed of yourself.

The placating tone of the article is really appalling. Charles Hurwitz has been one of the most destructive influences on the Northern California environment over the past 10 years, and 7,500 acres is not enough. We want all 60,000 acres and no more clear-cuts.

Lesley Stansfield
San Francisco

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