My former roommate and I took her to court to recover our deposits. She played her standard games mentioned in your article, and stretched the hearings out to four court appearances. At the final appearance, the judge laughed in her face, and the onlookers applauded when it appeared we finally won. Needless to say, we haven't received even a sugar packet as payment.
Hopefully, my fantasies of seeing her on the street and mugging her will now cease. I now feel somewhat vindicated. Thanks.
Christine M. Geiser
With Friends Like This ...
Your colorful hit piece against aging eccentric Arden Van Upp lacks balance ("The Fortress on the Hill"). No one is perfect. I have known Arden for 25 years. She has always been a good friend to me. I have been to dinner and other functions at the Bourn Mansion numerous times. It is a wonderful building and I hope it will be preserved.
Arden has been to my house on occasion, including a dinner party that I gave for has-been political hack Richard Hongisto. I have found her to be a reserved, refined, sedate lady with a deep compassion for animals. She was a good friend to my late dog, Miss Brisby Day, who died a year ago at the age of 15.
May I refer you to the words spoken by Mary Ann Moore, the lady in the cone hat who I encountered in the market 30 years ago when I lived in Greenwich Village: "Tell me, tell me, where might there be a refuge from eccentricity, and its propensity to bisect, mistake, and obliterate continuity?"
Certainly not here in San Francisco.
It truly is an amazing irony ("Gay Men Can't Dance," Bay View, Dec. 30). I watched for over 20 years as the Castro became more and more conservative. Bars with dance floors have slowly been eliminated over the years. When the '70s patrons -- who had anonymous sex and partied and danced till they puked -- had the chance to buy real estate, they then owned part of their past.
Denying younger gays the same party atmosphere of the early days of the Castro by these speculators is the utmost of hypocrisy and selfishness. Money changes everything.
Corruption and Vice
Congratulations on excellent investigative reporting ("Wages of Vice," Bay View, Dec. 2). I think you're being a little too conservative in avoiding words like "corruption." I also think it would be interesting to ask Willie Brown for his comments.
Blake Launcelot Downing
Sticking Up for Crackers
Having been born and raised in North Carolina, I took special interest in Peter Byrne's article "Support Your Local Embezzler" (Bay View, Dec. 23).
If the writers and editors of the Chronicle and other S.F. bigwigs truly regard people in Charlotte, N.C., in the terms used by Byrne ("hicks," "good ole boys," "barbarians," and "tobacco-chewing, racist, wife-beating Confederate crackers"), then it reflects an ignorance, pomposity, and prejudice among the San Franciscan municipal leadership inconsistent with the city's tolerant and liberal traditions.
Charlotte is a modern, vibrant, forward-looking, and prosperous city. And it is not, as Byrne writes, in the "Deep South." The people there are friendly and open-minded. Of course, San Francisco has some things Charlotte does not. Residents of Charlotte do not enjoy the privilege of being stopped by bums for money along every block of downtown, nor are they entertained by the spectacle of dozens of homeless encamped in front of their city hall. And they are restricted to paying only about two-thirds of what San Franciscans pay for gasoline, and about half what they pay for rent. Maybe San Francisco would be better off if it were more of a "hick" town.
Keith D. Price
Vernon, Grow Up
I just finished reading George Cothran's article "The Squashing of Tippy Mazzucco" (Cothran, Dec. 16) and am flabbergasted to think this is how our city treats its employees.
Here's a man who is truly interested in making the projects a better place for the people who live there. Why would anyone demote and fine someone for doing their job? Why? Because Vernon Grigg can't handle being left out of the loop? Here's a sensitive operation going down, one would think that the least amount of people who knew about it the better. Did we announce to the general U.S. public that we were going to attack Iraq? I think not. I have two words for our esteemed DA Grigg -- grow up.
George, Shut Up
George Cothran's hit piece against District Attorney Narcotics Division Chief Vernon Grigg, "The Squashing of Tippy Mazzucco," displays the kind of racist invective that I thought we had outgrown, at least in the Bay Area. I have known Grigg since law school and feel compelled to respond.
