SF Weekly Letters

Perfect Portrait of a Colorful Collector
Stealing art should not be considered harmless: So interesting, how someone who displayed conspicuous errant behavior could fly under the radar for so long [“The Art of the Steal,” Joe Eskenazi, Feature, 3/9]. Although now [Terry Helbling] appears unassuming, he was clever to use a fictitious name to throw off suspicion, plus he has a misdemeanor for deviant behavior and theft; San Francisco prosecutors should not underestimate him or consider him harmless. Thank you to Joe Eskenazi for bringing attention to Mr. Helbling [and including] a recent photo; frankly he gives me the chills.


Web Comment

Two sides of the same art-fanatic coin: In the art world, of which I have been a part for 25 years, our “industry” magazines sometimes refer to art-crazed collectors as having been born with the “extra chromosome.” This charming story of an art-inclined fanatic bears little difference from the tales of obsession with which richer patrons will rake the earth for the right piece! I especially like this thief's attention to lighting detail, jerry-rigged from green banker's lamps — more evidence he has been touched since birth to be a collector.


Web Comment

Soup Stirs Up Support
No one would eat them if they were cuddly!: This is not a cultural issue [“When the Shark Fin Bites,” Jonathan Kauffman, Eat, 3/2]! To kill an animal in such a stupidly cruel way is immoral. Doing so solely to get to one small part of the animal only aggravates this. If the animal had been one of better reputation, more intelligent. or more cuddly, a worldwide ban would have been in place a long time ago. This last part says something about the hypocrisy of (Western) politicians.


Web Comment

Imitation shark fin is a good substitute: I am Chinese and I completely agree with this move. Sharks are endangered animals, and it is time for us to take some responsibility in preserving this animal for future generations. There are other alternatives we can use in those delicacies made with shark fins; many times, they taste better than the original.


Web Comment

A Jan. 27 story “Thanks for Sharing” [Michael Fox, Night and Day] and a Feb. 7 blog post “IndieFest Features 'Dogumentary' and Film on Werner Erhard's Est Movement”[Michael Fox, the Exhibitionist, 2/7] stated that est training “employed demeaning and authoritarian tactics,” and that a “1991 60 Minutes segment that accused Erhard of molesting one of his daughters impelled him to leave the U.S. for good.”

Further research indicates this information was incomplete and inaccurate. Although some people have described est trainers as demeaning and authoritarian, many others have reported the experience as valuable and useful toward their personal growth. Erhard's daughter later recanted statements she had made on 60 Minutes, and CBS News has since made the episode unavailable. Multiple media reports questioned the segment's veracity.

Erhard sold his business in 1991 and left the U.S., although it is unclear what role, if any, the airing of the 60 Minutes segment played in his departure. A representative for Erhard says he “never fled the country and is free to return as he sees fit.” Research indicates he has returned to the U.S. on several occasions, including a 2007 visit to Harvard Law School to deliver a talk.

SF Weekly regrets the errors and has removed the items from www.sfweekly.com.

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