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Letters to the Editor 

Week of August 21, 2002

The Straight Dope

As long as they don't test for diet Coke: Thanks to Matt Smith for pointing out the dire threat to civilization caused by drug-using professional athletes, and thus the urgent need for government-mandated drug tests ["This Is Your Sport, on Dope," Aug. 7]. I'm sure the DEA and FBI would be glad to offer their expert assistance in setting up such a testing program and in enforcing the appropriate criminal penalties. Keeping in mind that, among other things, these tests search for such known performance enhancers as ephedrine and marijuana, I assume Matt Smith would fully support mandatory drug tests (and subsequent criminal prosecutions after testing positive) for professional journalists as well?

Tom Flynn

Reader Rips Brezsny a New Uranus

Geez, someone's Mars is in Gemini: Rob Brezsny [Free Will Astrology] has finally found his "happy place" in this crazy city. The crapper -- clearly that's where he comes up with the bland, abrasive readings. Isn't there enough negative energy in S.F.? Why circulate it? What's next, distorted Sunday comics where Snoopy gets shot in a drive-by and Dagwood is doing time for spousal abuse? Keep comics and [horoscopes] untainted and neutral. Brezsny, enough with the critical, ignorant "Star Sign" stereotypes. It's a waste of time to read.

Lucianna Castellucci
Mill Valley

Speaking Volumes

Our book club got canceled by Oprah. Do you have any openings?: Many thanks for your excellent article re the Book Club of California, the Roxburghe Club of San Francisco, and the Colophon Club ["Club-Hopping," Books, July 31]. I am a member of the first two and found your descriptions of both to be largely on the mark.

Regarding the Book Club, the "with a dash of a Dewar's ad thrown in" is accurate but incomplete. The Book Club bar also offers a limited variety of second-rate wines, much to the disgruntlement of wine freaks such as me.

Regarding the Roxburghe Club, its membership is, indeed, limited to 100, but it is quite diverse -- book collectors, booksellers, book authors, book printers, and (I think but I'm not certain) a few librarians. A quick scan of the membership list indicates 25 percent or more are women.

I have never encountered much in the way of tension or division between book printers/makers and book collectors. I would say both clubs have collected a very interesting group of people -- from the somewhat formal to the somewhat wacky.

James M. Spitze

Fido vs. Fescue

Save a shrub -- fell a tree: Thank you for a balanced piece on this sad hullabaloo about native plants, dogs, and trees ["The Nature of Politics," Matt Smith, July 24]. As a volunteer in the tree department of the Strybing Arboretum Society's nursery in Golden Gate Park, I sell exotic (and native) trees to the public. It is precisely knowing something about trees and plants and their animal dependents that leads me to endorse the point of view of the likes of Jake Sigg of the California Native Plant Society (of which I'm a member).

Most habitats on our wind-swept tip of peninsula were sunny shrublands and grasslands. As you point out, the encroaching eucalyptus, cypress, and Monterey pines shade out the rich habitats that are our only link to thousands of years of San Francisco history. Despite my love of all three of those tree species, I'd sacrifice some treed acres on Mount Davidson and in the Presidio to preserve and expand what little habitat is left.

Jason Dewees
Inner Sunset

And in reasonable times, you can count on us to be the voice of hysteria: I'd just like to commend you on this piece -- it is very refreshing in both its accuracy and perspective. You really helped to capture what so few people understand, i.e., the very small amount of this remnant habitat that is left, its phenomenal diversity, and the absurdity of scapegoating the efforts of a core group of people (including the city's Natural Areas Program) who are trying to save these sites from going under. Thank you for being a voice of reason in these hysterical times.

Mike Vasey
Department of Biology
San Francisco State University


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