Express Way
Your cover article “This Is Welfare Reform?” (April 30), by Tara Shioya, was very disappointing. Instead of taking an objective look at the strengths and weaknesses of a social program, Shioya focused on the idiosyncrasies of the course that annoyed her. The people who participate in the Express to Success program should be congratulated, not ridiculed. Shioya is condescending to the participants and insinuates that the whole process is worthless. She belittles the low-paying, part-time jobs the graduates get. Any job is a start!

I am writing this letter mainly to protest her treatment of the participants. I don't know if the Express to Success program is effective; furthermore, I agree with Shioya that the program should be closely monitored for its worth, and that it is not for everyone. But the participants are gaining important skills and growth. They deserve respect, not condescension.

Pamela Neuharth
Duboce Triangle

Real Neil, Bogus Bono
Two amazing revelations were shown to me recently. The first was Bill Wyman's review of U2's latest venture into corporate rock (Pop, Recordings, May 7), and the second was seeing the premiere of Jim Jarmusch's film Year of the Horse at the Castro Theater.

I'm glad someone finally took the hot air out of the hype surrounding the untouchable fire of U2. When I heard they were charging $60 (with Bill Graham's fee) a pop for a pop of Bono's ego show, I thought, “Oh, yeah, right, the people's band, my ass.” They've gotten a taste of corporate god, spelled gold, and they became at one with their god. I, for one, thought they should've hit a mountain after Joshua Tree. In the old rock 'n' roll tradition of “If ya can't top it, die.”

Then I saw the old warhorse Neil Young and Crazy Horse in the '96 concert film, Year of the Horse. And I firmly believe that if Bono and the U2 Gold Show bought 10,000 acres of virgin prairie and plunked down a one-car garage in the middle of it, and locked themselves in it to practice for 30 years and find just one fucking ounce of humility, they may begin to approach the power, the heart, the majesty, and love Neil and his crazy friends have brought to rock 'n' roll. Nuff said, check it out.

Michael Eckenrode
Lower Haight

Class Notes
“A Tale of Two Neighborhoods” (George Cothran, May 7) is simply idiotic in insinuating that Jon Bryce LaPierre's sociopathic behavior is somehow related to his class status. You don't have to be blue-collar to be an asshole.

Jennifer Taylor

Don't Have a Stroke
Since when was masturbation “[c]ertainly self-abuse” (Matt Smith in “Fewer Pen Pals,” Bay View, April 23)? Trying a little too hard to be the Last Puritan, dude? Eating chocolate is “self-abuse,” too — if done too much or in the wrong way.

Your flub ends an otherwise evenhanded if short article about prisoners' rights on a jokey-dismissing note. There is so much to report on California prisons and their burgeoning residents — and a dire social need to recognize and question the diverse costs of this buildup. Is your journalistic goal to inform or simply to amuse?

Jonas LaMattery-Brownell

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