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Letters to the Editor 

Week of September 25, 2002

Sartorial Supervision

Perhaps Newsom should consider a nice burka: I had a good laugh while reading your article "Image Is Everything" [Matt Smith, Aug. 14]. I attend the supervisors' meeting every Monday and I have had an opportunity to notice their appearance quite well. I have a few comments.

I think your consultant Suzanne Chu did a poor job assessing the supervisors' appearance. Ms. Chu wears straight, stiff hair plastered all over her head (even Newsom's hair looks better), and she wants everybody else to wear straight hair. That is why she called Supervisor Gonzalez a "fashion mess." I consider that statement extremely rude and unprofessional. She advised him to comb his hair back, to stop covering his face, and to really show his "prominent" features. That is exactly the "wrong" advice because the hair covering the sides of his forehead softens his "prominent" (as she called it) features, and that looks good.

She would use lip conditioners on Willie Brown because he has "full" lips and she wants to bring them out. Why? He will look like a gorilla. She called Supervisor Maxwell a "beautiful" woman. She may be attractive, but she is not beautiful. Ms. Chu seemed to be missing some of her marbles when she compared Supervisor Sandoval with Brad Pitt.

I noticed that you showed for the first time the picture of Supervisor Newsom's left profile. He has a huge swelling (which resembles a tumor) on his left cheek and it is an awful sight. Chu criticized the texture of his hair, which according to her has a wet, gelled look (which I think is not worse than her stiff hairdo).

Juana Carcelén
Pacific Heights

The Other (Lotus) Position

It should come with a warning label: I am writing in response to your article of Aug. 28 by Sandy Brundage, "Bad Vibes" [Bay View]. This article attempts to establish a direct, causal link between meditation and "negative side effects" experienced by some individuals. Unfortunately, the author has presented an incomplete, misinformed, and therefore very misleading article.

First of all, since there have been people on this planet, meditation has been the foremost tool for balance in human experience. However, in today's world, meditation is being made available in a much different (and far less responsible) way than it was thousands of years ago. The classical model of meditation began with a period of at least seven years of purificatory practices. This long period of preparation assures that the aspirant is really ready to undertake the meditative journey.

When people attempt meditation without preparation or qualified guidance, they are likely to experience negative side effects. But that is not the fault of meditation. It is the result of a naive and uninformed approach to meditation that is largely fostered and reinforced by our culture, which emphasizes immediate results and personal authority over responsible choice and authentic mentorship.

Of utmost importance is the adept or meditation master, who has journeyed the length and breadth of holistic human experience and is truly qualified to assist others in this profoundly transformational paradigm.

In conclusion, meditation is a profoundly transformational tool that should be approached both with preparation and qualified guidance. It is not to be taken casually. Negative side effects result from uninformed choices and are the responsibility of the individual. To assert that meditation is hazardous to your health is to misrepresent the truth.

Alan M. Scherr, President
Synchronicity Foundation International
Nellysford, Va.

Science Faction

Jawas and Faeries and Martians, oh my: I have a few problems with the article you ran on the World Science Fiction Convention, "Sci-fidelity" by Silke Tudor [Sept. 4].

Did Silke go to the same convention I did? This con was not overrun by "Jawas and Faeries and Federation pilots and Marvin the Martians." I noted very few attendees in costume. Most attendees look like anyone else you'd see anywhere. They are intelligent, well read, and open to the possibilities of "what if."

The auditorium where the masquerade was held couldn't hold 6,000 people if it tried, from what I saw. I don't think 6,000 people attended the entire convention. It was a low-turnout year. As for being too familiar with the master of ceremonies -- this is expected at a masquerade. Audience participation is encouraged.

The programming Silke describes sounds like merely losers and freaks participate. How difficult was it to weed through the list and find only the strange and obscure?

Overall, I find this coverage insulting. Maybe we in the genre should be used to the belittlement, but you could at least get your facts correct.

Donna Drapeau
East Providence, R.I.

Progressive Pitfalls

Imagine the quality of life of the homeless: Matt, you're beginning to sound more like you work for the SFBG with every passing day. Better yet, are you sure you're not really Tom Ammiano in disguise? Specifically, I'm referring to your editorial in the Sept. 11 issue ["Rich Conspiracy," Matt Smith]. For you to suggest that Gavin Newsom's ["Care Not Cash"] initiative was politically motivated while Ammiano's was not is almost laughable, if it wasn't so unbelievable.

Let's put the facts on the table. Gavin tried to bring this issue up through the Board of Supervisors, but Ammiano (and other "progressive" supervisors) continually blocked any discussion of it. Had they been really interested in doing something about this city's awful homeless problem, they would have allowed discussion. Instead, they chose to do what they've always done -- simply say the status quo is working, and any changes to policy are "mean-spirited." Then, when Supervisor Newsom takes his proposal directly to the people and over 25,000 sign the petition and 75 percent support it (based on various polls), it becomes "political" on his part. Tell me what other avenue he could have explored?

Tom Ammiano has been on the Board of Supervisors since the mid-'90s and has been president since 1998. Can you tell me (with a straight face) why he never brought this proposal up previously? He saw how much attention (and favorable ratings) Gavin was getting, and decided he needed to do something quick. When will he (and you, I guess) realize that people in this city are absolutely fed up with the "progressive" way this city is being run, and how we let the lives of the homeless ruin our quality of life. Instead of focusing on the "Sunshine" laws and trying to wrestle control from Willie Brown, perhaps they should focus more on the issues that are most important, like quality of life for the 700,000 people who live here. Kudos to Gavin Newsom for having the guts (and the brains) to identify that people want change, and to take it to them directly.

I'm not sure what caused you to morph into Tom Ammiano/Bruce B. Brugmann over the past few years, but I liked the "old" Matt Smith better. I guess now I'll have to stop reading BOTH weekly papers!

Bob Gain
Presidio Heights


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