Your cover story on Falun Gong is very strange. The headlines infer that Falun Gong is somewhere to the left of Aum Shinrikyo. The actual story makes them out to be slightly more daft than followers of say, Soka Gakkai, or Transcendental Meditation, a characterization which in my experience is closer to the truth.
Here in the U.S., no one seems overly concerned that because of recent election results, the Natural Law Party, the political arm of the Transcendental Meditation movement (crime reduction through Yogic Flying and all that), has qualified as a legitimate party affiliation in California. And I won't even get into the genuine dilemma posed by Scientology.
Perhaps the real point is that, freakish as the movement may be, the mainstream media is right after all about Falun Gong in China. That a movement like this is perceived as a dire threat to the government says much more about the government than the movement.
By now I'm sure you've seen this week's Guardian. You know, the one that jams you guys for (the March 8) cover and at the same time hawks snuff porn on the Web in its editorial.
If it makes you all feel any better, the Matt Isaacs story, like Lucia Hwang says, is good reading. The cover, while overly cute, is no worse than the stereotypical humor one sees occasionally in Asian Week. It seems Ms. Hwang has forgotten that whenever the Guardian does a "serious" political story which makes use of the word "Chinese," the word "landlord" almost always is in the same paragraph. Lucia used to intern here at the Daily Journal; I thought she'd be smarter than that.
Indeed, I had the extreme displeasure of leafing through the Brugmann Review at lunch today when I came across some bizarre essay on necrophilia in what passes for their entertainment section. While the topic is certainly newsworthy, I fail to see why they had to turn the article into an advertorial piece for what appears to be a particularly hateful, misogynistic, and pathological snuff porn Web site. Complete with unexpurgated pictures.
(Please note that the above opinions are mine alone, not the Daily Journal's.)
Michael Thornton Ege
Gary's Secret Plan
It's really difficult to understand Matt Smith's pissing match with Sue Hestor ("Make Room for Dot-Coms," Feb. 16), which was absurdly obvious in the original article ("Soviet-style"? So she's a commie?), and was carried to ridiculous, and I would think embarrassing, lengths in your letters page (March 15). The original piece was hardly objective, larded as it was with Perfesser Smith's personal theories about economics in general, and how San Francisco's economy should work in particular. What's his motivation? Is he pushing some kind of Reaganoid free-market rah-rah philosophy from your corporate office in Denver or Houston or wherever the hell it is? Are you people lusting after those plentiful dot-com venture capital advertising dollars?
The overall tone of the article was baffling. It was a mix of fairly good historical background, Matt Smith pontificating, and the SF Weekly's increasingly boring, bitchy little personality-based rhetoric. If you want to be considered serious journalists, raise your standards. Start by doing some real investigating. Take Prop M, for example. It's the basis of the GENERAL PLAN, which, according to State law, is the bible by which City Hall has to abide. But to Willie Brown & Co., the law is infinitely malleable; bend it, break it, anyway you want it.
"Hestor's distinction between 'live-work' and 'housing' projects is a semantic quibble," says Matt Smith. What an ignorant thing to say. Look into that issue a bit more, Matt. Hestor said live-work developers are lying and cheating; everybody ought to know that by now. By making the above statement, Smith acts like nothing is wrong. The live-work scam is alive and well and expanding into new and lucrative areas, including Bayview-Hunters Point. This is happening because of the millions of dollars these people funneled into Democratic Party coffers and Willie Brown's campaign last year. Remember?
Sure, multimedia development is the issue du jour, and sticking your wet fingers in the wind may tell you to blow where the wind blows. But even though we're not on the street futilely hooting about it, some of us who don't particularly like lawbreaking and corruption are still working behind the scenes. I don't see any particular reason to tell the SF Weekly about it. But I'm sure you'll be hearing about it when you've been scooped.
Gary W. Moody
The Artist, Formerly Known
I read with interest Moon Trent's letter to the S.F. Weekly (March 22) explaining the latest reason for the death of San Francisco's precious, precious music scene.
When I was playing Sushi Sundays at Nightbreak and going to see Fungo Mungo at DNA, people were mourning the good old days when Mabuhay Gardens and The Stone were the place to be seen. When I played at Gillman Street, I had to endure people telling me how cool it was when you were actually allowed to slam. Lord knows that we will never be able to live up to some dork telling us, "I saw Janis at the Fillmore in the '60s." Doubtless, in Greenwich Village, there are people bragging about seeing Talking Heads at the CBGB or Naked City at the Knitting Factory.
Where is the cool music scene? Art Alexakis moved to the Pacific Northwest and started Everclear. I suppose the people angry about the S.F. music scene consider him a sellout.
I remember like it was yesterday, sitting in my manager's office talking about how we could get more press. We both laughed when we were told by one of the Chronicle/Examiner's critics that the only way he would do a story on the Cheeseballs was if he was going to make fun of us. I said go for it. My manager disagreed. The most press I ever remember was occasionally getting a small picture in the Weekly. (Thanks.)
When I was talking to the journalist from the Wall Street Journal, she indicated that the fans might be to blame. Bear in mind, the people who shake their groove things at a Cheeseball or Tainted Love show are hardly looking for the new Primus, Faith No More, or Third Eye Blind. If it wasn't for cover shows at Slim's and Bimbo's, they would all be home watching Mad About You. We can't blame them.
Should we blame musicians like myself who actually tempt these Bad Taste Techies? Don't get me started.
By the way, does anyone think that DJs-as-rock-stars might have something to do with the dead live music scene?
The bottom line (oh no, dot.com talk!) is that the people who are most critical of cover bands are taking it more seriously than the bands themselves. Blaming cover bands for the shitty music scene is like saying the theater scene sucks because of the Simpsons. Relax, have a drink and put on some dumb-ass clothes. Why do you think I called them The Cheeseballs in the first place?
Perhaps we shouldn't blame anyone, and should stop marginalizing musicians. What differentiates music from sports is that we can enjoy both The Chemical Brothers and the Hanson brothers -- Sound Garden and Savage Garden.
I wish Moon Trent the best of luck and would love to hear his music. I, too, am in a quiet-core band (MDS Trio) and would like to trade CDs. So give me a call, and we can talk about all of the great music there is out there. We'll skip all the parts about well, cheese.
Artist Formerly Known As The Big Cheese