Editor's Note: I have two things to say to you, Mr. Dramov, and one question to ask: First, George Cothran remembers your Hong Kong comments clearly, and his notes reflect that you made such comments. Second, SF Weekly does not publish fiction. And finally -- well -- just how hard did Mayor Brown spank you?
I was left speechless at the stupidity of your essay regarding Antoinetta Stadlman and the revitalization of Sixth Street ("Queen of Sixth Street," Matt Smith, May 21).
What is "misguided" about a state law that lets residents of a neighborhood in on the redevelopment?
You portrayed Stadlman more as a freak than someone together enough to take responsibility for her community. And what does her weight have to do with anything? If she were a man, would you have included his weight?
South of Market
As a longtime resident of Sixth Street and the Baldwin House Hotel, let me congratulate Matt Smith on an excellent job of reporting ("Queen of Sixth Street").
His article was factual, broad in scope, and surprisingly intuitive. He framed the players to a T, as if he had known them for years!
What needs to be done is an in-depth expose of the Skid Row hotels and the profitability of them now. Everyone, including the city politicos, seems to think they are "poor landlords" who cannot afford to bring units up to code or follow health and fire regulations. But there isn't much overhead except utilities, and occupancy is high.
South of Market
Matt Smith's misconceived investigation ("Queen of Sixth Street") read like one long homophobic non sequitur, a sort of Mad Lib where you fill in the blanks with contempt for democracy, hate for queens, and ridiculous delusions about public service.
What is inherently "misguided" about a "200-hundred-pound transsexual on public assistance" running a multimillion-dollar redevelopment project? Smith implies that a sex change renders one unfit for public service, that poverty does as well, and that Antoinetta Stadlman is motivated only by petty, personal vendettas and intrigues. I find the first two insinuations offensive, and the last hopelessly naive. Stadlman's is just another political machine. Her politics may be misguided, but the laws which allow her to be elected are not.
With regard to Phyllis Orrick's May 28 Unspun ("Anatomy of a Press Kit"), her comments regarding original stone lithographs were quite misleading.
Stone lithography is not a "redundant" term meant to sound "imposing," as she states, but rather to distinguish this method of printing prior to World War II from "chromo lithography" and lithographs using zinc and aluminum plates, as well as today's mechanical "process lithography."
Changing the term "original" to "original copies" is inaccurate. There are two markets for poster art: for antique posters and for copies. Her comment that a market for poster art has perhaps been "created through use of artistic illusion" was way off the mark. The market for poster art is driven by consumer demand, which has yet to recede over the past 100 years.
John E. Smyth, President
Spencer Smyth Galleries
I've been meaning to write you for months regarding your recent excellent coverage of the San Francisco theater scene. It is so much more satisfying to get a little bit on a lot of shows, than a lot on the same show that every paper in town is covering. Especially valuable is the publicity it affords the shows that are reviewed -- as a theater artist I have come to fully appreciate the difficulty of finding an audience in this town of many small shows and theaters. More than ever, audiences seem to need to know that someone was there before them, and SF Weekly is letting them know. The reviews aren't always masterpieces of critique, but they are always perceptive, honest, refreshing, and a relief.
It's not that the blues are dead ("Stalemate," Michael Batty, Music, April 30), but that "modern" people are dead to the blues. The spirit of this most quintessentially American music is the strength and dignity a human being can find amid the torments of humiliation, cruelty, violence, and howling loneliness.
This is more than a matter of mere form. The blues is a gracious music, a volatile music, a music whose emotional power makes it make sense. Smug, ironic, overly cerebral people whose only musical intensities take the form of vomitous anxiety are of course averse to such exuberance. They need it, but hate themselves for needing it, and refuse to let themselves seek it -- and end up with Prozac and therapy to keep the best (and most difficult!) (and most dangerous!) parts of themselves asleep. And they fail.
Though Michael Batty's descriptions of grimacing faces and endless guitar solos are mildly funny, his burial of the blues ("Stalemate," Music) is both premature, and, inadvertently, a sterling example of Generation X's fetish for form over content. Granted, sitting at home listening to 12-bar progressions all night can put one in a stuporous slumber, but blues isn't about canned recordings. It is, and for years has been, about live performance -- as anyone who has (recently) seen the Allman Brothers, Paul Black, Luther Allison, or Sonny Landreth burn through a set would attest.
Personally, I see Batty's reflexive, hollow cynicism toward boomers who cheese over every whiff of a blues lick as little more than displaced culture envy. Being a Woodstock baby myself, the vapidity of (the vast majority of) American music these past two decades, relative to the soulfulness of post-World War II music (rockabilly, Elvis, gospel, blues, jazz, early Johnny Cash), is one of the few real reasons I have to curse my birth date.