Cothran vigorously defends Assistant District Attorney Tippy Mazzucco's Oct. 30 raid of the Marcus Garvey/MLK housing project, and sharply criticizes Grigg for disciplining Mazzucco for failing to notify him about the raid. Never mind that every major news outlet in the city criticized the Gestapo-like tactics of the police who took part in the pre-dawn raid, during which 90 police officers, including a SWAT team, descended on the housing project, handcuffing 6-year-old children, holding grandmothers at gunpoint, using incendiary devices to blow off doors, and killing a dog.
Never mind that only seven guns and fairly small amounts of marijuana were found. Never mind the costs imposed on the city for the services of the 90 officers working overtime at 4 a.m. Never mind that the Constitution was trampled upon, and that Marcus Garvey/MLK residents were terrorized by this clear exercise of excessive force. According to Cothran, this was just "diligent crime-fighting." The S.F. Board of Supervisors was not so sure. It held hearings regarding the King/Garvey debacle -- an unprecedented statement of concern by that body.
But that's not the worst of it. After the raid, Grigg complained that Mazzucco had not informed him, or DA Terence Hallinan, of the massive five-agency raid beforehand, despite customary protocol. Cothran goes out of his way to defend Mazzucco, by making racist ad hominen attacks on Grigg.
Cothran calls Grigg "one of Hallinan's chosen, affirmative-action hires." Apparently Cothran can't believe that Grigg could have been hired for the job because he is a highly qualified lawyer, a graduate of the Yale Law School, former clerk for the chief judge of the United States District Court, clerk for the Supreme Courts of Israel and South Africa, with 10 felony trials under his belt. In Cothran's mind, since Grigg is black, he must have been hired because of affirmative action. Of course, Cothran takes on faith that Mazzucco, who is white, must be an excellent and qualified prosecutor, without any inquiry at all into his credentials.
Cothran ignores that Mazzucco, who graduated from San Francisco School of Law, has had only one felony trial. In Cothran's mind, since Mazzucco is white, he must be a better lawyer than affirmative-action Grigg. It is amazing that in this day and age, no matter how well-qualified, well-trained, and accomplished an African-American becomes, it can all be stripped away by a groundless claim of affirmative action.
I wonder what Cothran would be saying if dozens of heavily armed police had raided his grandmother's apartment building, held his 6-year-old relative for hours at gunpoint, and killed his dog. Would Cothran have said that this was just "diligent crime-fighting"? Would Cothran trash white activists and DAs who would criticize the excessive force and brutality of the raid? I doubt it.
Richard Toshiyuki Drury
Regarding your "letter" to Willie Brown ("Merry Christmas to Emilio Cruz, Amos Brown, and Especially Willie Brown Jr.," Mecklin, Dec. 16): standing O from this peanut gallery of one. Muy thanks for highlighting the newsrack story, an issue that has gone relatively unmentioned by our stellar morning and evening dailies (huh, go figyuh!) as they stand idly by while yet another crack develops in the free press pillar. Jesus, is there a professional wrestler available for November 1999? How about a cage match -- loser leaves town? Keep up the splendid reportage.
Snotty AND Weird?
I'm not being ironic or sly when I say that your two-sentence analysis of the recent Desert Fox operation has all the depth of a puddle ("To the Newsracks!," Mecklin, Dec. 23). Sorry to be so grouchy. And I'm not denying that SF Weekly's weird brand of quasi-libertarian humor hasn't made me laugh.
But what really makes me laugh are people who think that the U.S. has the authority (a quick definition of authority is power plus credibility, with emphasis on the credibility part) to "stop" Saddam Hussein from doing anything. I can't really believe that anyone with a career in journalism doesn't know this, but in case you don't, here's why the U.S. looks like a big asshole -- we sold him weapons, both chemical and conventional, and we have chemical weapons too. See how that works?
And if you really feel like celebrating political difference, and the ability to express it (I agree, it's pretty important), I have a suggestion -- lay off the snotty descriptions of the anti-war protesters. In contrast to the voices justifying the irrational decision to bomb Iraq, I thought they were the sanest voices I heard.