While privatization is probably a bad idea and a downtown tax is probably a good idea, your article on Muni ("Willie's Wild Ride," Dec. 27) reinforced what Muni riders have known all along: that the work rules for Muni drivers must change.
Anyone who rides Muni on a daily basis knows that Muni drivers are a group largely made up of sullen, rude, and uncommunicative people who show nothing but contempt for their riders. Admittedly, being a Muni driver can be a thankless job, but so is being a cop, and in my 34 years of living in San Francisco, I've been treated better by the cops than the Muni drivers.
Larry Martin is a bully who leads a spoiled, pampered, and (in some instances) overpaid gang. This must change. Muni drivers must be accountable to their public! And no Larry, I'm not a bigot.
This letter was drafted after waiting 40 minutes for a 27 Bryant during business commute hours.
Larry Martin, the international vice president of the TWU states in "Willie's Wild Ride," "From this day forward anyone come to us and talk to us about work rules is nothing but a prejudiced son of a bitch." Well, I hope I'm not the last in line because I have some comments about Mr. Martin and those work rules.
Mr. Martin, you are a wonderful representative of the sickness that infects unionism today. Your tone is disturbingly vicious, ignorant, and abusive. You threaten indiscriminately, with the taint of racism, anyone who objects to your point of view. You are not content to throw out the racial epitaph but also seek to trample on the collective issues of civil rights and freedom of speech. I for one will not tolerate the vile, racist, and abusive tone of your tirade.
As a longtime Muni rider, and a former Teamster, I am disgusted beyond belief not only at what you said but how and why you said it. Work rules were, and are still, to protect the workers from management abuses. They are not to protect workers from their own abuses or shortcomings. Work rules that protect, aid, or condone worker abuses need to be changed. They need to be changed now, and your insistence otherwise is asinine. The fact you have to use the racist threat to protect your position is, simply, evidence that you lack any other rational or moral defense to the objections.
Mr. Martin, tomorrow I will go to my safe deposit box. I will get, tear up, and mail to you my Teamster card (Local 665, S.F. Bay Area). I will write the membership of my disgust with you and the system that allows you to pervert its ideals. Then, Mr. Martin, I will support every effort to destroy your union.
I pity the majority of drivers that their efforts are corrupted by the likes of you.
John S. Guthrie
Kisses for Cuddles
I greatly enjoyed "Downtown and Dirty" (Slap Shots, Dec. 27). As someone who uses the public transportation system I have had several opportunities to stop in at Cuddles bar while waiting for the SamTrans bus home to Redwood City. It is a funky, down-home bar and a great "people watching" place. Even though the clientele is predominantly black, I, a middle-class, middle-aged, white woman, have never felt uncomfortable or unwelcome. Cuddles bar and the friendly bartenders have made my wait for the bus a pleasant experience. Oh, they also have a great jukebox of soul music classics. I would recommend Cuddles bar over any number of the tragically hip hellholes that populate the San Francisco bar scene.
This Broken World
I read with great interest John Burnett's letter ("Crucified Again," Dec. 27) regarding Frank Kozik's art ("The Stick-Up Artist," Music, Dec. 13) and his response to it as a Christian. While I too have problems with Kozik's art (more on that later), I think Burnett needs to take a long, hard look at many of the less savory aspects of his faith to understand why so many people abhor it.
Let's start at the very beginning. For the Messianic Jesus cult to fully break away from the parent religions of paganism and Judaism, women had to be cursed with silence and submission to men, and the lie of all Jews as enemies of the Christ had to be fabricated. Do a little research Mr. Burnett and you will find that the Gospel of John was hardly an eyewitness account, written a good 165 years later. Lon Poliakov's The History of Anti-Semitism, a seminal four-volume work, details this fact and the horrors it has generated over the centuries up to the present day. Weren't most Nazis -- original and present-day -- raised Christian?
