Austin Powers: Lower the Bar
In his review of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Patrick Williams obviously missed the point of Austin Powers entirely (“It's Awful, Baby, Yeah!,” Film, June 9).
Its target audience — teens and twentysomethings — isn't looking for subtle '60s references, and probably missed all of them in the first movie. What has made Powers a cult classic is its witty take on spy movies and Mike Myers' inimitable humor.
It's supposed to be cheap humor. If Mr. Williams went into The Spy Who Shagged Me looking for another Life Is Beautiful, he has every right to be disappointed. But panning it simply because he can't shed his “film critic” role and take Powers for what it is doesn't help anyone.
Elvis Costello: Leave His Teeth Be
Patrick Williams' hack at Elvis Costello's teeth was uncalled for (“It's Awful, Baby, Yeah!”). With standards that low, how could Williams not have liked The Spy Who Shagged Me?
Shame's on Dan Savage
If one is going to invoke ancient authors, it is useful to know what they meant. The early Christian busybodies whom Dan Savage mentions (“The Sin of Pride,” SF Weekly Guide to Pride 1999, June 9) wrote in Latin.
The sin they wrote about — and which is exemplified by few people as much as it is by Dan Savage in his weekly columns — was superbia, meaning “haughtiness.” Of the several meanings for the English word “pride,” the one that contrasts with shame is not the one that is a sin.
Although, in his haughty ignorance of America, Savage may not know that there are hordes of people terrified by and ashamed of their same-sex desires, there are, and shame remains a serious problem with serious consequences.
Savage does little better in English than in Latin, confusing the first with the last. The saying is that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”
Stephen O. Murray
Muni Is Puni
I recently started reading the comic strip Puni and have been looking forward to it each week since. I'm not a big comic strip fan and never read that section of the paper, but this strip is so very much like my everyday existence on Muni that I laugh every time. Kudos to the author.
A Hoax Is Still a Hoax
The fact that people showed up to SF Weekly's fabricated protest (“Wag the Mission,” Mecklin, June 9) is not surprising, given the preposterous gentrification of the Bay Area (and the fact that you baited them the week before with a transcription of an irate loft-dweller bitching about hate crimes).
As a newspaper, you hold the power of legitimacy. That you squander that power on self-aggrandizing hoaxes is pitiful. The city is in no danger of taking itself too seriously. Joke bands, spoof films, kitschy art — and now a mock protest — are endemic to San Francisco. If anything, you've reinforced the town “shtick.”
First let me say I enjoyed the event, even though I got there in the middle (“Wag the Mission”). The event was funny, but I am concerned that when you gloat over it in your paper, you will discourage other media sources from covering other funny/spoof events. We need more humor, not less, in the media. I think the Examiner did a pretty good job of covering the story, given your level of cooperation.
I've got to hand it to ya, I couldn't have scripted a better prank myself (“Wag the Mission”). Imagine, the Pastel Monster meets the Born-to-Be-Losers with a guest appearance by the Perpetually Oppressed. Talk about who's in charge here, how about who has a clue here?
Every overpaid fool in Silicon Valley isn't going to live here, there'll always be enough hovels to hole up the self-impoverished misanthropes, and although I damn well appreciate the many amenities provided by the overworked and underpaid around here, all the ranting and raving in the world isn't gonna bring back your wrongfully displaced ancestors. The fact is we're all being steamrolled by a maelstrom of inevitable change, and we'd all be better off figuring out how to live with it than wasting our energy whining about it.
After reading your wrap-up on the big prank played on the S.F. media (“Wag the Mission”), it seems clear to me that, in spite of your worst intentions, you actually managed to organize a rally. The issue of whether or not the “organizers” showed up is irrelevant; about 200 people with signs, chants, bullhorns, and one crazed zealot make a bona fide rally in my book.
Now, I'm no fan of the Chronicle or Examiner (or the Weekly or Guardian for that matter), but one thing is clear: They showed up to cover a rally and saw one. Can they be faulted for falling for a prank in which the “pranksters” admit to frustrating their attempts at journalism?
One last thing before I go. I do believe that S.F.'s two big dailies practice “press release” journalism and exhibit laziness at its finest. I also believe that S.F.'s two big weeklies write overly detailed non-stories that, when boiled down to essentials, truly reveal nothing at all. Any good citizen should utilize every means of gathering information at his or her disposal in order to have informed opinions.
I applaud the Weekly and Guardian for their tackling of issues that the other papers ignore, but all too often the issues are ignored for good reason.
In regards to your recent “prank” (“Wag the Mission”), which purportedly taught all those humorless lefties a lesson about the futility of grass-roots politics, San Francisco has a long history of progressive politics which will probably be able to sustain itself in the face of your disbelief that any of it matters.
See the vegetable garden in front of the Cesar Chavez elementary school? Community activists put that in place. Remember the response to AIDS in San Francisco? That response galvanized a nationwide response which helped shape federal policy. That's community activism. The statement that you wished to enlighten the “couple of hundred people who take neighborhood politics much too seriously” was particularly hard to swallow. Would that be the couple of hundred who have been forced out of their homes because of skyrocketing rents and a real estate industry that's doing everything it can to increase bidding wars? Is that who you're talking about?
Really, the fact that your prank attracted a couple of hundred people to a rally shows that there are people who take neighborhood politics seriously, which we think is a healthy thing. It's a hell of a lot better than living in a place like Southern California, which is so out of touch with itself that the Christian Coalition was able to handily restock civic institutions, like school boards, with right-wing Christians before anyone noticed. That's the kind of place we don't want to live in. We know that thinking and questioning are hard and take a lot of energy, but when you look around at what San Francisco has gotten out of it, it seems like a pretty good trade-off. Your brand of hip cynicism is a really empty alternative.
The June 16 Bay View article “Make Art, Not War” contained two factual errors. The director of the San Francisco Art Commission is Rich Newirth. Howard Lazar is the director of the licensing program for street artists.
Also, the commission was created by charter in 1932, not in the early 1970s.
SF Weekly regrets the errors.