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Letters to the Editor 

Tire Iron vs. Baseball Bat; Trashing SUVs Is Rude? Well Then, We'll Stop Doing It.; Or We Could Just Deport Them to Fresno; Modesto, My Modesto; Say, People Are Still Saying "Meme"?

Tire Iron vs. Baseball Bat
One abiding question raised by Joel Engardio's article "Mission Implacable" (July 5): Where did the crowbar [Editor's note: The weapon was actually a tire iron] come from? I don't mean "Sears or Grand Auto," I mean did Glikshtern just pick it up from the sidewalk, or remove it from his trunk, or is it kept in the bar as a bouncing tool? I think the latter would be a serious misjudgment on Glikshtern's part.

It seems like remarkable good fortune in general, and for the interlopers in particular, that the incident didn't result in more serious injuries (i.e., fractured skulls, gouged eyes, etc.). Of course there's no denying that the crowbar served its purpose, and was apparently wielded with some efficacy, since Glikshtern avoided injury altogether while completely neutralizing four opponents. No mean trick. And who cares if they were smaller, they were clearly a serious threat.

Still, the steel bar with a hooked and a sharp end seems like a very irresponsible instrument to introduce into a bar fight. A similarly effective bludgeon like a midget baseball bat might have produced similar results with less chance of serious injury.
Huw Wesford
Lower Haight

Trashing SUVs Is Rude? Well Then, We'll Stop Doing It.
You have asked whether San Francisco is becoming a rude city (Social Grace, July 5), and I would say that the evidence speaks for itself: The killing of pedestrians by motorists is impolite indeed, gouging by landlords is déclassé, and trashing SUVs in gentrification DMZs is surely a breach of etiquette. Why this is happening is multifactorial, but not at all difficult to understand. First, simple overcrowding is at work. Everyone has heard of behavioral experiments involving placing too many rats into a cage -- the poor creatures resort to fighting, cannibalism, and other unsavory practices. We are now those rats. We are far too many people stuffed into a space designed (if "designed" is the right word) to accommodate only a few. More rats arrive daily from Ohio and points east. Pre-existing rats feel the pressure, and respond accordingly.

Second, let us not forget the reason people come here. In days of yore, people came to San Francisco for refuge -- from gay-bashers, from oppressive governments, from mind-numbing sameness. They arrived in the town and found a niche. Today, people come to strike it rich and to be hip. They arrive, and set to work remaking the town in the image of their college fraternity -- as though San Francisco was merely the world's largest fixer-upper. The last time we had a crowd like that running through town, they were literally seeking gold -- and they left a pretty mess behind, as is our current crop of miners.

Related to the second point is the current free-market vogue. It's a sad fact that capitalism rarely brings out the best in anyone, except for waiters angling for tips. Wealth, it seems, is never having to say you're sorry. In classic Newtonian fashion, this bourgeois rude action produces an equal and opposite prole reaction as those irritated by the feckless wealthy act abominably in response.

What is to be done? Well, I have previously suggested that encouraging people to move to the Bay Area (and to S.F. specifically) was an error, and that those who wish to move here should be gently discouraged; I was called a Stalinist for my input. Gentle reminders to behave well in public (e.g., bike lanes on Valencia) do work, though not as decisively as one might hope. Oddly, factionalization does produce some positive effects -- those who come together to fight gentrification (for example) tend to behave well within their affinity group, though their opponents might not feel the love.

As with all things, the best one can do is to exert self-control, and avoid adding to the problem of general rudeness. At the same time, let us not allow a false sense of politeness to hamstring efforts to repair the problems of the city. Confrontation, though sometimes unpleasant, is frequently necessary.
Michael Treece

Or We Could Just Deport Them to Fresno
I think you've hit upon something that could be the solution to much widespread fog-city antagonism lately. Fat Bermuda-shorts-wearing, white-slacker guys in San Francisco rock bands should be encouraged to move to Modesto ("The Modesto Invasion," June 28)! Brilliant! Everyone will be happy -- starting with the dot-commers, globalization folks, and immigrants they hate so much.

Of course there will be some in the alternative press who will decry this as the "destruction" of the San Francisco rock music scene. One simply cannot understate the perils of this so-called threat. For anyone not afflicted with Alzheimer's (and/or actually under 30 years of age), rock has been dead for quite some time -- absolutely slaughtered by paunchy classic rock radio and the (far more relevant) hip hop. I would argue that if the best San Francisco's rock scene ever produced was the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, and Metallica, it's never really been very good, has it?
M. Kevin Tutor

Modesto, My Modesto
I had an opportunity to read an article in your magazine in reference to the band Grandaddy and the city of Modesto ("The Modesto Invasion"). I believe that in the article Modesto was referred to as a "shithole with nothing to do."

When I first started reading the article I was pleased to see that Modesto was being showcased as a community that allowed new and exciting bands an affordable place to live and get started. I was, however, disappointed with what I perceived as a rather provincial attitude in reference to Modesto.

If Grandaddy has come up with a good sound, some of the material must have been garnered in the community in which they live. That community is Modesto. They are, for all intents and purposes, a Modesto band.

Many members of my family have lived in Modesto for generations. It is not a "shithole" as the article stated. I just wish that Grandaddy and this article's author would be more sensitive to other communities outside of San Francisco. If Grandaddy hates Modesto so much, maybe they should pack their stuff and take the first bus back to San Francisco. Modesto would be better off without them.
Matt Innes

Say, People Are Still Saying "Meme"?
I just read your "You Could Be Jammin'" article (Bay View, July 5), and I hope I can convince you to reconsider your list of what constitutes impolite cell phone use.

I would agree that ringing phones and loud (or even whispered) conversations are completely inappropriate in a movie theater or symphony hall, and loud cell phone use is unwelcome just about anywhere. I don't feel, however, that a person should be punished or disparaged for carrying on a conversation in a normal tone of voice in a restaurant or public restroom just because one of the parties to the conversation isn't physically present.

People talk to each other in restaurants and restrooms all the time, and they often discuss surprisingly intimate subjects. There's no outcry against talking to the person across the table from you, and no move to censure people who chat with a friend while they're washing up. We've learned to ignore (or at least politely pretend to ignore) these types of conversations. Why should we treat phone conversations any differently? If you're concerned about hearing unwanted details of someone else's life, then cell phones should be a welcome change since you're only getting half the conversation, and there are pauses where you don't hear anything at all.

I think the most reasonable way to judge whether a cell phone user is being rude is to ask yourself if you'd be offended if there were two people talking instead of just one. Using that test, phone calls in theaters or loud conversations are definitely rude, but moderately toned conversations in restaurants, on the street, or even in a public restroom shouldn't be objectionable. Pacing while talking would be out of place in a restaurant, but perfectly natural on the street or in a park.

I understand the "who do they think they are?" attitude, and have shared it in the past. I've since decided, however, that it's a natural but unreasonable reaction to changes in the way our society uses technology. Eventually this sort of backlash will disappear just like the early negative opinions of answering machines did.

I think that the cell-phones-are-rude meme has really taken hold in the media. I'm seeing and hearing attitudes like the one embodied in your article pop up all over the place, and I think that they have often been adopted without much critical thought. I hope that you'll take the time to look a little more deeply at the evolving interface between technology and manners and perhaps decide, as I did, that a less dogmatic and more forgiving position on the subject is appropriate.
Hilary Mark Nelson
Via Internet


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