And speaking of the present day, let's talk about the Christian harassment so many of us experience in our lives. Sorry, but it's never Buddhists ringing my doorbell, it's never Sikhs handing out pamphlets, it's never Jews yelling through bullhorns at the BART stations, it's never pagans calling me up on the phone. It's always Christians of many stripes. You mention being Eastern Orthodox, Mr. Burnett. Wasn't it the Orthodox Churches who specialized in pogroms that drove so many Jews to North America? Indeed, I have talked to Russian refugees who grew up in the '50s and '60s -- not a whole lot of centuries ago -- who still heard rumors of Jews using Christian children's blood to make Passover wine. Silly me -- I always thought it was those dark purple Concord grapes I used to snack on with my grandparents. Those grandparents were wonderful people whose ancestors survived those pogroms, incidentally.
OK, enough. This letter really is turning out more anti-Christian than intended. Every group -- religious, cultural, political -- has its good points. Lots of charity work and wonderful art is certainly part of the religious legacy that means so much to Mr. Burnett. But politics -- right vs. left -- it all stinks. As for Frank Kozik's posters, some I find hilarious, some gross. I could have done without the Nazi swastika positioned on the she-devil's crotch for various feminine/feminist pride reasons that I hope need no elaboration. And as for you, Mr. Burnett, keep up the good work (the environmental work especially). But please do your history homework and view your faith in a more realistic light. See things in this broken world as they are, not as you'd like to believe they are. Remember, Christians break the Ten Commandments when they don't honor the father and mother faiths.
Helen Simma Block
Race to Judgment
I read with interest your article about the balloon shop that was robbed by "two young white men" ("Bailing Out Defendants," Dog Bites, Dec. 20). I am curious, however, about something: May I now assume that when your crime stories fail to identify the race of a perpetrator it means that he or she was not white?
I strongly support the public's right to know the race of criminal suspects and I very much regret the code of silence that the press employs with this issue. However, if race is to be reported at all, it should be reported consistently.
Listening to Trauma
In response to Diane Leibel's letter ("Whose Call Is It?" Dec. 20) about "Calling It Rape" (Dec. 13): Leibel wrote that author Susan Jay "shouldn't have bothered" writing because she didn't state the rapist's real name. Leibel went on to say that perhaps this was a misguided attempt to appear mature and professional.
It is disconcerting that this judgment was made, devoid of knowledge or understanding of the author's temperament and personality. Attempting to resolve deeply painful experiences or live without their gnawing presence requires work and patience. Even then, people are confronted at times with the seemingly futile results of their efforts. What is important is that the inevitable frustration does not derail the drive for health and recovery. Susan Jay is not sitting on her pain, but expressing it. While the article was written for others to read, it also supported the author's emotional state. Perhaps the anonymity provided her with a needed comfort zone (but here I am guessing).
Trauma, even when it isn't recognized as such at the time, can be constructively addressed in a myriad of ways. Leibel is an individual with a different vision of how she would have dealt with this. By belittling the article, she dishonors the choices made by Jay.
I don't understand rape as a woman knows and feels, even those women who have not been physically violated but have felt hardened eyes press into them. I can only listen to stories, and for that, I thank Susan Jay for hers.
No One's Deserving
Do prostitutes deserve rape?
Call it rape. Call it romance. The two can go hand in hand, as I and many others know from experience. And I applaud you, Susan Jay, for the courage and skill with which you reveal yours ("Calling It Rape").
However, prostitutes are also women with stories, choices, hearts, brains, and virginities, who deserve rape no more than anyone else. The messages implicit in "Women who use bad judgment don't deserve to be raped. ... They are not whores" and in the rebuking of those who mistakenly assumed that a 37-year-old gang-rape victim was a prostitute lead one to believe that they do. I look forward to the time when such dehumanization of sex workers can be retired to the same shelf as date-rape mentality. It will be a better day for all of us.
I was really moved by Susan Jay's story ("Calling It Rape"). I am a high school English teacher about the same age as Jay. I sometimes have female students ask me about stories with female protagonists. I feel Jay should submit her story to publishers and try to get her story anthologized.
Jay's story will interest middle- and high-school girls because of her perspective, the writing, the setting, and the descriptions, as well as the subject matter of importance. I feel that her assertiveness and her ability to speak out to Blaine now, in a positive manner, is an important lesson for many young girls to learn. This story would show Jay's perspective in a positive way to young men as well.
I'm going to save Jay's story and hope to teach it someday.