What a wonderful world this would be: I want to commend Bob Burtman on his excellent reporting. "Paying the Price" (Nov. 29, on oil companies' efforts to drive independent service station dealers out of business) is a first-rate piece of writing. I often find "progressive" media to be a little too quick to simplify an issue and find someone to blame -- usually big corporations. "Paying the Price" captured the complexity of personalities and issues without laying blame on any one group or person. Rather, I believe it conveyed the more accurate message of an industry becoming disconnected from its roots (hard-working dealers) and expert in prices but ignorant in values.
My only complaint is not with the article but with the progressive media's penchant for claiming every nefarious action by every big, dumb organization is motivated by greed. Please, greed is fear pure and simple.
The tragedy Burtman's article conveyed is one of people who have lost their empathy, who have become so disconnected from humanity that they can no longer see the link between making money and providing the best value and service. As Southwest Airlines has demonstrated for over 20 years, treat your people well and the customers will come. Why is this lesson so hard to learn? Perhaps because it's easy to fear and hard to love.
A quarter? We wait till we find one on Muni: What is with that Fangxaminer ("Don't Try This at Home," Dog Bites, Nov. 29)? When I dropped the quarter in I thought, "I am gonna be part of history." When I picked the crisply folded new baby out of its quiet little chamber I thought, "Well, huh ... this is kinda light." When I read it -- and I use the term loosely -- I was ashamed. I wanted the money back. On the day I picked it up, Geoffrey Rush's head was stretched beyond human proportion and the editorial comic was pixelated beyond readability -- something about a kid wanting a preserdernt for Cheurtmus?
It would be more interesting to simply photocopy old coloring book pages and paste 'em in with some reprinted TV Guide Cheers and Jeers sections. If they want to borrow my scissors and a glue stick, I can loan 'em out.
Sad but true: Laurel Wellman is always fun to read, but the most recent column about the Fangsterization (Fang Shui? NewFangled production quality? Hanky-Fangy?) at the Examiner is sadly accurate. Another critique more readable than its target. But by scrimping on quality, at least they're not going to burn through that $60-plus million like a dot-com and go bust anytime soon. And that's sadder still.
A zero-newspaper town: As a sometime fan of Laurel Wellman's Dog Bites column, I was just reading her reaction to the "new" Examiner. Last night on the way home from work I couldn't resist investing a quarter to buy my first copy of the new paper. My reaction? "You have got to be kidding!"
First off, I was amused by the new junior proportions. Next, I was struck that the entire first page had only one article written by a staff person; the rest were from AP, the L.A. Times, and other useful resources. I like the fact that there are no Macy's ads. The first page was also refreshingly free of all that depressing world news.
But then, for a reality check, I dipped into the Chronicle's Web site after reading Dog Bites to be sure I wasn't being too hard on the Fangx. Honestly, both papers are an outstanding joke, but the real joke is on readers. I canceled my 15-year subscription to the Chronicle last week, but it keeps on coming anyway. At least SF Weekly has the courtesy of being self-serve. I'm really depressed about the local papers, but now we take the New York Times, which is actually interesting and full of news.
When in Lima, we eat at McDonald's: The destination for Peruvian food is not Destino ("Call It Fate," Eat, Nov. 29). As a Peruvian-American, I was excited to hear that Destino opened in my neighborhood. To my horror, it was the most disappointing experience with Peruvian food ever. I've been eating Peruvian food all my 27 years and their anticuchos are like none I've ever tasted. You want excellent, traditional Peruvian food? Go somewhere like Mi Lindo Peru on Mission Street. Chocolate in alfajores? This fusion thing has gone too far!